Does the ProForm TDF Trainer Suffer from Quality Problems? / TDF Trainer Review

Posted: November 9, 2011 in exerciese equipment, proform, stationary bike, tdf trainer, tour de france, tour de france trainer

The good news is that my ProForm Le Tour De France (TDF) Trainer is back to 100% operation.  I can finally say that I closed a chapter that was effectively open for 1,848 hours (77 days), out of which I got to spend 2 on the TDF Trainer.   In all fairness, 5 weeks were spent waiting on the unit, but since they contribute to my frustration I’ll count it against the ProForm/iconfitness/TDF Trainer folks.

Timeline:

  1. Order I placed in August 24th from ProForm (http://www.proform.com) via chat.
  2. Inquired on September 26th, via Facebook and E-Mail.
  3. finally shipped September 27th,  
  4. Received October 3rd, 
  5. reported broken October 6th, 
  6. new part finally shipped October 25th, 
  7. November 08th to have it repaired.

The Problem.

I originally complained of a loud popping noise the ProForm TDF Trainer was making while moving back and forth on the incline.  To help ProForm, or actually iConFitness, diagnose the issue I created this video. It summarized the problem to a point.  Within a week of this video, the TDF Trainer seized entirely, and would not incline/decline at all. 

The Attempted Fix

After four weeks of reporting the problem, I received an actuator/incline-motor to be replaced.  ICONTFITNESS determined that this part was to blame.  As I began working on the unit, I kept a video diary of my progress.

The Solution

The popping noise that I recorded in the videos was not the actuator/incline-motor.    After taking the unit apart and removing the motor we could swivel the machine back/forth and the pop was the piston the unit is attached to the frame.  It was happening with each “rotation” and preventing a smooth incline/decline. It was powerful enough to jam the machine on some rotations.   Taking the piston partially apart and putting in some silicone lube solved the issue.  The root cause of the problem is an overtorqued right-side bolt that holds the piston in place.    We were unable to loosen the right-side bolt, but the left-side bolt did come off. Since that was enough to expose the piston, and that’s how we got the lube into the piston.

Overtorquing of screws is also present in the metal bracket that holds the Logic (PCB) Board.  In order to get to the electronics, I felt the it should be removed.   However, manufacturing used soft aluminum screws and tightened them to a point where the forward screw could not come out.   We were prepared to drill it out, but opted to remove the belt and drive wheel instead.   That gave access to the console and revealed the connection problem.  The wires were simply not plugged in “straight” so over the first couple of weeks of use, it eventually must have popped out far enough to prevent the unit from tilting entirely.   In other words, the cable running through the frame was inserted at an angle into the PCB/LogicBoard inside the unit.   The cables connecting the telemetry and gears were tight enough, but the side with the cables for the incline motor came loose overtime, and that is why the unit stopped tilting.  In my view, it was not a seized motor, but low low standards during assembly.  Once properly connected, the plastic will ensure the connector stays put (it would not separate during shipping if it was done right). 

That leaves the motor.   The motor suffered due to the Jam’s of the piston and the bad data it was receiving due to the bad connections, but the motor itself is still functional.  We replaced it because it looked worn and, personally, I rather have a new part given the stresses the machine already suffered.  However, this was not the cause of the issues nor was it the primary problem.  Had the piston and connections not be remedied, the machine would have remained damaged.

There is no doubt in my mind that the manufacturing needs to increase oversight and improve quality control, we were able to document very clear evidence that QC is lacking.  If production simply paid more attention to the torque of the bolts and inspected the components, my unit would have been the excellent piece of fitness equipment I expected it to be.

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Comments
  1. Tomgru says:

    Karl…. i just got mine, and while setup was quite easy and everything seemed fine, it doesn't work. it's not registering that i actually start a ride… after a few seconds, the timer pauses because it thinks i'm not pedaling (even though i am). i checked the magnet and realigned even closer, but still no go. gears switch, etc… so it seems as though the wiring harness is connected correctly. any ideas?

  2. Karl J. says:

    I would say it's the same issue I had, the connection is poorly made between console and computer. You have two points of failure1) the connectors inside the neck of the unit (the one you had to hook up and cram into the unit.2) The console connector on the logic board. I heard of them having bad consoles, but I don't believe it after my ordeal — I think it's just a frequent quality issue. If you have the right tools, it's really not a chore to get in there and correct it, just takes some patience and time.

  3. Karl J. says:

    I should have pre-faced the my comments with: Did you update the firmware right from the start AND do a Calibrate Incline to verify it's not responsive. The firmware updates seem to be critical.

  4. Tomgru says:

    thanks for quick reply! I did update the firmware first…. Even tried resetting the entire unit and then updating again, to no avail. Yes on callibration as well.i'm afraid i might have 'pinched' the cable when installing the console… so tried to reinstall, but i didn't undo the connectors. maybe try that this morning. any idea where/what i should look for inside the bike?

  5. MFB says:

    Excellent videos. My TDF, during a program ride, suddenly inclined to the maximum extent and died. The unit had been used four times. Neither the manual incline switch nor the calibration switch works. Same problem with tech support. On hold for 30 minutes, told that the problem is the incline motor and surprise, it is out of stock and must be backordered with no idea when it will ship.

  6. Karl J. says:

    Tomgru, I have a different blog about the installing the console; it's one of my first posts about it. I basically removed the four screws holding it together, mounted, and then re-assembled. Shoving it onto the unit was not an option….The easiest place to do damage is the connector into the neck, because mine could not fit through the hole. Had to force it in… However, that was not my issue.The first few seconds of me ranting here have the logicboard in view: http://kwjblogs.blogspot.com/2011/11/in-my-view-proform-tdf-trainer-suffers.html?showComment=1321807939731#c725538863029060356 exposes the logic board I am talking about. It's super easy to see the connector. Mine was at an angle, therefore the console could not send commands to the unit. It was barely noticeable that the connector was not on right.

  7. Karl J. says:

    MFB — that was basically my problem. The way I got support is through FaceBook — they are trying to minimize bad PR. Post on their wall.

  8. Rich M says:

    I am having connection problems- have to try maybe 10 times to connect to my wifi- ipad, blu-ray, xbox, PCs and phones all connect without issue– can’t get through to cust service “tech”

    Also, when trying to use streetview during a ride on iPad the map shows momentarily then shuts down.

    Any advice, or ideas would be welcome.

    • sitebento says:

      I can say the iFIT piece has worked well for me from the beginning. However, I did learn to just leave it plugged into power…. it seems like if it’s powered off I have to re-login again and it is quite annoying. First, did you do the firmware updates? Those are essential….

      Have not tried StreetView on an iPad — only my MacBook — and that stuff has worked better than I ever expected. Don’t own an iPad (and no plans to) so have nothing useful to add – sorry 😦

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