Tacx Vortex Smart review

The convenience of a traditional trainer with the interactivity of a smart trainer

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

  • Highs: Interactive resistance works with Zwift and other apps, reliable power measurement (if a touch high), convenient to use and move, good price
  • Lows: Louder than direct-drive trainers, wattage reads a little high, adequate rather than savage maximum wattage
  • Buy if: You want a interactive ride experience at great price

The Tacx Vortex Smart combines interactive smart technology with the convenience of a fold-down trainer and a very good price. It's easy to set up and use, with a steady feel and instant changes in virtual gradient resistance.

Tacx Vortex Smart overview

  • Electric-motor resistance controlled by Zwift, TrainerRoad or other apps
  • Easy to use with single-lever clamps for tire and rear axle
  • Folds down relatively flat
  • Decent power measurement for a wheel-on trainer
  • Relatively quiet at steady state but loud at max efforts (73dB at 200w/80rpm; 90dB max)
  • 950w max power
  • 7% max slope
  • 20lb / 9.1kg

Tacx Vortex Smart set up and ride impressions

The Vortex Smart is easy to set up, especially once you have adjusted the axle clamp for your bike's width. From there, you just flip the blue lever open and shut to get your bike in and out, and do the same with the blue paddle for the tire roller.

 

The blue lever clamps the resistance unit against your tire

Connecting it wirelessly is similarly easy — apps such as Zwift and TrainerRoad can find it on ANT+ or Bluetooth. (I recommend Bluetooth for a more stable experience.)

The Tacx app can be used for training, but I would recommend that you use it for calibration and then use your favorite app.

For a wheel-on smart trainer with a relatively light (1.6kg) flywheel, the Vortex Smart has a good feel, and it responds quickly and smoothly to resistance changes.

The fold-out legs are as stable as any trainer's with a similar design.

 

Once you have the side clamps set for your bike, it's just a matter of opening and closing the blue clamp to get your bike in and out

Tacx Vortex Smart power comparisons

I found the Vortex's power readings to be consistent, but also well above ( 12%) the averages of Pioneer and Garmin Vector 3 power meters that I tested it against concurrently.

 

The Vortex (in boldface) tracks admirably with Pioneer and Garmin Vector 3 power meters, albeit a little higher

(For all power testing, I calibrated each of the meters and the smart trainer before each test, and recorded each on a Garmin with the same 1sec recording.)

As with the Wahoo Snap wheel-on smart trainer, the Vortex Smart has a slight delay in measurement for accelerations. This isn't a terrible thing, but something to be mindful of if you are using the trainer for virtual group rides or races on Zwift.

 

As with many wheel-on smart trainers, the Tacx Vortex smooths out the power readings, missing some of the granular detail that power meters record, but generally getting the average power

Tacx Vortex Smart verdict

Tacx makes many trainers, and the Vortex Smart is a well-priced, easy-to-use option for a wheel-on smart trainer.

It is noisy at high power, and the power reads a little high, especially at lower outputs, but the responsiveness to apps/software is great and the unit is easy to live with. 

Full Specifications

BikeRadar verdict - 4/5

"An interactive ride experience for a good price and in a compact form"

Specification

  • Name: Vortex Smart
  • Built by: Tacx
  • Price: £399.00 / US$549.00 / AU$ N/A
  • Folding: Yes
  • Turbo Trainer Type: Smart 

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