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First Look: Tacx introduces Tacx Neo Smart Bike

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While you may not know it, we’re just at the edge of an indoor bike revolution.  Or, at least we are according to some people.  No matter whether or not that happens we’re seeing bike trainer companies and others alike starting to develop products in this market.  The first of which this week to flaunt their plans was Tacx, with the new Tacx Neo Smart Bike.  In a nutshell, the company has taken their popular and high-end Neo Smart trainer and built a stationary bike around it.  While they had this on display at Eurobike, it’s far from ready – with it being slated for Fall 2018.

Let’s dive into what the concept is though.

The details:

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At the base of the unit sits the Tacx Neo, easily spotted by the familiar circular silver disc.  Even the legs of the Neo Smart Bike start to resemble the angles of the existing Neo (and to a greater degree the Flux).  As does the materials used on the outside of the unit.

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As you’d expect on an indoor stationary bike, the crankset is already present, though you can add your own pedals to it, so you don’t have to worry about specific pedal compatibility.

One of the major advantages here though of an indoor bike is the ability to minimize the noise since you can remove many of the clanging and clunking parts like chains, chainings, and shifting aspects. Obviously, the crank arms are driving the flywheel, but that can be done with far quieter components than your bike.  All of which leads to a near silent bike.  Though, the fan that you’ll likely have facing you won’t yet be silent.

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Moving up the bike to the seat, this is where you see the prototype aspect shining through, with things not yet finalized.  But as you’d expect from a high-end stationary bike, the goal here is really to allow complete flexibility with respect to position. So the seat will slide forward and backwards and up and down, as well as being able to adjust standard saddle position within that on the rails.

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Sliding forward to the handlebars, you’ve got similar flexibility here.  The bike will be able to be configured in a road or triathlon setup, or both if you want to go more the clip-on route.  The same flexibility in positioning is true here too – as is the non-finished design look.  You’ll notice the handlebars aren’t proprietary.

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What’s most important here though, and something pushed heavily by Zwift to these companies, is the inclusion of actual usable shifters.  These shifters will virtually change gears, allowing you to essentially replicate that outdoor feel of quickly shifting through gears as you hit a climb or descent.

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Finally, we’ve got the display/tablet holder.  At present this is basically just a sawed off version of the road bike tablet holder they already have in the market (it’s pretty nifty), and then affixed to the front.  From there you can stash whatever tablet you’d like within that, so that could be an iPad running TrainerRoad, or an Android tablet running Zwift (yes, soon).

Oh, and just so it’s clear – because the Tacx Neo Smart Bike is based on the Tacx Neo, it’s got all the usual apps compatibility goodness inside: ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth Smart trainer app support, and broadcasting of power/cadence/speed via both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.

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When it comes to power, the unit is akin to the Neo as well, enabling you to go sans-power cable and be self-powered.  Heck, the final edition will even have two USB charging ports. Perfect for powering both the tablet up front as well as your phone to Instagram photos mid-ride.  Wait, you do that, right?

Now here’s the catch: The price.

Right now Tacx is estimating a price of ~2,500-3,000 Euros (or roughly $3,000-$3,500USD).

Quite frankly I point blank said to them: “No way, non-starter.”

The product will be a market failure at that point, no question.  They’ll see that soon enough with other competitive options on the market.  At that price point you could pick up a Neo and a perfectly functional bike and still have some leftover for a boatload of cookies.

Part of their challenge is that distribution of such a unit is complex and costly.  Be it the simple cost of delivery or stockage for such a large object.  All things that add to the final consumer cost.  But Tacx will have to find ways to lower that price, be it through a decrease in profit or a change in components.  The good news is they have a year to figure that out.

Is this the future?

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In many ways what happens next is far more interesting than what they showed.  Tacx, and others, are betting some chunk of the farm on Zwift here.  Or more accurately stated – Zwift is betting its investors happiness on these companies stirring up interest in the indoor cycling market that translates to increased Zwift memberships.  After all, it’s at Zwift’s prodding that’s really driving all these companies to start designing and making indoor bikes.

Much of this thinking follows watching the incredible success of Peloton.  Within trainer industry circles, Peloton is considered a dirty word.  That’s of course primarily because these companies can’t yet take advantage of that exploding revenue stream.  Some believe that by making stationary bikes as well, they’ll make indoor training more appealing to certain segments of the market – namely women (overwhelmingly indoor trainer purchases and app subscriptions are middle-aged men).  It’s an area meanwhile that Peloton has excelled at (totally dominated actually).

Of course, what these companies don’t want to admit but do know is that it’s not the bike.  As all these companies will tell you, the Peloton bike is physically ‘cheap’.  But it doesn’t matter – because the Peloton bike platform as a whole is brilliant. The live classes, the human to human integration, the large display built right into it.  And most importantly: The ease of access of the entire thing.  Just jump on and ride.

The Girl begs me almost every week to get a Peloton bike for her to ride.  She’s far more interested in that than the likes of Zwift, despite normally being classed into the ‘competitive triathlete’ category.  Of course, Peloton can work on other bikes via their app assuming you pay their $12/month membership fee.  But the experience is hardly the same – again, it’s the whole package that makes Peloton what it is.  And unfortunately, with their iOS app (sans-bike), you can’t see data like heart rate, cadence, resistance and more.

And that’s an area that indoor trainer companies will need to contemplate as they move forward over the next year towards what will invariably be most of them releasing an indoor stationary bike next fall.  Is merely having Zwift on a non-integrated screen enough?  And if not, is there really a market there for half a dozen new indoor bike brands?

Without question the most interesting ‘trainer’ discussions that were occurring at Eurobike weren’t at all about the products shown at Eurobike.  They were about what’s going on behind the scenes and some pretty significant decisions these companies are going to have to make well beyond stationary bikes over the next 4-12 months.

Food for thought.

With that – thanks for reading!

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111 Comments

  1. Jeff Hancock

    Waaaaaaay out of my league! Don’t think they will do very well at that price point either.

  2. Claus Jacobsen

    Actually that sounds like it’s in the same ballpark as the Praxtour ecosystem. They cost +4000 euro per setup which is both bike, computer, monitor, stand etc.

    So this would be a gym-based product and not so much a homebased product. – maybe instead of les mills bike spin classes – they will be sold to gyms as zwift-based spinning classes :) no more annoying “coaches” yelling to bad music?

    (don’t believe that to be a viable businessmodel though!)

    • The Tacx unit is focused on the home-use scenario, not the gym one.

      I totally get that the gym side costs more, though, that’s mostly because they tend to be more robust to handle the multi-times per day pounding of people who don’t tend to care about handling the equipment with care.

    • Anton Peterson

      Ray is the Tacx Neo bike a better version of the ProForm bike from TDF? My reason for the question is that you don’t really hear from Proform and I didn’t include the Wattbike as the pricing is way more than the suggested price from Tacx.

    • Anton Peterson

      Didn’t realise that the Wattbike was in the price bracket, but it does lack a colour screen.

    • Wattbike’s existing products are in this price bracket, but with a different (and I’d argue against many things a non-competitive featureset these days).

      Now, what their announcing on Monday…

    • Spyratos SA

      Read the reviews of the Proform TdF on Amazon and you’ll start to understand why that product, although initially promising, has failed to take off.

    • Jesper N

      So Tacx said it’s targeted for home use (only)??? If that’s the case, I sure hope they make the legs foldable and add some transport wheels.

  3. Michael

    “The Girl begs me almost every week to get a Peloton bike for her to ride.” Seriously? I have yet to understand the popularity of the Peloton, but a couple of riding friends have purchased them and despite it equating to a spin bike with an over-priced All-in-one computer attached to the handlebars, they tell me they ride it all the time! The main reason I could see for ‘the girl’ wanting one is probably due to the relative simplicity – turn on the computer, hop on, ride – compared to the peripheral setup tasks involved with riding a bike on say a Tacx Neo.

    • Yes, her desire for that bike stems from two areas:

      A) Not having to setup her bike on a trainer (I know, I have a zillion trainers she could use), but she just doesn’t want to deal with any setup aspect at all. She just wants to step onto it and have it instantly work.
      B) She likes the idea of real humans on the other end of it. Motivation and such.

      Like you said, everyone I talk to that has one (or their significant other has one), seems to love it.

    • How well does the peleton work for training for real world bike riding? From my experience in spin classes they don’t know much about riding a physical bike and so aren’t all that effective for training. Is Peleton better?

    • Dirk

      I ride triathlon and my wife got me a Peloton last year for my birthday. I already had a wahoo trainer and Zwift, but after the Peloton, I have yet to setup my tri bike on the trainer. Peloton is an absolutely amazing product. The bike seems top quality but it’s the social experience of racing other live human beings that is so motivating.

      If I was Wahoo or TACX I would buy Zwift and drop the bike to sell at cost and focus on selling digital subscriptions in order to make a profit.

    • Neither Tacx or Wahoo could afford acquiring Zwift at it’s current round valuation. Of course, whether it’d sell for anywhere near that is a different thing altogether.

    • chris benten

      A few years ago I religiously did spin classes for about a year while riding outdoors also. Only 1/4 of the regular participants rode outside. The others were there just for the cardio event; something different, social, and an instructor yelling. My wife liked the cycling videos that played while we rode.

    • chris benten

      My wife has the exact mindset of The Girl. My wife wanted a Peloton but balked at the $39 /mth for the classes. I would be all over the Peloton if it controlled resistance like a Smart Trainer. I hate the “adjustable” pad system.

      As a side note: My neighbors are Labview & hardware experts, independent and designed and are building QA/QC test units for the Taiwan factory (power/electronics calibration). They have at least two Pelotons set up, including the newer Gym model, in their living room. They have no interest in riding the bikes.

    • Cg

      Well buy the girl another bike 😁 used to get annoyed with taking my bike off the trainer, so now got a old winter bike on the kicker, no brakes, no front shift, grating headset .. works well

      Do like the sound of the Neo bike, even further reduced sound could be a blessing for those early morning turbo sessions

    • Scott E

      Ditto. Have an older women’s bike set up on a rim based trainer with a Tacx iPad holder. She plays some of my ride recordings or the canned rides. Low budget, doesn’t control resistance, or have integrated social anything, yet she likes to just get on and ride. Works for me, and all the money saved goes into my purchases like a new edge 1030. Sweet.

  4. Jonas S.

    What would be a more reasonable price in your opinion? Something like 1,800 EUR and/or including a Display like on the Magnum? (btw: how’s sales going on that?)

    • Yeah, I think it’s gotta be in the 1,600-2,000EUR region. Peloton is at $2,000USD (1,685EUR), including a display.

      I get that Peloton also makes money on their app ecosystem, and that they have a ‘cheaper’ bike. But as stated above – most people don’t seem to care. I often think high-end trainers are far overbuilt. Which isn’t to say that I think they should be falling apart, but rather than sometimes companies try to build a tank when a van will do quite fine.

    • Seems like its really ~$2500 as you have to pay for a year of classes ($39/month)

    • Neil Jones

      When the Tacx Neo on its own is €1400, I don’t see how it’s going to be viable to get the price < €2000, but I guess that's entirely the point Tacx are making.

  5. MitchD

    What’s stopping zwift from creating compelling group workouts led by certified coaches? Would this be a differentiator?

    • Nothing at all. And it’s something that’s been tossed around from what I hear. Using not just coaches, but also pros and such. Similar to the various group rides they do today.

    • Mike Richie

      No reason it needs to be just Zwift, by the way. For group rides the digital infrastructure that Zwift has is less important.

  6. Steph C.

    Yeah, bye. That’s ridiculously pricey.

  7. Duane

    The price is a bit stiff, but not so far off the mark. There are circumstances where it will make sense. I can see home use where more than one person uses it. You just adjust the fit settings as needed and ride. If people look at this as the n+1 bike that serves them during winter and bad weather times it may fly. For many people who have bikes a trainer that uses the existing bike still makes more sense.

    I’m curious if there are some efforts under way to define virtual shifting and gearing withing Ant+ and BTLE. If this gets built as a solution for the Neo I think a larger opportunity would be missed here.

    On the Peloton bike thing, egads. I appreciate the simplicity but it looks like a real rip off to me. You pay top dollar for a device that gives shoddy power measurement values, even between sessions. I tried it once and didn’t find the social engagement at all comparable to Zwift so ultimately I think I’m just not their customer.

  8. Robert Rheault

    I hope they have an adjustable crankarm length design in the works, at least from 160 to 180. Otherwise, this would be a serious flaw in the adjustability department. Not a product I would even consider for myself though. I’m very happy with my KICKR and a dedicated bike I don’t use on the roads anymore, permanently attached to it.

  9. So, no KICKR CLIMB -style climbing simulation at the front, for that price? I’ll pass.

  10. m4rk0

    Any more insight into the Zwift / Android comment? Shouldn’t take them years to figure this out.

    • Slated to go-live by end of year.

    • Jon Mayfield

      Zwift for Android most likely will not be live by end of year, except possibly in a beta state. There is no current official release date. When Zwift does come out for android it will most likely only support premium devices, like an S7, S8, Google Pixel, etc.

    • John

      Zwift for iOS requires fairly recent/up-to-date hardware, it would make sense that a hypothetical Zwift for Android would have similar requirements.

  11. Chris Barber

    Have to see what link to wattbike.com offer on Monday. erg mode and I’m very tempted.

  12. Homer Simpson

    Expresso is already combining these two worlds
    link to expresso.com

    • Brent

      Looks like junk.

    • Mike

      Yes, they’re junk – I tried them at one point during winter when I didn’t have my own trainer yet. The resistance doesn’t feel like road resistance, the road courses were pretty but too short for my purposes even then, and the game was the worst. Everything was too spaced-out, so instead of entertaining you and distracting you from the fact that you’re inside grinding away on a bike, it gives you lots of time to think about how you’re grinding away on a bike in between the few “actions” you get to take in the game. And the game isn’t even that fun…

  13. Patrick Myers

    My main takeaway was “wait, I can do Peloton without buying their bike?!”

    Poking around on the net, yes you can, but you don’t get metrics (can solve that with my Garmin) or ANT+FE-C. That last one is a bummer because I love my Tacx Neo.

    • Yeah, I think if they at least allowed pairing of simple Bluetooth Smart sensors, and heck, even raised the price to $20/month for that…that’d be solid. I actually thought as I was writing this post it was still $39/month for the app sans-bike, but it’s only $12 (found out when I went to double-check it), which for what they deliver seems under-priced if you ask me.

    • Need an IOS device for peleton

    • Mike Richie

      Their pricing is about right. For $12 a month, they are just streaming video (although, live, if you prefer). For $39 a month you are hooked in, through their app and hardware, to a live class, where (if you choose) the instructor can see your stats and do call outs, there is even messaging between participants, if you want, so you can do a class with a friend as if they are right next to you. Different then just allowing sensor connection. BTW, the classes are excellent and the basic IOS app is still a good ride.

  14. Tim Grose

    Interesting concept but, as mentioned, if you have a bike already then hard to see why you would want one of these at this proposed price but selling to gyms/studios in bulk has presumably got to be their main target? Then again do non serious cyclists who may only do spin classes once or twice a week really care what they are riding. Hard to think they will be discussing their FTP and the like in the changing rooms thereafter.

    On a similar theme looks like a new Wattbike is finally going to land on Monday. The current one retails for bit over £2000 and again the thought occurs of why a home user would buy one. Pleased my gym has 4 however but I would be amazed if I see the new model there any time soon.

  15. Chris Capoccia

    somehow the peloton bike sells… not sure the price will be as big of a problem as you’re thinking

  16. Tim Grose

    PS are Tacx in danger of coming out with “interesting” high-end products that are obsolete before they hit the market?

    Tacx Magnum seems already old news and I don’t think they have even sold one yet!

    With a year to go, this Smart Bike doesn’t really offer anything you could essentially have right now – at least for a single user.

    • They’re actually selling and shipping them now. We talked about it a bit there, but I couldn’t decide whether to include it in this post, or a bit of a round-up post. Most orders are only being accepted within the Benelux region purely for logistical purposes. Though one did end up at a palace in the Middle East…

  17. GreenPlease

    Any word on adjustable crank length?

  18. tfk

    am I missing something? it’s basically the gym equipment market….no? nothing to do with home use on the whole?

    sure some people, like your lovely wife, will love it for home use…but not many, I bet.
    I think there IS a demographic that will like the ‘course/class’ feel…probably not the MAMILs

    trainer+one of your screens+one of your own perfectly setup bikes+takes up less space+cheaper=not this for most people.

    so you say it will fail. maybe I agree. but compared to a wattbike in David Lloyd (fitness chain), I might be tempted if I had membership there.

    • Normally it would be a gym market, but I’d argue the materials on this aren’t gym grade. And it doesn’t seem like they are targeting the gym market here with this device from the discussions I saw.

  19. This is a perfect bike for PerfPro studios and it could double as a fantastic and much cheaper bike fitting rig too. I hope they get the saddle and handlebar solution right. Hopefully the ability to use your own bars, shifters and saddle. The changing gear on Zwift could be an optional extra maybe. Seems pointless to me. Sign me up. I want 12.

  20. Pete Black

    But……..the front doesn’t go up & down

  21. Casey Cook

    I think there is a market for this. IMHO, I think a Tacx stationary bike in a commercial gym has it’s place too. Rather than a group spin class you can hop on this on your terms…..your time (not a predefined class time, that may be full), choice of apps (Zwift, RLV, TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, etc), your music jam, etc. Just like all the treadmills at the gym but with this being more engaging. I don’t think any stationary bikes at this time support the current aforementioned apps. I bet Wahoo has a stationary bike in the works like this since they are rolling out their own commercial Kickr Studio. If this was available at my local gym with a 60″ 4K TV running Zwift, I would be in.

  22. Chris L

    The price isn’t outrageous for studio bikes if that is their target market. Stages Indoor Bikes which is similar RRP have been rolled out across one of the biggest gym chains in the UK in the past twelve months.

  23. Ingo

    I also see it as a fitbike which are expensive right now and i would also like to know how it compares to those and what can be adjusted and what doesn’t … there are more companies planing for a hybrid use as i knoe

  24. Brad Silverberg

    A couple of weeks ago I received a survey from Zwift. I’m a subscriber, which I use with a Tacx Neo. The survey asked a lot of questions about my level of interest if Zwift offered a Cyclops Hammer. Lots of questions that got at this from many angles. How interested would I be at various price points? Payment plans? Bundled subscription? Clearly they are seriously considering such an offering.

    My response is that I didn’t want them to sell the Cyclops Hammer at all. I want to use whatever smart trainer I want. And if they start selling a particular trainer, now they are in competition with their partners, and would likely get in the way of those relationships.

    • You’re on the right track here with your concerns. There’s far more to this than you’ve outlined, and it worries me as well. It’s primarily what I’m alluding to in the last few lines of the post.

    • Brad Silverberg

      Do tell… Also, my wife also asks me weekly about getting a Peloton, for the same reasons you give for yours.

      Peloton no doubt has the trainer business (hardware and software) freaked out.

      I don’t see the bike trainer companies like Tacx, Wahoo, etc able to build the community that either Zwift or Peloton have.

      Perhaps Peloton can be Apple, all fully integrated, while Zwift is the smart bike/trainer OS for the others.

    • milesthedog

      So, a lot of discussion and disagreement about the pricing concern.

      I think you need to do a chart with comparable indoor bikes, their features, cost, and subscription fees.

      At less than twice the amount of the Neo and less than twice as much as the Peleton, I can understand why some aren’t shocked at the price. I can also understand why you say it’s a non-starter. A chart may move the conversation forward.

    • Chris

      I think the top few percent of the market would buy, but you need the trainer that’ll sell in numbers. I think Zwift needs there to be a $500 Kickr levelwheel off trainer and $1000 bike trainer. That would appeal to a massive portion of Zwift/Tr users.

      Oh, and one point, If you have a $10k tri/road bike from one of the many bike companies that state “use in a trainer voids the warranty”, then I guess the $3500 is actually cheap, as it saves the good bike for just outside.

      So I’m really excited, but await the $1000 price point :)

    • Chris

      And we’ve just seen that the competition between Wahoo and Tacx has arrived at very different answers to what the market wants. The Kickr front wheel lift or a bike. So if Zwift get into bed (or buy??) one trainer brand, we (consumers) lose some of the chance of new approaches. And compared to Tacx or Wahoo, I would say Elite and the Hammer company are sticking within the trainer box, not like Tacx/Wahoo.

      Exciting times.

  25. Gary

    Any display or news on the Tacx Magnum?

  26. None ya

    This is ain’t shit without vr!

  27. Jason Hancock

    Yup, too expensive. The first company to produce a cheap zwift compatible indoor smart bike that introduces the mainstream to zwift will clean up.

  28. Janette

    Price is way to high for the comman folk. Paleton is even cheapier then this.

  29. Dave

    How had I never heard of Peleton….??!! It looks amazing! I’m finding my Kickr (1st gen) quite slow in reacting to wattage demand changes and the whole deal of putting the bike on it, adjusting limit screws etc., is just a pain in the backside sometimes. I’m not sure I’d replace my Kickr with another trainer that needed my bike to be fitted to it after seeing this. Why would anyone??

  30. Chris

    It could have been done for $700 less if based on a Flux.

    I think there should be either:

    1) an open source 3D model of a “bike” that fits into a Neo (or Flux or whatever) that you customise and then 3D print. A friend built his one large 3D printer. He could print up various bits and then add some machined parts (from various Chinese vendors), and assemble a Flux into a custom “Flux Bike”. If it was done as an open source project, there’d be hundreds of users like me who have the skills to do this, but not the time to do it all on our own. And someone would find some Chinese direct 3D printer or machine shop vendors, and it’d be great. (I have two kids under 3, so it won’t be on my “to do list” for a few years).

    2) a Chinese/Taiwanese company should make a $700 “bike” that you assemble your Neo into to make this. It’d not be as good as a Tacx Neo Bike, but it’d be $1500 (assuming you buy the Flux at 20% off on sale).

    You can buy a spin bike for like $400 online. All I want is that + a Flux resistance unit. I struggle with paying $980 for a Kickr (on sale), let alone a $3500 bike. And I’d want an AlienWare Alpha PC and 60 inch 4K tv too … so it’s a $5000 pain cave!!! Ouch.

  31. Remco Verdoold

    Hi Ray does this bike use a chain or a drive belt? I have a drive belt on my touring bike and must say that would not want to have a chain anymore as for noise and maintenance. Now at 15k km still with first belt of full power cycling.

  32. Lars

    What worries me more here, than all this discussion about the stationary trainer market, is that there are at least three guys here who’s wife/girl/significant other needs to ask them if they can please have a Peloton…. ;-)

  33. Daniel sekera

    After breaking a name brand aluminum frame bike on my cycle ops power beam pro, I decided the best course was to permantly attach an old steel frame bike to it. All measurements match what I rise, and if I should break this, well frame sets on ebay are way cheaper than 40 bucks a month….plus I have all the metrics all the time.

  34. zom

    ray, you really should just get your lady a peloton if she badly wants one… i would.

  35. Charles Morgan

    2 points: if your wife wants a Peloton, get it for her. Women have different interests than men. They like how the bike fits in the room compared to a real bike – the decor issue. They also like live classes with real people rather than video games like Zwift. On the price issue for the new Tacx bike, it is fair because it has no competition, and as several comments agree, a lot of people don’t want to spend even a few minutes setting up their own bike on a trainer. They want to get on and ride an already set up bike. Also the decor issue – fits in a room better than a real bike. Only Stages and Concept2 have stationary bikes that work with Zwift. What the new Tacx bike adds, and no one else has, is Zwift controlled resistance and electronic shifting. You’re forgetting this very important feature – electronic shifting on a real bike adds over $1000 to the price compared to mechanical shifting. So these factors justify the price. There is a market for it.

    • I’d be happy to get her a Peloton bike. It’s actually more logistical at the moment. Peloton only sells in the US, so getting one delivered outside isn’t super easy.

      I could get one delivered to a hotel in Vegas for Interbike probably, and then re-package it all onto the plane. As long as it fit within the bounds of max dimensions for checked luggage. I can carry a lot of luggage on airplanes due to frequent flyer status, but it’s still logistically sketchy.

  36. Thomas

    I’ve read it three times. I’ve read all the comments. I’m still not getting it. More than $1,000 dollar extra compared to the most expensive bike trainer on the market and eventually it’s only about the convenience of not having to assemble the trainer at the beginning of Winter… I thought I have a decent salary, but how much do people earn? I’m honestly observing this and some other recent news (e.g. the Edge 1030, which now costs as much as a high-end phone) with sadness. Prices are going through the roof and they are justified with minor improvements, all the while it gets more and more difficult to source economic alternatives based on trickle-down tech from the previous generation from the big brands. Try to find a decently specced bike (i.e. Di2-equipped) with an affordable aluminium frame, for instance. I know exactly one brand. And, sure, I understand why: brands want to avoid that their expensive products become decoys for their mid-level products, so they don’t offer decent mid-level products, and we are also operating with way smaller retail volumes than in other markets. But still, it has a bad taste to it when I come to a point that I read your fantastic articles and think: yes, maybe I don’t need to read it that much in detail, because for the sake of social security sanity I can’t afford to afford it anyways.

  37. Steven

    Neo plus a cheap single speed belt drive bike and done. Or the Wahoo setup.

    Peloton is in a different league because of the Social aspects. My wife loves peloton for the music, the interaction with the instructors, and the social aspect. It also makes her workout because “the instructor would miss her” if she didn’t go at her usual time. She generally looks like she is having more fun than I am during my sufferfest workouts.

    For me Zwift’s workouts are about the most boring thing I can do on my trainer other than the 480P “reality” videos that are out there. I’d rather just do a Xert workout and watch HBO.

  38. Husain

    Why wouldn’t Peloton enable ANT/Bluetooth sensors and metrics on their app? Maybe become the go to app for a “Live Studio setup” in the same way Zwift and Trainer Road appeal to different crowds with some crossover.

    Let the hardware makers see and open invite and increase the offerings.

    I’d rather see a smart trainer that mimics the ‘rock & roll’ of riding outdoors. Come summer time, its not the FTP that is lacking, but the core strength and balance needed to hold that power while riding outdoors.

    • Yeah, enabling ANT sensors is tricky on iOS since it’d require a physical hardware adapter/translator. But BLE for HR and Cadence (or even power) would be trivial for them.

      As noted above, I’d probably even pay full Peloton app price for these extra details, rather than ‘only’ $12/month.

  39. Charles Morgan

    The LifeFitness IC7 Indoor Cycle is $3,800 plus $800 for a monitor = $4,600. There is a market for all budgets. There are 11 million people in the U.S. who are millionaires. The Tacx bike, the only stationary bike with resistance tied to Zwift and electronic shifting, will sell like hotcakes.

    • Nate

      I don’t agree with your market sizing logic but agree it will sell well if two conditions are met:
      1. Better price point. ray is right.
      2. It has to make Zwift as easy as Peloton. This means including display, compute (probably custom android build is the way to go here) and audio, partnering with Zwift on the initial setup and ongoing user experience. As in: you plug it in, turn it on and it boots to a menu of options, one of which is Zwift. Do you have an account? Yes/no. If no, set one up right there, free trial. If yes, login and go. No hardware config screen because parameters are passed to Zwift via API. Once initial setup is done, every time you turn on the bike it’s ready to ride in seconds. Auto-update, no goofing around with software updates. Create this experience and Zwift can be mainstream.

    • Chris

      11 million millionaires from 330 million people. So 3.5% of population? So Zwift has 50,000 people (my best guess, I believe it was 30,000 last year), so potential millionaires on Zwift is maybe max of 2000? It just seems too small a market, especially as if it goes well, others will follow. And smart trainers will drop in price, so the Neo bike is going to seem even more expensive then.

      It’s a great concept, but so have many other products that have failed.

    • The problem is millionaires can’t be used to support an argument of whether or not a product might succeed, else, all products would succeed. Juicero this week is a fine example of that.

  40. Charles Morgan

    The stationary bike market is different than the bike plus trainer market. For adults, the stationary bike market is 10 times bigger than the bike market. It’s simply too dangerous to bike ride in cities anymore. An interactive stationary bike is the future for these companies.

  41. Nate

    I like the idea of a dedicated Zwift compatible training bike, but it can’t be this ugly. Also, since John Mayfield is watching this thread – (1) drop the running and focus on bikes, you’ve spread an over taxed team too thinly, (2) you’ve under-priced what is clearly a premium offering compared to the least common denominator trainer road. Zwift MSRP should be no less than $19.99, raise your prices or find a way to add a premium sku. Need more worlds. Partner or build a trainer to make this easier. Getting Zwift to work is a hobbyist endeavor. It’s not ready for mass markets. Love the platform. love you guys.

    • John

      Or have premium and basic price levels (ala RWGPS). I don’t care about Academy or group racing or running (which is definitely annoying), but that’s where all the Zwift resources appear to be going. I doubt I’ll pay $12/month, and at $20/month I’m definitely out. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that $20/month would open a price point for a Zwift competitor.

    • Well, sounds like $12/month is likely in our very near future.

      We talked about this in the most recent Zwiftcast a bit that I was a guest on, and I think there is a reality that the move from $10 to $12 is basically two gel packets (at bulk prices). Which most athletes would go through in the first hour or two of a long ride.

      That said, while I think that someone could make the case for $20/month quite easily, that it would lose a lot of people, especially casual folks. I agree that tiered pricing might work, but I suspect that would ‘break’ many of the financial models.

    • Sean

      $12 a month is entirely reasonable for a base subscription. They should raise the price minimally and sell equipment & expansions (a la World of Warcraft). Continue to sell product placement.

      Mini stage races and/or classics style stages (not circuit) with wind and elements (affecting the actual race) would be pretty cool during the off season or for those who don’t want to take the risk of racing outside. Would allow more strategy (planning) and team based involvement. With voice chat it would be awesome.

      If you make the race experience legit, you could charge entry fees once there are enough participants and have prizes (virtual or real equipment or $$).

    • Joe Saroni

      I agree. Zwift has a captive audience, and a powerful platform, if programmed properly. Based on their most recent customer surveys, a price increase seems to be on their radar. Personally, $20 a month to help support features that would further improve an already good experience, I’m still in. Or as you mentioned, expansion packs, or in app purchases for for particular rides. I really believe, if they build it, they will come.

    • Sean

      While some would pay $20/mo they likely wouldn’t pay for it routinely outside of the off season… Which is why I think they were testing the water about day passes in the survey. However, raising the price to to that level would likely exclude casual riders.

      Just create expansions or league races (similar to what third party groups are doing but improved and integrated — have to win to level up) and keep the subscription price lower. Still capture the casual rider and up sell the people that would routinely pay the higher price with more interactive/competitive features. You also then have the opportunity to upsell the casual rider when they are ready.

      If they do the expansion model the expansions will likely have to be bigger and better when released for money to justify the price I imagine they’d be wanting.

    • Brad Silverberg

      Yeah the survey I got from Zwift (which I mentioned in my comment above) also had a number of questions around price sensitivity for monthly subscription. I thought I had been paying $10/month and had to look it up to verify that was indeed the case. The questions barely acknowledged $10/month as a possibility, and I inferred $12/month or more was coming soon; there was a lot of emphasis on $12/month in the questions.

    • ekutter

      At $10 / month, I’m happy to just keep the subscription for each me and my wife all year, even those months I don’t use it, or only use it a couple times. If they raise the rates I’ll probably start dropping the subscription from May to October. Coming up with an annual plan that keeps it at $10 / month would keep their customers. If they raise it much and people stop paying year around, the chances of trying something else for those couple times during the summer increases the chances people will keep going elsewhere.

    • Chris

      I’m similar. Trainerroad is $99, Zwift is $120 (but I used Costco iTunes vouchers, so costs more like $105). If it goes up beyond $12, I’ll stick to TR.

      Interesting times.

  42. giorgitd

    This is a really interesting thread. Me, I think Peloton is a ridiculous, overpriced approach targeted at non-cyclists trying desperately to find a way forward toward weight loss/fitness (despite the hotties in the commercials). They are *very different* than the folks wrecking themselves on Sufferfest or Trainerroad or Zwift or – horrors – riding outside. For me, Peloton? Pfft. Zero interest, maybe less than zero. But my overweight spouse who has no self-motivation for exercise and employs an expensive personal trainer devoted to strength work and not calorie burning? If she showed a spark of interest, we’d be have a Peloton tomorrow. Has not happened yet, though….

  43. Jo Marie

    I cannot say enough good things about the Peloton bike! It is a beautiful bike and the metrics (and leaderboard) become addictive however the content and community are what keep the rider engaged and motivated. There are thousands of classes available (both live and on demand) focused on endurance, climbs, power zone training, heart rate training, or music theme rides. The instructors are top-notch. While some focus on spinning classes there are also coaches who are road riders, track riders and triathletes (as well as occasional guest instructors George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde). There are actually many serious road riders who use Peloton for training. I absolutely love my bike, the classes and the community.

    If anyone is interested in purchasing a bike I have a referral code for a $100 discount: 93X9WM

    • (Preemptive note: While I allowed Peloton referral codes on my previous Peloton post, I’m going to snip them from comments going forward. Not because I have a code or care about the codes, but because all I ever seen is folks posting codes. I don’t think the intention here is spam, but with the other post after like 50 codes…it’s just spam.)

      Cheers!

    • Jo Marie

      I apologize Ray, I truly did not mean to spam. When I purchased my Peloton I used a code one of your readers posted as I did not originally know anyone personally who owned the bike. Sorry again and many thanks for all your detailed reviews.

    • No worries, totally understandable. More of a preemptive note from there on out. Thanks!

  44. Joe Saroni

    Ray, could you do a post about where the indoor bike/Zwift world is headed in the next 12 months? Clearly, this seems to be the area a hot area. I’m sure you could create a post without divulging sensitive information.
    Does Tacx have any plans to create a climbing stand to compete with Wahoo?

  45. Nathan B

    I’ve just caught up with this after reading the new WattBike first look.

    At that price point… this is DoA!

    What interesting is “Tacx, and others, are betting some chunk of the farm on Zwift here”.

    Having used Tacx’s TTS4 software, it’s a shame they don’t push that harder. It’s actually quite good, albeit expensive. With Zwift increasing their subscription costs soon, it’ll be interesting to see who else branches out into the software market in the foreseeable future.

  46. Philippe

    Wattbike Atom just killed it today!
    Much nicer for me which is debatable but at a killer price for such an offer.
    I was going first to buy a taxc neo, then liked the idea of new Tacx bike but with the arrival of wattbike atom I think I will buy the later one😀

  47. Just for those following in comments that may have somehow missed today’s post, I give you this: link to dcrainmaker.com

    And this probably helps to illuminate why I said that the 2,500-3,000EUR price is a non-starter. :)

  48. Chris

    So the Zwift smart bike market was small at high prices, and not its split between two companies … so it’s even smaller.

    Make it for $1500, and you’ll crush Kickr/Neo/Hammer etc.

  49. matt

    This is the best investment you can make for indoor trainer sessions:

    link to walmart.com

    A high power misting fan has made a huge difference in my riding comfort.

  50. Joe Bond

    Seems like there’d be a market for a cassette drive trainer dedicated bike-you could spec the lowest grade 11 speed groupset with no brakes, possibly not even a fork and a really simplified bushing in lieu of a headset combined with a steerer tube/front wheel support. You could get away with a very cheap steel frame and of course wouldn’t need wheels/tubes/tires either.

  51. J

    link to virchybike.com

    You have a 2,000 USD solution. One of the big differences is this Virchy Bike does not have downhill drive. But it tiltable (or swayable).

  52. This is a great post.. I came to know about isotonic feature of this product as well here at: link to titaniumgeek.com

    I am sure this is going to be really exciting addition to the series of smart trainers!