All smart trainers are equipped with two wireless communication technologies:
This is needed to connect the trainer to certain apps (Tacx/Zwift) or devices (Garmin/Polar).
The apps also work on Bluetooth or ANT+ (one of the 2). Some device are limited to only use connection via ANT+ or Bluetooth, so even that the Trainer is sending both signals, it could be that a certain application does not support a specific communication protocol.
- Zwift on PC needs an ANT+ dongle
- Zwift on an iPad can connect with Bluetooth
These connections are called 2 way connections. The app is sending information to the trainer (increase resistance) and the trainers sends data back (speed, cadence and power). This is a situation that the application CONTROLS the brake.
We will explain more what is happening on speed later.
Slope, Ergo, Roadfeel power / speed / cadence
Additional channel on Bluetooth / ANT+:
The interesting thing is that you can also connect the trainer to devices that can receive information on power, speed and cadence. Like the Garmin devices or Polar devices. With this you can READ data from the trainer. You cannot control it.
power / speed / cadence
It is also possible to use this in a dual mode situation. So you can connect the trainer to an application and the also send data to your device with the additional channel.
Connecting via ANT+
There is a difference between ANT+ and Bluetooth and the way they work. If you connect with ANT+ the trainer can still be found by other apps. So the channel stays “open” . It will give problems the moment you connect a trainer to 2 apps at the same time via ANT+ (or combine ANT+ and BT). Always use 1 application to control the trainer.
Connecting via Bluetooth
Bluetooth works different then ANT+. The moment you connect via Bluetooth it will close the channel. So for example if you connect to the Tacx Training app and also want to connect it via the Tacx Cycling app, the trainer will not be shown on the last one. The moment you disconnect the trainer it will be visible again. The same works with the separate channel. You can still connect the trainer via Bluetooth on an application and you can also connect the trainer to a device that can only read the data. This is possible.
The heartrate devices in the market also works on ANT+ and or Bluetooth.
The Tacx T1994 works with both signals. So it is possible to connect with ANT+ and Bluetooth, giving you all the options to connect a heartrate belt. (FOTO VAN TACX HR BELT)
Garmin uses a lot of ANT+ belts, so check the belt to understand what kind of protocols it has watches that register heartrate.
It is not possible to use a Garmin Forerunner (see image below) for example with an application (like Tacx or Zwift). You need to have a heartrate strap that is transmitting the signals.
Phones and Tablets
The follow devices supports the following protocols;
- iPhones 4S and higher – Bluetooth 4.0 only (no standard ANT+ support
- iPad 3.0 of higher - Bluetooth 4.0 only (no standard ANT+ support)
- Android 4 and higher - Needs to support Bluetooth 4.0
- Some devices supports ANT+ like the Samsung devices
Update january 2018:
The ANT+ antenna from Wahoo does not always supports iPad devices. Tacx cannot guarantee full support for its Apps on the Wahoo ANT+ dongle http://eu.wahoofitness.com/devices/accessories/wahoo-key-16. You also need a lightning adapter (30 pins adapter) to make the connection possible: https://www.apple.com/nl/shop/product/MD823ZM/A/lightning-naar-30-pens-adapter
This is only used for trainers only having ANT+ or heartrate straps on ANT+, The application also needs to support ANT+ to make this work.
For Android device not equipped with ANT+, there is a solution called Tacx ANT+ dongle micro USB.
Many laptops have Bluetooth, but this is also need to be Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. Also not many apps are available that uses Bluetooth via PC. Since 2018 we only have Tacx Desktop App for Windows 10 and Mac. In case an application uses Bluetooth 4.0 on PC, you need to have a standard USB 4.0 dongle like Trust or Belkin.
Mac SX 10.8 or higher. Bluetooth 4.0 is native on the new MacBook’s air (after 2012), mac min (late 2011), MacBook pro (mid2012) and iMac (early 2013).
Now comes the more difficult part. Now that we know how the trainer communicates, PC, Tablets and Phones can communicate, it is up to the application to make the connection possible.
Looking to how devices can communicate, this also means that application will communicate on the same level as how you use it on a device. A good example is Zwift. The have software running on different platforms.
Zwift with PC (direct connection):
Application only works on ANT+. The PC or Mac does not have ANT+ support inside, so you need to purchase something separate. An ANT+ dongle T2028 (or Garmin).
Zwift with Mac (direct connection):
Works with ANT+ and direct with Bluetooth.
Zwift with mobile link connection:
This is an Application from Zwift that you can install on your phone or tablet. Phones and tablets works only with Bluetooth. The app is also designed to only work on Bluetooth. The app is designed only for connection and some display options, but the real ride is done on your PC or Mac. So you connect the trainer via Bluetooth to the Zwift Mobile and ride via PC or Mac.
Zwift and iPad or iPhone:
With this you use the iPhone or iPad (high ends) with the Zwift application. So you run the same app that you normally run on your PC or Mac. The iPad or iPhone works only on Bluetooth so the connection you make is on Bluetooth and you only need your iPad or iPhone to run the application.
So even with one Application Zwift there are many different ways to connect the Tacx Trainer.
It is very important to check the Application website how the connections can be done and with what device it can run it.
Here is some information on the apps and how to run them:
|Tacx Desktop application||Windows 10, Mac (april 2018)||Bluetooth|
|Tacx Trainer software 4||Windows 7,8,10||ANT+|
|Tacx Training app||Phone, Tablets (iOS/Android)||Bluetooth - (ANT+ non smart)|
|Tacx Cycling app||Tablets (iOS/Android)||Bluetooth - (ANT+ non smart)|
|Trainerroad||Phone/Tablet||Bluetooth and ANT+|
It is important to say that only the Tacx Smart trainers can connect to the 3rd party apps.
How to recognize you are connected
The new models trainers have the option to see how you are connected.
|NEO||Red constant on||Yellow||Blue|
|Genius||Red on||no lights||no lights|
|Bushido||Led on when riding||no lights||no lights|
|Vortex||Green flashing||no lights||no lights|
|FLow||Green flashing||no lights||no lights|
|Satori||Red flashing||no lights||no lights|
Trainer not found, cannot reconnect
Common problem on connection on Bluetooth, or that a trainer is not found, means that an app is still connected to the trainer. The Blue light on the Trainer is still on. It is therefore important to turn off all the Application (any) before you use the trainer (apple means slide them off on the background).
Connecting via ANT+ and there is no connection, is also something that could be related to communication. If the Blue light and the Yellow Light is on, then this is the problem. The Bluetooth connection needs to be turned off.