Which smart turbo trainer

greeneye73
greeneye73 Posts: 4
Hi all,
I'm considering investing in a Turbo trainer and like the sound of the smart ones like the Bkool Smart Pro.

Has any of you got some experience of them? are they any good?

Cheers

Comments

  • The BKool Smart Pro does have good reviews.

    By far the best value smart trainer is the Tacx Vortex Smart which is on Wiggle for £257.

    You need to consider things like how much slope you want to simulate, maximum wattage output etc.
    Name,        Model,Slope,Mass intertia,Max Power
    -- Wheel on --
    Tacx Flow    T2240 6%  12kg  800W    £200 (Decathlon)
    Tacx Vortex  T2180 7%  12kg  950W    £257 (Wiggle)
    Tacx Bushido T2780 15% 60kg  1400W   £367 (Wiggle)
    Wahoo Snap         10% 140kg 1100W   £440 (Wiggle)
    Tacx Genius  T2080 20% 125kg 1500W   £463 (Wiggle)
    BKool Smart Pro    20% --?   1200W   £488 (BKool)
    -- Wheel off --
    Wahoo Kickr        15% 175kg 1550W   £949 (Wiggle)
    Tacx Neo     T2800 25% 125kg 2200W   £1,072 (Wiggle)
    

    The BKool is one of the most expensive wheel on trainers around, so you'd have to see if you really want that one and not the Tacx Genius or Wahoo Kickr Snap, for example.
  • BrandonA
    BrandonA Posts: 553
    The BKool Smart Pro does have good reviews.

    By far the best value smart trainer is the Tacx Vortex Smart which is on Wiggle for £257.

    You need to consider things like how much slope you want to simulate, maximum wattage output etc.
    Name,        Model,Slope,Mass intertia,Max Power
    -- Wheel on --
    Tacx Flow    T2240 6%  12kg  800W    £200 (Decathlon)
    Tacx Vortex  T2180 7%  12kg  950W    £257 (Wiggle)
    Tacx Bushido T2780 15% 60kg  1400W   £367 (Wiggle)
    Wahoo Snap         10% 140kg 1100W   £440 (Wiggle)
    Tacx Genius  T2080 20% 125kg 1500W   £463 (Wiggle)
    BKool Smart Pro    20% --?   1200W   £488 (BKool)
    -- Wheel off --
    Wahoo Kickr        15% 175kg 1550W   £949 (Wiggle)
    Tacx Neo     T2800 25% 125kg 2200W   £1,072 (Wiggle)
    

    The BKool is one of the most expensive wheel on trainers around, so you'd have to see if you really want that one and not the Tacx Genius or Wahoo Kickr Snap, for example.

    What is your criteria for stating that the Vortex is by far the best trainer/ My looking at the chart you have provided it looks like a number of other ones are better. Is it best "value for money" or the "best you could by regardless of money".

    The the price range the OP has suggested your chart shows that the Genius is better than the Vortex and compares similarly to the BKool. Personally I think it comes does to personal preference and ultimately you have to be happy with whatever you buy.
  • Flâneur
    Flâneur Posts: 3,081
    check DCrainmaker out he has some good reviews and which guides
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  • What is your criteria for stating that the Vortex is by far the best trainer/ My looking at the chart you have provided it looks like a number of other ones are better. Is it best "value for money" or the "best you could by regardless of money".

    Sorry I think I perhaps overstated it. Not "by far" of course. I just mean that if you want a smart trainer and you're on a limited budget then the best value can be had from the Tacx Vortex. Of course spending more will get you more / better features.

    The 'best' regardless of money is currently the Tacx Neo. Not sure I could ever justify dropping over a grand on a trainer, but plenty people have.
    The the price range the OP has suggested your chart shows that the Genius is better than the Vortex and compares similarly to the BKool. Personally I think it comes does to personal preference and ultimately you have to be happy with whatever you buy.

    Quite so. Different models have different ways of working too. e.g. the Genius clamps to the tyre whereas the BKool relies on rider weight to push down.
  • bobmcstuff
    bobmcstuff Posts: 11,238
    Why would you ever need a trainer which could do 2,200W? :shock:
  • Not really, that thread is Neo vs Kickr, which are both in the region of £1000, whereas the OP on this thread has said he likes the look of a turbo less than half that price.

    OP - I have a Vortex Smart, got a very good deal on it (around £200 in the end), I like it but the maximum slope of 7% is a bit of a let down. It does Zwift ok because the gradient rarely goes above 7% on the course, however if you want to use the Bkool simulator and go up Alpe d'Huez then it's quite simply not good enough. If you're not bothered about these simulators and just want it for something like Trainerroad, then it does the job.
  • Zwift are building a new mountain course and in an interview they said they were being careful to make the gradients around 7% max just because that's the most some trainers can do. Even on my Bushido which can do 15%, 7% is very hard work!
  • dempsey1
    dempsey1 Posts: 320
    Got a bkool classic (smart) with years premium subscription to the simulator in the black Friday sale. Very happy with it. As someone said earlier, have a look at dcrainmaker reviews; excellent reviews. Smart turbo training is great fun, hard work and addictive too.
  • davidof
    davidof Posts: 3,057
    Zwift are building a new mountain course and in an interview they said they were being careful to make the gradients around 7% max just because that's the most some trainers can do. Even on my Bushido which can do 15%, 7% is very hard work!

    but what do you mean by 7% max anyway? When you riding you are simply generating a certain wattage for a certain speed. For the typical amateur rider that will probably be around 250-300 watts for 10-12kph on l'alpe d'Huez. Almost any turbo is capable of simulating that kind of power output. They may have to do it by virtual speed but they can do it. You can simulate a climb of Alpe d'Huez on the cheapest Tacx home trainer.
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  • Zwift are building a new mountain course and in an interview they said they were being careful to make the gradients around 7% max just because that's the most some trainers can do. Even on my Bushido which can do 15%, 7% is very hard work!

    but what do you mean by 7% max anyway? When you riding you are simply generating a certain wattage for a certain speed. For the typical amateur rider that will probably be around 250-300 watts for 10-12kph on l'alpe d'Huez. Almost any turbo is capable of simulating that kind of power output. They may have to do it by virtual speed but they can do it. You can simulate a climb of Alpe d'Huez on the cheapest Tacx home trainer.

    Of course you can. But firstly it's not easy to know you're doing 250-300 watts unless you have a power meter - the smart trainer will give you the power data (you can argue on the degree of accuracy therein). But smart trainers adjust the resistance constantly depending on the terrain in the game, so you're constantly shifting gear as in real life. That's not for any training goal but to add engagement with that you stave off the boredom always present with turbo training.
  • paulmon
    paulmon Posts: 315
    Zwift are building a new mountain course and in an interview they said they were being careful to make the gradients around 7% max just because that's the most some trainers can do. Even on my Bushido which can do 15%, 7% is very hard work!

    I'd echo this. When I was using Cycleops VT anything above 7-8% on the Kickr was knee exploding. The way Zwift manages gradients is much better which is to be expected as they have control over all the data.
  • Ypuh
    Ypuh Posts: 8
    Hello guys,

    I've read this thread and many others with lots of interest and decided to sign up for some final advice. I'd like to tip my toe's into the world of Zwift, Bkool and TrainerRoad and trying to decide what trainer I should buy. After extensive research (mainly budgetwise) I've narrowed down my choice to the Vortex, Bushido and Bkool Pro.

    The Vortex seems to have a too limited power curve for my intended use. My weight (approx 85kg + bike) probably leads to a very limited resistance at low speeds (<300w at 20kph) according to the resistance graph on the Tacx website.

    30thw13.jpg

    Because of this reason I'm leaning more towards the Bkool Pro that's currently on offer for €500,- including the ANT+ dongle, trainer mat, sweat thingy and special tyre. The Bkool has a different mounting design (which seems like an advantage to me because you don't need to calibrate) and doesn't have bluetooth or ANT+ broadcast (so no use for my Garmin 810 simultaneously). Those don't really seem to be a problem as long as I'm using a combination of Strava, Bkool, Zwift or TrainerRoad.

    The Bushido is wireless (no use really), requires an iOS device to set-up (ugh), but has a good power curve and since I live in The Netherlands I expect a good support from Tacx in case of a hardware failure. It is more expensive though (€485 without any accessoires).

    Can anyone help me pull the trigger?
  • Keep in mind that that graph is for the i-Vortex, not the Vortex Smart - which may or may not be different.

    I've always found the BKool offering slightly strange, and lot of people have reported slippage as the roller requires the rider weight pressing on it, certainly riding out of the saddle seems almost impossible.

    The Bushido doesn't need an iOS device to set up any more, the Tacx Utility app is available for Android.

    Would the Flux Smart be outside your price range?
  • Ypuh
    Ypuh Posts: 8
    edited September 2016
    Thanks for your reply.

    All direct drive trainers are definitely out of budget. The Bushido and Bkool are already pushing what I would like to spend.

    On the CycleChat forum there's a topic going on with 1500+ pages of people who ride together on Bkool multiplayer (presumably all with a Bkool trainer, since other brands give inaccurate power readings in Bkool software).

    I can't really find that many people reporting tyre slippage with the Bkool design (or at least consider it to be annoying), no more than with the Vortex/Bushido at least. According to the BikeRumor review Bkool has improved this significantly in their latest model (2014+ I believe). I do however found some people reporting power and brake failures on the Tacx's. I'm leaning towards the Bkool still as you might have figured. #2 pick would probably be the cheaper Vortex (because of the design/tyre slippage) and just be happy with a lower resistance.
  • One of the other things to be aware of with BKool is that it's ANT+ only, which is fine with PC usage via an ANT+ dongle. But if down the line you want to use e.g. Zwift on iPad / iPhone that's Bluetooth only.
  • Ypuh
    Ypuh Posts: 8
    One of the other things to be aware of with BKool is that it's ANT+ only, which is fine with PC usage via an ANT+ dongle. But if down the line you want to use e.g. Zwift on iPad / iPhone that's Bluetooth only.
    Thank you. I've noticed the difference, however this is really not an issue. I don't own a tablet, I hate my smartphone and I'll solely use the trainer with my macbook.

    I do however noticed the trainer uses ANT+F-EC to control resistance, but doesn't broadcast an ANT+ signal (so I can't use my Garmin simultaneously to record cadence/speed/power). This is no problem either since I'll only use TrainerRoad, Zwift and Bkool software which all can upload the post-ride data to Strava if I'd like. Also the Bkool doesn't measure cadence (which Tacx does, only highly inaccurate) but I'll be using my Garmin sensor for that matter.

    This pretty much only leaves the differences in mounting, resistance and possibly power cord/build quality/mass inertia as the main differences between the Bkool and Bushido/Vortex.
  • Ypuh wrote:
    I do however noticed the trainer uses ANT+F-EC to control resistance, but doesn't broadcast an ANT+ signal (so I can't use my Garmin simultaneously to record cadence/speed/power).

    I'm pretty sure that won't be the case, as that's how ANT+ works, I'm not sure how else they would do it.
    Also the Bkool doesn't measure cadence (which Tacx does, only highly inaccurate) but I'll be using my Garmin sensor for that matter.

    Yes; for sure. Relying on the turbo to estimate your cadence is never a good idea better to measure it, I use the Wahoo RPM, but the google sensor will work just the same.
  • Ypuh
    Ypuh Posts: 8
    Ypuh wrote:
    I do however noticed the trainer uses ANT+F-EC to control resistance, but doesn't broadcast an ANT+ signal (so I can't use my Garmin simultaneously to record cadence/speed/power).

    I'm pretty sure that won't be the case, as that's how ANT+ works, I'm not sure how else they would do it.
    This is what DCRainmaker wrote:
    BKOOL Trainers: Again, another perfectly capable trainer – but just doens’t make sense pricing wise. It’s basically the same price as the Tacx Vortex, but unlike the Vortex it doesn’t broadcast on Bluetooth Smart. Nor does it broadcast ANT+ Power/Speed/Cadence. It does support ANT+ FE-C though.

    This is what Iker wrote in the comments:
    As I see, vortex and Bkool pro are quite similar. Considering the hardware, the main difference is that Bkool does not have bluetooth and does not broadcast speed and power through ANT+ (except through FE-C, so you can’t display and record the data in a external computer unless you have edge 510, 1000 or other FE-C ant+ enabled device) .

    From this I figured the ANT+ and ANT+F-EC are two different protocols. ANT+ is used on my Garmin 810 and can only read, where ANT+F-EC can go both ways between trainer and computer (the Garmin 520, 820 and 1000 support this). The Bkool ONLY uses the ANT+F-EC protocol which my Garmin 810 does not support (no problem to me) but Zwift, TR, Bkool use this protocol to control resistance. Tacx sends out ANT+ and ANT+F-EC simultaneously so you can use Zwift to control the machine and at the same time receive power/cadence/speed readings through your Garmin (again, I don't see the point of having my TV and Garmin display the same values, however this might be interesting if you'd like to collect all data in 1 place, say your Garmin).

    Solely for this reason DCRainmaker picks the Vortex over the Bkool, without mentioning the build quality/tyre slippage/noise or power accuracy/resistance, whilst those are the most interesting factors.
  • I stand ready to be corrected of course but that doesn't sound right to me. ANT+ and ANT+FE/C are not seperate protocols. The FEC bit is just concerned with automatically changing the resistance, that's all. It's plain ANT+ for the rest. But as I've never used a BKool I couldn't say with certainty.
  • I am one of those cyclechat bkool group riders and posters. We have an active mountain goat and handicap league and a spread of users of all abilities. Many of the group also participate in other bkool leagues so a wealth of experience of the turbo and the software. There are some software niggles and there have been concerns other turbos disadvantaged in the software/races BUT recent testing suggests, anomalies aside, if you generate a certain power then speed, whatever the turbo will be broadly the same. Not perfect but then i don't think that it is suggested it is in Zwift either.
    It is a long time since i heard anyone complain about tyre slippage. Few use turbo tyres and most of us have settled on cheap conti tyres which seem to work fine, pumped up to 120psi or even more.
    I am happy with my bkool pro. Its good for up to 15% at my 72-75kilo weight. This is a significant advantage over the vortex. We had a vortex user ride in the goats league last year and he just kept shooting away from us on the inclines. When i get tired of bkool i ride in Zwift where in ant+ fec it seems to work fine. In fact the training in zwift is fantastic compared to the meagre offering from bkool.
    I would suggest it is just as good as any other wheel on turbo and better than most. And you are not limited to the bkool world either with zwift, TR etc..