Review: Tacx Blue Matic
The jury is still out on the best way to provide pedalling resistance in a home or static trainer, although the simplest – a fan to thresh the air – is today largely unloved due to its noisy operation. The market for basic home trainers is dominated by devices using either fluid or magnetic resistance units, the former using oil forced around the inside of a sealed unit by an impeller. The latter type uses magnets to slow the rotation of the drive roller, and allows the resistance level at any given speed of roller rotation to be adjusted over a number of settings. This is done using a dial on the resistance unit or remotely via a switch usually mounted on the handlebar for convenience.
A session on the crisply-designed and well-made Tacx Blue Matic magnetic trainer demonstrates the effect of changing resistance. In the lowest of ten settings, the unit is smooth, slip-free, and spins up quickly even under aggressive pedalling efforts in a big gear; in the highest setting, it feels somewhat like climbing a super-steep gradient in the saddle, and there’s noticeable slip between tyre and steel roller under hard effort even with the latter’s engagement lever cranked up. Maximum resistance is stated as 700W. What happens beyond that is unclear but expect to get very hot trying to reach it!
As with all Tacx products, the fit and finish are impressive. The trainer needs some straightforward assembly – the test model was shipped with the wrong instruction leaflet – using a hex key provided. It is very stable when set up thanks to the four support points provided by the main frame and two foldout legs. The roller engagement lever’s adjustment mechanism – a large plastic hand wheel on the end of a captive bolt threaded into a toggle bar – is a bit loose in operation, and the resistance lever clamp slipped on my carbon-fibre handlebar, but the flip-lever clamping the special quick-release skewer is very precise and is paired with a firm, easily-operated adjustment screw.
The Blue Matic can also be used fitted with a Tacx speed and cadence sensor (available separately), allowing it to measure a ‘virtual’ – calculated rather than measured – power output that can be used with various training apps, including Zwift.
Stable, easy to set up and offering a wide resistance range, the Blue Matic is an impressive entry-level home trainer with potential for more involved training activity.