Tacx Ecotrack

Smooth rollin’ on the cheap

Now that winter’s finally set in, it’s time to think about trainers and rollers again. And even though I have a set of swankerrific rollers, these babies still hold a special place in my heart, mostly due to their elegant and simple design.

The Ecotrack is Tacx’s cheapest set of rollers, retailing at a very affordable $130. It’s a humble non folding set of rollers with 80 mm PVC drums. You could spend more for a folding option or a burlier big drum version, but there’s nothing wrong with the Ecotrack. The three drums are identical and symmetrical, with a belt drive groove on either side. The drum axle slides into a plastic ‘foot’, crossing through a C shaped rail before popping out the other side. Since each roller is independently supported, the rails can be relatively svelte – all they do is hold the drums in place. All the weight bearing is done by the plastic feet. This is as close as you can get to my dream set of rollers: three drums attached to L brackets screwed into a hardwood floor.

The drums are very close to the floor, so beginners won’t feel like they’re way up in the air. The rollers are barely above the rails, so if your mind drifts the your wheel will usually gently transition to the rail with no dire consequences – so I hear. These are excellent rollers to learn on. And once you get going you’ll find that 95 rpm’s in the 53×12 with training tires at 120 psi = 300 watts. That ought to get most of us through winter base training. A certain anonymous rider (let’s call him ‘taillight’) abused these all last winter, and they’re still purring along.

Time for Hate So, am I saying $130 rollers can do it all? Well, not quite. Like most rollers, the Ecotrack coasts down in a couple of seconds, so they don’t duplicate road feel. You’ll feel the dead spot more on these than on the road. They don’t offer enough resistance so that you can ride out of the saddle like you mean it. But they cost a fraction of a set of rollers that remedy those problems.

So where does that leave us? Magnus Backstedt warmed up on these for his attempt at the hour record. They’re good enough for Big Maggie, they’re good enough for you. They roll smoothly, and they don’t resonate or rumble like some other affordable rollers without independently supported drums. You’ll have to shell out a lot of dough to do significantly better than these.

67 Comments

Anonymous

Can you explain in a tad more detail the differences in coast-down between these and a more expensive set, and if this is a significant issue? I left my kreitlers behind in a move 15 years ago. . . (sniffle, sniffle). I remember being being very dissatisfied with the rolling experience at that time, but perhaps my mind has become sufficiently dull now to be a successful hamster. . . Would these el cheapos be significantly different? Thanx. George

Anonymous

All rollers coastdown pretty quick without a flywheel. It’s not really that big a deal. I rode these back to back with TruTrainers, and that’s how I noticed. Kreitlers would spin down differently only if you got the flywheel attachment.

Anonymous

My friend is using some ‘regular’ cheapie rollers (not Kreitlers – I forget the brand) and is having some troubles with HATING them. I hate my rollers too, but not because THEY suck (I splurged on the TruTrainers) – I just have no discipline I guess, but instead of splurging on TruTrainers and going broke, do you think my friend would see a difference buying a nice set of Kreitlers??

Anonymous

My friend is using some ‘regular’ cheapie rollers (not Kreitlers – I forget the brand) and is having some troubles with HATING them. I hate my rollers too, but not because THEY suck (I splurged on the TruTrainers) – I just have no discipline I guess, but instead of splurging on TruTrainers and going broke, do you think my friend would see a difference buying a nice set of Kreitlers??

Anonymous

I had to buy one of those continental trainer-tires for the eco-trax, as soft-rubber compounds melted into the drums. Plus, once I was watching America’s Funniest Home Videos and slipped off between the drum and the bracket, causing an internal rupture to the orange trainer-only conti, puckering the outer skin but not puncturing the sheath.
Long story short: It made a really bad sound from then on and was no longer a truly round tire. Something the guy downstairs felt he needed to complain about at 6 am.

Anonymous

I have had these rollers for about 5 years, the only thing I dont like it is that I have to hand tighten then each time I use them. If you tighten them with a wrench the dont spin.
overall 9 out of 10 plus there made in Belgium.

Anonymous

$450 vs. $240 and I like the Cycle Ops better. DOn’t be fooled by higher cost means better product. I was.

Anonymous

I tightened them down with a wrench and they stay put and spin fine too. Did you put the washer between the foot and the bearing? That might be the cause of the drag.

If I had to buy rollers now I’d choose these over Kreitlers for the money savings. If I could afford it I’d get the TruTrainers ’cause they do actually feel better when you ride. But the Tacx will get you your base miles just fine.

Anonymous

on a scale of 1 to 10, how loud are these things when you get them up to speed? i’m looking at picking up a set of sportcrafters zro aluminums but they’re twice as much.

Anonymous

I don’t understand why people want rollers to feel like the road. Just go ride on the road! To get the full benefit of rollers should be different–harder to ride, require more concentration, and if you have a resistance unit you can get a high quality workout (for some workouts) in a shorter amount of time than you would on the road. It’s like having your own 3% hill that you can ride up forever. Or you can work on your spin on a perfectly smooth "surface."

Why would you want to coast and take it easy like you can on the road? If you have to ride inside you might as well get the most value out of your time.

Anonymous

It’s not a matter of coasting. I don’t coast at all on the rollers. The coast down’s just an indicator of momentum. More momentum makes the pedal stroke feel smoother. Feels nice, but has no bearing on how good a workout you can get.

Anonymous

Vibration is more an issue than noise in a cheap-o apartment with wood floors and cranky-o neighbors, like Baldwin said below. As low as the Tacx rollers seem to sit from the picture, I wonder if you might have some trouble riding on carpet, a rug or a mat, which is the best way to minimize vibes. I know I get a bigger bass line than ‘lil Jon when I’m in the big ring, and my wheels are perfectly round.

I agree about the CycleOps — great rollers for the price. I’ve had the folding aluminum model ($240) for two winters. I ride them on a rubber-backed Ikea throw rug.

Anonymous

I’ve only spent about 5 minutes on TruTrainers, so my argument doesn’t have much experience behind it. The momentum made it feel like I could ride sloppier than I would on the rollers. That’s because TTs carry you through the dead spot, but rollers let you know you’re not pedaling smoothly or efficiently (that’s the benefit of rollers that you don’t get with all that momentum). In a sense you are coasting through the dead spot on the TTs.

Anonymous

i have the foldable tacx rollers. they work just fine but honestly i prefer using the old blackburn trainer so i can air guitar along to coach troy’s awesome guitar riffs at 180bpm. sweet. that’s too much for my tiny mind to handle on rollers.

to dampen the vibration/noise, i use a yoga mat. quiet enough not to wake the baby in the next room which is pretty damn important.

if i can offer any usable advice i would suggest not putting your ipod/cd player on the desk beside you while rolling. attach it to yourself. ’nuff said.

Anonymous

Aaron, you’re exactly right. Sometimes I’ll ride the trainer to really work on the dead spots. What I like about the TruTrainers is that I can stay on them longer without frying my brains. I can just relax on them more. Maybe I’ve just gotten too used to them.

Anonymous

I also have the Tacx foldable rollers. Got ‘em on craigslist for 50 bucks–hard to beat. I’ve had no issues at all with, uh, nut tightness. The rollers ARE close to the floor, though, and, since I ride (also on an old Ikea rug) to dampen what little noise they make (again, much quieter than my trainer), I’ve found that they can leave a sort of horizontal skid mark on the rug from when the rollers rub against it. The skid mark isn’t the full width of the rollers, so I wonder if there’s some flex in the rollers, unlikely as it seems to me. I think I feel flex when I get out of the saddle, for instance, although that could well be my frame and for some reason I feel it differently on the rollers than I do on the road. In any case they’ve been great, especially at the price, and for me as a relative newbie they were easy to get up on and start rolling.

Anonymous

Does one have to invest in front and back wheel specific tire compounds to ride on rollers? What effect does the drum contact have with say a conti-attack through time? Am I wearing out the tread or weakening the tire?

Anonymous

Depends on the tire…the contis were because I had Maxxis detonators on, which are the consistency of warm buttah…I used those Bontrager double-cased hard compounds tires (not the race lite, the race heavy) a couple times and there was no probloem with tire melt.

Most important is to consider the elements involved. Ecotrax are not metal but essentially plastic, so when heated tend to get very focussed beads of warmth. Metal tends to disperse it.

Anonymous

I got a set of Kreitler rollers for free. Some guy in my neighborhood was throwing them out. Then my buddy got a set of Kreitler rollers for free (indefinite loan) as they bored me so I passed them on.

Anonymous

I got a set, and was pleased with them, but after about 4 hours use, one of the drums has started to make a loud, grungy clattering sound when it got up to speed. Seems to be a faulty bearing, as there is an audible click even when I roll it with my hands. I’m going to tinker with it and see what happens. Maybe I can re-seat the bearings. I hope so. I dig the minimalism/price of these rollers. One drawback is that they’re a little -too- close to the floor: I put them on an exercise mat to isolate vibration from downstairs neighbor and the legs sink into the mat enough to cause the drums to rub agains the mat. I would add these caveats to anyone purchasing these. The bearings on these are obviously not top-drawer at this price, and may fail.

Anonymous

. . . I just disassembled the drums, and it’s not the bearings. It’s the axels that pass through the bearings, which are out of round in two of drums (slightly bent in middle). One is considerably out of round. I eased the bearings outward from their plastic seats till they got a bit quieter but I think after an hour or so the bearings will shift back to where they were, and the racquet will return. One of the axels visably wiggles when you turn it. . . This is pretty shoddy IMO. Perhaps I’ve just been unlucky with mine, but I would avoid these, unless $127 is all you can afford, and even then I would check eBay for a used set of Kreitlers. I think I can chaulk up about a hundred dollars in aggravation so far. . . you do get what you pay for in this world (more often than not) G.G.

Anonymous

to continue my one-person dialog, after reseating the bearings, making sure drums were exactly centered between rails, and finding the most level floor area, these are finally pretty quiet now for the last several hours use. . . just to be fair. Old apartments suck for rolling. Wish I had a nice penthouse with concrete floor. G.G.

Anonymous

since I’ve tinkered with the bearings, it’s been acceptably quiet. Compared to the misery/boredom of 90 min on these things, the noise is a minor issue.

It's fine, thanks. . .

since I’ve tinkered with the bearings, it’s been acceptably quiet. Compared to the misery/boredom of 90 min on these things, the noise is a minor issue.

one final cry in the wilderness. . .

to continue my one-person dialog, after reseating the bearings, making sure drums were exactly centered between rails, and finding the most level floor area, these are finally pretty quiet now for the last several hours use. . . just to be fair. Old apartments suck for rolling. Wish I had a nice penthouse with concrete floor. G.G.

Actually. ..

. . . I just disassembled the drums, and it’s not the bearings. It’s the axels that pass through the bearings, which are out of round in two of drums (slightly bent in middle). One is considerably out of round. I eased the bearings outward from their plastic seats till they got a bit quieter but I think after an hour or so the bearings will shift back to where they were, and the racquet will return. One of the axels visably wiggles when you turn it. . . This is pretty shoddy IMO. Perhaps I’ve just been unlucky with mine, but I would avoid these, unless $127 is all you can afford, and even then I would check eBay for a used set of Kreitlers. I think I can chaulk up about a hundred dollars in aggravation so far. . . you do get what you pay for in this world (more often than not) G.G.

Andy...

I got a set, and was pleased with them, but after about 4 hours use, one of the drums has started to make a loud, grungy clattering sound when it got up to speed. Seems to be a faulty bearing, as there is an audible click even when I roll it with my hands. I’m going to tinker with it and see what happens. Maybe I can re-seat the bearings. I hope so. I dig the minimalism/price of these rollers. One drawback is that they’re a little -too- close to the floor: I put them on an exercise mat to isolate vibration from downstairs neighbor and the legs sink into the mat enough to cause the drums to rub agains the mat. I would add these caveats to anyone purchasing these. The bearings on these are obviously not top-drawer at this price, and may fail.

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roll it forward

I got a set of Kreitler rollers for free. Some guy in my neighborhood was throwing them out. Then my buddy got a set of Kreitler rollers for free (indefinite loan) as they bored me so I passed them on.

lee3

Does one have to invest in front and back wheel specific tire compounds to ride on rollers? What effect does the drum contact have with say a conti-attack through time? Am I wearing out the tread or weakening the tire?

Baldwin

Depends on the tire…the contis were because I had Maxxis detonators on, which are the consistency of warm buttah…I used those Bontrager double-cased hard compounds tires (not the race lite, the race heavy) a couple times and there was no probloem with tire melt.

Most important is to consider the elements involved. Ecotrax are not metal but essentially plastic, so when heated tend to get very focussed beads of warmth. Metal tends to disperse it.

Andy

Aaron, you’re exactly right. Sometimes I’ll ride the trainer to really work on the dead spots. What I like about the TruTrainers is that I can stay on them longer without frying my brains. I can just relax on them more. Maybe I’ve just gotten too used to them.

ken s

I also have the Tacx foldable rollers. Got ‘em on craigslist for 50 bucks–hard to beat. I’ve had no issues at all with, uh, nut tightness. The rollers ARE close to the floor, though, and, since I ride (also on an old Ikea rug) to dampen what little noise they make (again, much quieter than my trainer), I’ve found that they can leave a sort of horizontal skid mark on the rug from when the rollers rub against it. The skid mark isn’t the full width of the rollers, so I wonder if there’s some flex in the rollers, unlikely as it seems to me. I think I feel flex when I get out of the saddle, for instance, although that could well be my frame and for some reason I feel it differently on the rollers than I do on the road. In any case they’ve been great, especially at the price, and for me as a relative newbie they were easy to get up on and start rolling.

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jon o'b

i have the foldable tacx rollers. they work just fine but honestly i prefer using the old blackburn trainer so i can air guitar along to coach troy’s awesome guitar riffs at 180bpm. sweet. that’s too much for my tiny mind to handle on rollers.

to dampen the vibration/noise, i use a yoga mat. quiet enough not to wake the baby in the next room which is pretty damn important.

if i can offer any usable advice i would suggest not putting your ipod/cd player on the desk beside you while rolling. attach it to yourself. ’nuff said.

Aaron

I’ve only spent about 5 minutes on TruTrainers, so my argument doesn’t have much experience behind it. The momentum made it feel like I could ride sloppier than I would on the rollers. That’s because TTs carry you through the dead spot, but rollers let you know you’re not pedaling smoothly or efficiently (that’s the benefit of rollers that you don’t get with all that momentum). In a sense you are coasting through the dead spot on the TTs.

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Vibration is more an issue than noise in a cheap-o apartment with wood floors and cranky-o neighbors, like Baldwin said below. As low as the Tacx rollers seem to sit from the picture, I wonder if you might have some trouble riding on carpet, a rug or a mat, which is the best way to minimize vibes. I know I get a bigger bass line than ‘lil Jon when I’m in the big ring, and my wheels are perfectly round.

I agree about the CycleOps — great rollers for the price. I’ve had the folding aluminum model ($240) for two winters. I ride them on a rubber-backed Ikea throw rug.

Andy

It’s not a matter of coasting. I don’t coast at all on the rollers. The coast down’s just an indicator of momentum. More momentum makes the pedal stroke feel smoother. Feels nice, but has no bearing on how good a workout you can get.

Aaron

I don’t understand why people want rollers to feel like the road. Just go ride on the road! To get the full benefit of rollers should be different–harder to ride, require more concentration, and if you have a resistance unit you can get a high quality workout (for some workouts) in a shorter amount of time than you would on the road. It’s like having your own 3% hill that you can ride up forever. Or you can work on your spin on a perfectly smooth "surface."

Why would you want to coast and take it easy like you can on the road? If you have to ride inside you might as well get the most value out of your time.

kevin b.

on a scale of 1 to 10, how loud are these things when you get them up to speed? i’m looking at picking up a set of sportcrafters zro aluminums but they’re twice as much.

Anonymous

I have had these rollers for about 5 years, the only thing I dont like it is that I have to hand tighten then each time I use them. If you tighten them with a wrench the dont spin.
overall 9 out of 10 plus there made in Belgium.

Kreitler Vs. CYcle Ops

$450 vs. $240 and I like the Cycle Ops better. DOn’t be fooled by higher cost means better product. I was.

Andy

I tightened them down with a wrench and they stay put and spin fine too. Did you put the washer between the foot and the bearing? That might be the cause of the drag.

If I had to buy rollers now I’d choose these over Kreitlers for the money savings. If I could afford it I’d get the TruTrainers ’cause they do actually feel better when you ride. But the Tacx will get you your base miles just fine.

Baldwin

I had to buy one of those continental trainer-tires for the eco-trax, as soft-rubber compounds melted into the drums. Plus, once I was watching America’s Funniest Home Videos and slipped off between the drum and the bracket, causing an internal rupture to the orange trainer-only conti, puckering the outer skin but not puncturing the sheath.
Long story short: It made a really bad sound from then on and was no longer a truly round tire. Something the guy downstairs felt he needed to complain about at 6 am.

Andy

All rollers coastdown pretty quick without a flywheel. It’s not really that big a deal. I rode these back to back with TruTrainers, and that’s how I noticed. Kreitlers would spin down differently only if you got the flywheel attachment.

Hey Andy

My friend is using some ‘regular’ cheapie rollers (not Kreitlers – I forget the brand) and is having some troubles with HATING them. I hate my rollers too, but not because THEY suck (I splurged on the TruTrainers) – I just have no discipline I guess, but instead of splurging on TruTrainers and going broke, do you think my friend would see a difference buying a nice set of Kreitlers??

Hey Andy

My friend is using some ‘regular’ cheapie rollers (not Kreitlers – I forget the brand) and is having some troubles with HATING them. I hate my rollers too, but not because THEY suck (I splurged on the TruTrainers) – I just have no discipline I guess, but instead of splurging on TruTrainers and going broke, do you think my friend would see a difference buying a nice set of Kreitlers??

george g.

Can you explain in a tad more detail the differences in coast-down between these and a more expensive set, and if this is a significant issue? I left my kreitlers behind in a move 15 years ago. . . (sniffle, sniffle). I remember being being very dissatisfied with the rolling experience at that time, but perhaps my mind has become sufficiently dull now to be a successful hamster. . . Would these el cheapos be significantly different? Thanx. George

Comments are closed.