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Cycplus ANT+ Stick

We’ve had multiple reports that the USB ANT Stick from Cycplus is not working in multiple applications. Since we wrote an article on ANT+ and which applications are making use of this protocol, this was fresh territory.

Background

We decided to investigate this because the company’s Amazon ad specifically named Zwift, Tacx, Bkool, PerfPro and TrainerRoad. We wanted to ensure that the problems that had been reported weren’t a matter of a defective or damaged unit rather than a problem across the entire line.

Of course, we wanted to give Cycplus the benefit of the doubt because their ANT+ solution is very affordable, and if it works… great! We also wanted to ensure that Tacx Neo owners have the most reliable information upon which to base purchasing decisions, and to help you avoid potential headaches.

The Devices

The Cycplus adapter comes in two form factors: the U1 miniature, which is the device that we’d received reports about, and the U10 stick, which Cycplus lists as the updated version, but which is less expensive and bulkier. Both arrive in no-frills packaging with no documentation.

The ANT+ Sticks from Cycplus
Left: U1, Right: U10

Testing

We knew what to expect from our testing with the ANT+ adapters from Garmin and Tacx, so we were going to perform the same tests with the same apps on both Windows and MacOS with both the U1 and the U10. We had considered that perhaps the U1 or the U10 might work in one operating system if not the other.

We intended to discuss the results for Windows and then Mac OS, but both the Windows and Mac OS versions of the applications behaved identically to each other when we installed the Cycplus adapter, so no need to go through the results of each OS.

These are the apps that are currently supporting ANT+ in Windows and/or MacOS that we could test with a USB adapter.

Results

Broadly, the results for both the U1 and the U10 were exactly the same. There was no discernible functional difference between the two devices, so whether you have a U1 or a U10, your experience will be the same. The form factor is really the only difference between them.

All of the apps seem to acknowledge the presence of both the U1 and U10 ANT+ adapter, so apps where there was an ANT+ icon or an indicator that ANT+ was activated, it was illuminated.

Applications then fell into two categories: those which could “see” the Tacx Neo and pair, and those which could not.

Three Could See

Zwift, TrainerRoad, and Sufferfest were all able to “see” the Neo and pair with it, but despite pairing as controllable trainer, the ANT+ LED on the Neo was never illuminated, and the application couldn’t control the resistance in erg or simulation mode. Everything appeared correctly in the app, but no joy at the pedals, which basically means… fail. This is an important point because there have been other recent posts with very similar behavior over ANT+, and I suspect that the root cause in all those cases has to do with the ANT+ adapter.

Meanwhile, Tacx Desktop App, PerfPRO Studio, BigRingVR, Rouvy, and Bkool could not see the Neo at all.

I was blind, but now I’m still blind.

The fact that none of the apps worked is a puzzling result considering the number of 5 star Amazon reviews, particularly as the top positive review and top critical review were posted just two days apart.

Teamwork

We sent our results to Cycplus in China, and we got a reply within hours, asking for additional information followed by a couple days of email exchanges — and this is where it gets interesting.

A week earlier, we had reached out to Drew Hartman, the developer of PerfPRO Studio, and let him know we were looking into this issue with Cycplus adapters, so he ordered the same adapters that we had, and came to the same conclusion.

The big problem with those sticks is they are incapable of doing what’s called a “continuous scan” even though the stick reports that it supports it. When a stick is in that mode it can pull in as many as 80 devices at a time and still talk back to a few trainers to control their resistance. These sticks were not able to do that. I was able to open an individual channel to simulate a device so that part works, but the part that PerfPRO requires as well as just about all the other apps these days is broke. For the most part, it acts just like an old USB1 type model.
Both are using the same firmware and report the exact same info. Their stick just isn’t opening a continuous scan channel….

Drew Hartman, Developer, PerfPRO Studio
Left: Cycplus U10 USB ANT+ Stick
Right: Another USB2 ANT+ Stick that is working

The China Connection

We reached back out to Cycplus with our updated results, and earlier today we got a reply from them. Cycplus have now identified the issue with their devices and have assured us that not only will their newly manufactured adapters ship without defects, but that they will also work on a solution so that current owners can update their devices as well.

I am so sorry for the defect of our products. We have find out the problem. Very grateful for your help. Because of the Chinese Spring Festival. We will start holiday. We will fix these problem as soon as possible. There will be no defect in our new products. And we also give a solution for old products. We will help our customers to update the software by OTA. Thanks for your help again.

Cycplus

Now for the bad news: we’re a week from the beginning of Spring Festival in China, during which all factories are shut down for almost a month, so Cycplus won’t be able to get fixes underway until some time in February. We’ll stay in communication with them after the Spring Festival has concluded and update this post as additional information becomes available.

Special thanks to Nicolò Petruzzella, TooFast ForLove, and Chris Park for reporting this issue so we could take a crack at it, and remember — if you’ve got an issue with your Tacx Neo, let us know and we’ll try to get to the bottom of it.

Updated on January 17, 2020

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Comments

  1. Odd because I have one of these adapters purchased March 2019 paired with a Neo 2 and working fine with MacOS. I sometimes have the trainer discovered via bluetooth first and need to repair with ANT+ FEC. Not sure if this is specific to a hardware batch.

    1. We wondered the same thing as well. There were numerous 5 star reviews that specifically named Zwift and Wahoo Kickr, but also many that mentioned dumb trainer and power meter, so we couldn’t get a handle on how these adapters were being used. The interesting thing (kind of hidden in the article) is that the firmware between the non-working Cycplus adapter and the working adapter is *exactly the same* version! It’s been an interesting project.

  2. Hi.
    I am steven. I am a R&D Engineer from CYCPLUS team.
    Thanks for your support.
    Because Nordic and Garmin will stop selling the IC(Nrf24ap2) for designing USB ant stick. So we have to change the solution. There are some bug in these products we sold from 10/2019 to 02/202. You can’t ues ERG noemolly. We have solved the problem from now.
    Please contact me if you have the problem about ERG.
    My email is steven@cycplus.com.
    We will send a new one to you for free.
    So sorry for our mistake in work.
    We will design more better and affordable products for you in the fulture.
    Thanks you.

    1. I purchased the U1 two weeks ago – I’ve had nothing but trouble with it. It is constantly dropping out. If I move it any closer to my trainer it will be under my pedals. I’m using it to connect a smart trainer, cadence sensor & speed sensor to the Sufferfest App.
      All I have done is waste money

        1. Hi Steven,

          I have the same issue, but your email address doesn’t appear to be working – I get a failure notice

  3. We have found that there are now also ANT sticks with the brand Anself which have the same issue. Of course, it could be that internally these are the same dongles.

    As our application, BigRingVR, uses continuous scanning mode, this is pretty bad..

    1. Hi Ilja. Thank you very much for your comment. I will definitely make a note to let others know about Anself units as well.

      We are huge fans of BigRingVR! Keep up the great work!

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