Author Topic: VR Training  (Read 17645 times)

VR Training
« on: November 05, 2015, 02:54:56 pm »
Wondered how much, if any, experience there is about for the latest generation of VR trainers.

I've go a non-smart Tacx Satori, which frankly will do for the amount I use it (in combination with Sufferfest  vids), but I can't help wondering. There's Zwift, Bkool, Tacx - any others? Anyone tried one of the "steerable" ones - can't see that being especially effective.

Re: VR Training
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2015, 10:59:29 am »
VR Trainers are for cyclists who are on the twenty eighth floor of a New York apartment block.

We have the countryside.

( Floor level may vary )

Re: VR Training
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2015, 11:19:35 am »
Glibly said, but when you are in London the countryside is a ride away, with relatively little nearby that looks much like a hill.

VR is for people who enjoy toys and don't much enjoy trainers.

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: VR Training
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2015, 11:35:10 am »
I use Zwift, and Sufferfest in combination with TrainerRoads, and a BKool turbo or an Elite set of rollers. Zwift now has a workout mode with several different workouts available. Plans are coming too. If you've tried Zwift, you'll know it's quite sociable and allows group rides which can be quite fun. The workout mode has you operating on your own, though you can still see and interact with other riders. It's on the course of the day (either 'Watopia' or the Richmond WC course), but ignores hills in terms of the resistance, favouring the requirement of the workout.

The Sufferfest/TR combination is a solo thing, but the videos are fun and motivational, and can be bloody hard work. If you have a smart trainer then TR will set the resistance appropriately for the stage of the video, all you have to do is ride at the correct cadence. TR on its own can provide you with all the workouts you need, but it's a bit dry and uninspirational.

I did have the Bkool software as well, but my internet connection isn't up to streaming their videos, and I found the computer-generated 3D world stuff very unconvincing.

Edit to add: if you have Strava Premium, your first two months of Zwift are free - and anyone gets their first 50k for free.

Re: VR Training
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2015, 12:39:18 pm »
That's interesting - does TrainerRoads change the resistance in line with the gradient in Sufferfest vids? I haven't tried Zwift, again I suspect you will need an ANT+ connection to join in.

Machine wise, the Tacx iGenius is available at 35% off at the moment, which is looking appealing.

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: VR Training
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2015, 01:15:59 pm »
Yes it does. And several other video products too, such as 3LC, Cyclefilm, Spinervals and others. Both TR and Zwift (and Bkool) need an Ant+ connection, and the trainer needs to be Ant FE&C compatible for the software to control the resistance - for the TACX range, that's the 'Smart' trainers. The steering device, by the way, I've tried and found superfluous. It's unrealistic (no-one 'steers' a bike!), and, in most software, there's no programmed response to the input.

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: VR Training
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2015, 01:33:29 pm »
Incidentally, the iGenius isn't FE&C compatible, as far as I'm aware. You'd need the Genius Smart.


red marley

Re: VR Training
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2015, 03:30:34 pm »
I'm not a natural "training" type of cyclist, turbo trainers even less so. However I now have a use-case for Zwift that kind of appeals...

We have set up an international group of visualization academics interested in cycling - Velo Club de Vis. We are based around the world, although mostly in Europe and the US and currently only meet up face-to-face once a year at one of our large international academic conferences (the last meeting was last week in Chicago). Someone suggested we might want to set up a Zwift group and go for virtual rides together between our actual meetups. There was general enthusiasm among the group, so this may well happen. My (very limited) understanding of Zwift is that all it needs is an ANT compatible wheel sensor as a minimum so is potentially independent of any particular turbo trainer. Although I guess something like the Tacx Genius Smart would make things simpler (if a little costly).

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: VR Training
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2015, 04:20:22 pm »
This from DC Rainmaker covers most of the options: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2014/11/winter-trainer-depth.html

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: VR Training
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2015, 06:13:56 pm »
I'm not a natural "training" type of cyclist, turbo trainers even less so. However I now have a use-case for Zwift that kind of appeals...

We have set up an international group of visualization academics interested in cycling - Velo Club de Vis. We are based around the world, although mostly in Europe and the US and currently only meet up face-to-face once a year at one of our large international academic conferences (the last meeting was last week in Chicago). Someone suggested we might want to set up a Zwift group and go for virtual rides together between our actual meetups. There was general enthusiasm among the group, so this may well happen. My (very limited) understanding of Zwift is that all it needs is an ANT compatible wheel sensor as a minimum so is potentially independent of any particular turbo trainer. Although I guess something like the Tacx Genius Smart would make things simpler (if a little costly).

Yes, Zwift - and TrainerRoads - can be utilised without needing a trainer that can be controlled by the app. If the trainer has been assessed by the app team, it'll have a known resistance curve that allows them to calculate a 'virtual power' figure for a given bike speed and resistance setting. If you add a cadence sensor it'll enable the app to give a slightly more accurate depiction of speed-for-power in the virtual world. Add a heart-rate sensor and you can get meaningful workout feedback. The Zwift website gives more detail.

Re: VR Training
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2015, 07:31:47 am »
This from DC Rainmaker covers most of the options: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2014/11/winter-trainer-depth.html

The trouble with the (very useful) DCRainmaker reviews is that they are  not quite up to date, which with a market moving as fast as it seems to, is no surprise or criticism but the detail differences aren't as clearcut as you might think.

From what I can see, the Tacx Genius Smart is about the best combination of features, with open ANT+FEC meaning I can pair it with anything. Almost. Plus the Tacx video appears highly regarded which - for someone who wants shiny toy rather than a precise training tool - is likely useful.


Re: VR Training
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2015, 08:09:56 am »
Gaaaaaaah! My brane hurts.

Now being put off Tacx (at least the Genius) because of the endless additional purchases and cost of vids.

Both Zwift and TrainerRoads have a very limited selection of compatible devices.

tiermat

  • According to Jane, I'm a Unisex SpaceAdmin
Re: VR Training
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2015, 09:29:47 am »
I was under the impression that Zwift would work with any Ant+ speed/cadence sensor? If so I might well give it a spin as I have one (from a Garmin) plus a stick to go in the laptop.

Only problem is I would have to install Windows!
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: VR Training
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2015, 10:01:48 am »
No, you don't need Windows. It works on OSX - indeed, I'd be stuffed if it didn't!

Zwift and TrainerRoad will give worthwhile results with any bike fitted with Ant+ Speed/Cadence, and if you have Power and HR outputs, so much the better. I quite often use my Elite Arione Digital rollers with them, which neither program can control (they use a Private ANT connection which only the Elite app can control), but still get good interactive training. However, if the trainer has Ant FE-C, then the programs can control the resistance directly. The cheapest Tacx trainer which allows this is the Vortex Smart, which can be had for around £235 from one or two of the German outlets, and that is by far the cheapest entry into smart indoor training. I wouldn't bother with any of the Tacx software other than the phone app, which allows decent training without firing up the mega-screen PC!

Zwift is £8/month - but you get the first 50km free to get a flavour of how it works, and, if you have Strava Premium, you get two months every year free. There are no other in-app purchases. Zwift is a little limited as yet, but they've now implemented workouts and they will be introducing new courses soon. TrainerRoad is $12/month but you don't have to pay for whole months in which you don't use it. There are no in-app purchases (eg, plans - and there are many - are free). I like TR in combination with Sufferfest, so they come at extra cost obviously.

If I was to choose one over the other, it would be TR with Sufferfest just at the moment. With their Virtual Power feature, almost any trainer coupled with a speed/cadence sensor will give repeatable, consistent power feedback. It might not be that accurate (probably +/- 10%), but the consistency means that you can track your improvement. If you can stretch to Training Peaks as well, you can lose the whole winter deep in stats! If you have Strava Premium, however, there's some decent analysis within that app, and you can easily upload your Zwift or TR workouts to Strava for poring over in detail later.

If you have a Garmin Edge 520 or (soon) 1000, you will very soon be able to take a ride you've done outdoors and re-ride it on your Ant FE-C trainer with the computer directly controlling the trainer's resistance. That seems quite cool to me!

Do I give the impression I'm a bit of a gadget freak? Sadly true - and an avid consumer of Ray Maker's reviews on DCRainmaker. But as someone with limited time and opportunity to ride outdoors, and very much a fair-weather cyclist anyway, this stuff gives me both the motivation and interest to keep fit in the cold and dark months.

Re: VR Training
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2015, 12:55:44 pm »
Find someone like a wife with a stopwatch, schedule on a clipboard and a hand on the resistance controller shouting “10% hill starting now!”.

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: VR Training
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2015, 01:30:33 pm »
Find someone like a wife with a stopwatch, schedule on a clipboard and a hand on the resistance controller shouting “10% hill starting now!”.

Thanks. Very helpful. No wife.

Re: VR Training
« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2015, 10:16:56 pm »
No, you don't need Windows. It works on OSX - indeed, I'd be stuffed if it didn't!

Zwift and TrainerRoad will give worthwhile results with any bike fitted with Ant+ Speed/Cadence, and if you have Power and HR outputs, so much the better. I quite often use my Elite Arione Digital rollers with them, which neither program can control (they use a Private ANT connection which only the Elite app can control), but still get good interactive training. However, if the trainer has Ant FE-C, then the programs can control the resistance directly. The cheapest Tacx trainer which allows this is the Vortex Smart, which can be had for around £235 from one or two of the German outlets, and that is by far the cheapest entry into smart indoor training. I wouldn't bother with any of the Tacx software other than the phone app, which allows decent training without firing up the mega-screen PC!

Zwift is £8/month - but you get the first 50km free to get a flavour of how it works, and, if you have Strava Premium, you get two months every year free. There are no other in-app purchases. Zwift is a little limited as yet, but they've now implemented workouts and they will be introducing new courses soon. TrainerRoad is $12/month but you don't have to pay for whole months in which you don't use it. There are no in-app purchases (eg, plans - and there are many - are free). I like TR in combination with Sufferfest, so they come at extra cost obviously.

If I was to choose one over the other, it would be TR with Sufferfest just at the moment. With their Virtual Power feature, almost any trainer coupled with a speed/cadence sensor will give repeatable, consistent power feedback. It might not be that accurate (probably +/- 10%), but the consistency means that you can track your improvement. If you can stretch to Training Peaks as well, you can lose the whole winter deep in stats! If you have Strava Premium, however, there's some decent analysis within that app, and you can easily upload your Zwift or TR workouts to Strava for poring over in detail later.

If you have a Garmin Edge 520 or (soon) 1000, you will very soon be able to take a ride you've done outdoors and re-ride it on your Ant FE-C trainer with the computer directly controlling the trainer's resistance. That seems quite cool to me!

Do I give the impression I'm a bit of a gadget freak? Sadly true - and an avid consumer of Ray Maker's reviews on DCRainmaker. But as someone with limited time and opportunity to ride outdoors, and very much a fair-weather cyclist anyway, this stuff gives me both the motivation and interest to keep fit in the cold and dark months.

I thought that would be the case, but I cant understand why only a subset of the Tacx trainers appear as supported, (of the supported ones the Bushido looks handy for its lack of external power) the exact capabilities and dependencies of each interaction appear to be a minefield.

I'm not too worried about stats, for me it would be a gadget to help maintain interest; like you I - ummm - enjoy? the sufferfest vids, I think I'd enjoy the VR-ish bit, too.

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: VR Training
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2015, 01:50:40 am »
Are we talking about Zwift, or both Zwift and TR? On Zwift, they list three Tacx Smart trainers - Bushido, Sartori, and Vortex. The Genius Smart is fine as well, though perhaps it wasn't out when they last updated the list. The Sartori will give accurate power readings, but can't be controlled by the program as it's a manual resistance selection. As for the Classic (non FE-C) trainers, any will work, as long as you have cadence and speed sensors, but only those listed have had a power curve calibrated to give a reasonably accurate assessment of your power output. If you have a power meter (I use Stages), the trainer is irrelevant as Zwift will access the power meter's output.

Re: VR Training
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2015, 08:11:15 am »
Quote
The trouble with the (very useful) DCRainmaker reviews is that they are  not quite up to date, which with a market moving as fast as it seems to, is no surprise or criticism but the detail differences aren't as clearcut as you might think.

He updates yearly as the trainer companies update in the summer before Eurobike and Interlake.  His latest review is http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2015/11/2015-2016trainer-recommendations.html.

I think it is a bit unfair to criticise him for being out of date.  The last ones were updated in September and the guide is published with 7 weeks with real world experience from his usage.

I had a Tacx flow which was non smart and seemed to be dying.  Just upgraded to a tax neo so will report back after my first ride this morning.

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: VR Training
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2015, 11:23:53 am »
Ray continually updates his individual product reviews as manufacturers develop their products. Trouble is, the reviews are long and comprehensive and generate a great deal of online discussion, so it can sometimes be hard to find the update among the noise! Significant updates (like the Bkool addition of FE-C to every trainer they've ever produced) get a separate article. This year's overall trainer review is a bit less comprehensive than previous years as there really hasn't been a lot of new stuff this year, mostly just developments of existing products. Yet again, the Wahoo Kickr is the trainer of choice for those with lots of money. The Tacx Vortex Smart gets the nod for cheapest worthwhile smart trainers (at least in Europe, as it's much more expensive in the US)

Re: VR Training
« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2015, 03:37:23 pm »
Well, that was my first ride on the Tacx Neo with ANT+ FE-C enabled. workout is https://www.trainerroad.com/cycling/rides/2530264-Sufferfest-Do-As-You-re-Told.

Overall it matched the power better than anything i have ridden before.  The edges are squarer so more time in the zone.  I changed gear twice during the whole 45 minutes.  First to go from little ring to big for the end of the warmup and then back again for the recovery at the very end.  The rest of the time the computer and turbo just accommodated my cadence to produce the power.  Certainly helps to now if the next drill is high or low cadence.  Occasionally I thought it was a high cadence so speeded up a touch towards the end of the recovery and found myself doing some massive power when I should have been doing 75 rpm not 110!!  Alternatively if you are tiring and let your cadence drop as I did in a couple of intervals then you end up with some massive force to push (like staring off up a 15% hill in the big ring!).

Overall I am very impressed and found it enjoyable.  It was nice not having to think about changing gear.


Is it necessary for training - NO, am I a gadget freak with an empty nest -YES.

offcumden

  • Oh, no!
Re: VR Training
« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2015, 04:25:26 pm »
Quote from: chrisbainbridge link=topic=94093.msg1942325#msg1942325 date=[quote
it necessary for training - NO, am I a gadget freak with an empty nest -YES.

Sounds as if you're having fun.  And why not (don't think a rhetorical qn. needs a ?).

It's interesting that DCRainmaker now goes for the bells and whistles trainers in favour of more basic machines. I can well see that gadgetry might make people less likely to give up on indoor training. I currently use a basic mag trainer, but find that music and a HRM help to keep my mind on the job and off the boredom.

However, we surely turbo in the expectation that the work done is a pretty good approximation to outdoor cycling, and that there is transfer of training, similar 'road feel', muscle recruitment, or whatever. Otherwise, why bother?

Interestingly, DCR seems not to address this as much as he could/should. In his recent review of trainers 2015/2016 he suggests that basic turbos (such as the KK Road Machine) are no longer worth considering, and you need to go almost to the end of the open discussion section before finding this:

<< Chris Mohr
November 7, 2015 at 1:45 pm #262
Ray-

Subjective question: How would you compare the “road feel” of the following: the KK Road Machine, Kickr Snap, and Vortex Smart? Do you have any thoughts? Thinking of getting a smart trainer this year.
Reply
DC Rainmaker replied
November 7, 2015 at 2:13 pm #263
I’d put the KK at the top, then the KICKR SNAP & Vortex Smart. Those two are pretty similar in terms of feel, though the KICKR Snap might get a very slight edge. >>



Interesting.  My current trainer has done years of service, and needs replacing.  Fortunately, while I do like a good gadget, I don't find motivation too much of a problem on the turbo, so I'm probably going to go for the Kurt Kinetic.


Happy training - virtual or otherwise.

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: VR Training
« Reply #23 on: November 08, 2015, 05:35:54 pm »
Ray's open about the fact that he comes at this from the angle of a tech-head - until last week, he was a senior software engineer (or something like that) at Microsift. Basically, he's not interested in basic trainers or anything that doesn't interface with a computer. They just don't float his boat, and I totally get that.

simonp

  • Omnomnomnipotent.
Re: VR Training
« Reply #24 on: November 08, 2015, 11:41:49 pm »
I did a training session tonight on the KickR that I think I'd find virtually impossible to perform accurately on a basic trainer. 40 x 30s intervals at just over 300W.

Reckon I'm going to get a lot more quality training in over this winter than in previous years.

I've just ordered an iMac. As it has Bluetooth 4.0 support, I'll be able to use it with the KickR and this means I could give Zwift a go.  :thumbsup:

(Techically I could have used the KickR with my MBP but I found the Ant+ operation using the Garmin USB dongle too unreliable).