Electro-Braking: (Tacx Vortex Smart Trainer, Wattbike)

(Dougie Nisbet (PACK)) #1

Hi, not so much as a question, as a ‘please check my thinking’ request.

I’ve been using Zwift with a Tacx Blue Motion on a PC and love it. Now I’m really interested in the realistic resistance that is possible with some smart trainers. I like Tacx and according to the specs it looks like the Vortex Smart Trainer would do what I’m interested in for a reasonable cost.

Now my wife is interested in a trainer, but for totally different reasons. She’s recovering from knee surgery and isn’t interested in a ‘use-your-own-bike’ trainer, preferring the idea of a fixed sturdy standalone bike.

We started looking at Wattbikes and once we’d stopped gasping at the cost realised it might be a win-win as we’d both be able to use it. But, and it’s a big but, I understand that it doesn’t offer electro-braking so it would not be controllable from Zwift and I’d lose the ability to climb a virtual real hill when I hit the KOM.

So is my understanding correct? If so, I’ll need to have a rethink about the way forward. Perhaps a much cheaper fixed bike, and going for the Tacx vortex too.



(Gary Davies (Team Type 1)) #2

I use a Tacx vortex smart and find it excellent

You can’t put a price on fitnes  

(. Gav S - ZSUNR) #3

You are right, the wattbike will produce very accurate power numbers that will allow you to use Zwift with your speed in Zwift determined by power, gradient and weight but it does not allow any ‘feedback’ from Zwift so it’s not interactive in that sense.  I use a Tacx Vortex Smart and it is fully interactive with the resistance changing with the Zwift terrain.

(Dougie Nisbet (PACK)) #4

Thanks for the positive feedback. It’s down for my Christmas! I’m hoping the price might fall a bit by then too, although pricing is a bit strange. Wiggle & Amazon have it for 359 but a search has it cropping up at 248 at athleteshop.co.uk. It says it’s a Vortex Smart,sort off, model T2180 - just a little nervous whether it is one. That’s a £110 saving if it is.

(Mike French - WBR / KISS / TFC (D)) #5


Have just been kitting myself up for Zwift, and was looking at the Vortex Smart. like you I saw it at Athleteshop and was nervous but prepared to go with it.

However, I also tried out Curiua ( http://www.curiua.com ) which Martin Lewis/Money Saving Expert had mentioned which compared Amazon stores across Europe and you can get it from Amazon Italy for about 313 Euros delivered (about £223). Ordered 16th at 17:30 arrived about an hour ago via UPS on the 20th. If you have an amazon UK account you can log in and it finds addresses and credit cards - but your order only shows on the Italy site. 

The weak Euro at the moment makes a big difference which is why Atheleteshop (NL) and Bike24 (Germany) are all around that price…

Hope that helps.


(Dougie Nisbet (PACK)) #6

Thanks Mike. Very useful to know.

(. Gav S - ZSUNR) #7

Just to update my previous comment, I have now had two Vortex trainers malfunction in two months.  I put the first one down to bad luck and but the replacement has now also begun to malfunction.  Certainly will now be asking for a refund rather than further replacement as they seem very prone to breaking.

(Dougie Nisbet (PACK)) #8

That’s scary Angus. I’ve just followed Mike’s route and ordered via Amazon Italy. Fingers crossed.

(Mike French - WBR / KISS / TFC (D)) #9

Well I obviously have little track record to go on ref reliability and malfunctioning, but after a quick firmware upgrade via the iPhone app and all of the pairing required to Zwift I did my first ride tonight using my Vortex Smart. You certainly can feel the increase and decrease in resistance with gradient.

I think I’ll need a USB extension to place the ant+ dongle underneath my Stages power meter as it kept dropping out, a fan, and a mat. Will have another go tomorrow.


Dougie - hope yours comes through as painlessly as mine. You should have it in a few days !