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Smart Bike Shootout: Wahoo KICKR Bike vs Tacx NEO Bike vs Wattbike Atom

It’s the moment you’ve probably not been waiting for – the complete DCR Smart Bike Shootout! And by ‘smart bike’, I specifically mean one that’s an indoor resistance controllable unit shipping today-ish that’s also supporting all the appropriate industry standards (e.g. ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth Smart FTMS, etc…). None of this propriety stuff here. I’m only reviewing bikes that you can run widely used apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, The Sufferfest, and more on.

Within this post I break-down all the features of each bike and compare them side by side. Literally, they’re side by side next to me right now. Note however that I’ll give you a spoiler up-front: None of these bikes are perfect. For all of them you’re going to be making some tradeoffs. And some of them might not physically work for you.

Note, I’m going to abbreviate the Wahoo KICKR Bike as ‘Wahoo Bike’, and the Tacx NEO Bike as ‘Tacx Bike’, and just leave the Wattbike Atom as-is, because they were already two words and not three. Now, for the most part, this post isn’t about a competition or scoring. It’s about understanding the differences between the units so that you can make the right choice for you.

I’ll tell you up-front, there are no bad choices here. All three of these bikes are great, and you’d likely be happy with any of them. But all three bikes also have both upsides and downsides, and all three have quirks. All three are also first-generation products of their kind, despite each company’s respective long history in the indoor training segment. For Wahoo & Tacx it’s their first indoor bike, while for Wattbike it’s their first electronically controllable machine. All these companies are already learning from that.

Now – if you want the complete low-down in a single video (complete with more tech goodness than you can possibly deal with in a cup of coffee), then just click play.

I’ve divided up this entire post into a brief overview section, followed by sections for each aspect of the bike. Also, I’m specifically not including the Stages Bike in here because it’s not shipping till next year and I don’t have one in-house. Same goes for other units that are either not shipping today, not in-house, or not compliant with industry standards. Got it? Good. Onwards!

Oh, and note, you can find two out of three of my full in-depth reviews of these bikes on the pictures below. The KICKR Bike In-Depth Review I’ll release as soon as they start shipping. At present, that’s slated for next week. I’ve covered all the caveats I’ve seen in that bike within this post, so there won’t be any surprises there (short of it combusting randomly in the next week).

WattbikeAtom TacxNeoBike Wahoobike

Pricing:

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These bikes are expensive. There’s no way of getting around that. Though I think we’ll see a boomerang effect in about 12-18 months and things will start to plummet. Not unlike trainers. Part of the challenge with these bikes is shipping costs. Some of them have to be shipped as freight. And companies must account for returns and servicing within their margins, so they can’t just assume all bikes will make only a one-way trip.

What’s perhaps most interesting though is the variations of price here. And the reality that, depending on where you are, these could be dramatically different. Not to mention availability. So let’s break it out for now in the following way:

US Dollar Pricing & Availability:

Tacx NEO Bike: $3,199 – Already available
Wattbike Atom: Estimated $2,500 – Shipping from November 2019 [US – already shipping EU/UK]
Wahoo KICKR Bike: $3,499 – Shipping from November 2019 (extremely limited distribution)

European (GBP/EUR) Pricing & Availability

Tacx NEO Bike: £2,299/2,599€ – Already available
Wattbike Atom: £1,599/2,149€ – Shipping already [Mainland EU distribution mixed]
Wahoo KICKR Bike: Price TBA – Shipping in 2020

Beyond these regions, most of these bikes are largely unavailable. Wattbike does ship the ATOM into South Africa and Australia however. And Tacx says that they’ll be rolling out other countries pretty quickly with the Tacx NEO Bike. Whereas Wahoo is just a generalized ‘2020’ for anything beyond the US. And again, within the US distribution is incredibly limited until 2020. So much so that Wahoo has stopped taking pre-orders on their website, and asked retailers to do the same.

Initial Setup:

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Oh, this is easy – Wattbike wins. Easily. I know, it’s not supposed to be a competition, but for this one it’s hard not to rate it – and when someone gives you a fully assembled donut versus a basket of ingredients to bake your own, it’s clear who the winner is.

The Wattbike Atom comes in a beastly box not terribly unlike that of a fridge having a Tinder one-night stand with an oven. But, within that box of joy is a near-fully assembled bike, with it taking a mere couple of minutes to slide in the seat-post and handlebars. You only need to affix the front aerobars to the handlebar piece.

Beyond the Wattbike, it’s mostly a wash between the Wahoo Bike & the Tacx Bike. The KICKR Bike sets up in slightly less time (about 20 minutes for me), whereas the Tacx Bike was closer to 30 minutes. However, the Tacx Bike comes in roughly a standard bike box, whereas the KICKR Bike box is a bit larger. Both will realistically require you be fairly creative with your assembly, or ask a friend for help. Especially notable when you want to get them up a set of stairs:

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Once you’ve got them built, the Wahoo Bike has a much cleaner app-driven setup process for everything else. Whereas the Tacx and Wattbike units just sorta leave you hanging. I mean, sure they get you through the basics, but then it feels like it kinda ends. No natural segue into setting up things like gearing or such.

Most of that is all nitpicking though – all three bikes are easy enough to set up, but as noted at the top, the Wattbike comes essentially fully assembled.

Bike & Rider Fit:

Now that the bike is built, it’s time to get it fit to you. Later on in the post I talk about multi-user considerations and swapping positions. Each bike offers the same ways to modify the position adjustments, however, the extent of each bike differs. In the case of the KICKR Bike however, the effective saddle height is actually two different components together: Stand over height + Saddle height. Don’t worry, it’ll make sense in a second.

All three bikes offer the following adjustments

1) Saddle height (up/down)
2) Saddle position (forward/back)
3) Handlebar height (up/down)
4) Handlebar position (forward/back)

Here are three galleries of those fit elements, one for each bike:

First, the Wattbike Atom:

Then the Tacx Bike:

Then the Wahoo Bike:

All three bikes use standard saddle rails, so you can put any saddle you want on there, and do standard saddle rail adjustments just like on a normal bike.

All three bikes offer measurement markers in centimeters for all measurements. In the case of the Wattbike Atom though, it offers those measurements on both left and right sides. Whereas the current Tacx and Wahoo bikes I have only have ‘rulers’ on one side. Hopefully they’ll add stickers to both sides, as it just makes it easier to do quick fit adjustments or movements between riders.

One minor note is that on the Wattbike Atom there is no quick adjustment lever for moving the handlebars forward/back, nor the saddle forward/back. Quick adjustment levers are only for seat and handlebar height.

In terms of determining how you should set up your bike, only Wahoo offers an app integrated fit guide (Wattbike has a site though you can reference). And it’s incredibly detailed, all driven via an app. You’ve got three options for how to set up the fit:

A) Take a photo of your bike, and with a tiny bit of assistance it’ll automatically replicate the sizing for the KICKR Bike
B) Utilize a well-known bike fit measurement system from GURU Fit System, Retul Fit, and Trek Precision Fit, which will give you the right measurements for the KICKR Bike
C) Enter in your height and inseam, as well as preferred position (relaxed/endurance/race) and it’ll give you the KICKR Bike measurements.

It’s the type of nuanced well thought through detail we frankly don’t see a lot of in the sports tech space.

Of course, sizing it to you is going to vary a bit based on your exact fit. And there’s no better example of that than the ‘thigh gap’ issue I talked about on Twitter recently. Which is that some of these bikes have rather large top-tubes, as such, you’ll rub your thighs against it while riding.

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I rub on both the KICKR Bike and Tacx Bike, but not on the Wattbike Atom. That’s because the Wattbike Atom frame is super thin compared to the beastly Wahoo & Tacx Bikes.

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But it’s not entirely black and white. See, while the Tacx Bike is thick, it only extends below the saddle, so for some people they’ll never touch at all because their legs extend forward beyond that point. Whereas the KICKR Bike there’s no escaping it – that’s the width all the way across. The only hope you have there is that your thighs gap enough by the time your leg length cross over the top-tube.

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In some cases you might rub more when lazy pedaling, and less when your legs are working harder and more extended. Now, the brute-force way of determining whether or not you’d rub is simply take out a piece of cardboard and cut it to the measurement above, and then stick it on your bike and see if you hit it a bunch. Keep in mind though again that’s not perfect for the Tacx Bike, because if you look at the position of that measurement, it’s only to support the saddle.

Finally, there’s the crank lengths. They are as follows:

Wattbike ATOM: 170mm (non-changeable)
Tacx Bike: 170/172.5/175mm
Wahoo Bike: 165/167.5/170/172.5/175mm

In the case of Tacx, they use small pods in the crankarms that you simply rotate in one of three portions which gets you the three crank lengths:

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Whereas in the case of the Wahoo Bike they’ve got a 5-holed crank-arm that you simply stick your pedal in whichever hole you want:

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And again, the Wattbike Atom is non-changeable from crank-arm standpoint:

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As for Q-Factor, the bikes are as follows:

Wattbike ATOM: 160mm
Tacx Bike: 147mm
Wahoo Bike: 150mm

For random reference, my Canyon road bike is 140mm. All of these are non-changeable of course.

Shifting & Gearing:

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I’m rarely going to declare a winner in a category – but this one is easy: KICKR Bike. God it’s so good at shifting.

But let me step back and explain why, by first explaining how each one does shifting. Of course, in some ways this category is the most emblematic of how the indoor smart bike industry has learned from each other. In effect Wahoo built upon Tacx’s design, while Tacx built upon Wattbike’s design. And Wattbike had the first-mover privilege being there two years ago.

But first, you need to understand that none of these bikes have ‘real’ gears. Instead, they simulate them. The cool thing about smart bikes is the (theoretical) ability to simulate anything. You want a climbing setup, you can simulate a nice compact crank and well-geared cassette to go with it. You want to simulate a 1x gravel config? No problem – they can do that. Well, at least on the Tacx and Wahoo bikes. And eventually on the Wattbike (way eventually). More on that too in a second.

As for shifting, at its base these bikes allow you to shift through these virtual gears. Ideally with buttons on both sides of the handlebars, just like in real life. So two years ago when Wattbike entered the market they did just that. Buttons on both sides, duplicating the functions on both sides. That was fine, but it wasn’t great. In particular, my comments at the time were that it was hard to ‘feel’ the shifts like an outdoor bike. There was no audible click (it’s barely audible in a silent room, certainly not once pedaling with a fan blowing), no feedback from between your legs via the frame that you shifted gears. It was just instantly harder or easier – but you didn’t feel like you shifted a real bike. It just felt like resistance increased or decreased.

To Tacx improved upon that. Their design adds a very small amount of audible (barely) noise each time you press the buttons, but far more importantly using their electromagnetic virtual drivetrain they simulate what feels like shifting between the legs. They stutter the motor for a split-second and remove all tension, exactly like what happens on a real-bike. The first time you feel the effect you might not realize it. Then go back to the Wattbike Atom and it’s like ‘Woah, I’m missing the rumble in the jungle!’.

So then we take Wahoo – and they kick it up another notch. They replicated the vibration between your legs, but atop that, they replaced the not-so-natural bike-handlebars shifting designs of Tacx and Wattbike, with actual road-bike style shifters. They look and feel like them. Well actually, they look and feel like this perfect blend of SRAM and Shimano. Just like that t-shirt I sometimes wear. And then behind the scenes they actually allow you to configure any shifting type you want. You want Shimano Di2? No problem – done, instantly, via the app. You want SRAM eTAP? Sure…done. You want Campagnolo EPS? No problem.

If there’s any specific reason to buy the KICKR Bike, it’s for their shifting. It’s just so far beyond what Tacx and Wattbike have. But of course, there’s so many other sections of this post as you’ve discovered by now.

So now that I’ve given you the landscape, let’s talk details. I’ve separated out both shifting and gearing into different bullets. They are indeed different for each bike, and technically are separate features.

Wattbike Gearing: As of today, Wattbike is set up in a 22-speed configuration that you can’t modify. Starting in a few weeks though they’ll roll-out an 11-speed configuration, which is a vast improvement. I’ve been using that since April and it’s just so much better than before because it allows you to quickly shift between gears. Yes, it’s a bigger step than all the steps of the larger group set, but practically it’s better given the shifter design.

Wattbike Shifting: The ATOM has two shifters on the right side to shift either up or down. It’s a linear system in that there’s no concept of front chainrings and rear cassette where like on a Tacx/Wahoo bike you can replicate the outdoor bike with shifting different parts. In the case of Atom you simply shift through gears 1-21, or 1-11 soon. Up/down, that’s it. There’s no meaningfully loud click when you do so, nor any feedback from the bike itself (except the fact that the amount of power required changes).

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On-screen though, in Zwift and some other apps, you will however get shifting information displayed. There is no display on the unit itself to show your current gearing. Here’s how it looks in Zwift (upper left corner, below the blue box) – note this only displays over Bluetooth Smart and not ANT+:

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Tacx Bike Gearing: The Tacx Bike allows you to configure both the cassette and front chainrings independently. You can select either 1/2/3 chainrings, and then the cassette cogs as well individually. You can choose any cassette from 1 to 12 cogs. Yes folks, you can actually make a single-speed if you want to! There isn’t a way to set up multiple bikes for any of these companies. But changing the setup only takes a few seconds. Here’s a couple of screenshots below.

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Tacx Bike Shifting: The Tacx Bike does not allow any configuration of the shifting to mimic different manufacturers’ shifting elements.  Instead, the left side shifter operates the front chainring, and the right-side shifter operates the rear cassette. There are two buttons per shifter, so they effectively go up/down the chainrings/cassette. Here’s how the shifters look, which are button-based:

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Wahoo Bike Gearing: The Wahoo bike supports the ability to configure your gearing via Wahoo’s app. It’s the most versatile of the gearing setups, and is honestly the quickest to configure. It allows you to specify 9/10/11/12 speed cassettes, and then individually choose the range of the cogs in the cassette. For the front chainring you can choose 1/2/3 chainrings, and the sizes of each. Functionally it achieves the same thing as the Tacx NEO Bike, but practically the user interface is cleaner.

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Wahoo Bike Shifting: Without question, the shifting on the Wahoo Bike is the star of the show on their unit. It’s so damn good. The feel of the shifters is awesome and feels just like shifting a real bike – whether you have Di2, Campagnolo, or eTAP – it can be configured the same way. Starting with the software side of things, you’ll choose which of the four shifting components you want. There’s also a little menu that explains them all, in case you aren’t familiar. You can’t do any of the complicated syncro-shift type stuff at this point – but I suppose there’s always something for down the road.

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Again, it’s the star of the show – I can’t overstate that enough here.  And here’s how the shifters look, which mirror that of real bike shifters:

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Now, the one downside of the Wahoo shifting system is that the display is in a really bad place. As I talked about in the display section, it’s just not good. Atop that, Zwift isn’t displaying the shift data yet from either Wahoo or Tacx bikes. For Tacx bikes, it’s not as big an issue because you can see it on the display in front of you. Now, Wahoo actually does send this information over to Zwift in their data stream. In fact, FulGaz displays it today already:

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Finally – it’s worth noting that none of these units support the ANT+ Shifting Profile at this time. While not a big though, it’d be cool if that data was transmitted and then recorded by apps or bike computers, just like it is on a real bike. I’ve gotta imagine that Tacx would be the first to do such a thing, given that Garmin now owns them and Garmin’s close ties to the development of that profile and ANT+. But, Wahoo also supports the ANT+ Gear Shifting profile on their ELEMENT/BOLT/ROAM bike computers.

Braking & Steering:

At present, no apps support either of these functions. Inversely, these bikes actually do support these functions. And in the cases of the bikes themselves, both Wahoo & Tacx support slowing the flywheel using the brake buttons. It’s just that nothing happens app-wise that’s logical.

Wattbike Atom: Wattbike does not have any brakes, but they do have two buttons that could be repurposed down the road as steering buttons on top of the handlebars (one per side) should an app support it. These buttons right now are used in gradient modes, but that wouldn’t be leveraged in a Zwift type scenario.

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Tacx Bike: The bike has two dedicated steering buttons on the inside of the handlebars (one per side). These were put in place for eventual Zwift steering, once Zwift gets around to opening that up to 3rd parties. In addition, the Tacx bike has squeezable brake levers. These don’t feel terribly like real outdoor levers, but then again, much of the Tacx handlebars don’t feel like a real bike either. When you squeeze the brake levers today it’ll slow the flywheel, but won’t slow your avatar on Zwift, because that’s tied to power, not speed. You can actually throw down a sprint with the brake levers fully squeezed and your avatar will speed up –not slow down.

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Note that normally that button is reserved for increasing resistance (incline), but in a virtual world, that’s already taken care of.

Wahoo Bike: This unit has two steering buttons, one per side, on the inside of the handlebars in almost the same spot as you’d find additional remote buttons on a normal set of Di2 handlebars. For braking, they’ve got levers identical to outside road bike levers that have a fairly similar feel to a real road bike. Like the Tacx bike though, nobody yet takes advantage of this. So…yeah.

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Ultimately, for both of these companies and these features – this is really on Zwift (or other apps, but mostly Zwift) to support steering. The irony of this isn’t lost on these bike companies. After all, it was Zwift themselves that pushed so heavily for these companies to not only create indoor bikes but also create bikes capable of steering. And yet at the end of the day Zwift decided to prioritize its phone-based mountain bike steering experiment over utilizing what these companies built at the request of Zwift. Even more so notable since two other companies (Elite & JetBlack) developed steering plates for Zwift this past year. And unfortunately, you can’t leverage the phone-based steering with any of the indoor bikes because the handlebars are statically fixed.

Triathlon/TT Setup:

All of the bikes are compatible with installing your own triathlon/TT bars, and all of the bikes use a standard 31.8mm handlebar. However, none of the bikes at this time support shifting (or any other functions) from TT bars. Wahoo has previously said they were looking at having a solution in place by the end of the year, though given it’s essentially November and we haven’t even seen a render of that – my guess is we’re talking 2020.

However, Wahoo’s proposed solution would be more functional than others, as Wahoo actually has two auxiliary ports near the front of the bike for expansion, inclusive of shifting from the aerobars.

Wattbike Atom: This unit actually includes aerobars within the box – in fact, they make up the tablet holder. You can remove these easily if you want, but it’s nice that they included them.

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Tacx NEO Bike: This does not include any aerobars, but you can add your own. The only limitation here is that you’ve got the front display console that might potentially be in the way, depending on your exact aerobar configuration. For most clip-on aerobars, they tend to gain a bit of stack-height as part of the mounting system (versus integrated aerobars into a handlebar arrangement). That stack height is actually what ‘saves’ you here so that it clears the display console. That console has a width of 60mm at the handlebar point, though expands out slowly to 140mm at the edge of the M&M holder. Note though that the expansion, as you can see from this image rises over time – so it’s actually not equal to the handlebar height until roughly 22cm from the handlebar tube centerline. Hopefully that makes sense.

In any case, here’s what it looks like with my RedShift aerobars attached. Note those aerobars currently have both a waterbottle holder and a bike computer mount that you see attached to them.

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Wahoo KICKR Bike: This does not include any aerobars, but you can add your own. There are no practical limitations here, as it’s just like a normal road-bike handlebar with a normal front stem. Attach your bars, and go forth riding. Again, down the road Wahoo says they’re going to offer some sort of integrated aerobar accessory kit, but there’s no pricing/availability/pictures of that at this time. Here’s my aerobars attached to the KICKR Bike:

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Beyond the aerobar attachment, all other TT/triathlon-type aspects would really fall more under the FIT section outlined above.

Displays, Storage, and USB Ports:

When I first started riding the Wattbike Atom some two years ago, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what slightly annoyed me about the indoor riding experience compared to my trainer – but it finally clicked when I started riding the Tacx NEO Bike: There’s a storage & display console on the Tacx Bike.

You can put all sorts of stuff there from your phone (and charge it), to gels, to candy to pay-off your kids and buy you just enough time to finish that workout. Whatever’s your thing, you can put it there.

Wattbike Atom: There’s no storage here, nor any USB ports. Nor any display. Display of gearing metrics is done via some apps, such as Zwift. Check out the gearing section below for more details on that. It does however have a tablet holder that’s part of the in-box setup. This allows you to stash your phone or tablet up there.

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Tacx Bike: This has a storage area that’s roughly big enough for a phone, plus a few gel packets. It’s also got a silicone liner, so if somehow those gel packets meet a horrible ending, it’s easy to stick in the dishwasher. Below that is two USB 2AMP ports, which is awesome. This means I can charge my phone if need be – but also charge a tablet. Oh, that’s right. It has a tablet holder, easily big enough for most tablets on the market these days. Below that tablet is a display that’s leveraged differently depending on which apps your in. In all apps it’ll display your exact gearing, whereas in some apps/modes it’ll also display your heart rate, incline, cadence, etc… And, to round things out, this thing even has fans. Granted, the fans aren’t awesome – but they provide a nice breeze.

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Wahoo Bike: There’s no tablet holder, no storage, and no fans. There is however a single USB port located below the tiny display that shows which gearing you’re in. The first number is the gearing for the front virtual chainring, and the 2nd number is for your cassette gearing. Next to that is whether or not the CLIMB portion is locked or unlocked. And below all that is the singular USB port. Now, while Wahoo’s design gives you slightly more flexibility with respect to attaching aerobars (see my other section on that), it means that the display is in a mostly useless Froome-style location, and the USB port in an even worse location. Where exactly am I supposed to put anything I connect to it? There’s no tablet holder here either.

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As is probably clear – Tacx is the clear winner here. It’s not even close. But, there’s plenty of opportunity for Wahoo to upsell accessories here. They’ve got an extra aux/expansion port on the front of the bike that could be leveraged for a connected display/holder/etc that you attach to the handlebars. But first Wahoo has committed to putting together some sort of triathlon bar addition, which would include connected shifting.

Ride Feel & Simulation:

For the most part, ride feel is most applicable in SIM mode, as seen in apps like Zwift, FulGaz, and others. It’s less applicable in ERG mode, though there’s still some nuance there, specifically around how fast a unit reacts.

When people talk about ‘ride feel’ on indoor trainers or bikes, it’s essentially looking at how well it replicates inertia of outdoors. The easiest way to explain that is that if you’re just riding along with a group at a nice talkable pace, and then someone in your group surges ahead – how does that surge feel. Not so much an all-out sprint, but the nuance of ride feel is best seen (or compared) in a light surge. It’s because you’ll quickly feel two things back to back. First is that you’ll feel how the bike reacts to acceleration, and then you’ll feel how it reacts as you stop accelerating.

Does it feel like that initial burst keeps going for a tiny bit after you let off the power? That’s how it would feel outdoors. So you want that indoors. Here’s how each feels – keeping in mind that at the end of the day you’re staring at a wall in front of you, you can’t replicate everything. Your brain still knows it’s indoors.

Wattbike Atom: While the regular Wattbike series that are wind driven can do some interesting things with road feel, the ATOM is more akin to a traditional trainer with a stepper motor (the commercial-focused ATOM X however is electromagnetic like the KICKR Bike & Tacx Bike/NEO series). All of which is to say that it’s OK. It’s not fantastic, but if you didn’t know any better you’d say it felt just fine.

Tacx Bike: The bike is built atop the NEO series, and by and large the NEO 1/2/2T and this bike all act about the same in terms of road-feel, which has largely been on-par with the Wahoo KICKR trainer series. Like politics some people prefer one over the other. The feeling on this is pretty darn good, and that ignores the cobblestone and such replication I talk about later in the ‘Party Tricks’ section. Though realistically, one should talk about that since when you add in those effects across differing terrain, I think as a package it actually edges out the KICKR Bike for road simulation. Whereas if you remove those effects and focus just on inertia, it’s a very solid 2nd place.

Wahoo Bike: Unlike the existing Wahoo trainers, the KICKR Bike is an entirely different design. It’s more akin to a Tacx NEO series than a KICKR (and by ‘more akin’, I mean, it’s basically a Wahoo NEO). However, while mechanically the two designs may be very similar, there’s nuance to implementation that makes it different. And the acceleration/deceleration pairing on the KICKR Bike just nails it a tiny bit better. Though, it lacks the road-feel, and I don’t feel as though the downhill drive replicates the experience as well as the Tacx Bike.

Speaking of which, downhill drive is basically when the trainer spins the flywheel forward to replicate the rear-wheel continuing the spin as you go down a descent. The Wattbike for example, won’t do that. Whereas the Tacx and Wahoo bikes will. In the case of the Tacx Bike it appears to keep a higher speed up, which makes the effect come alive a bit more. On the KICKR Bike the rear still spins, but as I found yesterday in a case of descending out of the Zwift Volcano, it didn’t feel quite right. It felt like that flywheel was moving far too slowly for how fast I was actually going.

Again, it’s a minor thing. All-in, I’d say that depending on which aspect of road-feel/simulation you judge, you could go either way between the Tacx and Wahoo Bikes. In short – Wahoo wins for pure inertia simulation, but I think Tacx takes a slight edge for the entire outdoor simulation package aspect.

Sound & Noise:

So how quiet is each bike? Well, the short version is that the Wattbike is roughly on par with non-silent trainers of 2019 (so something like an Elite Direto or Tacx Flux), whereas the Wahoo and Tacx bikes are on par with the silent trainers of 2019. The key difference though is that the Wahoo & Tacx bikes don’t have your bike’s drivetrain (which is what actually causes noise on most trainers). As such, it’s pretty darn quiet.

That said, the KICKR bike is the louder of those two in a few core areas. First, just generally speaking it’s louder (though, still at basically library whisper most times). The exception to the ‘most times’ aspect is specifically around 60-65RPM, where the KICKR bike has a surprisingly loud shimmering resonance that occurs. While you might not normally pedal at 60-65RPM, that’s actually the sweet-spot for most people soft-pedaling (such as descending while on Zwift). So it happens more often than you think.

Wahoo says this is somewhat by design, but they’re also sending someone to check my bike in person next week to see if it’s within limits. For me, it’s beyond what I’d accept from a $3,500 bike. The below video does not capture audio from that snippet, but rather just regular riding.

Finally, the below audio was shot in a single successive take. That means that all factors were identical, with the camera equidistant to all of them (about 3 meters/9-10 feet away). It’s using the camera’s onboard mic which is statically set (so it’s not dynamically adjusting between each bike). I simply spliced the three rides into a single video and then I show on-screen which bike you’re listening to. It turned out better than I expected. I do both casual riding (about 200w), and then I sprint upwards of about 700-800w.

 

Finally, as part of the final Wahoo KICKR Bike In-Depth Review, I’ll include the metallic shimmering sound if Wahoo determines that is of ‘normal’ volume. If not, there’s a second bike at the studio I’ll unbox and see if that exhibits the sound at the same level.

App Compatibility/Integration (3rd Party):

All three of these bikes work with all major training apps, including Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, SufferFest, and many others. All three of these bikes support ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, however, not all three of these bikes operate in the same way in that manner. Here, let me explain with a handy-dandy table:

image

Yes, what you see there is actually correct. As of this writing, Wahoo does not support normal broadcast of ANT+ power or Bluetooth Smart power (nor cadence or speed via those channels either). They only method Wahoo supports right now is ANT+ FE-C for control, and Bluetooth Smart control for control. That’s it.

That means that you can’t simply pair your Garmin, Wahoo, Suunto, Polar, or whatever device to record the power as a power meter passively, such as to capture training load.  You can pair your Garmin or Wahoo device to it as a trainer, but you only want to do that if you’re actually controlling the trainer from that bike computer. Whereas if you’re riding on Zwift and just want to capture that ride on your watch or bike computer so that it adds to your training load for the day, you can’t do that.

Additionally, at this time Wahoo does not support the ability to turn ERG power smoothing off for the KICKR Bike. This means that if you do a workout in ERG mode, it’ll only report the ‘set point’, and not the actual power. Luckily, power accuracy seems to be good – but still, this will produce charts which look fake (because they technically are), like what you see below:

image

Wahoo says they’ll be looking to add the toggle (like the rest of their trainers) to turn off ERG mode smoothing, but that won’t happen this year. There’s no timeframe for when they’ll start broadcasting power as a standalone signal.

Ultimately, this means that Wahoo is by far the least compliant of the bunch when it comes to standards. A somewhat ironic situation given it was Wahoo that pioneered open standards on trainers when they first entered the market.

Multi-User Considerations:

So, what if you’ve got multiple users in your household? How well do these bikes work in practice when switching them between different rider profiles?

Well, the answer is all about the same, and all mostly suckily so.

The first question is whether or not the bike ‘fits’ the rider in question, which I covered in the earlier section. So let’s set that aside and assume the bike fits the rider from a functional standpoint. From there the question gets to how easy is it to change the fit positions on the bike on a day to day basis, and then secondarily – how easy is it to update the bike to know of the new rider.

See – that second part is actually far more important. In the case of both the Wahoo & Tacx bikes, they need the rider weight inputted into the smartphone app in order to correctly model the inertia. For a difference of only a few pounds/kilograms, you realistically won’t notice. However, for something more substantial – you definitely will.

Take for example myself and my wife. I stand at 6’2” (188cm), and her at 5’2” (157cm”). Not only is there a foot of height difference, but also about 80 pounds of weight difference. That’s a massive difference to the feeling of the bike. Trust me, I tried. If I leave her weight in the bike’s app settings, it feels weird. It doesn’t feel right.

This is easily adjusted in all three apps and only takes a second. The one catch though to the Tacx & Wattbike units though is that the Bluetooth connectivity is single-channel, whereas the Wahoo bike is dual-channel. As such, if you have Zwift or another app already opened, the Tacx/Wattbike apps can’t connect to the bike to update the setting. Whereas in the case of Wahoo they support multiple connections so it can make that background connection without issue.

From a physical change standpoint, on average it’ll take you about 20-30 seconds to change the configuration for all changeable settings (combined) for either the Wahoo or Wattbike. And a few seconds longer on the Tacx bike because the handles are annoying.

DSC_8474 DSC_8472 DSC_8473

In the grand scheme of life, this isn’t very different. The main driver for the Tacx Bike taking slightly longer is the way the handles work. I’d also note that in the above times, I’m getting the Tacx bike handles to be as ‘clean’ as possible from an alignment standpoint, but not going to the trouble of also using a hex wrench to get them picture-perfect for a magazine aligned on 90* angles.

Note that none of these bikes pass your weight (or height) to apps like Zwift or others that leverage this information. Inversely, those apps don’t pass that data to any of these bikes. This is a prime example of Zwift needing to step up and lead the way on the bikes they’ve asked the industry to build for them. This is the sort of integration that matters, and the sort of integration that automatically occurs in the Peloton world that Zwift sees itself competing with on a per-family dollar for bikes type scenario.

Party Tricks:

For our last major section, we’ll cover some brief party tricks that each of the bikes has. For some, these features might be critical – or the specific reason you purchase a given bike. Whereas for others they might just be more fun/silly features. Either way, they are features nonetheless that don’t otherwise fit into the above categories without making up a category to single-sidedly benefit one product over another.

Wahoo KICKR Bike Integrated Climb – Incline/Decline Simulation: The Wahoo KICKR Bike replicates that of the KICKR+CLIMB, which means that it can tilt you upwards to 20% incline, and downwards to -15% decline. Though, the bike will automatically limit you to lesser angles if the FIT is in certain configurations. The sensation is different on the KICKR Bike than a KICKR+CLIMB because the pivot point is different. On the KICKR+CLIMB combo, it’s simply lifting your front fork upwards (or downwards). Whereas on the KICKR Bike the pivot point is roughly below your crotch, so the feeling is actually greater. Here’s what it looks like on a KICKR Bike:

DSC_8476 DSC_8479

This movement occurs automatically since apps already send gradient to the trainer as part of the trainer control profiles. It’s how it knows how difficult to make the trainer gradient. So there’s nothing an app has to do otherwise. If you want to lock it (so it doesn’t move), then you can press the side button next to the display. Additionally, you can manually control/override the grade using two buttons on the handlebars to go up or down as you see fit. You can combine that with the lock, so that you can just keep yourself perpetually pointed skywards or downwards.

DSC_8515 DSC_8517

Tacx Neo Bike Road Feel Simulation: This was first introduced back some three years ago on the Tacx NEO series, and since the NEO Bike is part of said series, it gets it too. This essentially replicates the road/terrain feel through the trainer. It’s fascinatingly cool the first time you feel it. Take for example cobblestones, as soon as you hit them in a game like Zwift, you’ll feel them in your legs shaking you. It’s an incredible feeling. There are other surfaces too – like the wooden planked piers/bridges in Zwift, or even the gravel. Some road surfaces are better than others (cobblestones and planks are great, icy roads less so). Here’s the full list:

Concrete plates
Cattle grid
Cobblestones (hard)
Cobblestones (soft)
Brick road
Off road (compact dirt)
Gravel
Ice
Wooden boards

Still, it’s super cool. The unit does this by essentially stuttering the electromagnetic flywheel for a few milliseconds.

Tacx Neo Bike Lighting: Look, there’s a reason this item is the very last thing I mention. I get it, it’s not critical. But this section is about cool fun things – not critical things. So, it’s worth at least noting somewhere in this overly long post that you can throw your own disco party. The unit has both a flywheel light as well as a downwards facing light emitting out of the base of the frame that will light the ground below you various colors depending on how hard you’re going. If you’re throwing down a wattage bomb, it’ll be brilliant red. Whereas just cruising along it might be blue or purple. Essentially it’s like the Philips Hue of bike lighting.

Wattbike Atom: I can’t think of any party tricks here. No flashing lights, vibrating seat, or tipping sensations here.

While some will shun these features, the reality is that most actually enjoy them. It’s just a question of which features you enjoy most, and whether or not those features are worth the cost.

Manufacturing Quality:

DSC_8475

You didn’t see this section coming, did you?

Well, I think it makes sense here. Though admittedly our sample sizes are small. But I think that’s OK, because it’s less about the sample size and more about what’s likely to happen over time.

For this section, I want to talk about manufacturing quality. I think it’s important for a $3,000 product (well, it’s also important for my bag of $2 M&M’s too, for that matter). Of course, as I say often – quantifying this is really tricky, if not impossible. I’m roughly having to wait for people to report issues and see if those issues are growing or shrinking. And see if they’re impacting everyone. In most cases, they aren’t – making it more difficult to determine them. Still, I think there’s some trends here.

WattBike Atom: There’s no question that at this point the Atom has the least issues in terms of manufacturing quality type stuff. In fact, issues are mostly non-existent by now. That makes sense – they’ve been making them for two years, and have made bikes for many years before that. They’ve been around this block many times. It also helps that the Atom simply has less parts to break, and less ‘challenging’ engineering aspects to it. Said differently: It’s simpler.

Tacx NEO Bike: Tacx has had some teething issues as new units have gone out, though most of these issues seem related to the inventory they had been stock-piling over the summer. The most common issue being an overheat warning, which depending on the cause requires either a simple firmware fix or replacement of the entire unit. The number of people reporting this has seemingly evaporated over the last week or two, and Tacx has said they’ve fixed this particular issue already, but that early stock may have been impacted. Beyond that, the quality of the tiny little washers that go into the crank arms is questionable, though doesn’t really impact day to day usage. Tacx says they’re working on better material there, and that’s easily sendable to people in a single envelope if need be.

Wahoo KICKR Bike: Now this one is tricky, because they aren’t shipping yet to real consumers. Only reviewers have had them. If I look at my case specifically, there’s been a number of manufacturing build issues that Wahoo says were tied to early production runs – primarily with moving or creaking parts. For example, the entire seatpost assembly has a few millimeters of wobble play when extended closer to the limits. Which may not seem like much unless you think about your seat post on your normal bike actually shifting like a see-saw 2-3mm. There’s also a weird resonance sound at lower cadences. Both of these are by design, and Wahoo says may impact some but not all users once people start receiving them. While some of the other manufacturing issues I’ve seen they say they’ve addressed already. So I’m going to put a solid ‘Don’t know’/’We’ll see’ on this one. I suspect at the end of the day in a few months they’ll sort all these issues out. But it’s going to take time, just like it took an extra year for Tacx to sort all their things out.

Note that this section is aside from any feature gaps. This is simply about whether or not the products coming off the line are likely to have support issues afterwards, or not meet your expectations from a build standpoint. To sum that up – I have zero concerns about a Wattbike off the line. On the Tacx Bike, I think if you’re getting a newer unit (which, you would because they’re all sold out otherwise), the chance of an issue is highly diminished. For the Wahoo bike, it’s going to be wait and see.

And finally, in the case of both Tacx and Wahoo we don’t have much long-term public data there. Both companies have had beta people on bikes for upwards of a year, but what happens after 1 year or 2 years we simply don’t know yet. In the case of Wattbike, I’m just not seeing any comments around Atom’s breaking down the road. That’s either because they’re not having issues, or because they’re just not shipping in big enough quantities for those comments to bubble to the surface of the interwebs.

Product Comparison Table:

Here’s a complete spec comparison between the three bikes. Though, many of the nuances of above aren’t necessarily captured in the tables below. Instead, these tables focus on the major specs between them. Still, they’re good for a quick glance.

Function/FeatureWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated October 30th, 2019 @ 4:59 pmNew Window
Price for trainer~$2,500USD$3,199$3,499
Trainer TypeIndoor BikeIndoor BikeIndoor Bike
Available today (for sale)YesYesYes
Availability regionsUK/South Africa/Australia/Scandinavia/USAGlobalLimited Initially
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYesNoYes
Flywheel weight9.28KG/20.4lbsSimulated/Virtual 125KG13bs/5.9kgs
ResistanceWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoYesYes
Maximum wattage capability2,000w2,200w @ 40KPH2,200w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline25%25%20% (and -15% downhill)
FeaturesWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerYesYesNo
Can rise/lower bike or portion thereofNoNoYes
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoYES (WITH COMPATIBLE APPS)Yes (with compatible apps)
Can rock side to side (significantly)NoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoYesNo
AccuracyWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Includes temperature compensationYesN/AYes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)NoN/AN/A
Supported accuracy level+/- 2%+/- 1%+/- 1%
Trainer ControlWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYes
Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYes
Data BroadcastWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Transmits power via ANT+YesYesNo
Transmits power via Bluetooth SmartYesYesNo
Transmits cadence dataYesYesYes
Indoor Bike FeaturesWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Brake levers or buttonsNoBrake LeversYes
Shifting typeButtonsButton BasedNormal bike levers
Can customize shifting (Shimano/SRAM/Campagnolo)NoIn future updateYes (Shimano/SRAM/Campagnolo)
Can customize gearingMininimalYesYes (both cassette and chainrings)
Supported Crank Lengths170mm170/172.5/175mm165/170/172.5/175mm
DisplayNoYesSmall display near top-tube
USB PortsNo2 USB Ports (2AMP)1 USB port
PurchaseWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLink
DCRainmakerWattbike AtomTacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

In addition to these three bikes, I’ve also loaded the Stages Bike in there too, and soon the True Kinetix bike as well. All of which you can view over at the product comparison tool page.

Wrap-Up:

DSC_8505

Just like last time I did the power meter pedal shoot-out post, this thing kinda got out-of-control long. And I even cut a few sections from it. Maybe I’ll add those in over time, or if there’s other sections people are interested in.

So which is the right bike to get? Well, that’s tough on so many levels. First, there’s the more practical aspect of availability. These bikes are kinda hard to get unless you live in the US or Europe. Next, there’s pricing. They’re damn expensive. And that’s where some of the challenge I have is right now.

Yes, they are good bikes. But they aren’t amazing yet. All of them have quirks. I think if I were a regular buyer in this category, I’d probably wait a bit. I’d probably wait to see both the Wahoo & Tacx early production teething pains dissipate. I think the Wattbike Atom is a solid deal in the UK/GBP primarily, and still a bit in EUR pricing. But it’s a tougher pitch in the US at the current price points. On the flip side, it’s a well-proven design.

Still, I think these types of bikes will eventually come down in price. Not this year, and unlikely for any of these specific models next year. Seriously, the Tacx and Wahoo bike aren’t going to get cheaper in 2020. I could see a scenario where the Wattbike Atom does. However, what is far more likely is that we’ll see other entrants. For example, we already know Stages will start delivering their less-expensive variant in early 2020. And I think we’ll see others dive into this market as well with viable options. For example – could we see Saris revive their indoor bike lineup with a blend of the Hammer? Or could we see Elite offer a consumer version of the yacht bike. Who knows, but I can almost guarantee you they’ll be cheaper – there’s no reason any of these companies will try and compete at the higher price points with Wahoo & Tacx. They’ll fail, and they all know that from past experience.

Now – don’t take this summary as being negative towards this market. Hardly. The three bikes are great to ride – and there’s something awesome about jumping on a bike that’s ready to roll at any moment. There’s no fussing with mounting the bike to the trainer – it’s just on and standing by.

With that – hopefully you found this interesting, thanks for reading!

WattbikeAtom TacxNeoBike Wahoobike

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212 Comments

  1. Thomas

    The Neobike has the slight edge here, as i see it. Mechanically it’s “one year ahead”. Whereas on the drivetrain they’re on par (KB).

  2. Paul Whitelock

    In the table it says that the KICKR Bike supports a roll down procedure. I thought with Wahoo’s new design of the resistance unit that roll down was no longer needed. Does one still need to calibrate this bike with a roll down?

  3. Raiontzukai

    After my experience with the Kickr Core, if I’d be buying one of these, there’s no way I’d get one shipped direct to me. I’d go through a lbs that can deal with warranty issues and rebox the thing if need be.

    As I write this, I’m wondering if someone at Wahoo or Tacx thought about just building some sort of ultra adjustable and sweatproof frame to pair with their existing direct drive trainers. Although with that idea you’d still have to deal with the drivetrain needing maintenance I guess.

    • Seems like you got yourself a nice Kickstarter project right there.

      No. For real, seriously, that’s brilliant.

    • EV

      I actually spoke with some manufacturers about building something like that last year but just couldn’t make the numbers work. Damn thing got more expensive than a decent frame so I gave up. Would be cool if someone could make it work.

    • inSyt

      Sounds like the best way to create a ‘cheaper’ smart bike.

    • Raiontzukai

      Maybe a motivated person could just buy the smallest frame, wrap it in vinyl and have two seatposts and one of those adjustable stems used by bike fitters? The cranks could pose a problem I suppose, but they’re already a problem with these smart bikes no? Can you and The Girl ride comfortably on the same lenght cranks? My wife and I have the same difference in height as you guys.

    • Casey Cook

      Bingo! I would love to get just the Kicker Bike style frame and just add it to my existing trainer setup. My wife hates swapping out our bikes to use our trainer. This seems so doable. Even for a local US machine shop, perhaps users just provide their own saddle, handlebars. Make it happen people.

    • youpmelone

      the brilliance of it would be that we can put the whole thing then on the saris platform and have some natural movement going. I hate these static bikes.

      I’d love a tacx bike like this for the neo.

    • usr

      I immediately thought of a mow modular approach, noisily because there are so many details that look like “will be improved in the second revision”. Modular as in virtual shifters for the neo/kickr, to combine with a single speed conversion of your dedicated trainer bike. Add a soundproofed chainbox similar to that on an omafiets (unfortunately, belts cannot be fitted into regular frames without sawing).

      This would not appeal to the “batteries-included” mindset of those who just want Zwift to be as hassle-free as Peloton and it would lack all the quick size adaption features required for multi-user applications, but to the average bike nerd it might be far more attractive than putting all your eggs in one basket that surely won’t be the latest and greatest anymore two winters on.

      The frame itself is the last thing you’d want to sell: pretty much everybody who would prefer the modular approach is already struggling to find new roles for their n-x bikes.

    • EV

      The problem will be in getting cost down to where it’s not much more if not less than a basic beater frame. Once you add in fore aft adjustability for seat and bars, custom made framing that’s solid enough to last, adjustable cranks, and decently aligned bb and derailleur hanger, I found cost was going to be way too high to justify the project. And with the smart bikes coming out, the cost differential wouldn’t be enough to make sense.

    • “I hate these static bikes.”

      To be fair, while I was filming stuff on the Wahoo bike today, it was interesting how much more side to side movement it allowed. Obviously, the Tacx bike is just a solid rock, going nowhere. And basically the same with the Atom.

      However, the Wahoo bike has some play side to side. I presume that’s on purpose, but more than I think I realized until I was going back and forth one after another and holding a camera pointed down.

    • Thomas

      @DCR

      Can you elaborate a bit on this side-to-side movement? Maybe you can have Wahoo to confirm they have build that in on purpose (and not due to not being durable).

      That single pivot (together with the climb module) do have to withstand quite a lot of force. Imagine a 100 kg guy putting down 1200 watts. That’s just massive on that single pivot.

      Having a bit of play there as well, will not make the strength calculation easier…!? Can you get Wahoo to confirm this is intended?

      In advance, thanks a lot

    • Bryan

      Does the side-to-side flex in the Kickr bike improve its road feel? I would assume that the movement on the trainer would probably be analogous to the movement of a bike on the road, but without actually riding it myself, I can’t rule out that possibility that the flex might fight the rider a bit.

    • I think it does improve the feel. I confirmed with Wahoo this morning it’s on purpose and the design of the hardware accounts for that.

    • Thomas

      This is a huge plus for the KickrBike!

    • EV

      Until the pivot develops play.

    • Roughly my comment as well. I suspect we’ll find out in a few years.

    • Thomas

      If designed correct, it wont…

    • JD

      I would call it “inherent by design” rather than “on purpose”. ;->
      One only needs to look at the side-by-side photo to realize why the WB can’t possibly be as stable as the others under load. Simple physics.

    • JD

      Sorry, meant to say KB not WB.

    • Thomas

      But you don’t want a 100% fixed position. A bit play is much better and much more like in real life. Just do 2-3 hours on a fixed bike and you know what I mean. I’m not saying it can’t be done. I used to do so back in the old Kettler days. But now using a Taxc Neo with sway is SO MUCH better.

      Once again, if engineered right, it should last…

  4. T in Tulsa

    Just so much dang money for a TRAINER bike. I would much rather spend that money on a new bike/components/wheels/clothing, etc. Just my opinion.

    My trainer setup is my old 2009 Roubaix on a Kickr Cor with a knockoff Wahoo desk and television. All for well under $3K value. Works perfectly for me.

    No interest at all for me but I’m clearly not their market.

    • Robert

      Many in the target market will reply that your option (which I also use) falls apart when two users want to share the same hardware. Then it’s either double the money (two bikes, two trainers) or not-quite-double but double the trouble (two bikes, one trainer).

    • T in Tulsa

      And that’s a fair assessment, just not applicable to me…..thankfully! LOL

    • Not to mention the space…. That is exactly why I am looking into Smart Bikes….

  5. Kyle

    “Segue” 🙂

  6. Shar

    It is preposterous that the Wattbike does not the have Fore/Aft adjustment for the Handlebars &Saddle! It’s inconvenient if you want to share with other family members, friends or small cycling studio…etc!

    • Yeah, it’s a pain. Just to be clear, you can adjust, just not without a wrench.

      One minor note is that the Wattbike’s vertical components as they go up/down actually slide at an angle inwards and outwards. So proportionally it’s not horrible.

  7. Thomas

    Oh Ray…. What about sound level? Though I’ve only skimmed your excellent review, I did not see anything about noise. Can you elaborate on that?

    Thx 🙂

    • Yeah, I thought about that about 10 seconds after I pressed publish. Initially I was going to have the video review publish at the same time as the written review, but then reality set in. That’s tomorrow’s project.

      In the meantime, the short version is that off the top of my head in a non-consecutive test, I’d say the Tacx bike is the quietest, then the KICKR Bike when it’s not making funny sounds, and then the Wattbike Atom. All are incredibly quiet.

    • Thomas

      Thx Ray 🙂

    • Jeremy Munday

      Corrosion from sweat had caused the hex bolt to seize on my Atom, I tried unsuccessfully to free it with WD40 but then ruined the head of the hex bolt so its no longer adjustable. I have also needed to re-solder one of the power in cables. Overall I think it is a great bit of kit but there are some issues.

    • Duncan

      I always drape a sweat towel over the tri-bar pads to ensure no sweat gets anywhere near those bolts.

  8. Jared

    In summary wait until version 2 of all of these next year.

  9. Bob Goodman

    Hold on a minute……….Zwift supports gear display on these bikes? So……what is stopping Zwift from using the ant+ protocol to show Di2 gear display on screen? Now wouldn’t that be nice!

    • Indeed.

      I think it’s a question that really raises a core issue Zwift has: Nobody is actually in change of trainer company integrations. There’s no single person who’s sole job is that. That’s why things like gear indicators only work on Bluetooth Smart and only for the Wattbike Atom. It’s why Wahoo sends the data, but Zwift doesn’t show it. It’s why the road feel for the Tacx Bike only works in certain Zwift connectivity modes. And it’s why steering works for none of the companies.

      These trainer companies try really hard, but simply can’t make any meaningful traction at Zwift at getting these things done. It’s a theme I hear from everyone in the industry.

    • Kostya

      Well, Tacx had pretty good shot a being Numero Uno software wise. They definitely blew it.

    • Malcolm

      “ It’s why the road feel for the Tacx Bike only works in certain Zwift connectivity modes.”. I must have missed this in the reviews. I can’t get road feel on my Tacx Neo Bike setup so I assume I do not have the correct combination of settings. Ray – could you list the settings this works for (or point me to where they are listed). Thanks!

    • Malcolm

      Ok, I see now that it’s only offered on iOS at present. Pity as I used a PC most of the time. Will have to try iOS on iPad (on tiny screen) and see whether that helps.

  10. RSTL13

    Hey Ray,

    Nice review! A couple of questions surrounding the Wahoo bike specifically:

    – any word from Wahoo on whether they are looking to add broadcasting via ANT+? so many people using garmin, etc that would want that data.
    – also, from everything I have heard (from Wahoo directly and from my local shop) is that Wahoo won’t know about the next set of bikes to go out until December, meaning no bikes (other than the 100 already spoken for) will be going out until sometime between January – March. Can you confirm the same?

    thanks!

    • RE: Broadcasting

      Initially I heard soon, but that was almost a month ago. Not sure now. I’ll circle back in time for my in-depth review.

      RE: Wahoo shipments

      What you’re hearing matches pretty closely to what I’ve got as well. As you said, 100 bikes is incredibly small. That means only 2 bikes per state, to put things in perspective. They’re finding out the same thing Tacx found out, but on a year timeline: Getting manufacturing up to speed on these bikes is incredibly difficult. And the shipping logistics involved are even more complicated.

  11. David W

    I thought that the Kickr Bike needed no calibration. But you have listed it as having a spindown calibration in the table. Which is correct?

  12. Jon

    Hi! Thanks for the review. Quick question: what’s the maximum user height in each model? I’m 202 cm and I’m afraid I may not fit in any of them…

    • Wahoo publishes it on their page as 6’4″ max rider height (193cm), but I didn’t see either Wattbike or Tacx’s specs published easily. I’ll go poking tomorrow via e-mail and get it added in.

      The trick there is using straight height is a bad indicator, since things like leg length matter just as much. Still, in your case my guess is that it’s gonna be a tough bet.

    • Mathijs

      Was at your open house and had a test on the Tacx. Fit was good for me and for one of my friends, didnt have the feeling that I was on the limit of the seatpost. Both are 198cm and the other guy has relative long legs. On the Atom we were on the limit. As Tacx is dutch and dutch people are the tallest in the world, I assume they have some slack build in.

    • Rob

      I’m 204cm, so I’ve been asking the same questions. Depending on your seat height requirements, the Tacx and Wahoo will fit. They both go up to around 90cm to the top of the saddle.

      Shane Miller aka GPLama has youtube reviews that show the min/max dimensions for both of these. Worth a watch!

  13. Matthew Weigel

    Random nit: I think the word you were looking for was segue, an uninterrupted transition, not Segway, the mobility device that was going to take the world by storm and ended up just leaving some people looking goofy.

  14. David E.

    Still trying to figure out who the market is for these. If it’s hardcore cyclists/triathletes, as others have mentioned, those folks could buy a bike and a proven trainer for the same price. If it’s the Peloton crowd, I’m not sure how they compete on the software side with what Peloton is offering. Who are they expecting to buy these, and who will actually buy them?

    • EV

      They are all pretty much selling out, admittedly at initial quantities, but clearly a number of people want them. In my case with the tacx it’s because we have multiple users in the house, I prefer to keep my bikes out of the workout room, and I got tired of the constant bike swapping, gear adjustment. Noise was also a consideration. The tacx is super quiet, especially shifting.

    • Garry

      I see this comment posted a bit on sites and if there was not a market then they would not make them? I have a Wattbike, older model with B monitor and I think it is great. I prefer it to having to have a trainer bike and a trainer, I can wheel it away, takes up less space in the spare bedroom / garage little or no maintenance, is ready to go at no notice and not interested in putting the good road bike on a trainer, even though it is a steel frame. I can use it and my wife can use it with only a small change to the setup. So for me a separate trainer like these works.
      If someone already had passed down their good bike to be the trainer / spare bike or did not want to spend that many $ in one transaction, sure, I get why these do not appeal.

    • There’s definitely a market. The question is how big of a market. Which then gets into two basic questions:

      A) How big of a market for $3,000+ indoor bikes?
      B) How big of a market for $1,500-$1,800 indoor bikes?

      My guess is there’s a solid global market for $3,000+ indoor bikes, but perhaps not quite enough to sustain 4-5 trainer companies with limited distribution.

      However, I think there’s a substantial market for $1,500-$1,800 bikes. Wahoo has effectively proven that with the KICKR at $1,199 – which is still their most popular unit. I’d bet a majority of dual-household people would buy a KICKR Bike Lite (perhaps sans-CLIMB) at $1,699 over a KICKR at $1,199. And probably a lot of people who just spend money on parts.

      Peloton has shown there’s substantial market here for the $2,250 price point, but that’s going beyond the niche of cycling. It’s general fitness and the ‘want to look good’ crowd. Which is nothing wrong with that crowd, hardly. Realistically that’s why a lot of people are on Zwift or anything else – to be fit, and in turn, to look better. With Peloton that’s a driving factor in the marketing. Versus with Zwift the marketing is literally getting faster (Fun is fast).

    • David E.

      I think that’s right. I see the $1699 market. It might even include me, as my wife might enjoy using it and the multiple user issue is a fair point. At $3000+, it’s a hard sell. As for Peloton, one pays that much in order to be able to pay more for the workouts (what a business model!). These other bikes don’t offer that, and Zwift doesn’t have the same broad appeal as Peloton.

    • Duncan

      I have had an Atom for coming up to two years. The thing I like most is the simplicity of having the machine set up and ready to go (assuming my ‘head unit’ is charged!). I frequently train at 05:15am, before work, and at that time every minute counts. I turn the Atom on, turn on the Kindle, turn on the TV and I’m off.

      Another factor for me was not sweating all over one of my road bikes!! Obviously I could have bought a cheap road bike and paired it with a wheel-off trainer, but the footprint is bigger, and the solution doesn’t look as neat – the Atom is a great looking machine.

      PES (Pedalling Efficiency Score) has been a revaluation. When I first got the Atom my score was low, indicating I was stomping. Through focus, my score is now consistently in the target zone, and I believe that this has transferred the the road.

      Finally, I have a wife and small child. Training on the Atom has freed up time. I can grab a focused hour here and there, where I could justify going out on the road bike. To be honest, there have been plenty of occasions where I would have gone out on the road and I have chosen to ride the Atom in the garage, this is especially so in the dank winter months that those of us in the UK enjoy so much!!

    • One can guess market is there. Kettler sells top end model Racer RS pretty much for the same money as Tacx NeoBike. The critical difference is support for TrainerRoad, Zwift etc. That is what makes me mad. Why the company that has the HW ready (Kettler) just does not start to support these 3rd party apps. People were and are buying these bikes; supporting even more apps could hardly harm their market share. Rather opposite, or?

    • Thomas

      I have used Kettler Racer RS for years before jumping the smart trainer train in 2017. Their community is ok. I once asked their developers when they would open of for Zwift etc. Their reply back then early 2017 was that “Zwift ect, is a compeditor. We will not open up for that. We will keep Kettler World Tours”…!

      To my knowledge they released KWT 3.0 earlier this year. It’s an so-so-OK software but ligthyears from Zwift and Tacx video quality.

      Agree their hardware is really strong and VERY silent. But their bikes are also VERY stiff. Not the best for longer sessions…

    • Agree. we also had Racer S. KWT is quite Ok, but definitely not the same experience. One of the biggest thing was absence of training plans and as far as I remember it was not possible to import the sessions for example from TP or so; so again the lack of support for those apps is quite limiting for some users. I can understand their philosophy, but somebody already mentioned somewhere that they have to make sure they do not go “Nokia Way”…

  15. Kostya

    Well, Tacx had pretty good shot at being Numero Uno software wise. They definitely blew it.

  16. Ramon de Hosson

    Tacx officially ships globally at the moment, but due to supply limitations it is still very hard to get your hands on. Eg. here in the Netherlands they are still shipping backorders placed in 2018.

    In your Twitter you mention Truekinetix bike. Will there be some sort of a review / comparison on that bike too?

    • It’ll be a ‘hands-on’ type post, within the next 10 days or so.

      In talking with them, they don’t see themselves as having a production unit. They see it as a prototype of sorts, and are selling it that way (for example, they don’t have certifications). Additionally, it’s only available in the Netherlands for the foreseeable future while they sort out scaling up.

      It’s cool stuff, and I’m looking forward to talking about it (it’s sitting here next to me), but it’s not quite as polished as the others at this stage.

  17. Note that Tacx Neo Bike Road Feel Simulation is not working for most (all?) who have the bike (including me) with Zwift. I was hoping the Halloween Zwift update released today would fix it but no joy. 🙁

    • It actually depends on which connectivity option you’re using. It works today on iOS, but not Windows. Last check I don’t think it was working for me on Apple TV. It’s all on Zwift unfortunately.

      This applies equally to both NEO Bike and NEO 2T right now.

    • mf22433

      I just tested for the first time my Neo 2T (in replacement of the Neo 1) and road feel works perfectly in the Tacx Desktop Application. I really like it.

      Note that I initially had a Neo Bike preordered since 2018 and finally decided to skip it for the moment, actually I came to the same conclusion as you: “I think if I were a regular buyer in this category, I’d probably wait a bit. I’d probably wait to see both the Wahoo & Tacx early production teething pains dissipate”.

    • Malcolm

      So it should just work with an iPad (mini), Bluetooth connection and selecting the controllable trainer option? Didn’t seem to work for me despite riding on the cobbles in the village in zwift. Either I’m doing something wrong, riding in the wrong place, or there’s a problem with mine. Is there something else I should enable to make it work that I’m missing?

    • I shot a message to Zwift to see what’s up. It’s really pretty silly at this point and honestly show just how poorly Zwift handles trainer company integrations. No wonder these companies are all frustrated.

  18. Daniel

    I’m out, no one likes a bad rub

  19. Andrew

    I don’t understand why these bikes go to all the trouble of allowing easy adjustment but then drop the ball on enabling saddle and bar swaps. Otherwise there is no way my wife and I will ever share use of one of these. Do they have plans to sell a second seat post/ quick release bar clamp and additional shifters to enable this?

    • Peter McClure

      Wattbike sells seat posts to allow this. Fore/aft adjustment on the seat post and handlebar is done with an allen key.

    • Yeah, I believe when I talked to Tacx they were going to sell an extra saddle rail as well, which means it’d be silly quick to swap out.

      I suspect once Wahoo gets it’s head above water, they’ll probably do the same.

  20. Peter McClure

    “only Wahoo offers a fit guide”. Wattbike Atom fit guide here.

    link to wattbike.com

    • Thanks, added! Though, what I was aiming for there was something app-integrated with the setup process. I think if Wattbike would integrate it into their app, that’d be best.

      Still, it’s better than what Tacx has.

  21. Juan

    Hi Ray.

    Thanks for the comparison.

    I was expecting to see a noise/silent capabilities comparison between all 3 models.

    I see all of them pretty close in terms of functionalities (specially the Wahoo and the Tacx)

    One of my drivers of choice would be silent capabiliites as living on a flat and training at late night is one of my pains with the neighborhood

    Any advice or data on that?

    Thanks

    • Yeah, I had planned to publish my video concurrently with this – which would have covered that. Then reality set in with how many more hours of work that’d be. The video is today’s project.

      For noise, you’re assumption is correct. The Tacx and Wahoo are fairly close, save the weird Wahoo noises I get at certain cadences – which make it substantially louder. The Wattbike isn’t a loud bike by any means, it’s just that these are quieter.

      Realistically, I can’t imagine apartment folks would have issues with any of them.

  22. Christoph Hanck

    Hi Ray,

    great as usual!

    One newbie aspect that may not have been discussed, or that I may have missed:

    How is what one might call the “stability” of sitting on one of these bikes relatively to, say, Tacx Neo 2? I do currently own neither anything like a Tacx Neo 2 nor, unsurprisingly, a, say, Neo bike, but have briefly tried the former in a store.

    While you maybe get used to it, my impression was that riding a Tacx Neo 2 is slightly, well, wobbly. Totally not in the sense that you’d be afraid of falling off the bike, more like in the sense of “if I slightly shake like this for the next 1-2 hours in a workout staring at a screen, I’d be susceptible to get a headache.”

    So my question: is that in any sense different on the bikes discussed here? I sort of expect them to stand more solidly, given that you do not need to balance on 25mm front-wheel at, physically, 0 km/h.

    [I own exactly one roadbike that I wish to use on sunny winter days and that I do not wish to have to assemble and reassemble all the time, so price-wise, a 2nd bike plus a Tacx Neo 2 seems to be in the same ballpark as the bikes discussed here.]

    • The NEO2 ‘sway’ is actually a feature that most people like. It gives you a tiny bit of movement or play, just like a real-bike.

      As for these bikes (Tacx/Wattbike) – nope, they’re all rock-solid. Zero sway. The Wahoo bike does go up and down, so there’s that movement.

      [Edit] – And actually, in playing with some more here on Friday, the Wahoo bike does got a bit more side to side.

    • Fergal239

      Great post, as always.

      I think this lack of sway is a big issue. I have a Neo1 and the little bit there is, makes a real difference. I previously had a wheel on and things got very ‘sore’ and worse every minute from about an hour in. Sitting on a post isn’t fun. I’ve very surprised they don’t have some flex.

    • Ruthless Cur

      Having flex is very important to me too. I have a Neo 2 and would not go back to the Kickr b/c of the lack of it. Having a dedicated permanent setup (which many of us probably have if you spend as much time as me on the trainer in the winter months), the only thing missing is a more realistic road feel. That is what online training is always pursuing right? I am holding out for a bike treadmill with a wrap-around screen. That would be the ultimate road-feel indoor trainer! Is that too much to ask?

  23. Michael Curtis

    I have been waiting on this post, thanks Ray informative as ever. My gym membership is up soon. It is hard to do Trainerroad on a gym bike! The Atom was my first choice until the Tacx came out, but it seems I won’t be able to get one of those anytime soon in the UK.

    I was going to hang fire until Black Friday, but it seems Watt Bike don’t have the need for sales and just do a ‘specials’ on matts, bottles etc each month. I was a little worried that an Atom v2 hardware version would be released soon as the hardware is ‘old’ compared to the others. Looks like it is time to press go and order.

  24. Caiman

    It would be nice to see a comparison of the internal resistance systems. I understand that the Neo is a direct drive, meaning the cranks drive the resistance unit without a belt, while Wahoo still uses a belt, which will degrade over time and will have to be replaced. Don’t know anything about the Atom regarding its resistance system. Nonetheless, my money will be on a Neo Bike 3.0 two years from now. 🙂 Thanks.

    • EV

      I thought I read that the Neo bike has a belt as well. It has to have something that connects between the cranks and the resistance wheel and I can’t imagine what else it would be.

    • Correct, the NEO bike has a belt too.

    • Ruthless Cur

      Do you see any one bike more user friendly in terms of maintenance or repairs? Is one more modular than another so that the whole bike would not have to be shipped for repairs/replacement?

    • I haven’t taken any apart, so I can’t quite say. However, I think at the moment we’d have to consider the Wattbike Atom as sorts the ‘best’ option from a repairs/etc standpoint. Merely because it’s been in the market three years with a very very low rate of complaints around hardware issues.

      It’s also a simpler design. It has less moving parts, less functions, and thus less things to break.

      At the other end, the Wahoo bike has more functions and more things to break. but that doesn’t mean they will break. It just means that it has more things that could go wrong. Time will tell where and how they end up. It’s just too soon to know.

    • Caiman

      This is really a bummer with a belt driven design. I think they could have put the resistance unit right at the cranks/BB for a direct drive design. Oh well perhaps in version 3 or someone else will come up with this idea. Thanks.

    • EV

      There must be a reason why none of the bikes put the resistance unit right at the cranks. Looking at the ratios inside the Tacx, it’s clear they use a pretty high gearing ratio to make the flywheel spin faster than the cranks. That would indicate that the resistance system needs that kind of speed differential to work properly. Probably a similar issue with the other bikes. I thought it might also just be a ergonomic issue of keeping the q factor down, but I suspect they need that gear ration more than anything else.

  25. Diederik

    Can any of these simulate oval chainrings?

  26. Pamela

    Hey Ray, just a copy editing note — at the beginning of the article, you say you’re going to refer to the “Wahoo Bike” as “Wahoo Bike” but halfway through the article you start calling it the “KICKR bike.” Just a heads up of something you might want to edit for consistency. Thanks as always for your work!

  27. Slates

    What would be the best way of transferring my race bike TT setup over to an Atom (ordered last week)?

    Cheers for the heads up.

  28. MATTHEW YANKOW

    “Tacx has had some teething issues as new units have gone out, though most of these issues seem related to the inventory they had been stock-piling over the summer. The most common issue being an overheat warning, which depending on the cause requires either a simple firmware fix or replacement of the entire unit. The number of people reporting this has seemingly evaporated over the last week or two”

    The reason my report evaporated was because I had to ship my bike back last week and was told that they would be shipping a replacement out after they received it back and then yesterday I received notice that they would not be shipping out my replacement until MID TO LATE DECEMBER! I put on 1,100 “mile” before the whole trainer portion of the bike went out of wack and resistance and power started jumping all over the place. This is on top of the 2 usb ports stopped working. So after waiting 14 months from pre order date (which was only supposed to be 3 months) I had less than a month of riding on it before it broke and now I have to wait an additional 2 months (with that date maybe slipping into 2020) and then hoping it does not break again.
    I am back on my Kickr, which after riding the NEO Bike for that short time feels like going back to fly coach after taking your personal jet.
    I am unhappy.

  29. Nick

    Wattbike must really not care about sales- I wanted to discuss by order and see if they would be willing to give me something extra (due to no discounts policy and Black Friday coming);

    Instead, I got an order cancellation email LOL!!! I guess I am not buying a smart bike after all

    • Michael

      What was the timeframe for delivery. Maybe I should order mine before Black Friday. No point waiting.

    • Duncan

      Isn’t your answer in your question?

      As I understand it Wattbike are selling every unit they produce. They do sometimes sell discounted returned and refurbished Atoms – you’d need to check their website, and I believe there are £50 off codes now and then.

  30. fisao

    I have been very much looking forward to this comparison, thank you very much Ray!

    Wife and I definitely want a smart bike but the products aren’t quite there yet, but VERY much interested fin Stages’ bike. having tried their smart bikes in Gyms it seems they might have more experience in designing and manufacturing hardware that is easily adjustable and durable. But to be honest, it is the lower price that got my attention when you wrote about it at Eurobike.

    Good things to come in the future I am sure.

  31. Janneman

    Incline/Decline a party trick? Am I wrong in believing it brings a real simulation to indoor training.

    Lights, cobbles and wobbles… That I agree with.

    • EV

      I was considering dropping my Neo bike Pre-order after the Wahoo came out because of the climb feature, but after trying the regular climb out at a store, I was pretty much underwhelmed and kept my tacx order. For small incline changes I really didn’t even notice the bike moving. Really didn’t add anything to the ride experience. For bigger ups and downs I just thought it was kind of annoying after a while. I don’t know. Just didn’t seem to matter much. It did seem like a gimmick to me, and certainly not something I’d pay extra for.

    • Janneman

      Yeah, I would disagree… TACX would not build the party trick/gimmick in their super expensive “treadmill” if it wasn’t meaningful to have incline/decline.

      I simply think TACX is way behind on design compared to Wahoo and will try and bring out this feature in future releases. And do not think Wattbike in interested in these types of features.

      I think Ray might be to close to the Garmin/TACX folk to say anything negative and remain objective…

      Don’t know, but the NEO and Wattbike just seems like a NOKIA 5110 at this stage. Maybe I’m a biased fanboy leaning towards the KICKR BIKE. Also important to note that I do not have the money for any of these bikes, but if I had… The Wahoo variant seems to be something Steve Jobs would have signed off between the three.

      P.S GPLama has some hard hitting journalism on the units. Less “Switzerland neutrality”.

    • I’ll be honest – it doesn’t sound like you’re reading what I’m writing.

      Go back and read my Tacx Bike Review. I was incredibly critical on numerous things. Even read the ‘Party Tricks’ section text (not just the header and photos). If we look at both my KICKR CLIMB and NEO Road Feel past posts, you’ll see opinion is evenly split on whether they are ‘fun’ features are ‘useful training’ features. I attempted to cover exactly that split above. I personally find both fun to use, in different ways. It’s not about Switzerland there – I just don’t really have a strong opinion either way on either feature. I use them both and then don’t use them both, and my general opinion is ‘Shrug, nice when they’re there – don’t substantially miss them when they aren’t.

      Sometimes Shane and I will simply have different experiances. Take for example the boxes. Shane’s Tacx Bike Box turned into a snowglobe on one edge. But, that’s sorta what it’s designed to do (albeit annoyingly messy). Mine didn’t. However inversely, *both* of the KICKR Bike unit boxes I have look like hell. Part of that may be customs inspecting them, but they actually have no direct side padding. I’ll place a $1 bet that 6 months from now that box will be different, because I’m gonna bet there’s gonna be more damaged bikes down the road. That’s all part of learning things.

      With bikes this big and heavy, people (including carriers) have a harder time managing them. As such, they’ll usually get rougher treatment than a smaller box.

      As I said earlier on (again, in this post for text to read) – I think Wahoo has a better design on paper (and far better marketing), but I’m unconvinced that from a manufacturing standpoint they’re there yet. Tacx isn’t perfect either, but the manufacturing related teething issues they have right now seem (far) less challenging than Wahoo’s. Time will really tell here.

    • Thomas

      I think the challenge both companies are facing are;

      – Do we build an indoor smart bike that looks and feel like an indoor bike?
      – Or do we build a indoor smart bike that is as strong as an indoor bike, but looks like a bike?

      Having been riding a Kettler bike for years, which are VERY solid, before jumping the smart trainers in late 2017, I can tell that the answer to above is not easy. A rugged indoor smart bike will be rock solid and last for years (i.e the Stages bike) but is good to ride? Does it replicate riding outdoors? I would say no. Sitting 100% stationary will give you good training, but it’s not the same as riding outside.

      I clearly remember how I had to transition from indoor to outdoor back in the days where I came from my Kettler. It took about 2-4 weeks to completely transision. Kinda odd since the bikes where set up identically(!).

      So building A STRONG indoor smart bike that does replicate outdoor riding is absolutely no easy thing.

      Do I think Tacx does that, building an indoor bike that replicates outdoor riding. Yes and no. The Neo definitely has a smooth riding characteristics, so yes in that manner. But the bike is rock solid (which is needed for durability), so the overall feel will be far off reality.

      The same goes for the KickrBike. Though not tried it, I’m sure it’s equally smooth and compares well to reality. But then again – and back to this stationary position – it will never be the same.

      Finally I think we need to start talking about; what can we expect from riding indoors? Can we expect it to be just like IRL? IRL we have lots a movement from the bike. Things that are very hard to build into a strong and durable indoor bike.

      So yeah – back to the start. Both companies (and others) are trying to give their answer on how to do that. But in reality I think we need much input on how it’s done. I think this is only the start. Throughout the next 5 years we will see big development in this area. Wanna jump the train now? Go ahead, but prepare to change horse next year again.

    • Ihsan

      While I agree pedaling an inclined bike would require “some” help from other muscle groups than utilized while pedaling a bike on a level surface, you can’t be suggesting riding an untethered bike on an inclined surface and riding an inclined but fixed bike can be same can you?

      Trust me, if wahoo made climb available to other trainers, I would definitely get one during a fall/spring sale, but I am under no illusion that it is 80%+ gimmick.

    • If I could give a star or sticky to this (Thomas’s) comment I would, especially the first three lines. Spot-on.

      I don’t think these companies have figured out what makes the best “indoor bike” experience yet, however we define that. It’s gonna take a few years.

    • RE: Riding the same inclined vs non-inclined

      Nope, I don’t think they’re the same. I don’t doubt there’s some engagement there. Whether it’s a meaningful amount, I don’t know.

      I really don’t have any negative issues with either feature. As noted in the lead-of that section, it was simply a catch-all bucket section for things that didn’t fit into any of the other sections from a comparison perspective.

    • Thomas

      Exactly…! It will never be the same. Maybe we just have to accept that (to some extent). I know I’m slowly heading this way. There will be compromises. It will never be the same. We have to accept that.

      I have had the climb module. Rest asure it’s a 80% gimmick. Nit-picking on that one too; tilting the bike from the rear axle does feel rather odd on the long term…

    • Ihsan

      I agree. My comment was in response to Jenneman’s comparison of tacx magnum and wahoo bike.

      Apart from availability issues, If magnum’s price was the price of these indoor smart bikes, it would have been the ultimate indoor training platform.

    • Thomas

      Indeed yes on the Magnum. If it is silent too 😉

    • Neil Jones

      @Janneman if you’re concerned that Ray has got too close to Garmin to be impartial, then you need to check back on some of his other Garmin-related posts over the last 12 months. I suspect that Ray’s influence is such that, unlike smaller reviewers, he doesn’t need to worry about (objectively) upsetting manufacturers.

    • Janneman

      Noted all comments, thanks for the reply Ray.

      I agree that we’re in the infant stages from what we’ll see from the various IDT companies and that “marginal gains” will be the discussion points going forward.

      Did not mean any disrespect with regards to my comments… 12 months is a long time in business and I hope the DCR business remains super hard hitting, unbiased journalistic style reviewing.

      It is the nuances I use to make buying decisions… And DCR is on my most visited pages every week… Love your work, keep up the painstakingly detailed, awesome reviews.

    • Paul S.

      “you can’t be suggesting riding an untethered bike on an inclined surface and riding an inclined but fixed bike can be same can you?”

      Depends on how much money you have to spend, but, yes, it should be possible to get arbitrarily close to the experience outside. Not on one of these bikes, of course, but it should be possible to simulate all of the accelerations you feel outdoors. (When I say should, I’m talking about physics. The engineering may be too hard, but they do make simulators for other things, so maybe not. But it’s just an application of the equivalence principle: an acceleration is an acceleration and you can’t tell how they’re produced.) But then you have to throw in some kind of 3-d imaging, variable speed fans and a good audio system surrounding you for the full experience, and I imagine it takes a lot of measuring and computation to be able to do it in real time on a given day. (I don’t think you can just take some kind of super recording on one day and use it over because we don’t feel the same every day, and of course, you can’t use one person’s recording for another.) If you’ve ever been on “Soarin'” at Disney Land/World, think of something like that. You know you’re not flying, but it does feel that way.

    • EV

      Of course incline matters on a treadmill—for running. I was commenting on how I thought it was pretty much a useless gimmick on a bike trainer. Sure, tacx could even come out with a replacement front leg option with climb for the Neo bike, but I certainly wouldn’t pay much for it. Had the same reaction to a basic rocker I tried. At a certain point I’d just rather be on a solid bike that lasts for hard pedaling and not bother with trying to fully simulate outdoor feel because none of it works very well.

  32. Tim P

    The tacx bike seems impossible to purchase. My order was supposed to ship next week but it’s been delayed at least a month. It seems the qc issues are real. Reports of defective units are widespread. I’m really considering cancelling. Perhaps the wattbike will be fine for me. Interesting that they have also pushed back their US release date from 11/1 to 11/10. Its frustrating to not be able to actually purchase one of these and it seems even if you get one, its luck of the draw.

    • Tim P

      USA. Pittsburgh. I can’t find one. All major retailers are now saying early December. originally set for next week. I believe something is up with production. I asked my seller to inquire with garmin but no word yet. Maybe you can use your jedi skills to find out what’s up.

    • Jürgen

      It’s not just US. Tacx Bike shipping estimates slipped back by 2 months on all European sites. I received mails from 2 resellers today that say „unavailable due to technical problems for undefined time“. Looks to me like a complete sales stop.

    • Stuart

      My UK retailer is telling me that I should expect delivery of a Tacx bike before the end of this month. I ordered 4 weeks ago.

  33. SuperQ

    What I would love to know is if it will be possible to get extra brackets to easily swap the saddle without having to get out tools. This is important for multi-user situations.

  34. Andrew Whitehead

    Hi Ray. I’ve had a pre order of the Tacx Bike for over a year in the UK and in all that time I have not received a definitive answer as to whether the Bike will be suitable for both me and my wife. The UK distributor states it is adjustable to all bike sizes, but a chart I received from Garmin support shows a minimum saddle height of 640 mm above the level of the BB centre. This is higher than my wife has her saddle. She is 5’2″. Is it possible for you to measure this on your Bike as there doesn’t seem to be any opportunity to try it before committing to the purchase. If it is unsuitable we will go for the Atom which we know will fit, but I have a question about the virtual gearing. Can you clarify what the gearing corresponds to in both 22 & 11 speed. We both ride 34/32 as our easiest gears and would like to replicate this if possible. Many thanks for any help you can provide.

  35. Ruthless Cur

    I would like to know which would be user friendly in terms of maintenance or in-home repairs. How are they put together? Is one more modular than another, so repairs don’t involve shipping an entire bike? Thanks for the work you do!

    • Ahh…the magic question of the day.

      And honestly, I think we’re all gonna find out…the hard way.

      In the case of Wattbike, when I talked to them this summer about this (specifically in relation to USA sales and such), they noted that in their experiance, about the only areas that required service for their bikes was seat posts and handlebars, all easy to ship/replace by the user.

      But when it comes to the Wahoo and Tacx bikes, everything appears super sealed up. Whether or not that’s true in real-life when something goes wrong, I’m not sure. To date, people that have had Tacx issues have all ended up having to send them back somehow (costs covered, but still, that isn’t an easy task).

    • EV

      There’s actually a picture somewhere on the net of a guy who busted the belt on his Neo bike and they sent him tools and a replacement belt to fix it himself. Didn’t look terribly difficult. The entire side panel comes off and then it looks like most things are fairly accessible.

    • Ahh sweet, I hadn’t seen that. All the ones I’ve seen were just returns. Good to hear!

    • Graham

      Yeah, see these posts by stevemz (who does also post on here) on trainerroad forums where they had a belt snap and where sent a replacement:
      link to forum.trainerroad.com
      link to forum.trainerroad.com
      link to forum.trainerroad.com

    • Scott Millns

      It gets mentioned in this TrainerRoad discussion by stevemz

      link to forum.trainerroad.com

      post 123

  36. Martin

    I think I speak for almost none of us when I ask, “But how does it stack up to a Velotron?”

    • Haha…

      Well, Velotron doesn’t make the cut as it doesn’t pass the specific requirements in the opener of support ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth Smart FTMS (or at least some variant of that).

  37. Michael

    Thank‘s Ray for the overview. Great!!
    One question. Do you have any news on what’s going on at Tacx?
    I have one Smart bike on order in Germany, and it was going to be
    shipped (second batch) to my dealer end of October, then beginning
    Nov.
    Now they shifted to undefined point of time, due to some production issues??
    Thank‘s!!!

  38. Tim P

    USA. Pittsburgh. I can’t find one. All major retailers are now saying early December. originally set for next week. I believe something is up with production. I asked my seller to inquire with garmin but no word yet. Maybe you can use your jedi skills to find out what’s up.

  39. Bradley Tipp

    Wahoo told me that the seatpost is a standard 27.2mm post, so you can use your own one with a seat already fitted. that is my plan when swapping between wifey and I.

  40. Bradley Tipp

    Ray,
    when you say ” You can pair your Garmin or Wahoo device to it as a trainer, but you only want to do that if you’re actually controlling the trainer from that bike computer”. Does that mean that if I load a route into the Garmin and then connect the the Garmin as a trainer and ride the route, that i would get the data from the ride in a fit file? i.e. recorded?

    • Yup, correct. In fact, as of last week Garmin even rolled out new features for the Edge 530/830/1030 that does a much better job of doing route stuffs than before for indoor trainers. But even older units will control it just fine.

      That said, I do find the re-riding of outdoor rides on indoor trainers sometimes fiddly. Most companies that do this sort of apps tend to do lots of elevation smoothing and normalizing, which isn’t done when you just take a file as-is and re-ride it. Expectations sometimes don’t meet reality.

    • Caiman

      I think it won’t record as a regular ride, it will record as a workout.

    • Ihsan

      I believe the latest firmware updates make the edge headujits capture those rides as “virtual rides”. Can’t be certain though. All I have is a dumb trainer 😀

    • Paul S

      Yes. I simulated a ride today, one that I originally did on my gravel bike in the mountains on Wednesday, using my 830 on my STAC Halcyon, and it came out as a “virtual ride”. Got to agree with Ray that the feel wasn’t at all similar, and not just because I was sitting on my road bike. Maybe a better trainer can do a better job.

    • Caiman

      Oh good to know. Dang, it looks like eventually you could so virtual rides and workouts directly from an Edge, as there is no need to pay for an app to do that anymore. Thanks.

    • Bradley Tipp

      Thanks for confirming this Ray. I’ve never done this on a trainer but I was thinking of using this for some longer training rides I do ‘outside’ to do real hill repeats inside during the winter. Good to know it will get the data – I guess i’ll have to test to see how it really feels.

    • Bradley Tipp

      I’m hoping the climb function of this unit makes it feel more realistic. That’s one of the reasons for me pre order.

    • RE: Halcyon

      Yeah, the Halcyon (and the Fliiight by extension) are good in many ways, but the road-feel isn’t as good as other trainers. In this scenario, that’s probably exaggerated by how this aspect functions.

  41. Tim P

    Ray, which bike do you prefer if you could only have one. And do you think a trainer plus rocker board provides a better experience versus these bikes?

  42. Steve Short

    Ray, there’s no discussion of the alternative of buying a ‘cheap’ road bike to use as a dedicated turbo trainer with a Tacx Neo or Wahoo KICKR.

    I bought an almost unused carbon framed bike with Shimano 105 off eBay earlier this year to use as a dedicated indoor bike with my Tacx Neo 2.

    I think it’s worth considering as it’s a cheaper option than the Tacx and Wahoo bikes and you get ‘proper shifting’!

    There are budget road bikes (typically aluminium framed) with Shimano 105 available new in the £500-£700 range (and often discounted ever lower) that would make the overall cost something like £1,600-£1,80. So, quite a bit cheaper than the Tacx and Wahoo bikes. The heavy frame and cheap wheels these bikes come with is no disadvantage on a bike that’s only ever used indoors with a smart trainer.

    And there are often suitable higher spec second hand bikes with little use available on online auction sites as I found.

    There are pros and cons and I’m interested, as you’ve tried these three trainer bikes, what you’re opinion is on whether they offer a compelling reason to pay more than a trainer + dedicated road bike combination costs.

    • Bradley Tipp

      Steve,
      I would consider this, but for the fact that I want to be able to have more than one person use it….for two or more the reason i;m looking at the Wahoo is to ‘easily’ enable multiple users. I think it is still going to be more costly, but easier to switch. i.e. i could have two cheap frames and it would still be less, but I would have to keep swopping them over… Be an interesting thing for Ray to see the merits/downsides of this.

    • RSTL13

      Hey Steve,

      I think this point has been brought up fairly often in previous reviews of these bikes (at least in the comments). While it’s a valid point for some, there is definitely a market for these smart bikes. I’m a good example of that market. I want a bike that my wife can easily get onto (she likes to indoor spin from time to time). That means two users, so it would either be double the cost of two trainers/bikes/etc or to get one of these. Additionally, it means not lugging my carbon bike in and out of the basement several times every winter (I still ride outside on nicer winter days). Then there’s less noise. And less mess. And less maintenance. And I have the income to justify this purchase (but I would guess in the world of cycling, justifying a 3.5k smart bike vs the several thousand dollar road bikes can be made but lots of people).

      Don’t be confused – there is a market for these. And I would guess a bigger market than some would think. If it were just me, and I had a space with easy access in/out, then maybe I would consider keeping a trainer/bike combo. But that’s not the case, so these smart bike trainers are an absolute dream.

    • EV

      I got my Neo bike for the same reasons as many others: multiple users, no hauling bikes in and out, pain in the neck adjustments all the time, wanting a quick get up and go solution, and wear and tear on drivetrains and frames. What I didn’t expect was such a big difference in the overall ride experience. The Neo bike is much quieter than any bike/trainer, but it is the shifting that seals the deal for me. Not only is it silent, as opposed to the constant banging of gears on a trainer, but you can shift right in the middle of a flat out sprint, or grinding climb, and not miss a beat. No problem worries about destroying your drive train, no need to lighten the pedal for a sec, no skipped links. It’s a dramatically better ride experience than I think is possible on any bike combo. Sure, no bike can shift that way, but damn it’s a nice feel. Wish there was an outdoor drivetrain that could do this.

    • GLT

      Despite both solution types resulting in indoor cycling, the amount of overlap may be too low for some buyers to consider them as alternatives to each another.

  43. gilles

    Hi Ray,
    i’ve a low ceiling in my pain cave. So I’m afraid my head will touch it…It’s already very close with my regular bike
    + Tacx NEO…Do you know how high is the bottom bracket for each of these?
    tx

  44. Ethan

    I can’t help but wonder why none of these bikes have a quick swap mount for saddles. Saddle preference is a big deal and these are clearly designed to be used by multiple users. In most houses we are talking about a man and woman sharing a bike. Very different anatomy, it would be difficult to find a saddle both could live with. In a studio setting how great would it be to just buy an adapter and bring your own saddle to sessions.

    • Bradley Tipp

      The Wahoo uses a standard 27.2mm seat post. My plan is to use the one that comes with it for my saddle and get another cheap one for my wife. then it is an easy matter of setting the position and marking the them on each of them for a simple swop.

    • Ethan

      I get theres workarounds, but seriously 3k and they don’t have a built in quick release adapter. This is should be a product that allows another rider to walk up and “fit” the bike in less than a minute.

    • Bradley Tipp

      Personally I don’t want to fit a saddle each time. While I am sure you could technically build a quick release saddle system I think I prefer a quick release post…which is what they have.

    • Bertram

      A nice trick is to buy a spare saddle clamp, and clamp it on the seat post just above your regular one. That way you just drop your seat post in, and it will always be the same length.

  45. Jean-Yves Couput

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks for the comprehensive comparison. I have a question though:
    For « short » cyclists who use to ride an aggressive position (= important gap in height between saddle and handlebar to bénédicité from aero advantages).
    Can you precise if with a saddle height of 79.5cms (crankset axle to top center of the saddle) we can get a handlebar set-up 8cms below?
    Thanks a lot for your answer and enjoy your weekend!

  46. Donnie Barnes

    Personal opinion: at $3k-ish, I need one more thing for this to make sense that’s significant: a way to make it a normal spin bike for normal people. Ideally with a dedicated controller, but I think we’re now to the point that I’d settle for an iphone/android app made for normal folks to be able to SUPER EASILY fire up FOR FREE and get some basic spin bike functionality.

    Could be a revenue opportunity for the bike makers as it could also have some in-app purchases of upgrades or something, but it needs the basics out of the box. Without that, I’m going to throw an old bike on a KICKR at my vacation place, which is pretty obviously something nobody else would touch. *shrug*

    • EV

      How could you not use any of these as a spin bike? All you need for a spin bike is adjustable resistance. I don’t know how it’s done with the other two, but all that’s required with the tacx is a touch of the incline buttons or gear changes and presto, you have resistance change. If you want someone screaming at you from a artfully lit studio in NYC, you could even use it with the Peloton app, though it doesn’t report all the info to Peloton like their bike does. Otherwise, how is this not a spin bike too?

    • JD

      As far as spin bikes that do work with Peloton, Bowflex just got into the game with their C6 bike at $899 USD.
      link to bowflex.com
      Not sure how well “100 micro-adjustable resistance levels” work with Zwift, TrainerRoad. etc. but they claim compatibility with most cycling apps.
      You can use the dumbbells to practice water bottle lifts. ;->
      Obviously not the same capabilities as a $3500 smart bike but $899?!!
      For $3500 I’d want motorized size adjustment with memory settings like a you get with a premium car seat. Press 1 for rider 1, 2 for rider 2, etc.

    • EV

      The C6 is still basically a dumb trainer. No automatic resistance and it’s not even clear it has a power meter, so just a manually adjustable dumb trainer. Even using it on Peloton gives you limited functionality because they limit the data flow as compared to the Peloton bike. Of course it’s going to be dramatically cheaper than either the Peloton or any of the new smart bikes.

  47. Hey Folks!

    Just a quick update – I’ve added a new section to the post – a noise/sound comparison. It’s technically slated to be part of my comparison video I’m just wrapping up editing. But since I’m pretty happy with the way this specific section came out, I spliced it out to into a short 46 second video you can watch here.

    Here’s the hot-link to that exact section of the review:link to dcrainmaker.com

    It also includes a brief explainer on how exactly I did the recording/setup.

    Hope this helps!

    • Thomas

      NICE Ray…!

      That KickrBike does look a bit wobly…?!

    • Jay

      Was thinking the same thing and doesn’t look to just be flexing from side to side but, as it’s unsupported where the front forks would be, it looks to be rocking/flexing quite materially on that vertical axis as well…. although haven’t seen anyone who has ridden one mention this as an issue so far so assuming all that flex combines to trick the user into a feeling close to being on a free moving road bike? Must raise some questions over long term durability however which is surely one of the key reasons to go for one of these bikes rather than a real bike/trainer solution.

      And really nice vid – great work and very interesting to see them all in action side by side simultaneously. Although we are probably talking small margins here, I think it visually highlights the spectrum the bikes seem to sit on in terms of focus with the Atom on one end directing more focus to delivering a rock solid performance training platform and the Kickr at the other seeming to focus more on simulating the real world feel of road biking. For me, solely based on these reviews and other second hand accounts, the Tacx seems to strike the right balance/compromise between the two ends of the spectrum.

    • RSTL13

      Wait wait wait…. the big announcement here is that you have a second bike just hanging out? Ray, I think its time for you and I to play let’s make deal…

    • Bradley Tipp

      My assumption is that as this bike is meant to go up and down you are seeing play in the ‘climb’ assembly. I wonder if it makes it feel more natural?

    • EV

      No way any single point can be as solid and as strong as a normal frame like the tacx, watt, or stages. Over time, any joint that gets torqued side to side like the one on the kickr will develop play. Just a matter of when. Maybe it’s an expected wear item. If it’s not, it will be. Question is whether it’s robust enough to last for five or ten years before it develops play. The rest of the bike looks it flexes and torques back and forth. Maybe that’s ok and is expected. All depends whether it’s beefed up enough to handle all that movement without undue wear on joints, the pivot, and the climb piston.

  48. Thomas

    Just take s closer look on the saddles. On WB and NB the saddles is rock solid during sprint. Only on the KB there’s quite some play. I’m unclear whether this is good or not. Is it’s intended, I believe it’s really good. If it’s not, it could be a problem…

  49. Keith

    I had a Tacx NEO Bike on order with my LBS for over 12 months. Cancelled it last week as Tacx weren’t able to supply or give a delivery date. A bit concerned about the number of reports on here about issues and having to return the bike. Their customer care is appalling in my opinion. The LBS had to keep chasing them for info, never the other way round.

    Gone for the Wattbike Atom, should be good for this winter indoors. Nice people to speak to on the phone too. Their app looks really good for me as all I want to do is ERG sessions. No Zwift or anything social for me 🙂

  50. Matt

    Ordered a Tacx Bike with Clever using the link. Took my money immediately but no response of shipping etc. for more than a week. After emailing they got back and say it is backordered, even though it showed available when I ordered. Will cancel, what a bad customer experience and shady practice.

    • It shows real-time status of back-orders – I’ve not seen it show otherwise.

      However, it is worthy of note that mid-last week Garmin & Tacx have halted Tacx Bike Shipments for a few weeks to sort out some sort of issue.

    • EV

      I was expecting my replacement within a few days as they had indicated when I sent the first unit in, but also just received word that my replacement is delayed so that they can ensure the same problem doesn’t come up again with the new one. Maybe they discovered something in my return unit and some others that caused a general stop. Mine did work fine for a number of rides and then developed a creak in the bb, so maybe that’s one issue that needs sorting. Definitely some serious teething pains of early adoption. Hope whatever it is can be fixed quickly as riding on my normal trainer just doesn’t compare.

  51. Hi Ray,
    Thanks for yet another good reading :-).
    I have question regarding the rider weight settings; you said ” they need the rider weight inputted into the smartphone app in order to correctly model the inertia”. But the same setting is there for Neo2 (which we have currently) and I assume Neo2T as well. Does that mean that it is important to change this setting depending on whether my wife or I plan to ride on the trainer? I always thought that it did not matter, because Zwift just takes the power data and calculates the speed based on what is configured under the Zwift account. App like TrainerRoad probably care even less. Or? Thanks for clarification!
    Regards
    Marek

  52. Tim P

    Is anyone here considering the wattbike over the tacx/wahoo. Shane was pretty hard on it but Ray seems to be more positive. I guess it somewhat depends on the price. I am still debating over which of these to get.

    • The Wattbike has changed considerably over the past two years, all via software updates. I think the 11-speed was the biggest change specifically, along with things like on-screen gear display.

      It’s no Tacx bike or KICKR bike, but it’s also a lot cheaper.

    • Michael Curtis

      I will be getting a Watt Bike. I think for the price it will do exactly what I want it to do. I am a little worried there might be a Atom v2 around the corner, but for Trainerroad I think it will do what I want.

  53. This was very helpful. I have decided that I do want a dedicated indoor training bike that is not one of the bikes I like to ride outdoors. That’s just my personal preference. I don’t actually think that any of these sound like they are really ready for mainstream but we will find out over the next year or so. The setup and on boarding experience sounds really off-putting for most people.

  54. Chris N.

    I purchased a Wahoo Kickr 2019 trainer from a local bike shop last month and the owner was kind enough to give me the option to return it once the Kickr bike is available for full credit towards the Kickr Bike.

    I was really hoping that this comparison would help me make the decision but the summary which essentially suggests to wait for the second version of these bikes seems to suggest that I’m better off keeping the Kickr 2019 smart trainer…

    If you guys were me, what would you do????

    • Hehe, I am actually trying to solve the same dilema. I had Neo, sold it to purchase Neo2 after I realized NeoBike was not coming. Now I am selling Neo2; NeoBike seems to be delayed again and on top of this it seems like I better go for Neo2T or Kickr+Climb. I am reading reviews again and again, searching and googling – did not find the clear answer yet.

  55. Michael Curtis

    This is the reply I got back from Garmin re the Tacx Bike in the UK.

    Thank you for your email.

    There are various dealers already selling the trainer.

    However we are still completing the Backlog.

    So it will take some time before the trainer will be on stock at the dealers.

    We expect that the first quarter of 2020 the trainer will be available for direct purchase.

  56. Just in case someone is subscribed to comments but didn’t see my posting on Twitter/YouTube/etc… I’ve added my complete video variant of this post here: link to youtube.com

    It includes bits not originally in the text post like rider and shifting movement, noise, etc… Also, a few jokes.

  57. Horst

    A new Wattbike AtomX with ANT +, FE-C, Bluetooth, FTMS is coming soon (FIBO 20) On the market.

    link to wattbike.com

    • Yeah, the challenge is that it’s targetted for commercial usage only, not consumer.

      Personally I think that’s a mistake. But…well see if they perhaps look at taking that design and refreshing it for consumers somehow.

      Realistically it’s what people want: An everything inclusive platform. Peloton has clearly shown that model is highly successful. The only challenge though is that the display in the Atom X isn’t super powerful, and isn’t capable of running Zwift at this time.

    • Horst

      Maybe there is the AtomX the possibility to transfer the Wattbike display with an AppleTV on a 32 inch TV. Unless the Wattbike display does not hide the view of the 32 inch TV.

      Apart from that, the price should move around 5000 €, if the AtomX is ever sold to private.

  58. Lee Proctor

    Hi Ray

    Great and very informative review

    I have a Wattbike Pro that I’ve used on Zwift for the last three years. It’s a dumb trainer but the air driven fan feels exactly the same as riding IRL. I’m thinking of swapping it for a smart trainer and have been drawn towards the Kickr Bike but these aren’t available yet and I have a few concerns with the potential build quality and thigh rub issue. I guess a test ride would be a wise move once they’re available.

    I think the take home message is give it a bit more time. Hopefully by winter 2020 all teething problems will have been resolved and we’ll have a bit more user feedback to go on

  59. S. Savkar

    Ok so here is the problem I have every time with these static bike setups–

    (1) You lock yourself in. As technology changes, you ability to swap out components, etc., is difficult if not impossible with these static frames.

    (2) You lose the ability to take your bike off the trainer and go outside with the exact same setup so that indoor and outdoor are one in the same in terms of components, etc.

    (3) You pay a great deal for locking up real estate in your house with one of these things. Similar to the peleton or the other knock offs, This sits there in one location. Not easy to move, shift to one side, etc.

    Overall, when the peleton came out, I was fascinated by it, but every time I found reasons why my two bikes and a KICKR or (though I don’t have one) Tax Neo were a far superior deal than buying this hunking piece of metal and plastic that would take up room statically in whatever space i was in.

    My guess is if you don’t care about riding outside, and think you will spend your life on zwift or other virtual platforms then fine, spend this crazy amount of money. Otherwise, just get a trainer and enjoy the freedom of taking that same bike/frame off the trainer and going outside once in a while, which is far more of an experience than sitting inside all the time.

    That noted, with winter coming, I will happily put my bike back on the KICKR and spend my mornings indoors in te comfort of my own home!

    • Hi,
      This is discussed on several forums…
      How about this: we are two (if I count kids then four) users at home. Swapping the bikes sounds like bigger pain than changing the bikefit; where would I put the three “not used” bikes? How about the cassette? I myself have three different bikes so the argument about replicating the bikefit indoor-outdoor is only 33% true (or we can say that I replicate my fit on NeoBike?).
      Because of these reasons we have now even “worse” compromise having smaller frame mounted on Neo2 that somehow allows at least me and my wife ride indoors without swapping the bikes. Too big for our kids tho. NeoBike would be better solution.
      Just for myself – I agree with you. Trainer and my roadbike is ideal. For family…. I see it differently.
      Cheers
      Marek

    • Bradley Tipp

      Yep I agree too.

      I used to think the market for bike trainers was pretty small, and a few years ago it was. I was pretty much just the roadies looking to shelter from the wind and rain over the winter.
      then Peloton happened. I am still AMAZED at the number of people who I know who have one of those things. My assumption is that there are a lot more people who:

      a. Can afford it.
      b. Want the time back that having in home stuff gives you (1hr vs 2hrs total going to and from the the gym)
      c. Don’t ride outside on a real bike at any point in the year.

      The three bikes in the test are basically just better Pelotons for people who not only want a and b and c, but are also d roadies sheltering from the weather and combining it with having other household users use it as a Peloton.

      However as I already pointed out I didn’t think that was a enough big market. Peloton proved otherwise.So d might be a big enough group to support more of these. I also think that Atom X shows that taking this and building a commercial model fro the gym is a good cross over too. Peloton have put a fair number of there systems into hotels and it is certainly what influences my choice of hotel. If any of these showed up at a local gym I would be interested…

      It is a multi faceted marketplace and not all the facets are yet being exploited.

      It is going to be a fun ride…so to speak 🙂

      I think these bikes

    • EV

      I keep see people saying these are for people who don’t ride real bikes. I don’t believe that’s the case at all. These are clearly targeted at hardcore riders who don’t mind spending thousands on bikes, and probably already have multiple bikes worth more than this in the bike room. Very few people who don’t ride at all will be buying one of these right now. They are far more likely to go with Peloton. I have several bikes and would rather not use them on a trainer. It has nothing to do with not wanting to ride outside. In fact the more I train indoors, the longer I ride when I go outside.

    • Agree, I think folks vastly underestimate how big the mid to higher end bike market is (i.e. $3K to $10K bikes. I know it’s bizarre saying a $3K bike is ‘mid-range’, but that’s the reality of today’s bike market. Else, we wouldn’t be able to call a $10K bike high end.

      Given that, I think there will absolutely be plenty of people that may have considered a $5-$7K bike that might split the difference a bit. One only need ask your local bike shop the selling prices of bikes. Or even going onto bike manuf websites to see it.

      I was on Canyon’s site yesterday looking at tri bikes, and astounded with how expensive they are, even by Canyon standards.

    • Tim P

      Completely agree with this. For comparison sake, a mid range treadmill runs 3500 as well. High end hardware costs money. Peleton loses money in every bike they sell. I have little kids at home so sometimes my training is after hours and getting outside is tough. 3500 is a lot of money buts in line with other good quality exercise equipment. I changed my tacx order to wahoo. I cant wait to get it.

  60. Andy Thomas

    What about a rocking emulator like this link to bikeacces.com. This might make the Tacx and wattbike better?

    Just being a small amount of research as I’ve ordered the Tacx bike myself so no idea igh they’re any good.

    I’m not sure I’ll miss the rocking that much as I’m not seeking perfection, just something myself and my partner can use whilst not on the road to build up the ftp levels in the winter.

    I’m more nervous that my partner is about 5′ 2″ ….. was there an answer on that from Tacx re seat height? I’d be amazed if they’d restricted it. I looked in the manual and they only ever talk about max height and settings, not min ones

    • EV

      It would relatively easy to put a rocker bar under each pair of legs, or just some squishy material under each foot if you just wanted a little movement. I don’t see the need, but some seem to like a bit of movement.

      I actually think 5’2” could be a challenge on this bike. Reach should be fine, but leg length might be right at the limit. There is a measurement chart in the comments section of the Neo bike review.

    • Andy Thomas

      Wow – if this is the case I may well cancel the order. I notice a number of people on the other artivel asking the same question, but it being a bit ignored. Loads of advice for those at 6′ 4″, but nothing for us shorter folks

      There must be a minimum height. My partner will go nuts if she cant use it having convinced her that was the reason i.e. we can both use it

    • EV

      The minimum distance vertical from seat top to bottom bracket is 25.2” according to the chart. See if that works or not.

    • Jean-yves couput

      Thanks, but this is not only the mini saddle height that matters. There is also the difference we can get between the mini saddle height and the mini handlebar height.
      If too little, not to say negative, the position is going to be very much compromised

    • Andy Thomas

      Thanks, will measure her bike when I get home from work and see if it’s more than 25.2″, if so we’re good to go then. Shame if it doesn’t as she was getting almost as excited about getting it as I was

    • Andy Thomas

      Well, I put her on my Kintetic Rock n Roll and set the saddle height to 25.2 . It looks like she’s at a stretch, but what I’ve agreed with the LBS where I’ve placed the order for the Tacx bike that they will set it up in the shop and if it fits her great, if not, send it back and go for a NEO 2T instead

      Seems like the only sensible option given it’s so close to the edge in terms of the fit

    • EV

      The full chart is in the comments section of DCR’s Neo bike review.

    • JD

      DCR – Can you verify if the Tacx seat clamp can be flipped over and still allow mounting the saddle? That would lower the height by 2-3 cm by the looks of it..

    • Sorry – not sure if I understand which exact piece you’re referring to. The plastic color, or?

      Can you take a screenshot on a pic and circle it? Thanks!

    • JD

      I assume this clamp rotates a bit to adjust desired saddle position.
      Can it rotate 180 degrees and still clamp the saddle rails without affecting how the slide works and without touching underneath the saddle?
      If would be a workaround for sure, but it may resolve the issue for a shorter rider.

    • Andy Thomas

      Hi DCR, any answer on the screenshot please? I’m, sure this will solve my issues. Thanks

    • E Myers

      No, it won’t work. It will rotate 180 degrees, but the clamp doesn’t close fully around the rail–even if it did, the distance between the rails on the stock saddle, the saddle I replaced it with, or presumably any other standard saddle is also narrower than the width of the rails.

      Fortunately, it’s not an issue for our multiple user family (5′ 11″, 6′ 2″, 6′ 4″, and 6′ 6″); we also haven’t had any performance issues.

  61. Stephane

    Hi Ray,
    any update on the possibility to connect the Wahoo bike to a garmin watch to record the ride and get training status ? Are they considering it ?
    Thanks !

    • David W

      Not sure that I understand the question. You can already record ride on pretty much any trainer on a Garmin watch. I do it all the time. You just connect the sensors and off you go. What I don’t believe that you can do is control the trainer at the same time. Is that what you want?

    • Stephane

      well it clearly written on this review :

      “Yes, what you see there is actually correct. As of this writing, Wahoo does not support normal broadcast of ANT+ power or Bluetooth Smart power (nor cadence or speed via those channels either). They only method Wahoo supports right now is ANT+ FE-C for control, and Bluetooth Smart control for control. That’s it.

      That means that you can’t simply pair your Garmin, Wahoo, Suunto, Polar, or whatever device to record the power as a power meter passively, such as to capture training load. You can pair your Garmin or Wahoo device to it as a trainer, but you only want to do that if you’re actually controlling the trainer from that bike computer. Whereas if you’re riding on Zwift and just want to capture that ride on your watch or bike computer so that it adds to your training load for the day, you can’t do that.”

    • Thomas

      @DCR
      Hmmmm…. But Wahoo will support that down the line, right…?

    • David W

      I get what you are saying. I saw a post in a forum somewhere that Wahoo had power/cadence broadcasting on the to do list and hoped to have it out this year. It wouldn’t surprise me if the delivery time changed but they are committed to fixing the problem.