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Old 11-07-07, 07:40 AM   #1
MDcatV
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Racermate Computrainer or Tacx Fortius

The indoor training season is looming, I can't deal with watching race dvds again, they always end the same. I'm contemplating getting a one of these trainers. Anybody use these that can comment on:

- training effectiveness (I guess this is more on the user than the tool)
- long term fun quotient, are they fun for a week, a season, for multiple seasons?
- ease of set up and continued use - I'm a computer/technological simpleton and basically want something that is easy to set up, like a lamp.
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Old 11-07-07, 08:59 PM   #2
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I can comment on the computrainer. I still enjoy mine after several months. It has been very beneficial for keeping my fitness stable with a very demanding schedule.

The training effectiveness is very good. I generally ride in the Multi-rider program because it is the easiest to do. I have several preprogrammed training routines for Tempo, VO2 Max and Intervals. The one thing about the computrainer is that the computer allows for no "dead" space in your stroke. The computer maintains the selected power regardless of the gear or cadence and forces you to have a smooth solid workout. I promise you that a simple tempo ride will strain your legs the first time you do one. There is no give in the effort.

The programs especially 3-D offer varied terrain and graphics. I actually have raced my evil twin around a "okay" graphic of central park and a great ride through the desert southwest. There are many programs that you can do to shake up your training. In one week I might do a Tempo ride of 4X15X3, a VO2 interval ride and finish with a one hour tempo. I have sixty+ different workouts that I can do so boredom is not a question.

The most complicated part of the system is the setup. You need a computer, (a laptop is the best...just for portability). There are three cables to run along the bike frame. I have strapped my #2 bike into the trainer fully wired and leave it there. It is a greater hassle than simply plugging into a trainer or slipping on to a set of rollers. If you find the right group they can help you through the setup and the training programs.

I believe that the computrainer provides the most solid fitness gains with the least amount of time.
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Old 11-07-07, 09:15 PM   #3
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I bought a Tackx unit from Colorado Cyclist. Couldn't even assemble it. What an astonishing piece of crap. I even spoke the US distribution rep about the lame assembly instructions. "Oh yeah, we keep telling them they suck, but they never change them' he told me.

Back to Colo Cyclist it went. That's the last purchase I made from Colo Cyclist by the way, over two years ago. I'm not sure what was more amazing: that a manufactuer could ship a product like that, or that Colo Cyclist would foist it on its unsuspecting customer base.
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Old 11-07-07, 10:07 PM   #4
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I have teammates who use the Computrainer. I use Tacx units.

Both are extremely effective for training purposes.

Long term fun quotient. I can't comment on the "fun" of indoor training, because I have yet to enjoy it. What I can say is that my experience with the Tacx units has found them to be quite enjoyable. There are the options of a "virtual world" (like a computer game with your bike as the controller), the Catalyst (a basic program the workout based on target HR, Power, or gradient via either time or distance...like programming ay workout machine), and my favorite (one of two reasons I use the Tacx over the computrainer) the Real Life Videos. The RLVs are what keep me coming back and entertained. I get the feeling (as much as you can on a trainer) that I am riding outside, and it helps to keep me from getting bored (Not computer graphics but actual filmed footage of famous rides). PM me if you have other questions.

Ease of setup? Unlike PCad, I found the Tacx units easy to setup. The disadvantage with them is that updates are usually buggy. I never update software or firmware until other people have experienced problems and Tacx has worked out the bugs. I don't believe this is a problem with the Computrainer.
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Old 11-07-07, 10:21 PM   #5
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You're making me look like a mechanical ****** Dr. W. That is highly accurate.
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Old 11-12-07, 11:43 AM   #6
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I copied this from another forum because I was too lazy to type it out myself but it's crucial.

The other thing with the Fortius if you are in the US (or other 110V power country) is that they've had issues with frying power supplies and also with the trainer being limited to a top speed of about 26 MPH going downhill. They claim to have solved the power supply issues with a firmware update, although the jury is still out on that one. As for the other, it appears to be a design flaw in hardware that they will not be able to surmount. They are pretending it doesn't exist, more or less.

The speed limit doesn't sound like much of an issue, and it isn't unless you plan to ride online with others via the new Tacx software (multi-rider capable), compete in a VR league, or ride online with Netathlon.

Oh, and riding over about 6% grades get to be extrememly difficult. The ability to keep a good cadence is messed up and you pedal squares big time. Normally doing a climb that like is 80-90rpms for me since I spin more up hills. I can't go in the 39x25 and get much over 60 rpms when it gets around 9-10% no matter the distance.

Supposedly Tacx is working on these problems, but don't hold your breath. It's been an 18 month long problem that they don't seem to address.

Last edited by rjjasick; 11-12-07 at 11:46 AM. Reason: Added more.
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Old 11-12-07, 02:42 PM   #7
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What forum would that be?
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Old 11-12-07, 03:15 PM   #8
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You can avoid the problems that the Computrainer and Tacx have but it will cost you.
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Old 11-12-07, 03:25 PM   #9
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You can avoid the problems that the Computrainer and Tacx have but it will cost you.
Wonder what this runs... 10K? The free computrainer the club assigned me is a better deal.

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Old 11-12-07, 04:13 PM   #10
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SRM ergometers are $22,000. I think they used to be $27,000 so I'm wondering why the price went down considering the exchange rate. I think there are only 6 in existence so maybe they're lowering the price in an effort to sell #7.

There are cheaper, better ergometers like the Velotron or better ergometers for the same price such as the Lode Excalibur Sport. The reason the Velotron seems to be a popular lab ergometer is because it's only around $8000. The Velotron was designed to address the Computrainer's failings (both are made by Racermate).
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Old 11-12-07, 04:18 PM   #11
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I've been using a Fortius for about a year, and it has made a big difference in the amount of time I can stand being on the trainer. That said, there are a few pros/cons to the Fortius.

Pros:

The real live videos really make the trainer. The four RLV programs I have range from about 40 miles to 70 miles and include several different types of terrain. The RLVs based on the mountain stages are my favorites. I find these great for getting in tempo and threshold workouts. I generally have no problems with grades below 10%, but above 10%, the resistance gets a bit choppy. It can also be motivational to race the course against one or more of your previous times.

Tacx is also releasing Ergo Videos that are like the RLVs but require you to maintain different wattages as the terrain changes. The required wattages are based on data acquired when actual riders rode the course. For example, in the Rabobank video, you try to maintain the same wattage (or a % of it) as the team did throughout the ride. These are very hard.

Catalyst mode allows you to do structured intervals, using either slope of watts to set the interval time and difficulty.

You can save ride files to WKO and keep track of training data.


Cons:

The downhill speed/wattage issue mention above is annoying. But, if you don't use the multiplayer function, it really only affects the data from the ride. While going downhill, I can still keep my effort/HR up, but the unit registers very low wattage output.

Set up of the unit can affect the accuracy of the power readings. I have been able to replicate the power numbers on the Fortius relatively accurately, but I used a powertap to calibrate it.

Apparently, it the software can be a bit finicky, depending on the computer it's installed on. That said, any relatively new computer should work. If you have an older computer, you may be frustrated by the install.

RLVs are another ~$50US a pop; so, if you want to use these, be prepared to spend another few hundred on the videos.
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Old 11-12-07, 04:58 PM   #12
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SRM ergometers are $22,000. I think they used to be $27,000 so I'm wondering why the price went down considering the exchange rate. I think there are only 6 in existence so maybe they're lowering the price in an effort to sell #7.


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There are cheaper, better ergometers like the Velotron or better ergometers for the same price such as the Lode Excalibur Sport. The reason the Velotron seems to be a popular lab ergometer is because it's only around $8000. The Velotron was designed to address the Computrainer's failings (both are made by Racermate).
Thanks for the info. The team coach needs a new ergo as the one he has is old and getting pretty rusty. I think I am going to motion for purchasing a new one at the upcoming AGM.
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Old 11-12-07, 05:52 PM   #13
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Thanks for the info. The team coach needs a new ergo as the one he has is old and getting pretty rusty. I think I am going to motion for purchasing a new one at the upcoming AGM.
There's a 20% discount for coaches. A friend of mine got a USA Cycling coaching license primarily to take advantage of the discount and the cost of the license was more than paid for by the discount.
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Old 11-12-07, 07:49 PM   #14
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I've been riding a computrainer in winters for probably 5 or 6 years. One thing I look forward to this winter is the ability to convert Garmin Edge data into a computrainer course so I can ride the identical routes I ride outside. I've done it twice so far and it is amazing how accurate it is. I can almost envision the real course despite computrainer putting in it's own turns. Never a dull moment on the computrainer.

If you have a spare computer and can leave the whole thing set up that would be ideal. Most "old" computers these days are sufficient enough to run the system. A good video card and a serial port are recommended.
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Old 11-12-07, 08:50 PM   #15
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There's a 20% discount for coaches. A friend of mine got a USA Cycling coaching license primarily to take advantage of the discount and the cost of the license was more than paid for by the discount.
Good to know, thanks.
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Old 11-12-07, 09:18 PM   #16
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I've been riding a computrainer in winters for probably 5 or 6 years. One thing I look forward to this winter is the ability to convert Garmin Edge data into a computrainer course so I can ride the identical routes I ride outside. I've done it twice so far and it is amazing how accurate it is. I can almost envision the real course despite computrainer putting in it's own turns. Never a dull moment on the computrainer.

If you have a spare computer and can leave the whole thing set up that would be ideal. Most "old" computers these days are sufficient enough to run the system. A good video card and a serial port are recommended.
You have got to explain how you do this. I would love to import some of my routes into a CP file. PM me when you have a minute.
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Old 11-12-07, 10:07 PM   #17
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You have got to explain how you do this. I would love to import some of my routes into a CP file. PM me when you have a minute.
Hey, share with all of us! And if my Gamin 305 comes back the second time from warranty work and actually operates for more than three months I'll be happy!
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Old 11-12-07, 10:59 PM   #18
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You have got to explain how you do this. I would love to import some of my routes into a CP file. PM me when you have a minute.
RacerMate makes software called GPS Course Creator which gives you the ability to create a course directly from Garmin 305 ride data or from a .gpx file. It's $65, but I find well worth it in my limited testing. There's even the ability to smooth out errant data in the course (One 9% climb had sections topping 15% when imported into the computrainer). You can also use this feature to tweak existing courses you may have created and saved.

Essentially with this software and the Garmin, you can map any course, even in your car, and train on it. I plan on doing this very thing for a race in the spring, I'll go and drive the course with the Garmin, then import into GPS Course creator.

You can find it here
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Old 11-15-07, 10:16 PM   #19
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Thanks.
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Old 11-22-07, 06:54 PM   #20
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This thread is REALLY worth reading on the TACX vs. Computrainer topic.

http://68.115.203.26/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1102
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Old 11-23-07, 12:25 PM   #21
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I bought a Tackx unit from Colorado Cyclist. Couldn't even assemble it. .
LOL..shocked.
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Old 11-23-07, 01:37 PM   #22
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Hey MDCatV,

I have a buddy (doesn't hang on these forums) buying a Computrainer shortly. Since we are in the general area I am sure I could talk him into letting you try it sometime.

-D
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Old 11-23-07, 04:15 PM   #23
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Dudes,
I'm in the market and seriously looking at Tacx. 1Centaur's link is 2+ years old and ends with a 2007 questioning update. I really want to know about the surmountable power and support issues. Having chillun that appear to self-sustain playing Halo3 and Wii it is obvious the technology exists to make the Fortius vision work. It would seem if the percieved market is significant the big boys will run over smaller companies. Has Tacx solved their US problems? Will Microsoft and Nintendo come out with a bicylict savy, useful workout "game"?
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Old 11-23-07, 09:32 PM   #24
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Dudes,
I'm in the market and seriously looking at Tacx. 1Centaur's link is 2+ years old and ends with a 2007 questioning update. I really want to know about the surmountable power and support issues. Having chillun that appear to self-sustain playing Halo3 and Wii it is obvious the technology exists to make the Fortius vision work. It would seem if the percieved market is significant the big boys will run over smaller companies. Has Tacx solved their US problems? Will Microsoft and Nintendo come out with a bicylict savy, useful workout "game"?
There is not enough of a market (sadly) for nintendo or microsoft, though frankly the technology is very easily there.

Has Tacx solved the problems? No. They are continually working on them, but they have not. How bad are the problems? Currently, with my fortius, it does not read a power output when going downhill (even if there is one) and I cannot go more than 26 mph without their safety feature the "virtual headwind" kicking in. However, as a training tool, these problems are not problems at all. Though I feel they should be easily remedied (partiularly since they have been in european countries), they really do not take away from the capabilities of the fortius.

PM me if you have questions.
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Old 11-24-07, 07:57 AM   #25
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DrWJOD,
Your insight is valuable. I have a Cycleops Powertap. It sounds like I'd have no issue with the virtual down hill. A speed cap as a safety feature sounds odd.

Can you rate your (or my view) of the Fortius features not offered from standard resistor trainers (I have a Cycleops now)
Motorized adjustment to a course (compared to linear speed related fluid or mag resistor),
computer capture of complex work outs,
ability to add/create workouts is GPS (I have an Etrex HCx)
cool virtual DVD workouts and graphics,
ability to race others via net
headset steering
Thanks
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