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Tacx Neo Smart Trainer Review
If like me, you’re a big fan of turbo training, it’s likely you receive complaints from others nearby regarding the noise produced by your trainer. If so, and your bank accounts healthy, then purchasing Tacx’s latest offering to the smart trainer market, the Neo, could well be a viable solution. Not only will the Tacx Neo Smart Trainer eradicate your noise issue it’ll totally transform your whole indoor riding experience.
The Tacx NEO Smart trainer is a large, solid unit, weighing in at a hefty 48lbs (21.5 kg). Despite this, storage is not much of an issue thanks to its foldable legs. The Neo is quiet, stable, and emits different colored LED light depending on how hard you pedal. It’s easily connected to software like TrainerRoad and Zwift through the use of ANT+ and Bluetooth signals, and after comparing with a crank based power meter, produces power accuracy of <2%, making it one of, if not the, most accurate trainer currently available.
The Tacx Neo is exceptionally quiet in use, with the only real noise produced being that of your drivetrain. When cruising along at 200 watts, the Neo produces a very respectable 77dB; most other trainers usually achieve between 79-90dB.
The Tacx Neo Smart Trainer is, therefore, a quiet beast, easy to use, and extremely accurate – however, it does come with a significant disadvantage for most users, namely a price tag of $1,600.00. Discounted prices may be available, but even still, no one can deny this is a hefty amount of money to spend on a turbo trainer.
Unlike most other trainers the Neo doesn’t use a conventional flywheel. Instead, it uses a virtual flywheel system, created by using a large aluminum disc alongside 32-neodymium magnets. The system provides resistance of up to 2200 watts by acting as an electronic brake and offers outstanding performance, with the Neo being able to simulate road slopes up to 25% in gradient.
Another great performance feature on the Neo smart trainer is the ability for the rider to perform low cadence force work. The Neo will produce up to 450watts even when riding as slowly as 6km/h. Quite a unique feature at present.
If you like to use your turbo trainer for warming up at races and events, then there’s one feature of the Neo you’ll like in particular. Unlike most other smart trainers, the Tacx Neo smart trainer will work as intended even when unplugged. The Neo utilizes power produced by pedaling, and creates electricity, allowing data to be transmitted via ANT+ and Bluetooth even when you’re in the middle of a field, clever eh?
The Tacx Neo smart trainer is also the only trainer currently available that provides road surface simulation. Meaning that, while pedaling, a feeling similar to riding on dirt or cobblestones, for example, can be experienced by the user.
When used with TrainerRoad’s erg mode or Zwift’s workout mode, there is quite a substantial difference in ride style compared to the Wahoo Kickr. The Neo will get the user into the ballpark of the specified wattage, but, unlike the Kickr, it won’t hold you as strictly to the prescribed wattage. Instead, it allows the rider variation of +/- 15 watts. Some people say this creates a more realistic feel, but personally, I prefer to be right on song. Afterall, +/-15 watts can easily be the difference of riding in the correct or incorrect prescribed training zone.
The Tacx Neo Smart Trainer truly shines when used with Zwift. Combined the two offer users a fantastic interactive indoor riding experience, with the Neo simulating the virtual terrain perfectly. Watch the resistance rise as you make your ascent, then once over the top, kick it in the big ring and power down the other side.
Apart from the price, the Tacx Neo Smart Trainer only has a couple of other, relatively small, disadvantages. Firstly, the need for a front wheel riser block, and secondly, the fact that the training software is PC-only. The front wheel riser block comes supplied, so I only mark it down as it’s arch rival the Kickr is designed to be level without one. The PC-only software doesn’t affect the performance of the Neo, but it is a negative when you consider the popularity of Mac products.
Tacx has been at the forefront of turbo trainer development for a long time, but the Tacx Neo Smart Trainer is in a league of its own. The Neo’s design, road feel, power accuracy and response to changes are just a few of the many features that make it one of the best smart trainers available. If you want to maximize your indoor training potential, and your wallet permits it, then the Tacx Neo is a truly epic piece of kit that will surpass all your indoor riding ambitions and expectations.
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