The Garmin Tacx Flux 2 is a great coach at an equally good value.
As winter set upon the Northeast, my alternatives for outside biking rapidly dwindled because the forecast began to look increasingly ugly. Temperatures went from the 30s and 40s through the day to teenagers and single digits in every week. Whereas I’ve obtained loads of cold-weather gear, there’s nothing pleasant to me concerning the chilly penetrating my lobster gloves and having my toes go numb.
For some, winter is low season and it’s a time to steadiness out these oft-neglected higher physique muscular tissues. For a lot of cyclists although, winter is the time to modify to indoor driving and to take care of or enhance the good points made over the past season.
However let’s face it, most indoor driving sucks. Stationary trainers are lethal boring, rollers require an excessive amount of focus (which makes it arduous to get misplaced in a Netflix sequence), and spin courses don’t translate to real-world bike conditioning.
There’s an alternative choice, the “good coach.” These interactive trainers present variable resistance and when paired with a appropriate app like Coaching Peaks, Zwift, Rouvy, BKOOL, Tacx Coaching (and lots of others) simulate the situations of an precise bike experience. Additionally see our evaluation of the Direto.
Good trainers simulate climbs and different driving situations by frequently various the resistance on the rear wheel, enabling customers to climb mountains, draft off different racers, and cruise downhill.
Even higher, good trainers ship experience knowledge again to the apps, with crucial bit of knowledge being energy (in Watts). All the coaching apps use energy to find out the velocity and in addition enable them to tailor particular, particular person exercises.
Watts is the popular metric for severe bike coaching because it’s not affected by gear the way in which velocity or cadence is. You’re both placing out the watts on a experience, otherwise you’re not. If a coaching plan says it is best to experience a base mile exercise for instance, with out understanding your energy output there’s no technique to know for those who’re overtaxing your physique.
With the built-in energy meters in a sensible coach, it’s attainable to construct and observe complicated coaching packages as constant as these the professionals would observe. (If in case you have energy meter pedals, this data may be tracked as effectively for extra complicated post-ride evaluation of particular person leg output, pedaling deficiencies, and extra.)
Good Vs. Dumb
There are two varieties of good trainers—wheel drive and direct drive. Wheel drive connects identical to a regular “dumb” coach, with the rear wheel hooking into the coach and the tire sitting on a curler. The second sort of coach is the direct drive coach on which the rider removes their rear wheel and connects the bike to the coach with a cassette that’s mounted on the coach.
Direct drives present a greater expertise, as there’s no misplaced vitality within the friction between a wheel and a curler, and so they remove put on on the rear tire and wheel, so that you don’t spend your winter sporting out a single tire out of a pair.
Get On The Proper Tacx
For this winter’s exercises, I bought a Garmin Tacx Flux 2 which is the corporate’s middle-tier direct-drive coach. The Flux 2 has a retail value of $899.99 (on Amazon), whereas the following mannequin up, the Neo 2T is $1399.99. The Neo 2T permits for rocking the bike to the left and proper for a extra pure coaching exercise, and the coach may also simulate totally different highway situations like gravel or cobbles offering the app you’re utilizing helps highway simulation.
Whereas the side-to-side movement would have been good, neither that nor the power to really feel like I’m on cobbles made the $500 distinction make sense for an off-the-cuff indoor coach person like myself on the time. That stated, for those who’re a hardcore rider searching for essentially the most snug and most correct coach, splurge for the Neo 2T.
Wait, Wasn’t It Simply Tacx?
Garmin acquired Tacx to get into the good coach market and introduced with them the manufacturing QA that their GPS items are recognized for. Garmin addressed the present Tacx points and has constructed and/or upgraded a stable line of trainers.
The unique Flux 2 had a number of issues together with measurement (you’ll be able to learn extra about that right here https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2020/07/tacx-flux-2-smart-trainer-edition-review.html) and Garmin quietly changed it with a more moderen model in the course of 2020, lower than a yr after buying Tacx. Since that mid-2020 refresh, the Flux 2 has been rock stable and dependable.
Out Of The Field, On The Bike
The Tacx Flux 2 setup is painless and fast—merely connect the legs to the physique of the coach then add a cassette and also you’re good to go. All of the instruments you want are included, as are a number of various kinds of adapters for various through-axel adapters.
Since eradicating my cassette from my present bike was a non-starter I picked up a reasonable (and heavy) cassette on-line with the identical gear ratio as my highway bike. The burden doesn’t matter because the cassette won’t ever spend a second within the solar, and the $25 price ticket was simple sufficient to swallow.
Some direct-drive bike trainers include a cassette, however I personally like the pliability of having the ability to swap out cassettes if I wish to connect a special bike with totally different gear ranges.
The Flux 2 comes with a number of adapters for by way of hubs however I opted to place one in every of my older rim brake bikes with normal quick-release skewers on the coach.
It took lower than 20 minutes to go from the field to connect the bike, although having put cassettes on bikes many occasions diminished a few of the construct time you would possibly expertise for those who’re not conversant in the method. In any case, one ought to count on to be driving inside half an hour.
As with many good trainers, the Flux 2 wants AC energy, and whereas the cable they supply is lengthy, it’s not super-long so that you’ll wish to both watch out with coach placement or get an extension twine.
Whereas the rear of the coach is the pure place for an AC cable from a producing standpoint it’s a bit awkward on a coach. Most individuals experience on trainers dealing with a TV or pill each of which must be plugged in. Usually riders use followers, and people followers must be plugged in as effectively. Meaning the coach is dealing with electrical gadgets which are plugged in to shops, so the twine can be extra sensible within the entrance. Except you place your coach proper close to a wall with an outlet immediately close by you’re going to finish up with an influence twine operating throughout your exercise house.
There’s additionally no energy change on the Flux 2 so for those who’d like to show it off you’ll want to tug the twine. It’s in all probability utilizing subsequent to no juice when it’s not being ridden, and the Bluetooth radio might be off whereas the system is idle, however I’m nonetheless a fan of having the ability to flip issues off manually on the system.
The Flux 2 communicates with gadgets with both Bluetooth or ANT+ (however is managed by way of Bluetooth) though for ANT+ knowledge you’ll clearly want an ANT+ succesful system for this performance (like a Garmin Edge bike laptop).
I’ve had zero issues with Bluetooth connectivity between the Flux 2 and my MacBook Professional, AppleTV, iPad and iPhone throughout testing.
I additionally bought an ANT+ dongle and a USB cable extension for my MacBook Professional, however as I haven’t had any drops with Bluetooth, the ANT+ dongle doesn’t really enhance something. For testing functions although, I can affirm that the Flux 2 and the MacBook Professional work effectively along with an affordable ANT+ receiver.
Connecting the Flux 2 to my gadgets had the standard quantity of configuration oddness that any Bluetooth paring course of has. There was a couple of minutes of paring and un-pairing issues earlier than I obtained it to work proper since I used to be each attempting to get my gadgets to work with the coach and in addition get Zwift to work with it on the similar time.
Having so many gadgets that connect with the Flux 2 causes the one preliminary connection points. I’ll sometimes have to show off Bluetooth on one system whereas the one I wish to use for my exercise connects to the Flux, however then after that I can flip Bluetooth again on elsewhere.
I discovered essentially the most problematic use to be when my iPhone was paired with the Tacx to make use of the Zwift Companion app because the communication to the Flux 2. This merely didn’t work effectively, so I’ve eliminated the Flux 2 from my iPhone’s Bluetooth system checklist and now I can connect with my iPad, AppleTV, or MacBook Professional with no points. To be clear, the iPhone paring situation was extra an issue with the Zwift Companion app than the Flux 2.
Placing It To The Check
I’ve used the Tacx Flux 2 with practically a dozen biking apps, and so they all work completely. I’ve examined it with Zwift, Tacx’s personal apps, BKOOL, TrainingPeaks, ROUVY, and extra. Each single software works completely and seamlessly with Flux 2.
The one points I’ve ever had with it are when doing a calibration check in Zwift, the place typically after calibration the watts measurements are approach off. On my first journey up Zwift’s Alpes du Zwift after calibrating my coach, my wattage was exhibiting 100 watts throughout an 11% grade whereas driving 8 mph (at 180 lbs). If that doesn’t make numerous sense, simply know that’s approach off.
As we speak I did a calibration after warming up the coach for the really helpful 10 minutes, and the app confirmed me at 430 watts and 23 mph on the flats whereas I used to be barely pedaling.
Re-calibrating mounted this and because it’s solely occurred in Zwift I think it’s a communication drawback. One factor that I’ve observed is that Zwift tells you to speed up to 23 mph however at 20 mph instructs the person to cease pedaling. I’m guessing that for those who observe the instruction to cease as an alternative of ending hitting 23 mph, it causes calibration points.
I’ve put a whole bunch of miles and 1000’s of toes of vertical climbing on the Garmin Tacx Flux 2 and it hasn’t failed on me. I spend numerous time on Reddit boards for Zwift and the opposite coaching apps and I do know that there are another trainers available on the market which have issues with unusual noises and wobbling. (Since I haven’t examined them personally, I’ll skip calling out the model as I can’t confirm these points.) This fixed stream of complaints about different gadgets makes me even happier about shopping for the Tacx.
Garmin Tacx Flux 2 Sure, It’s Price Each Penny
It’s very arduous to jot down a evaluation for a tool that’s so easy at its core, and that performs with out issues. The truth that my largest situation is the placement of the AC energy connector ought to inform you concerning the worth inherent within the design of the Tacx Flux 2.
Having spent a complete winter on it, the one factor I want is that I had splurged a bit and gotten the higher-end mannequin, however that’s not for reliability or efficiency, it’s merely for the power to get some horizontal movement when driving lengthy coaching slogs. There could be an improve buy sooner or later.
However then once more, possibly not. The Garmin Tacx Flux 2 appears constructed like a tank, and it seems like I may get decade of use out of it. It’s an incredible middle-point between super-expensive and budget-level trainers.
For those who’re searching for an upper-middle-level coach at value level with all of the specs you want, you might do no higher than the Garmin Tacx Flux 2.
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