Taming a Noisy Tacx Genius Trainer

This winter I noticed my Tacx Genius growing louder and louder until it eventually became such a nuisance that I contacted Tacx support.  As it turns out, Tacx trainers have a tendency to become very loud over time.  The trainer’s colic protest is due to the fact that the small roller is not a piece of solid metal, but rather a thin sleeve that is wrapped around a urethane core.  12 holes in the sleeve keep the metal sleeve connected to the core – much like the old dot-matrix printers that used paper with a tractor-feed along the sides.  Over time, this “tractor-feed” begins to wear when the temperatures of the metal cause expansion and the urethane heats up causing the tractor-feed to lose it’s grip on the metal sleeve.

This has been a known issue for more than 8 years when Tacx began making turbo trainers with the tractor-fed metal sleeve design.  To diagnose my trainer, I learned that a relatively quiet Tacx trainer can produce upwards of 88db @ 55kph if inflicted with the disease. After downloading a sound level app on my phone, my fears were confirmed as my Tacx Genius had it bad: 100db max, 92db average, and soft-pedaling uphill still produced a horrific minimal noise level of 86db.  Very bad indeed.

Why Tacx continues to employ this system is outside the scope of this article. I contacted Tacx and they immediately understood the problem and said the issue would be covered under warranty.  Great!  Just a quick visit to my nearest Tacx dealer would steer me onto quieter virtual roads!  When the dealer contacted Tacx to process the warranty, however, they said the warranty had expired for my 2.5 year-old Tacx Genius but the replacement part is available for the bargain price of ~$400 (+ international shipping, duties, tax, and a month-long wait). Thanks to the Tacx user forum, a DIY option surfaced that might be a quick and cost-effective fix.

The original solution was posted back in 2008, many years before the Genius was released, and it worked well for the Tacx Fortius in which the tractor-feed plugs wear down to almost nothing – allowing the metal sleeve to freely rotate around the core.  A user from Leeds in the UK using the screen name of “Techno” is often credited for dreaming up the (now famous) remedy known as “The Epoxy Fix“.  The repair involves drilling through the tractor-feed holes and refilling the plugs with a fresh infusion of epoxy.  On the Genius, it’s not obvious that the tractor-feed is worn out.  The sleeve does not rotate or rattle but it does appear that the sleeve or the urethane has been disfigured such that the sleeve shifts on the core as the tire rolls along.  With the Genius, it almost feels that the urethane core has shrunk and the pocket of air between the metal and the plastic causes 1mm of movement.  If you press your finger hard on the Genius roller, you can hear a faint “clunk” as the metal repositions itself.  At 100+ revolutions per second, this innocent pin-drop noise explodes into a 100db Symphony of Destruction.

It’s a little daunting to drill through the heart of a very pricy indoor trainer, but once Tacx deemed my Genius a bastard child, I knew it was time to get dirty and venture into the dark alley of DIY.   It is unclear if the Epoxy Fix is the medicine my Genius needs, but it certainly can’t hurt as 100db will ultimately lead to bigger problems, likely in the direct form of hearing loss not to mention indirect pain caused by aggravated family members or neighbors.  While the forum thread covers all aspects of the repair, it does lack step-by-step photos which would have been helpful, especially to gauge the difficulty of the repair, so I’ll document the steps I took.  I’m sure it will be of value to someone.


Step 1: Gather your materials.
– Grab Tacx’s flagship model, the Genius. The louder the better:

Tacx Genius

Tacx Genius

The focus here is on repairing the thin metal roller with small “tractor-feed” holes that allow it to grip the polyurethane core:
P1150303

This is the “tractor-feed” or “polyurethane plugs” that help the sleeve grip the plastic core. On this Genius, the tractor-feed doesn’t look too bad, but there are some signs of wear:
P1150272

Noisy Tacx, check.  Tractor-feed wear or “click” when pressed with your thumb, check.  Now you’ll need to locate some epoxy.  The key here is to find one that works well with polyurethane, has at least a 15 minute work time, and will withstand some heat.  Most of the epoxies I found at the hardware stores I visited were 1 minute and 5 minute versions.  It took a few different stores, but eventually I found a 20 minute work time epoxy.

You will also need:
– A drill with 4mm bit (or 5/32″ bit)
– Some tape for keeping debris from getting inside the motor and resistance unit
– A toothpick
– A needle
– Safety measures to protect yourself from the epoxy which is nasty stuff (gloves, eye-protection, mask, and a well ventilated room that you can quarantine off for a day – the smell is something you’ll want to be able to escape from so a basement, garage, or workshop is recommended… try NOT to do this in your family’s kitchen or living area)

Step 2: Tape off all areas of the trainer with the exception of 4 holes (you can only work on 4 holes at a time, so you will need to break the process up into 3 parts to get to all 12 holes).  The tape will help stabilize the roller and keep the epoxy from getting inside the trainer.
P1150275

Step 3: Drill out the 4 holes with the 4mm (or 5/32″) bit.  The plastic is soft and drills through easily.  Continue until you feel resistance as the bit will eventually hit the metal axel.
P1150261


Step 4:  Apply the Epoxy
When adding the epoxy to the holes, I used a toothpick and a pin to apply.  You can be as messy as you want and use the taped areas to scrape off access epoxy or to scrape more into the holes as needed.  Use the needle and swirl the epoxy into the hole to ensure air is not trapped inside.
P1150280


Step 5: Level off the epoxy, leaving it a fraction of a millimeter higher than the metal roller.  It doesn’t have to be exact at this point.

P1150294


Step 6: Wait 20-30 minutes.
Step 7: Remove the tape from the metal roller.  The epoxy will be rather ugly and there might be some on parts of the metal sleeve which is fine.  You can easily remove the epoxy with a rotary tool with a wire brush bit.  In subsequent rounds, I learned it was best to keep the tape on the trainer’s black plastic body for this step to prevent debris from getting inside the trainer.  You will definitely need to wear a mask for this step.  This stuff oozes with nasty chemicals – such that one would almost expect to get cancer with longterm exposure.
P1150267


Step 8: Finished! (This set).  Remove all tape.

P1150297


Step 9: Turn the roller and expose a new set of 4  holes and repeat the process (return to Step 2-8) until all 12 holes are complete.


Step 10: Wait at least 24 hours before riding. Enjoy the pain and misery of riding indoors with newfound appreciation and splendor.

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12 Responses to Taming a Noisy Tacx Genius Trainer

  1. Marcel Frey says:

    First thank you for the very detailed post, I will attempt a repair on my unit that has the same problem.

    Can you be a bit more specific on the type of epoxy you use (like Brand, …) as it is not really obvious which one to choose from.

    Thanks

  2. Teresa Clubb says:

    that’s good, thanks for sharing,.. I think this is great blog

  3. hello there and thank you for your info – I have definitely picked up anything new from proper here. I did then again experience a few technical issues the usage of this site, since I skilled to reload the website many times prior to I could get it to load correctly. I have been brooding about if your web hosting is OK? Now not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances instances will often have an effect on your placement in google and could damage your high quality rating if ads and ***********|advertising|advertising|advertising and *********** with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of your respective interesting content. Ensure that you replace this again very soon..

  4. David Cain says:

    so my Bushido Smart has developed this clicking sound and its getting increasingly louder as each ride is complete.. starts out quiet, clicks kick in once the roller heats up (and the metal expands). Sad, given the unit is 2 weeks shy of its first birthday and i have only ridden 1,200kms.. more or less. Im in Hong Kong and shipping the unit back to australia for repairs is not an option, even if under warranty. for a AU$900 unit, the build quality is disappointing. Thanks for the pics.. Im going to into surgery on it this weekend..

  5. Thank you for another excellent post. Where else could anybody get that type of info in such a perfect way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such information.

  6. Kevin Smith says:

    Just wondered how your fix is holding up? Have heard that the epoxy can break down again and some people recommend drilling, countersinking and putting in self tapping screws. It all seems like a lot of work though so I’m currently putting up with the noise!

  7. Teena Gade says:

    I have a noisy Vortex Smart but I’m not sure if the noise is the same one this fix works for…lots of people are describing a clicking. This is mine https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B75QJLud8u3EQW5mOEw3d3FaVW8 – if this is the fix to this noise then can you let me know?

  8. John Doe says:

    Teena Gade:
    For me this sounds same as my Tacx Flow, which I successfully fixed by ‘epoxy fix’

  9. max brenes says:

    On closer inspection my vortex their is not movement of the steel sleeve, but rust by each of the holes. Anyone think the superglue fix may resolve issue. The PU looks to be good, see no gaps in the hole.

  10. Benoit says:

    I have exactly the same noise as Teena Gade. It is so loud now that I need to watch movies with subtitle.
    I’ll see if I can manage the fix, knowing that tinkering is not my strength…
    Thanks for the article anyway. :o)

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