VeloReality Lynx Turbo Trainer – Zwift Gear Test

The VeloReality Lynx turbo trainer is an indoor cycling system created by a software company. So we had a device produced from a different mindset than the usual turbo. As a result a very different product! The real question though, is how does the Lynx perform on Zwift? Time for a #ZwiftGearTest!

VeloReality Lynx Turbo Trainer – Zwift Gear Test

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Most turbo trainer companies, like Tacx, Elite and Cycleops were equipment companies initially which, have then added on a division to produce cycling training software. TheVeloreality Lynx turbo trainer has come to the market from the opposite direction. VeloReality is a software company that has decided to make a turbo trainer.

Does this opposite approach mean that the Veloreality Lynx turbo trainer has benefits that other, more mainstream turbo trainers don’t? Undeniably. But it also might be the reason for a few odd decisions that appear to have been made during the design process

Most significantly is the fact that the Veloreality Lynx turbo trainer is actually a WIRED trainer. You need to plug the unit directly into your computer in order to use it. YES, it is possible to use the Lynx over the ANT+ FEC protocol, there are a couple of setup hurdles which need to be cleared before the end users can use the Lynx as an ANT+ system. Personally, I feel the choice of a wired approach is due to VeloReality’s software origin. In that, a direct, wired connection is always going to provide better software performance

At many points, the odd decisions made on the Veloreality Lynx, feel as though they has been done to facilitate the use of the Veloreality software, rather than the unit as a turbo trainer

Veloreality Lynx

But let’s move away from VeloReality’s software origin, as the Lynx can be used with, but note I’m not saying broadcast over, ANT+ FE-C. Which means that we can Zwift on it, and trust me; the setup is worth the effort regarding the road feel.

So let’s double down on the Lynx hardware in this Zwift Gear Test to see how much trainer we get for Veloreality’s asking  price!

Device Design

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The Lynx trainer initially came to market in 2013, for review today is the 2015 update or Lynx II.

Without a doubt, the VeloReality Lynx is the largest trainer I have had in the TitaniumGeek Clinic. Measuring over 1.14m from the tip of the clip to the rear of the unit, the trainer takes up a lot of space. But given it’s low and wide stance, visually the unit takes up less space in the room than something like a Tacx Flux.

As the trainer I have been using is a review unit, there isn’t really much of a box to show. However, I’ve been informed that the Lynx would typically arrive in a shipping carton anyway.

So what do you get with the Lynx, and how does it come before you set it all up?

Veloreality

You get the hulking black box that is the body of the Lynx, the front fork support, power cable, Allen keys for fixing the fork, heavy duty USB extension cables, and two ANT+ sticks

The fork arm is held in place by four massive bolts. For the non-review units, there are Allen screws.

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The bolts are removed, and everything screwed into place, you need to slack off the screws under the fork arm, to be able to position your bike so that the wheel sits directly over the roller.

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The roller is an impressive bit of kit, 20cm of anodised aluminium, with an excellently grippy surface.

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Before the setup, I was warned to make sure that my tyre was directly from the centre of the roller, and was at over 100 psi. The reason being, if your tyre is off either the front, or back, and has a low pressure, you are going to wear your tyre very quickly. Other people had left marks to suggest they had not heeded this warning

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On the back of the unit, we have all the product information criteria, proudly declaring made in Canada, Ontario.

Veloreality Lynx turbo trainer

Power is covered with a standard kettle lead, with mains switch, and a built-in fuse which is a nice touch

Veloreality Lynx turbo trainer

On the front of the Lynx is a USB B slot, which is used to plug into your computer, and below it a reset push-to-make switch. I’m a little surprised to see it on the front of the unit, as the cable approach would certainly have been tidier on the back

Veloreality Lynx turbo trainer

On the fork mount, we’ve a heavy duty bracket. Assuming you clamp in securely, you will not be moving your front fork off here!

Veloreality Lynx turbo trainer

However, it is vital to ensure that before you start riding that the clamp is actually horizontal

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As when the fork front is sliding forwards, the clamp is tubular, so you can rotate the arm as well as moving it forwards – an odd design choice

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Then at the far end is the elevation rubber, which you can adjust to ensure that your bike sits perfectly flat.

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The actual box unit is a hardened metal case. Many times Veloreality comment that the cost of the unit is in the quality of the materials, and that they encourage you to use the trainer as a mounting block to climb into the saddle.

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Oh yes, you sit high on this unit!

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Specification

  • Quick release front fork mount
  • Communications: Direct USB, however, can broadcast on ANT+ FE-C with use of two dongles
  • Roller: 20cm knurled, anodised roller
  • Max Wattage: 1500W
  • Max Incline: 20%
  • Dimensions: 72×20×114cm
  • Weight: 37 kg
  • Noise: 60 decibels at 20mph
  • Accuracy: +/- 5% accurate power readings.

There is no dedicated Veloreality Lynx Manual. However, a lot of the setup points are covered in the manual for the V-Ride software which can be found HERE

Using the Device

Before I could even set up the Veloreality Lynx, I had to go and borrow a laptop from a friend, as I run pretty much an Apple household.

Veloreality Lynx turbo trainer

Well to clarify, the issue was that my Windows laptop is not 64 bit, which is what is required for the Veloreality software you need to have installed before the trainer can be used.

The thing to keep in mind about the Lynx is that it is essentially backwards, when you compare it to a direct mount turbo, like the KICKR, Neo, or Hammer.

Another way of describing this would be to say that the Lynx is not a rigid turbo. The front wheel is clamped into the frame of the turbo, while your rear wheel is “live” to move around on the roller.

Ok regarding getting on the Lynx for the first time it was a little…scary.

The reason being two fold, one you sit VERY high up. But that fact is odd when you look at the VeloReality Lynx Turbo Trainer compared to a wheel on the trainer like the Elite Rampa, as both seem to have the roller at the same location.

VeloReality Lynx Turbo Trainer

The issue is that the Elite Rampa and the Wahoo KICKR Snap, both press to the bike wheel at an angle, and the axle is only raised a few cm vertically.

On the VeloReality Lynx Turbo Trainer the roller might be at a similar height to other wheel-on turbos, but here you press directly down onto the Lynx roller.

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As a result, the axle is raised up by 20cm, to sit 56cm above the deck. Which does seem quite high the first time you climb on!

VeloReality Lynx Turbo Trainer

This does, however, provide one of the unique benefits of the VeloReality Lynx Turbo Trainer; as it is the front wheel that is fixed and not the rear, the natural lateral motion of the rear wheel is maintained.

As for getting off the Lynx, that does take a little getting use to. The team behind the Lynx actually advocate using the raised position of the turbo as a staging block to help you get on and off. I’m 186cm, and still found it a little bit of a stretch dismounting

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Trust me, given the height of the crossbar, as a chap; you’ll only try and climb off the bike frequently one, after that, you make sure you use the step!

But how do you USE the Lynx? What about the ANT+ FE-C?

This is probably my one major issues with the Lynx. I’m used to plug-and-play now with trainers, not plug, plug, PLUG, setup, restart and play.

To get things running, you plug into the USB-B port on the front of the trainer and put that into your windows machine.

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Along with two USB ANT+ keys (Sorry, there isn’t really an arty way to shoot a USB key)

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VeloReality is then loaded up you are looking for a single button “FEC”

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This will load another piece of software V_Bridge, which allows you to broadcast the signal coming from the USB-B port on the trainer, out of the ANT+ USB stick number 1,

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ANT+ USB stick number 2 is then used to receive the single, to the same computer to run Zwift.

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To me, this is the definition of a clunky. But it works and is someone is setting up the system for you in a fire-and-forget sort of way it doesn’t really matter. Apart from the fact, you have to run Veloreality, and then the V_ride bridge every time you want to use another piece of ANT+ receiving software.

Zwifting with the VeloReality Lynx 

But it does work, and that allows the Zwift Gear Test we’ve been waiting for. Now I’ve just been rather negative on the set up for the Veloreality Lynx turbo trainer. Let me state at this point. It is worth the hassle!

VeloReality Lynx Turbo Trainer

Given the free rear wheel on the Lynx, when pushing up the steeper gradients on Zwift, even on the first KOM on Watopia, the motion of your wheel across the roller is immediately apparent and feels very natural. Standing out of the saddle on most turbo trainers seems a little false. Once you have convinced yourself that you are safe being so high up on the VeloReality Lynx, when you finally get out of the saddle it feels terrific.

VeloReality Lynx Turbo Trainer

This feeling is again about the lateral motion. When you pedal, be that standing or seated, the rear wheel can track the natural “S-Pattern” of lateral movement with each pedal stroke. I am not a big fan of rollers, BUT after having ridden the Lynx, and fought up the hills on Watopia, can understand how rollers get their following.

With the Lynx, you’ve got the feeling of a roller, with the security of a direct mount trainer, and the electronic flywheel to generate those Zwift hills we love to hate.

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Speaking of hills, the Zwift essess are usually a challenge for many trainers. Both in reaction, and also in not giving downhill resistance on the uphill. The Veloreality Lynx turbo trainer didn’t miss a beat.

On the flats, and during workouts, you get a terrific, inertia feeling as you accelerate. Now cards on the table I did more training and workouts on the Lynx, but on the few races I have done, that acceleration inertia felt so, I’m going to use the word again, natural.

Crucially two, during my time of testing, not once did I have an issue with tyre slippage which is something I have previously been troubled by with sharp resistance changes during workouts.

That said. It is worthwhile pointing out that, you do need to check what commands are being sent to the trainer. Using the V_bridge software, I’ve set the trainer to run the rolling giving 100 watts of steady power…

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This is important for two points, 1) you want to make sure it is you doing the work, and 2) if you do have a simulated wattage going through, the unit will continue to cycle, so you need to show a little caution when  you get off

I’m going to return to the natural movement of the bike for a second before we move on. The Tacx Neo proclaims the free movement of the Neo as a benefit to increasing rider endurance, and you are not in such as fixed position with the Neo sway. The VeloReality Lynx takes this to the next level. If you have aches on the turbo, but not on the road, that fixed position on the bike is the issue, and the VeloReality are quite proud of how comfortable their trainer is, whether training or deploying power in a race

PowerMeter Testing

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Speaking of power, how does the power meter in the Veloreality Lynx hold up going over the hills on Zwift?

I’ve compared the Lynx against Powertap C1 chainring, and the Bepro pedals, as you need to be able to review three power meter sources to determine if there is an outlier.

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NB I’ve applied a 4-second smoothing to the data, which can be effective in highlighting subtle issues

As ever, power meter testing is done using Jon’s Mix on Zwift, so we’ve a consistent benchmark.

VeloReality Lynx

Let’s jump straight into the detail, to get an idea what is going on during peak power deployment. The Lynx is always going to be slightly lagging behind a pedal, and a chain ring based power meter, simply due to it’s positioning, at the end of the power delivery chain. This is reflected, but a fractional lag, and a noticeable smoothing of the graph.

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 12.02.50Mostly I don’t think this is going to have any major issues for Zwift races, but for two points, the general power is about 5 watts down. Again attributed to drive train losses. But also if you look at the second high power block, the crank/pedal mounted systems have detected four discrete power raps, where as the turbo as only defined three.

So what happens when you do deploy the power on Zwift? Do we have a KICKR style scream, or perhaps the roar seen with the wheel on Rampa. Time for a quick sound check!

Turbo Trainer Sound Test

As I have discussed before, the sound test here is carried out with the same iPhone, in the same room, at a similar distance from the trainer.

Remember that dB are only part of the story, the nature of the sound is a massive factor in perception, not just volume.

Well to me, that seems like a very easy goal for the Lynx. We are talking Neo or Flux level of quiet, but this time will a ROLLER. That is a very impressive feat, especially when you listen to the sound profile. The Lynx roller is one of the least offensive sounds I’ve heard from a turbo trainer!

It looks like some wonder trainer doesn’t it? Responsive, realistic, and quiet.

So what does this wonder trainer cost? Well that is one of the areas where things start to become a little… unstuck for the Lynx

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I’m sorry, approximately £2500, that is a LOT of money. Now the Lynx Velo has been mentioned in the same breath as the Wattbike when talking about price. Especially since the Wattbike isn’t a smart trainer. But at least the Wattbike includes the…bike!

Now credit given where credit is due VeloReality have chosen intentionally not the outsource production from Canda, which does affect the price move on this side of the Atlantic.

But we also have a trainer which doesn’t have inbuilt communications, requiring a direct connection to the laptop/computer you are going to be using, and THEN two ANT+ USB sticks if you want to connect to Zwift or another 3rd party trainer.

Conclusion

VeloReality Lynx

The price for me is one of the major issues for the VeloReality Lynx. Genuinely, the core hardware is probably the best I have come across in a trainer. If this was 2012, pre-Wahoo KICKR, and before ANT+/Bluetooth communication was common place, then we’d have an entirely different proposition on our hands.

But this is 2017. The Lynx is a Windows only, wired trainer, costing a stratospheric £2500. However, there is the question of worth to take into account.

The Lynx is BRILLIANT. The hardware by all accounts is top notch, and you are paying for equipment which is “built like a tank”. That will certainly account for a lot. Good engineering costs. Great, reliable engineering costs even more and rightly so, and the components inside have been chosen for quality and durability, not cost

But “high-quality engineering/componentry” is a difficult thing to sell. Rather like saying, “Please take these anti-cholesterol pills, if everything works out, you’ll never see a benefit, which will mean they have worked!”

Now it might be reasonable to argue that while the initial setup is a touch on the technical side and definitely NOT plug and play; Veloreality in the UK will overcome that by installing the system for you, which again will contribute to the costs. But the lack of wireless, means you are stuck going through the same rigmarole of manually enabling the ANT+ F-EC  broadcast before you can use Zwift. Which is a black mark from me

VeloReality Lynx

I cannot fully articulate how well the VeloReality Lynx rides. So many companies talk of a realistic feel, well I haven’t ridden anything to come close to this, but you have to pay for that quality. At £2500 though, I’m not sure the system has that much worth. Add built in ANT+/Bluetooth wireless comms, so that I can Zwift on my iPad or on Microsoft Surface, or soon on Zwift on Apple TV. Which would allow the dispensing of the home setup, as it then really wouldn’t be needed, and drop the price to £1500, heck even £1700, and you have an exceptionally compelling product. The ride on VeloReality Lynx is THAT good.

But again we come back to the concept of worth. At current cost and in the current incarnation, I’m not confident that the VeloReality Lynx is worth 1.5 times the cost of the Tacx Neo for example.

Maybe a good way to view the VeloReality Lynx is as the Rolls Royce Phantom of turbo trainers. Pitted against the Mercedes S-class and the BMW 7 Series of the Wahoo KICKR and the Tacx Neo respectively.

The Mercedes/BMW are technologically better cars than the Rolls Royce (particularly if we look at just the power meters and communication systems of these turbos), yet the Rolls Royce costs considerably more, and comes with a greater, but harder to quantify, quality.

The VeloReality Lynx is the Rolls Royce of turbo trainers. If you have the money, can afford it, don’t plan on break 1500 watts, and you are happy that someone else will setup the system for you. Then you will not find a better turbo trainer to place in your luxuriously appointed; purpose built, Zwift Cave.

VeloReality Lynx TitaniumGeek score 4/5

VeloReality Lynx

“An engineering masterpiece, although technically dated, that you’ll need deep pockets to afford. But if you can afford it, you won’t find better than the VeloReality Lynx turbo trainer.”