When the weather outside is frightful, a turbo may not actually be truly delightful, but it can be the best way of maintaining and improving fitness during the winter. The Tacx Satori Smart trainer really does have all the bells and whistles, and is guaranteed to stave off the worst of turbo induced boredom, even if it is best suited to the more technically minded.
The Satori Smart is great for people who easily get bored with more traditional style turbo trainers, and who are looking for one that will provide a little more feedback, to help keep them engaged. It's probably not an ideal first turbo, as the features and add-ons are quite advanced. Consequently it would be a rather expensive purchase if you then found out that you fundamentally don't like it.
It is however, a good option for those who want to train on a turbo, but need more than a blank wall to look at and don't get on with The Sufferfest style of workout. It also provides the option of extensive training stats and detailed training programmes in the (dis)comfort of your own home or garden shed.
Setting up the trainer is relatively straightforward. The device is well designed, folding for storage but unfolding to a very stable platform for the bike. The trainer clamps the rear skewer (a bespoke skewer is provided to ensure a good fit, and to prevent damage to your shiny bike parts) with an adjustable clamp featuring a quick release. It takes just a few minutes to set the clamp up, then clamping and unclamping the bike is a matter of seconds, throwing a reassuringly robust looking quick release lever.
You then adjust the turbo roller to the wheel, again with a quick release to move it into position, and an adjustable screw thread for fine tuning. This fine tuning process is made more simple with the aid of the associated software (more on this later). Once adjusted, another big friendly lever makes setting the roller a doddle. Another optional extra available is a spare tyre specifically designed to work with the trainer, and therefore avoid undue wear of precious road tyres.
The trainer, in its most simple form, is then ready to go. The Satori uses a magnetic brake for resistance, which is relatively quiet (certainly quiet enough to be no inconvenience), and offers adjustment via a 10-setting lever that mounts remotely on a long cable to the handlebar. This is simple to use, but may be a little inconvenient for bikes without much spare space on the bars. On one of my test bikes, which routes the brake cables under the bar tape as is common these days, it was hard to find a suitable position for the clamp. On an older bike, with the brake cable emerging from the side of the STI lever, there was plenty of space so no problem.
Training is then merely a matter of pedalling away at the desired effort, setting the resistance of the brake with the lever, and the gear on the bike.
Breakdown of the trainer is equally simple, with the quick release levers at roller and skewer coming undone and releasing the bike.
I used this trainer with the optional accessory front wheel lift, which holds the wheel at the right height to keep the bike horizontal, and also stops it easily flopping from side to side. It did make climbing on an off the bike a little tricky but no more so than with other trainers. I also used the optional mat, which in addition to protecting the floor underneath, damps any vibration that would lead to greater noise and nuisance from the turbo. Both did as claimed, and made for a very convenient and enjoyable session.
The trainer really comes into its own when paired with the optional software. I used the iPad version, though versions also exist for android tablets, Apple and android phones, and Windows computers. The tablet and phone options are more cost-effective introductions, as the software is free, with payment being required for specific workouts or additional features. The PC software requires an upfront licence fee (€65 when I looked on the Tacx website).
Fundamentally, the app enables more accurate calibration on the roller, allowing you to set the pressure of the roller on the tyre to enable the optimal setup. It also then provides readouts of power, 'speed', cadence, heart rate (from a compatible heart rate monitor), energy output, 'slope' and so on. The initial calibration process for every training session is somewhat brutal, requiring a hefty power output from a cold start!
The app lets you create your own workout from this point, but pre-set workouts are also available as in-app purchases from the relevant app store, along with video play-throughs of a range of iconic routes. These scenic videos play in sync with your pedalling, creating a useful distraction to go along with the various statistics provided.
While the software is really good, it is a little difficult to get to grips with, and the embedded manual accessible while training is non-existent. To really understand the software fully, you need to download the pdf manual from the website. There is also a risk of running up significant costs, as the training programmes and films can add up, as can the optional extra bits and pieces of kit.
To position the iPad in the correct position to use on the turbo, I also used the tablet mount accessory, which clamps to the handlebar and holds a variety of sizes of tablet in the right position. Again, while very good, this takes up valuable space on the bar. I had to remove a GPS mount in order to let it clamp in position on either side of the stem, and while not a big deal, this could get irritating in the longer term.
I have historically been averse to turbo sessions in principal, preferring to avoid the inevitable boredom by just womanning-up (non-gender-specific) in winter and going out on the roads, but the Satori Smart, coupled with a few pretty routes (invariably ridden on gorgeous summer days) on the app might just possibly tempt me back into the utility room.
Well made and reassuringly rugged, with a good variety of training programmes and software, but getting the best from it is tricky
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Tacx Satori Smart
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Tacx says: "This basic Smart trainer uses complex technology in a user-friendly fashion. The resistance is set manually with the handlebar resistance lever offering 10 different resistance positons, from very easy to very strong.
"The Satori Smart can communicate via both ANT+ as well as Bluetooth® Smart. In the resistance unit an accurate measurement of your speed, cadence and power is performed. This data is then shown on the screen your using, whether this is a tablet, smartphone, sportwatch, or something else. During or after a training session you, or your coach, can thus monitor your performance closely.
"Since the Satori is not hooked up to the power net, you can use this trainer anytime and anywhere, also when you don't have your smartphone with you."
It's aimed at those looking for comprehensive training options with something to alleviate the boredom. It gives a good array of information and varied training options as well as being sufficiently entertaining.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Software -Tacx apps & Third party apps such as ZWIFT. PC software via upgrade.
Operation- Handlebar resistance lever
Resistance unit- Magnetic
Realistic slope- 10 positions
Descent simulation- No
Max brake power (10 sec.)- 950 Watt
Sprint power (1 min.) - 800 Watt
Mass inertia - 16.93 kg 1
Suitable for all bikes, if necessary with axle skewers or nuts
Wheeldiameter 26"- 29" and 700c; 29" with trainer tyre
Optional extras include- mat, front wheel lift, replacement tyre, tablet mount
Very well made, reassuringly good and rugged.
Once you've got to grips with the software and setup, the performance is very good, with a vast array of information available. Sadly, it's not possible to upload "rides" to Garmin or Strava.
Should last easily as long as your enthusiasm.
Not bad value for money for the basic unit, but costs can easily creep up with optional extra equipment and also software and training programme purchases.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Variety of training programme options on app (free and paid-for), quietness, comprehensive stats and data after and during training.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Calibration ride from cold, inability to upload "rides" to Strava etc, likely cost creep from optional extras and downloads, lack of easily available user information.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely, particularly one who likes technical stuff.
Use this box to explain your score
Well built and highly technical, and offers a bit of distraction from the pain of indoor training.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.