Basic trainers VS smart trainers

I’m shopping around for a trainer.  I see that if you have a basic trainer you can use a power meter or a speed sensor.  How does it work if you use a speed sensor such as the Wahoo Blue?  Does the software assume you’re using a certain resistance level on the lever and go by “the honor system” that you are indeed using that level?

I’m leaning towards getting a TACX Vortex but all options are on the table at this point.  What stopped me from getting it before was the absurd cost of getting the Smart Upgrade for it.

I just set up the blue SC last night and works fine.  The question you have about the resistance setting on the mag trainer is one I am curious about also.  I put it in the middle and was able to pace a few people but I was getting smoked…which is fine…I’m not really a cyclist.  I’ll keep looking but I think I may just open a support ticket and see what they recommend.  I have an older cycle ops mag trainer with I think 6 resistance settings.


I’m just wondering about somebody riding 53x11 at resistance 1 up a “hill” :slight_smile:

Smart upgrade? I’m not sure what that is, but if you mean the firmware upgrade you don’t necessarily need to buy anything for that. 

You do need an iOS device to download the Tacx app that enables you to upgrade the firmware, but you can just borrow on I expect. I borrowed an iPad from work, but maybe you know someone with an iPhone. Get them round, give them a beer to say thanks, and use their phone for 5 minutes. =)

By the way, if you’re in the UK you can get a good price on the Tacx Vortex by buying in Euros. I bought mine from, and it saved me about £50 vs. buying from or Wiggle.

The smart upgrade kit is required to use the Tacx software and also comes with an ant+ dongle and handlebar controller. It isn’t necessary if you don’t want to use their software programs. If you only want to use the vortex with zwift then as Daren says you just need to do a software upgrade to get the trainer to talk to zwift

Yeah sorry, should have clarified… I was reluctant to buy the Vortex before I heard of Zwift because of the extra cost of the smart upgrade kit.  Zwift has made the decision easier.

The software upgrade adds FE-C ANT+ capabilities to the trainer - which is a ‘reasonably’ open protocol to control the resistance unit of the trainer.


It’s not just TACX’s expensive simulation software and Zwift this opens up - but there are also other simulation and trainer software that can be used (seems rude to mention them here). And also it allow some bike computers to control resistance too - such as the new Garmin 520. 


With those and no-doubt other controllers and features coming up, I think if you can afford to get an FE-C ANT+ enabled trainer, then you should go for it.