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This summer wasn’t that good in regard of cycling. It wasn’t good at all. First half of the summer felt like a never-ending row of rainy days. Then a lot of things changed and i didn’t wanted to get on the bike. And of all of it was in conjunction with the hot phase of some projects at work and had a lot to do on that front. I concentrated on that.
I did some cycling in the last few weeks, when it got better, but i wasn’t public about this any longer by having a public Strava feed or publishing photos about ghost graffiti.
On a side note: At the end Ande, the sprayer of the Luneburg Ghosts you may have seen on photos on my Instagram or Strava, was caught two or three weeks ago. I know the graffiti were property damage. But I really loved those small ghosts. What a shame! What a pity. I would really like to have one on my garage. It wasn’t Banksy but the ghost made me smile more than once.
A solution for this winter
That said i needed a solution for cycling in this this winter. I needed to counteract some developments in weight that manifested for a while and that made me quite unlucky.
I have an indoor smart trainer (you remove the rear wheel and put the smart trainer on it), but the bike I’ve used on it was really in a state where i had to replace most of the moving stuff for this winter. Bearings were worn out, chain elongated, sprockets on chainring and cassette worn down to a level where it spontaneously shifted and interestingly the crankset had its own set of abrasion problems because parts of my shoes were touching the cranks when clipped into the pedals. The smart trainer was starting to see some problems on its own, but those are minor.
Additionally, i didn’t wanted to put my carbon bike on it, because i don’t think this is a good idea to screw a carbon frame onto a trainer which can’t move to any direction. And i wanted to keep my new gravel bike I’ve purchased in June in a state always able to be ridden outdoors (and i didn’t wanted to remove the wheel, because either i lost my skills to fine tune a bike shifting or the Shimano GRX stuff is quite bitchy about it.)
That said, as things went quite differently than planned for the middle of the year, a significant number of monetary units, that i had saved over the last few months were now unallocated. I spend some of this money on something I wanted to have for quite a while now. A smart bike.
I’m a proud owner of a Tacx smart bike since a week. A smart bike is more or less a souped-up variant of the home trainers or ergometers that are sitting in many sleeping rooms of the world just to be used as hangers for clothing. Smart bikes resemble a bike, but they have no attachment points for wheels, most of them have no chains but just a belt and resistance is created for example by electromagnets, so you can control the resistance easily. Imagine it like a peloton bike from the ubiquitous advertisements, just without a person jelling at you … sorry … motivating you.
Controlling the resistance by a computer program is essentially the point of a smart bike. Computer programs like Zwift and Kinomap can simulate routes with their ascents and descents by controlling the resistant of the bike and this makes biking indoors so much more tolerable, besides the point they are essentially computer games with visuals simulating the world you are biking as well. This way you ride much longer on the bike compared to sit on a bike just looking at a wall pedaling at a monotonous power setting.
So now i have a dedicated bike for indoor cycling instead having an outdoor bike put on a indoor off-wheel smart trainer. Both my outdoor bike and my indoor bike stay in a usable state all year long.
It was quite a problem to get this bike into my home. It weights over 50 kg and thus can’t be delivered with the usual parcel services. You must deal with the freight people, not with people from the parcels department. The processes there seem to be more tailored to companies than to private people. I had some problems with it.
When the bike finally arrived there was a very large lorry at the street and i asked me if I had ordered 1,00 or 100 of the bikes. Or if the company send me 1,00 or 100 of the bike.
At the end the large truck was just a by-product of the resolution of the problems with the delivery that led to a bike sitting around in Hamburg for almost a week despite all announcements on the webpage and all arrangement with the “parcel” service. Long story. After some polite venting at the phone, my “parcel” was transported express to me. The large lorry was just the next one that went through Luneburg.
The wohole was made more problematic because i can’t move such a large package on my own to my apartment on the 3rd floor. For each scheduled appointment for delivery i had to organize help to carry it in my apartment.
So, what are my first impressions:
- The bike is rock solid. But you would expect this for a heap of metal that heavy.
- With the solidness comes rigidness. There is no movement in the bike itself. A bike, especially carbon bikes have some “flex” in them. This smart bike has no flex whatsoever. It feels like sitting on a stone wall with pedals. You have to get used to it. If you are used to bikes with a lot of flex it may be problematic
- The bike is nearly vibration free in use, especially when you tweak the place you locate it a little bit. I’ve put it on a floor protection mat from Wahoo, on top of a thermal isolation mat I’ve cut into pieces and a washing machine mat. Since then, it’s vibration free. The thermal isolation mat is not so much for vibration isolation but to get some movement into the bike. Feels much better this way.
- Usability is great of the bike. You can power it yourself, so technically you don’t need to need a wall plug close to the bike, you can even charge your tablet or phone with the power you are generating while sitting on the bike. Virtual shifting is fast. Reactions to power changes are really fast. I’ve put my SQlab saddle on it I’m using for a few years now. The saddle delivered with the smart bike is not that bad, but I like my standard saddle.
- The TacX smart bike is advertised with “extremely quiet”. Well, “extremely quiet” is an extremely relative designation. Yes, it’s much quieter than my Stevens bike/Elite Suito combination. Really … significantly much quieter. No sounds from shifting, no sounds from the chain, because it hasn’t both. But there is a hum that sound like a large dynamo. Well, to my understanding being something like a dynamo is actually the mechanism they are generating the resistance (and the electricity to power the trainer and to charge phones). I saw some videos on YouTube which showed this sound, but that was in situations where people capable to come at least close to half the rated max power capability of the smart bike. Either I’m closer to this level than i thought (which i can rule out) or this was a misinterpretation on my side that it would be quieter at my power levels.
- You can exactly adjust things like stack and reach with the bike. It’s not really a big fitting bike, but you can accommodate yourself quite fine with the possibilities to adjust. I plan to use it to improve my bike fit for the next outdoor season.
I’m quite satisfied with the bike. I hoped it would be even much quieter than it is, but even at its current level it’s much better for my neighbors. And yes, the first larger effects on the adverse effects of weight already manifested as well.