Tacx and Cycleops Smart Trainer Centre
Training indoors with the newest technology from Tacx and Cycleops is heating up! It used to be something that only serious cyclists did, and even then they only did it when it was raining or too crappy outside to enjoy. That’s changed in a major way in the last two/three years as Smart Trainers, direct drive trainers and indoor training programs have hit the market. Watch your Strava feed and some of your “outdoor” friends are now posting virtual rides on Zwift – What is Zwift!? Now, virtual coaching programs prescribe very specific ride programs and tell the trainer for how long and how hard you need to pedal to complete a session. Online programs like FulGaz and Zwift allow riders to ride virtual courses alone or in groups, giving wattage, speed, incline, and a very realistic riding experience. Now, it’s fun to ride indoors! When the weather is nice outside and you see some of your riding buddies posting Zwift rides on their Strava, you know that riding indoors is becoming fun, convenient, and even safer than outdoor riding. We carry the full line of trainers from two leading brands – Tacx and Cycleops. Stop by our shop to see them in person, try them out, and see which one is right for you. Check out this video to see what this is all about.
Smart trainers are growing in popularity very quickly as prices are coming down and choices are abundant. The online programs add dimensions of social riding, competition, realistic courses, and details of the ride that allow you to scrutinize performance or just map your improvement over time. There are two types of Smart trainers:
- The basic smart trainers communicate 1-way with a phone or tablet and give you real time power, speed, incline (virtual), distance and other measurements on a phone or tablet app. Resistance is controlled manually from a cable remote.
- The more advanced (interactive) models have more complicated features and are controlled by the app on your computer or phone/tablet (2-way). They can realistically simulate different gradients, coasting downhill, or even riding over gravel or bumpy roads. Some apps are available for phones & ipads, keeping the setup simple. Some are compatible with laptops, big screen TVs and the sky is the limit for how “virtual” you want your ride to be.
We carry the leading models on the market, these are the most popular models:
- Tacx Neo – the only one with real “road feel” and one of the most advanced models available – $1899
- Tacx Flux – this model has the most popular bundle of features for the money – $1099
- Tacx Vortex – best seller, all the features needed to do online programs – $549
- CycleOps Hammer – known as the quietest and most compatible with different thru-axle rear hub configurations (mountain bikers, too) – $1649
Traditional Stationary Trainers
These are more traditional, have limited or no connectivity for online platforms, and mostly hold the bike by the rear axle. The premium ones in this category have adjustable resistance, whether it’s on the trainer itself or by remote. The remotes allow you to adjust resistance without getting off the bike. Lower end models will use low-tech resistance strategies like an air fan or magnetic plates while higher end models will use a fluid stirring inside a sealed reservoir to create resistance. Other features like noise level reduction, weight, stability, stowability and ease of use round out the feature lists in this category. Traditional stationary trainers – non-smart – vary in price from $200-$600.
What is direct drive? Direct drive is the style of trainer where the rear wheel is taken off and the frame clamps directly to the trainer – which will have a separate gear cluster (cassette) already installed (see Neo above). These tend to be more quiet, have a more reaslistic feel when accelerating and coasting, and sit lower to the ground since the bike doesn’t need to be suspended with both wheels on. Traditionally, stationary trainers clamp to the rear axle of the bike and the rear tyre rubs on a drum for resistance. This wears out the tyre, makes more noise, and has a less realistic road feel.
Rollers are what riders trained on indoors and for racing warmups before stationary trainers. They consist of a set of rolling drums driven by the rider’s pedal motion. The simplicity and purity of rollers are attractive, as is the skill level required to ride them. They are very sensitive to rider movement and although one can have bragging rights for knowing how to ride rollers (without hands even!), they are the hardest to learn and most dangerous indoor option. Learn how to ride rollers here. Rollers vary in price from $300-500