The Tacx Neo 2T — Tacx’s latest and highest end smart trainer model is a great smart bike trainer. We view it as the Cadillac of all bike trainers — or maybe we should get with the times, and say it is the Tesla. Actually, the Neo is the Tesla in a few ways, not the least of which is how incredibly quiet it is.
The Neo’s silence has been one of its hallmarks for years. Since it was introduced in 2014, the Tacx Neo was known as a smart training option that was quieter than the rest of the market. While others, namely the Wahoo KICKR, are catching up, we think the Tacx Neo still has the distinction of being the quietest training you can buy today.
Tacx as a company has been around for a long time — since the 1970s, when they were making rollers and roller parts. Little did they know at the time that in a generation, they would be a high-tech computer company making connected bike training devices.
Tacx Smart Trainer History and Lineup
The Tacx Neo came out in 2014, and immediately was a hit with the cycling community. It held on as Tacx’s stalwart for a long time.
In late 2018, the Neo 2 came out, and upped Tacx’s game from an already strong position. This is where many of today’s familiar features such as Road Feel and decline simulation were added. The Neo 2 also introduced pedal stroke analysis which allows you to determine how if your legs are spinning in a symmetrical manner.
For 2020, the Neo 2T replaced the Neo 2. It improved on the motor, creating a more realistic ride feel and a better climbing simulation. With each generation of trainer, Tacx made their products quieter, something we always appreciate.
Below the Neo 2T in the current lineup is the Tacx Flux 2. Below that sits Tacx Flux S. We do more of a head-to-head comparison between these Tacx models later on in this piece.
The main competition for the Tacx Neo 2T comes from two good smart trainers that we have written about in depth: The Wahoo KICKR, and the Saris H3. While both options are less expensive than
the Neo, the Tacx Neo is probably the most advanced and sleek of the bunch — we can get into the reasons why a little more as we dive into the details of our review below. Of course, the Peloton provides some competition as well, but that is a pretty fundamental difference when you compare a stationary bike with a $40/monthly subscription with a smart trainer that allows you to access any number of apps.
Riding the Tacx Neo is a dream. It is one of those products where you think to yourself, they have thought of everything. The first and most lasting impression is just how quiet it is. No “whine” like you get from older models of other makes, the only noise you hear will really be whatever sounds your bike’s drivetrain makes. Other than that, it is silent. I know we seem to be belaboring how quiet the Neo is, but if your buying priorities have “no noise” as a top need (perhaps you will be using the unit near a sleeping baby), then the Neo should be at the top of your list. Well done, Tacx.
One thing we love about the Neo is that, while it offers great functionality and quality, it is not a labyrinth of a package. The Tacx is encased in a nice, sleek, quite small unit, but one that really does the job. The minimalist design basically has a flywheel inside a case, two legs to securely support the unit and bike, and not much else. Often times, when it comes to design, less is more.
The ride quality on the Neo 2T is superb. Despite the minimalist design, it is a very stable unit, and as we mentioned several times, so quiet. There is some built-in flex to the Neo 2T which allows for a bit more of a natural feeling — compared to some other trainers that make it feel like you are riding a 2×4. The flex also comes in another way — your bike can tilt a few degrees from side to side while being fully-operational in the smart trainer. This is a nice feature that is fully built-in to the Neo 2T, and one that we are only beginning to see on other brands.
Much is made of the Neo’s ability to simulate surfaces, and it is pretty cool. It can simulate pavement, gravel, and other surfaces. It can also mimic climbs and downhills without any additional parts. Compare that to the Wahoo KICKR, which can mimic inclines and declines but only with an additional purchase fo the Climb unit. These features — mimicking surfaces and inclines/declines — might not apply as much to the rides you do on Sufferfest or Trainerroad, but for the Zwift rides it can really add to the riding interest and make the time go by faster, not to mention give you varying saddle positions to reduce the pressure point on your bum.
We have become big fans of the 2T’s lighting system, which creates varied backlight colors and intensities from the unit, signifying how much power you are putting out. It is a nice feature, one that we would not have thought of. When you are going really hard, and may not have the presence of mind to stare at a number on the screen, the color will easily communicate to you how hard you are going. Pretty cool.
Tacx’s innovative flywheel design allows the unit to be the only one that has true downhill inertia. In most trainers, when you stop pedaling, the power output on the unit immediately drops to zero. On the Neo, when you stop pedaling on a Zwift downhill, for example, you are going to get a freewheel effect that applies a small bit of resistance back in to the unit, and it will truly resemble a road ride in that regard. In most units, unless you keep pedaling downhill, your power output gets a bit messed up by hills.
It is hard to write about all of the little things that make the Tacx Neo 2T such a realistic ride, but we think much of it is due to the fact that it has a virtual flywheel. No belts or chains, you are
basically directly powering the unit’s engine. It is responsive, feels great, and realistic. We will go ahead and say that the Neo 2T provides the best ride of any smart trainer on the market.
Connectivity and Compatibility
Because of the virtual flywheel and direct-drive setup, the connectivity of the unit is nearly instantaneous. Hop on, start pedaling, and lights on the unit will quickly tell you that you are connected and in business.
Now for one of the coolest things about the Neo 2T: You don’t even need to plug in it. Because of the direct-drive setup, the trainer can be used without outside power. The only thing you lose by not having it plugged-in is some of the incline/decline feature. Otherwise, you can basically treat this unit as a self-charging generator of sorts — something that we think other units should mimic. For years, we have thought that these smart trainers should really power themselves with the wattage being generated. Bravo, Tacx.
You will have no problem connecting to all of your favorite apps with the Tacx Neo 2T — whether you are using Zwift, Rouvy, Sufferfest, Trainerroad, or even Peloton’s alternative non-native app for smart trainers.
We probably sound like a broken record when it comes to how much we love the noise level of the Neo 2T. The same could be said for earlier Tacx versions, such as the Neo and Neo 2. It is really a marvel how you can have this sophisticated unit, that you are cranking 300 watts of power into, and it holds the noise at a quiet 60 db. Honestly, the loudest part of riding will either be your bike’s drivetrain, or your own huffing and puffing as you try to power the unit.
Our assessment is that the Neo 2T has very good accuracy. Responsiveness to power changes is instant, and like mentioned earlier the direct, virtual flywheel provides a more realistic power output and feel when you are doing a Zwift downhill.
Like the Wahoo KICKR, Tacx says that the Neo 2T will measure power to within 1% of actual, and based on our testing we have no reason to take issue with it.
Tacx’s constant focus on improving the motor, as well as the very direct-drive design that does not have any middlemen involved in its drivetrain, creates a very responsive trainer overall. Let’s just say that this unit is very responsive. Your power ramp-ups and downs will have a near-instant effect on your overall power readout — or if you are riding Zwift, on your placement within the pack. This kind of tight responsiveness is fun to experience, but it makes it hard to ever go back to something that has even a hint of lag in it.
One of the main upgrades of the Neo 2T vs. the midrange flux is that the unit is going to be more accurate — to within 1% versus 2.5%.
Mounting and Drive
The Tacx Neo 2T is a direct drive trainer, meaning you do not need to have your rear wheel on when using it. Your bike’s drivetrain connects directly to the axle of the trainer — similar to the Wahoo or Saris smart trainers. It is the standard in smart trainers today.
Where the Neo 2T excels is in the fact that you are connecting directly to the unit’s motor, reducing the need for any belts or drives in the unit.
The Tacx does not come with a cassette installed, so you will need to install one yourself. The Neo 2T can handle a number of common cassettes out of the box, including the Shimano or SRAM 11 speed design. With a special cassette body, it can handle the Campy or SRAM 12 speed cassettes.
Mounting on the unit, once you have it setup, is a piece of cake. It locks in securely, and is suitable for all but the most random axles that you are going to find on today’s bikes.
We always take a peek at the safety of any smart trainer, or other cycling device. After all, you will be producing lots of power on this bike, and it needs to be safe and stable.
We love the stability of the Neo, and are always amazed that such a stable unit is house in such a simple, elegant design. We would have assumed that for a smart trainer to be so stable, it would need to be large and bulky. Tacx proves that is not the case.
We always look at the flywheel design, perhaps because for years we have used our trainers near young children and pets. The last thing we want is for the unit itself to become a hazard to others. The Neo 2T has a covered flywheel, but a shroud covering the side of the flywheel moves with the axle. It does not protrude, nor is it nearly as tempting for a 2-year-old to touch, as the KICKR, but there is a moving, spinning part.
As for rider weight, the Neo 2T has a rider weight limit of 275 lbs, in the midrange of what we see for these higher-end trainers. For reference, the Wahoo KICKR has a limit of 250 lbs, while the Saris H3 is at 300 lbs. In case you were curious, the Peloton bike also has a weight limit, published at a very precise 297 lbs.
We are fans of the Tacx brand, and a big reason it makes our shortlist of smart trainers to consider is that it tends to be a pretty problem-free unit — whether you are looking at the Neo, the Neo 2, or the Neo 2T.
We are curious to see how the 2T holds up with its additional features, namely the side-to-side flex as well as the ability to simulate different surfaces. For most riders, though, it should give you more than enough life to have years of great spins.
As long as you are under the 275 lb weight limit, we expect it to last a long time. Capable of handling 2,200 watts, you are not going to outspin this trainer — but we can say the same thing for the Saris and Wahoo products.
At $1,400, the Tacx Neo 2T might seem like an expensive trainer. No doubt, many winter riders might just prefer to drop that $1,400 on a fat tire bike. But when you compare to the competition — namely the Wahoo and the Saris — you are getting some advanced technology for that $1,400. And when you start to mentally tally the add-ons that might be required to get what you will in the 2T, it becomes a justified price point.
The fact that there is so much functionality in that small, sleek unit, such as the road surface simulation, incline and descent, and side-to-side flex, not to mention other benefits, makes $1,400 a defensible price tag. If you have the budget for it, we could go with the Neo 2T.
Tacx Neo 2T vs. Saris H3
The competition for the Neo 2T falls in to a couple categories: Somewhat comparable models, and then step-down smart trainer models. Of the somewhat comparable models, the Saris H3 is probably the one that provides the cost savings opportunity that will give many people some pause, if they are getting ready to buy the 2T.
We are big fans of both companies. Tacx is Dutch, Saris is American. Tacx has been in the cycling business longer, but Saris has been doing smart trainers for a few more years (previously as CycleOps). Our experience is that both companies will give you excellent support, as will the bike shops that carry the brands.
The Tacx is a quieter trainer — quieter by quite a bit. Not that the Saris is loud, in fact, it is an area they have improved upon dramatically with the H3. But if quiet is the priority, that is a decided point in favor of the Neo 2T.
The Neo 2T also comes with more out-of-the-box, built-in options. The road surface simulation, incline and decline simulation, and side-to-side flex are all things that the Tacx has and, at this time, the Saris does not..
Where does the Saris excel? On price. The Saris H3 is $400 less than the Tacx Neo 2T. This means that its retail list price is a cool 30% less. Saris has packed a good quality trainer into a package that does not cost an arm and a leg. In fact, we have ridden many hours on a Saris and loved it. But if you have the budget, we think the Neo 2T is the superior trainer.
We did an entire Saris H3 Review, if you want to check it out more.
Tacx Neo 2T vs. the Wahoo KICKR
We love the Tacx Neo models, especially its newest Neo 2T but you save a couple hundred bucks if you go with the Wahoo KICKR instead.
The Neo is a top-of-the-line, super quiet trainer, one that packs all of its functionality into a sleek unit. It is a little like buying an Apple product — you don’t buy the add-on peripherals, because everything you need to use it is right in the box.
With the latest version of the KICKR, both units offer some slight side-to-side give, creating a more realistic road feel.
The Wahoo KICKR, though, has a few things going for it. Perhaps where the Wahoo edges out the Neo 2T most is on the price. It usually runs $1,200 versus the Neo 2T’s $1,400. Plus the KICKR comes with a cassette on the axle, which will probably save you another $70.
Where the Tacx evens the score is when you start buying add-on features for the KICKR. Things that are additional for the KICKR come standard on the Neo 2T, like the incline/decline feature for doing climbs on Zwift. The bottom line is that it really comes down to how much functionality you want built-in to the unit straight out of the box. The less functionality you want, the more you can
save money on the Wahoo (or the Saris) and not regret it.
Tacx Neo 2T vs. Tacx Flux 2 vs. Tacx Flux S
Tacx has rolled out a bunch of new products over the past couple years, upgrading the Neo 2 to the Neo 2T, and introducing the lower-end trainers, the Flux 2 and the Flux S. We reviewed both Tacx Flux models here.
The Flux S was really the old Tacx Flux, with a few minor updates and upgrades. The Flux 2 is actually a new, step-up model, replacing (in our minds) the Flux S or Flux. The Flux 2 runs about $900.
The Neo 2T is the top-of-the-line model from Tacx. We like all Tacx models, but here are some of the biggest differences between the high-end Neo 2T and the midrange Flux 2.
- The Neo 2T can handle 2,200 watts, while the Flux 2 can handle 2,000. You might not need all of those watts, but what this tells you is that the 2T has the heavier, more stable flywheel.
- The Neo 2T wattage measurement is accurate to 1% of your actual power, whereas the Flux 2 will get you to a “good but not as good” 2.5% of actual power.
- While the Flux 2 does not offer side-to-side flex, the Neo 2T offers about 5 degrees of side-to-side movement.
If you are on a tight budget, though, we think the Flux 2 or Flux S are definitely worth considering.