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Tacx Neo Smart Trainer (T2800) Long Term Review
The new breed of turbo trainers (smart trainers) are indoor resistance units that connect wirelessly via ANT+ or Bluetooth with apps and software such as Zwift and TrainerRoad. They record the effort you produce and also control the trainers resistance, either to regulate an interval session or simulate a gradient. In this category of bike trainer, the Tacx Neo smart trainer (T2800) is in many ways the best unit currently available on the market.
As stated above, Smart trainers wirelessly interact with software
and apps to control both the resistance and effort. This means you
can replicate certain rides from GPS files or ride similar courses
to the professionals. Tacx has been a leader in the turbo trainer industry for many
years, and the Tacx Neo smart trainer (direct drive) is in many ways
the best you can get. But it comes at a price.
The Tacx Neo smart trainer is a stable, quiet unit with Bluetooth and
ANT+ capabilities, making it simple to connect to software like
Kinomap, Trainerroad or Zwift. While most trainers are slightly off
power measurement to that of an SRM, the Tacx Neo smart ticks all the boxes, making it the most highly sought after and regarded smart trainer on the market in 2017.
Tacx Neo Smart Trainer Main Features:
- 32 Neodymium magnets.
- Interactive Smart direct drive with motor brake.
- Electrical requirements: 110-240 Volts, Mains power optional.
- Power indicator: Multicolour LED.
- Firmware upgradable: Yes.
- Comes with front wheel support, Quick release for road bikes
and mountain bikes (5mm).
- Suitable for 130mm road bikes and 135mm mountain bikes: Other widths can be used with an adapter.
- Compatible with various Shimano, SRAM & Campagnolo cassettes
- Maximum Power Output: 2200 Watts
- Maximum Gradient: 25%
- Simulation of descents
- Virtual Flywheel
- Flywheel effect: Variable to 125kg (275.6lbs)
- No calibration required
- Footprint; 22.6×29.5in
- Weight: 21.5kg (47.3lbs)
- Wireless communication via ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth Smart open
- Claimed Accuracy: +/-1%
Getting Started With The Tacx Neo Smart Trainer
Coming into 2017, the Tacx Neo smart trainer was one of my most exciting
products to review. Currently, I coach over 50 athletes around the
world with numerous athletes using the Neo as their main training
source in the winter months. I have heard nothing but positive
feedback, so I was interested to see how it would compare to other smart
trainers I had tested over the past year.
Out of the box, the Tacx Neo smart trainer is all about style. The Futuristic design is
completely different to that of rivals such as Lemond, Elite and
Wahoo. Straight away you notice the footprint of the Neo smart trainer, which is
similar to that of your standard rear wheel trainer measuring at
22.6×29.5 inches. It looks almost as aesthetically
pleasing when folded up as when unfolded. Full credit to the Tacx developers who spent a
lot of effort and time in designing the looks of the trainer as well as the
Supplied with the Neo smart trainer is an 110-240 Volt power adapter which is
provided with the correct head unit to the country you are located in.
Surprisingly the Neo was supplied with a Front wheel support and a
5mm Quick release for road bikes and mountain bikes. Although, if you
have a through axle, these are available separately from your local
Tacx dealer or from Tacx directly. Interestingly, also included in the box
was a discount card for Upgrade Smart, valued at $100, which is
redeemable in the Tacx online store.
The Neo smart trainer arrived pre-built and in a matter of minutes, I was up
and running even quicker than the Tacx Vortex to my surprise.
Like most, if not all direct drive trainers, no cassette is
provided with the Neo, but it is adaptable to fit both Campagnolo and Shimano
The Neo smart trainer uses what’s classified as a virtual Flywheel. This dynamically controls the braking force, which creates an extremely impressive ride feel. Although you are still aware you’re riding an indoor trainer, in my opinion, the Tacx Neo offers the most realistic ride feel of any smart trainer on the market.
The Neo straight out of the box was a joy to ride. The most
noticeable feature straight away was the silent sound of the trainer, producing noticeably
less noise than the Vortex and Elite Drivo. I could ride next to my
girlfriend while she was watching the television without any major
issues, having said that, I would expect this from a trainer costing upwards of
$1,600, although this is certainly not always the case.
The Neo was simple to use and required no calibration. With the Neo
I found myself using the ERG mode more often than not during the
first few weeks. This means you decide the set power effort over a
certain duration and adjust the cadence to hold the prebuilt power
effort, although the great thing about the Neo is that when
struggling it slowly readjusts the resistance to allow you to get back
up to your target power. The downside to the Neo in this setting is
that when riding at a constant power it calculates the average
3-5secs of power and defines the resistance based on this. This
means that when you are above or below your target power for longer than
a few seconds, it noticeably decreases or increases the resistance.
This starts to become annoying after a while. It gives you a
feeling of riding an undulating road while doing threshold efforts.
After a few weeks of testing the Tacx Neo smart trainer, they released an update
which fixed most of the issues via the ERG mode mentioned above. Although I still
found I had the same issues, but they were much less noticeable than before the
While the last Tacx trainer we reviewed (Vortex) had a limited
maximal power and was limited to a 7% gradient, the Neo provided a maximum power
of 2200 watt and a maximum slope of 25%. Both these figures are enough for any
die-hard cyclist or professional to replicate workouts or courses.
The Neo smart trainer adapted to climbs well, there was no slipping or lack of
adjustment during the start of a climb like other trainers we have
tested. The Neo gives a more realistic feeling of moving from a
flat road to an incline like you do out on the open road than most other trainers we have reviewed. The Neo has a virtual flywheel meaning the trainer simulates
descents; Zwift app would speed up the trainer on descents,
making the ride feel more realistic.
While the Tacx Neo smart trainer connects via mains power, it is possible to run as a “fluid
trainer” as the resistance adjusts based on speed. This means the
Neo, although a little bulky, can be taken to events and used as a
warm-up trainer. This makes it more portable than other comparable smart trainers
on the market, although, take into account the trainer is rather
heavy, weighing in at over 20kg it will never be classified as a truly portable unit.
Using The Tacx Neo T2800 With Zwift
With Zwift, the Neo performed perfectly. It adapted to climbs with ease, and with any increasements in gradient, performed flawlessly. Even on the steepest of climbs, the Neo Smart trainer felt highly realistic and there was no direct loss of power
like the Vortex or Elite Drivo. With the powerful motor able to handle up
to 2200 watt of resistance and up to 25% gradients, the Tacx Neo smart trainer is built to
ride any virtual courses online both with Zwift and Tacx’s own
There was no noticeable loss in connection at any point via Bluetooth or ANT+ and
connection took a matter of seconds.
Tacx Neo T2800 Accuracy
While the Vortex we last reviewed had an accuracy of <10% the Tacx Neo
was noted as having an accuracy of 1%. After numerous months I found
myself staying away from looking at my SRM head unit and running my
efforts directly from the Tacx Neo (Tacx App). I found the power
tracked so closely to that of my SRM that I removed my head unit and
focused on the power readings from the trainer.
There was a small amount of difference when producing efforts above
1000w but this was very minimal and lower efforts like threshold
efforts (around 400w) provided very close data to that of my SRM.
You would only notice the small difference when analyzing the data
via WKO. But again, this is something you would hope for on a trainer
costing over $1,600.
When compared to the Wahoo Kickr’s power curve, which we found deviates
over a session as heat changes, the Tacx Neo had no similar issues. Instead, it held the power curve exceptionally well and we saw no noticeable difference halfway through a session or during the warm up.
Tacx has their own specific software both for PC, Tablet, and
smartphone. You can connect the Tacx Neo via Bluetooth and ANT+ and
also run the trainer without power. In this mode, it will feel more
like a fluid trainer, where the resistance would increase based on
Tacx provides numerous software and apps such as the Trainer
software 4, Tacx Cloud, Tacx App and also the Tacx Utility app which
gives you notifications on the latest updates and firmware.
Check out our Tacx Vortex review for information on the Tacx software.
Long-Term Thoughts On The Tacx Neo T2800
The Tacx Neo smart trainer hit the nail on the head in terms of the do it all
trainer. The trainer provided a stable platform which felt sure footed
under short maximal power efforts and provided even enough maximal
power for track sprinters. The Neo smart trainer can be run both with and
without power, which makes the trainer one of the only portable
smart trainers on the market. The power tracked so closely to that
of my SRM that it meant I followed the power from the trainer directly.
The quietness of the Tacx Neo is directly noticeable even after the
first ride. Although weighing in at 21kg, the Neo is rather heavy,
but it does fold up close to the size of a standard rear wheel trainer,
still making it portable to a certain degree. The Neo produced next to
nothing in terms of vibration and sound, it was even possible to
carry out an interval session next to someone watching the television.
The design of the Neo smart trainer is excellent, it was also exceptionally well built and you could see it lasting many years. While the build quality is great and it
looks exactly how you would want a smart trainer to look, there is
no denying it’s expensive for something that is only slightly better than
the Elite Drivo. Costing hundreds of dollars more, you can see some
people scratching their head.
With regards to the power measurements, you couldn’t have asked for anything more
accurate, as the trainer matched close (if not perfect) to my SRM.
Providing a very reliable trainer for specific efforts with power.
Tacx Neo T2800 Smart Trainer Overall
Overall, the Tacx Neo smart trainer, in my opinion, is the leader in direct drive smart
The most impressive function of the Neo was the tracking of the
power and how accurate it was. While being portable (to a point), it
makes it not just a home trainer but also suitable for race warmups.
It connected with third party applications without any
issue and/or drop outs.
The Tacx T2800 trainer provided next to no problems via Zwift, or TrainerRoad
and gave a noticeably lower vibration and noise than other smart
trainers on the market.
Although rather expensive and heavy, it sits
slightly above most other high-end direct drive smart
trainers in the same price class, providing a slightly uprated
user experience all round.
The Tacx Neo smart trainer beats its rivals in almost every category. Steeper
climbs, higher maximal power, faster response times and it’s much quieter
than all other trainers on the market.
Given the fact that the Neo is one of, if not the best looking trainer on the
market, you would want this setup in a dedicated training area. Allowing visiting fellow cycling mates to look at and admire at the Neo’s form and functionality.
I’m sure others will come along and top it, but as it stands today, the Tacx Neo smart trainer is the cream of the crop when it comes to smart trainers. If you can afford one, buy one.
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