Bluetooth vs Ant+ dongles

trainer

#1

I’m planning so change the setup for my trainer. Instead of using my iPad, I will connect to my desktop computer (running windows 10) so I’m gonna need a dongle, the question is what have better reliability? Ant+ or Bluetooth? I have a Tacx Neo smart trainer. Any specific dongles you can recommend for this (or any specific ones I should stay away from) ?


#2

I used a Bluegiga bled112 for a year or so without any problems until I tried it with a smart trainer.

I found it was somehow laggy to a point that when the workout called for you to do more power, either the trainer or Trainerroad thought I wasn’t putting out enough power and it would just get tougher and tougher and I’d constantly end up grinding to a stop.

I switched to an Anself ANT+ stick and noticed an improved response time straight away.

I’ve since gone back to using my KK Road Machine.


#3

I used to use an iPad with Bluetooth connection, which was ok but the connections sometimes required encouragement I.e. some on/off toggling. I switched to a Wahoo ANT+ dongle and haven’t had any issues whatsoever, connection is fast and rock solid.


#4

Do I have to use a Bluetooth dongle if my laptop has Bluetooth 4.1? Would prefer not to purchase anything but the dongle is cheaper than a tablet/iPad.


#5

ANT+
I recently tried the recommended BT dongle on Win10 and it was spotty and laggy. ANT+ works fine


#6

Depends a bit on your trainer I guess, but the Tacx Neo should be able to connect directly to your laptop (iirc it uses Bluetooth 4.0)


#7

Sorry, I didn’t indicate I have a dumb trainer (CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro 2). I have a Stages, Wahoo speed sensor and Wahoo HR strap. Was hoping my laptop (Lenovo Flex 5) would be able to find them so I wouldn’t need a dongle…phone is currently being repaired and not available.


#8

@schultzy31 if your Laptop has Bluetooth it should be able to connect to all three of those devices without having to purchase a dongle as they are all Bluetooth compatible. May need to bring the laptop close to the devices the first time connecting them however.


#9

Thanks for the response. I tried last night but the laptop didn’t find anything. I will bring it super close next time and see if that works. I read somewhere if the device (ex Stages) is already paired to something (ex phone) it can’t be found…my phone is getting repaired so there is no way for me to “forget device” and allow the laptop to find it.


#10

I have the same unit and use the Garmin Ant+ Works great. However, I found that if you have multiple electrical signals (WiFi , smart home, cell phone etc. ) this can cause interference and a delay or drops. I solved this with a use usb cable extender to place the ant+ stick under the unit. Note: I was getting drops on the internal Bluetooth with my laptop.


#11

Good discussion…I have a Wahoo Speed and Wahoo Cadence Sensor plus a Wahoo TICKR. All typically connect to my Macbook (Zwift). I just decided to give TrainerRoad a go, and today I could connect the HR sensor and either the speed OR cadence sensor (separate devices). I connect via bluetooth and was trying to get it all connected on my iPhone 7.

Does anyone have any suggestions? If there is a better place to post this question, I’ll happily move it.

Thanks!


#12

Hey there!

Unfortunately, all Windows Computers need a dongle to work with Bluetooth, even if they have Bluetooth built in :pensive:. The reason behind this is that every PC manufacturer implements Bluetooth 4.0 slightly differently. As a result, the Development required to bring Bluetooth support to the OEM Bluetooth for all PCs is very extensive.

For now, the Bluegiga BLED112 dongle is the only dongle that will make a Windows device Bluetooth compatible. You can find it here for a relatively low price:

https://www.digikey.com/products/en/rf-if-and-rfid/rf-receiver-transmitter-and-transceiver-finished-units/873?k=bled112

Let me know if you have any more questions!


#13

I’ve had really good success with the Tacx ANT+ antenna. Pricey, but it can be placed close to the bike and seems pretty rugged. No dropouts at all since I got it.


#14

Thanks @Bryce,

I have used a Macbook Pro successfully with Zwift and no dongles for over a year now. Today I was trying to pair my three Wahoo sensors to my iPhone but could only get the TICKR and either the Cadence OR Speed Sensor to connect. I am going to test my Macbook again tonight along with my iPad. I have a lighting adapter dongle I can use, which may solve the IOS issue. It seems like ANT+ connects no problem to my Fenix5 and Edge. I almost wonder if the TrainerRoad app is confused and thinks the first Wahoo sensor (speed or cadence) is actually a Speed/Cadence Sensor combined.


#15

@TimmyR for what its worth I ran the Wahoo Fitness app on my iPhone, and many days (and workouts) later climbed on to do a workout and my Tickr would not connect to TR app at the start of a workout. First thing I tried - force quit the Wahoo app and that didn’t work. The solution was uninstalling Wahoo Fitness app, and finally managed to get TR app to connect to Tickr!

A week or two later I reinstalled Wahoo app, and made sure not to add Tickr as a sensor. No problems since then.

Just in case its the same issue, you might want to check Wahoo app and remove any sensors that are not connecting to TR app.


#16

@Bryce does that work for music streaming too? I have a desktop that doesn’t have Bluetooth and wanted to use one adapter for both sound and power meter. From reading reviews though and your note bluetooth does not always mean bluetooth. Dedicated music streaming adapters are a bit costly.


#17

@bbarrera - I just tried that and I THOUGHT it fixed it, but no. There is something new in iOS and Mac OS I am thinking that is not allowing me to pair and pull data from 3 BLE sensors. On Zwift (on MBP), all three connect (KICKR, Cadence and Speed) but then Speed does not register. I tried checking them with the Wahoo Utility app and it finds the KICKR no problem, it found Speed but then could not find Cadence.


#18

@TimmyR hmm, my iPhone is on the latest version of everthing, and I’m using Bluetooth to connect to Kickr, TickrX (HR), and Stages PM (power and cadence).

Weird that you are seeing the problem on both Zwift and Wahoo Fitness apps.


#19

I’m using a Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. About 150 USD Android phone with built in ANT+ and Bluetooth, 4 GB RAM. Around me I’ve got 10+ 2,4GHz/5GHz very active wifi networks, including my own. No dongles and no issues ever using a Garmin heart rate meter and 4iiii power meter (ANT+). However, I can’t have bluetooth and ANT+ activated at the same time since it results in constant dropouts.
Next to this phone running TrainerRoad I have my entertainment on a different device.


#20

@bbarrera I know it seems weird. It happened all of a sudden. It first happened on Zwift and I thought it was a battery issue in my speed sensor. I changed the battery and now have problems in Zwift and TrainerRoad (which I just started using again). I am pretty sure my Mac had issues before I updated to Mojave. iPhone and iPad just were hit with updates lat night. I am going to troubleshoot again today since I am not riding.

Thanks!