The Tacx Genius Trainer is the latest trainer to work it’s way through my ‘lab’ (aka living room). The high-end trainer is designed to let you simulate just about anything you can think of while on a trainer – including even steering the bike. But is the unit worth the price tag? And what else has changed within the Tacx software suite since I reviewed the software component last year about this time with the lower priced Tacx Bushido unit? Well, I set out to find out.
In doing so, I’ve got a pretty good grasp on how the unit works, as well as all the details inside and out. Because I want to be transparent about my reviews, once my evaluation period with the Tacx Genius + software has elapsed, I send it back to them in the Netherlands. Simple as that. Sorta like hiking in wilderness trails – leave only footprints.
Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular triathlete out there. I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background (my day job), and thus I try and be as complete as I can. But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out. Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed.
First up is getting this baby unboxed. The box is actually fairly large. Like a big picnic cooler.
Cracking it open you’ll find the Genius well protected by Styrofoam inside:
Once you’ve wrestled it out of the box, you’ll be facing your newfound investment:
Let’s start digging through all the pieces. Starting with the least exciting – the manual:
Increasing excitement, we’ve got the USB extension cable. This is used to provide the ANT+ USB adapter a bit more range.
Then is the ever important power cable. They sent me a euro-power cable, but US versions have the US one. And the unit is 100-240v, so it can be used on either system with the help of a 99 center converter plug if you happen to move (or buy from overseas).
Now we’re down to the trainer, which I’ve pulled off to the side for now. Inside that package below the trainer are bolts and more pieces I’ll dive into in a minute.
To the left of the trainer is the steering system. It may look all small and compact, but it’s like a slinky and expands.
See, starting to expand. Wait a section until we really unfurl the whole thing. All I can think of is – ‘Is that a BlackTrack in your living room, or are you just happy to see me?’.
Before we start assembling, here’s all the Genius components unboxed in a tidy little pile:
Now in addition to the usual box, the Tacx folks also sent over this secondary box. I wasn’t really quite sure what was in it, given the first one had all the components. The Girl was hoping it might have a bunny inside.
Turns out, it was more like Noah’s Ark. Everything on earth.
Once I made the goods all look pretty, here’s what was inside. In short, two bottles, a towel, a trainer wheel, a bike protector, and a trainer mat. Oh, and the motherload of videos.
Let’s get on with setting this whole kit up.
Initial Hardware Setup & Configuration:
Now that we’ve got everything unboxed, we’ll start to put the hardware together. This goes quicker than you might think. The vast majority of your setup time will actually be on the software side.
First up is the trainer – aka the ‘brake’. We’ll be utilizing two bolts and connecting them to the frame and the brake, plus a cover piece that seals it altogether tonight.
Hex wrench, meet bolt. Bolt, meet trainer:
Magic accomplished. Trainer built.
Now that we’ve got the trainer portion assembled, lets turn our attention to the sprawling steering system (Blacktrack). The idea behind this is that it sits below your bike (so your weight keeps it from moving), and then you put your front wheel in that mount block, which you can turn left/right within various virtual reality scenarios.
But first we need to flip it over and put some batteries in it. This is probably the single item on the hardware that annoys the crap out of me.
First off, why on earth did they actually require two screws on the battery compartment? It’s a piece that never moves, and isn’t going outside. It needs no more compartment security than the batteries in a TV remote control.
The batteries power the ANT+ chip that’s used in there to communicate via private-ANT to the TTS software suite. You wiggle the unit to wake it up. Just like an ANT+ footpod.
Once the batteries are in, the little green light illuminates:
Ok, with the unit flipped over we head to the complete other end of the steering platform and affix these little blue clamps into the track. This is where you place your trainer, and thus it holds it in place.
There’s a method to measuring this all out perfectly with your bike so the stars align and you only have to validate the blue things once. But, I just did the estimation and redo method, only took two tries to get it perfect.
The only problem I have with this is that I wish they were easily movable (without a hex wrench). See, my bike is significantly larger than The Girl’s small circus bike (650c wheels to give you perspective). So in order for her to jump on the trainer, I have to remove the trainer entirely, take out the hex wrench and re-adjust everything. Then do it all again afterwards.
Ok, we’re almost ready to put our bike on for the final time!
But first, we need to add the trainer skewer. If you already have a trainer skewer, than you can just keep that. No worries there. The trainer skewer is important because typical ones included with your bike are plastic (the end caps), so it’ll break in the trainer, which is bad.
And with that, we can mount the bike to the trainer. I love the blue lever on this trainer for instantly snapping the whole thing in place. Perhaps my favorite hardware aspect of the Genius.
Oh, and don’t forget to plug it in.
Next up, the handlebar controller.
The handlebar controller allows you to quickly and easily control various actions within the training suite. Such as views, pausing, starting, etc… It uses ANT+ to communicate wirelessly with the software.
What you see below is the ANT+ handlebar controller, the batteries for the handlebar controller, and the ANT+ USB adapter for your computer. Oh, and it’s sitting on the software for your computer. And that is in turn sitting on the VR steering system. And that’s sitting on the trainer mat. Which you know, is on the ground. Just so we’re clear and grounded.
After you’ve got the batteries in, go dig around and find that USB extension cable and attach the USB stick to it. Then plug it in your computer. We’ll come back to it later.
Finally, go ahead and mount the handlebar unit somewhere on your bike. Anywhere will do.
I’ve jury-rigged it onto an Edge 500 mount, which is sitting on a knock-off $5 bike computer mount that a reader sent me from Asia. Hey, it worked! Realistically, any of the out-front mounts work for this though. Like the Barfly I reviewed. Of course, you can just simply put it on your handlebars if you have a road bike.
Or, you can build your own bike computer/iPhone/iPad training stand for $30, which I walk through all the steps in that post.
Tacx Training Suite (TTS) Indoor Trainer Software:
TTS is the software application you use to control the Tacx trainer via a computer. TTS is installed on a Windows PC (not Mac compatible). Note that unlike most other cycling platforms on the market today, the TTS suite actually does require a relatively frequent or beefy computer. I had been using a computer that I normally use for virtually all of my testing, and it turns out it wasn’t good enough. So I rummaged around and put it on another box instead. If you don’t follow the specs, the software will generally suck. Been there, done that.
All of the screenshots from this review were on version 4.6. Though, I started reviewing the product in the 4.4 variant, and over the last few months it’s been upgraded as new releases come out.
Initial User and System Configuration:
Once you’ve installed the software, you’ll be creating a user account (or, downloading one if you already have one). This user account allows you access online, as well as creates an identity while logged in locally. This also allows multiple users to use the software and keep all historical information in the same place.
You can customize information such as weight/height/age and even FTP (Functional Threshold Power).
As well as the all-important photo:
With that out of the way, let’s briefly look at a few of the other configuration options. These are all found within Setup, and can be used to change the behavior of the platform across all training types. Within General, you’ll be able to change units (i.e. MPH or KPH).
Then, under the Training Settings, you’ll be able set a handful of settings related to basic configuration:
Within the Maps configuration (oddly not shown in the left side, only visible if you click ‘Next’), you’re controlling the settings for the mini (or large) map. Keep in mind these impact your performance, so if your computer is on the low-side, you may want to click wisely:
And if you thought the last setting impacted performance, click even more carefully within the VR (Virtual Reality) settings:
With that, all the settings are covered. There are a handful of other options that pertain to specific areas, so I’ll cover those as we stumble into them.
One last item I need to cover is the Google License piece. Starting last Fall, Tacx started charging users for access to Google Maps. This is due to them being required to pay licensing fees to Google. This is no different than any other company. What’s different however is that they’re essentially the only ones in the trainer marketplace to pass that cost onto you. The cost is $30US a year.
When you initiate one of the training types that requires the license, it’ll ask you to go ahead and either provide a license key, or purchase the key:
The keys will arrive by e-mail, and then you can activate the product. Only takes a second:
Hardware Pairing and Configuration:
Next up is pairing the hardware.
In general, I’d suggest that if you’re in a bad mood prior to going into this step, then you may want to take a small breather before continuing. I find that these next step work a small fraction of the time. I’ve setup two Genius units, two Bushido units, and done it countless times across countless versions of the software on multiple computers. In general – it rarely goes smoothly.
That said, onwards.
First up within the device wizard is picking our hardware type. Pretty easy, Genius.
Next, we’ll trigger the Genius handlebar controller. Press the little button, then wait, and hope. Eventually it’ll respond.
Once it finds the unit, you’re in business. It’ll briefly ask you to press whichever button is up for you (as you could have mounted it any number of ways). This automatically aligns it correctly. Quick and easy.
Next up is the brake (that’s the trainer). Same procedure. Hope and pray.
Now I should take a brief detour here. First off, the above three screenshots this afternoon took me nearly an hour to gather because the unit decided to be finicky. And, that’s after weeks of troubleshooting back two months ago that resulted in Tacx determining the brake unit was defect. So, they sent out a new one.
So while the initial issue was due to a faulty unit, the screenshot issue this afternoon is just run of the mill normal with it being upset about pairing.
Ok, detour complete.
Next the unit needs to align itself. This only takes a moment and it does it by itself.
Next comes the brake calibration. In theory, this is an easy process. In reality, it’s another process that’ll likely cause you to scream.
See, it asks you to pedal, but then, it often will instantly give you this error message saying you didn’t stop pedaling. Note, it actually never tells you to stop pedaling. It’s like getting yelled at and you don’t know why. The Tacx forums are littered with people having the same issues. In my case, I just keep on trying over and over until it finally goes. Typically the trick is to barely move your pedals (like 1/8th of a turn).
Eventually though, you might succeed.
Next up, the steering device – aka the BlackTrack.
Continuing my typical trend of hardware things not cooperating, this unit wouldn’t cooperate to save my life when I went today to take all these screenshots. Luckily, other portions of my review I had already done the photos with it working.
Now, before I’m done ranting (I get to rant, this section here cost me another 45 minutes of life), note what it tells you to do: Remove the batteries and put them back in.
Well, do you remember how you swap out batteries on the steering system? Yes, a screwdriver, and under the unit, with two tiny screws.
Which means that because your bike is already mounted to the trainer, which is in turn mounted to the BlackTrack and holding it down, that you’ve gotta do something like this to get at the battery compartment.
If there’s one piece of the entire Tacx system that wants to make me scream and cry all at once, this.is.it. For the love of all things holy – do not require removal of batteries to pair. Do not require a screwdriver to access the indside of an indoor battery compartment, and do NOT put the compartment below the system that the bike and trainer sits. And finally, just work. Please, just work.
Ok, deep breath.
Next, pairing the heart rate. Of all things, the ANT+ heart rate sensor is the most common and basic element of the entire ANT+ world. Millions and millions of heart rate straps sold. The most used ANT+ device profile. Hundreds of apps and devices work flawlessly on it daily.
Surely this will work instantly.
But it doesn’t. It takes a bunch of poking and prodding before it sticks and connects.
And in general, every time I use it it fails to connect and I have to re-pair it again.
Next up, setting your heart rate zones. This is pretty easy and straightforward.
And with that, we’re done and ready to start cycling. Woot!
If it seemed above that I’m frustrated with the hardware pairing process…it’s because I am. In fact, it’s the sole reason why I get anxious anytime I have to use the system. It just rarely ever works instantly. My biggest pet peeve in life is wasting time. And most times I schedule my trainer rides with little time to spare on either side of it. When I have to waste 10-30 minutes futzing with the trainer because it won’t find anything, it makes me want to throw it out the window. And this isn’t a new problem. It’s the same issues I saw with the Bushido a year ago and plenty of software versions in between.
Ultimately, I look at things in a more basic manner. ANT+ as a platform usually functions quite well. It just works. I’ve got dozens of open ANT+ devices here and the communications between them and everything works fine. However, whatever Tacx has done in their private-ANT implementation simply isn’t stable or reliable. I can have the transmitter inches away from the devices and it won’t find things. I don’t know what the issue is and whether it’s on the hardware side or the software side, but I know it’s deeply frustrating and a major turnoff for me.
Virtual Reality Mode:
Virtual Reality Mode is likely what most folks think of when they think of computerized cycling software. This mode creates an imaginary 3D environment to mimic various landscapes – from cities to forests. It’s within this world that the steering system is useful for.
First though, we’ll start off with picking out which Virtual Reality Course we want. We’ve got four main options we can freely wander around in, plus a couple on the lap-based options (like crits).
Once you’ve selected a given environment, you’ll be able to select a specific event within that. As is the case throughout the suite, the elevation profile of the selected course is shown to you below the course, along with some summary information on the right side.
You can also configure components (optional). I went ahead and added five opponents.
With that, we’re ready to start. Or, as it was in my case – false start. No worries, normally you don’t false start.
After my false start, I was a bit behind the pack, so it took a moment to catch-up. You can see them just ahead of me.
Now I’m back in line.
Here’s a quick video I shot giving you a feel for the video quality and just the general flow of things:
Finally, once you’ve completed an event, you can save it. This is true of every activity within the suite, and it allows you to save the results even if you don’t fully complete the course.
Like I noted above, there’s a bunch of different environments. Here for example, is the forested one.
And, here’s a quick video of that too. Note specifically about mid-way through the video where I start to descend and the forward drive on the trainer kicks in. This is where the unit actually attempts to mimic downhill segments and drive the trainer wheel forward. I pan the camera around to capture that.
The graphical quality of the Virtual Reality environments is quite high. By far the highest amongst any cycling program on the market today. The difference graphically between the Tacx suite and the nearest competitor is like comparing a small McDonalds Happy Meal toy car to that of a massive Las Vegas Stretch Hummer. There are sounds within the environment as well, which you may be able to hear in some of the videos above (a bit hard above the trainer noise).
That said, while the VR worlds are neat, I think most cyclists that buy this product are probably going to focus on the films or GPS rides more than anything else.
Tacx Films (Videos) Mode:
The next component is the Tacx Films section. These are real-world videos that are show on usually famous routes or races. They enable you to ride the route and have the video speed synchronized to your cycling speed.
While there are a few test/demo videos included, you’ll ultimately need to purchase and install some of your own. Today they come on DVD’s. Once you insert the DVD in, it’ll usually take about 10-20 minutes to copy the contents over to your hard drive using the provided installer. It’s just like installing a new piece of software:
With them copied over to your hard drive, you won’t need the DVD’s when you want to run the videos. Once the video is copied over, you’ll need to enter in the activation key. This is found within the DVD packet. I’ll point out that this is a solid pain in the ass because the keys are actually case sensitive. And even worse is that if you mistype something it will clear it. So you can’t just figure out what you typed wrong and re-do it. Rather frustrating.
After the key is entered, you’re good to go.
Once you’ve got the videos installed, you’ll go and select a given video from the Tacx Films section on the left side. This will show you all videos currently installed. You’ll notice that each video series has multiple components or segments to it, which are shown on the right pane:
As you click on different segments, it’ll highlight the altitude profile for that segment:
And, if you click on the ‘Video’ tab, it’ll show you a frame from that segment of the video:
The next tab – ‘Route’ – allows you to view the route on Google Maps. It’ll highlight the portion of the route that you’ve selected as a segment:
You can also choose any starting point by just clicking ‘Customize Starting Point’:
With all that done, let’s go ahead and click ‘Start Training’. Note that if this isn’t illuminated, it means to check the connection to the trainer, as something be broke. It happens.
Once you;’ve started, you’ll likely be in the tri-split screen. On the left you’ll see the video itself, with the graph of your current metric data graphed below it (heart rate, speed, power, cadence, etc…). Along the bottom you’ve got the ride stats. And on the right you have a Google Earth view of your current position on the course. Note in that right window how there’s a small statue on the GPS map, and indeed that same statue is present in the video.
You can adjust the view by using the handlebar controller:
For example, you can change to just show the entire video:
You can pretty much hide or make visible any component of the screen. So if you had a giant projector wall and just wanted the video without any data, you could do that.
Here’s a short video showing you what the video itself looks like while riding:
Today, the Tacx films are purchased on DVD’s, and vary in price from $30-$70, with a few cheaper at $10. The video quality isn’t HD, but rather DVD-quality. In either case, that’s the costs add up for just for a video. Looking at the Arizona Climbs DVD, it’s of 50 miles of climbs (Mount Lemmon and Mount Graham). No doubt, great videos, great climbs. But is it worth $50?
I did have the chance to try out some of the HD videos that Tacx is looking to distribute – potentially on BluRay (I think downloading would work too, to be honest). The quality of these were pretty solid. For example, the Wildflower 2012 one was stunning.
Same goes for a few others I tried out. Really stunning scenery in HD.
This, near Big Sur:
Again, the quality on all these were stunning. Though, the sizes are pretty big – Wildflower was 11GB, the Alps were 28GB each (with three segments each at 8 hours!), and Yosemite was 22GB. But again, amazing quality:
The only challenge is that for me as a personal preference, I struggle to fully appreciate the high-quality nature of the videos while on a trainer. Which is no doubt strange given I spend significant amounts of time and money on high quality photography and video here on the site. It’s just a ‘my brain is busy pedaling hard’ thing while on a trainer. That said, I know many folks do really appreciate the super-high resolution videos shot on a professional video platform, and I think in this competitive marketplace, differentiating yourself against videos taken with just a GoPro is worthwhile for Tacx.
I also very much appreciate what other companies are doing around ‘all you can eat’ with respect to trainer videos. I’d much rather pay a flat fee (either upfront or monthly) to get access to as many videos as I can. Even if the quality is less. But, everyone differs in what they prefer.
GPS Rides Mode:
The next mode enables you to ride outside routes in a Google Earth like atmosphere. Doing so does require you to have the GPS (or GPX specifically) file of the route. The good news is these are easy to find and create. For example, you can go onto Garmin Connect and download GPX files for just about any route on earth. Or, you can go to MapMyRide.com and do the same. Again, TONS of places to get/make GPX files.
In my case, I grabbed a file from a recent ride I did, and from Garmin Connect I just clicked ‘Export’ and exported out the GPX file.
Then within the Tacx suite I went into the Import/Export menu and imported in the GPX file.
From there, I switch into the GPS Rides section (left tab). By clicking on my ride I can see my route profile and the typical summary information on the right side.
Once that’s done, you’ll go ahead and click ‘Start Training’. The Tacx suite will give you a 5-second countdown:
You’ll notice that the screen looks a bit wonky. The software is attempting to map the satellite imagery to a 3D elevation map. Which means when it comes time for doing so near the river, it drops it down quite a bit. The problem with this is instantly evident about 40 seconds into my ride when the GPS track believes I went for a dip in the river. Because of this descent, the motor on the trainer kicks in as if I were descending – quickly spinning up my speed like I just dropped down a 20% grade.
The fault for this lies amongst a few different parties. First is that the GPS track I recorded on my ride isn’t quite perfect. Second is that the Tacx suite doesn’t appear to apply any smoothing to the file, to remove these sorts of issues.
Ignoring that however, the rest of this functionality works as you would generally expect.
You can change the camera view whenever you’d like via the handlebar controller. For example, zoom out out more, or rotating around the point.
In addition to the Google Earth mode, you can also switch into a graphical charting view. For example, I loaded up a different course, and switch into that. You’ll still see the same metrics along the bottom (though, you can turn them off).
And of course, you can still go into the panoramic or other external views.
If you’re training for a given race, the GPS mode is probably your best bet to simulate certain sections of the course. It’s easy to download the GPX files and import them in, and best of all – that piece is free.
Catalyst (Coaching/Training) Mode:
Catalyst and coaching mode is probably the least exciting component of the Tacx training suite. But it’s actually where I typically spend most of my time.
In this mode, you can specify various constant such as controlling the wattage or incline – and then base your workouts on that. For me, I usually use Watts – Time, which allows me to control the wattage during the workout and just ride as long as I’d like.
After selecting it, I’ll be brought to the main graph screen. There is where I’ll remain the entire workout.
During the workout I can use the handlebar controller to increase/decrease the resistance.
And as the workout progresses, you’ll see the charts are updated with my historical information from that ride.
Along the bottom is my current information. Speaking of which, based on what I’m seeing – while the power is consistent, it seems to generally read high (based on three other power meters on my bike). And cadence also reads slightly high. This could potentially be tied to an issue with calibration, though, I followed those steps as best as the system would allow for.
Finally, I found that the system reacted fairly slowly to shifts in power. In the above section you can see how I set it and forget it for 240w. I was doing some mixed higher cadence stuff, where I’d burst up for 30-seconds. It would take about 15-20 seconds until the trainer would fully re-stabilize on the wattage back to 240w. During this stabilization phase, the unit was ‘slow’ by upwards of 200w.Typically on most trainers I see this happen within 2-5 seconds. After all, that’s sorta the point of set-wattage training sessions. I can change cadence and speed and it should remain the same.
Once I’m done with my workout, I can save it as usual. I’ll talk about how I can export it out in a minute.
Depending on which license pack you bought, multiplayer will cost extra. Approximately $40 per year extra. When you go into multiplayer, it’ll ask you to buy or enter a license.
You can buy the license online and it gets e-mailed to you immediately.
Once you have it, you’ll enter it in and activate like any other component of the platform that request activation.
After that, multiplayer is ready to roll!
Now, multiplayer requires either you join an existing session, or create your own. Oftentimes, when I went to join an existing session, either there wasn’t any going on – or, the pickings were slim:
There is also a calendar of upcoming events:
Of course, you can also create your own multiplayer session anytime you’d like to. This can be done on a private network, or across the internet:
I went ahead and created my own multiplayer session:
Sadly, nobody joined me. Perhaps someday I’ll schedule a large multiplayer event. Like the Tour de DC Rainmaker.
The VR Steering Platform:
Lastly, a brief moment about the steering system – BlackTrack. The BlackTrack is used to steer around the 3D Virtual Reality worlds within the Tacx suite. And, to that extent, it does that just fine.
However, the challenge I have is that the usefulness of it seems limited. For example, taking a look at the below video, if I just leave the trainer alone, it’ll simply turn the bike for me (virtually), so that I don’t crash. Because I don’t crash, there’s no repercussions for not using it. Thus risk is removed, and excitement along with it. It becomes a gimmick (and, an expensive one at that).
Ultimately, I don’t think the technology holistically is there yet today where steering makes sense on a trainer. Perhaps down the road when the Google Streetview can be cleanly streamed (today it’s blocky and ugly), it’ll work better. Especially when combined with some form of heads up display that I can look left/right and see what’s around me (that piece is much closer). Again, just my two cents.
Viewing Historical Data, Exporting Data:
Under the ‘Extra’ menu, you can open up the Analyzer. The Analyzer allows you to look at past workouts and some of the metrics collected on them. Here for example is my Sunday indoor trainer workout. You can see summary information at the bottom (such as Speed/Cadence/Power averages and maxes), as well as heart rate information and heart rate zone data.
Along the top is the graph for my workout. I can zoom in or out of it, and slide along it. I can’t highlight specific sections though to get more data about just that section (I can highlight a given point to get data about that point however).
The Analyzer does overall provide a relatively clean and simple interface for viewing your past workouts.
Exporting Training Files (to other sports tracking logs):
In addition to analyzing your data within the TTS platform, you can also export it out to a handful of other platforms. For example, I exported my data out to Training Peaks.
You can export data out to BikeNet, TrainingPeaks, XML, and HRM formats.
Updating the TTS Suite Software:
Every couple of months the TTS suite receives an update. The vast majority of time this update is free. Every once in a while though – when they shift from major versions (such as 3.x to 4.x), it costs money. Unfortunately, a fair bit of money. That said, when it’s free, it’s pretty straight forward. When a new update is available for the TTS suite, it’ll show up on the right side, with a little icon on the right sidebar, indicating a new version. When you click on it, this wizard will appear:
Above it says all the new features, which are also usually listed in the main news feed that shows up in the software.
You’ll click on ‘Download’ to download the software, which will close the Tacx suite and start the downloader:
As an aside, you can also always just launch the Tacx Updater (found under Tacx in the Windows program menu), which allows you to update individual components:
The whole suite might take just a wee bit of time – but eventually it finishes. Which will then kickoff the installer, pretty much just like when you first installed the software:
With that, you’re updated and ready to go on the new version.
Updating the Tacx Trainer Firmware:
In addition to the software running on your computer, the trainer itself (technically called the ‘brake’ unit) also receives occasional firmware update. Over the past few months a new firmware update came out for the Tacx Brake, so I went ahead and updated.
You’ll see the update in one of two places. Within the software, an alert will pop-up, and you can see the update via the Device Wizard (if pairing):
Or, via the Tacx Updater that I noted above. Ultimately, the Device Wizard just redirects you to the Tacx Updater.
Once you click install, it’ll go about its business. It takes a couple minutes.
And then it’s done. Mission complete.
While the process is pretty straight forward, I generally abide by the rule that when updating firmware – don’t do anything else on the computer and just let the device be. Failure typically is not a good option.
Sound/Noise Levels Comparison:
Sound tests are kinda a funny thing. There’s a lot of factors that influence trainer noise levels. Everything from the gearing you use to the tires to the room and flooring you’re in.
However, the single item that drives an increase in noise is speed. Not resistance or wattage. I can put out 800w or 80w and have it sound exactly the same as long as my speed is the same. Note that this is different for non-resistance controlled trainers (like fluid ones). Those don’t have a resistance controlled unit on them.
Next, note that despite the urban legend that a decibel or two more than doubles the noise – that actually isn’t the case. You can quite plainly see and hear that in the below as I increase sound.
That said, I take a quick stab at giving you a rough idea of the sound level. Below is the Tacx Genius trainer, measured at about 1-meter (3ft). As you can see, it peaks at about 82.1 decibels.
Doing the same test at the same position across a few more trainers (KICKR, Kinetic Road Machine, and LeMond Revolution) below you can see that they’re all about the same, except the LeMond Revolution.
Overall, you’re unlikely to see significant differences here between different units in this category.
One item I will point out is the difference the trainer tire made. For fun, I put on the trainer tire that Tacx supplied:
In my case, I just put it on a different wheel. Obviously that makes no impact on sound, since a wheel itself never touches the trainer – that’s the job of the tire.
Note that you should only ride the trainer tire indoors, no outdoor riding here. Which basically means you want a cheap second wheel – as taking it on and off all winter is a pain in the butt.
I then ran two sound tests. Both were identical in procedure and done back to back. I did an initial ramp to 20MPH with a set-wattage of 200w (thus constant resistance), and then did a secondary ramp from 20MPH to 30MPH. Gearing identical. Here were the peak values:
vs Trainer Tire:
I never would have thought that the trainer tire would be louder. Not much louder, but a tiny bit.
Thoughts on Tacx Customer Service & Support
Never before in a review have I addressed the customer service and support side of a product. This is honestly because I’ve mostly never had a reason to. By and large, virtually every company I’ve reviewed in the sports technology world has really solid customer service and support. Sure, there is always the bad apple incident here and there – but on the large, I field very few complaints that show any consistency.
Except one company.
And it’s for that reason that I’ve added this section. Obviously, as a well known reviewer within the industry I don’t necessarily see the full customer service experience. Requests and items get answered and fixed within minutes. And physical components are overnighted to me internationally should something arise (such as issues with the brake unit that caused some delay in this review). Thus what’s far more important is how you are treated and supported.
And that’s where I’ve seen near weekly complaints from you around Tacx customer service and support. I’ve actually tracked down a few of these as part of a frank conversation with the Tacx folks about this. Most of these cases seemed to actually center around either licensing, lack of support response, or hardware not working.
In the cases of licensing, most of the complaints were focused on issues with keys not working, and customers feeling that Tacx was essentially telling them ‘tough luck’. Even keys bought shrink-wrapped weren’t working – and with resellers not accepting software returns, people were literally up a creek with a multi-hundred dollar piece of software.
On not responding, many folks have been frustrated by both the speed, and lack of response to complaints or issues. E-mail requests going into the ether, or have extremely latent responses on others. I’ve heard from Tacx and they said they’ve been trying to address this.
Finally, on hardware not working. Just last week an owner e-mailed about their 10-month old Genius seizing up. Tacx wasn’t responding to his repeated enquiries, so he had to sort it out with his local bike shop. After more arguing there, his LBS did agree to send it to Tacx. After it arrived at Tacx, it took over two weeks until they even looked at it. They did end up agreeing to replace the unit – but the entire experience has left this customer looking to sell it as soon as it arrives back (whenever that may be). This is a message I’ve heard a number of times from other customers. And the Tacx support forums are literally littered with folks in this situation.
Now, this isn’t to say that Tacx was at fault in 100% of these cases. In fact, there were some that I’d say the customer probably was at fault. But the overarching aspect was how Tacx dealt with the issue. There’s a saying – which is that “The customer is always right“. In my opinion, when a customer who you’ve known has spent $1,000+ on hardware comes to you (otherwise they wouldn’t be talking to you), you should just trust that they aren’t out to get you for that last $40-100. Perhaps you’ll have a few folks who abuse the system, but that is far outweighed by honest folks who just want their product to work.
Note that my above thoughts are in addition to complaints around the occasional bugginess of the software (some of which I saw and noted). No doubt that Tacx has in my opinion made really good progress over the last year on the stability of the software. They really have. But, I do sometimes feel that a minimum QA bar isn’t being met. Big ticket items head out the door that should be caught with a consistent regression testing methodology. Still, progress is being made there. But I really feel like Tacx needs to stop all new software functionality, and simply spend however many months it takes to work their way through every bug in their forums until people stop posting bugs.
Of course, these don’t represent every customer. There are undoubtedly plenty of customers that have good customer service issues and flawless software. As I think everything can be summed up best from a reader who e-mailed me last week when he said (paraphrased): ‘When things are going well with the Tacx, it’s an awesome piece of kit. But when it stops working, the situation quickly turns into a bad place.’
Tacx has responded to my review with a PDF letter that they’ve asked to be posted. I’ve included a link to the PDF here, as well as copied the full contents below:
Thank you for your feedback. Your review does include real experiences, which is the power of your blog. We do feel the need as Tacx to respond to your blog, because we also believe that the negativity should be taken away by us. The whole Tacx team is dedicated to their products because of their passion and wants to offer the best trainers in the world. Just some comments on your blog.
If possible, we would like to offer this for free, as we did in the past. Due to a decision by Google, Tacx is no longer allowed to offer the Google Earth application as a free feature to our customers. Tacx doesn’t make profit with this license and pays an even amount to Google per ride.
Setting up your Trainer
We made improvements during the year in setting up a wireless system, and changed our software to this. With wireless communications for the genius we are constantly testing and looking for better options to connect the system.
Service and Support
We are aware that some things did not go as well as expected last year. Unfortunately one of the major support issues we have seen with customers are the duplicated software codes that were send out by mistake. We send out a clear message through our dealer network telling customers could how to resolve this problem. Unfortunately we were not able to track down all double codes into the field, so that is what you have seen on Forums.
We understand that when customers get a new trainer and receive a message that the code is used, that the first experience is not good. We are doing everything to prevent this for the future. Looking to moister issues, production has been changed last year to prevent this. We are aware that we are in a sport industry and that most of the equipment should be sweat resistance.
There is a lot of misunderstanding on our way we deal with the support. First of all we have our dealer network. The Tacx Test Center dealer gives first support and should direct the customer to the correct solution. This face to face communication we believe is the best, because Tacx does not have a worldwide telephone support desk.
However, Tacx also sees that not all consumers are buying via this route, so that is the reason we made the analyzing tool on our website (www.tacx.com/service). This tool is helping the customer, via some questions, to the correct solution. The feedback support (via email@example.com or twitter.com/TacxSupport) is more related when questions cannot be answered from our tool, or license questions. We are using our SLA in this, but notice also on forums that people expect quicker response in some cases. In the next season we will use a track and trace support desk system so this can be better monitored and increase our people on our support desk.
Tacx will make an announcement of this structure this year on our website.
The Tacx Team
From Ray: I don’t have any particular response to the response.
Trainer Comparison Tables:
You can utilize the below comparison table that’s dynamically updated over time (so as features change via firmware) to compare the different trainers that I’ve reviewed. Note the key part being ‘I’ve reviewed’. There are no doubt many other great trainers on the market, it’s just that if I haven’t reviewed it, I don’t feel right including it based on some marketing fluff.
Also, as you’ll probably notice, these are higher end trainers. If you’re looking for lower-end options, see my general trainer recommendations post.
|Function/Feature||Tacx Genius||Elite Drivo II||CycleOps PowerBeam Pro||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Racermate CompuTrainer|
|Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 11th, 2021 @ 4:01 am New Window|
|Price for trainer||$1,340||$1,199||$799||$1,199||$1,629|
|Trainer Type||Wheel-on||Direct Drive (no wheel)||Wheel-on||Direct Drive (no wheel)||Wheel-on|
|Available today (for sale)||Available today||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Wired or Wireless data transmission/control||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless||Wireless||Wired/Soon WiFi|
|Power cord required||Yes||Yes for broadcast, no for general use||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Includes cassette||No||Yes (11 Speed SRAM/Shimano)||Resistance||Tacx Genius||Elite Drivo II||CycleOps PowerBeam Pro||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Racermate CompuTrainer|
|Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Maximum wattage capability||-||2,296w @ 40KPH / 3,600w @ 60KPH||1,000w+||2500W @ 30mph||1,500w|
|Maximum simulated hill incline||24%||15%||Features||Tacx Genius||Elite Drivo II||CycleOps PowerBeam Pro||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Racermate CompuTrainer|
|Ability to update unit firmware||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Measures/Estimates Left/Right Power||No||9EUR one-time fee||No||No||Yes|
|Whole-bike physical gradient simulation||No|
|Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Can rock side to side (significantly)||No|
|Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)||No||No||No||Accuracy||Tacx Genius||Elite Drivo II||CycleOps PowerBeam Pro||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Racermate CompuTrainer|
|Includes temperature compensation||-||N/A||-||Yes||-|
|Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supported accuracy level||-||+/- 0.5%||+/- 5%||+/- 3%||+/- 2.5%||Trainer Control||Tacx Genius||Elite Drivo II||CycleOps PowerBeam Pro||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Racermate CompuTrainer|
|Allows 3rd party trainer control||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)||No||Yes||Yes (depends on version)||Yes||No||Data Broadcast||Tacx Genius||Elite Drivo II||CycleOps PowerBeam Pro||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Racermate CompuTrainer|
|Transmits power via ANT+||No||Yes||Yes and No (see review notes)||Yes||3rd Party Required|
|Transmits power via Bluetooth Smart||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connections||No, just one||No, just one|
|Transmits cadence data||Yes||No||Purchase||Tacx Genius||Elite Drivo II||CycleOps PowerBeam Pro||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Racermate CompuTrainer|
|Chain Reaction Cycles||Link||Link||Link||Link||Link|
|Wiggle||Link||Link||Link||Link||Link||DCRainmaker||Tacx Genius||Elite Drivo II||CycleOps PowerBeam Pro||Wahoo Fitness KICKR V1/2013||Racermate CompuTrainer|
Remember to click the ‘Expand Results’ button as it’ll show a gazillion more rows than the quick preview above.
Summarizing the Tacx Genius is a tough nugget. There’s a lot of good in the trainer platform. The software itself has definitely improved over the past year since I used it last with the Tacx Bushido trainer. And the Genius hardware certainly has some unique advantageous around driving the trainer forward on descents to better simulate outdoor riding.
On the flip side, the hardware pairing bugs can be incredibly frustrating, and a huge turn-off to using the trainer. And while I didn’t personally experience any customer service issues – I hear from you regularly about them. Perhaps this review will be a catalyst for change there.
When looking at the competitive marketplace in this category, the Tacx Genius is priced slightly high (in comparison to other high end trainers). And even higher once you add in many of the individual costs (such as the annual Google Earth costs). Additionally, the lack of openness in the platform today makes it less appealing long term and companies are shifting towards providing a more open platform (for example, the Wahoo KICKR, and resent statements from CycleOps around adopting the same control platform for their trainer). But their software package as a whole is the most complete in the industry, and the most advanced out there.
As you can see, it’s tough. When the going is good – it’s really good and works really well. But when it’s not, well…
– Tacx graphical interface feels very polished
– Can easily export data to 3rd party services
– When everything works, life is great
– Easy to import/create your own courses
– Ability to simulate descents (downhill via trainer drive)
– Software connection to hardware can be buggy
– Requires a higher end computer to operate smoothly
– Lots of individual licensing costs really add up
– Customer service remains a major concern
Found this review useful? Or just wanna save a bunch of cash? Read on…
Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.
I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers an exclusive 10% discount across the board on all products (except clearance items). You can pickup the Tacx Genius Trainer below. Then receive 10% off of everything in your cart by adding code DCR10BTF at checkout. By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get a sweet discount. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.
– Tacx Genius Trainer (with software)
Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit or accessories (though, no discount on either from Amazon). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top. Though, Clever Training also ships most places too and you get the 10% discount.
Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below.
Finally, I’ve written up a ton of helpful guides around using most of the major fitness devices, which you may find useful in getting started with the devices. These guides are all listed on this page here.
Wow, great review. I have much more simple tacx trainer but it’s quite booring for me. I wonder if the virtual version would make me want to ride more indoor.
Thank you for the review, Ray.
I read your review to find out “is it me or the product”.
It’s the product.
Though running a Bushido from 2009, my experience has been very similar. I’ve gone down the path of “upgrade hope” of the TT software and couldn’t agree more with you findings. To many features jumbled with too many bugs in a high resource demanding package. It’s frustrating when after 2hrs of riding control connections drop or doing intervals are simply impossible to do because the brake decides to watt-lock you down randomly.
Folks, have a look at the messages in the forums before you buy.
If you wish to avoid any contact with support (and you definitely should avoid it at all cost with Tacx), you must take in consideration the sweat issue. Wipe you trainer after use, do not put any head unit where it could get wet…
About 10 years ago I had a Tacx Grand Excel and the software was pretty buggy and the machine tricky to set up well, but you sorta got used to it. Interesting to read that not much has changed in the intervening years! Saying all that, I have a fairly basic Tacx turbo now and it’s good.
A very fair and thorough review.
Is there any word of when Tacx will release their iPad app for the Bushido?
Great review as always Ray. I will second Goerg’s comment above. I also have a Bushido and buggy software is an understatement. You are right, it should “just work” but doesn’t. The HR is the biggest issue for me. If I step out of range it loses lock and must be re-connected. That means unplugging the USB fob to break contact with the control head, reconnect the HR and then recallibrate the brake. Funny…some times the calibration sticks and some times not. You don’t know until the grade increases but the brake tension does not increase too. If you decide to go without the HR? plan to turn the volume off becasue it beeps until the HR reaches 50% . I routinely spnde 15-30 minute monkying with the software to get a session going
Wow, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I was planning on buying a Tacx Bushido in the next couple weeks. Now I think I’ll just spend the extra few hundred bucks on a Computrainer rather than deal with all the connection issues.
I would think twice before plunking down the change for a computrainer. And I say this as a computrainer owner. I just had a connection issue last night due primarily to the design of the computrainer (USB to serial adapter driver problem). If I were in the market Id look at saving myself 700 and get one of their more up to date competition.
I just bought a CompuTrainer and have not regretted it for a second. I was tempted to wait for the Wahoo Kickr, but I didn’t want to go with brand new, untested hardware right now. I think in a year or two, when Wahoo has a chance to shake out the kinks and third parties have developed some robust apps, Kickr will be a great choice. For now, I went with the CompuTrainer because the hardware is rock solid. I run Parallels on a MacBook and have had no issues so far. The native software leaves a lot to be desired, but I am using a combination of ErgVideo, Perf Pro Studio, and Sufferfest videos and feel I have everything I need to perform any training program I can dream up. I do with the CT was wireless, but Perf Pro Studio supports ANT+ cadence and HR, so that would eliminate some of the wires at least…
Hi Ray, thanx for the detailed review of the Genius trainer.
I purchased a Genius just a few weeks ago and I’v experienced the same quirks in terms of the computer/app communicating with the hardware via ant+. At one point i tried to update the brake firmware which stopped (for no obvious reason) in the middle with an error message. At that point I felt a cold sweat break out as the brake appeared completely “dead”. Much to my surprise I was actually able to complete the upgrade (and “bring back from the dead”) the brake as there is a separate application installed on the computer just for this purpose.
What I meant to ask you is this; have you ever experienced slippage between the wheel (tire) and the brake? It happened to me with my preprogrammed Catalyst sessions including high power intervals (60 sec 400W). I ended up with a brake calibration value of around 6.5, i see in one of your photos 7.something, I am also using the blue Tacx trainer tire. It seems the Catalyst sessions force me to stay in the “lowest” gears (low speed), any comments on whether I should “thighten” to increase the calibration value, do something to increase the speed (as this would lower the torque I am able to produce), … ?
Also, have you compared the power indicated by the Genius to that of the crank power meter (seems there’s a Quarq on the Cervelo bike in the photos)? I have a power2max crank of which I have no previous “experience” as the bike (with the power2max) used with the Genius trainer is also brand new.
It seems only with a 120% power adjustment in the TTS (which is max) the power it indicates is close (but still a tad lower) compared to the power2max readings on my Garmin 910XT which use (for now) to log session data. Any comments?
Using a Bushido, I also encountered slippage despite a Tacx tyre under heavy load. Somehow there was residue on the brake, don’t ask me how’s it got there as I never used another tyre. I cleaned it with vinegar, works well ever since.
For the power, the Taxc reading is so far off my PM, that the 120% adjustment isn’t even enough. With their private ANT+ protocol you can’t link the PM with the head unit. Until they fix this, you are better off with a simple trainer as PM based training isn’t really working with a Bushido (unless you use two different head units).
The section on having to pull and re-insert the batteries was hilarious. What crazy engineering. As an aside, I am interested in whether the program allows you to be malicious? 🙂 It looks like you can’t go off the road? can you crash into anybody? Any E.T. fly in the air stuff? On a more serious note, I thought the review was just solid.
This is just a guess but I wonder if the pairing issue may be from how they are using Ant+. Seems like Ant+ is lossy, meaning that packets (well, pages in Ant+ terms) will get dropped, and their software may not handle the dropped packets very well. (For those that may think dropped packets are bad, lack of acknowledging a packet and not having to worry about re-transmitting a packet is needed for how Ant+ uses so little power)
this should be such a good product but it just seems to be let down in too many areas.
Quality control, crazy pricing and customer service.
It’s a shame because I imagine once everything is set up and working it’s a great turbo experience but as you say often you want to get on the turbo ride and be done. Not faffing about making things work.
A masterpiece in balanced reporting and reviewing Ray!!!
As the owner of a Genius for the last year (albeit with training software version 3) I feel well placed to offer a valid opinion and do so here in the hope it helps others. I make no attempt to trumpet Tacx or equally to criticise their product, merely offer my own experience.
I trained on my genius about 3-4 times a week on average following a power based training progamme of my own making using a powertap wheel and garmin 500. I’d say my sessions averaged about 1.5hours a time. Mainly this was in their Catalyst mode, but also many times in their real life video, on .gpx routes / google earth routes of my own and occassionally in their virtual world with the steering frame.
The concept behind, and the attempted package that arrives with the genius is superb! After much research before I bought I couldn’t find a single package that offered as much in one go as the genius. As Ray highlights, when it works, what the genius offers is fantastic. When it was working correctly I’ve known nothing better in an indoor trainer. I found that indoor training became a pleasure and the real life videos they sell made for some really pleasurable 2.5hour + rides (indoors in a shed – they must have something good about them).
While personally I rarely had any of the software issues in connecting Ray has had, I have noted several similar in the tacx forum posts, but I found my own to be fine. My own tip here is to make triple sure your computer has the ooomph in it to power the software.
Where I had problems was with the hardware. The magnet that passes over a switch in my black track steering frame to activate and steer it just fell out inside the unit. (I was far from alone in this happening) Eventually I found a fix on the owners forum, no customer service to speak of. It would have been easy to just give up on it though. (on this note a big nod to the incredibly dedicated people who administer and frequentthe tacx forum. The resource they offer, on a presuambly voluntary basis is huge. If you buy a genius you’ll likley need their wisdom).
I also found my trainer would frequently go ‘light’ meaning if I suddenly hit the power and did for eg a sprint, the genius would stop giving resistance and the only way forward was to stop and reset. In other words I had to be slightly progressive applying the power. Not really what I’d do in the ‘real’ world.
The unit also has a power back feature which is one of their selling points. The idea being some of the energy you create on your genius is fed back into your electricity supply. Neat idea, except it kept tripping my RCD safety breaker. As soon as I disabled that in my shed everything went fine, but it took a month or two of frustration.
My own trainer broke down eventually and I’m honestly undecided whether to accept the ‘new replacement’ or try for a refund.
I found the genius to be a double edged sword. I’d go to train and everything would work and I’d have some of the best sessions you could imagine, leaving me desperate to train on it again as soon as possible. Then the following day without any changes I’d be left in utter frustration while valuable training time went down the plug as I fiddled with this that and the other to get things going.
Just my opinion, but I felt Tacx were almost trying to offer too much. I was lured by the attractions of everything the genius offered, but in hindsight I’d have been happy with a trainer offering way less but doing it well. As a consumer all I wanted was something that did what it advertised. What I felt I got was something that wasn’t quite ready for market and I was being used as a final stage tester with a stream of firmware patches covering the latest glitches, not great for a firm with what seemed to be relatively poor customer support.
As I said at the start, this is merely my own experiences, offered here in the hope it helps others.
I have a Genius as well, and have had some of the problems, but I have found solutions to them.
First, make sure that you have the ant USB stick near the brake and handle bar unit (I don’t have the steering unit). I use an extra extension cable so that it is within one meter of booth.
Second, make sure that it is the only ant stick connected to the computer (remove Garmin stick).
Third, make sure that Garmin ant agent is not running, since it will not let any other program use USB stick.
This should take care of all connection problems!
The problem with calibration and pedaling is very easily fixed by just selecting calibrate and then just grab the wheel (standing beside the bike, not riding it) and push it forward. It will then spin up without any problems.
An other very annoying thing that you didn’t mention is that when you make your own catalyst sessions you can’t copy and paste. Very annoying when making repeated interval sessions. Hope that is included in an update soon, since that is my largest waste of time during the winter…
Maybe I should also say that when I had got around the problems as I described above this trainer is the absolute best I have tried. The cycling feels as in real life. Because of the motor driven brake the trainer doesn’t stop at the same second you stop pedaling. The computrainer is way more annoying with all the cables, making it a real pain to switch bikes. Since I don’t have the steering unit, which I think is more of a toy than a training aid, I just swap bikes and it’s ready to go. I can highly recommend it, but make sure to follow my recommendations regarding the ant stick above.
In my humble opinion, all those issues people keep commenting on were the ones I experienced with my former Tacx Fortius, that eventually ended up in a severely frustrating hardware breakdown.
If you wish to save some bucks, do not buy a top of the notch unit from Tacx, the Vortex does just fine (it’s cheaper) with an ANT+ stick from Garmin. I prefered it to the Bushido, as power management seems to be less effective on this unit given it’s not plugged on your home electric installation.
I second Mathieu.
There are two i-Vortex units (one at my home, the other shared among coworkers at work) I have access to and both have worked really well.
– A few (less than five in total, personally I have encountered it ones) freezes of a training session obviously due to lost ANT+ connection. Following those guidlines Pontus described seems to keep the problem away. Also, leave your mobile phone and any other irrelevant electronic device in another room during the session.
– There seems to be a software bug in the Vortex computer unit, it miscalculates the cadence ones the slope gets steeper than +3%. It will report your cadence somewhere in the interval of 40-80% of the actual cadence. The problem repeates itself all the time, but the relative value by which it miscalculates seems to wary. This is with the newest firmware version 0.21. It’s annoying during those uphill parts, but not by any means a showstopper.
I don’t think the computer specs that TTS needs to run satisfactory are very demanding. In fact it seems they are quite modest. I am having the TTS installed on two computers which in fact are 3 and 6 years old units (one with an old Intel dual core 2,5 GHz processor, the other with an AMD quad 9150e energy saver 1,8 GHz, both upgraded to 8 GB RAM, ATI 7550 1GB passive graphics cards running at fullHD resolution without a single hickup or crash. Hard disks are standard old SATA disks, but since there is enough RAM it doesn’t need to swap.
One thing that made me go for the entry level i-Vortex solutions both at home and work despite the somewhat bad reputation for support by Tacx was that I got most of the VR trainer benefits at a very decent price point (including the TTS 4.x Advanced software version) of about 600€ each including mat and trainer tyre, Add 150 for a few (4) RLV courses and the Google Earth license and you have more than enough for one winter.
Ok, there is the lack of weather and some other stuff and I don’t have a steering unit, but it doesn’t have any real impact on my training experience. A big and efficient fan is of much more use, I tell you. And if it doesn’t roll you downhills, so what ? I’m there to train and these shortcomings don’t affect the end result more than in a positive directions since I have to do some extra exercise downhills too !!!
Both me and my wife as well as my coworkers are all happy with the i-Vortex setup for the price. It does keep the boredom away so well that I will probably extend my trainer use with one month until end of April. we all think this was money well spent.
Just to clarify (since a few people asked). This particular computer was purpose-built for the Tacx system. I initially had loaded it on the ‘usual’ computer (about 3-4 years old) that I load all cycling trainer software suites on.
Unfortunately, the TTS4 suite would only partially run. Some things like the Tacx films were fine, but then other aspects like the VR pieces crashed badly. Same goes for the VR pieces.
So I built up another machine with similar specs to what you noted above. I’d point out that 8GB is not common for peoples PC’s today, nor is 1GB video cards. I’m not saying they are super-high end specs, but the reality is they aren’t the norm either.
As for the ANT+ component, there isn’t a single piece of software installed on this machine other than the Tacx suite. Windows 7 + Tacx, that’s it (clean Windows DVD install). No ANT Agent or similar.
The ANT+ extended USB stick was located at the base of my front tire – which puts it directly on top of the Blacktrack electronics area (that it couldn’t connect to). At times, I’d also have it on top of my front wheel – half-way between the handlebar controller and the steering system.
All of which honestly doesn’t matter. Because the ANT+ signals should easily be able to go dozens of meters (I can do half-way down the street with a typical ANT+ HR strap and running watch). But still, I just wanted to clarify the setup.
I have had a Bushido for a bit over a year. I have spent a lot of time dealing with connection issues, ever hopeful they would be fixed in the next software update. I gave up when TTS 4 came out as I wasn’t going to shell out any more money for this. Asking for additional money for the mapping (google earth) after the fact was the final straw. Now I am locked into an older version of TTS 3 where they can’t enforce the additional fee. Looks like it’s a good thing I didn’t upgrade to TTS 4 as they still haven’t fixed the issues. As soon as my kickr arrives, my Bushido is going on craigs list.
I had originally bought the Bushido to replace my aging Computrainer with mid 1990’s technology (no real updates since). Sounds like they have finally released the new version of their software but there it is also too little too late.
For those thinking about a Computrainer, it being a largely closed system is a big part of the problem similar to the Bushido. That’s the promise of the kickr. Competition on the software front. If the software doesn’t work, you don’t have to walk away from your $1000+ investment in the hardware.
Thanks for the review Ray.
Just reading through the review, it read more like the trainer is worth 6/10 or 7/10 due to the bugs, customer support, and connection issues. Which is basically the same rating you gave the Computrainer, a trainer that “just works”.
Are you factoring in just the technology and quality of the trainer? Or does the rating include the “problem” issues?
Ratings are finicky – I’ll happily admit that.
That said, I went 8/10 due to the software suite pulling it ahead. The breadth of the suite is extensive, and as me and others noted – when it works, it works well.
You’ll see that in general, no trainers to date have earned more than an 8/10.
For me, the ratings are a culmination of a lot of things:
1) Value for cost
3) Openness of platform
4) Hardware aspects
5) Software aspects
6) Gut feeling
It’s an area I’m continuing to work on. I also see them as fluid. Meaning that over time I’d like for rankings to shift. For example, I see a likely case where the CompuTrainer will get knocked down a notch with the KICKR review.
First of all let me highlight that I have a Bushido and not Genius, plus TTS 3 and not 4. But I have been following Tacx forum since summer 2011.My comments are pretty much similar with other examples and more emotion.
The whole virtual reality concept is great, the new new HD videos are fascinating. That is the positive side.
Tacx was rather nasty when they realized that they used Google maps without a proper agreement with Google, so Tacx people just shook their shoulders to get off the dirty problem and said that users have to pay USD30 p.a. No problem but they had advertised their products WITH Google maps.
The software(s) (TTS, TTS 4) are buggy, sometimes it makes no sense to upgrade hoping an ultimate solution, it does not help. An instance of annoying bug is that in case of 75-90% of the RLV rides (maybe it is true for the other type of rides like RLT or Catalyst, but I typically use RLV), you have to unplug and replug the ANT+ stick at the end of your ride to make yourself able to save your ride due to some comm bug.
Or another example of a bug which makes me mad is that it was a great idea to let your powermeter to control the brake unit through Bushido headunit and/or TTS, but it is very common that TTS/head unit loses the power signal.
What does the stupid TTS do? Although there is a clear power (=voltage) generation showing that you are still riding, but TTS is put to paused during the temporary disconnection. In an unlucky day it means at least one minute per hour difference between the total ride time of TTS and the real total, so when you would like to merge your data from your Garmin eg and the elevation data from TTS, there is evidently a problem.
Why do you need your Garmin at all? First because TTS tended to collapse during the ride in the earlier version. Second because it is very easy to ride without HR data (*see below). Third because Tacx was too stupid to let the pairing of a cadence sensor with Bushido head unit. They let your power meter and your HR belt to be paired, but not the cadence sensor, so the cadence data collected by the TTS is the unreliable cadence data from the brake.
The problem above perfectly describes the inconsistency of Tacx team. If you dont have a power meter paired with Bushido/Genius you can even coast down for some seconds while you are still generating voltage, so on a flat or descent you can move your butt to get eg. your towel If you pair your power meter, you cant stop for a second, and even if you never stop you get sometimes the state paused as described above.
And some words about their hardwares. Both Bushido and Genius seem to be relatively good hardwares, but Tacx was incompetent enough to use plastic tabs for defining the three positions, which tabs are frequently broken if you put your brake into position 2 instead of 3 assuming you have a road bike wheel. Why don’t they use some metal instead? If you sell a high end tool why do you have to make users selfmade repair men who glue some metal pieces to replicate the broken position 2? Huh?
And I can continue with Genius. There were many complaints about faulty brakes of Genius. They smelled away liked blown fuses.
Finally Tacx decided to clean their forum. When I realized that many posts had disappeared (my estimation is between 30-50%) and the admins clearly rejected to get it sorted out, I knew that something smells with Tacx. I can never prove that they deliberately deleted thousands of posts, but nevertheless it is a bit suspicious that they dont want them get back.
I already know how to use my Bushido, I already used some glues, I already know the tricks of unplug+replug the ANT+ stick, and (*) the annoying protocol of pairing my HR belt each time after I switch on my head units to get HR data in TTS etc., but I would not buy any other Tacx product if my Bushido was stolen.
Good review, good to hear the good, bad and the ugly. I have a Genius, ComputerTrainer and a Tacx Imagic (circa 2006) – oh and a Lemond (which is always faulty). Not had a problem with any of them, guess I am lucky. Genius is definitely the best of the three, and the Tacs TTS software is far ahead of CompuTrainer and Netathlon software.
Why do they even use batteries in the steering unit in the first place? The resistance unit is plugged in and the steering assembly attaches to it, so it wouldn’t be that hard to run a simple DC lead through the expandable bit and up to a port on the resistance module. Any increase in cost would easily be absorbed by the amount you would otherwise need to spend on batteries to feed it over its lifetime. It seems foolish to require batteries for operation of part of a system that has to be plugged in to work. I’ve got a treadmill with the same silly design (A/C power only runs the motor, controls and display are powered by 4AAs) and once the warantee ran out I just ended up soldering a DC plug to the battery contacts and connecting a wall-wort to it.
Have got a Tacx Genius and I share some of the frustrations although once you get it going it is good fun but to get it going can take ages – even when you think you have got the hang of it.
One key thing to do is disable your Ant Agent software (i.e. kill in Task Manager not just minmise it) but, even so, before trying to pair up on my 3-4 year old laptop I usually find I have to reboot it for the connections to work and that can take 15+ mins. You certainly need a powerful PC for it to work. I think I am due a new one but not sure it works under Windows 8.
I did find setting it up from a hardware point of view quite difficult too, perhaps me being me, – although was clearer when found some Tacx videos on their You Tube channel. A video is so much easier to look at than a few diagrams.
I had an issue with the software keys where the letters weren’t very clear to read and had to try numerous combinations until had worked out difference between say a lower case L and a number one etc etc
My multi player license key also ran out after a few days – incorrectly of course but fortunately my bike shop were able to get through to the Tacx rep quickly and see me good. That said never actually tried multi player for real !
The steering seems a good idea in practice but was stated if you don’t steer it does it for you so usually I don’t bother! The battery compartment “underneath” is also a shocker from a design and usability point of view. I had my bike and Genius like Ray’s to get the batteries in and out when first trying to set up.
The Google Earth following was a bit disappointing in that the detail is not that great and as Ray says if you use your own track from say a Garmin on a flat road it will model all the false elevations fluctuations which can be very frustrating on a supposedly flat road. As such might be worth putting it through Garmin Connect’s elevation smoothing facility first. I also tried the “free” mode but the steering was really sensitive and I found it very difficult to go straight and spent more time in fields and “crashing” through houses than on the roads!
I got a couple of videos but actually most enjoy the New Forest one as it is more like going for a ride from home – i.e. bit up and down but not too tricky. I really don’t want to try and climb Alpe d’Huez when just want to get in a few miles at about 20 mph equivalent. Kind of similar to going to run on a treadmill and only being able to run on the maximum uphill gradient – not something you want to do too often.
I have got the blue Tacx training tyre and initially was working well and very smooth and quiet but recently seems to be making a lot more noise and I can’t really understand why.
I also can’t seem to set my wheel dead centre on the flywheel but again that could me being challenged in such hardware issues.
Do the frustrations outweigh the benefits for the price? Not sure. I will say, because of the frustrations, it is not as good as I hoped for.
I personally think the Genius + tts4 + the Real Live Video’s is the best trainer package out there. (I owned a manual trainer, an I magic and a Fortius before, I looked at other trainers but the Tacx Real life Video’s and the freewheeling simulation of the Tacx are without competition in my opinion.
If your are looking for the best than you have the look a bit further than just the Genius Package. It is not the software on its own which is buggy, it is the combination of certain hardware and the software that causes problems. Be prepared to build a purpose build computer and watch the Tacx forum for which hardware ( CPU, Chipset and Graphics card) works without problems. If I got a working version I will not upgrade until I have confirmed on the Tacx forum that this version has no problems. I realize this approacht (the purpose build computer) is expensive but than again still cheaper than the difference between a Campagnolo Chorus mechanical group and a Record EPS group. And the Tacx gives me the opportunity to train much more and better (while having a full time Job) where the Record EPS group would not make me better at all.
Great review Ray. I’ve a Tacx Genius which I bought a few weeks back. My rationale was I needed a trainer now to train for mountains and the tacx is the most complete package currently out there. Think I made the right call but I’m not sure it would be the same call in a years time.
Pro’s- it’s a very complete package, the GPS and VR aspects work extreamly well. Catalyst is very strong and the analsys functionality is great. I’ve not experienced the connectivity issues you had.
Cons- it’s a closed environment. Quite why tacx want to be a software company escapes me, especially closing the ant protocol so I can’t even do something as simple as broadcast power to my garmin.
It’s the strongest product now but tacx will be caught by the open source guys quickly, simply because there will be far more choice and innovation available. I sincerely hope that they do the sensible thing and open up the environment, then it will be very interesting. Otherwise I think they’ll be caught.
Tacx… first when my contact block broke (after 2 months of use) they promised me a replacement that never came.
I posted to their facebook page to see if I could get some attention, got my post deleted.
With 5 months my brake went dead, and trying to sort it out with them, they made me send the genius back to the vendor (I’m in Canada and had to send it back to Germany…), as they would not let me send to a representative in the US/Canada (as they answered in an email “You can try to do that, but this is not how our warranty procedure works. Best regards, Service Department) … Right now the trainer is somewhere in the process, and i’m without it since December.
A really bad example on how to treat your customers… Even when it comes back, I’ll keep using my old and reliable Kurt Kinetic + trainer road (btw those are guys with a great product and good support)
Was looking to upgrade from my imagic this year as I haven’t owned a computer which will work with this older model for a couple of years now (last winter it never snowed, and wasn’t that cold so just rode outdoors). The original imagic head unit doesn’t work with any Windows 64 bit versions because Tacx never developed the necessary drivers, and I decided it wasn’t worth spending over $250 for a new compatible head unit plus having to purchase new software (Tacx didn’t provide TTS4 upgrade pricing for owners of prior versions – to me this was a slap in the face to existing loyal customers). I’ve suffered through years of buggy software and non-responsive customer support and the thought of continuing on this roller coaster wasn’t attractive. I think Ray nicely characterized the frustration of dealing with Tacx, and that notion of stopping new development and getting what is out there on a solid foundation should have been done 6 or 7 years ago. I’ve never used any other commercial software of any type on any OS which has been as fragile as Tacx over the years. Thank goodness I found this site which opened my eyes to other interesting alternatives. Waiting on a KICKR, and hoping this will be a reliable system going forward & I like the subscription model from vendors like Kinomap. Tacx has fooled me too many times over the years into believing the next version will get it right, and I won’t be fooled again.
So many similar posts, and I will add that I started with a Computrainer in 1996. You’d think that living in Seattle would give me an advantage in obtaining upgrade parts throughout the years, but the building is a rambler shed just off the Burke Gilman trail. No signs, just a grey door. IF somebody answered, I walked into some tech geek’s messy garage with parts and wires all over the place. Only went there twice, then ordered stuff online even though it was 2 miles from my house. Over 10 yrs of upgrades, klunky software, and an eventual funny noise emminating from the resistance unit, I ditched it for a sparkly new Fortius Genius. Awesome product. I’ve pushed myself to higher limits in VR by racing against myself (CT had this too, but felt much more immersed and confident of accurate reproducibility). I used Fortuis for 3 years now and have upgraded to TTS4. Great interface and no connection issues. At times the steep grades gave me a lot of trouble and caused choppy pedaling below 8mph. I’ve tinkered with Powermodes and the firmware updates have minimized this effect. I gushed about the Fortius a couple weeks ago, but then the brake died 2 days after I posted! Looks like my own fault, though. I ignored a pop up while riding to the top of Mount Whitney Portal “Too Hot. Must stop now!” I thought this was a part of the video, like I was in Death Valley getting too hot, so I giggled and powered on (1 mile to go). Then the pedaling became choppy and then brake gave no resistance. Was it the transformer (“adapter unit”) or the brake? Looking at forums, seemed to be the adapter unit. Fuse was fine on the adapter, and the computer gave the green check mark that everything was fine with connection to brake and head unit. Rebooted computer and came back the next day. Still no resistance on brake unit, and calibration didn’t move the wheel like normal, despite software recognizing brake as good to go. So, I ordered a new adapter unit at $370 (ouch!). Figured I could order a new Bushido for $750 and have a new trainer for virtual price of ~$400. I ordered both and would return the one I was least satisfied with.
Got in several rides on the Bushido. Love it. The grades are smooth and I made it to Whitney just fine. Fortius was a struggle up some of the 11% stuff, but Bushido is more accurate to road feel in my opinion. The Fortius adapter unit came, when I swapped out, brake still recognized by computer, but no resistance and no “auto-spin” during calibration. So, back goes the adapter. Would like to order the cheaper fortius brake for $180 and see if that fixes the issue, but I’m happy with the Bushido and love the fact my Garmin HR strap is recognized (nope on the Fortius) and displays on the screen. I analyze/colate all my data with Garmin 910 + sportstracks. It’s much better than looking up at the screen at a big zero for HR on the Fortius. Have used Tacx for monthly challenges and gps routes to practice race routes before race day (Louisville Ironman, a few time trials, RAAM routes, etc.). Good system and I don’t mind paying a little more every once in a while for tech upgrades for a superb system. My computer is 3 years old now, slimline gateway with dedicated 1g older Radon graphics card. Got a bigger 32 inch flat screen TV to really enjoy the experience. Actually said “Wow” as I rounded a corner on the Cape Argus bike ride in Cape Town. I recommend.
About bugs and support. Reading forums is unfortunately an essential part of using this trainer. It has helped me understand some things and given me insight on what others have done to get things to work correctly. And things have indeed worked correctly (cross fingers). If I clear my work area of other electronics and have no other programs running in windows 7, things are usually flawless. Just don’t change settings and maybe make it a dedicated trainer computer (albeit expensive to do this) I prefer an active forum than to Computrainer where there is virtually no support forum, the phone for help line is archaic and delayed, and I’m so sick of wires with encrusted salty sweat and headphone jacks with corroding orifices.
I’m as techy as the next man and love gadgets but I must admit to being really surprised at just how accepting owners are of the many flaws in the product.
I’m not sure whether the issues are genuinely minor or if it’s people trying to justify the purchase after the event. Comments like “You certainly need a powerful PC for it to work” and “make it a dedicated trainer computer” either contradict or just serve to whack up the, already steep, price even more.
Even the main review confuses me a little because it seems swing back and forth between the positive and negative and doesn’t, for me, come to a satisfactory conclusion.
I agree with you 100%, but also good to hear some people have had relatively trouble free experiences. In my opinion, the only reason Tacx is still in this business is for lack of real competition, and that has heated up over the past couple of years. When the competition is scant or non-existent, enthusiasts like the noble Tacx forum users will try their best to make things work and help others in the community. From reading Ray’s reviews, it seems like Cycleops has a pretty good unit out there with excellent customer service, and KICKR is yet to be proven, but has high potential. Realistically, the KICKR and it’s burgeoning ecosystem will no doubt have some growing pains as well, but as long as the hardware/firmware is solid, competition should raise the bar on the SW side.
Don’t like to be too cynical, but hearing that Tacx is now going after an iOS app just makes my eyes roll to the back of my head. Another example of moving to something new before getting the existing thing right. Maybe for a developer like Tacx it might be a better approach as the ipad hardware is a fixed target within a generation. Game consoles have this same characteristic, and always thought it could have been a viable approach. Will be interested to see if some KICKR apps migrate to the OUYA console.
When I started researching a new VR trainer, I spoke with some long standing Tacx retailers and their US distributor. When they hear you’ve had the Tacx experience from the past they don’t sugar coat anything, but do say if you strictly follow their minimum hardware & OS requirements things still aren’t perfect, but better. The distributor even suggested an alternative platform (they also rep) as working better on a wider range of PC systems.
The “powerful PC neeeded” is what surprises me most in reader’s comments to this review. I run my Vortex with a Mac Mini 1,83 Ghz under Windows via BootCamp, just like I used to run my iMagic with this same 2007 machine (sporting an Intel chip for graphics, no video card). I don’t use all the functionalities but RLV just work flawlessly on a 24″ screen (but certainly won’t buy an HD RLV with this config). With Tacx, I’d definitely say software is not on par with the hardware potential : if you get a working configuration, stick to it… don’t upgrade…
Looks like you’re very lucky everything is working. Count yourself among the fortunate. This is what Lickbike.com lists as the minimum HW/SW requirements…
“Pentium 4 processor, dual-core 2.5 Ghz. 3 Gb RAM (x86) or 4 Gb RAM (x64), DDRIII. 2 Gb free hard disk space. Video card must be DirectX10 compatible, 3D, with 512 Mb of memory, not shared. Brand must be ATI or Nvidia, screen resolution 1920*1080 pixels. Sound card must be DirectSound compatible. DVD player and 1 free USB port are required. Operating system MUST be Windows 7.” If you can’t meet this, they don’t recommend buying the trainer.
Even with these requirements met, they don’t guarantee success. “Due to the complex nature of these products, there will be a $100 restocking fee for all returned non-defective …” Beyond being able to document a failure in a complex system which combines proprietary communications with hardware, firmware and applications, I’ve come to consider buying Tacx in a category similar to a typical Graigslist “as is” transaction but at a premium price.
I have owned – and suffered with – a Tacx for more than 6 years, from IMagic, through Fortius and now Genius, running TTS4.6.
Little point re-iterating the majority of comments here, which all seem to have a comon theme.
When it works, it’s brilliant. I mean, really brilliant. On song, it can make an indoor turbo session truly exhilerating and that’s a real achievement. But I have had hours of waste-basket kicking, head-banging, hand-wringing frustration trying to solve problems.
The guys on the forum are complete heroes – how Tacx has managed successfully to contract out trouble-shooting and problem-solving to a small cadre of volunteers working for nothing is little short of amazing.
But then Tacx is one amazing company – the last word in buggy, untested software. . . . .taking their customers to new heights of scalping (charging extra for GE . . .wtf?) and seemingly embarked on a deliberate policy of annoying and irritating every high-spending, tech-savvy consumer of sports tech in the known universe.
They must be, and ought to be, worried sick about the Wahoo Kickr . . . . it is going to eat their lunch.
Last word on this – sorry you suffered Ray, but it is somehow extremely heartening that one of the most influential sports tech bloggers on the web (wait, make that THE most influential . . . . . ) endured a completely typical Tacx user experience . . . . . . Tacx completely ignore the packed forums full of angry consumers. It might be just a little harder to ignore Ray’s unbiased, honest and very revealing review.
I dont think they are heroes. If they are not compensated they are naive or mad. If they are paid, they are just patient as Elise ;-).
Keep in mind that Tacx forum admins are ready to delete and/or unintentionally lose posts about the problems of their products.
The positive side are the workarounds one can find on those pages.
And no, i dont accept all these workarounds just because there is no real competitor of RLV world of Tacx.
Finally the most humiliating development for Tacx is that one of the talented users applied an additional flywheel (Kurt Kinetic of 5.5kg) to Bushido to avoid the choppyness over 4-5%. I was lucky, because I could get one and I am very grateful forthis guy even if I had to pay a coupleof hundred USD for the new “accessory”. But it was him and not Tacx who decided to use the rules of physics to build it realistic.
I so much agree with everything you wrote, would “like” it if we were on FB
Thanks Ray, great review. My question is about the steering. A large portion of steering when “actually” riding a bike comes from transferring weight from side to side ie. leaning, rather than just swivelling the front fork left or right.
Does this lack of leaning in the steering component of the software make it feel too gimmicky and silly? Or is it still somehow fun?
Definitely. I think if you were to combine the steering with the Rock and Roll trainer stand, then it might feel more realistic. But, the second challenge is that I don’t feel the software world makes the scenario compelling. Meaning, within the VR world it’s still all ‘fake’ to me. So it’s not as interesting to me as if I could lean left/right and turn the bike in Google Streetview.
But then, the challenge with Streetview is that it’s still very clunky as far as actual streaming goes. On the rate of 1 frame per second. Like watching a bunch of still pictures on a picture frame.
Someday technology will catch-up. But that day isn’t yet today.
I suspect I am not alone in having been checking almost daily Ray’s site / twitter feed to see when this review would appear since November last year – and Ray was kind enough to give me a “progress update” in mid-January when I emailed him. It was certainly worth the wait and I guess has confirmed all I suspected from the Tacx messageboards in terms of pros and very big cons. I have had itchy fingers waiting to order a Genius since December, feeling my fitness seep away daily as I waited and waited but still held out as I knew it was a dumb thing to take the plunge without the benefit of input from such an experienced reviewer who is also extremely tech-savvy.
Therefore through a combination of Ray’s objectivity and worldwide reach, I suspect Tacx have now reaped their reward in terms of $000s of lost sales from people like me who realise that if they bought this trainer and pinned their hopes on it, they would spend more time fighting to get it to work than enjoying its undoubtedly impressive features. For time-limited, non software engineers this is just an unacceptable trade. Personally I have now just bought a much more basic Cycleops Fluid2 and will watch some boxed sets DVDs for entertainment – I’ll wait for the current competition to play out in terms of new entrants, open source / improved HD videos etc and revisit the “visual” aspects for a new trainer in a year or so. If Tacx cannot hook me in, having so wanted to buy their top-end product after the Tour de France ad campaign on Eurosport in 2012, plus if they p*ss off so many of their existing customers with charging for TTS upgrades and GE licences, coupled with non-existent customer support, then they are doomed.
Sorry to be off-topic vs everyone else sharing their experiences of owning a Genius but I suspect I am not alone in my position or subsequent decision not to go with the Genius.
Thanks again Ray for the diligence.
Indeed you are not alone Rich. I’ve also been eagerly awaiting this particular review and Ray has confirmed my fears.
Guess I will be hanging onto my old indoor trainer for a while longer.
Rich – mirrors my thoughts exactly – I waited for this review for months, hoping it would nudge me into a purchase. A few weeks ago decided to settle for my old tacx (!) satori and buy some more DVDs. Glad I did.
I’m a systems engineer and the last thing I want to be doing before a workout is spend 30mins shouting at the computer.
Reviews like this make me want to hug my Computrainer. Sure it (still) looks like an 80’s video game, is expensive, has tons of wires, velcro and cr*p. But darn if it doesn’t just work day in, day out, for 5+ years, which in my book is priceless. I use ErgVideo rather than the revised RM1 software and couldn’t be happier.
Unfortunately Racermate (the company) seems moribund and insular. If I were them I’d be very concerned if the Wahoo Kickr lives up to expectations, but then again Tacx and the Lemond Revolution looked great on paper but (apparently) haven’t delivered the goods. In the meantime I’ll just enjoy my fitness gains, content to let the bleeding edgers take the technology arrows in the back.
Seems I’ve been just lucky with the choice of the low end i-Vortex instead of the high end models.
Regarding the computer requirements I don’t agree with the definition of a very “high specced” computer if I run it on a 6 years old computer with just the RAM and graphics card upgraded to support a dual screen setup for less than 150€. It wasn’t high specced even in the days purchased. Even my RAM is only 800Mhz DDR2, not the newer and faster DDR3’s.
On the computer running the 64 bit Win7 version I have two users defined (and they typically both are logged in at the same time during the training, therefore the 8 Gb RAM), one is for my personal use of the computer with a-lot-of-programs-installed and the other dedicated for just the TTS environment. I never bother to close my own user environment when starting the training session, I just leave everything open and switch user. One thing though: I have disabled the dynamic RAM virtual memory and have it fixed at a static size.
If you look at the requirements by Tacx you will be hard pressed to find anything nowadays not fulfilling those specifications. And Win7 isn’t exactly something “fresh out of the factory” either any more since I think it was released in 2009.
Then there might also be some differences in computational power needed for the different trainers, but somehow I doubt it. The Vortex is both as definition by Tacx and obviously doing all the computation on the control unit, not the computer, since it shows most of the info also on the control unit display during training (including cadence, HR, speed).
Maybe there are some more fundamental technical differences between the high end and low end models which could better explain the bigger problems many of you seem to have encountered. Tacx isn’t very open regarding these details so I can’t guess on it.
Tisztul_A_Visztula: The tip to remove and reenter the Tacx ANT+ dongle as to be able to save the training afterwards if the connection gets lost in the middle of a trainging I need to get tested, thanks for the tip.
Really sorry to hear that you guys have had that much of problems. Especially since spending quite some money but getting lackluster support. The VR concept (I love those video films even if mine aren’t even HD) I think is great if only Tacx could get the bits and support issues together and fixed.
Tell me sthing please, just out of curiosity. If you switch off your Vortex head unit, does it remember the paired HR belt, or do you have to pair it every time after switching Vortex on???
I know that this annoying thing disturbs even some of the beta testers (having Bushido) for a long while , but Tacx did not address this question at all.
The pairing of cadence sensor is similar story, one of the beta tester whispered me last August as an insider info that it would happen in the very next weeks. Since it did happen I asked Tacx support about it, and they answered that they had never planned it. The betatester was thunderstruck when I informed him about it not understanding the sudden U-turn.
Excellent review, but I’m surprised that you rate it higher than the CompuTrainer. A few years ago I was debating between the CT and the Tacx Fortius and frankly the message forums scared me away from the Tacx platform and it doesn’t look like things have gotten that much better since then. As a *training* device, the CT just works and does so predictably.
You say the Tacx reads higher watts and you had trouble calibrating it. You had the benefit of working off of two other power meters, but I could imagine it being maddening if I didn’t trust the power numbers coming from the thing or I didn’t feel like I could get consistent readings. One day I might feel like King Kong and another day my morale would be dashed, all because the numbers aren’t accurate.
The whole Tacx platform to me seems like one of these things that looks really good but the more you look into it the cracks start showing. Indoor riding for me, in part, is to address time crunched needs. In my day job I troubleshoot and maintain IT systems. I can’t help but feel like the Tacx would be a headache.
I’m just not seeing the 8/10 rating here. Maybe in time, but today. Not a chance.
Vortex remembers my HR (ANT+) and the cadence I don’t have to worry about since it’s part of the brake.
Vortex remembers my HR (ANT+) and the cadence I don’t have to worry about since it’s part of the brake.
The Computrainer should get huge kudos for just working, although there was a period several years ago in the general switch from RS232 to USB cables where they too had a lot of connection issues. I also had an issue with my CT where I was getting power numbers 30% too high and at the time had no other power meter to compare against. I thought I was just really really strong. Living in Seattle, I was able to take the unit in to have it checked. Basically it had left the factory without being calibrated (different from the calibration you do before every ride). After that it worked great compared to my SRM. But even with CT, you can’t necessarily trust the numbers.
Tacx wins out when it comes to entertainment value. And lets face it, a big part of the reason to have one of these is to keep you motivated on those 3 plus hour trainer rides on cold drizzly days. If you don’t need to be distracted, just get a basic trainer. The Bushido adds in the huge benefit of no cables. CT is a nightmare for this if you ever need to move it.
But I fully agree with DCRainMaker. They need to stop adding features and get what they have working, always, for everyone, not just the lucky few. Having to reconnect my HR strap for every ride is ridiculous. And if I take more than a two minute break, the connection is lost with no way of reconnecting for the remainder of that ride. Since they have had this particular bug for years, they clearly don’t get it.
Garmin usually ships there products with buggy firmware, but at least you can count on them fixing the major issues eventually. Not so with Tacx.
Great review again! I think it sums up the general pro’s and cons of the Tacx system quite well. The problem with Tacx trainers is the fact that there are just too many “links in the chain” and that the chance that you encounter a weak link is very real. Part of the problem is the fact that the product is complicated in itself with a lot of hardware and software components that need to (but not always do) work flawlessly together. This problem is made greater by the fact that Tacx has a lot of different systems and tends to introduce new models failry often. The only way to address issues in such “difficult circumstances” is to have an excellent test protocol and superb customer service. Sadly, these are not Tacx’ strong points, from what I’ve encountered and read on numnerous occasions on the Tacx Forum.
In my personal experience (been using a Fortius since 2005, with TTS from version 2.0 to 4.6) I’ve had few major problems with it the last couple of years. The quality and stablity of the TTS software has improved a lot and I’m able to train as I want to, with only minor bugs in the software. The training experience with a Tacx Trainer is really amazing. I immensely enjoy all the functions the system has and even keep riding it during the summer. Did not expect this beforehand!
The problems I’ve had have been solved by Tacx Support, so all in all I’m a happy customer, but I also know that this is not the case for everyone and I think Tacx need to try harder to satisfy their customers.
Bit more cutting than most of your reviews, almost more of a dig. I think you should also do some more comparisons between the products, I have an Elite trainer, the DVDs cost between $75 and $100, so these ones are cheaper. Guess I can’t use them tho. But still a decent write-up anyway
An elite trainer (albeit roller based) arrived last week. It’s on my list (medium term).
I don’t see this review as a “dig” at the vendor.
Probably the most honest review I’ve seen as Ray took delivery about the same timeframe as I did, and he had the remarkable same experience in use as I did.
The vendor PDF response was lacking. Ray did not imply fault on Google licensing, and I am sympathetic that they need to pass the cost to the consumer.
Trying harder in Customer Support is very different from putting in place the infrastructure to provide viable Customer Service. Obviously if the face to face Local bike shop model is not working, then it needs to be married to a database driven support system that follows up with customer satisfaction testing – heck, there are so many third party support companies that could easily improve the situation over night if they choose to do so.
I too am a little confused by the rating. When I come back and look at this and if I only compared the Powerbeam and Genius by score I’d figure.. 80% both are competent and equivalent.
Having read the review I wouldn’t touch the genius with someone else’s stick. The idea of losing 30 minutes to set up in a training session, slipping wheels, and indifferent customer service are obvious deal breakers. 8 out of 10 makes no sense. 80% is a pretty strong buy recommendation to my way of interpreting any kind of score. I don’t see how this could score better than a 4 out of 10 if you assume a Great piece is a 10, an average one is a 5, and a steaming pile of doo is a 1. Maybe a more rigourous deduction model would make more sense….
customer service -1
software faults -1
hardware faults -1
ease of use -1
lack of upgrades/support -1
The review was quite impartial but the score is confusing.
As I noted above, ratings are a tough nugget, and not foolproof. Most of it is a gut thing for me.
Ultimately, I don’t do any specific math. Because math requires weighting. How much is one component worth over another? For some people, the $30 for Google Earth isn’t a problem. For others, it’s the last straw.
On ease of use, the same applies. For some – it works great, for others, it’s a hair pulling experience.
As many noted, when it works, it works great. It’s how long it takes to get to that state, and how long it stays there. Thus, a 4/10 isn’t really realistic for someone who it works for.
Then, we have the value and competitive aspect. Comparing the Genius to the CompuTrainer, the Genius is a far better deal when you look at the whole package. Where Genius falls down is the hard-core “Just hold my wattage accurately and work instantly. every day” scenario. But a LOT of people actually don’t care about that. They’d rather be entertained. Thus, the challenge today in the trainer market.
At the end of the day, I’m not 100% certain I’ll keep ratings, because I think folks overlook what I try to do – which is talk through all the pros and cons and let folks decide for themselves what is important or not important. That’s what I’ve always done, and it seems to have worked well.
All that said, after thinking about it a bit more, I’m willing to call it a 7/10, and have updated it as such.
Ray – you’re fighting a losing battle trying to accurately rate a beast as complex and many-faceted as the Tacx Genius +TTS4.x with a single number. It’s practically impossible. For the lucky few with a flawless experience it will be a 9 or a 10. For the luckless others who struggle with its many faults, it will be a 2 or a 3.
Hell, I’m a long-term owner with many years experience and I could rate it anywhere between 2 and 9 on different, even consecutive days.Giving ratings will just attract pedants and the argumentative. I wouldn’t miss them at all, as I read your reviews for their depth and texture, not to make a decision based on a single number.
I have the fortius vr multiplayer and after reading your review, I don’t use it to its fullest extent. I don’t buy the videos due to cost. A bit odd, you might say, when you spend as much to buy the unit, but sometimes it’s over principle, I haven’t paid the google license fee either, All this makes me wonder if I shouldn’t have bought a computrainer. Although, all that being said, I turn it on and it works and has for over a year.
I’ve used a Tacx Fortius in the past (2007-2011). I still have it, but only use my KK Rock&Roll. I’ve done a lot of useful training on the Tacx, but also had a lot of frustration and lost training time when it didn’t work. When it arrived my cadence sensor was broken. The brake unit stopped working after a while. These were both replaced without costs. It probably helped that I just went to their factory, which is only about 10km from where I live. Another problem I had was that the VR software (the old Fortius “blue” software) did not work at all when I bought the Fortius. Luckily for me, after filing the bug and sending hardware information, I received 2 videos for free from Tacx. The videos did work.
When my brake unit started malfunctioning (overheating) again in the autumn of 2011, I started looking for a replacement. Having had enough of the problems with the Tacx, I started looking for something different, much simpler. The Kurt Kinetic has so far been an excellent choice. It just works.
Because I do love riding with the real live videos, I first just played them in a video player, or as a video in Golden Cheetah. Lately I’ve been running them with some software I created myself (with some help and inspiration from the Golden Cheetah source files). Using the power measured by my power meter, combined with the course profile and some calculations, it displays the video at the right speed. There’s just no feed back to the back wheel of course. It’s pretty nice to be able to run the videos like this, but not have to worry about the turbo trainer malfunctioning!
i like your site and your reviews.
I have a question regarding the “Kettler Racer S”. What do you think about this?
What do you prefer, the “TACX Genius” or the “Kettler Racer S”?
How annoying is the sound of the brake.
I would be very happy about an answer.
Thorben Predes (Germany)
Unfortunately, I have no experience with the Kettler Racer S, Sorry!
Though, in general, I prefer actual bikes to stationary bikes. Especially if we’re talking triathlon training where position on a given bike is so critical (when talking spending 5-7 hours for long-course triathlon). Just my two cents.
thank you for your answer!
What do you think about the volume of Tacx Genius (appr. 83db). Do you think this sound will disturbed
the neighbors in apartment house?
Is it possible to understand the TV (TV = Room volume) while training easily?
The allowed “sound pressure level” in the source room is between 60-75db in germany. (source Wikipedia).
I’m sorry about asking such kind of questions. But I’m considering the purchase of the Tacx Genius.
Thorben Predes (Germany)
A very good review and I am pleased that you gave an unbiased report. I bought an I-Vortex this month and I think it is possibly my worst investment ever! Never before have I experienced such poor software and customer service. They just don’t seem to get the message and it makes me wonder how long an arrogant company like Tacx can survive with all this negative feedback. They should be getting worried.
My main complaint is with the description. It says -5 to 20% slope and it just doesn’t do it, despite Tacx saying that the I -Vortex will achieve this on its web site. I have an email from them confirming that its maximum is under 10% so I have been sold something that has been misrepresented. I have complained to the dealer (Bikester) but presumably, customer service drowns in the channel between UK and the rest of Europe. Tacx told me to contact the dealer and the dealer told me to contact Tacx!
I also have a problem with the stupid Ant+ system. Just give me back good old fashioned wires. What advantage do you get from Ant+ when the dongle has to be almost touching the bike to make it work? It’s a solution looking for a problem and wires have always worked very well.
Cadence is a work of complete fiction. Guessing would be far more accurate. When you settle down to a steady speed it’s OK but then you change gear and it all goes to pot and is about 40% out. I have no idea if power is calculated accurately but have a fair idea how it would turn out if I measured it. It needs a proper cadence sensor and retro supplied FOC. Now there’s a joke!
Multi-user is useless. It crashes and my co-rider shot past me at the speed of light and completely disappeared on several occasions. I asked for a refund but they just ignored me. A friend of mine paid for Google and said that was equally useless and only partially worked. Street View doesn’t work but they are still charging the full price and not mentioning it until you have paid.
The hardware feels very flimsy to me and I can’t help feeling that I will probably have to buy some of the plastic bits in the near future and probably at Tacx’s extortionate prices. Everything about this product feels fragile and they have no concept of quality control, alpha and beta testing. They test it on the users. I defy anyone to not experience a bug within 1 hour of setting it up.
I am a business consultant and also run my own company. Some free advice to Tacx (free isn’t a word they would recognise) would be to sack the numbskull that represents their support (support is another word that’s not in their vocabulary) as a first step. However, I suspect there is a culture problem throughout the Company and probably from the top because you can’t find many people that say good things about them and they hide behind dealers and email. If they had a customer service ethos, the response would be friendly and helpful – Oh I forgot, those are also words that Tacx don’t understand. So a challenge I would like to set for Tacx is for their CEO to publish his direct telephone number to handle complaints. Don’t hold your breath waiting!
My I-Vortex will probably appear on eBay at some point, assuming I can untangle the license.
My advice is to save your money get some good winter clothing and use a real bike.
Do you think the Tacx CEO is reading these comments? Do you think he ought to be?
Do you think he cares? Discuss.
Why even consider a Tacx? Buggy software Poor customer service. Why bother? I have a CT and would buy it or a Powerbeam. As far as the Ct is concerned, Trainer Road and Ergvideo solve the outdated software issues and the hardware is rock solid. The Cyclops unit has good hardware and first rate customer service. Why look further?
From my own experience as a prospective trainer buyer, I suspect that there is one main reason for people to consider Tacx – quality and range of RLV’s*. This would seem to be a limitation in the short term for the Wahoo Kickr – the self filmed videos on Kinomap obviously aren’t a patch on the Tacx library. I’m not a software engineer, but I wonder whether it will prove hard for the future Kickr egosystem to support video’s to the same standard as Tacx- given the size of the files and issues in streaming from the web to IOS devices which don’t have big storage capacity or processing power. If this comes on board for the Kickr (or any other hardware) with a stable delivery platform and Tacx remain up to their eyeballs in the kind of basic fails that people are describing then they will be under a lot of pressure. Such a shame as the Tacx concept is fantastic. As a basic (prospective) user, in the short term I am contemplating using the Tacx video player with a basic manual resistence control trainer (eg. Kickr). I’m not sure what would be more frustrating – a cheap trainer set up with manual resistence control, or a more expensive unit which only works occassionally.
PS – Really great review, Ray – fantastic.
* of course, some folks might also salivate over the driven wheel on the Genius, but this is just one of their products.
Great review Ray! Keep up the good work!
Though I don’t agree about your long set-up time and other negative points. My own experiences with Tacx are great. In 2005 I bought the Fortius and last year the i-Genius. I never had big issues with my trainers. It’s true that the old software was a little bit buggy, but since Tacx Trainer software 4 the software is steady. You have a lot of new opportunities, which no other trainer brand offers.
If you like to do your exercises indoors (longer than one hour per training) I recommend you an i-Genius. Also important: the i-Genius has a very strong brake which no other brand (like Computrainer) can offer. 15% feels like 15%.
What about inertia? Bushido without any additional flywheel cant simulate real riding and as I heard i-Genius has the same problem. It is the reason of the choppyness of all Tacx products over some grade especially at low cadence.
I don’t have a clue why Tacx does not use either bigger rollers or bigger flywheels. Or both.
I own Bushido and TTS 4.4 and it works great for my needs. I literally spent 8-10 months on the tacx forum site learning about all the quirks of the software and hardware before I bought anything. I bought a specific powerful desktop to only use with the Tacx software. I also bought a relatively cheap 40″ LCD TV and the RLV are stunning on that display. I ride on it 2-3 times a week for 60-120 minutes and the only issue I have had is the heart rate does not always connect. But it’s just a matter of reconnecting (bothersome but I am ok with it now). I have tried the VR twice but had some issue with controlling the avatar (need to research a bit more before I give up on this option of the software). What I think is very cool is I can ride up Alpe de Huez on Tuesday and then Mt. Ventoux on Thursday and maybe Sella Ronda, Italy on Sunday evening.
If you have disposable income (I think all in all I have $2.2K invested in this, crazy now that I think about it)and the time (patience) it a great tool. I mostly use the trainer to maintain fitness and keep the weight off. Just thought I would add my .2 cents.
I am curious when these devices will start to generate their own energy. Loads of calories are put in the resistor wheel why not pull some Watts out of it?
Still thinking of buying a simple trainer, this is unfortunately quite above the happy budget of a trainer. Love the review though to see what I will be missing. 🙂
The Tacx Bushido does just that. No wires/cables is probably it’s biggest draw. But as I have found out the hardware, you still have to deal with all the issues raised above. But if you want a power controlled trainer that can easily be moved or used for race warm up in the field, the Bushido is it.
This is exactly what the Tacx iGenius unit does !!!
Great review – as always. I was considering the Genius as I got sick of waiting for the Wahoo Kickr to be available in the UK. I’m glad I read this review as I think the bugs and general a**sing about (UK term) would put all but the very keen off. A turbo should drag you to it to snatch a quick 30 min session when your busy not make you have to decide whether you can be bothered with messing around getting it to work first when times short. The customer support issues also put me off as with any complex product you can accept it may play up occasionally but would expect an easy and quick solution. I think I’ll wait and hope the Kickr will arrive in the UK before next winter.
Ray – I thought your review was right on – the good, the bad, and the ugly – the reality of owning a Genius. After a lot of consternation, I ended up going with the PowerBeam with their VR software package. It took me about 90 min to set up. I was riding it the same afternoon that I set it up. It just works – no muss, no fuss. Like you, I have limited time to train, and the thought of spening 10-20 minutes debugging meant 10-20 min less time to work out. Also, it has 90% of the TACX VR features, easy interface, and everything I need to meet my training plan.
So thank you for saving me from years of headaches and frustration.
Hey DC, you changed the power meter from P2M to Quarq on the fly, didn’t you?
As far as the tire is concerned in my opinion it is not a problem of noise but of friction: with a normal road tire (michelin pro race 3) on my trainer the rear wheel slips when suddenly increasing power while it doesn’t with the tacx tire.
It crossed between two reviews.
As far as the tire slippage goes, I generally don’t see any difference between the two tires from a slip-standpoint (for my tires anyway).
Just a quick note that Tacx has sent me a response that they requested be published. I have done so in full, up above in the review.
The link to the response is here: link to dcrainmaker.com
Interesting response from Tacx. It still seems like they still don’t get it. The letter seems more defensive than addressing the real issues. They claim they have improved things from last year. But DCRainmaker was working with the current software. Issues with the HR connectivity (or lack there of) are clearly still an issue. The $30 / year for google earth also isn’t a big deal, if you are buying new software. My issue, and I suspect many others, is that they have come back to people who bought a product with it included (TTS 3) and are now requiring the additional fee. I might even be willing to pay the fee if they would fix the problems in TTS 3. But the latest version of TTS 3 has just as many problems as one that came in my box.
I’m sure they do work hard to put out the best product they can with good intentions. But they don’t seem to be really listening to their customers. There are real problems out there that they need to address if they don’t want to lose everything to up and coming alternatives.
I agree with ekutter
1) Tacx do have excellent intentions and as a lot of posters in response to Ray’s review , including me, have said: when it works, it’s great.
2) But they have this curious relationship with their customer base in that they contrive to build minor irritations which are easily fixed into serious problems that cause unneccessary conflict. Then they circle the wagons and defend their silly position.
Why not just fix the irritation of the HR belt not automatically connecting via ANT+ – it’s not hard.
Why not build the cost of GE into the price of the trainer and take a hit on those customers that haven’t paid it – it must be a relatively small sum.
And most importantly – why don’t they introduce a proper, robust and rigorous testing regime into their software development. That’s not so easy – but dozens and dozens of other sports tech companies manage it a whole lot better.
Like their trainers, Tacx are essentially good, but incomprehensibly frustrating at times.
I think the response from Tacx demonstrates the problem with many companies. They do not know how to communicate. They obviously don’t communicate internally or with their customers but worse still, they are not in working in unison with their dealers. Tacx tell me to go to the dealer, the dealer (Bikester) tells me to go to Tacx. They are also forgetting that they sell the Google license and videos directly to the user and therefore have a direct contract with the user. They are therefore responsible directly to the customer for those aspects of the product under European law. I think the signing off tells it all… “The Tacx Team”. How about some names and direct dial numbers? If your product and service are good, you would have no problem publishing them. Be man enough to face your customers and stop hiding!
Finally, I have just checked their web site and they are still saying the I-Vortex has a slope of -5 to + 20 when in reality, it can’t even manage 10% and that’s what really annoys me because I bought it on the strength of that. Maybe it’s time to contact the Dutch trading standards dept. On the positive side, it’s good to see how the internet gives power to the consumer, where it belongs!
It’s a poor response and actually makes me think worse of the company and the likelihood of them resolving the issues in future.
However “Onto moister issues” did raise a smile
Flawed support model to be sure. I’ve witnessed local bike shops trying to deal with problems with their own demo gear of a less complex product (powerbeam) and find it hard to believe many dealers (even golden super dealers) have the expertise to support an even more complex product like the Tacx. KICKR should arrive from Clever in a couple of weeks.
as a new user purchasing in January 2013, my unit has been absolutely fine except for a problem with 2 faulty Tacx HRMs, now rectified, though that did expose Tacx questionable support. Like others I do think Tacx need to up their game with support.
Sure it needs a reasonably powerful PC but so what; it is powerful software especially the VR which is frankly stunning compared to anything else I’ve seen.
The RLVs are in a class of their own too, particularly HD on a 130″ screen and a JVC pseudo 4K projector!
The issue with the brake (dropping/failing if the mains voltage was too high I understand) now appears fixed with the latest firmware (1.1.304) too.
The Google Earth licence is a pain but at $30/yr is not bank breaking and to be fair it seems it is Google who have changed the rules and decided to charge for this, not Tacx. It is not reasonable to expect Tacx to foot this bill imho. The functionality is great, although streeview does not work at this time due to external bug (not Tacx apparently).
The issues surrounding the ANT+ are indeed strange, clearly it is highly susceptible to interference though with the stick placed as suggested on its extension cable away form the PC and in my case clipped to the front brake cable I have no problems.
Do I regret my purchase – not at all. I absolutely love it.
To others I would say be mindful of the problems for sure, but if my experience with a new system is anything to go by, dont let that spoil your decision.
oh .. and it all folds away in seconds under the sofa too 🙂
The problem is that every dealer and every website wants to sell Tacx products (high demand, easy made money) but they can’t or even won’t give service on the high level VR-trainers because they do not understand how to work with the products, how to handle driver/pc/software related problems.
But imo that’s their job… customer service! Tacx’ job is giving training sessions to the dealers. If you experience problems with your car, bike,… you also contact your dealer and not the brand.
This is actually an area I don’t agree with Tacx on. I don’t think it’s reasonable for bike shops to keep up with quarterly updates, or troubleshoot PC hardware and software issues. Does one bring their entire unit into the LBS?
I just don’t think that support model is valid, and I can’t think of another unit in this space (sports technology) that shares that model. In fact, almost every other one asks you not to go to your LBS for support issues, and rather to work it out with the company directly (as this lowers the chance of returns).
Just my two cents.
This is the worst product I have ever purchased! I can use the trainer hardware but the software is unable to function. So, I am limited to using a $1600 Cdn trainer to do a job that a $200 trainer could do. I won’t bore you with the problems… you know them. I love the one where I write to Tacx and ask them to let me reset my password and I get an automatic reply saying that if I write 3 times it will be considered spam and my email will be blocked. Did they ever send the email for the password reset? You know the answer. I have been trying to get the software to work since December. I know my way around software but still I hired my long-time computer tech to help me. He could not solve the problem. We live in Waterloo, Ontario which is the IT capital of Canada, in my humble opinion.
The store and the supplier (Lambert, Quebec) offers no software support. One guy at Lambert told me that Tacx sells globally but has no interest in providing support outside the EU. I once get a letter from some guy at Tacx and it was in unintelligible English. I have no idea what he was saying except that I was to log onto to Tacx Diagnosis, which I did to no avail.
I am incredibly busy with my work, and don’t have hours and days of time to work on this issue. So I use the hardware and my Garmin and watch old Seinfeld shows or listen to audiobooks… for $1600. How dumb could Tacx be when they put me in this situation… did I mention…. for $1600?!!
Read this comment and had deja vu all over again. 😉 The English language skills of the support staff at TACX are about second grade level, and the actual support is the worst I’ve ever encountered with the exception of Verizon, which has set new lows for support, or lack thereof. After dozens of tries, TTS4.0 never worked with my Bushido. While Ray’s review is certainly superb, the rating, even at 7/10 is unrealistic, IMHO. On to the Wahoo Kickr….
Four month ago I bought a TacX i-genius Multiplayer with TTS 4.6, Google License and a bunch of TacX Videos. The latest and expensivst hardware and software from TacX. My PC exceeds TTS specifications by far. I am quite familiar with computers and gadgets, know how they work and I am able to troubleshoot. I even do read manuals.
Nothing worked. So I used an extension cable for the ant+ stick, I removed the garmin ant+ stick, disabled all applications waiting for garmin ant+ signals. After initial connection, I used the latest drivers and software for the i-genius, calibrated brake, unit und steering frame. And finally it worked some hours later. The following weeks were not at all pure indoor cycling fun. I had to activate several licenses (licence-servers were quite obviously an issue at that time), upgraded several times and discovered a lot of problems ending up two times with a not-starting TTS software. I could solve the first problem. The second time I had to involve TacX support via an integrated help tool. And, yes, they helped me after some days to get it all started again. But after that I lost confidence in the TacX software.
Our initial idea was to train and race with friends from remote during wintertime. Well, we nearly never did that. Not because we didn´t take the time. But it is not easy to get ready to a certain point of time. You have to prepare yourself and your bike nearly like you do for an outdoor session. Plus you have to get connected to the computer, get the software working, have the licenses accepted and be lucky that the tacx multiplayer server is available with full functionality. We hardly never got all this going together. If, by chance, we really started a race in multiplayer mode it never worked like we expected it to work. There are a lot of settings you can vary with tremendous influence on your performance. 35 mph avarage speed or 20mph top speed on a road can be the effect if you, by chance or intentionally, calibrate or adjust wrongly. Additionaly, a lot of evenings in December the multiplayer servers weren´t working properly. So we gave up the multiplayer thing.
Training for yourself is only half the fun and not so motivating. You sweat a lot. So you need a big towel to put it under the black track and a small one around the neck for your convenience. I tried challenges like the Mount Ventoux video. Yes, the view is fantastic and the chance to change the cockpit setup whilst cycling is very nice. The resistance of the brake might have a realistic wattage. But it feels quite different from climbing up steep hills. Its not fluent enough, the inertia at slow speed is not properly simulated. After a certain period of time climbing up a challenging hill like Mount Ventoux I discovered slip problems between tire and brake. No change in setup of brake or tire could better this problem. So I don´t use it to climb up mountains anymore.
The idea of an indoor trainer with integrated VR and multiplayer mode and real tracks is great. Features are sophisticated, looks are brilliant. But after all I just installed the black track in front of a huge tv screen, using it just connected to 220V without computer and software. I cycle during a soccer match or crime story on tv as base endurance training. Knowing that I would have been better off with a simple 100€-brake.
I have a fortius right now and everything is fine with it.. Works good. But I really like how easy it is with the genius taking the bike on and off.
Would you suggest that I should upgrade? Or should I not upgrade?
My local dealer stopped carrying them because of all the troubles. But I wrote to tech support and they say that they have resolved all the issues. Took them 3 days to respond to my inquiry.
From your article it kind of sounds like your answer is going to be NO do not upgrade!
I wouldn’t at this point. And while support may say that they’ve resolved all the issues, I see little proof of that anywhere. The forums are just as busy as normal.
thanks very much rainmaker… these are the emails i got from tacx:
In 4.6 is stable. other issues caused by wrong graphics cards, or other programs causing the issue
We have seen bittorrent firewall blocking installations, that kind of things
On the roadmap i cannot say to much
However we are looking to improvement of firmware, so that is not really related to 4,6
Met vriendelijke groet, Best regards,
You don’t have to wait. When you have to trainer you just need to be sure that you do all the available updates (if needed).
Of course they would say not to wait … but i wanted to get some insight into some of the fixes. They make it sound like there are little issues out there..
I already listed my PITAs earlier in the thread. Since then I gave another chance to Tacx and paid for Google licence. But Street View does not work. I checked both TTS3 and TTS4 forum on forum.tacx.com. The only difference between the users of the two software versions that TTS4 users at least heard some rumors that it would be fixed in 4.7, while TTS3 users gave up saying that Tacx was focusing only on TTS4.
So again the same style. Tacx tried to explain in their response that they were just generous to freely give Google feature until it was allowed, but did not mention that they had strongly advertised this feature as part of Tacx product. Now they are not responsible for the lack of Street View feature happening at least since February 2013, but they are still advertising this feature. Obviously they will not pay any remedy, just put a finger on Google team.
All my best,
User Team 😉
Just stumbled over your latest review of the TTS.
After months of working with my Bushido, however not touching TTS – I’ve upgraded the SW only to find the Google licence “issue”. As in post #91 – this was an advertised feature which has now been removed from the SW…
This issue has two sides:
– I’ll accept the fact that Google is asking for a licence “per ride”,
– but what does this have to do with the (plain) GPS import feature???
It is now not possible to import GPS routes anymore without an additional licence. Btw, GoogleMaps has never worked for me due to the SW’s inability to work with the proxies on my network.
TACX – don’t buy here.
FYI If you have a licence for TTS3, you can get gps track based RLT w/onGoogle licence if you stick to 3.10 or less.
I had to do exactly that. Revert to 3.10. They don’t make it easy as you have to start from your CD and install every update to that point. No updates after that point seemed to be important any ways. They have basically stopped giving any support to TTS 3 despite many problems remaining.
This level of support and customer care from TACX lead me to selling my Bushido.
Hi Ray, thanks for the great review. Once problem i found with the Tacx i Genius was that i had to disable the Garmin ANT software through Windows Task Manager to get it working properly?? Other than that (lucklily it seems!!) i’ve had no problems from the software 🙂
Correct, they both compete for the ANT+ stick, and only one can use it at once.
Hey, I have had an iGenus since December last year and have to say that the software has got a lot less buggy recently with the recent software and firmware updates. I guess as part of my process of setting up I have got used to turning on the brake and control unit just at the right time so they are detected automatically but it can be a pain if you miss the window of opportunity. Moral is, run the updates, mine came woefully out of date. One thing I will say is I rarely use the RTV feature, not because it isn’t good, mainly because I seem to always gravitate back to HIIT and I find I have my eyes closed and frankly don’t know where I am half the time :-). So I would consider what you want from your training before splashing the cash. My brother got me onto the Sufferfest vids and I find them much more motivational than scenery. I have trouble slotting in much more than an hour a day so I need to burn my candles pretty quick, long rides are for Sundays only…
P.S. It probably goes without saying but if you want to take your turbo with you to warm up this is a PITA to drag around and set up.
Our experience with the Tacx Genius are even more worse! All of the above you mentioned and more. We went totally mad about all these updates that didn’t fixed anything! We were more busy with the probplems of the hardware and software than we could do a (complete) training and that for 1,5 year long. We send it back for guarantee two times. Two times a new motorbrake and the second time also accompanied with the new Tacx Trainer Software 4 (TTS4).
After testing it seemed to work better, but we lost al the confidence in it, in Tacx and it’s products. We also owned the previous model, the Fortius, this one had better software and hardware but was a little bit less realistic. The interface of the TTS software 3 and 4 is horrible, so not user friendly and so outdated. We sold it immedialtely after we knew the new setup worked and was somewhat reliable. Because we bought it very early and the prices strangely had gone up, we didn’t lose much money for a change…
We are now waiting for the Wahoo KICKR to be released for Europe. Open source software, more and better development, more parties involved and no slipping back wheel anymore and also the functionality to use it for warming up for a time trial without electricity.
Keep up the good (test)work!
i love my tacx i-genius. my kids(8 and 4) love the virtual reality courses. i’m training for iron lake placid 2014 right now simulating the course. my motor fried and my keys were wrong, but my bike shop, bikeway ny, seller handled the repair mail away within 2 weeks and tacx support resolved key issues in 24hrs. So, no problem, just inconvenience. That was 7 months ago and my system works often. Software bugs are isignificant and i am a tech guy.
You want the best and highest tech, then suck it up. TACX is the best!
A great review! I was going to invest of almost £1k on a TACX trainer, but after reading the review and all the good folks comments on here I will NOT be spending any money with TACX.
Think I’ll give the KIKR a go and keep usinging the Spinnervals DVDs 🙂
Was there any news from the ANT+ conference that you could share related to the Tacx plans to open up to the ANT+ standard?
Yup, I’ve got a post mostly written talking about it.
Thanks a lot Ray! I look forward to read it.
Thank you for the great review. I have been using my Tacx Fortius Multiplayer for 5 years now and have had a wonderful experience with both hardware and software for the last 2 years. My first three years were frustrating and I experienced many of the bugs encountered by the whole community of users. These three years however were great in making me an expert and are probably why I have had a flawless experience ever since. The only hardware breakdown I experienced on my Fortius was the need to replace the brake unit (250$) after about 4 years or 10000kms of use. TTS4.8 is working extremely well and all the bugs have pretty well been all worked out since the intro of the 4.0 software. Being a completely wired system, I have obviously no issues with wireless hookup issues. I can now say that for over a year or so, I have never done other than train on this system and literally never lost a mere second to tinkering.
I was considering upgrading to Genius as my LBS has been ranting about the fact that the brake unit could now realistically simulate grades of up to 15% where the Fortius tops out at approximately 6% and then simulates the increased resistance from increased slopes by artificially degearing your effort, ultimately progressively slowing your climb.
2 questions: First, from your knowledge, do you know if the Genius brake can actually simulate the much higher real life feel of much steeper slopes that we encounter in RLVs or other?
Second, do you know if Genius has now resolved all of the ANT+ wireless bugs that many seem to be experiencing? I would hate to go back to a flawed system when my Fortius is running without a glitch. On that note, my advice to new users may be to pick up a used Fortius (about 500$) and get familiar with what is an incredibly great training device. Turned my boring indoor training into a wonderful world tour training experience (I only use RLVs)
1) Ultimately, most trainers tend to have problems fully recreating outdoors, especially on steeper slopes in non-direct drive situations due to slippage. That said, the Genius does well there – or at least as well as most other tire-based options.
2) To the best of my knowledge, they have not addressed all the issues.
The only solution is the mount of an additional flywheel to simulate the inertia of your bike&your body outdoors.
It can be done, but certainly you risk the warranty. On the other hand your trainer will become a bit noisier even if you make drilling relatively perfectly, since the extra flywheel will wobble a very bit. Especially during acceleration at low speed
Check this photo about what I mean: link to flickr.com
Thanks for another great review.
I am an owner of Fortius multiplayer and have been using it for couple of years.
Although I see people have lot of issues I have to admit mine is working great.
One thing with the support is that, while they are usually great and have excellent service (at least for me), I didn’t like one bit that they charged me 20% VAT (European tax) on TTS 4 software although they shipped it directly to me in a Canada.
It is obvious that they are not required to pay that money to their government and they keep it in their pocket but they refused to not charge me.
I read on the forums that some people from Australia and Canada have the website automatically calculate the price without VAT, but not for me.
They even have “VAT exemption” on the order but when I placed my order for TTS4 and put Canada as billing and shipping country, it just included it.
Support and sales didn’t want to change it.
That was very disappointing.
Now, I don’t want to purchase any RLV movies because it just bugs me that they’re charging me extra. I would have bought at least few videos. Who’s at loss here?
Othe then that, it’s been good.
I bought a Genius two weeks ago and spent 2 days trying to get it working. It came with software version 4.1 and I had to go through all the updates all the way to 4.8.
Brake connection is exactly as difficult as described but eventually you figure out how to trick the software.
Having said all this: once the trainer was running I LOVED it. I mainly use the Tacx films and I enjoy them tremendously. I have never been able to use a bike trainer for more than 20 minutes because it is just so mind numbing. This one is keeping me interested and I am actually using it.
Also: I am running it on a Mac (with Parallels software) with no issues.
In summary: I was VERY flustered during the setup but now that it is running: I want no other trainer.
I have the Tacx Flow Multiplayer. Initially, it was pure frustration: buggy software install, crappy device recognition, multiple installs, reinstalls, removals, setups… After I could *finally* get to work, which took me about one month of dealing with all kinds of issues, in my sixth ride, the brake motor went dead. Too bad I had to ship it from South America to Germany to have it replaced. In one year, six rides!
I´ve done more six rides on the new brake. It seems now that this unit is better than the first one and it warms less. I really like the real life videos (bought most from 3rd parties designed to work with TTS). Overall, I think the riding is good. I would surely like to have much more resistance on climbing: the Flow can only simulate to about 4% for my weight. Also, in this eletromagnetic brakes, the resistance change is very “choppy”: you can really tell when the magnets kick in. Since my real rear wheel speed seldom drops below 22 km/h, I don´t experience any choppines on the pedal.
I would like to try a motorbrake unit (Fortius, Bushido or Genius), but am just no spending more $$$ on Tacx products. Maybe if my new electro motor never dies, it will clear some of my bad feelings about Tacx.
Overall, I would not recommend the Tacx hardware/software: it´s just too frustrating to get it going.
What I always keep searching is for a used Fortius or it´s motorbrake and power unit to be available at a nice low price at Ebay…
In the last month I really caught the Tacx RL videos fever. Since I lent my Kreitler rollers to a good friend (so that he restarts riding), I´ve been riding all weekdays on my roller (busy schedule, only outdoor cycle at weekends).
Although the virtual speed catches when above 4% hill slope and feels strange, I find the video courses very nice. Sure it does feel a little weird to have cadences on the 80-100 rpm range on 15-18% slopes…
TTS 3.11 has frozen three times out of 18 riding sessions, mostly on the first week.
Yesterday I rode for 2 hours and 25 minutes – PR! – and it felt like I was (almost) riding outdoors. I know that it´s harder to work inside (heat, even with two fans directed at me), but I don´t feel the mental strain of riding the rollers anymore.
Pros: it´s funny when riding, I can finally ride more than 30 minutes indoors, no more boredom.
Cons: setup time (I have to assemble/disassemble trainer, a table, two fans, bike each time), heat (air conditioning room would be nice! Too bad I have to ride in the laundry next to my washing machine – no way my wife would allow on my living room), feel un-natural when riding out of the saddle and you stay more time seated – skin rubbing rashs abound!
I´ll try to get a Bushido for a tryout from a friend. If it really feels that much better, I might buy it from an Ebay auction if I find it under US$ 500 (or if my friend sells his).
CONGRATULATIONS is such a small word for your LOVE, your passion and you GREAT WORK in testing all these things…
You really give a GREAT NAME to cycling…and we are HAPPY to have you in the Cycling Family…
Keep up the GREAT WORK man….
I would like to shake your hand… really…
Excellent review! Got the i-Genius a few weeks ago ..then had to upgrade pc because of the hi spec requirements! Was a bit apprehensive because of all the negative feed-back from others (regarding connectivity issues). It did take a few times for the brake to connect, but once it did, it was a good work-out! Had a couple more connectivity issues then upgraded software from 4.8 to 4.8.4 (something like that!). Connectivity was better, then the blue control pad started losing the signal. But this was a simple case of changing the batteries in the unit. (came with the ‘Tacx’ AA batteries, so unsure of how long they have been in store!). Connectivity has been a lot better and now have got the 4.9 software. Have yet to train with that as it was only yesterday I downloaded it. As you mentioned earlier, the Catalyst training sessions, although probably the simplest, are the ones I use the most! The VR ones are ok ..especially when competing against your ‘ghost’ (not got multiplayer), but for training purposes, and trying to get cadence/speed/power ratios consistent, the catalyst training programs are excellent! Am hoping to race this Sunday (29th Dec) ..and we shall see if my training has been worth it! Hope you have had a good Christmas! Thanks for all the work you do!
Thanks for the great review. The review did make me think twice about purchasing the unit, but I felt that the issues were addressable. I have had the unit for about two weeks now and train on some real life video routes.
Could you please advise on 2 issues.
1. I am running version 4.6. The latest is 4.9. Can I upgrade directly to 4.9, or must I upgrade to 4.7, 4.8 then 4.9?
2. In film training mode, I know that the speed being reflected is too high for the corresponding terrain – a little easy. It appears that more resistance is required to achieve a more realistic simulation. Is there a way to influence this in the calibration of the brake unit or any other value one can input in the settings?
Other than that so far everything connects quickly and I have really been enjoying the experience.
Great Review! I was looking at this trainer but there were too many red flags to ignore. Not only from this post but from user feedback on other sites like Amazon and Tacx’s own forum. Really unfortunate because the technology looks amazing. Two years between reviews and the software still having pairing issues should give you an idea their development team has priorities backwards.
Thanks for doing all of these great reviews. I have a question & please forgive me if I didn’t go through the 115 responses here to see if someone asked it already.
I read your review of the Virb & new firmware update. Wouldn’t it be great if TACX could allow for a ride done with the Virb & gpx file etc. together to be loaded to the software the same as the GPX files that are ridden on Google earth are now? Any chance that you would have any insight into a possible update that would allow this?
Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to load your own videos into their suite today. Perhaps someday if they open up the trainer to the ANT+ protocal (open trainer profile), then you could.
An invaluable in depth review. I’ve been thinking of buying the Tacx I Genius VR trainer and having read the reviews and posts about it I wanted to ask if Tacx have sorted out the bugs and their customer service problems in the past year since the review?
It sounds just the right trainer for me but I didn’t want to buy into a lot of problems if they haven’t got their act together by now.
Hi, very good review thanks, I bought my Tacx I-Genius last september and it has been working so nicely, no problems what so ever, i have been using it almost every day in the cold winter in Montréal. I have bought some Tacx film, but mostly i have been creating routes with the google licence, it is very amazing, also i was able to download my last summer rides that i have done and save with Endomondo apps on my Samsung Galaxy, so all the rides i have done are now on my tacx trainer, so i could chose so many different rides to train all winter long. 45min. to an hour a day of Tacx trainer with always a different scenery, best of all is the analyser in the software, you are able to see the ameliorations of your training with the watss per kg, of each training. Very Good trainer.
I found this review very insightful. I have purchased the imagic and loved it, the promise of a better product with the fortius lead me to purchase that. Unfortunately the fortius had jerky pedalling at high gradients, low speed situations and nothing could be done to fix it.
The cost of software upgrades I found frustrating, not soon after I brought the fortius, that the new software version comes out, and the cost is steep, I buy that, then the next version comes out and my loyalty in the product counts for nothing as I have to pay the full price yet again for only a slightly improved product.
Tacx customer support is not a show case for others to follow, if you get a bad unit or a product that doesn’t deliver on the promise, there appears to be a lot of pain to get the issue sorted and you may not get the issue sorted at all.
I wish Tacx would do the following:
* Provide a reasonably priced all features, all updates subscription based service. Here new content and updates = customer retention and a better product to attract new customers.
* Have a customer portal to manage purchases, subscriptions, issues, downloads
* Have the option to try before you buy, this is less of an issue for subscription based services
* All content and software should be available online. Note the quality of videos do not need to be compromised to allow this, look at services like Akamai as an example of content distribution.
* Provide reasonable upgrade offers, this is less of an issue for subscription based services
* Test the product and test it well before taking it to the market. At the moment the balance between Quality and innovation is not right and favours innovation at the cost of quality. This applies to both the hardware and software.
* Stand by their product, if the product is bad replace or refund, apologise and correct for everyone as a priority.
* Reward beta testing that raises new issues with subscription discounts to help improve quality by leveraging the masses.
Well I have a Fortius Multiplayer trainer and am now on my 3rd brake unit which itself has now broken. I am beginning to feel paranoid I have only just upgraded the software and purchased the google licence and will now have to wait ages for a new brake unit. Does anyone know of better Turbo trainers I am fed up with Tacx
Tacx Fortius is the best one that i like because it reward beta testing that raises new issues with subscription discounts to help improve quality by leveraging the masses. Thanks for the best info in this post and i really happy to read this post on this site!!!!!!!!!!!!
Excellent review, though some upgrades have occurred since this was originally published (e.g no screws on Black
Track battery cover any more and brake calibration now dead easy). I have the Tacx I-Genius Multi-player which I
bought December 2013 with software version 4.8. The unit has worked faultlessly since set up and the software is now upgraded to v4.10.
Setting up the bike to centre best on the brake was a little tricky and required experimenting with which way round the
skewer was best fitted. It may well be that having it slightly off centre is not important but I persisted in being exact.
In the end I used a washer as well to improve spacing. However, when I put another bike the trainer, it set up straight
away in the middle so not everyone will necessarily experience this.
I have used it three or four times a week over the time period since purchase and find the variety of training options
keeps my interest better than any other in door option I have tried.
Most used of the options for me is using the Google Earth set up alongside GPS routes. I have ridden routes from
my own GPS collection as well as making new routes in places I have never even visited. Particularly good if the
route is covered by “street view”! 3D Route Builder software gets you round most of the problems with synchronizing
the track to the gradient described in this review by smoothing the gradient changes. This is a brilliant way of planning
routes as you can ride all of it or just sections before you actually go there!
My next most used option is Catalyst. Excellent for controlled training and monitoring statistically especially if you use
the analyser option as well.
I have used the Video option (which only works for me with video player 1) but find it more interesting to use Google
Earth where you can choose to view the street view and also watch your progress in the terrain landscape. This option
is also a lot cheaper!
Of the options I use least, I have found little use for the steering, though it does work well if you take the time to
calibrate it carefully and it’s almost surreal to free ride around, exploring a Google Earth landscape any where in the
The feel of the ride is extremely realistic though you need to ride a slightly stiffer gear on really steep ascents to mimic
the real feel as the resistance only goes up to 20% incline. I find simple gear selection easier than messing with the
“power mode” settings. Slippage is really minimal and best avoided with use of a proper tyre and brake calibration.
One last thing is worth mention. I was concerned about the laptop which I wanted to use with the trainer as it was not
really powerful enough according to the Tacx web site. I run a Dell Inspiron N7110 with Intel Core i3 2310M at 2.10 GHz
Windows 7 64-bit. 17″ screen so excellent visually.
However the no dedicated graphics card worried me!
The software ran on this with 4 GB RAM but I upgraded to 8.0 GB and all seems fine running most
graphics at “normal” settings. I have had no problems at all with this set up.
All in all, one of the best purchases I have made for training!
Hi DC RM / all
I’m in the market for a turbo trainer and was looking at the Tacx Genius (not the multiplayer version), has anyone here had one for a while now? I hear horror stories of many units breaking after only short use. Also has anyone used one as preperation for some event, for example climbing / Alpine climbs, does it help if you do not live in a mountainous region? How much does it help you on the road?
Would appreciate any comments.
Also on the lookout to possibly upgrade from the fortius but after reading the review (excellent by the way) I think I will stick until I see many of the issues smoothed out.
In response to does it help in the mountains, I have just returned from the Pyrenees with a group of friends and yes! it helps a lot. I only have short steep (15 mins) climbs in my area but using RLV and grinding it out helped me when it came to the real thing, (1 hour plus).
Ps no turbo will ever beat the real thing, especially the down!
Tacx has uupdatd the i-Genius software many times since you wrote the original article.
I bought my unit in 2013 and had several problems (including the need to change the motor (for free).
At this point, however, I believe Tacx has inproved quite a bit and that:
1) the Customer Service entity is much more repsonsive than it used to be;
2) the software has mun fewer (an mor minor) bugs than 18 months ago;
3) the quality of the hardware is better monitored.
Yeah, I’ll be re-evaluating things this fall, especially with Tacx’s new iPad app and their new group of trainers they’ve sorta-announced lately.
Hey I got a felt AR5 road bike and im getting conflicting info if I can use the tacx on this bike felt say check the manual there is no info there what do u think
Great review. I have purchased the T2020 based on your review. I got it from TotalCycling to Canada in less than 5 days. I just wished they would have shipped the right power cable. Now, I am hesitant to just take a plug converter. It seems that from your experience that it worked. I am still trying to get a US/Canada power cable (T1946-60).
I don’t have a Genius handy, but look at the power cord black box, and see if it says 100-240v (or 100-220v). If so, simply run to your nearest electronics store and buy a $1-3 adapter and you’re good to go. 🙂
This is an amazingly detailed and useful review, which isn’t a surprise because it is on par with all your reviews. Your comments on the steering frame also link to my concerns that it is 100% a gimmick, and one they use to tempt people to go for the multi-player package that they offer.
Thanks for talking the time (which I’m sure was an age for you) to write this review.
Any chance of a mini update review for this now? Its had lots of progress and is MUCH better. I think when people see it in comparison charts against more recent reviews of other trainers its being sold short a little.
It is better, but it’s not yet great on the desktop side yet – it’s still finicky. I find the iOS app a much better option.
Is it possible take power data of genius on the FR920XT?
Thanks in advance.
No, not at this time (since the Genius doesn’t have a Smart broadcasting version like the other new Smart trainers).
Thanks a lot.
Great review, far more thorough than mine. But I have to say I have experienced zero issues so far with my i-Genius. Maybe things are much better with Tacx nowadays.
Here’s mine: link to suffolkcycling.com
Thought I’d add an update to my comments from May in the light of Suffolk Cycling’s comment above. I too can confirm that I have not had one single issue with software or hardware. The whole package is still working faultlessly and has now been upgraded to v4.11.0. I still regard this as an excellent purchase and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as a top training aid. Still running on same laptop which was questionable in terms of whether it was up to the job!
One extra advantage which I had not considered originally: having suffered a tendon injury earlier in the year, I can vouch for the usefulness of controlled input and the ability to choose exact resistance and monitor your effort under these circumstances. The i-Genius has proved invaluable in aiding healing at the same time as keeping a level of fitness as it quickly became apparent what power output/resistance was suitable at each stage of recovery.
(The steering unit has now been consigned to a cupboard under the stairs!)
short comment from my side.
I used a Fortis for about 2 Years with no trouble, even with the blue and the new TTS 4.12.1 software. Both worked very well for old and new videos with windows 7 32 bit.
Now i have orderd an flame new i Genius which ibgot yesterday. I was really ander stress, because after all that comment i read i felt that i made maby a mistake.
After i had the new trainer unpacked i could assemle it in a very short time.
For the paring I need a couple of clicks and it was done. The advantage mostly had been, for my belief, the software was allready installed. But this has never been a problem.
To make a long end short: The i Genius works froms the first start pefect an flawlessly!
I am very hapy with my new I Genius.
Sorry for my English, but I’m not a mothertoung.
Greetings from Germany
I bought my Tacx Genius just 3 months before your review. Too bad.
The product concept is very attractive but the huge frustration of software bugs, hardware issues and absolutely terrible customer support has turned me into a bitter customer. I spent a lot of money on this product and feel ripped off because so feature of the promised features work properly.
A real killer for me is a bug in workouts that are supposed to target a particular power output (I use it to do power-based intervals). It doesn’t work and other users on the Tacx forum report the same problem. The kicker is that I reported the problem a year ago, answer a few follow-up questions from them and then nothing. No response. No solution. I reminded them again a couple weeks ago now that indoor training season is back and their response was for me to upgrade to the latest version of software. I did and, not surprisingly, the latest version didn’t fix the bug. So 1 year and counting.
Really. Avoid this product unless you have a high tolerance for frustrating engagements with their customer support people and enjoy running into bugs while your trying to do a workout.
Completely and wholeheartedly agree. After 5 years of similar experience to the above post, I sold the Tacx, bought a KICKR, signed up tomTrainerRoad and Sufferfest and have never been happier, more motivated, and more productive on the trainer.
I have had the Genius for almost 2 years. Software is to version 4.12 and is MUCH better.
It is an amazing tool to get you through the long Canadian winter. I connect my laptop to my projector in my basement and my kids can root for me in internet races on the 10 foot screen.
Hay, love your review. I’ve bought the I genius, and have been to hell and back, I won’t go into details, but I loved the concept, so preserved with it, even paid a computer I T specialist to look at it, and had the laptop sent away to tacx, anyway down to the last problem I hope, and that is the picture on the screen seems to go in frames rather than smooth flowing. can you help. thanks
That sounds like the graphics card can’t keep up. Beyond that, hard to say. Sorry!
Richard. Do you know if the 12/13 genius t2000 works on Zwift thanks Dan
I have been a strong supporter and advocate of the Tacx Genius and have used it during several years, with the TTS (Tacx Training Software). Unfortunately, recent “updates” of TTS have introduced numerous bugs in the software that have made the Genius trainer basically non-usable.
Tacx has not yet been able to come up with a solution and, because of this, I started looking around for software alternatives, especially as I also own a Kettler Ergo Race cycling ergometer (German quality, reliability and precision). This machine is an ergometer so when it says “450 watts” it actually delivers 450 watts. It is pro-grammable in increments of 5 watts. It can hold 600 watts permanently for as long as you wish. As for power spikes, it can deliver up to 1,500 watts, if I understand the specs sheet correctly. So, for a 75 Kg rider that is equivalent to 8 watts/Kg. permanently and 20 watts/Kg. in spikes.
Of course, it is not a bike, so I do not have the same feeling as if I ride my normal two-wheeler. But it keeps my fitness level where I want it to be. I never used it oth-erwise than as stand-alone unit and never considered connection it to a computer.
Now, because of the delay in the resolution of the bugs in TTS4.11, TTS4.12 and TTS4.12.1, I purchased and started using the Kettler WorldTours2.0 software with it. It is pricey (200 euros) but IMHO well worth it: not a single glitch yet and I can create my own RLVs/GPS tracks in an instant (provided I have an old “.gpx” file of the ride or care to define my ride on BING-maps).
Plus I have the choice of 4 different bikes (i.e. different gear sets) and on each of these 4 different bikes I can switch between 20 different gears!
And, when running a RLV or a GPS track, four different camera angles are possible and there is an inlay of the slope/profile of the ride in a corner of the video!
AND I get all the videos I need from a German (quality, precision, reliability) pro-vider called Real Life Videos. Not the same quality as those of Tacx or VeloReali-ty, but at least the software does not have bugs that make them (the videos)non-usable!
The gear change and the camera switch are operated from a four-button handlebar controller (similar to the Tacx blue/green “flying saucer” that comes with the Ge-nius, but of German quality and robustness).
AND, the software is typically German: not sexy (well, not like Claudia Schiffer) but is is robust, reliable and delivers on its promise!
So, in a nutshell, for the serious rider who is looking for a reliable home trainer that will keep him or her working on his or her cycling fitness level rather than forcing him or her to become a software programme guinea pig and debugger, I strongly suggest looking at the Kettler product line.
For the cost of “Kettler Ergo Race” you could have purchased Lynx that has way better road feel. Also Lynx acts as a hardware dongle for all our videos so they come free. As for software I would not claim it to be bug free (such thing just does not exist) but usually if you get good enough PC/Laptop it just runs and never crashes on your ride.
I am currently contemplating the purchase of the Lynx, as you know, for my place in the snowy mountains
It’s just that I had never connected the Kettler (I have had it in Paris for a few years) to a computer and I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the result.
Just to say the power supply to the brake in my Genius seems to have failed. Was on it the other day and mid ride noticed the resistance was no longer changing. On inspection, there was no power light to the brake and could not make it come on. Got electrician to check fuses. The one in the brake itself (next to the on/off switch) had blown but the one in the wall socket lead was OK. The electrician got me a replacement fuse of exact same amp rating but it blew as soon as was inserted and turned on the power. Think the power supply generally to where I have the trainer (garage) is fine as got this all rewired in the summer (by this chap) and everything else works fine including the same wall socket was using.
Have mentioned this to the bike shop I got it from am awaiting news of how to best to get it looked at by Tacx and/or the UK reseller. Think it must now be over 12 months old so not sure what redress I now have. Anyway all things considered I am not going to be rushing to buy another Tacx trainer in the near future. Far too much of a “faff factor” to get this trainer going and of late I have also had a fair few random crashes of the PC software. I note it was not even mentioned in Ray’s latest trainer recommendations despite it still being Tacx’s most expensive trainer.
This happened to me now about 2 months ago after a firmware update. I have been on to Tacx who suggest i replace the power brake unit for 270 euro!!! …. how can i do another firmware update if i can’t turn it on? … just wondering if you managed to fix it another way?
Known problem. There was a huge epidemic of this either last winter or the winter before. Tacx/your distributor should replace with a new unit. I think there was some talk also of a firmware update which stopped this happening.
Hey do u have coupon code for me?? i wanna buy it so much but it’s too expensive !!!! i need coupon code anyway 🙂
You can use the DCR Reader Coupon code of DCR10BTF to save 10% at Clever Training. Here’s the link to the Tacx Genius: link to clevertraining.com
Plus, there’s free shipping.
That said, I’d really encourage you to look at the Tacx Bushido Smart instead, if you’re focused on the Tacx lineup.
I have only one comment to all the discussions above. If you are looking for an excellent trainer, that gives you a real life experience, buy the Wahoo Fitness Kickr. I was very close to buy the Tacx trainer and did some research on the web, including the excellent review above. I am not very familiar with the different options out there, but thought the Tacx looked really cool. Then I started to read the reviews, and quickly changed my mind. I live in US. The combination of a trainer that has multiple technological challenges and a very bad customer support in US is not a good one. When you buy this stuff, you look forward to setting up the gear and get started. The equipment should just simply work as advertised. The customer feedback tells a story that is the opposite of that. Yesterday I got the Wahoo Kickr. It took me a few minutes to set up, it is compatible with a number of apps, and you get a great ride experience. It simply works, and is less expensive as well.
In total approx 12 people in our bike club bought the genius in the last 6 months. 0 had any problems setting it up nor had any problems since them. Same experience as me. Very robust device. Next up is the Tacx Neo Smart, hopefully @ Xmas this year 🙂
Hi, I have a question I hope you can answer? I got this trainer yesterday from Amazon Prime and it was listed as a warehouse deals sale. It arrived promptly and I opened it up with excitement. However though I found out that the plug was a European plug I’m living in the UK. So today I went and got an adaptor and came home to play. I’m a true believer of turning things on (electrical parts) before I unpack software etc to see if things are actually working. But I’m sad to report the trainer will not power up. The red on/off switch does not light up, much to my despair. Am I doing something wrong? Should the until be all assembled and batteries put in the black track and handle bar controller? Surely that won’t make it work? Do you think I have a defective unit? I’m really gutted over this. Many thanks, Jace
Jason, I also have the Taxc (I-)Genius trainer. The brake itself should “light up” indepedent of other configurations/installations. I’m not sure about the Tacx brake voltage ratings for the different countries, but are sure your brake is intended for 230V AC?
It must be I bought it from Amazon UK. Surely they would not sell something from this country knowing the voltage is wrong?
The Tacx units are dual voltage – 100-240v, so good anywhere on the planet as long as you have a simple $1 adapter for the prongs.
So the unit must be buggered then! Its packed up and will be picked up on Monday by DPD courier to go back to Amazon. Really gutted as I so wanted this trainer, I’m now scared to buy another one.
Jason, sorry if I’m suggesting something you’ve already done, but did you test the power cord on another working appliance? This just to rule out if there is something wrong with the cord or the UK adapter.
Is there a fuse inside the UK adapter? (I seem to remember having come across power cords in the past with the big, bulky UK plug where there’s a small compartment with a small cylindrical glass fuse inside, behind a red plastic lid?).
Again sorry if you’ve already tested this … 😉
so it looks like support have cleaned up their act – when i recieved my boc the software key did nto work -i sent support a mail -and with in 15 mins i had a response so they were very good – as for the trainer you dont need a super expensive PC – mign cost me around 300 with a top end graphics card – I3 – normal motherboard – 4gb ram – GTX 760 graphics – 500w power supply – thats it .. i think once calibrated you can simply put your bike on & off no issues … its an absolute superb bit of kit – im using every 2 days at the min and whether your racing or just casual rides its simply amazing … i just rode a route round new york tonight – ill never ever be able to do that and it was all a click of a button. so as long as nothing goes wrong with the Kit im one satisfied customer i just wish i had bought this earlier – one thing there is an extra cost of a google licence 26 quid for the year seems nothing especially when you can cycle or round the world & get all those google earth views or google streetmap view ..
maybe all you guys with software issues – just have old computers – I had 1 glitch but i knew it was the graphics card – i replaced with a top end 1 – and now its Perfect, I was worried with the I3 processor but its no problem the I3 sits there at 30% with software on
Jason, don’t be put off by a unit being dead on arrival. It happens once in a while.
I’ve only used my Genius a couple of times now but so far, so good. Quite impressed, actually. Hopefully it’ll remain that way!
Many thanks to all for the advice. It’s now gone back to Amazon and I’m on the look out for another. It does seem too good to go without and as soon as I find one within my price range I’ll be happy….. Provided it works.
jason why did amazon not replace then ?? you gotta get ive bought some great things in my time but this really is 10/10
I did ask them to replace it but they said they were unable to. God only knows why as they tend to give you very basic replies to your messages. It’s gone now though, and I’m waiting for my refund…. I can’t look into another one until the cash is returned.
Just a note – I purchased an i-Genius Multiplayer yesterday and there have been a couple of (minor?) revisions to the hardware since the excellent original review.
Tacx seem to have listened and the battery door for the backtrack unit is now a normal clip in unit like a TV remote control – no screws required, and the ant+ dongle is a new design that looks like a mini version of the ‘shark fin’ aerial you see on cars these days, and is on the end of a long cable rather then using a USB extension.
For me at least setup worked flawlessly – not sure if that is just luck or maybe there have been other improvements to the hardware. I updated the TTS software to the latest 4.13.2 version before running the setup.
I’ve been trying to use the Tacx iVortex for over two years without any real success. Every update brings with it new problems (check out the Tacx Forum). Most of my time is/was spent trying to get it working or connecting and regrettably not for the experience I paid for of being in the saddle.
The PC I run the Tacx on was an unexpected and additional yet absolutely necessary purchase, without it the damn thing wouldn’t work properly. This PC was built purely for the Tacx and is 100% dedicated to it. Its specs are way above their requirements and into the realms of high end gaming PCs.
The supplied dongle for brake / interface communication to the PC didn’t work, only option was to head out and purchase at some expense an upgrade equating to more time out of the saddle.
The Tacx Forum is great and a superb alternative to Tacx support. Some great folk on here highlighting their experiences and possible solutions but beware, there are a few zealots. If you’re not IT Savvy get someone who is. Some of the more technical yet helpful fixes may require a friendly nerd. Get used to the Forum, there’s a high probability that you’ll spend a lot of time on here.
Anyway, after 2 years of utter frustration, poor support, “frequent system crashes”, useless values and support tools that refuse to work I’ve finally given up with Tacx and their flagship TTS4 software. My bad experience with the Vortex and Tacx leads me not to endorse nor recommend their products.
Yes, when it works it’s a great piece of equipment but I’m having a real hard time remembering those singular and short halcyon moments.
Hey. can you make a little video when cycling in bluray?
is it lagging when you are training in bluray format ?
from tore hoien
It was a breathe of fresh air to read this review because you told the truth. I can’t believe that Tacx supplied the system for a review and there was no bias on your part. I’ve own two Tacx VR trainers and have been on their forums site almost daily for the last 12 years or more. I’ve owned all the software programs and in my opinion this company should have failed with it’s release of the TTS software. Not since the original Fortius software have I been happy with Tacx. Their support is said to have improved but in my experience these people can’t figure out their own issues and if you’re an English speaking person like me, you can’t understand their replies which only come days if not weeks late. With every update versionto the software something else seems to get broken. I haven’t updated from 4,14 to 4.15 because reading from the forums this will cause my working trainer to not work again because I won’t be able to detect and calibrate the brake. Multiplayer doesn’t work well at all because of the differences in the motor brakes of the different trainers. It’s awful to try and race someone online. I just hope anyone considering buying a Tacx trainer, even the newer Smart trainers coming out, does plenty of reading in the Tacx forums before they buy. And don’t trust what the regular’s in the forum say because they lie.
Bold statements! Sure you’re not a PR guy from a different company? The folks @ tacx forum are critical and not really into fulfilling the role of a free PR person for tacx. I’m not sure about the english support when it comes to software or hardware because I communicate with them in dutch (only once because my laptop broke down new activation of license) What I do know that the TACX usage density in the Benelux is very high. It’s tacx all over the place. When speaking to other tacx users, during cycle tours (Leige/BastogneLeige, Fleche Wallone, Amstel and all that) or @ the cycling club I hear a majority of positive sounds when it comes to hardware (durability) and software. It seems that a lot has changed since the review was wrtten in February 2013!, that’s already 2 years and 7 months ago.
No I am not a PR guy. I am a long time user of the Imagic and Fortius trainers that’s all. I have had thousands of hours of down time because of the software being broken. Very few of those issues were due to my system specs, I have always used a desktop PC well beyond the recommended specs. The latest issue I can’t seem to get fixed is when in VR the avatar (rider) falls off the course and takes a trip through brush and I can’t steer him back and have to end my ride. I have sent well explained messages with video to support and they said they can’t figure it out either. The power output and display is also another thing that is not correct. The trainers are not ready for Windows 10. And more. All one has to do is read the forums for a few days and you can see this is not a trainer but a toy for enjoyment if you get it to work. I would never buy a product like this had I known that Tacx would screw it up so bad. I still have the older Fortius program on another PC and I am able to use it as long as the PC is not connected to an internet connection. Funny, It is the Fortius Multiplayer Trainer that has no multiplayer functionality. I still use it because at least drafting works and power is more accurate than TTS4.
Have you had a chance to look at the Genius Smart which I believe is newly released?
Yup, actually have had one since July and using it. It works well, I like it. It’s in an interesting price spot right now though. Will see how Interbike announcements shake out.
Bought it second hand for a bargain price in July. It took some setting up but the support was there within the day when I discovered it was still registered with the previous owner who had his hard drive wiped. The previous owner emailed the license code to Tacx and the problem was resolved in a few hours. Good service so far so good.
On another note it does take between 10 – 30 mins to get up and running as the ANT struggles to pick up the hardware immediately even when you place the sensor next to them. I found switching off the brake until the light disappeared did the trick last night.
Lastly though, is it me or does it get easier when I ride behind other riders?
Just as a note to anyone else who might be experiencing any problems with a blown fuse. After a software update earlier this year, i could not turn in the unit without blowing the fuse. About 5 fuses later i emailed Tacx who told me to go back to the retailer. The retailer offered me a replacement part for €279.99. I thought this was ridiculous as how could i be at fault for a bad software update. As my unit was nearly 3 years old TAcx would not cover part under warranty. …. To cut a long story short, after numerous emails, including one where i got them to admit the fault. They then agreed to send me the replacement part for free. … but yes this unit is extremely problematic!
CAn anyone tell me if all I will need is a simple adapter or anything more to use the Tacx I-genius in USA, bought from a german website and is being supplied with german electrical cord???
All recent Tacx trainers are dual voltage, so you just need a simple $1-3 adapter.
Which smart trainer would you recommend within 1000 USD budget?
Check out all my trainer recommendations here: link to dcrainmaker.com
As usual, a thorough review. Ray you really provide us amatuer enduro athletes with a great resource at no cost. Thank you so much for your time and effort. I really mean it. I’m sure it takes a tremendous amount of time for you to do all these reviews and make them and make them so user friendly. I often find your reviews help me set-up a device more effectively than the manufacturer’s manual.
I just bought the iGenius last month, before I saw this review. I think Tacx was motivated by your review, because I really only had a few issues that were caused by undetailed set-up instructions and a BlackTrack update I needed.
So far the trainer has worked great. They no longer use an ANT+ dongle, instead using a ANT+/Bluetooth communication device that really helps connectability. I’ve only had a few momentary power reading dropouts while using the trainer, but really doesn’t happen more or less than my Garmin Vector.
Once I remembered to turn the Trainer on it easily integrated with Zwift and made that experience much more robust, which is why I bought a smart trainer.
The software, while powerful, is intimidating. The platform and GUI is dated, and since the software/hardware relationship is so technical it can be a little buggy.
I read your review so I could familiarize myself with the software capabilities, because it really isn’t that intuitive, a problem I think is assisted by a general ‘lost in translation’ understanding of the software. Hopefully, I can get more out of the software now that I’ve read your review.
Having read your review and that of similar trainers, I bought the Tacx Genius in December and have been using it for a few weeks. Before buying it, I decided to test their customer support by sending a tricky question. Even though it was a week before Christmas, the reply came back within a day.
As for the trainer itself, I am pleased to report that I have had no issues at all: installed the TTS software, Zwift and Veloreality to try them all out. The Ant+ antenna of the TTS upgrade kit immediately recognised the trainer, a Garmin HRM and the handlebar sensor that comes with the upgrade kit. No issues using Zwift and Veloreality either – all are recognised straight away (except the handlebar sensor which seems dedicated to TTS).
I think a couple of the tables in the above review are now out of date, but the main one is trainer control. The Genius now supports ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth Smart and it seems to have resolved a lot of the issues people used to have with the Genius. It seems open standards are a good way to broaden the appeal of these trainers.
Good to hear you’re happy.
Just one note – this review is on the original Genius, whereas you’ve got the Genius Smart (different hardware). Enjoy!
TACX have an upgrade scheme in place now. You post back the end part of the motor\brake unit to them (and make a bank transfer for €180) and they post you back a new part – converting your Genius to a Genius Smart.
I posted my unit back from the UK and had the new part delivered one week later. Fitting is very simple (just one screw).
Zwift works well, and the upgrade process was straightforward – if expensive considering the cost to Tacx of the replacement PCB in the unit is probably only a few Euros.
EXCELLENT Review (even if a bit long ago), especially since I am seriously considering either a Wahoo Kickr Snap or a Tacx i-Genius Multiplayer.
I used to ride a Fortius in Netathlon and really liked the descents. I don’t remember having any real issues with the Fortius. But now Netathlon online group riding is dying out (as if it ever was really strong anyway) and my PERFECTLY GOOD fortius is no longer fully compatible with Zwift or other online environments that use ANT.
Assuming that the cost is not really a big issue with me would you recommend the i-Genius Multiplayer? Have you used one in Zwift? I really liked the way my Fortius would realistically coast downhill. Especially since I rode with guys WAY WAY younger and fitter than me and it helped me to keep up.
When going downhill in Zwift, will the trainer “speed up” like IRL, assuming the descent is steep enough so that you would speed up IRL.
I also have a TON of older Tacx real life videos. Like LOTS! Are they compatible with the new system?
I still have an old fortius but am using the latest TTS4 V22.214.171.124.. the old films do work with the latest hardware versions but a “.TTS” file is required. Most of these files are hosted on a site run by a TACX forum moderator (not sure if I can post it here) but they are easily found and legally downloadable.
Hi, I usually use the catalyst mode but would like to do a split screen and watch other videos at the same time, for example in triathlon.org or youtube. Is it possible to do a split screen?
I would like to say that I tested a Tacx Genius on Zwift along with a Cyclops Power Hub and a pair of Garmin Vector pedals and I found that Tacx power readings were 50 watts higher on average for a 50km ride than both Cyclops and vector…
Furthermore I had licence issues and the help from Tacx was shocking. I wanted to transfer the licence between PC’s and I was sent a new licence that expired after 2 months. When I complained I was told that I already had a licence (the first one) and that Tacx would not send me a new one… I just gavce up the fight because I am using Zwift anyway.
I live in the UK and wanted to know if you have done a review of the most recent version of Tacx Genius Smart Trainer?
RK 23 January 2017
No, I haven’t written a review. That said, I have used one.
In a nutshell, it’s basically like the Bushido Smart, except with the forward drive simulation (ala a Neo). It’s not a bad trainer at all, but depending on where you live, for the money I’d go with something like the Neo. The price varies significantly from Europe to US.
With the news of the demise of CompuTrainer today was doing a nostalgia trip of trainer reviews. How things have changed in 5 years since I got the original Genius in October 2012. That said, despite two tales of woe from me here several years ago, since I bought the upgrade kit to convert it to a Smart Genius last year and stopped using the TTS software and just hooked it up to Zwift each time, it has been working well and the “get going” time now is just the Zwift login time. I think I will stick with it now (well unless it blows up again!) until the autumn when no doubt there will be some new trainer goodies to tempt us.
Excellent review as always.
I have problem with my genius…it always tells me a huge difference of power between my Garmin vector 2 and the genius. Like 220 vs 280 and 320-420! The vector always telling less. Why is that? I do the calibration of both as the manufactures tell me to.
Thanks for the great review. On the HD videos, does the framerate slow down as you slow down your pace? I have looked at other products like this and they were shot at 30 fps using a motorcycle going 20-30mph. It looks great if you are also riding that fast, but if you are going up a steep hill they slow down the video to match your speed, at which point it is displaying at about 4 frames per second and looks terrible.
This is an old post. Someone offered me a Tacx Genius (yes, today, almos 10 years later, ha ha ha)
Your analysis is amazing. Congratulations.
I wanted also to say : thanks. Great review.
I hope it was for free? Be careful, they are pretty much defunct now. Tacx stopped allowing the software to be downloaded, and if it doesn’t have the right firmware it won’t work with any of their apps and is impossible now to update. You could still technically use it, and there is a guy who has made a third party hack software to try and make it still work but its probably more faff than it is worth and needs two ant+ dongles.
Appreciate this is really old article, but I’ll leave for anyone else thinking of picking one up second hand. They are scrap metal now for the most part so beware of buying them on ebay unless you actually get to see it working with working software.
I have a 10 year old Tacx Genius T2020 Multiplayer. It’s been stored for 140 years and has about 1 hour of use. I just tried to get it working again with the old software and sort of works, but mostly doesn’t. Is it trash? Should I just throw it away? Maybe there is some 3rd party software that will work on the “brake unit”? Wahoo? Zwift? Thanks…
Opps, that would be “stored for 10 years”…