Smart Trainer Easy Fix

No posts in November. oops! Ah well, you know the tri training grind. Base building time so nothing too exciting happening on that front. Just trying to keep Training Peaks mostly green and happy and waiting to see what’s up with races next year.

With the return to more indoor riding, I was having all sorts of odd issues with my Garmin Tacx Flow smart trainer. Some of these issues had plagued me last winter as well, but seemed to be getting worse:

  • Random disconnects from Zwift
    • Didn’t seem to matter how I was connected to the trainer (ANT+ or Bluetooth or even via the Zwift companion app)
  • Wildly inaccurate readings from the trainer for power and cadence
  • General shenanigans

Things seemed to be worse on longer rides or harder work. In fact, my theory is/was that the hotter the Tacx controller got, the dumber it got. I was honestly ready to just dump it and buy something newer (and sadly more expensive).

Now, whenever you look up troubleshooting on these things, the number 1 suggestion is inevitably to try and have the sensors from your PC as close as possible to the trainer. Knowing how Bluetooth and ANT+ work, I’ve always figured 5 – 7 feet is more than close enough, ya know? But, on a whim, I ordered a USB extension and new ANT+ sensor from Amazon figuring what could it hurt at this point?

And… I haven’t had a glitch or issue since. The ANT+ sensor is just a few inches from the trainer.

The ANT+ sensor is at the end of that cable, right below the brains of the smart trainer

Oh, and why am I using ANT+ instead of Bluetooth? Two reasons, really.

Reason 1: As mentioned earlier, I had issues with BT and my laptop. I could get it to work [generally] OK via my phone and the Zwift companion app, but that often made my phone the weak link and I still had the random dropouts.

Reason 2: My HRM is ANT+ so this just keeps things simple.

Bonus tip: Periodically recalibrate your trainer every few weeks or, perhaps, monthly. Do it AFTER a ride when everything is warmed up, not when the trainer is cold. Makes a huge different. And if using a wheel-on style trainer as I do, ensure the tire pressure is the same every time you ride.

Bonus pic of the bike section of the pain cave, feature a new (used) larger TV to better help pass the time. Notice that I had to move the bike back from the TV a few feet to more comfortably view anything!

bike portion of the pain cave
See the white cable coming down from the laptop on the ironing board / table? That’s the USB extension.

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