The Tacx Booster turbo trainer was launched last year as the new, bigger and better brother of the venerable Satori model.
Still a fixture of the range, the Satori has been the choice of a number of pro teams as a warm-up machine. News that the Booster was to be the official choice for the UCI and Olympics was heralded last July. Finally we have our hands on one for this winter’s off-season.
The Booster features a two kilogram flywheel surrounded by a plastic shield to prevent burnt fingers after tough workouts.
Tough workouts are an option here: eight magnets form the brake and you can crank the resistance up to 1050 watts, which was plenty for our spindly pins, but will certainly help build strength with the right programme.
This is perhaps not the quietest trainer on the market. At a recent meeting of our ‘turbo club’, the Tacx won admiration for its quality of design and materials, as well as the all important ‘feel’ and ‘roll-ability’ (to coin a phrase), but was declared the machine most likely to have you banished to the loft, shed, or garage.
Supplied with a front wheel stand, the usual beefy rear quick release, and a cable-operated resistance lever, the Booster costs a penny under £290. It sits at the top end of the manual static trainers on offer from Tacx, with more expensive wireless electronic versions above and models with lighter exposed flywheels below it.
The price point makes it a premium purchase, and in some ways this is the issue with the Booster. If you have £290 to spend on a trainer, then you can probably squeeze to a little more and get a device that will give you more information and interaction, if such is required to remain inspired over the winter.
If you don’t need inspiration, or find the price beyond your budget, then the Blue Motion or Matic models may fit the bill just as well. Our winter regime does not require an output of 1050 watts, however much we’d like to think it does, and so a lower wattage model would perhaps prove equally suitable.
That said, the Booster performs well, and if it meets your requirements, then go for it – you will not be disappointed. As a longtime user of a Satori model, and noting no marked differences between the two lever units, I feel I can vouch for the reliability of the clamp and lever, even in pressure situations where mechanical sympathy can be brushed aside as leg pain dominates the mind.
The Booster is easy to build and the unit can be mounted in three locations on the sturdy frame, dependent on wheel size. The roller can then be pushed up to the rear tyre with a dial adjuster. This is the more traditional approach to adjustment, and it certainly works, but some of the new school models like the Bkool remove this and just utilise a hinge and the rider’s weight to push down on the roller. This can provide a more natural road feel, as the bike responds by unweighting on the roller as you pedal in certain situations.
Tyre choice is key to avoiding a slippery, squeaky rear wheel in our experience, and a specific trainer tyre is not a bad place to start. Tacx supply a range of accessories for the Booster: a sweat mat, floor mat, and tyre among them.
We admired the recessed dimples in the side of the front wheel holder which enable it be fixed to the rear clamping mechanism when not in use; a handy and considered detail in our opinion, one which makes packing away neat and tidy.
The Tacx Booster is an impressive trainer, which delivers what you need, but at a price.
Take a look at our pick of the best turbo trainers in the RCUK turbo trainer buyer’s guide here.