Tacx Vortex smart - gradient limitations?

dabber Posts: 1,926
Please bear with me... new to world of SMART trainers and despite trying to read up I'm getting confused.
I have no experience of power meters and the turbo I currently use is a Tacx Sirius.

I'm debating whether to buy a Tacx Vortex as it seems to have decent function and sits within my budget. I'd like to start using Trainer Road (and maybe Swift).

One of the areas I'd like to work on improving is climbing for sustained periods on gradients in excess of 8% or so. I ride a lot in France and although not fast I can keep for decent periods on climbs up to around that gradient (not fast but keep going fine). On 10%+ my old legs start to feel it quite a lot and although I've made it up 20%+ sections of climbs it's something I'd like to be better on.

Now to my question... the Tacx Vortex says it replicates slopes upto 7% and Max brake power (10 sec.) 950 Watt.
Will the 7% therefore limit the benefit I would get from the Vortex especially running programs with a higher gradient simulation?
“You may think that; I couldn’t possibly comment!”

Wilier Cento Uno SR/Wilier Mortirolo/Specialized Roubaix Comp/Kona Hei Hei/Calibre Bossnut


  • bobinski
    bobinski Posts: 570
    Mark should be along to help with this. I would suggest given the riding you do that a better option is a wahoo snap or bkool pro for an on wheel design and if you can stretch to a lot more then the kickr or Taxc neo etc. I use a bkool pro which is supposed to replicate upwards of 20% gradients. Dc Rainmaker found it pretty accurate for that type of riding. It certainly makes me work on the mountain goat rides i do, Alp Dhuez, Ventoux etc. And the difference between 7 and 15% on it is huge. I really notice it on Watopia as well where i have changed the default 50% difficulty to 100% I have to put 110psi in tyre to avoid wheel slippage. Some vortex riders occasionally join our mountain goat races in bkool and they are always faster because they are not having to struggle against the additional resistance the bkool pro puts out after 7% or so. In Zwift turbo choice in software affects speed so that when a vortex rider hits a gradient over 7% the sim simply slows the rider down to reflect what the impact of increasing resistance/gradient would do.I think i have that right but Mark knows more about it than me.
    For gradients of 7% or less and if you don't mind not actually pushing against the additional resistance then the vortex makes a compelling purchase.
  • bobones
    bobones Posts: 1,215
    You can just move into a higher gear to simulate the feel of bigger gradients (i.e. lower cadence and more resistance). In these higher gears, the wheel speed ceases to be realistic, but the power you put out is real enough. Apps like Zwift will adjust your virtual speed according to your power output and don't care what gear you are utilising. Unless you can put out greater 950w then the Vortex won't be limiting you; however, there are plenty of people whose sprint far exceeds 950w so the Vortex is a definitely limitation for them in sprints. For longer efforts though, the Vortex is more than adequate for most people.
  • bobinski
    bobinski Posts: 570
    That looks like good advice from bobones.
    Heres a helpful link for zwift:
  • dabber
    dabber Posts: 1,926
    Thanks bobinski and bobones... useful comments and good to know there is a work-around the slope simulation limitations. Not worried about outright power, I'm definitely not a sprinter.
    You've also got me looking again at the Bkool Pro. A bit more money but it looks pretty good and the scope of the Simulator software looks quite wide ranging and involving.
    “You may think that; I couldn’t possibly comment!”

    Wilier Cento Uno SR/Wilier Mortirolo/Specialized Roubaix Comp/Kona Hei Hei/Calibre Bossnut
  • If you really go want more gradient consider the Tacx Bushido as it will go to 15%. Personally I find simulated grades in the trainer harder than their real life equivalents
  • In Zwift all that mstters is your power output so the simulated grade is just a little extra to give realism. The default realism is 50% and their grades don't go much above 10% so the equivalent of a 5% grade.

    That said I run mine at 100% to simulate climbing when I've run out of lower gears.
  • bobinski
    bobinski Posts: 570
    I wouldn't recommend one over the other. Doesn't seem to matter too much if aT all in Zwift but does in Bkool. There is an active Bkool forum with races and leagues over at cyclechat and many others via bkools own site if you actually need the additional resistance. Otherwise there are tons of options.
  • mamba80
    mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    i ve been borrowing on demo a Vortex smart (i ve got a normal non smart version) now today i did a little 10sec max seated sprint, the garmin zero'd and there were no lights ion the vortex, i re-seated the mains and got a solid RED is dead led.

    was it coincidence it was during a sprint that exceeded its capabilities or are these things flaky?
    the unit i ve got was brand new out the box and has latest f/w on it.

    after 20mins or so, i reconnected mains and got a green flashing led but it wont BT to ipad.
  • My vortex broke once , tacx sent a part which fixed that. It then broke again this time completely dead after 11 months and 2500 miles on zwift. Wiggle warrantied it for me but it didnt come back in a resonable timeframe( nearly 2 months...) so i got a full refund and a discounted deal from wiggle on a kickr snap.

    Im much happier with the snap it responds to gradients quicker , its lots quieter , it will simulate upto 12% gradients the 7% on the vortex isnt enough, build quality is leaps ahead etc. I wish i had bought it in the first place rather than the crappy plastic tacx...

    I used to run the vortex at 50% on the slider on zwift that ment a 14% gradient would max the trainer out at 7% giving a smooth increase when going uphill rather than maxing out fast and then using gears to make it feel harder. With the kickr snap i can set it at 75% so a 16% gradient will max the trainer out at 12%. This feels much better in zwift especially when climbing the mountain .

    I wont buy another tacx product after my experiance, the vortex very tempting as an entry level unit as it doesnt have any real competition but i would advice saving up more money and buying better trainer because if you use it alot like me you will end up regretting it.