JUMP TO:

BUY NOW:

  • Amazon.com
  • Clever Training

Tacx NEO 2T Smart Trainer In-Depth Review

DSC_5994

It’s been just over two months since Tacx announced their NEO 2T smart trainer, the latest in the line of high-end NEO trainers. You may remember back in my launch post, it wasn’t all sunshine and unicorns for the new trainer. It, like many trainers in this 2019 indoor training season of new devices, lacked the accuracy I’d expect – especially from a top-end unit. I basically said don’t buy it yet.

So Tacx has spent a fair bit of that time working and re-working the firmware, and I think they’re finally in a relatively good spot – the point where I’ve got no issues recommending the trainer. Of course, like always, and for any product, I’ll nitpick a few things that could be improved. But on the whole I’m happy to be using this unit for my rides lately.

In this review I’ll dig into what’s changed (and whether it’s worth an upgrade or skipping a good sale on older versions), as well as all the usual details around how well the trainer works with apps, accuracy, and everything else you could possibly ask. Plus, I’ve had the advantage of some DCR Reader feedback over the past few weeks as the NEO 2T is already shipping.

Oh, and finally, as always I use devices like wilderness trails – leave nothing behind. These are media loaner units that go back to Tacx shortly. You can help support the site here by checking out the links at the end of the post (it’s already shipping/available). Doing so makes you awesome.

What’s Different:

The vast majority of the changes to the Tacx NEO 2T are internal, not external. In fact, the only external change you’ll notice is a new ‘racing stripe’ inset on the back panel of the folding NEO wing. Here you can see it next to the Tacx NEO 1 and Tacx NEO 2:

DSC_6099

(Left to right: Tacx NEO 1, Tacx NEO 2, Tacx NEO 2T)

But wait, before we get there, some super quick stat basics – just in case you’re not familiar:

– Direct drive trainer: This means you remove your rear wheel
– Flywheel: It has a virtual flywheel up to 125kg, the largest of any trainer on the market.
– Downhill Drive: This is one of only a handful of trainers that drives the rear ‘wheel’ forward while going down hills, thus simulating descending inertia.
– Cassette: No Tacx trainers include a cassette, which will set you back $50-$60, plus $10-$20 in tools to install.
– Sound: Identical to the original NEO, essentially silent. Only the sound of your drivetrain is heard, and a very faint hum of internal fans/electronics.
– Handle and Folding: This unit lacks a handle, which continues to make it slightly awkward to move around. It does have foldable legs though for easy storage.
– Protocol Compatibility: ANT+ FE-C, ANT+ Power, Bluetooth Smart Trainer Control, Bluetooth Smart Power
– App Compatibility: Every app out there basically (Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, Road Grand Tours, SufferFest, Kinomap, etc…)
– Skewer Compatibility: All the skewers and adapters you could ask for: Road 130mm, MTB 135mm, 142x12mm, 148x12mm
– Max Incline: 25% simulated grade, the highest of any trainer out there
– Max Wattage: 2,200 watts resistance
– Stated Accuracy: < +/-1%
– Power Cable Required: No, it can operate powered or standalone sans-power.
– Pricing and Availability: $1,399/€1,299/£1,199 Shipping Already

Now – as for the changes, like they teach you in grade school, it’s what’s inside that matters most. And in this case what matters most is magnets. The company has made a pile of changes internally around the magnets. It’s magnet mania. Here’s what’s different inside at a geeky level:

– Stronger Magnets: This gives it the higher torque that eliminates the slip for the vast majority of riders (including myself)
– Thicker Wiring: This reduces the heat output and improves efficiency
– Changing Wiring Topology: This reduces vibrations but also reduces the sensitivity of manufacturing tolerances
– Skewing of Magnets: This reduces vibrations and sounds
– New Magnet Holder: This helps in manufacturing by increasing position accuracy, but also reduces vibrations

Like I said, it’s magnet mania.

What does that all mean in real-life? Well, we’ll get to that in the First Rides section. But first, let’s look at a graph, since again, geeky. This shows you the braking power of the Tacx NEO 2T versus the NEO2, against your speed. This shows why you could cause ‘slip’ at low speeds on the NEO2, as it’s more than tripled in those lower scenarios. Some people can apparently still cause it to slip, but they’d be pretty powerful folks. I can’t do it with my power output (up to 1,000w roughly). It’s not a straight wattage thing, but really slow-speed sprints. More on it later.

image

But beyond all this magnet mania, there’s a few practical considerations. First, it’s quieter. At least in theory, frankly – I can’t tell the difference in my studio. Maybe if I move the whole setup to the podcast recording room with the soundproofing now installed on the walls I’ll be able to hear it.

The other change coming, but not yet in any firmware, is Cycling Dynamics. That’ll give us access to the typical Cycling Dynamics suite of data, though I haven’t tried it yet to see if all the metrics are carried through, or how it stacks up against Garmin Vector 3. After all, those two should match in my mind. So I’m keen to see how that looks. And for that matter, how it might stack up against Favero Assioma and their recent Cycling Dynamics update as well.

So, to spoil the rest of the post – would you upgrade an existing NEO trainer? Probably not. Unless that tiny bit of slip really bothers you, I’d keep what I’d got from a NEO trainer standpoint if I already had one. And to that same extent, you’ll see some occasional sales on the existing Tacx NEO 2 units that came out last year – those are awesome as well, and will be getting the Cycling Dynamics update too. So again, go forth. for the right price.

What’s in the box:

DSC_5981

Those astute Tacx unboxing geeks out there, you might notice the tiny change in wording to the lower right corner of the box: ‘Tacx: A Garmin Company’. Beyond that, it’s basically the same rough design as last year’s NEO 2 box.

DSC_5984

Once you crack it open, you’ll find a skewer and thru-axle adapters, as well as some paper stuff and a portion of the power cord.

DSC_5987

Remove the top layer and you’ve got yourself the trainer folded up inside, as well as the brown box somewhere down there with the remainder of the power cord.

DSC_5990

Additionally, you’ll find a front wheel block for keeping your wheel slightly elevated and straight.  Here’s all the pieces laid out:

DSC_5993

You can then unfold the trainer to its full and majestically tall height. Seriously, this thing towers over every trainer out there like some dark Star Wars overlord that it is:

DSC_5999

Here’s a closer look at the back of that power cable. I include this picture not for you, but for me. So in a year when I’m trying to figure out which power cable is which, I can find this picture and remember.

DSC_6004

When I’m less lazy, I usually cut out a piece of the paper envelope stuffs and tape it to the power adapter, so I know that it’s the Tacx NEO 2T. Right now I’m lazy – it’s almost coffee time and I’m gonna need it to make it through this review before I gotta get going.

Beyond attaching the cassette as we’ll discuss in about 6.2 seconds, there’s no assembly required for the NEO 2T.

The Basics & Setup:

DSC_4681

All roads on almost all trainers start with adding a cassette. Unless you’ve got a KICKR 2018 or Elite Suito that is. But since this isn’t that review, we’re back in cassette land. So, you’ll need to pickup the right type of cassette for your bike.

I typically buy Shimano Ultegra cassettes for my trainers (mostly for sound-testing consistency across videos), but I’ve also done a few SRAM ones and whatever else happens to be on sale from the bike shop. It generally doesn’t matter, except sometimes you’ll find some of the lower end cassettes (like a Shimano 105) don’t quite sound as quiet as mid to higher-end ones. If you’ve got a new SRAM AXS bike, you’ll also need to get a different freehub adapter from Tacx as well. But since you just spent a boatload of money on that bike, spending more money will feel natural to you.

DSC_6011

In any case, with a cassette, you’ll need two tools. A lockring tool (or lockring + a wrench, in my case), and a chain whip. In this case, you need the chain whip since you can’t get a good grasp on the flywheel.

DSC_6013

Once you’ve got the cassette on, simply put in place either the quick release skewer or thru-axle adapter (depending on your particular bike). The unit includes a thru-axle adapter set for 142x12mm & 148x12mm.

DSC_6019 DSC_6021

Once that’s done you’ll want to go ahead and plug it in:

DSC_6005

Now, technically speaking you don’t have to plug it in. You can use it in the middle of a race warm-up area sans power plug just fine. The only thing you’ll lose is the ‘downhill drive’ capability, which spins the wheel forward when you descend down hills (to mimic how it works for the bike in real life).  The power adapter/cord is 120/240v, so you can use it anywhere in the world if you happen to travel with it.

Also, I find that pairing is a tiny bit easier since the unit will go to sleep without a power cable. Of course, you need to only spin the cranks a few times and you’re back in business. Meanwhile, on the left side of the unit you’ll find the status lights. These are for general power, then one for ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart connectivity.

DSC_6007

After you’ve mounted your bike, you can also slide that front wheel-block under there as well.

DSC_6023

With that, we’re ready to roll. Now, we’ll get to app compatibility in a moment, but first let’s start with the road feel. Like I always say – for me personally, it’s hard to separate the fact that I’m riding indoors from outdoors. It’s still a trainer, and I’m still looking at a wall in front of me.  My brain can only turn off so much of that.  Still, much of the road-like feel is driven by the flywheel, and be it physical or virtual, flywheel sizes tend to be measured in weight.  This impacts inertia and how it feels – primarily when you accelerate or otherwise change acceleration (such as briefly coasting).

All that prefacing done, the Tacx NEO 2T ranks pretty darn high up there in the inertia replication standings. In the same ballpark of the CycleOps Hammer 3 & Wahoo KICKR 2018. As I’ve noted many times, my bet is that you could put different blindfolded people on different units and they’d all say totally different things on which one they felt best. Even cycling journalists. Some days I think the KICKR feels best, some days I think the NEO feels best. I suspect it’s even as nuanced as which exact gearing I’m in.

DSC_6034

Now given the NEO 2T is a smart trainer, it’ll change resistance automatically in a few different ways, primarily driven by different applications/methods.  But most of this all boils down to two core methods:

ERG Mode: Setting a specific power level – i.e., 210w.  In this mode, no matter what gearing you use, the trainer will simply stay at 210w (or whatever you set it to).
Simulation Mode: Simulating a specific outdoor grade – i.e., 9% incline. In this mode, it’s just like outdoors in that you can change your gearing to make it easier or harder.  Wattage is not hard-set, only incline levels.

In the case of simulation (aka slope) mode, the Tacx NEO 2T can simulate from 0% to 25% incline – which is frankly way more than your legs ever want to deal with. It’s also the most of any consumer smart trainer. The Wahoo KICKR & Saris H3 top out at 20%, and the Elite Drivo at 24%.

The second mode the trainer has is ERG mode.  In that case, the company claims up to 2,2200w of resistance at 40KPH. Although, realistically, you don’t care about that. I can only barely (maybe) break 1,000w for a second or two, and even most front of the non-pro pack cyclists aren’t going to top 1,800w.  The pros would only be just a bit beyond that.  Said differently: Peak numbers don’t matter.  Instead, what matters is actually a harder metric to make clear – which is the ability to simulate high grades and lower speeds (especially if you’re a heavier cyclist).

One core test I do with all trainers though is responsiveness: How quickly does it respond to ERG mode changes? I typically do that with my 30×30 test via TrainerRoad, though it doesn’t really matter what method you use as long as you’re looking at big shifts in wattage:

IMG_1133

In this case, the Tacx NEO 2T responded exceedingly fast. In fact, I’ve argued for a bit now that it responds too harshly (due to the extra power). Meaning, it’s too good at its job and it feels like running into a brick wall for these types of big shifts in power. Still, that’s more of a personal opinion than anything. What’s more objectively graded is how precisely it hits that shift in power (which is different than power accuracy). In this case, it overshoots slightly for these intervals, depending on how careful I am in gearing.

For example, these intervals were all at 404w, so in theory I’d expect that first second (just one second) to be in the ~400-410w ballpark, but the NEO 2T slightly overshoots each time for the first second to about ~420w. This is, however, a big improvement over back in August, when it was overshooting to 455-460w. To be fair, most trainers do some aspect of overshoot. The KICKR does it too (even more than this). So perhaps this is me slowly but surely demanding more and more as time goes on from these companies at these price points. After all, the Saris H3 nails this nicely (albeit, has other quirks instead). Don’t get me wrong, for most people, you won’t notice. I’m just not most people (you would have noticed back in August though, that hurts).

Next, there’s two non-ERG mode features that are worthwhile noting. The first is road feel. This was introduced a few years back on the Tacx NEO 1 unit and continues forward to the NEO 2 and NEO 2T.  This functionality enables the trainer to replicate the feel of the roads as you ride them in the game. Cobblestones will feel like riding on cobblestones. Planks on a boardwalk will feel just like an actual boardwalk. It really is fascinating – and has been a draw for the Neo series since it came out:

2019-11-07 17.21.55

Now, there’s not a ton of training benefit here, per se. But that’s true of many things we do on trainers indoors. If it was all about training benefit we’d just be riding in ERG mode every day on perfectly structured workouts. Instead, we have a wide variety of apps that by and large are designed to keep us entertained.  And this feature simply adds to that entertainment factor. For me, it’s a nice change mid-way through a route on Zwift to feel the wooden planks of the piers.  No other trainer offers that today.

Now’s probably a good time to talk sound. In short, it makes virtually no sound. About the only sound you’re going to likely hear is that of your bike’s own drivechain (meaning, the chain and such). The unit itself does have a fan, but it’s roughly akin to a fan found on a small computer. To demonstrate this, here’s a simple audio test clip:

Next, the NEO 2T has downhill drive simulation, which means that as you go downhill the trainer will forward spin the rear ‘wheel’ (cassette and flywheel since there is no wheel). This means that the trainer will simulate the inertia of going downhill.  This is yet another little touch that makes things feel more realistic than they are.

Next, while Tacx does have a mobile app for their trainer, it’s unlikely you’re going to use it much if you use other 3rd party software.  However, it is valuable for setting your correct weight so that you can get realistic grade simulation (as well as firmware updates). This is notable if you’ve got multiple people in your household at dramatically different weights:

2019-11-07 17.18.13 2019-11-07 17.18.36

The app also allows you to test out the road feel and ISOKINETIC/ISOTONIC options. You can see below in the two side by side shows a handful of the many different road feel modes I just talked about up above.

2019-11-07 17.18.45 2019-11-07 17.18.55 2019-11-07 17.19.00

The app is also where you’ll update the firmware from time to time:

IMG_2311 IMG_2312 IMG_2315

Oh, wait – one more super important feature. It can produce a disco party. Yup, as you pedal harder the lights below the unit will shift in colors from a blue to purple to eventual red coloring. The harder you pedal, the more vibrantly red it gets.

IMG_1942

Kinda neat. No training benefit, except that my wife can look over and visually see when I’m just wimping out.

App Compatibility:

2019-08-18 11.01.12

The Tacx NEO 2T follows most of the industry app compatibility standards as previous Tacx products, and essentially follows the industry norms as you’d expect from a high-end trainer.  As you probably know, apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, Rouvy, Kinomap and many more, all support most of these industry standards, making it easy to use whatever app you’d like.  If trainers or apps don’t support these standards, then it makes it far more difficult for you as the end user.

In the case of the NEO 2T, it (like Wahoo) doesn’t quite adhere to everything. Specifically around Bluetooth Smart FMTS compatibility, which is trainer control. In the case of both, they dance to their own protocols. Tacx actually does support FTMS on all their non-NEO series just fine, but doesn’t do FTMS on the NEO series due to FTMS’s lack of ability to transmit weight information to apps (which is needed for the virtual flywheel in this specific trainer series).

Practically speaking that has little effect for the major apps, but does impact smaller apps. Zwift, TrainerRoad, etc… all support the proprietary versions (since they were using those versions well before FTMS existed). But newer and smaller apps like Xert, for example, have focused on supporting the standards instead, rather than spinning their (virtual) wheels on proprietary development. Tacx had previously promised FTMS support a year ago, but it’s not here yet for the NEO series. Again, for the majors – no biggie, but maybe an issue for your specific app – so double-check that.

The unit supports the following protocols and transmission standards:

ANT+ FE-C Control: This is for controlling the trainer via ANT+ from apps and head units (with cadence/power data). Read tons about it here.
ANT+ Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard ANT+ power meter, with cadence data
ANT+ Advanced Power Meter Metrics: This includes pedal smoothness and left/right balance, and later this year Cycling Dynamics as well.
ANT+ Speed/Cadence Profile: This broadcasts your speed and cadence as a standard ANT+ Speed/Cadence combo sensor
Bluetooth Smart Trainer Control (Tacx variant): This is for controlling the trainer over Bluetooth Smart from a variety of apps.
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard BLE power meter, with cadence data
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Profile: This broadcasts your speed and cadence as a standard BLE combo Speed/Cadence sensor

In the above, you’ll note there’s cadence data baked into the various streams. That’s handy if you’re connecting to Zwift on an Apple TV, due to Apple TV’s two concurrent Bluetooth Smart sensor limitation (plus the Apple TV remote).  This means you can pair the trainer and get power/cadence/control, while also pairing up a heart rate strap.

For me, in my testing, I used Zwift and TrainerRoad as my two main apps (which are the two main apps I use personally).  In the case of Zwift, I used it in regular riding mode (non-workout mode, aka SIM mode), whereas in the case of TrainerRoad I used it in a structured workout mode (ERG mode). I dig into the nuances of these both within the power accuracy section. In addition, I used The Sufferfest and Kinomap too for some random days.

Starting with Zwift, you can see the Tacx NEO 2T listed as not just a controllable trainer, but also within the regular power meter and cadence section. You’ll want to pair it up as a controllable trainer (which will also pair it as a power meter):

IMG_1928

And then you can manually select the cadence signal. In every review, I keep wondering when Zwift will simply auto-select this as well, but it still doesn’t do it. All the trainer companies name everything the same, so it’s a trivial exercise to search for this.

You’ll see the trainer enumerated in a fairly similar manner on TrainerRoad as well:

IMG_1127 IMG_1128

Also, TrainerRoad’s tips page on using smart trainers in ERG mode:

IMG_1122

I’d *strongly* recommend you either read that page, or just simply just do one thing:

1) Ensure you’re using the small ring up front: This is for ERG mode specifically, shift into the small ring to get better control

Now the Tacx NEO 2T (like the rest of the Tacx NEO series), doesn’t support any type of calibration. Nor does it need it, in fact, you can’t even do a calibration if you wanted to. Though, some apps don’t exactly realize this yet, so you might see it listed on some apps.

Finally, to continue the spice of life – here’s the NEO 2T paired today over lunch within The Sufferfest. you can see it showing as the power meter, cadence sensor, and also the setting for ERG mode.

2019-11-07 12.38.53

Now, it’s worthwhile noting that Tacx on the NEO 2T not only transmits left/right balance (we’ll discuss accuracy of that later), but also some of the advanced power meter metrics like pedal smoothness. And Tacx says later this year, they’ll start doing Cycling Dynamics (the ANT+ standard variant). While one might assume this was purely a result of the Garmin acquisition, the reality is that Tacx had been considering this for a year now, well before Garmin came around and bought them out last February.

As for the current pedaling metrics, you can see those here on Garmin Connect:

image

Note that the app has to support those. So for example, if you use it with Zwift, they don’t support recording any of that data. In my case, the above was recorded with an Edge 520 Plus.

Power Accuracy Analysis:

DSC_6025

As usual, I put the trainer up against a number of power meters to see how well it handled everything from resistance control accuracy, to speed of change, to any other weird quirks along the way.

In my case I used one primary bike setup as follows in a bunch of configurations. I was kinda all over the place the last few weeks:

Canyon Bike Setup #1: Garmin Vector 3 pedals (dual-sided), 4iiii Precision Podium (dual-sided)
Canyon Bike Setup #2: Garmin Vector 3 pedals (dual-sided), Quarq DZero
Canyon Bike Setup #3: PowerTap P2 pedals (dual-sided), Quarq DZero
Giant Bike Setup #1: Garmin Vector 3 pedals, Stages LR (dual-sided)

This is all in addition to the trainer itself.  Note that because you remove the rear wheel I can’t use something like a PowerTap hub to compare as well (which I would use in power meter testing normally).

In my case, I was looking to see how it reacted in two core apps: Zwift and TrainerRoad (Bluetooth Smart on Apple TV and iPad), but I also did some work with Kinomap and The Sufferfest on iPad – so there’s that for you. The actual apps don’t typically much matter, but rather the use cases are different.  In Zwift and Kinomap you get variability by having the road incline change and by being able to instantly sprint (aka SIM mode).  This reaction time and accuracy are both tested here.  Whereas in TrainerRoad and The Sufferfest I’m looking at its ability to hold a specific wattage very precisely, and to then change wattages instantly in a repeatable way (ERG mode).  There’s no better test of that than 30×30 repeats (30-seconds at a high resistance, followed by 30-seconds at an easy resistance).

There’s two ways to look at this.  First is how quickly it responds to the commands of the application.  So for that, we need to actually look at the overlay from TrainerRoad showing when it sent the command followed by when the NEO 2T achieved that level. You might remember back in August when the unit came out I was displeased with two elements of this specific scenario:

A) The actual accuracy of the power
B) The inability for it to correctly nail the initial target power (it would previously over-commit by 50w).

So, two months and a flurry of firmware updates later, was it fixed?

Here’s the levels being sent (the blue block) by TrainerRoad (in this case via Bluetooth Smart on iPad) and how quickly the 2T responded to it.

IMG_1133

As I said up above, for the most part responsiveness per se isn’t an issue. It’s really good at that – too good I’d argue (too fast, too hard). What we can quibble about is the slight overshoots. But I’ve gone back and looked at about 3 years of data of me doing this test, and this is actually pretty solid comparative to most others (with really the Hammer 3 beating it in terms of precision).

But let’s shift our focus to power meter accuracy. That’s what this section is all about. Now technically speaking there isn’t exactly a power meter in the NEO series per se. Not in the traditional sense anyway. But that’s fine. Very few trainers these days have power meters in them – and there’s a long history of trainers with power meters actually performing worse in certain situations (and equally, performing great in others). What I ultimately care about is one thing: Is it accurate. I don’t care how you (a trainer company) achieve it. Power meter, no power meter, math magic, small elves…I don’t care. Nobody need care. Just get it right.

So, let’s look at the underlying data from that set. This was against a pair of PowerTap P2 pedals, the Quarq DZero, and the Tacx NEO 2T (data set here):

image

As you can see, it’s pretty darn close. Oddly a bit wobbly on the very first interval – with the PowerTap P2 unit a bit lower than the other two. After that, it’s perfectly happy there. Who knows, maybe the P2 pedals weren’t quite ready for that wake-up call yet. After that, we’re talking everyone within a few watts in most cases. A bit of disagreement on interval #7 from the Quarq as well.

The above is a perfect example of even 2-3 power meters/units that are widely respected in the industry for being incredibly reliable accuracy-wise can sometimes differ in certain situations. It’s actually interesting in that I’ve seen the Quarq DZero seems to pick up some of the instantaneous spikes a little more than other trainers/power meters I’ve been testing. Specifically at the 1-second level, meaning, the first one second of a power surge.  You can see it below where I’ve shown (with the three little dots) the first second of that surge and the Quarq shoots higher. The question that’s nearly impossible to understand is whether that’s correct or not. That could very well be a case of Quarq is refreshing faster behind the scenes and nailing the initial power inflection better than the others.

image

It’s actually a small pattern I’ve seen in recent weeks on a variety of different trainers and pedal-based power meters that I’ve mixed and matched. It’s also not something I’ve seen in the past when I’ve used the DZero prior to the semi-recent firmware update. Maybe it’s more accurate now, or maybe it’s less accurate now. In any case, that’s a curiosity for another day.

So, let’s move along – this time to a Zwift session. This was in simulation mode (meaning, it’s replicating ascents/descents/etc…). This was the Titans Grove course, which I’ve been using for indoor trainer testing this year because of the demanding terrain – specifically the rapid up and down segments up in the hills part of the course. It also has the flats of the desert for some nice variations in small and big rings. Here’s this data set:

image

As you can see, the three units are always within just a couple watts of each other. Let’s zoom in on a few sections. First is the initial sprint. I treated this as a lazy warm-up sprint since I was only a few minutes into the ride, so more of a 500w power surge than a proper sprint.

image

Looking at the above data, you’ll see that there’s some slightly higher values coming from the Quarq on some of the surges (this is shown with 3-second averaging to make it a bit cleaner to look at, but you can look at the raw data at the link above if you want). Still, the P2 pedals and NEO 2T are incredibly close, and frankly as is the Quarq as well.

As we get into the start of the rolling hills, where the power quickly oscillates up and down, we see all the units tracking very closely:

image

It’s frankly kinda boring to analyze how closely these units track. We do see a bit later on some slightly more visible peaks from the Quarq, but it’s pretty minimal in the grand scheme of things:

image

And then finally that sprint towards the end coming in on near 800w (shown below though with 3-second smoothing to make it easier to see what’s going on):

image

Again, pretty darn good…and pretty darn boring.

So, let’s switch it up one last time – this one over to The Sufferfest for a highly fluctuating ERG workout. Technically, despite how this looks, this was actually an ERG structured workout. It’s that the specifics of this was mirroring a team time-trial, so you were changing target wattages every 20-30 seconds on average. It was nuts…and also a lot of fun. In any case, here’s that data set:

image

Obviously, you can see the PowerTap P2 pedals and my Edge 530 were having a bad day in their intimate relationship. No idea why all the drops. Perhaps I had the Edge 530 in a weird spot or something. No biggie, doesn’t really impact what we’re looking at.

Here’s zooming in on one of the essentially repetitive sections of stepping up in wattage over and over. In most cases it’s within a few watts, but I still see the Quarq a little bit higher here and there than I’d expect.

image

But in general, these are still incredibly close – as we see here again:

image

Oh – wait – what about left/right power balance accuracy? Sure, let’s take a look at the TrainerRoad 30×30’s first since the data is a bit cleaner to unmask. In this case, we’re looking at the left and right power as compared to the PowerTap P2 pedals. And in particular, I’m zooming into 6 of these sets, because there was an ANT+ dropout earlier in the workout to one of the recording units, so that’s distracting (and it could be the unit receiving).

What you see here though is there’s still some random left/right balance spikes where things go crazy for 1-2 seconds on the NEO 2T:

image

Every single one of these instances is connected to the very last second or two of the interval. In the case of this specific workout, while certainly not a cakewalk, it wasn’t horrifically difficult. Meaning, I wasn’t doing something crazy different in the last second or two to my knowledge that would trigger this (obviously, under the covers I must have been).

Zooming in more though, you can see what’s happening. The power values go crazy for the left/right balance specifically (though total power is unaffected). Note in the middle how the PowerTap P2 pedals show I stay roughly balanced.

image

So what about non-ERG mode, something a bit messier? Sure, no problem. Ask and you shall receive:

image

Ok, that’s a mess to unravel. So I’ll make it simpler for you: It doesn’t quite seem right.

Specifically, the NEO 2T shows me as significantly more imbalanced than the PowerTap P2 – massively imbalanced. As you can see though, when (briefly) my power is steady-state, it normalizes. But as I shift power, it goes a bit wonky. So I’m gonna say that this specific aspect needs a bit more work. Personally, I’ve never used left/right balance on a trainer for anything before – so this isn’t a huge loss to me (and none of the major trainer apps support it anyway).

Oh, and in case someone wants to know about cadence – zero issues. Absolutely spot-on for me on all my rides:

image

I know some people have had cadence issues on the 2T, specifically around longer derailleur cages and/or different crank arm sizes. That’s because on the NEO 2/2T the cadence sensing is actually picking up your crank arm going past it, versus most (all?) other trainers are doing an estimated cadence. In any case, Tacx says that the recent .32 firmware update should fix this for most people. Still, Tacx says for specific crank arm combinations there may be issues where it’s not detecting the metal passing by. In my case, I’ve run with 175mm crank arms without issue.

Ultimately, for what I’m doing, I’m pretty darn happy with the accuracy of the NEO 2T. I’d have no issues using it for power meter testing going forward, which is sorta my basic benchmark for whether or not I’ll use a trainer in the DCR Cave after a review is done.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy portions were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Trainer Comparisons:

First off – if you’re trying to decide on a trainer, check out my complete recommendations guide that’s only a week or two old.

I’ve added the Tacx NEO 2T into the product comparison database.  This allows you to compare it against other trainers I’ve reviewed.  For this post, I’ve compared it against the Wahoo KICKR 2018, CycleOps Hammer 3 and Elite Drivo II. I could have tossed in the Tacx NEO 2, but frankly there’s no database line item that’s different there. The only difference is the lack of ‘slip’ I talked about earlier, which is so tiny that most people probably wouldn’t notice it compared to a NEO 1/2.

Function/FeatureElite Drivo IISaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T SmartWahoo KICKR 2018
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 15th, 2019 @ 5:10 pmNew Window
Price for trainer$1,199$999$1,399$1,199
Trainer TypeDirect Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (No Wheel)
Available today (for sale)YesYesYesYes
Availability regionsGlobalGlobalGlobalGlobal
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYes for broadcast, no for general useYesNoYes
Flywheel weight13.2lbs/6kg20lb/9kgSimulated/Virtual 125KG16lbs/7.25kgs
ResistanceElite Drivo IISaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T SmartWahoo KICKR 2018
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoNoYesNo
Maximum wattage capability2,296w @ 40KPH / 3,600w @ 60KPH2,000w2,200w @ 40KPH2,200w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline24%20%25%20%
FeaturesElite Drivo IISaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T SmartWahoo KICKR 2018
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right Power9EUR one-time feeNoYesNo
Can rise/lower bike or portion thereofNoNoNoWith KICKR CLIMB accessory
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoNoNoNo
Can rock side to side (significantly)NoNoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoNoYesNo
AccuracyElite Drivo IISaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T SmartWahoo KICKR 2018
Includes temperature compensationN/AYesN/AYes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesYesN/AYes
Supported accuracy level+/- 0.5%+/- 2%+/- 1%+/- 2%
Trainer ControlElite Drivo IISaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T SmartWahoo KICKR 2018
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYesYEs
Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesNo, but supports most appsNo, but supports most apps
Data BroadcastElite Drivo IISaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T SmartWahoo KICKR 2018
Transmits power via ANT+YesYesYesYes
Transmits power via Bluetooth SmartYesYesYesYes
Transmits cadence dataYesYesYes
PurchaseElite Drivo IISaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T SmartWahoo KICKR 2018
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkN/A
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training EuropeN/AN/ALink
DCRainmakerElite Drivo IISaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T SmartWahoo KICKR 2018
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

And again, remember you can make your own comparison guide against any other trainers in the database here.

Summary:

DSC_6030

The Tacx NEO 2T continues with the rest of the NEO series in retaining its title as one of the best trainers in the industry. Sure, the road to get here was a bit rougher than years past, but hey, better late than never. And, based on the general fiasco that this year’s indoor trainers have been across all companies – Tacx actually got their house in order faster than others. So there’s that too, I guess.

Still, that won’t matter 3 months or 6 months from now (or even today). It’s all water under the bridge. What matters is how well it works today, and I have zero issues with it from a power/cadence accuracy standpoint or a reliability standpoint. I do still maintain its a bit edgy (bossy perhaps?) in ERG mode, and I’d love to see Tacx introduce some sort of option in their app to make ERG mode a bit less abrasive (more like the previous NEO units, or perhaps the Saris H3). And, of course, I’m hoping that as they look to implement Cycling Dynamics later this year, that they’ll sort out some of the left/right balance items. Though again, I’m not sure how many people will actually leverage that, given the trainer apps don’t support it.

As I said somewhere up earlier in the review – if you’re looking at getting a new trainer and are considering the 2T – there’s no reason not to get it. It’s a great trainer now. If you’re looking at a solid deal on a NEO 2 (non-2T) – that’s also a great trainer, and given the right deal, I’d probably pick that up instead and apply the cash somewhere else in your life. And for those with the NEO 1/2 already, unless the minor virtual tire slip issue really bugs you, I can’t see much of a reason to upgrade to the NEO 2T from those units.

I’ve oft noted that the NEO series is typically the trainer I use when I’m not doing trainer reviews, and I suspect that’ll probably be the case when the dust settles this winter.  It also helps that I can fold it up on itself at home and it generally keeps the kids from messing with the cassette. Sometimes it’s the little things….or little people.

With that – hope this helps, and thanks for reading!

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well. 

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP Program, you will earn 10% points on this item and 10% off (instantly) on thousands of other fitness products and accessories.  Points can be used on your very next purchase at Clever Training for anything site-wide.  You can read more about the details here.  By joining, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers.  And, since this item is more than $49, you get free 3-day (or less) US shipping as well.

Tacx NEO 2T

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture

*

95 Comments

  1. Carlos Vazquez

    First! sorry, had to.

  2. John Reinke

    Thanks, Ray. This is the review I’d been waiting for. I’ve been saving up a while for my first trainer, and this is the one I’d been leaning toward, assuming the firmware updates resolved the problems you’d found initially. Now, I only need to find a good deal on the trainer as well as Zwift!

    • Si

      Hi Ray,
      quick thanks for all your hard work over the years.
      It’s strange that the Neo, which is effectively 5 years old is still having problems.
      I really think that all the companies need Ray to be on the payroll as a product tester.
      New product designed, tested, accurate and problem free, at launch…….
      Happy days and happy customers.

      Or am I being unfair to these companies and their expensive products? Cheers Ray.
      PS I’m very happy with my Neo 2

    • I think in most cases when companies make shifts, we see initial teething issues. In this case, the substantially more powerful internals caused some unexpected downstream issues around control/accuracy.

      Though, they do seem to be sorted.

  3. Martin

    What do the isokinetic and isotonic options do?

  4. SilentLegs

    “1) Ensure you’re using the small ring up front: This is for ERG mode specifically, shift into the small ring to get better control”

    Why is the small ring better for ERG mode? How big is the difference? I’ve always used the big ring in ERG mode on the Flux and now on the Neo 2T since that resembles my outdoor riding.

    On the 2T lately I’ve ended up in relatively low cadence(under 70) on intervals over 400 watts when riding in the big ring and using the 3-4 easiest gears on the cog.

    • The difference is pretty significant in my experience across many trainers, including the NEO. Essentially in a bigger ring it increases the speed of the flywheel, which is roughly akin to trying to control an out of control car versus a slow-moving car.

    • DrPeperino

      So the benefit is in the transient of time required to reach the target, not in the precision with which the target can be met. Is this the correct undertsanding?

      I’m asking becuase actually my recent experience (with a Direto 1st edition and a Sworks power cranks PM) is that when I change from 52 to 36 (I always try to select a cog that will keep the chain as straight as possible, so in general I should go up 2-3 gears towards bigger cogs) I also see the Power Meter of the bike get closer to the Power Meter of the Direto (thou it’s always lower, never on target or higher). So i started doubting that the correct understanding is not about the speed with which the trainer is able to move the resistance to a new target, but about the accuracy with which it is able to hold it.

      thanks
      Luca

    • Blair

      Hi, is the recommendation to use the small ring in ERG mode primarily a “feel” and muscle activation issue or are there power accuracy considerations as well?

  5. Patrik

    ” I could have tossed in the Tacx NEO 2T, but frankly”
    Should be NEO 2, not 2T.

  6. Neil

    I seem to be having issues when running 2 apps at the same time and using the Neo 2T. TraineRoad on my Andriod connected by ANT+ and also connected to Zwift ATV connected by Bluetooth. (trainer control disabled in Zwift. The traiberRoad app controlled the trainer for the first interval but after that, would not control the trainer. Checked that zwift hadn’t stolen control and i hadn’t.

    Similar thing using Xert on an IPAD – cable ANT+ bridge to IPAD, Zwift as above. Again, xert wouldn’t control the trainer. Xert as above and zwift on a PC connected by ANT works perfectly. TrainerRoad on it’s own works perfectly, so i’m thinking there is some issues between the apps and ATV. Any ideas?

    • DrPeperino

      If that can be of any help: I have a Direto and not the Tacx, but I control it with the Garmin (which is reading the power from the bike power meter), I read it with another garmin, and I have also Zwift on the laptop connected to the bike power meter (all of them via ANT+) and everything works: the main Garmin controls the Direto, reads the bike power meter and returns that value, the secondary Garmin reads the power from the Direto so that I can compare 30s average of bike and trainer instantly, and Zwift reads the bike power meter but doens’t take control over the Direto.
      Same if I tell Zwift to take power from the Direto: it reads but doesn’t take control.

      In this configurations I run only ERG mode.

      ciao
      Luca

  7. Neil Jones

    You commented on Road Feel and in particular referenced Zwift – could you confirm that Zwift is now supporting this for the 2T as it still isn’t allowing it to be enabled for the Neo Bike which has the same underlying internals? I had been hoping this was just an oversight and quick fix with Zwift needing to add the 2T and Neo Bike to their look-up table, but Zwift’s public response (for the bike) so far seems to have been “Meh, perhaps we’ll think about it one day” which doesn’t fill me with confidence.

    Hopefully it will be addressed before long, but I’d feel aggrieved if I bought a 2T on the understanding that Road Feel was working with Zwift only to find it wasn’t, so it might be worth caveating that section *if* Zwift isn’t yet supporting it on the 2T, irrespective of any promises they may have made.

    • Dave Lusty

      Agree, it’s weird that this isn’t working and very frustrating as I loved road feel on the 2.

    • Soulby

      I have a 2T and can confirm that road feel works in Zwift. It actually startled me the first time I went over cobbles! If you go to Zwift’s settings, there’s an option to turn on road feel.
      I connect via BlueTooth, so can’t comment about ANT+.

    • Paul

      That’s the bug, it works over Bluetooth but not ant+. If you connect using ant+ zwift doesn’t recognise the trainer and doesn’t show the option.

    • Dave Lusty

      yup, and since Bluetooth sucks I’d rather stick with Ant+ and miss out on road feel!

  8. Paul

    At the moment the road feel doesn’t work in Zwift using ant+. Tacx say it needs zwift to update their end, the zwift support pages say they are aware.
    Very minor annoyance that will hopefully be fixed soon.

  9. Nick

    Good review as always.

    But.

    I have owed both the Neo 1 and Neo 2 for the past thee years – the virtual slip drove me insane. If you’re a sprinter, racer or ride track, it’s annoying to no end. And with that reason, I sold the Neo 2 and got the latest Kickr with the Climb. I was tempted to stay with the Neo and get the 2T but just couldn’t. I’ve already had two Neos replaced under warranty.

    In all honesty, I much prefer the latest fall 2019 Kickr. It’s somewhat quieter than the Neo’s magnetic hum. The Kickr doesn’t overshoot in erg and is more instantaneous during on and off intervals. I turn off erg smoothing. The Kickr’s flywheel is more akin to road feel than the Neo’s magnetic flywheel. Calibration isn’t bothersome either – I just do it after a session which takes less than than 1 min to do every two weeks or so.

    Each to their own.

    • Gideon Den Hertog

      Thanks, this is really helpfull. I’m looking to buy a trainer, but have put it off due to the lack of information/data about low speed resistance/sprinting. As a sprinter, finding suitable equipment is often quite a bit harder. Have broken my fair share of rear wheels and found bikes to be too flexible.

      @dcrainmaker: this might be an interesting item. How does the low speed resistance of trainers compare? This seems to be something nobody has reviewed yet. Or I at least I haven’t found it.

    • This is a difficult one to quantify. A 50kg rider on a weighted flywheel trainer accelerating from 10km/h – 30km/h in say the 53/16 will be very different to a 90kg rider performing the same test.

      And with the Neo 1/2/2T/Bike and Kickr BIKE having ‘virtual inertia’ flywheel based on rider weight, what feels ‘good’ to me may feel all wrong for one rider may feel awesome for another. It’s also an issue for anyone using a Neo over BLE that hasn’t set their weight in their Tacx Util app (ANT+ will send rider weight to the trainer via most apps…. BLE doesn’t and it needs to be set in the app).

    • Gideon Den Hertog

      Objectively the resistance the trainer can sustain at 10 km/h could be quantified. That would help a rider to compare it to his/her ftp. If it is below his/her ftp, the trainer can’t handle climbs with a gradient that you climb at 10 km/h (with your specific ftp/kg).

      So if you push out 300 watts at ftp, and the trainer can only deliver that resistance above 18km/h….. you can’t realistically climb stuff like Alpe d’Huez when you’re 80kg right? Because you’ll average something like 14km/h. For steeper stuff that’s above 12% this holds even much more. Please correct me if I’m wrong though.

      Anyway if there would be trainer powercurves, or even just one or two lower speed resistance figures, that would help the more powerful (and heavy) riders a lot. Love to hear your views on this.

      ps, I understand that a physical flywheel will help to provide extra resistance momentarily, but to keep it simple, let’s leave that to the side (by that I mean bursts of power and resistance).

  10. Oliver

    Hey Ray, thanks for the review.
    I’m thinking about upgrading my Neo 1 to a 2 T not due to the tire slip or something but due to the fact my new bike got a RAT Axle and the 2 T is the only bike with native thru axle support, right?
    So the best/only option is getting a Neo 2 T or use a different bike on my old Neo 1

  11. Chris Benten

    Are PowerTap Hubs still around? For Speedplay pedal owners? What is the Hub vs Crank system accuracy comparison? Seems like a very small market for them now. Must be cheap as heck to manufacture after all this time.

  12. Steve

    I need to have a look around the house for some Anaglyph 3D glasses as I’m sure some of the power charts might have some interesting 3D patterns in them…

  13. Marcel

    any news on clever training fall vip sale?

  14. Richard G

    Is there an operating temperature range for this trainer? The use of magnets for resistance makes me worry that it’ll be less effective / accurate at sub zero temperatures (which my garage sadly often gets down to in winter).

    • Ihsan

      I had the same concern and checked the manual. The only thing I could find was for neo2, which is -20 to 50 degrees Celsius. Would work in my mid Atlantic garage.

    • Tobias

      I used the Neo 1 outside in well below zero temperatures (Toronto, ON) for up to three hours and never really had a problem. Obviously it was stored inside and only running when in use.

    • Ihsan

      Thanks @Tobias!

      I’ll be keeping it in my non conditioned garage, so a real case helps a lot!

    • Frank Jansen

      Just make sure the space is dry. Electronics don’t like humidity.

    • Ihsan

      Well “dry” is ache achievable, humidity is a whole lot of separate problem here in mid Atlantic US. It will be humid, body crushingly humid at times.

  15. Gabi

    Ray, I see there isn’t a link for the Neo 2T for Clever Training Europe and searching through their website I can’t find it either. Do you know something about it?

  16. H. Veldman

    “based on the general fiasco that this year’s indoor trainers have been across all companies ”
    Sorry to belabor a point, but I’m not sure what this means.

    • GeeDub

      In a nutshell, pretty much every trainer reviewed in 2019 was a dud. All needed a firmware fix or three to get them to acceptable levels…

    • _tido_

      Yes, but it was the same in 2018 with the core, the neo 2, and in 2017 with others. I know that people are more complaining than providing positive feedback on blogs or forum, but all those issues reported by customers are making me reluctant to buy one.
      Even if vendors claim to having fix those, What if I fall on an old series ? Given the weight of the beast it’s really not easy to send it back.

    • Dig deep enough with any product and you’ll find someone having a shit of a time. Mostly it has been us with trainers and things in 2019. This year was a highlight of lowlights, for whatever reason. Add to the list the R1, BKool Air, and a few others I won’t even bother reviewing until I get promised ‘revised firmware’.

      If you have concerns about shipping/returns then purchase locally or have the store/site/etc confirm their policy on returns so you won’t be out of pocket.

  17. Kamil

    Hi Ray, I have got a small idea for you to include in future trainers’ reviews (and also adding to charts for current ones). Correct me if I am wrong, but currently only Wahoo’s trainers have got native PowerMatch/Link – the feature similar to one in TrainerRoad. The only difference is that TR is a middleware for trainer to get data from crank/pedals, whereas Wahoo devices create direct connection with given ANT+ power meter – that means that in case of ERG, they are independent from other app. I think it is a cool feature which should be implemented by other brands – because there is no reason not to do it. Also from developer point of view it is easy 🙂 It’s a great feature when you want to work on the same power values both indoor and outdoor.

    • Elite also have PowerMatch which does the same. IMO PowerMatch/Link/etc is a workaround for what should never be needed in the first place if the trainer was accurate across all ranges. If trainers had a claimed accuracy of +/-10% and you wanted more accurate power, sure… or if trainers were a few $100 cheaper and didn’t do power at all, sure. When companies sell trainers with reported power accuracy ranges between 1%-3% then they need to deliver trainers that are within 1%-3%.

      Further on this, PowerMatch/link/etc can add delay into the loopback of ERG which has adverse effects. Most trainers perform better using their own internally calculated power.

  18. David Dominguez

    Upgraded my 2 to the 2T for Focus’s RAT axle compatibility. Works great. Now I’m more likely to take it off to go riding outside since it’s not as much of a hassle to swap in and out.

  19. Don Rhummy

    Ray,

    I’ve noticed that Tacx seems to be out of ideas for improving their Neo trainer. If you had carte blanche, what would you do to make the next version an amazing upgrade?

    • I’d probably incorporate a CLIMB like function.

      I’m not sure what else beyond that to be honest. It’s sorta one of the best trainers out there and I think most of the focus for indoor training is going towards accessories around the platform.

  20. Paul S.

    It’d be interesting if Garmin could leverage their ownership of Tacx and the “road feel” component of the trainers, and the fact that modern Edges have accelerometers, to create a way to record the “road feel” of a ride for future playback on a trainer. I’d much rather do that than use something like Zwift.

    • The Duffman

      That My Friend would be awesome, i would love to be able to ride a race route, and then bring it back home and be able to train on the same feel. Just to get an idea of how it feels when i am forced to stay indoors.

  21. The Duffman

    Ok i know this is always asked and the answer is always it depends, and this comment should be on the review post….but i have been reading your reviews and looking and my mind is now numb. (love the site too come here for everything, and try to get anything i can with the DCRM VIP to help support the site)

    I have an Old Magnus and want to graduate to the direct drive trainer, it seems like there are really no major losers in the Kickr Core/Kickr/Neo(2/2t)/(finally) Hammer.

    Seems the Kickr Core is the logical choice, but if i want some of the fun extras and additional incline go with the Neo line. I am not sure the Hammer can beat the Core, or the $200 price difference can have the Kickr beat a Neo with some of the little extra things it offers……….I would love opinions.

    • We talk on the incline a bit in this week’s episode of the FIT File Podcast that’s not quite published yet. But ultimately, we both agree that nobody really wants to ride a trainer at 25% incline. Or for that matter, indoors either.

      I think the most anyone really wants to actually do is perhaps 12-13% (and very few routes go above that), and, if you use Zwift and don’t change the defaults, it’ll half it anyway. Food for thought…

    • Duffey Ainworth

      Thank you for the reply, and you are totally right about the incline. I live in Middle TN and we have some nasty little kickers around the Nashville area and still none are over 14% so to even think about needing that extra inside is really beyond my needs.

      So by that logic the Tacx is really looking at some “high level” features. Think i will be keeping my eye on the Kickr Core and looking to the VIP 20%!

      Thanks again.

  22. Adam

    Hi Ray,
    Great review as usual and I have been waiting for the full review as I am in the market for a new trainer since my last one failed badly.

    One frustration though is that speaking to the local distributor they won’t arrive in Australia till February 2020. This is disappointing – I guess they know that Australia has great weather and figure that those in the northern hemisphere are going into winter – and therefore need it more/will sell more. I guess all I am saying is that if I want to buy locally for the local store support, I’ll have to be patient.

  23. Vicente Piorno

    Many thanks for your review, Ray

    Regarding this:
    “Still, Tacx says for specific crank arm combinations there may be issues where it’s not detecting the metal passing by.”

    Is it possible to know which are these specific crank arm combinations?

    • I’ll see if I can get a list. It sounded like there were multiple factors that could trigger it. Meaning, it wasn’t just a specific crank arm length but also considerations like the materials, etc… (since it’s detecting the metals of the pedal spindle passing by).

    • JD

      Simple workaround = tape a small magnet on crank arm?

    • Vicente Piorno

      Thanks, Ray, that would be great. I am considering the NEO 2T as my next trainer, and would like to know if it’s fully compatible with my trainer bike.

    • Mark PUT

      I think it is also (or mainly) the lenght of the chainstay. Because if you move you’re hand in front of the sensor, it detects it. I ride a mtb, and when I elongated the crank, cadance became normal.

    • Yeah, one person attached a small tea spoon (like, a coffee spoon) to their crank arm and that fixed it.

    • Dave Lusty

      Adding metal bits to the cranks is NOT a fix for this issue, which is a combination of firmware and hardware issues. If you’re having these issues, log it and Tacx will swap out the trainer for a working one. For a start it’s not a magnetic sensor, and will happily detect a foot several inches from the trainer (my feet contain no metal AFAIK). I posted a video of this on Facebook recently at link to facebook.com (need to be a member of the group to view).
      The whole crank too short thing is just a way to avoid the real subject, which is a bunch of trainers which were broken by newer firmware.

    • JD

      So the cadence sensor is on the non-drive side?
      Is it optical or proximity/infrared based?

    • Dave Lusty

      yes it’s non drive side only. I’m not sure what kind of sensor it is but I’d guess it’s setting up an EM field and measuring the fluctuations in that. Certainly is sensitive and not related to the cranks when it’s working properly. Once you see one working correctly it’s obvious that others are duff units. All the talk about spoons and metal sticks does is allow you to continue using a broken trainer and avoid talking to support.

    • Ross F

      I tried that and it didn’t work for me.

      The teaspoon trick nails it though.

  24. Thanks, Ray, it seems you say it does not support FTMS at the top and in the grid you say it does. Alex

  25. Damien

    5000 miles and counting on my Neo 1. Couldn’t be happier. Great trainer and never had an issue.

  26. Francis C

    I’m looking for a good high end trainer to take with me to my races. I tend to travel with the family and wifey won’t let me out anymore so I figured I’d train while they’re sleeping. Will this fit the bill? Thanks😁

  27. MattB

    In terms of external appearance differences, rather than just a thin blue stripe, the most obvious thing compared to the previous two iterations is the bolts are now black not silver!

    • Oh wow – I never even caught that. Nicely done!

    • It’s funny… I noticed the bolts right away in your photo, but I couldn’t see the racing stripe for some reason. You described it as the “back panel” of the leg, so I focused on the rear of the leg and could only see the same blue stripe that’s on the 2. I finally noticed the racing stripe later in the article, so I scrolled up to the comparison photo again and could suddenly see it clear as day! Brains are funny that way. Sorry to nit pick, but why do you consider that the back panel? Seems extremely front panel to me. 🙂

    • Yeah, I guess it’s just more the back leg – which was the panel for the back leg. Moreso than I suppose the back panel.

  28. Carlos

    One year ago I bought a Neo 2.

    I don’t get the rider weight reason not to support FTMS. I set my weight in the Tacx utility app. I set my weight in the Xert app. Why do they need to share it via the communication protocol?

    From a mechanical point of view I am happy with the trainer. But for a €1300 price tag it is really annoying not to have FTMS available. Also there were some problems with cadence and to work around those I needed to downgrade from firmware 0.18 to 0.15. I don’t think they did any work on the firmware until they released the 2T.

    After I added a power meter to my bike I stopped waiting for a solution on the cadence issues so I do not know if they are fixed.

    Again happy with the hardware but not happy with the overall experience. Now they say the will implement cycling dynamics. I guess that make it even less likely that the will ever put FTMS on it.

    • Yeah, I don’t fully understand either. I believe the thinking though is that the app (such as Zwift) can set the value, so that it’s a bit cleaner.

      FTMS & ANT+ FE-C don’t support Cycling Dynamics anyway, so that part doesn’t matter much there.

  29. frank1e

    heads up in the UK at least – Wiggle have 25% off the Neo 2 which in my book would = “solid deal” territory….

  30. John

    I picked up a 2T and right before my starting my second ride I noticed a cricket sound coming from the trainer. I unplugged it and the sound went away. I plugged it back in and just let it sit. After a few minutes, the sound was back.

    Is this normal?

  31. Lada

    Hi Ray, I have to thank you for your hard work. Helping me a lot. I am just curious you are using 0.33 fw version, I have only 0.32. Do you know what is the difference? Second question is about documentation e.g. for newcomers – have to say this is big pain – only forums and people like you. Any idea where to find more info how to build up Neo2t ecosystem – not only hw but especially apps

  32. Jone

    Heres the link to Garmin forum
    link to forums.garmin.com

  33. Blair

    Thanks for the heads-up on the Neo 2 sale. Just ordered—should arrive on Tuesday. Looking forward! FWIW, I’m still on the 2014 Kickr, which has worked great for over 13,000 miles now. In the testing I’ve done, though, it’s always tended to read a little high (10-20 watts). Disabling the strain gauge a couple of years ago narrowed the gap a little. I’m excited to see how the Neo 2 stacks up against the P1’s and the Assiomas.

  34. Andrew

    Hey Ray just FYI getting cycling dynamics from Tacx Neo2 for the last week or so if recorded on a Garmin device – FR945 in this example.

    • Those are technically not yet Cycling Dynamics – but rather power balance. The Cycling Dynamics metrics will add in things like where the power output is within each stroke.

      Soon they say…soon!

      Cheers!

  35. North Krimsly

    How much does the Neo 2T rock side-to-side, and does it add to comfort? I ask this because I have a Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart Control wheel-on trainer and I’m thinking about upgrading to the 2T. I really like the side-to-side rocking motion on the Kinetic; I think it makes a big difference in comfort compared to for example Spinning class bikes. But I only use a few degrees of the available rocking motion on the Kinetic. Just a little bit goes a long ways in comfort, in my experience. Thoughts?

    • Greg

      The Neo rocks very subtly to the point that it doesn’t provide nearly the saddle relief the Rock and Roll trainers do. I have a hard time doing anything over an hour with Static trainers and the Neo, with the slight movement doesn’t buy much for me. For reference, I had the older Rock and Roll Kurt Kinetic trainer and I could do 3 hour rides on it.

      I’ve been using the Kickr 2018 on a rocker board which gets me that needed side to side motion. This is pretty awesome product:

      link to gravi-trainer.com

      I’ve added a turntable under my Wahoo climb to allow a slight movement to my handlebars. Very essential in my opinion to get the outdoor feel.

      I previously owned the first generation Neo comparing it to the Kickr over a couple weeks. I finally decided to sell the Neo because I felt the Kickr had a more realistic “riding outdoor” feel. I also could see differences in the data using my P1 Powertap pedals. My outdoor torque efficiency is usually 70 to 75% at cadences from 90 to 100. On the Kickr my torque efficiency was very close to those numbers at those cadences. On the Tacx Neo my torque efficiency was 85% with the same cadence which I’ve never seen outdoors. There’s a spot at the top of the pedal stroke outdoors where the resistance just seems to go down. The resistance then goes up as you push the pedal down. The Kickr seemed better simulating this feel whereas the Neo seemed to have a constant resistance throughout the entire revolution.

      That was over a year ago. I was curious to see if the 2T version improved anything so I purchased one last week and did my first comparison last night doing 20 minutes on the 2T and then 20 minutes on the Kickr. I think the 2T has really nailed it. Don’t know if it’s a firmware upgrade, or the improved motor on the 2T or if my first Neo was bad but I think the 2T matches the outdoor quality feel just a little more than even the Kickr. I’m going to do another test tonight.

      Why does it matter to me? I want to stress my legs the same way I do indoors as I do outdoors. So often I train inside for weeks during the winter just to go outside to get my legs hammered. Even on flats, the outdoors work my muscles differently than indoor training.

    • North Krimsly

      Greg, thanks very much for the detailed reply. Do you use your gravi-trainer with the Neo 2T as well, or just the Kickr? I was hoping to avoid buying a rocker board but that might be what I need if I want the comfort that my Kinetic offers. I’m tempted to go with the Kickr 2018 or Kickr Core plus a rocker board and see how that is for me.

    • Greg Smith

      I’ve used the Gravi-trainer with both the kickr and Neo 2T. It works with both and feels great. I have the long board version so the climb rocks along with the kickr. This is a picture before I added a turntable under the climb I got from Amazon. This setup is pretty awesome.

      I specifically purchased my first Neo for the slight rocking motion but I found it wasn’t enough for me. The rocking I get on the Gravi-Trainer just sitting pedalling is more like riding outdoors. Swaying probably only 0.5″ an inch side to side but just enough movement to make faster cadences feel more natural. My outdoor cadences are between 90-100. On a static trainer I always drop that to about 80. Anything above that feels fast. With the Gravi-Trainer my average cadence has gone up to the high eighties. The turntable just allows the handlebars to move millimeters but it gives that outdoor feeling.

      I wish I could use the climb with the Tacx 2T. I love how the climb hits the muscles differently. I can be doing a hard effort just to the breaking point and by raising the incline to 10% suddenly feel relief. I use my hamstrings more on inclines and almost all quads when decending.

      I will keep both for several weeks to decide which one to keep. Let the honeymoon phase wear off with the 2T.

      Another thing I’ve tested is the power of the 2T at low speeds. I’m a bigger cyclist and when I’m on an incline all my friends will leave me in the dust all while I’m doing 300 watts going only 5mph. Both the old Neo and Kickr just can’t replicate the climbs I do at my weight. The Neo 2T seems to be able to (hope I don’t burn it up). I did a simulated climb last night with the 2T using my 34T chainring/36T cassette combo going 5 mph at an average of 300 watts. The 2T felt very close to the outdoor experience and I was suffering the low cadence I endure outside. My Kickr doing the same climb would just increase the speed a couple miles an hour and I wouldn’t get the same low cadence burn. This isn’t much of a feature for small guys but anyone over 200lbs will appreciate it while doing simulated rides.

    • Greg Smith

      Just realized this photo does have the turntable added.

    • North Krimsly

      Hi Greg, this was really helpful. Thanks a lot. I weigh 65 kg with an FTP of 210 watts, so pretty much every smart trainer has more than enough resistance 🙂 The 0.5″ of side-to-side sway with your setup sounds just about perfect for me.

  36. Nicolas Prud'homme

    Hi! I just bought Neo 2 and 2T back to back. The Neo 2 had a really slick feeling, but the slipping issue at grade higher than 11-12% was annoying. Just came off a first ride on the 2T (short), no slip felt at up to 16 % in NYC (which is great).

    Unfortunately, at the start of the ride, and throughout at lower speed (kind of around 1-2 % of grade, almost has the motor to help go downhill stops), there is a huge vibration, like if I was on cobblestone… Have you encountered this problem at the beginning (kind of a break-in issue). It is very annoying, and never happened with the Neo 2…. I feel like I might end up with a Kickr after all.

    Thanks

    • Any chance that’s road feel being triggered?

    • Nicolas Prud'homme

      I have played with the Tacx app during my ride, and it didn’t change. Once I am cruising at higher speeds, it doesn’t do it. I have ridden as a stand alone unit not connected to any software or plugged in the wall, same issue… I have even changed to another cassette to make sure it wasn’t an issue with my cassette…

      Anyway, thank you as usual for your amazing work! If you hear anything about this issue in the near future, please let me know. In the meanwhile, I will go and try the Kickr + climb at my friend’s place to convince myself of buying it.

  37. Just a quick heads up for folks considering the Tacx NEO 2T:

    REI has actually included the NEO 2T in the 20% off sale: link to bit.ly

    If years of REI trainer sale history is any indication:

    A) They’ll continue to honor it
    B) But they probably have a very small quantity of inventory

    Said differently: Grab it quick! Oh, and the link above supports the site!

  38. macnuts

    DC Rainmaker, thank you for yet another great review.

    Are there different variants of NEO 2T?
    I can see three price tags in your review and there is a “Select option” button on the tacx web page (the button does nothing in any of my web browsers).

    BTW, there is “This device has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. This device is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.” info on that page.

    • I’m only aware of the the single 2T. There’s the previous NEO 1, NEO 2, and now the NEO 2T.

      As for the FCC warning, I suspect that’s old now. Garmin doesn’t permit any products that don’t have clearance from being sold (well, the law doesn’t permit it either).