Tacx Trainers: Road Feel Feature Explained
Tacx is on a mission to create the most realistic indoor cycling experience imaginable. Available on select Garmin Tacx trainers, the road feel feature replicates a complete spectrum of surface textures on your home trainer. From cobbles to cattle grids and everything in between, you can now experience it all from the comfort of your Tacx trainer.
Experience the thrill of hitting the cobbles at full speed without worrying about crashing. Or power along the white gravel roads of Strade Bianche after work without having to fly to Tuscany. Road feel on Garmin Tacx devices brings the feel of the iconic races right to your home. It’s as close as we’ve come in the indoor bike training world to recreating that outdoor feel.
Feel Every Imperfection
Road feel was developed by Tacx to accurately recreate the sensations of riding over a variety of road surfaces. Designed exclusively for our NEO line of trainers, a permanent motor works with smart electronics to produce those different feelings. The exact position of all rotating parts on the smart trainer are controlled 1,000 times per second, resulting in supreme precision and control.
It’s this precision that allows us to recreate the subtle imperfections and textures of a variety of surfaces. Road feel imitates it all with amazing accuracy by producing vibrations of varying intensities.
The result is a home training experience that was never achievable before. One that provides a completely immersive ride, where the physical bodily sensations match what is visually represented by the software.
With road feel you can now experience those unforgiving cobbled segments of the Classics with amazing realism, all without running the risk of breaking your bike.
What Surfaces Can Road Feel Simulate?
Road feel adds an element of spice to your rides. It renders a variety of surfaces that feel completely authentic on the indoor trainer. Some of the surfaces that road feel can emulate include:
- Concrete plates
- Cattle grids
- Hard cobblestones
- Soft cobblestones
- Brick roads
- Off road (compact dirt)
- Wooden boards
When you’re riding indoors on your Tacx trainer, as soon as you hit a new section on the road, the surface characteristics are automatically induced on the trainer. When you hit those cobbled sections or gravel roads, you’ll immediately feel those vibrations shoot up your legs. It leaves you with no choice but to ride on, giving you the wake-up call to grind harder.
How Realistic Is Road Feel?
In cycling to train effectively and push your limits, sometimes you must get in an intense headspace. Dedicated cyclists know that it often comes down to deceiving your brain as you push through the pain barrier.
With road feel, you’re able to remove that disconnect between what you visually interpret and what you physically feel. This results in an ever-more immersive experience. Being able to replicate what it’s like to ride those surfaces on race day — minus the driving rain and howling wind — simply feels more real.
Every vibration that shudders through the drive chain and up into your body is expertly recreated by the electronics. Controlled with precision movements, 1,000 times per second, these micro vibrations represent the subtle textures of uneven surfaces. The 3-D nature of the surface is transmitted through these vibrations, providing an amazingly realistic sensation.
How Road Feel Works with Existing Platforms
Road feel can be used with several apps, including Tacx Films, Tacx Training software and Zwift. App developers can enable road feel features via both an ANT+ FE-C and BLUETOOTH Smart API.
Tacx films incorporate many famous routes and races, both cobbled and gravel, where you can experience those real-life sensations in the immersive environment it creates. That intense feeling of hitting a new surface at speed coupled with the relief of coming back onto a paved section never gets old. Tacx films plus road feel technology recreate the highs and lows of road cycling with an unmatched precision that can now be experienced indoors on your smart trainer.
Zwift has also been specially adapted to maximize the benefits of road feel. As you glide onto a new surface, the trainer will react accordingly and recreate those surface imperfections with the bonus of providing sound effects synced for maximum effect. It’s just one more way you can experience a truly realistic ride at home.
By Jack Stafford, specialist cycling copywriter who lives and rides in southern Italy.
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