Why Zwift? Part 2, “Smart or Dumb?”
After a winter of using the magnetic trainer and TrainerRoad, I decided that I should really investigate the whole “smart trainer” phenomenon that had started to catch on.
A "smart" trainer is one that has a power meter built in and can adjust its tension automatically to mimic inclines and also has the ability to keep a rider in a prescribed power zone during training. With TrainerRoad, it would allow me to use ERG mode and negate the need for me to shift as the workout moved from work to rest period and back again. This seemed ideal, as no one really wants to have to shift or adjust tension manually when they are literally dying on the bike.
Last winter, I was in luck to see the Tacx Bushido Smart trainer on Amazon for a great price. It was almost Christmas, and I had at least been trying to be a good boy. I pulled the trigger, and on Christmas Eve, I unboxed my first smart trainer.
After a short set up and calibration, I fired up TrainerRoad and immediately saw huge improvements in my workout experience. The smart trainer allowed me to complete workouts without shifting, as it applied the proper tension to the wheel to allow me to stay in a particular zone during the workout. The Bushido Smart needed rather minimal adjustment once I set it up. It seemed that as long as I set the tire pressure to 110 psi (the prescribed amount), it was fine and stayed within the accepted calibration zone. The power readings were just about what my PowerTap hub was telling me, so I swapped out that wheel for an older wheel that would only get used on the trainer.
One minor annoyance was that at higher workout zones/power, there was a little bit of slippage, as the trainer applied more pressure to the tire. I had been using an older tire, and this problem went away once I switched to a relatively economical “trainer tire,” a Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Trainer Tire. With the trainer tire on, accuracy of the trainer and consistent tension on the tire became the norm. I highly recommend them for anyone using any wheel on trainer. They are cheap and do the job well.
I spent the first few weeks of the new year using TrainerRoad with good results. It was clear that a smart trainer had revolutionized my experience in the basement. And I hadn’t even began to scratch the surface yet....