Trainer Reviews

Tacx NEO 2T Bike Trainer Hands-On Review

 PROS

  • Self-powered
  • Accurate power and cadence
  • Rear axle compatibility
  • Road feel and descent simnulation
  • Left-Right power and more pedal analysis coming soon
  • Very quiet

 CONS

  • Expensive
  • Legs are not adjustable

$1,399.99
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Last updated on December 1, 2019 3:30 pm

Tacx released an update to its flagship smart trainer, the NEO. The new NEO 2T addresses one problem the previous NEO 1 and 2 had and that was the virtual flywheel slippage felt mostly when climbing or pushing high watts at low flywheel speed.

The NEO 2T new upgraded motor design improves ride feel mainly during climbs or accelerations. Tacx also made some changes to the magnets and noise coming from internal air displacements making it even quieter than previous NEOs.

The rear axle of the NEO 2T was redesigned in order to make it compatible with more bikes, without the need for adapters. It is directly compatible with all bikes, only 135×10mm and 135×12mm will need an additional adapter.


NEO 2T KEY SPECS

  • Price: $1,399.99 USD.
  • Power measurement accuracy: +/- 1%.
  • Maximum power output: 2200 watts.
  • Measures power, speed, and cadence.
  • Simulates 25% climbing grade.
  • Virtual flywheel controlled by 32 neodymium magnets.
  • Integrated dual ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth.
  • Compatible with Shimano and SRAM 8-12 speed cassettes. Campagnolo, SRAM XD, and XD-R can be purchased separately.
  • Compatible with all rear axels. Need an adapter for 135x10mm and 135x12mm.

SETUP

Tacx Neo 2T comes assembled and all you need to do is install a cassette. It’s compatible with Shimano & SRAM 8-12 speed. It’s also compatible with Campagnolo and SRAM XD, and XD-R but you need to purchase an adapter separately.

You can purchase an 11-speed Shimano 105 cassette for about $45 but if you are still on a 10-speed cassette then you can save a few dollars and get a 10-speed Shimano 105 cassette for about $50. If you need a cassette plier, the Feedback Sports cassette plier and Cassette Wrench are one of my favorite and easy to use. But you can find a cheaper chain whip, a lock ring tool, and any adjustable wrench should work.

Once assembled, pair the NEO 2T to the Tacx utility app available for iOS and Android devices to check if there is a new firmware available. This is a curcial step because Tacx released a number of update to the 2T to fix early issues with the trainer. The firmware can be updated wirelessly using the Tacx Utility app.

Calibration is not needed for the NEO so once the firmware update is complete, you are on your way to starting your ride.

APP COMPATIBILITY

The NEO 2T follows all the new wireless communication standards. It’s dual ANT+ FE-C, Smart Bluetooth compatible. I tested it mainly in Zwift and TrainerRoad and it worked well with both app.

The NEO 2T broadcasts power, speed, and cadence. It is simple to use with Apple TV which only allows two simultaneous Bluetooth connections.

The NEO 2T broadcasts Bluetooth using one Bluetooth channel, so make sure to disconnect it from any other device before attempting to connect it with Zwift or any other app that you wish to use.

NOISE

If you want to hear how loud or quiet the NEO 2T is, you can watch the video above. But if you prefer to just skip to the noise demo section, just click here.

The NEO has always been a very quiet trainer and the NEO 2T is no exception. Tacx claims that they were able to bring the noise level down even more with the NEO 2T from the NEO 2. However, I personally couldn’t tell the difference. If anything, the humming noise from the motor maybe is louder than the NEO 1 and 2. But my chain was still louder than the trainer itself. For the past year, I have been testing all trainers and recoding the noise using my decibel meter. The 2T came louder by .78 of a decibel so a little louder but I am being very picky here.

And for decibel comparison sake, here is how it compares to the NEO 2 and Wahoo KICKR.

RIDE FEEL

The NEO 2T is equipped with a virtual flywheel and 32 Neodymium magnets. The magnets control the flywheel and provide the needed brake power, and provide the needed energy to set the wheel in motion and make precise adjustments.

The NEO 2T can provide up to 2,200 watts of resistance and simulate up to 25% slope at a weight of 75kg.

The NEO 2T ride feel is what you would expect from a high-end trainer at the $1,000+ price range. The flywheel is also powered by a motor. When plugged into power, you get more free-wheeling and descent simulation of up to -5%.

When going down descents, you can choose not to pedal and coast all the way down. The motor in the NEO 2T will keep the flywheel spinning. But if don’t like taking breaks and want to keep pushing down the pedal, you will get enough resistance from the NEO 2T to keep the power-up. Other trainers with bigger flywheels can make this a little bit of a challenge even when going to the smallest cog.

As for the virtual flywheel slippage Tacx claims they fixed. I went on looking for the steepest climb on Zwift. With previous NEOs, I’ve experienced this when going up to the Tower.

That climb is very steep and gets up to 17% gradient. So I set the difficulty setting in Zwift to 100% and went up there. About 30 minutes later, I was at the summit and the only thing I felt is my thighs burning and heart rate pumping. The flywheel slippage wasn’t there.

POWER ACCURACY

Key Findings:

  • The NEO 2T measured powered accurately and was within <1% of my crank-based power meter.
  • Flywheel speed or gear selection had no impact on power accuracy.
  • In ERG mode, the NEO 2T was very quick to ramp up to target power.

Tacx claims the NEO 2T is accurate within +/-1%. The goal was to see if the NEO 2T is within their claim.

I ran my usual 3×10 minutes test and compared the data to my Power2Max crank-based power meter and the NEO was within less than 1% on every interval.

Even though, it’s usually recommended to use a small gear when using ERG mode, that’s not a realistic expectation from every rider. Power measurement should be consistent regardless. So I also test trainers using different gearing combinations. Some trainers tend to struggle when going up to a bigger gear and spin the flywheel at a higher speed.

The NEO 2T measured power accurately on all gears and regardless of flywheel speed. For all three intervals, as you see in the table above, the NEO 2T measured power concisely when comparing the data against my crank-based power meter.

Here is another ride from a 4×20 with two sprints mixed in toward the end of the two hours. Again, everything tracked perfectly and the NEO was spot on with my crank-based power meter.

Here is a closer view of the sprints section without any smoothing:

ERG MODE AND POWER DISTRIBUTION

Moving on to ERG Mode. ERG mode is one of the best features of a smart trainer and in this part, I look to see how the trainer behave in ERG mode.

The NEO 2T is quick to respond as you enter each interval. You need to be ready and get your cadence up. Other trainers usually ramp up power slowly and depending on the trainer you use, it can take 2 to 3 seconds to ramp up the power. Some even take around 20 seconds to get you up there. Those are fine during longer intervals but if you like to use ERG mode during short intervals, you want the trainer to ramp up to power as quickly as possible. The NEO 2T will do that for you.

Here is a close up to one of the 20-sec sections I usually do to warm up my legs before getting into the longer intervals.

Zooming into the interval furthermore, you see how the NEO 2T got me up to 358 watts in 2-seconds. The target was 331 watts.

And here is how the averages looked for each 20-seconds.

I am not usually a fan of keeping ERG mode on during short intervals but if you do, the NEO 2T will get you very close to your goal.

On the longer stuff, the NEO was very smooth. To see how smooth the trainer is, I like to look the power distribution for each interval. Here is the numbers from the same 3×10 minutes.

In ERG mode, it’s recommended to use a small gear if you like to see smoother lines. The flywheel runs slower and the trainer is able to control the flywheel and responds much faster to your cadence changes resulting in smoother power lines. Whether this is good or not from a physiological and training standpoint, I don’t know. You just get prettier straight lines and it does feel a little different.

As you see in the table below, the NEO 2T kept me within +/-10 watts of my target for 9:30 min. That’s 95% of the time which is really good. This means the NEO 2T was able to lock me in at 230 watts +/- 10 watts. I only spent 15 seconds over/under my target zone.

When swithing to a bigger gear (53/17), I spent 7:11min within 10 watts of my target zone. Which is typical of any trainer. The flywheel spins at a much higher speed resulting in a bigger variance in power. Going up to a much bigger gear (53/13) didn’t really have negative effect. Numbers remained the same.

CADENCE

The NEO has a capacitive cadence sensor built in to measure cadence. Unlike other trainers that calculate and estimate cadence, the NEO does have a cadence sensor built-in. And it works perfectly as you see here. No dropouts or spikes anywhere. Just super clean data.

LEFT/RIGHT POWER

Tacx NEO 2 and 2T have the ability to measure left/right power data, however, up until recently, this data was only viewable with the Tacx Desktop app on Windows. This is no longer the case.

With the latest firmware update, left/right power balance data is now viewable with compatible devices like the Garmin Edge series.

To see left/right power, after you perform the firmware update, you need to pair it as a power meter. With Garmin, you can still pair it as a smart trainer but you will not see left/right power if you only pair it as a smart trainer. You can still pair it both ways, meaning a smart trainer and a power meter and take advantage of smart trainers controls and see L/R power data. 

The NEO 2T will simply broadcast left and right power data, and that’s about it. You will see that data on your Garmin Edge device. Tacx plan on broadcasting additional cycling dynamic data via ANT+ hopefully in the near future.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you are looking for the best trainer in the market, that is quiet, accurate, good for racing, training, erg mode, climbing, basically all types of indoor riding, the NEO 2T is a solid trainer.

Is it worth to upgrade from a Neo 1? Well, if you really care about cadence, and want to see left-right power data, then sure go for it.

If you have a Neo 2, I don’t see any reason to upgrade unless you do a ton of climbing, and that wheel slippage is something that is bothering you.

Other than that, I think the NEO 2T is the best trainer out there.

WHERE TO BUY

If you are interested in the Tacx NEO 2T, you can find it on Amazon or CleverTraining for $1,399.99. The price tracker below will keep an eye on the Tacx NEO 2T price on Amazon as well and you can signup to get a price alerts if wish.

Thanks for reading!

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Tacx Neo 2T, Tacx

Price: $1,399.99
as of December 1, 2019 3:30 pm  
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Current Price $1,399.99December 1, 2019
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Lowest Price$1,299.99November 26, 2019
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$1,399.99December 1, 2019
$1,299.99November 26, 2019
Tacx NEO 2T Review
  • Frame & Design
  • Ease Of Setup
  • Smart Connections & Compatibility
  • Accuracy
  • Responsiveness
  • Noise Level
  • Road Feel
4.7

Tacx NEO 2T Review Summary

Tacx released the NEO 2T to address the wheel slippage issue the previous models had and they did that with a more powerful  32 neodymium magnets.  Tacx also made the NEO 2T compatible with all bikes’ axles out of the box. You only need an adapter for 135×10 mm and 135×12  mm.  The NEO 2T proved to be accurate during my tests and fast to respond in ERG mode.

If you are looking for the best trainer in the market, that is quiet, accurate, good for racing, training, ERG mode, climbing, and all types of indoor riding, the NEO 2T is your trainer and will last you many years of use.

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