Tacx Bushido Smart review
Rain, wind, hail, and snow… All fantastic weather types to behold, so long as I don’t have to experience them on my bike! After having trained through several winters, I’ve decided to buy myself a bike trainer. I spent a month weighing the pro’s and con’s of various trainers, and finally made a choice. Time then to share my thoughts in this Tacx Bushido Smart Review!
I had the desire to get myself a bike trainer for a few years now. Training in the comfort of your own home when the weather turns nasty or just get a quick hour of training done when you get home after work. Being the price-wise consumer that I am, I decided to get myself a cheap trainer at first. It was doable, but never fun.
The saddle couldn’t be set high enough and the maximum resistance wasn’t what you’d call challenging. Riding with just the TV on as a distraction quickly became boring, and I didn’t really feel challenged in any way. In other words, it quickly ended up on eBay!
A True Trainer!
I looked longingly at the real bike trainers, but let’s face it: they’re not cheap… I didn’t want another basic trainer either, I wanted to get myself a smart trainer: Zwift the winter away! The bike trainer-plan got shelved, until I ended up working for Mantel a few months ago. This opened up new possibilities!
After countless of recommendations from my colleagues -thank you all!- and a lot of reading, I eventually chose the Tacx Bushido Smart T2780. This was the least expensive bike trainer which still gave me access to all the functionality of, for instance, Zwift.
The Bushido gave me access to high-end bike trainer quality at a very reasonable price. It had all the functions I find important in a trainer, like the interactive option of training with Zwift. The Bushido is also capable of simulating some serious climbs: with a maximum of 15%, this was the trainer I needed!
I can handle climbs of over 15%, but I don’t need to lose all the fun of training! Cycling still is and always will be nothing more than a hobby which has gotten slightly out of hand. But the 7% you get with trainers in lower tiers simply isn’t challenging or realistic enough.
Something else I wanted was an engine brake rather than a magnetic one. Again, this has to do with my desire for a realistic climbing sensation. The average magnetic brake artificially enhances a climb by reducing the travelled distance. It’s not really getting any heavier then…
Advantages of the engine brake
A motorised brake system ensures your speed stays accurate, but it just gets harder to maintain. It also makes the trainer more realistic when combined to trainer software such as Zwift, Kinomap, Trainerroad, or Tacx’s own proprietary software.
This doesn’t mean all motorised brakes are sufficient however. The Bushido can go up to 15%, but plenty of trainers fall short of that and start to reduce the covered distance instead. It’s up to you then to decide just how tough you want to make your training sessions.
Another great thing: it doesn’t take up much space. It’s perfectly fine when the legs are deployed, but when you fold them away it easily stores into any space. No ugly, bulky trainer then, but one which is relatively small, looks okay, and is easily stored.
Unboxing and set-up
Before I could make that initial assessment, I first had to get it out of the box, which is often when the fun starts for me. Carefully take everything out and remove the protective styrofoam, and admire your latest purchase. In the box is the Bushido engine brake, a Skyliner front wheel support, and naturally the mount to which you attach the brake surface. There’s also a pair of bolts with a fitting allen key, a quick release, and a manual.
After it being on display for a short while on my dinner table, I wanted to put it all together. After deploying the legs and setting up the frame, it took me a moment to figure out how the two components of the electric brake were supposed to go together. This was something Tacx could have described more extensively in their manual, perhaps with the addition of some visuals.
Depending on what sort of bike you’re using, you need to choose between mode 1, 2, or 3. Road bikes require mode 2. This means both components of the brake need to be placed onto the frame using a small notch.
Once these components are in place, you need to secure the included bolts. I managed on my own, but an extra pair of hands would have made life easier. Surprisingly though, this was all that had to be done to set it up. Not so bad really!
Let’s ride! Or not…
Right, let’s ride! I naturally ordered the trainer with an appropriate trainer tyre, since I didn’t want to burn out my lovely new Grand Prix tyres on my new trainer! Since I’m also utterly impatient however, I decided to just chuck my bike onto the trainer for now. I want to try this thing out!
When I fitted the bike onto the trainer the first time with the rear wheel, I quickly assumed everything was in place properly. I got on, and with the first push my rear wheel managed to break itself free.
Fortunately, I was still wearing my regular shoes, so I could quickly catch myself and the bike. Securing the rear wheel isn’t something which is extensively covered in the manual, and definitely deserved a little more information.
I eventually secured the wheel with the lever first. I then completely unscrewed the locking bolt on the adjuster on the other side, and turned the adjuster as tight as it would go.
Quickly retighten the locking bolt so the adjuster can’t undo itself, and your rear wheel is going nowhere! Finally, time to ride!
One of the main selling points of the Tacx Bushido Smart was the fact that it was completely wireless. I mean- completely; you don’t even need an outlet to plug it into. The energy required for all the functionality is taken from your own power. Great right? No need to train right next to a socket.
This pro is also a con however: to adjust any settings on the Bushido requires you to pedal. When you deploy it for the first time, you need a minute or two to get used to having to pedal in order to maintain a connection.
In order to connect to the trainer to your phone or tablet, your device needs to have the latest version of Bluetooth: Bluetooth Smart.
Update your firmware
If you’re using a modern A-brand phone, then it usually has it. Doesn’t hurt to check in advance though. In my case, my phone was up to scratch and it took no time at all to install the Tacx trainer app and the Tacx utility app.
As I consider myself to be a sensible man, I decided to first run a firmware update for the Bushido. The Bushido easily updates itself via the Tacx Utility app on your phone. It feels a little strange to have to keep pedaling during the update, but it’s fun as well!
After a minute, the update is done and the trainer tells me to leave it alone for 5 minutes so it can reset itself. Coffee then!
Err… Anybody there!?
Time to get cracking- or so I thought… I launched the Tacx app and began pedaling. I got a beep telling me there was a connection, but there was no feedback from the Bushido itself. No data on speed, cadence, or watts.
After trying for an hour, reinstalling apps and waiting for several resets, I gave up. The Tacx website was no help either, so I decided to email Tacx since this didn’t seem normal to me.
Fortunately I got a reply the very next morning with a possible solution. Tacx sure is quick to respond to emails then! Unfortunately, I still had a day of waiting to do before I could eventually try again that night. Small plus: I could at least get myself an ANT+ dongle, since this wasn’t included in the box.
If you want to connect your computer to the trainer, you can only do so using ANT+. In my opinion, this is something they should have included in the box. I didn’t really take into consideration the fact that I needed a dongle to connect my computer. I figured Bluetooth would suffice, since my phone could pair using that wireless protocol as well.
I eventually got myself the dongle by Bkool, since it was considerably cheaper and a lot smaller. As it turns out, the official Tacx Dongle is fairly bulky. The Bkool version is tiny, barely larger than the USB connector itself.
Here we go then!
Armed with my new dongle and the answer by Tacx, I came home. I was so excited I couldn’t even wait until I was done cooking. Hopefully, the solution provided by Tacx would finally bring my Bushido to life!
According to the people at Tacx, the side of the brake roll on the Bushido probably wasn’t pushed into the resistance-unit all the way. As it turned out, they were right.
Solving the problem was a matter of putting the trainer on its side and giving it a proper smack with my hand. One decent blow was all it took. I quickly turned the trainer upright again and secured my bike into the Bushido. This time, with a trainer tyre fitted to my rear wheel, since I had some unexpected spare time the night before anyway…
From the very first push of the pedals, I noticed a difference! As it turns out, the right side lights up when it detects movement. Time to ride then!
The software for real-life cycling experiences by Tacx only works on a tablet via the Tacx Cycling app. Since I only have a tablet from yesteryear, using this wasn’t an option for me. On top of that, you also need to purchase the software separately…
In total, this will cost you around 150 euros, which when added to the initial cost of the trainer itself turns this experience into quite a dear one!
I plugged the ANT+ dongle into my computer and Zwift instantly identified the Bushido. I was surprised to find that the dongle even paired my Garmin speed- and candence sensor. I hadn’t even thought of that, but it’s a very nifty feature!
I clicked on the first route I could find, and I suddenly found myself standing in downtown London! I was hooked from that very moment… In the very first meters, I could feel the resistance of the trainer adjust itself, which felt very natural since the Bushido adjusts this on a continuous scale rather than using different set levels.
The 10% gradient of Box Hill really felt like 10%! Each time the hill levelled off a little, the trainer would adjust accordingly, allowing me to gear up and keep right on pushing!
Overtaking -and unfortunately being overtaken- by other people from around the world is also huge fun. You can even see how far ahead or behind someone is. That Spanish lad, who’s just 20 seconds ahead, really still can be reeled in before the summit… Go on!
Pushing towards your opponent and entering their slipstream is entirely possible. Zwift takes drafting into consideration, giving you an even more realistic ride!
Tacx Bushido smart review – Conclusion
Despite having some minor start-up trouble, the Tacx Bushido Smart is a hugely fun indoor trainer. A small and compact machine which is big on performance and functionality normally only found on considerably more expensive trainers.
My only two minor gripes are the fact that the trainer wasn’t quite assembled properly at the factory, and that the solution wasn’t anywhere to be found on their website. Given the fact that I received a mail back from Tacx within a day containing a PDF file with a solution, it didn’t seem like it was a unique problem…
On top of that, it’s a shame there isn’t an ANT+ dongle included as standard. In order to get the most interactive experience, you really need one. If you have to return to the store to get one, you feel a little disappointed.
Despite these small issues, I’m hugely happy with my Bushido! I’m going to have hours of fun with this. If you want to learn more about the various Tacx trainers, then have a look at our Tacx Buyer’s Guide!
Over the foreseeable future, I’m going to try out the various interactive software packages on offer to see how they compare. If you have a tip on what I should try, please let me know in the comments below!
Pro’s and Con’s for the Tacx Bushido Smart
- Works with a variety of software, such as Zwift
- Simulated gradient of up to 15%
- Compact size
- Easy to deploy
- No external power source required as the trainer harnesses your own power/li>
- Wireless ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity
- No ANT+ dongle included, but has to be bought separately
- The Tacx interactive software is pretty expensive