My review of the Tacx Vortex Smart ErgoTrainer: an awesome smart trainer!

Tacx Vortex Smart ReviewThe Tacx Vortex Smart ErgoTrainer delivers an intuitive and effective indoor training experience, one you’re seriously going to enjoy!

I’d actually gone through a couple of cheaper smart trainers before this and was beginning to question what all the “smart” hype was about. But before I was ready to give up and dismiss the entire smart trainer craze as a passing fad, I decided to test out the Tacx Vortex and give the world of smart trainers a serious chance – and I was blown away!

>>> READ: Why you need to buy a smart indoor trainer…

This beast from Tacx has finally managed to help me get the most out of Zwift, and has seen my fitness considerably improve in the past month thanks to an awesome range of convenient customization options for your training program. It’s safe to say that this is one smart trainer I won’t be giving up on any time soon!

Click here for reviews and the latest discounts

Smart technology that doesn’t disappoint

My major gripe with previous smart trainers was the major connectivity issues.

My cycling buddies have been raving about Zwift for months, and my primary goal in purchasing a smart trainer was to jump on the Zwift bandwagon. However, with earlier products, the ANT+ connection either kept cutting out (frequently at the most exciting bits of a race) or was unbearably slow.

There were NO SUCH ISSUES with the Tacx Vortex ErgoTrainer. The connection was lightning-fast and the trainer was so responsive to the app, I was able to really immerse myself in the illusion of being on tour-like roads and racing along at breakneck speed alongside my best friends – even when a blizzard was raining down outside my window!

Which brings me to my next point – Tacx has clearly built this trainer with Zwift and other similar software in mind.

This isn’t your bog-standard indoor trainer with a computer tacked on, but a product which was clearly built to take full advantage of “smart” training technology. With a total of 16 magnets (8 of which are electro-magnets – unusually high for an indoor trainer in this price range), resistance changes in response to the built-in software are extremely smooth, making downhill cycling a particular pleasure.

Moreover, with a maximum resistance of 950 watts, you needn’t worry about your Zwift training partners leaving you behind. You’ll be able to have a workout just as punishing as the best of them, so you’ll have no difficulties keeping up fitness-wise. Furthermore, speed and resistance calculations are extremely accurate, contributing to the tremendous realism of the Vortex indoor training experience.

Finally, Tacx’s market-leading electro-brake technology really comes into its own when paired with a smart cycling app, registering changes in speed with impressive precision. It’s the kind of attention to detail Tacx has become renowned for in the cycling world, applied to the challenging platform of smart cycling technology.

Even outside of Zwift, the Tacx Vortex Smart Ergotrainer has plenty to offer. The inbuilt Tacx software is brilliant for training on your own as it contains some very comprehensive workout programs, backed up by reliable studies, designed to cater to just about every fitness goal imaginable. I actually shaved a full 20 seconds off my 500-yard sprint timing after slogging away at the Sprint workout for three weeks!

Physical qualities that complement the tech side

Of course, the most advanced software in the world would not compensate for a shoddily built trainer.

Realistic resistance shifts aren’t much use if you’re constantly worrying about toppling over! Fortunately, despite the affordable price tag (we’re talking around $500), Tacx has brought their trademark blend of style and sturdiness to this Tacx Ergotrainer.

Tacx Vortex Smart ReviewA 2 kg flywheel, solid steel support legs and anti-slip rubber grips ensure that your ride is stable and comfortable no matter how fast you’re cycling. Even during sustained sprints, the Vortex remained firmly rooted to the ground.

In terms of style, the Vortex delivers in spades. I’m not a big fan of the stark, minimalist look – indoor training is supposed to be fun, and the Tacx Vortex Ergotrainer manages to deliver a youthful, modern look without veering into amateur territory. It helps that the entire product is made out of premium materials, ensuring the little dashes of color liven up rather than clash with the professional look of the trainer. Scratch professional – I would say this is one smart, sleek beast!

So, how much bang for your buck do you really get with this Tacx smart trainer?

Smart trainers can cost well over a thousand dollars, and I know that that kind of price scares off many a rider. Personally, I’d rather invest it in my bike for when the cycling season starts.

For that reason, at around $500, the Tacx Vortex Smart Ergotrainer was well within my comfort zone in terms of price, and coupled with its category-leading performance represents fantastic value for money. There’s little wonder it makes our list of the 5 BEST trainers for 2017!

Sure, I would have loved for Tacx to include a USB ANT+ stick, and perhaps it would have been convenient if the Tax workout apps came pre-loaded with more films so I didn’t need to download them from the Tacx website. But given the great all-round package Tacx has delivered here, all this really is nit-picking. To anyone who’s yet to be converted to the smart trainer trend from the standard indoor trainers, or for a cyclist searching for an affordable first smart trainer, I would unequivocally recommend the Tacx Vortex.

buy now

Use your bike stand to burn that winter belly fat off!

iMagic Fortius TacxSo you’ve bought your brand new bike trainer, it’s all setup and ready to go, but perhaps you’re still wondering to yourself just how the heck you’re going to burn all that winter excess off…because let’s face it, most of us pig out during the winter and don’t really commit to exercising properly over the colder months!

>>>THREE great ways to stay motivated over winter
>>>FIVE awesome nutritional tips for cyclists
>
>>THREE killer tips for losing weight

And despite those good intentions – you did buy that stationary bike trainer after all (and if you still haven’t purchased one, check out this guide) – it doesn’t really seem possible to stay trim and even lose some of that belly fat. I mean, not just by pedaling for a few minutes, surely?

Well, yes, you really can burn off some off that winter belly fat on your stationary bike trainer, and here are just a few pointers to help you on your way…

Tip 1: Stretch and stretch again

Prior to getting on your bike, stretch your body to get your body’s muscles warmed up and ready to work. Touching your toes, and trunk rotations are perfect to start with; if you feel the need for more, try some knee highs or leg swings, focusing more on the legs as that’s where most of your energy will be targeting in your training session.

Tip 2: Warm up pedal

Start pedaling, but primarily to warm up your muscles. Get comfortable on your seat,and slowly but surely increase your rate over a period of 4-5 minutes. This should get your muscles nice and ready for a workout.

Tip 3: Increase your pedaling

Start working harder and sweat! You’ll want to feel like your body is really working, and that breathing becomes harder. And don’t let the pace drop, keep at this rate for the whole of your session.

* The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that in order to lose weight, you’ll need to do some 60 to 90 minutes of cardio exercise.

Tip 4: Break in those intervals

To really maximize your training, start using interval training. That means pedal at a very intense rate for something like 30 seconds, and then ease off for the next 30-60 seconds. Keep doing this for up to ten minutes at first, as long as you include it in a much longer session (let’s say 45 minutes). These intervals are perfect for cardio and burning off that winter belly!

Tip 5: Use your trainer’s resistance levels

Most of the bike trainers we’ve reviewed on this site have some kind of resistance level. Use your trainer’s resistance to build up an even more intense session, which will help both your cardio efforts and your leg muscles.

Tip 6: Warm down

Just as you did when you started out, see Tip 2, ease out of your session with a slower intensity for 4-5 minutes. Most fitness experts will suggest this is a must, and it really does help your muscles unwind and loosen up from a particularly intense session.

Tip 7: Workout regularly!

Get on your trainer at least 3 times a week, for something like 45 minutes each time, and you’ll quickly see those pounds dropping off!

GOOD LUCK!

Don’t miss our culinary guide to keeping that cycling body of yours in shape over the festive season!

FIVE things NOT to do before starting your training session!

Crazy bike trainer deals for Cyber Monday that will save you some serious $$$!

OK, we’re done and dusted with Black Friday and all the chaos that comes with it (have you seen some of those videos of crazy, bargain-hunting shoppers??). But there’s no letting up in the shopping bonanza – now it’s time for Cyber Monday and even more crazy discounts!

We’re not big fans of those scary bargain-hunters out there, so Cyber Monday is a superb alternative where we still get to save some serious dollars while shopping in the safety of our home. And yes, we’ve managed to find some seriously budget-friendly deals to take advantage of – especially if you’re shopping online for a stationary bike stand or accessories on Cyber Monday!

The deals below are beyond our control in regards to price, but we have done our best to find you the BIGGEST reductions out there…and if you can’t wait to get your eyes on some of the best online Cyber Monday deals out there, click on the image below to start shopping!

cyber monday deals

$80 OFF!!! The classic Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

Kurt Kinetic Road Trainer ReviewThis bike trainer from Kurt Kinetic has been one of our long-serving bestsellers for some years, with upgrades every couple of years or so making this a must-buy trainer to have on your shopping list! We’ve spotted it’s still on sale with an $80 discount (it was also on sale on Black Friday), so now it’s well under the $300 barrier, we can’t recommend this one highly enough! Check out our review to learn more – or just take the word of hundreds of happy buyers on sites like Amazon who rate this an average of 4.8 stars…!

Current rating on Amazon: 4.8

buy-now

Save $20!!! One of the best in the business – the CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer

cycleops fluid 2 trainerIt’s not a huuuuge discount from the boys at CycleOps, but when we see ANY kind of a discount for a CycleOps Fluid 2, we highly recommend you snap it up! This is a great trainer, and one we’ve had in our arsenal of trainers for a long time, a trainer we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of without barely a squeak. Simply put, this is one of the best in the business, and a bike trainer suited to almost any level of riding experience and skills. To find out just why we love this trainer read more here.

Current rating on Amazon: 4.4

Your savings: 7%

buy-now

Save $80!!! The excellent value Ascent Fluid trainer

Ascent Fluid TrainerThis is another top quality trainer which we reviewed some time ago but which has been one of those trainers that people have been snapping up consistently. It also made our Black Friday list, largely because of its superb ranking on sites like Amazon (now at an average of 4.4!) and because its fast become known as one of those trainers that provides excellent value for money – especially now it’s priced at under $150! If you’re after a very decent fluid trainer at a very decent price, you won’t go far wrong with this beast of a bike trainer!

Current rating on Amazon: 4.4

Your savings: 40%

buy-now

Save over $90!!! The Schwinn Fluid Resistance trainer

schwinn fluid trainer reviewThis little beast from bike legends Schwinn could well be worth taking a punt, considering you’re saving over $90! We reviewed this trainer some months ago and were quietly impressed. With these extra savings for Cyber Monday, we’re even more impressed!

Current rating on Amazon: 4.0

Your savings: 37%

buy-now

Save $100!!! The Nashbar Parabolic Rollers

nashbar parabolic rollersIf you’re looking for a roller trainer that will wipe the floor of other roller trainers (and hopefully not leave you sprawled on the floor like the guys in this video), then this huge saving of $100 may just be enough to convince you that these awesome Nashbar rollers are for you. We’ve listed another Nashbar roller in our list of Top 5 roller trainers, but this newer model from Nashbar is getting some rave reviews and is already rated at 4.9 on Amazon…

Current rating on Amazon: 4.9

Your savings: 37%

buy-now

The Kinetic Kurt Road Machine Bike Trainer: technologically supreme and top of the range

Kurt Kinetic Road Trainer ReviewDon’t get me wrong, I love outdoor cycling, but I’m not going to risk my health during those cold, winter months. I see so many of my fellow cyclists persisting with outdoor training even in hailstorms and thunderstorms and subsequently falling ill, despite the simple solution of investing in a decent stationary bike trainer staring them in the face!

I’ve used several indoor bike trainers over the past few years (and created this site as a result!) and out of all of them, the Kinetic Kurt Machine Bicycle Trainer remains my favorite. It is one of the most technologically advanced indoor trainers out there and justifies its high price with high quality performance. The pros of you out there will enjoy this one!

Click HERE to save yourself almost 30% on the Kinetic Kurt Trainer!

Although I don’t take out my indoor bicycle trainers very often in spring and summer, they see a lot of use in the colder autumn and winter months. I’m usually on my bike trainer at least three to four days out of a week and that causes a lot of wear and tear. I’ve destroyed bicycle trainers that cost several hundred dollars in just a few months, chiefly due to leakage problems.

Too many stationary bike trainers (including those from the higher end of the price spectrum) rely on O-rings and seals to prevent leakage in the fluid chamber. These rings and seals don’t stand up well to extended use and will eventually wear out. The Kinetic Kurt Machine Bicycle Trainer uses a patented magnetic drive system instead of a physical drive shaft mechanism, thereby eliminating the need for O-rings and seals. In the two years since I’ve bought it, this Kurt bike trainer has never once leaked. Its durability is truly beyond question.

This indoor bike trainer is also one of the few I’ve encountered that can truly simulate the outdoor riding experience. When we cycle outdoors, the road isn’t always flat and even. We cycle across undulating landscapes where slopes and curves combine to deliver a more well-rounded and exciting cycling experience. Well, with this Kinetic Kurt bicycle trainer, you can enjoy that cycling experience indoors as well. Those geniuses at Kurt have managed to fit incredibly heavy flywheels weighing up to 18 pounds into this indoor trainer which allows the user to experience an unbelievably realistic indoor cycling experience. If I close my eyes, I can almost believe that I’m cycling outdoors. As an added bonus, these heavy flywheels provide this stationary trainer with exceptional stability and sturdiness for a smoother ride.

Main Product Features

Kinetic Kurt Road Trainer Pros and Cons

Kurt Kinetic Road Trainer ReviewAre there any disadvantages to this bike trainer? Well, I know I’m nitpicking, but I do wish it was a little cheaper. Like most Kinetic Kurt products, this stationary bicycle trainer is one of the pricier bicycle stands out there. Nevertheless, I know that the quality of this trainer more than justifies its hefty price. If I’ve to pay a little more for a smoother, more satisfying indoor bicycle ride on one of the hardiest bike trainers around, so be it. Us true-blue bicycle fanatics will never cheap-out on our bike accessories!

By the way, we’ve also reviewed the Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll Trainer, quite possibly the ultimate indoor ride! It also now comes in a smart-tech version with an InRide sensor and app that can measure speed, cadence and distance.

I’m really impressed with so many things about this bike trainer that if it ever wears out (don’t forget it has a lifetime warranty!), I’ll head straight to Amazon.com (one of the best places to find a very decent price online) and buy another one.

buy now

Want to stay lean and sexy? Start planning a morning bike ride!

morning bike rideThere’s probably a few of you out there looking at your indoor trainer and wondering just what it’s going to do for you and your body this winter. We’ve been there, especially on those days when you’re really looking for some serious motivation to ride that darned machine.

What might be even worse to learn is that you may well have been sweating away at the wrong time of day! We’ve just come across news that various doctors and health experts are now saying that to achieve maximum results, pedal away in the morning – as soon as you wake up!

So if you’re looking to stay fit and healthy (we mean sexxxxy!) over the coming months, wake up early and head over to that trainer!

SEE ALSO: 7 ways your trainer will change your life!

Various studies on fat burning exercises have revealed that we burn stored fat faster and therefore lose more weight when we do our workouts in the early morning, or when we exercise on an empty stomach.

Some research has indicated that when we exercise before eating breakfast, our body burns fat more efficiently, which in turn results to better muscle building. It is also reported that an empty stomach will produce hormones that promote fat burning and the building up of muscles. That’s in contrast to when our stomach is full, as our body’s activity is more focused in digesting the stored food, so the body building and fat burning hormones are not readily released.

The science behind burning all that fat…

The science behind all that fat burning is pretty darned interesting too: carbohydrates supply our body with fuel that boosts our energy and keeps us going. It is metabolized into glucose, a type of sugar that is stored in our muscles and liver as glycogen (carbohydrates, or the metabolized glycogen, is our body’s primary source of fuel). When an abundant supply of glycogen is available, this is what our body burns as fuel when we exercise. You may be thinking – and hoping – that you are burning stored fat, but in reality, you are just using up your body’s primary fuel. This is why we have to eat after performing strenuous workouts or doing physical work.

Our blood sugar drops during the period overnight when we sleep, because we’re obviously not in-taking any carbs, so our glycogen level is also lowered. When we exercise early in the morning while the level of glycogen in our body is low, our body turns to the fat stored in our muscles and uses it for fuel. Thus, we burn more fat compared to exercising with a full stomach when glycogen levels are high.

However, that morning training session shouldn’t be too intensive (but just enough to give your heart a good workout) – since fat is metabolized slowly our body turns back to the glycogen if it is really pushed during a hard session, and the adverse consequence is that our body sugar will be depleted. Therefore an early morning bike ride without pushing too much is best for really burning that fat off.

And once you’ve finished your early morning session, be sure to eat food rich in carbohydrates and protein to replenish body fuels. Perfect foods for the job include bread, eggs, baked beans and a nutritional drink; they’ll all help give your body the energy that it needs after your morning workout.

SEE ALSO: 5 Awesome Nutritional Tricks for Cyclists!

The future of indoor trainers…this is one video well worth watching!

We love our CycleOps Fluid 2, and have gotten familiar with many of the other trainers out there over the last few years.

But the future for indoor training is what really excites us…take a look at this video from the guys at CycleOps and the direction they’re heading (we love their newish Silencer Direct Drive trainer and their upcoming Hammer model sounds amazing!). Well worth a watch!

Lots more on our website!

Is this your man cave this winter?

If you’re aiming to stay fit over the winter months, you’ll probably have your stationary bike stand set up something like in the image below. Or perhaps not.

You may well be motivated for those upcoming winter sessions – and if you’re not, try checking out some of these videos for some inspiration – but making sure you’ve got the perfect environment is a big part in getting the most out of your training.

We’d highly recommend something like the image below if you can, but obviously, each to their own. We’d also probably replace the phone book with a proper riser block, and the towel on the bike frame with a sweat guard, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers!

How do YOU set up for the winter?

winter cycling man cave

See also:

The 7 major ways an indoor trainer can truly change your life!

The 5 BEST bike trainers for 2017