Wheel-on vs. Direct Drive

You`re thinking about buying a Tacx trainer, but don`t know witch one.

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Noonievut
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:35 pm

Wheel-on vs. Direct Drive

Post by Noonievut » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:55 pm

I've started research as I'm planning to get a new trainer this fall. My LBS carries most of the major brands, and has most of them in stock. I've given some background below...you can skip this to help with my question if you like.

Background
For the last 10 years I've used a fluid trainer. The last several years I've found that I simply do one of two workouts while watching movies, 3-4x/week. It's been ok for maintaining fitness, but I'm getting bored, and I've noticed the new smart trainers and apps such as Zwift. I do ride outside in the winter, weather permitting (which in a month like February around Toronto, may equate to 2-3 outdoor rides).

So my early research has led me to trainers like the Tacx Vortex and (wheel-on), and the Tacx Flux (direct drive)...among other brands. I don't really want to spend more than the Flux. Regarding the Flux, despite some issues I've read, I talked to my LBS and feel confident that I'll be ok either way (trainer works fine, if it doesn't I'll have no hassle in returning it). I'm planning to use the trainer with Zwift, and perhaps another (cheaper) software that provides workouts/plans that control the trainer so that I can watch movies. I'm guessing that Zwift users are not watching movies, as the software seems more engaging (than TrainerRoad, for example). I like the concept that say an incline in Zwift or interval in a less-game'y' software is what adds resistance and requires more effort on my part...versus me needing to choose a harder gear on my fluid trainer, and thus follow a plan to do this myself.

Lastly, I'm not a gadget person ( don't have a power meter, or a HRM). I'm not looking to get stronger or faster. I simply love cycling and enjoy the fitness benefits it provides (can eat and drink more ;-).

Question
I'm trying to decide between a wheel-on and direct-drive trainer, and I've read that with the wheel-on you need to calibrate virtually every time (if it took less than a minute that would be fine, but from what I've read you need to pedal for 8-10 minutes, than do calibration tests). I'm worried this may annoy a lot. However, I'm also not sure I care that much about calibration, as I'm not very concerned if the power readings are not spot-on. I'm not planning to follow a program where I try and improve my power over time...rather, I'm looking for motivation that a smart trainer paired with software like Zwift offers, so that I ride more in the winter. If the increased riding leads to more power, that's a bonus. I've heard from friends who traditionally hated trainers, that they now look forward to these rides. So, given my lack of focus on power, is the direct-drive (more accurate, less calibration) still a big enough benefit over the wheel-on trainers? For me?


Thanks!

thebigoneinfront
Posts: 2681
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: Ludwigshafen/Rhine, Germany

Re: Wheel-on vs. Direct Drive

Post by thebigoneinfront » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:33 pm

Calibrating the wheel-on trainer isn't a big issue. Once you have done it properly (mainly meaning on a warmed-up brake) and keep ypur tyre at the pressure it had during calibration, you need to do it maybe every couple of weeks to account for wear and tear of the tyre. You won't find the calibration out of the ballpark then, so it's just fine-tuning and if you don't care much about precise power numbers, you can easily be lazy at this point.

You don't seem to care for max. power capabilities of the trainer, so the main benefit of the direct drive Flux over the wheel-on Vortex is noise. The direct drives indeed are very much quieter.

Noonievut
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:35 pm

Re: Wheel-on vs. Direct Drive

Post by Noonievut » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:03 pm

Thanks.

I've only observed this on the Wahoo Kickr Snap, but when you release the tension on the wheel after you're done, can I assume that as long as you dial it back in the next time to the same tension (by marking the dial/adjuster) it's then only a matter of tire pressure to get relatively consistent power numbers?

thebigoneinfront
Posts: 2681
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: Ludwigshafen/Rhine, Germany

Re: Wheel-on vs. Direct Drive

Post by thebigoneinfront » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:57 am

You don't dial the Tacx brake in every time. You just use the lever to press the brake on the wheel or release it, so it's just a matter of moving the lever up and down to its end positions. The screw below the lever is only used when calibrating.

Here's a link to the Vortex assembly manual http://tacx.com/support/manuals/trainer ... manual.pdf
The unit has two (blue) levers, one at the wheel support to fix or release the bike at its rear axle, and the one on the brake unit. I had a Genius which shares the design of frame and brake mechanism with the Vortex and the mechanical operation is reallly simple. One recommendation: When assembling, wedge something small and hard into the two pairs of slots of the brake holder that you don't use for the brake. This prevents those little plastic bars from breaking. This is the weak point of the design (I'm not saying those plastic bits always break.)

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