Author: eschlange

Using Your Vortex Smart On Zwift – Step By Step

Step 1: Install Zwift You’ll need to download the software from Zwift.com, install it, then run it and create a free account. Warning: installation can take an hour or more. Step 2: Prep Your Vortex  Besides just getting your bike set up on the trainer, you’ll need to make sure the firmware is up to date and make sure you are properly calibrated. Step 3: Install ANT+ USB dongle (or Use Bluetooth) Plug the ANT+ dongle into your computer, ideally using a USB extension cord to ensure good reception. (Learn more about dongle options.)  Try to place the dongle within a few...

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My Vortex Smart cadence readings are not accurate

This is a common complaint among Vortex users. There is no solution to this problem except to use an accurate cadence sensor mounted on your bike (such as a Garmin) paired with Zwift. That’s what I do! In comparing my Garmin cadence numbers to the Vortex I find that sometimes the cadence is off significantly (50rpm instead of 90) and sometimes it’s quite accurate. The method Tacx uses to sense cadence is simply unreliable. (See this page on Tacx’s site for an explanation of how they compute cadence.) Since the Vortex senses cadence based on changes in your pedal pressure, the smoother your...

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Help! My Vortex Smart isn’t changing resistance on hills!

This is a common issue new Vortex Smart owners encounter–I know I did! I thought I had done everything correctly–I unpacked my Vortex, plugged it in, updated the firmware, calibrated it, then fired up Zwift and paired it up. But when I started riding the hill of Watopia I found myself thinking, “Is the resistance not changing, or am I just in really good shape?” The solutions to this issue are usually simple: Solution 1: Update Firmware If you don’t have at least firmware version 3.1.7 installed on the trainer Zwift will be unable to change resistance on hills. Solution 2: Disconnect Bluetooth Zwift cannot control your Vortex’s resistance via ANT+ if you are connected to it via Bluetooth. Strange but true. So while you need to connect to the Vortex via Bluetooth to calibrate it, you’ll need to disconnect it from your phone’s Bluetooth in order for it to respond to inclines properly in Zwift. UPDATE: thanks to the June 2nd Zwift update you may also control your Vortex entirely using Bluetooth via the Zwift Mobile Link app. Solution 3: Pair as Controllable Trainer Make sure you pair your trainer as a “Controllable Trainer” (bottom-right of pairing screen) AND as a power meter (top-left of pairing screen). You need to do both for it to function...

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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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