Author: eschlange

What to do before calibrating your Tacx Vortex Smart

There are two things you should do before calibrating in order to ensure accurate power readings. First: Inflate Your Tire Tacx recommends 7-8 bar (~100-120psi). To keep things simple I try to keep my tires at 110psi, which is what I ride at in the real world. Why does it matter? Your Vortex will calibrate accurately at any reasonable tire pressure, but unless you want to calibrate before every single ride you’ll want to decide on a consistent tire pressure to maintain. Otherwise, if you calibrate at one pressure, then hop on and ride at another pressure days later, your power readings will be off. Second: Warm Up Your Tire Ride for at least 3 minutes at a decent power level so the rubber is warm. If your tire is especially cold you’ll want to go longer. I recommend a 10-minute warmup. Why does it matter? As your tire warms up it becomes more pliable, effectively reducing the tension of the tire against the roller. In terms of power numbers, what this means is if you calibrate with a cold tire, the Vortex’s power numbers will be significantly higher than normal once the tire warms up. (I experienced this myself accidentally in a race once: my numbers were ~60 watts higher than they should have been, because I calibrated on a cold tire! For a while I thought I was just having...

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Updating your Tacx Vortex Smart firmware

Your Vortex is a computer, and sometimes the code which runs that computer needs to be updated. Keeping your Vortex’s firmware updated helps to ensure your trainer is functioning optimally. Note: you don’t need to check for firmware updates on a regular basis–the free Tacx Utility app does this for you when you run it, so whenever you calibrate your Vortex it will also check for updates. Required Update While firmware updates are somewhat “optional,” your Vortex won’t work with Zwift until you install at least firmware version 3.1.7, which is the update that allows Zwift to talk back to the Vortex to adjust tension to simulate inclines. Note: most Vortexes being sold now already have this firmware version installed, since it was released July 2015. Updating Your Firmware Updating the firmware is an easy process. The app may prompt you to update the firmware, or you can click the menu bar (3 lines) at the top-left and choose “Update”. If an update is available the app will reboot your trainer, upload the firmware, then prompt you to unplug the power cord and plug it back in. Once you’ve done that you should see a screen confirming that your trainer is running the latest...

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Calibrating your Tacx Vortex Smart

Your Vortex must be calibrated in order to give Zwift proper power readings. Calibration is a fairly painless process using the free Tacx Utility app (available on iOS and Android). Note: this guide below uses the iOS app. I assume the Android version is similar. Step 1: turn on bluetooth, open the app, and connect to your trainer. You will see a green checkbox at the top-right once it is connected. Step 2: click the menu bar (3 lines) at the top-left and choose “Calibration”. Step 3: The app will prompt you to start pedaling and speed up to 30km/hr, then stop. This “spindown test” lets the app sense how much tension is on your tire. Step 4: if you’re anywhere between the two white lines (figure 1), you’re all set. If you are outside the white lines (figure 2) you will need to adjust the tension accordingly then calibrate again. Figure 1 Figure 2 That’s it! Now just turn off Bluetooth (or at least disconnect from the trainer in the app) so Zwift can work properly. There was an error during calibration Note: if you receive a notice that “There was an error during calibration” there are two probable causes: Your trainer’s tension is way too loose or way too tight. Try adjusting it and re-calibrating. Your trainer’s firmware is out of date and not speaking properly to the...

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Tacx Vortex Smart and Zwift – The Unofficial Guide

The Tacx Vortex Smart is, in my opinion, the best “budget” smart trainer for your money on the market today. Like all smart trainers, though, it has some idiosyncrasies that can make things confusing for users. Here are posts that should answer just about any question you may have regarding using your Vortex Smart on Zwift. Using your Vortex on Zwift – step by step guide Updating your firmware Calibrating your Vortex What to do before calibrating (inflate and warm up) Help! My Vortex isn’t changing resistance on hills! My cadence isn’t accurate Updating brake firmware (amber light of death)...

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Custom Workouts have arrived on Zwift

Today Zwift rolled out a new update (v1.0.8995) which, among other things, lets Zwifters create and share custom workouts. Here’s a screenshot of me putting together a test workout: Kudos to Zwift for investing the time to create an editor which is powerful, simple and intuitive: you can easily add segments for warm up, cool down, zones 1-5, intervals, free ride, and “text events” which pop up a text blurb at that segment so you can give further instruction or encouragement during the workout. You can also enter a description and tag the workout as a Recovery, Interval, FTP, or...

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