Tacx NEO 2T Review: Great Ride Feel, but…

Tacx NEO 2T review: Tacx NEO 2T on a wooden floor.

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This is my Tacx NEO 2T smart trainer review.

It’s by many considered the best smart trainer out there. Is that really so? 

After spending some time with it and performing tests, I have to admit it’s one step further than its competitors in the ride feel.

But I encountered accuracy issues when performing tests. This is surprising considering the high price of this trainer.

Continue reading for more info.

Thanks to pulsmetry.cz for lending me this trainer for testing.

Who Is Tacx NEO 2T for?

The Tacx NEO 2T is suitable for passionate cyclists who appreciate a realistic ride feel indoors, thanks to the virtual flywheel.

It can simulate gradients, descents, and different surfaces (tarmac, cobblestones, gravel, etc.).

Unfortunately, the side-to-side tilt is limited to about 3° on each side. However, you can combine it with Tacx NEO Motion Plates for a fore-and-aft movement. 

Due to the lack of a carry handle and larger form factor, it’s more suitable for people with a dedicated training area.

Main Features and Tech. Specs Summary

Here is the summary of the main features and the technical specification of the Tacx NEO 2T.

Main Features

  • Realistic ride feel thanks to the virtual flywheel
  • Downhill simulation
  • Can simulate different surfaces (gravel, cobblestones, etc.)
  • Highly responsive and accurate
  • Storable thanks to the foldable legs
  • Measures power and left/right leg balance
  • LED lights that change color based on power output
  • Doesn’t require being plugged into electricity for most features
  • Difficult to move around (no carry handle)
  • ‘Pulls legs’
  • Cassette is not included
  • Pricey

Technical Specification

  • Maximum resistance: 2200W
  • Claimed accuracy: ±1%
  • Measured accuracy: ±2.1% (learn more)
  • Gradient simulation: 25%
  • Weight: 47.4 lb (21.5 kg)
  • Dimensions: 22.6 × 29,5″ (57.5 × 75 cm)
  • Flywheel: Virtual, 275.6 lb (125 kg)
  • Noisiness: ~55.5 dB @ 200W
  • Power Consumption: ~0 Wh @ 200W, ~0 Wh @ 300W, 44 Wh when freewheeling motor operates
  • Connectivity: ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth
  • Power required: No

TIP: Read my Tacx NEO Motion Plates review to determine if they are worth it.

Unboxing & Ease of Setup

The package includes:

  • Tacx NEO 2T trainer
  • Front wheel riser
  • Charging cable
  • Multiple spacers
  • Quick release for road bikes and mountain bikes
  • Shimano and SRAM (9-11) cassette body (freehub)
  • 1-month Tacx Training app and 1-month Zwift trial
  • Manual

The setup of the NEO 2T was relatively easy. I only had to unfold the legs (wings), mount the cassette, choose the correct adaptors, and plug it into electricity.

However, once I mounted my bike on the trainer, I noticed the disc brake almost touched it. I solved this by using the included 2 mm spacer.

By the way, NEO 2T can simulate different surfaces, gradients, ERG mode, etc., without being plugged into electricity. The only feature missing when it’s not plugged in is freewheeling on the downhills.

Did you know that thanks to the inbuilt battery that recharges while pedaling, NEO 2T has zero power consumption? However, once the motor simulates downhill, the consumption jumps to 44 Wh. Other bike trainers have a power consumption of around 10 Wh, depending on the simulated resistance.

Bad portability is one of my biggest issues with NEO 2T. It doesn’t have any carry handle, so it’s difficult to move around.

I have to do this before and after every ride because I don’t have a dedicated training area.

This makes it unsuitable for people who don’t have a permanent training area and often need to relocate the trainer.

The foldable legs are useful because the trainer won’t take up as much space when you don’t need it. But its form factor is still pretty large (for example, compared to the ThinkRider X7 PRO). 

Folded Tacx NEO 2T on a wooden floor (view from the front side).
Folded Tacx NEO 2T
Tacx NEO 2T with unfolded legs on a wooden floor (view from the front).
Unfolded Tacx NEO 2T

Also available at amazon.com, jensonusa.com, and wiggle.co.uk

Ride Impressions

The downhill simulation was one of the features I was looking forward to the most. It makes the ride feel closer to riding outside. It’s pretty cool, but I could live without it.

The NEO 2T reacts quickly to gradient changes in third-party apps. I test this in Wahoo RGT on their punchy Pienza course. It includes descents and steep climbs in quick succession, so it’s perfect for this test. 

I didn’t expect anything but a realistic ride feel. NEO 2T has not disappointed.

However, I noticed two strange things. The first is that pedaling on NEO 2T feels more demanding than on other trainers.

This is probably caused by the virtual flywheel that tends to provide resistance during the entire revolution. It feels like it ‘pulls your legs.’

Trainers with a physical flywheel, like Wahoo KICKR v5, feel easier to pedal, maybe because physical flywheels can maintain their inertia. I evaluate their differences in-depth in my KICKR vs. NEO 2T comparison.

The second thing you may encounter is the so-called ‘virtual tire slip.’ It mainly occurs on inclines when you pedal at a low cadence but high power and in ERG mode at the start of high power intervals when you are on easy gears. This happens when you exceed NEO’s torque threshold of 85 Newton meters. (Source)

Accuracy Tests

I double-checked the NEO 2T power and cadence accuracy with my Favero Assioma DUO pedals. I use them as a benchmark for most smart trainer and power meter tests. The second power source was Magene P505 spider power meter

I tested NEO 2T ERG mode, responsivity, and road feel in multiple indoor cycling apps. I performed all tests with the Tacx NEO Motion Plates (without stating otherwise).

NOTE: I warmed up the bike trained before testing. The calibration is not required because it’s automatic.

Test #1: ERG Mode

This ERG mode test is the benchmark test I use for all smart bike trainers. It has a short warm-up, ramp-up, multiple 30×30s high/low power intervals, and cool down.

The following picture shows the results from TrainerRoad. 

Screenshot of my Tacx NEO 2T ERG mode test in TrainerRoad.
Screenshot of my ERG mode test in TrainerRoad – notice the spike in the last interval. I significantly increased my cadence to see what would happen.

NEO 2T reacted to the power changes about 2 seconds before and started to lower the power 2 seconds before the interval ended.

The power changes were not as smooth as on Saris H3. They were too quick. It took me a few intervals to get used to them and adjust my pedaling. KICKR v5 and the H3 have much better ERG modes.

Power chart of my ERG mode test of Tacx NEO 2T.
ERG mode test (Power)

You can also see that cracks start to appear in the power accuracy. I consulted it with a local distributor who asked Garmin for a statement.

Unsurprisingly, they replied that my other power sources were not reliable and accurate. While this might be true with P505, which is sometimes inconsistent, I fully trust Assioma DUOs.

Furthermore, as my following tests showed, NEO 2T consistently under read my power.

I also tried doing an ERG mode test without NEO Motion Plates to see if I noticed a difference in accuracy.

Here is the first data set (with motion plates), and here is the second one (without motion plates).

Test #2: Freeride

The freeride on the Pienza course in Wahoo RGT was great. Pienza is a punchy course in Italian Tuscany, so it’s suitable for testing the responsiveness of the trainer.

I was slightly disappointed that the RGT doesn’t send instructions to the trainer for simulating different riding surfaces (tarmac – gravel), but that’s another story.

NEO 2T smoothly changed the resistance based on the terrain. Hard sections (10% gradients) felt hard, and descents were easy because NEO 2T motor simulated freewheeling. The downhill simulation is not common on other smart trainers.

As you can see from the following chart, the power was consistent, without spikes or dropouts.

This is by far the best result of all trainers I tested. Most of them struggled with the first part of the course, experiencing power peaks and drops. However, this could also be because of the Wahoo RGT update. I am not sure.

Power chart of my Freeride test of Tacx NEO 2T.
Freeride (Power)

This is also a test where we can doubt the results of the maximum power of Assiomas (because NEO 2T and P505 show similar results) and the average power of P505 (because NEO 2T and DUOs are similar).

See the dataset.

Also available at amazon.com, jensonusa.com, and wiggle.co.uk

Test #3: Race

The last test I did was the Zwift race. My poor result aside, NEO 2T was again under reading power by almost 3%. In an ideal scenario, we want a maximum deviation of ±1%.

Power chart of my Race test of Tacx NEO 2T.
Race (Power) – the part between 19:00 and 21:00 are not dropouts but moments when I stopped pedaling

Click here for the dataset.

I was honestly unpleasantly surprised by the accuracy results. Although I didn’t experience any dropouts, the signal stability was excellent, and cadence data were on point, the power accuracy was not within the claimed range.

I recorded some of my workouts with similar results. You can find them on my Zwift Power profile.

The Tacx NEO 2T I tested was probably defective. I did further research and most people didn’t experience similar power deviations.

However, you can find people complaining about the NEO 2T’s accuracy. It mostly under reads power. This would also explain the high subjectively perceived difficulty when pedaling. Check out Andrew Stockwell’s analysis for further reference.

Tacx NEO 2T Alternatives

Here are some of the Tacx NEO 2T alternatives worth considering (none of them can simulate different surfaces).

  • Saris H3 has better ERG mode but lower specs.
  • Elite Direto XR is more affordable but less popular and has lower specs.
  • Wahoo KICKR is one of the most popular smart bike trainers. It has a slightly better ERG mode and is much more portable. Read my comparison of KICKR vs. NEO 2T for more info.

Tacx NEO 2T FAQ

My Verdict

I couldn’t wait to try the NEO 2T because of its unique features, like the downhill and surfaces simulation, or the possibility of using it without electricity. 

It exceeded my expectations regarding the ride feel. The surface simulation is pretty cool and takes Zwift to the next level.

However, NEO 2T is not for everybody. I especially miss a carry handle that would make moving it around easier. So, consider buying it only if you have a dedicated training area.

It would be great if its future generation would offer better side-to-side tilt and maybe an in-built fore-and-aft movement.

This would improve riding comfort and make indoor cycling more engaging. Furthermore, you wouldn’t have to buy additional accessories like NEO Motion Plates or a rocker plate.

I also encountered accuracy issues. The tested trainer under-read my power compared to other power sources and didn’t meet the claimed accuracy of ±1%. Given the reputation of this trainer, I believe I just had a defective unit.

The question now is, when will Tacx introduce a new generation? NEO 2T is three years old already, so it would deserve an upgrade.

Also available at amazon.com, jensonusa.com, and wiggle.co.uk

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