Tacx Neo Bike Smart Trainer Review – Better than a dedicated indoor bike + trainer

Tacx Neo Bike Smart Trainer Review – Better than a dedicated indoor bike + trainer

Tacx Neo Bike Smart Trainer Review Rating

Summary

Overall, I think the Tacx Neo Bike is superb, and I think anyone should seriously consider it if they are thinking about buying a dedicated indoor bike plus trainer. I also think it offers the best price/feature/performance balance over the competing bike options.

Overall

85%

85%
  • Overall – 85%
    85%

Pros

  • Extensive adjustments make this suitable for use with multiple people within the house
  • Smaller footprint and considerably easier to use than a bike + separate trainer 
  • Runs quiet
  • Extensive gear adjustments

Cons

  • Gear changes could be a lot better

The Tacx Neo Bike has been reviewed by plenty of other sites that are more experienced and knowledgeable in this field than me. But I bought it, I like it, so I am going to review it.

This is very much a luxury expense, there are much cheaper options on the market, and I know many people think the idea of a smart bike is stupid, but I disagree.

Justifying the Tacx Neo Bike – Smart bike vs turbo trainer + dedicated indoor bike

I am mainly writing this part just to confirm to myself that this bike was worth all the money.

During Black Friday, the bike was reduced down to £1800, making it £200 cheaper than the Watt Bike Atom, which I had previously been considering. I also managed to get lucky and find an additional £100 off voucher.

At £1700, it was still painfully expensive, but it brought the bike down to what I felt was a justifiable cost.

My logic was:

  • My outdoor bike was suffering a lot of wear and tear being used indoors. I had gearing problems, even though I wiped down the bike after each use, my toxic sweat had rusted bolts, and I’d often find my brakes were seizing up.
  • I injured my knee at the start of the year after I stupidly tried to do Alpe Du Zwift for each Zwift session during December (so I could get the Tron bike). My high power, low cadence cycling had taken its toll. After I recovered, I could never get comfortable, and it started to seem like my bike frame was too large for me, which likely contributed to my injury.
  • I’d been on the lookout for a dedicated indoor bike but buying new would be £700-ish for an 11-gear, and buying used seems like a minefield that would generally require me to drive miles out to somewhere to pick it up.
  • The Tacx Neo Bike is basically built around the £1000+ Tacx Neo 2T, so the cost of that + a bike was the same as the whole smart bike.
    • Obviously, my logic doesn’t apply at RRP, but you pay a premium for the convenience of an all in one unit, which also includes fans, display, customisable gearing etc.

Once I set up the bike, numerous other advantages became more apparent:

  • It occupies a smaller footprint
  • It is considerably easier to move around. It has wheels on the back, and if you lift it up from the nose, you can roll it around. It is a nightmare moving a bike that’s attached to a trainer.  
  • Not only does it provide extensive adjustments for me to find a fit that doesn’t aggravate my knee, but it is also adjustable enough that my partner can use it.
    • She has used it once…

Long term support and maintenance concerns (applies to all brands)

The main thing that has put me off buying a bike until now is the long term durability, maintenance and product support.

One of the selling points is that these are no maintenance, which is a huge bonus, but what happens when something does go wrong?

Garmin provides 2 years warranty, but they are not exactly famous for the overall quality of their customer support. When they took over Tacx, they refused to provide any support for the Tacx trainers once the warranty expired.

They then backtracked and offered a flat rate repair option for Tacx Neo smart trainers. The price of this repair is £538 + VAT (£646.15). Which is not exactly reasonable.

Warranty and support issues concerns apply for everything, but at least with a bike on a trainer, you can easily fix things like the gears yourself. Worst case scenario, replacing the trainer is cheaper than replacing the entire bike.

It does look like you can buy spare parts via some random websites, so there is a small amount of reassurance there.

I should note that my Tacx Flux S, which is 3 years old, still works without issue.

Unboxing / Set Up – How easy is it to build?

Getting it out of the box was challenging. I tried to do things properly and avoid damaging the box in case I had to send it back. Even though I attempted to follow the instructions I still managed to unbox it upside down.

It is quite easy to build, but the bike as a whole weighs 50Kg, with the bulk of the weight being in the main body. With it being a relatively flat shape, it isn’t the easiest to handle when assembling by yourself. If you are the type of person that ignores the instructions advice of using two people, in this case, I’d advise don’t do that. I dropped the bike on my big toe, which left me with a sore foot for days.

Beyond that, it’s quite easy to build. You just attach the front and rear legs, seat, handle bar and then the fans/front mount.

You get a few additional perks in the packaging. There is a bottle cage, bottle, Tacx towel and a sweat guard. The official Tacx branded sweat cover is £17 on Amazon.

Customising the Fit / Saddle / Thigh Rubbing

The bike has hex bolts to secure the handlebars, front stem, seat height and seat position. The packaging also includes some quick release handles, allowing you to easily adjust them.

The handles are not the easiest to use. You can’t fully rotate them due to parts of the bike getting in the way, so the handles have a spring-mounted adjustment allowing you to pull the handle part out, move it to a new position then adjust the tension from there. It is just a bit clumsy to use, but it is still much faster than digging out some tools.

Being able to adjust the fit extensively and quickly is one of the main features I like about this bike.

After my injury with my old bike, I was able to find a fit that didn’t aggravate my knee, but the consequence was getting extremely numb privates. It was bad enough that I thought I would end up with nerve damage down there.

With this, I have been able to find a comfortable position for both my knee and undercarriage.

As an added bonus to the normal bike adjustments, there is a wide range of adjustments for the seat angle. I experimented with it pointing very far down, which wasn’t very comfy, but a slight downward angle does help.

I did still get some mild numbness, and I have found that the included seat is not the most comfortable. It is not terrible but not great either. I have since replaced this with a saddle with a cutout, and this has again improved my comfort more

Replacing the saddle was easier than my normal bike, the bolt that secures it is easily accessible on the side of the bike. With my old bike, it was quite awkward holding the clamp in place while trying to align the bolt and screw it.

Many users and reviewers have pointed out the thigh rubbing that can occur. This is quite noticeable during the first few rides. I don’t have gigantic thighs at 23-inches/58cm at the midway point, but I do have some loose skin on my inner thigh, which makes the problem worse. After a few rides, I only really notice it at the start of the ride, but after a few minutes, I am too preoccupied with cycling to think about it.

App & Settings

The bike worked perfectly well without using the app, but I wanted to be able to customise the gears. Since people like DC Rainmaker reviewed the bike, Tacx has changed it to use the Tacx Training app, not the Utility app.

I had a nightmare getting the app to see the bike, I could easily connect via laptop using either Bluetooth or ANT, but I couldn’t connect via my phone using different phones (Pixel 6, Oppo Find X3 Neo, Xiaomi 11T).

Eventually, I managed to get it working by switching my phone into airplane mode, with Bluetooth still on and connecting then. Something must have been interfering with it, but it happened across multiple phones.

Once connected, I had no problems. I was able to update to the latest firmware with no issues, whereas there are numerous users complaining about problems with this online.

For gearing, you have a wide range of options. I opted for the most practical solution that would work with myself and my partner.

I opted for a triple with 45-48-53, and then on the rear, I had 12 gears going down from 26-10.

It is not the most realistic gearing set-up, but it gives me the flexibility to ride at high power any time I want while also being usable for my partner. I typically stay within 18-11 and 53 on the front, whereas she uses 48 on the front.

As well as the gear setting you have the option to set the fans and the road feel. The fans can be dynamic based on your power or speed, but I chose to have them fixed at high due to me overheating easily and being the sweatiest person ever.

In use

Road Feel

I have no strong feelings about the simulated road feel, I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. At first, it felt like a pointless gimmick, but the more I have cycled, I have started to appreciate the occasional vibration that comes through.

When the bike is not artificially producing a road feel, the overall feel of the bike is somewhat soulless. You have a 50Kg belt driven bike that is producing almost no noise, so it just doesn’t feel the same as riding your bike mounting to a trainer. Personally, I don’t really care, and I quite like how solid it feels when I pump out some high power segments.

Shifting

Shifting is one of the worst bits about the bike, but you get used to it, and it is perfectly usable. Switching from physical levers to a couple of buttons that have no tactile feedback is a big downgrade. It seems bizarre that they would integrate brake levers but then cheap on a couple of buttons for the gears. It surely can’t be that hard or expensive to integrate a button into a lever?

Shifting down is via the smaller button and up the larger, but because there isn’t really a clicky sensation to the buttons and with them being close together, I have found it easy to not press or press the wrong button.

It’s not a massive problem, and it’s one of them things you get used to over time, but it just seems a daft thing to cut corners on.

When you do shift, there is no physical shifting sensation, it is just an immediate change in resistance. I miss the clunking noise, but I do like the ability to immediately adjust my power.

Fans / Computer / Mount

The fans are alright. With other bikes lacking any fan, so this is a nice little bonus. My converted garage only has basic insulation and no heating, so it is normally cold in there during winter, and I don’t need a massive fan switch on, at least at the start. I have them set to a fixed speed and higher all the time, and these have provided ample cooling for shorter rides.

I doubt they will make much difference during the summer months, but every little helps.

I love the bike computer and storage compartment. I use a laptop, so I don’t particularily need the tablet holder, but I may use a cheap tablet as a dedicated Zwift companion device in the future.

Being able to see basic data, including my exact gears, is excellent, meaning I don’t always have to stare upwards at the screen.

Similarly, having my phone right in front of my face when I look down is far more preferable than having it off to the side on a table, like I used to. I can now easily decide what to do with notifications as they come through rather than grab my phone any time it makes a noise.

Noise – Initial grinding noises

Noise levels are very low, the fans and my heavy breathing are considerably louder. It is not even worth measuring the sound, the belt is quieter than a chain, and you’d have to be doing some very low-intensity cycling for it to be louder than anything else.

However, on my second long bike ride, I did notice some noise and a grinding sensation coming up through the right pedal. It wasn’t too bad, I could probably have ignored it, but as I already had concerns about durability and the overall expense of this, it did make me quite paranoid.

I found this thread over at Garmin. The video shared seem to sound like my issue but maybe worse. However, after a couple more rides, it went away. I think it might have been my pedal, but it is something I am keeping my eye(or ears) on.

Power

I don’t have a wide range of power meters like DC Rainmaker to test against, so he is best for accurate data. All I can say is that this is a significant improvement over my Tacx Flux S.

You have a  ±1% accuracy with power going up to 2200 watts and a simulated incline up to 25%. I have not tested my peak power yet, but I managed one sprint with just over 1000W for 15 seconds, I can’t imagine ever getting close to the upper limits of this bike.

I have a single-sided Favero Assioma, and since my knee injury, I found a discrepancy between the power values of my pedals and the Flux S. I had calibrated both multiple times, and you no longer need to calibrate the pedal.

Initially, I assumed it would be a difference in strength between my legs, but the left pedal read higher than the trainer. I am right-handed, and it was my left knee I had issues with, so it made more sense than my right leg was the powerful one. For months, I have been using the pedal data (because it was higher) but was concerned I was actually a lot weaker than expected.

Switching to the bike, I was relieved to find that the pedals matched the bike almost perfectly. However, thanks to the advanced cycling dynamics from the bike, it did seem to confirm that I was producing more power from my left leg with a 52/48% imbalance, though this level of imbalance seems to be very common.

Price and Alternative Options

The Tacx Neo Bike has an RRP of £2,299 and it dropped down to £1800 during Black Friday. You can still get it from Tredz for £1999, this is where I bought it from, and I had no issues with delivery/customer service.

The cheapest alternative is the Wattbike Atom price at £1999, which is £100 more than it used to be. I have a friend that uses this, and he loves it.

The Stages SB20 Smart Bike is £2799 RRP, but Sigma sports has it for 21% off, making it cheaper than the Tacx at £2,199. It seems to have some mixed user reviews, with some people having problems with the bike and the Stages support being poor. At full RRP, this makes it difficult to choose over the cheaper Tacx, or slightly more expensive Wahoo, but with the current discount, I think it is a tempting offer.

The Wahoo Smart Bike is a whopping £2999, it is the market leader and, by all accounts, the best overall smart bike, but it is a steep price to pay. This is what originally put me off buying a smart bike, I was indecisive about going for the less-good but affordable Wattbike or spending £3k on this. As much as I would love to own the Wahoo, I just couldn’t bring myself to part with that much money.

Overall

It is still early days, but I already love the Tacx Neo Bike. It is not perfect, but it does everything I wanted a smart bike to do.

Most importantly, the fit customisations have allowed me to ride comfortably for longer than 30 mins without getting numb or having knee issues. The smaller footprint means I have been able to rearrange my garage turned gym, providing more space for weights, and my partner has even shown some interest in using it.

I am not sure I would have personally bought it at full RRP, I think it would have been a bit too expensive based on my personal finances. However, considering the market, I think it is sensibly priced in comparison to the other options. It seems to be regarded as a better bike than the Wattbike. Now that has gone up in price, I’d say this is a good, possibly better, alternative for not much more money. You then save £800 vs the Wahoo; while it may be a better bike overall, the only thing I would really want that it has is the superior gear changing; considering the price difference, I can live without it.

Overall, I think the Tacx Neo Bike is superb, and I think anyone should seriously consider it if they are thinking about buying a dedicated indoor bike plus trainer. I also think it offers the best price/feature/performance balance over the competing bike options.