The TACX Bushido Smart is a very impressive trainer. I am still a bit surprised that this trainer provides it’s own power and resistance through one unit. No power cords required! Athletic Tech Review (ATR) will be putting this trainer through our testing protocol. We will see how it sprints, how it sounds, how well it climbs, and then provide the overall rating for this trainer. Is it better than the Wahoo KICKR Snap, better than the CycleOps Magnus? We will answer all of those questions and more.
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Our performance reviews of Smart Trainers are the best reviews you will find out there. We ride these trainers for a few months. That is the only way ATR can provide an accurate review on how they perform. The road feel is evaluated along with the sound of the trainer. Sprinting tests are done to really push the limits, and very unique climbing tests are performed to validate those mysterious “Slope Ratings” that trainer companies talk about. Furthermore, we look at how this equipment is supported by the company, how it is designed, and how well it is put together.
How Does It Ride
The TACX Bushido Smart rides average to above average for a mid range trainer. The road feel is better than some of the other trainers out there. However, the 2.5lb flywheel can’t compete with the road feel you get from the KICKR Snap. The KICKR Snap boasts a heavy 10.5lb flywheel. The road feel is better than something like the CycleOps Magnus. There is something about the design of the magnetic resistance unit/generator that does provide a better road feel at wattage numbers lower than 180 watts.
We tested the sound of this trainer at 20mph and 35mph. The sound at 20mph was very average and sitting around 67dB. I’m not too concerned about the 2omph test, but it does give you something to look at when you compare other trainers on my Compare Equipment Page. At 35mph, we were getting really close to the “Too Loud” area. The TACX Bushido Smart, at 35mph, was emitting 77dB. That is about as loud as a fan in your pain cave. I wouldn’t want to be much higher than that. However, I don’t think you will be spending much time at that speed.
Everything about this trainer is influenced by the design of the Generator/Electromagnet. You can see that in my Part 1 and 2 review using the links at the beginning of the article. Your wheel speed generates power through the generator/electromagnet component. That power is then used to run the trainer and generate resistance. This means there is a magnetic load on this trainer that can’t be adjusted. Take a look at the image below of the base line power curve for the TACX Bushido smart.
Take a look at the speeds on the higher side. We do a quick conversion and 35mph is 56kph. Just to hold 56kph, we will be putting out 550 to 650 watts. Like I said, your not going to be spending very much time at 77dB. The trainer will be adding all the resistance you need at lower wheel speeds. So, this means I’m not really that concerned with the 77dB result, since I really won’t spend much time up at that speed.
Ripping The Legs Off
The TACX Bushido Smart is rated up to 1400 watts for maximum sprinting power. We tested that out first, by using the Sufferfest Training Centre. It is a great training App that I love to use for most of my training. However, the Bushido Smart wasn’t reaching it’s full potential when sprinting. This may be a limitation since you can’t build your own workout profiles, but this trainer was acting a bit different. As you can see from the image below, I wasn’t able to get close to the rated max wattage numbers.
I felt like I was putting out some big watts, but the trainer wasn’t reporting them very well. That led me to build a custom workout using Trainer Road. The first sprint I hit 1065 watts and the second sprint I hit 1026 watts. At this point, I was also running my Stages Power Meter in the background displaying power on my Garmin 520. For both of those sprints I hit near 1400 watts each time. So, the Stages power meter validated the wattage numbers, but the TACX Bushido Smart is selling itself short in the sprint department.
Just like the article on the TACX Bushido Smart Calibration, this trainer is selling itself a bit short in the wattage department. This means Zwift users who race or go for those green jerseys, are getting robbed of sprinting watts. The feel of the sprint was good. This trainer ramps up resistance well and the only issue I had was trainer weight. At 24lbs, you can see in my video that this trainer is bouncing around quite a bit in the sprint.
Climbing At A Low Cadence
Our next test is a low wheel speed climb. The advertised slope rating for the TACX Bushido Smart is 15%. I would consider that not accurate. For this test, we run into the problem with self generated power. I use a lower wheel speed by getting into the 39 x 27 gear ratio and holding 65 rpm. You can see the results in my video. Power is needed to provide resistance at lower wheel speeds. At that gear ratio, and only having a 65rpm cadence, we are only moving at 7.3mph. That is too slow to generate enough power for our requirements. The Bushido Smart could only hold 100 watts, and did it very poorly at 7.3mph.
I then switched down to the 39 x 21 gear ratio at 65rpm. That increases wheel speed by 2mph, to 9.5mph. That small increase in wheel speed allowed this trainer to hit wattage targets up to 340 watts. That was impressive, that the slight increase in wheel speed had such a dramatic effect on wattage numbers. I would estimate a 10% to 12% slope rating might be a more accurate for this trainer. Yes, I’m giving this trainer a bit of leniency here. If we only want to consider 100 watts as the maximum, then the slope rating is 3 to 4%. I don’t want to punish the Bushido Smart too much for the electromagnet/generator, because I think it is a really cool piece of engineering.
Climbing In ERG Mode
Climbing in ERG Mode, and why do I even talk about this. Well, you can look at my review of the CycleOps Magnus. That trainer was all over the place when using a lower rpm on climbing simulations. I’ve had some people tell me the Elite Drivo does something similar. Since this is a problem with some trainers, I decided to keep it as part of my review process. The image below shows a climbing workout in The Sufferfest Training Centre. This trainer does a decent job with low cadence work, and holding wattage targets. It isn’t as fluid as the Wahoo KICKR Snap, but it does a pretty good job tracking the target power in ERG mode.
TACX has some really strong application support with their trainers. You can use the TACX Utility App to calibrate and update your trainer, or you can use their TACX cycling software. You get a bunch of choices in house with TACX. TACX provides capabilities similar to TrainerRoad with the TACX Training App or you can do something similar to Zwift with the TACX Trainer Software 4. They have a robust software and application environment behind their trainers.
Would I buy It?
Your damn right I would. Why? Well, it isn’t as sturdy as the KICKR Snap. We will do a head to head with these trainers later down the road. However, it is a really good purchase because you don’t need a power cord. It only weighs in at 24lbs total, so moving it around is easy. The wheel block also turns into a carrying handle. I’m keeping this trainer. I can see myself taking it to a race for a pre-race warmup. It is also a great option if your Bicycle Torture Chamber is located somewhere where there isn’t a power connection. This is the cheapest trainer you will find that doesn’t require power. Not only that, it comes pretty close to performing as well as the KICKR Snap.
The only person who shouldn’t buy this trainer is a track sprinter. If you can punch out 1500 watt sprints over and over again, this isn’t your trainer. You can see on the image below, the extra power you generate has to go into a heat sink that is cooled by a fan. A very strong rider runs the potential of burning out this trainer.
Now is the time we get to the overall rating of the TACX Bushido Smart. I will use these numbers to compare against competing trainers. You can see all of those comparisons on my Compare Equipment page.
High marks here with 4.75 out of 5. Call me a tech geek, a moth attracted to shiny lights, or whatever you want. I love the light sequence on this trainer. It matches cadence and changes color with effort level. Not only that, the wheel block turns into a carrying handle.
High marks here also with 4.75 out of 5. The trainer is light weight and not as sturdy as the 5.0 rated KICKR Snap. However, we give high marks for engineering design with the self-powered generator/resistance unit. It does hurt performance with climbing, but it gives you so many options on where you can take this trainer to train.
Above average marks with 4.0 out of 5. It underreports sprinting power and struggles on climbs. The sound levels were slightly higher at 35mph, but we feel this magnetic unit does a above average job of simulating road feel.
Highest marks with 5 out of 5. You cannot get anymore in depth that TACX has with supporting Apps. If you want to stay in the TACX ecosystem, you can. They have everything you would ever need.
Above average marks of 4.0 out of 5. For 95% of us out there, this trainer will last a long time. However, for those of you who grow tree trunks below the waist line…. You run the risk of burning up the control board. This goes for bigger riders also. You big guys and gals who can crush the crank arms would be best advised not to do that over and over again with the Bushido Smart. I feel like there is too much risk overloading that heat sink.
4.5 out of 5! That is pretty good actually. It falls just below the KICKR Snap and just above the CycleOps Magnus.
I enjoyed riding the TACX Bushido Smart over these last few months. Like I said above, it is a really good trainer that you can take anywhere. I love the light sequence you get when pedaling and I really love how it goes from green to bright red when you are smashing out the watts. The unit reports cadence internally, so there is no need for a cadence sensor to be hooked up to your crank arm. All and all, I’m keeping my Bushido Smart. It was my backup recently when my dog chewed up my power cord to my Wahoo KICKR. New power cords cost about 60 dollars. I don’t have to worry about that with the Bushido Smart.
Next we will put the TACX Bushido Smart up against the Wahoo KICKR Snap. How will this trainer fair in a head to head match. I think this trainer will be the only one that has a chance of unseating the KICKR Snap as the top Mid Range trainer on the market. Check out our preview video below.