Ant+ Dongle Strength (Cheap vs. Expensive)

Looking for someone with experience of different Ant+ dongles. I’ve been experiencing dropouts using a cheap Anself dongle & extender (with an old macbook pro to be fair). Does anyone have an experience of moving to a more expensive dongle and getting a more stable connection, or is it more likely to be some combination of old computer and the extension?

Distance is one of the keys to good connections, like putting the dongle on an extension cable under the bike/trainer because a ‘cheap dongle’ could have a ‘cheap antenna’. ANT+ is also susceptible to interference so being close to the source could help.

Old computers usually means old protocol support and old operating systems, and that could contribute to your issues.

As far as dongles, there aren’t that many manufacturers of the chips that I’m aware of, but there could be issues with older chips. You should be able to find out the chip in use through ‘About This Mac’, ‘More info…’, ‘System Report…’, ‘USB’, and find that dongle in the list.

I use the Garmin dongle, and got one from Wahoo as well that uses the same chipset from what I can tell. They used to be readily available too, but Bluetooth has become so much more popular, but there are reasons to use ANT+. Some other sports tech use ANT+ dongles as well, but they may not be open and able to be repurposed.

Options for an ‘old MacBook Pro’ are Apple TV, and Mac Mini. (I switched from a MacBook Pro to the Mini)


Thanks for that, very helpful. ANT stick information is Dynastream, 0x0fcf, 0x1008.

Reason i use ANT for TR is that I’m usually running Zwift on Apple TV at the same time for ‘entertainment’. Don’t think i can use BT for both at the same time and Apple TV is BT only. Not sure if there’s a better option.

Does TR have an Apple TV app now!?

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  • No.
  • If you have one of the more recent Wahoo Kickr or Core models, those offer 3 separate BT connections. So you can actually have multiple BT/BLE devices connected to the trainer (assuming that is your use case).

Thanks, i was checking this out (I have a Core but might need to update firmware), then i remembered my MBP is so old it doesn’t even support Bluetooth 4 :disappointed_relieved: I might try running TR off the Android app with BLE and see if the connection is better this way.

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I had a cyclops brand ant dongle from Amazon and had drop out issues. Using ant to get true L+R power from my Assioma duos. Bluetooth just doubled the left power.

I got a wahoo ant dongle from REI and have zero dropouts. I’ve been using a usb extension cable with both

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This Garmin/Tacx adapter gets really high marks for reliability and working when others won’t.

It’s expensive, and I wonder if it’s confirmation bias, or it actually does work that well. (GPLama swears by it so it has to be worth the price :+1:)

(In the Great Pandemic, I could tell when my wife got home because my ANT+ signal would crater because of microwave and the need for hot coffee. Had to give up ANT+)


One of the local online bike shops were selling the TACX T2990 Smart Upgrade Kit for AU$15 that included one of those ANT+ sticks/antennas. Deal of the century! I picked up a few of them at the time.


I’ve got a few of these including the official Tacx one and they all identify the same to the software. I don’t know whether that means they’re all the same or one company just cloned the others. They all seem to work. Note that using the same chipset and even the same circuit doesn’t mean they’ll work the same – antennas and layout are important in RF. But all of mine seem to work fine. One’s the Tacx, and two look like this one, though I think they were nominally different brands.


For ANT+ chips, I think there is only one major manufacturer of chips, where Bluetooth has more manufacturers/sources. ANT+ is a more closed protocol from what I keep reading.

That form factor, the small stub, is common in both Bluetooth and ANT+ dongles. I had one ‘stub’ that actually had no markings on it at all so had to plug it in to see what it was. Weird that it had no markings, but whatever. I have a cool looking Fitbit dongle that I thought I’d be able to re-use, but it doesn’t seem to want to work, but it could be defective too. The Fitbit phase died many years ago here.

I’ve always heard the dongle should be up off the ground as well. So I run it through the spokes of my front wheel so it’s kinda dangling right in front of my bottom bracket.

$15 bucks? That was an insane deal! I see old pricing of $200. It’s been discontinued, and I wonder what the ‘control box’ did, but yeah, wow…

I dropped ANT+ but am rethinking that to get pedal dynamics back. I had rashes of dropouts multiple times throughout rides with ANT+, and could not find the guilty party. My nearest neighbor is quite a way away, and aside from the microwave, I couldn’t get it to work well. Wahoo even sent me a new dongle. I even tried a spectrum analyzer app, and ended up throwing in the towel, so to speak. Someone said it’s because I live near an airport. :crazy_face:

On the ground or not shouldn’t matter. It’s proximity that helps the most. Except when it doesn’t.

I put my dongles in ziplock baggies directly under my trainer, and the ANT+ was still not very stable all of a sudden. I said upstream that I should try to get it working again. Bluetooth is just more resilient, reliable, but won’t help the OP.

(My issue with ANT+ started suddenly. I had a dropout on a ride, and then on another ride a couple more, and it just got progressively worse. I swapped dongles, swapped extension cables, swapped ports, and gave up. So strange that it started like it did, and we hadn’t added anything that could have interfered, that I knew of)