Tacx NEO Bike Review: Pricey Training Tool Not for Everyone

Tacx NEO Bike Review: Tacx NEO Bike near a staircase

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Tacx NEO Bike belongs among the most popular smart bikes.

I’ve found one of its owners who has been using it for several months and asked him a few questions if he regrets this purchase.

So, in this Tacx NEO Bike review, you learn about its pros, cons, and things you should consider before spending your money on it.

Don’t expect a technical review – we approached it practically to provide you with helpful information.

Let’s dive in.

You can learn more about interviewee Jiří here.

Tacx NEO Bike Summary

Here is a summary of the main features of the Tacx NEO Bike.

Tacx NEO Bike Main Features

  • Maximum resistance: 2200W
  • Gradient/decline simulation: 25%/not specified
  • Power accuracy: ±1%
  • Auto-calibration: Yes
  • Adjustable fit: Stack, reach, setback, saddle height
  • Connectivity: ANT+ FEC, Bluetooth
  • Power required: No (if the smart bike is not plugged-in, it won’t allow you the freewheeling on downhills – watch this video for more info)

Also available at wiggle.co.uk


Tacx NEO Bike Pros & Cons

We highlighted the Tacx NEO Bike pros & cons together with Jirka below.

Tacx NEO Bike Pros

  • It doesn’t require power (for most features)
  • In-build fans that adjust their speed based on your power, speed, HR, or they can run on one of the three intensities)
  • The direction of the fans is adjustable (you can point them on your head, arms, or legs) 
  • Tablet mount
  • Adjustable fit (stack, reach, setback, saddle height, frame height), no bike height adjustment as on Wahoo KICKR Bike
  • Adjustable gears
  • Virtual/electronic gears (front: up to 3 chainrings 53-22T, rear: up to 12spd 11-40T)
  • Integrated display providing information about power, speed, cadence, etc.
  • Quiet operation
  • Towel, bottle, and bottle cage included
  • Realistic road feel (simulation of different road surfaces) 
  • Colored LED in the flywheel indicating power output
  • Ergonomic handlebar that allows a pleasant grip, the hoods are thinner than on a road bike
  • Gear selection buttons are intuitive
  • Highly stable during sprints
  • More affordable than Wahoo KICKR Bike

Tacx NEO Bike Cons

  • It can’t tilt like Wahoo KICKR Bike
  • Shifting is not customizable to Shimano, SRAM, or Campy like on Wahoo KICKR Bike. The buttons are less user-friendly than shifting on a road bike
  • It is rigid compared to outside riding (you can use a rocker plate to solve this)
  • The seatpost / frame can rub the inner side of your thighs
  • Once trial periods of cycling apps end (Tacx, ROUVY, Zwift), you have to pay for their subscription
  • Limited crank lengths (170, 172.5, and 175 mm) compared to Wahoo KICKR Bike (165, 167.5, 170, 172.5, and 175 mm)

You can read this entire comparison of the NEO Bike vs. KICKR Bike for more details.


Experience with Tacx NEO Bike

What convinced you to buy the Tacx NEO Bike and not one of its alternatives?

I had the opportunity to try it physically. Another reason for purchasing the Tacx NEO Bike from the Tacx test center was the access to any warranty and post-warranty repairs. 

They pick it up, send it to repair, and bring it back again. This is handy because the bike weighs 50kg. 

If I had bought the trainer from an online store, I would have had to arrange for a shipping company to send it to the dealer in case of warranty or post-warranty repairs. That would not be easy and cheap, given the size and weight of the trainer.

How long did it take you to build it?

One of the benefits of buying from the Tacx Test Center is that they will professionally assemble it and bring it to your home. You can sit down and start pedaling right away. 

Due to the expert assembly by the test center staff, there is no risk of incorrect assembly, which I would have had to do at home myself when ordering from another shop. 

However, based on multiple videos, the time required for assembly is about 20-30 minutes, and the presence of two people is required due to the bike’s weight.

How often do you use it?

I use the Tacx NEO Bike on average 3 to 4 times a week, mainly in the evening when the kids are asleep. I also combine it with running, and when it’s nice on the weekend, I spend time outside on the road bike. 

On the trainer at home, I mostly do shorter rides of up to 30 km (18.6 miles), but with 1000m (3280 feet) of climbing. I have found that riding long and flat routes on the trainer is not necessary or desirable.

Also available at wiggle.co.uk

Why do you think Tacx NEO Bike is better than a combination of a bike and a bike trainer?

The main difference between the Tacx NEO Bike and other smart bike trainers is that no additional investment in components such as chains and cassettes is required. 

Another advantage is the absolute silence compared to the direct-drive trainers. The drivetrain can be very noisy when it’s quiet in the evening. A fun fact is that it’s basically inaudible in normal traffic out on the road. 

Having the Tacx NEO Bike permanently at home means I don’t have to clean my bike before using it with a smart trainer.

It also doesn’t require being plugged into an electricity source. If the trainer is not plugged in electricity, you generate when pedaling powers the display, where you can adjust the load uphill or simulate downhill.

If we take the same scenario on a Tacx NEO 2 (2T), the trainer only provides you with the resistance, meaning that you chose the difficulty of pedaling by shifting.

Another advantage of the Tacx NEO Bike is the electronic cassette and derailleur. You can set any drivetrain gearing you want, from a time trial special to mountain bike gearing for hill climbs with 25% gradients. 

Tacx Training Tacx NEO Bike Gear Settings
Tacx Training Tacx NEO Bike Gear Settings

If your bike is mounted in a trainer, you are stuck with the gearing on it and can’t easily change it unless you buy a different cassette or derailleur.

Learn more details in this in-depth comparison of smart bikes vs. smart bike trainers.

What do you like the most about Tacx NEO Bike?

I like the colored flywheel based on my power output. It creates a nice and pleasant atmosphere in the room.

The data measured by the bike (HR, power, cadence, gears) are clearly displayed on the built-in display. When the bike is not plugged in, the display is powered by the energy produced by pedaling. 

It can also display the gradient without connecting the bike to a training app. This is because you can simply adjust the gradient using the buttons located on the levers. The right lever is used to set the ascent, and the left lever to set the descent. The step settings are made in 0.5% increments from -5% to +20%.

Tacx NEO Bike Button on handlebar shifter
Button for gradient adjustment

NEO has 2 USB ports, so you can easily charge a tablet or smartphone phone running the training app while riding.

Thanks to the adjustable fit, you can quickly and easily adjust the fit for multiple users as there is a scale on all adjustable parts. Just remember your values before adjusting them for your family member, for example.

Is there anything you don’t like about Tacx NEO Bike?

Unlike direct-drive trainers, Tacx NEO Bike is not very portable and can’t be folded and stored when not in use. This is because it’s a fixed structure. So you need to have a dedicated space, eventually a pain cave.

NOTE: Some users report that the seat tube of the NEO Bike is too wide, which leads to rubbing their thighs against it. However, you probably won’t experience this issue if you don’t have big thighs.


Tacx NEO Bike Alternatives

The closest Tacx NEO Bike alternatives are the following smart bikes:


Tacx NEO Bike FAQ


Summary

Tacx NEO Bike is suitable for enthusiastic athletes who plan to train regularly. It brings a few benefits compared to smart trainers.

The first main advantage is its quiet operation, so you can train in the early mornings or evenings without waking up your loved ones.

You also don’t have to clean your bike whenever you set it to a bike trainer. Instead, just find a spot for NEO and enjoy maintenance-free training. 

And the last main advantage is the adjustability that allows you to set it up for other household members.

The biggest disadvantages of the Tacx NEO Bike are its high price (although it’s lower than Wahoo KICKR Bike) and the lack of tilt (this feature is available on the KICKR Bike), and the customization of the gears.

Also available at wiggle.co.uk

I hope you find this Tacx NEO Bike review helpful. If you do, feel free to leave a comment or share it.

About Jiří

I started cycling regularly eight years ago when I bought a mountain bike and started riding regularly. 

As I gradually moved from off-road, woods, and broken roads to the road, I started thinking about selling my MTB and getting a road bike.

I sold it three years ago and got an endurance road bike. However, a year ago, I changed my work system from shift mode (4 days on and 4 days off) to day mode (Monday to Friday). So I didn’t have time for a road bike during the week. 

One day at a friend’s house, I tried the Tacx NEO 2T smart trainer a few times, which I was very excited about, but after a few rides, I found that it wasn’t quite right. 

I didn’t like the noise from the chain, having to change the cassette, chain, and having to clean the bike of dirt before using it in the trainer. 

So I started looking for an alternative for home riding and found the Tacx NEO Bike. 

The advantage was the opportunity to try this trainer directly at the Tacx test center, which is a few minutes from my home. After trying it out, I made the decision and ordered the trainer on the spot. The main reason was its quiet operation.

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