25 June 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Tried and tested: Tacx cycle turbo trainer

September 7, 2016
Timetrial

I’ve wanted to see if a turbo trainer was a viable home-training sysyem for ages and with Cycletta coming up in October, I decided to give it a go. Find out how I got on – did I use it? Or is it gathering dust like so many home-fitness solutions around the country.


With over three weeks of Olympic and Paralympic sport to watch on TV this summer I was concerned that I might turn into a couch potato, so this seemed to be a great time to try out a cycle trainer and have some fun seeing how I matched up riding alongside the stars. I tested a Tacx Blue Matic T2650 Smart Turbo Trainer from Halfords, one of a large range available to suit most levels and budgets.

The set-up
Bike-set-up-crop2

In order to enjoy the full Olympic experience on my TV, I decided to set up my trainer in the lounge. It’s pretty neat and doesn’t take up a huge amount of room, and although I wouldn’t want it to be a permanent fixture, it worked quite well.

Setting up did take a bit of effort – much like Ikea furniture – it’s never quite as simple as it might seem! The instructions were just about adequate and with a bit of head scratching and a few family members pitching in, it took about a hour.

The test

My first test was fairly ambitious, I decided to ride while watching the women’s road race and see how far I could get in the time it took Lizzie Armitstead and the rest of the pro’s to complete 137km. It was a sunny day, and I hadn’t considered just how quickly you get sweaty riding in a living room (spinning studios are clearly better ventilated), after the first hour I was dripping, but the trainer was working really well! It was smooth, reasonably quiet and pretty much felt exactly like riding my bike.

I say it was exactly like riding my bike, but actually it’s harder. There is never the opportunity to freewheel or get out of the saddle, which is obvious I know, but until you’ve been riding for two hours in exactly the same position you don’t fully appreciate it. I used the gears to make it harder and see how it handled out of the saddle – it took a little time to get this right and not over spin the wheels – but once I got the hang of it it was a welcome relief to get up.

Bluetooth monitor

The model I tested has a bluetooth connection which connects to an app on my phone – this was a great feature as it gave me a constant read out so that if my pace slowed too much I could see it. Being able to monitor distance, output and pace made the whole experience much more engaging and I worked harder because of it. For this particular test I could see how I was doing at half way and then gave me something to aim for.

Tacx-Bike-monitor

How did I do?
Well I won’t be making the team anytime soon, but it was an interesting experiment. I rode 62.9km in 3 hours and 51 minutes, which I reckon is less distance than if I was on the road, but it was an amazing work-out. I’ve only ridden for that length of time a handful of times, so it was a good challenge.

A few days later I took on the timetrial to see how it would work over the shorter distance of 29.9km. This time I timed how long it took me to complete the same distance – meaning I was working a lot harder as I had a specific distance to complete. In many ways this was tougher as there was no let-up, but I did go a lot faster than before, completing the distance in 1 hour and 17 minutes – that’s half an hour longer than the pro’s!

Timetrial

Would I use it for regular training?
Yes, I would. But it really helps to have a training plan, there’s not much point just riding, as you’ll soon get bored. The Tacx website also has videos of famous routes so you can ride a set distance – I haven’t tried this aspect yet so look out for my next post.

Downsides
Nothing major in terms of the riding experience, ideally I’d set up an old bike that I didn’t need to use as it’s a bit of a faff to take it apart and set-up again ( 5-10 mins – this does get quicker though).

Find out more here: Tacx Blue Matic T2650 Smart Turbo Trainer from Halfords

Danielle Sellwood, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

 

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