As the weather worsens and the nights draw in, many of us turn to training at home to keep the legs turning over and of course staying dry! With so many brands and models to choose from it’s hard to know where to start. But with Zwift growing its worldwide user base by the minute, we looked for a trainer that would utilise the features but wouldn’t smash the budget. Enter the Tacx Vortex.
The Tacx Vortex is quick and easy to set up, it took me about 20 minutes before I was pedalling. You need to use the Tacx Utility App (iOS & Android) in order to calibrate the Tacx Vortex and perform firmware updates which was really no great chore.
It’s a well-built unit and is certainly stable enough to give confidence and let you put the hammer down out of the saddle every now and again, and although it’s quiet at low-to-moderate output it can be a touch on the noisy side on full gas. There’s a subdued sound from beneath it too, so you’ll want to use a mat and/or trainer tyre if you live in an apartment.
The resistance changes are progressive, I personally have to ride in a higher gear than on the road to maintain good cadence, plus the accuracy of the cadence sensor is a little patchy. Sprinters might be troubled by the 900w max resistance too.
There’s no trainer software included either, a miss given the price of the Vortex. You can manually change the resistance with the free Trainer app, but for the full virtual experience you’ll need either Tacx’s pricey Upgrade Smart kit, or a subscription to a service like Zwift or Bkool. You’ll also need an ANT+ USB dongle, something else which should’ve been in included.The @Tacx Vortex offers great bang for your buck in the smart trainer category #Zwift #Bkool #Cycling Click To TweetThe Vortex works flawlessly in Zwift though. I have no connectivity issues, and gradients and speed are replicated well. The 7% max gradient of the Tacx Vortex should be sufficient for the standard club rider but may be a limitation for the more ambitious climbers (even if it does use virtual speed for steeper hills). Bkool works equally well too if you prefer real-world video routes.
The lack of inclusive software is a shame, but the Tacx Vortex is more than half the price of some rivals. If you don’t intend to use virtual training software then I’d probably suggest a higher-spec fluid trainer instead, but if you’re simply after the Zwift experience, then I wouldn’t look much further than the Tacx Vortex.
Tacx accessories you’ll want to consider:
- The Wahoo Tickr heart rate monitor. In our opinion the most versatile HR monitor out there as it includes both ANT+ and Bluetooth, allowing you to connect to your computer and/or Zwift for Apple TV (which uses bluetooth) for example.
- Honeywell HT900E Turbo Fan. This small little belter will keep you cool when you need it most. You can attached it to a stand or even double up with a second one when it’s really hot.
- Quad Lock bike mount so that you can use the Zwift mobile link App for iOS or Android. This allows you to message other riders on Zwift and see you progress during your ride/race/workout.
- Quad Lock phone case, of which they do many different types depending on your choice of handset.
Tacx Vortex promotional video
How to build the Tacx Vortex
The same features as other brand models twice the price. If you’re looking for the Zwift experience, then I wouldn’t look much further than the Tacx Vortex.