TacX Neo Long Term review update

So I’ve been riding a TacX Neo for about 1 month now – so its time for my TacX Neo Long Term review update. The following post is a collection of thoughts and musing about using the device and how I think it is positioned in the market. I think its important that I point out, this is the second TacX unit I’ve had used due to technical issues with the first unit.

TacX Neo Long Term review update

The post will stand as my follow up to the TacX Neo Vs KICKR show down, but just looking at the Neo now

The TacX Neo is frankly, from a technology stand point, ahead of its time. If not ahead of its time, its certainly ahead of EVERYTHING else in the field. The direct drive unit is just an amazing piece of design.

TacX Neo Long Term review update

When you look inside, you can see how complex a unit this is, and where the money is going – this is about as advanced as you can possible get in a turbo trainer currently

TacX Neo Long Term review update

“True” Direct Drive

It’s this large metal disc on the side that lets the magic happen. Rather than merely being an electronically adjustable resistance wheel, as is the case with all other smart turbo trainers, the TacX unit acts both as a resistance unit, but also a motor when its plugged into the mains. I’ve used quite a few different turbo trainers, the down hill/free wheeling simulation is frankly a game changer.

With every other turbo trainer, when you are using Zwift and going down hill, the resistance decreases, so you legs spin out faster, but if you stop, so does the turbo. There is no inertia effect.

When the TacX Noe goes down hill – magic happens. You actually get a free wheel effect. When you stop peddling, even take your feet off, the unit recieved the FE-C information from Zwift, not only releasing the resistance on the unit, but also putting a small amount of assistance to it, so you get the free wheel/gravity effect.

I’ve tried to demonstrate this in the video below. The important part is listening to the sound that the Neo is making. The slight whine – I think its unreasonable to call the sound from the Neo a noise – increases as you go down hill.

Now it’s possible some riders on Zwift will consider this to be an unfair advantage. This might be argued as you have less resistance to push against on the downhills, but this is a much more realistic and a truer simulation of going down the hill IRL, where gravity does help you. So yes its an advantage, but only in the way that a rider using a carbon fibre bike, will see less flex, and thus get slightly more power transfer than someone using an aluminium or steel bike. Heck, even comparing someone with a direct drive, vs wheel on smart turbo, there are advantages

Flex…

The KICKR doesnt flex. Your bike just doesn’t move whilst you are on a KICKR, its completely locked down. HOWEVER there has been some discuss if this is actually bad for a carbon fibre frame, as it doesnt allow the frame to flex properly and may put undue stress on the wheel stays. When contacted most bike manufacturers are slightly guarded about saying “Yes our bike can be used without any issue at all”, but that’s more down to warranty comments I feel.

The TacX Neo goes some way, I feel, to address the concerns of a direct mount turbo, and the effect on your bike. The actual Neo itself flexes, particularly when you put the power down. Initially I wasn’t a fan of this at all, but the more I have talked to people and the material that it is constructed from, the less concerned I am about the flex affecting the trainers durability. But also the more I feel it might be better for your bike in the long term.

Featuring the legs of WAYNE MALPUS!

Bells and whistles

The Neo has LED lights to the front of it, which change when you up the power. I originally thought this was quite a gimmick, and frankly a bit of a waste of money in the development of the product…HOWEVER the more I have used it, there more I’ve found it a nice little gimmick. Don’t get me wrong, its still a gimmick, but its fun to try and push into the 500watt range in order to try and change the LED’s to red. The fact the LED’s shine forward is also a nice touch, so you can easily see them shining when you are flat out on the bars

TacX Neo Long Term review update

I still can’t get over how much I love being able to run the unit without power. Yes I loose the down hill ability, but its just COOL! I’m using my own wattage to make real watts! Well volts and amps, but hey, lets not get all physics nerdy, we’re cycle nerds and that’s it!

I was thinking this was make it a great feature to drag Zwift and the Neo back out into the garden, to enjoy the sun, and Zwift at the same time. It would also be like biking outdoors!!

Usability

Where I zwift means I have to take everything down when I’m done with it, and the Neo is a pain to take down. It feels a little bit like the designers solved an engineering problem with regard to the locks which keep the “wings” in place, and forgot about ergonomics. Reaching under the unit in order to fold it down, is quite simple a faff. Not a major issue at all, but I do think it gives an overall feeling for the Neo. Great ideas and engineering that might have been better for another round of  development testing

TacX Neo Long Term review update

If the locks were perhaps on the other side of the wings, yes less aesthetically pleasing, but it would be much easier to use.

Inclusion of status LED’s are brilliant. Such a small change, but really useful. The KICKR has no visible communication to say its working. When the first Neo died, the lack of non-lit LED’s was really useful in saving me quite a lot of time faffing about problem solving. Nope the light is dead, not working, cable is plugged in…ok going back. Lights for ANT+, Bluetooth, and ANT+

TacX Neo Long Term review update

 

Another example here, is that the actual drive unit on the Neo projects out slightly, as a result, if you drop to the small cog on the front and the largest on the back, the rear deraillure can rub against the metal casing meaning adjusting the limit screws to try and find a happy medium between using the turbo and your usual wheels. Minor point, but its more merely my lack of engineering prowess, as I’ve talked to several people how have had similar issues.

TacX Neo Long Term review update

The Neo folds up nicely, BUT I’m fed up of getting munched fingers from the cassette. An extra centimetre of cut out would have been nice. I’ve not got massive spade like hands, but I do wonder what people TacX thought would buy this, or maybe I’m carrying it incorrectly

TacX Neo Long Term review update

When folded up, the Neo looks quite slim,

TacX Neo Long Term review update

But the locking pins on my unit, on one side of the unit dont actually lock, so the unit opens VERY easily.

The reason for this is on THIS unit, one of the back clamps which is supposed to provide friction against the frame…doesnt. So on the side which locks nicely, the back clamp rotates with friction as it goes over the plastic notch in the frame. As you can see in the video below, there is no rotation, and no friction there.

 

I’ve actually had a look at taking the unit apart to try and move this myself, but for two points. One the back clamp is part of a fixed metal frame, where there doesn’t appear to be any adjustability in the design images, two for a piece of kit costing over £1000, I DONT think its reasonable I should have to take it apart and address quality control issues.

Final point on usability, sometimes getting the bike to sit level on the turbo can be a bit of a fiddle. Maybe its the carpet, maybe it’s me, but it never just sat right straight off. I largely think this is due to issues with the piece of metal the skewer goes through on the non-drive side, not being quite long enough. This means the frame sits half on, half off the metal, and such can mean a 1% lateral lean on the saddle angle (yes I was sad enough to measure it). There is an adapter for WIDER placed chain stays, but I don’t think thats the problem here.

TacX Neo Long Term review update

Finally, bug happens, chains skips. Twice now, I’ve been on Zwift, changed gear and the unit has made some VERY unpleasant sounds inside. Sufficient that I’ve stopped riding to carefully move the pedals round until the noise passes.

Very early production units had issues with swarf inside from the factory

Conclusion

The tech inside the Neo is BRILLIANT. I LOVED using it on Zwift. It makes my KICKR look antiquated by comparison. I have grown to really enjoy the flex. Given the big wings on the unit, its shockingly well planted, which is something I was really surprised at. There is no issues with slightly uneven floors, the Neo is just good to go.

BUT with the number of LITTLE issues, teething problems, or design oversights. For the time being, it really feels like this is a beta, 0.9 device. I REALLY wanted to have the Neo as my main device, but for the price, which is a LOT. I’ll say with my KICKR until the Neo 1.0, or 1.1 comes out

  • Pingback: Tacx Flux Smart Turbo Trainer Review - Zwift Gear Test - TitaniumGeek - TitaniumGeek()

  • Sam Coor

    Have you had a chance to ride the Lynx 2 trainer from veloreality.
    The cost is close to Neo
    The build quality is industrial, stable and very realistic. Would recommend giving it a try.

    • N, I’ll send them a message and see if I can get a review unit – thanks for the heads up!

  • bdh

    had issue with rear d. scraping when using the 25t sprocket (campy 11s). i have adjusted the limit screw to eliminate my 25t (wth?!). waiting on a couple washers from tacx to attempt to correct the problem (google “neo two washer fix”).

    took me hours to upgrade the firmware. ive had a comp. since i was a child. program in C, python, java, and others. have a “smart” house that i setup with lights, tvs, and computers that answer to my voice and it took less time to do it all than the neo upgrade …

    finally…i have no problem hitting 1000w outside. ive done it 100s of times (once a ride maybe). i usually hit 1100s-1400s, peak, in sprint near home – different directions different days-different years. however, i cannot get the neo above 900~! ive tried 10x and the max ive managed is 912 and that was an effort i cant ever remember making outside.

    anyone else having issues with the power? i cant compare because i sold my powertap wheelset to buy the gd neo.

    i like it, but ive just put it up for sale…

    • bdh

      ps–w2017 model (though came with old firmware 3.xxx and i upgraded to 5.xxx)

  • Kevin

    James… do you reckon the latest Neo currently available is the ‘Neo 1.0’? I’ve read this a few times over the last month but still undecided. I’ve got a Tacx Flux on order and due next week but still considering a Neo… or a Kickr 2… or a Drivo… or maybe even a Hammer!

    Cheers!

    • No, the current Neo, i.e. The 2017 model is more like v1.01.

      Had one for ZwiftCon today. Much better machine it seems

      All top 8 turbos today, can I call one the king… no. It’s like choosing Audi, Merc, BMW, and Jag.

      All different ways to doing the same job, with similar sized wholes in the wallet.

      But that is actually a good thing for consumers

      Running watch – the is a best one
      Fitness tracker, action cam, all clearly have best in class models

      For the £1000 turbo, when warranty is taken into account, personal taste is probably the key to a sale currently

      • That sounds good! I’ve always had a soft spot for the Neo since I first saw one this time last year.

        I should have a Flux this week but if it gets delayed again I will buy a Neo. But the Cyclops Hammer sounds very, very appealing… https://www.bikerumor.com/2016/05/12/first-impression-cycleops-drops-the-hammer-quietly-smashes-the-trainer-world-w-direct-drive-trainer/.

        I am willing to spend the money if I get a trainer with a true ‘road feel’. That is the most important thing for me.

      • jared

        So if price doesn’t matter much is this the trainer you’d recommend ?

        • Jared… if you’re asking me which one to buy, I would say an Elite Drivo. I just got one this morning! I used it within 1hr of riding the same route on a Tacx Flux. The Flux is OKish but the Drivo is sooo much better! I wish I hadn’t wasted my time waiting for the Flux as I was going to get a Drivo weeks ago.

          I’ve been using the ‘on wheel’ Bkool Pro for the last 11 months and over 1100 miles of use. The Flux didn’t feel as good as the Bkool to be honest but the Drivo is in another league altogether.

          I was going to get a Neo if I could have got one cheap enough but some reviews, like this one, put me off.

  • Max

    Hi James, thanks for your review. Concerning lifting Neo, perhaps a leather carry strap could be fished through the current carry position, or maybe even a couple of strap/handles (one per wing). Just a thought. Thanks again.

    • I can see someone making a quick buck with an idea like that! Thankfully I’m about to move house, and my need to Zwift in the living room will cease. That doesn’t however change the fact the NEO is an awkward beast to carry!

  • jb

    good review.

    dimensions of the neo?
    what is the width of the neo base arms? will it work with Turbo Trainer Mat T1370

  • Alex

    Hi,
    Tacx has improved Neo through firmware updates and price has dropped.
    After a 6 months usage, which one is your preferred : Kickr or Neo ?

    • Hi Alex. It’s still really difficult. Wahoo has done a lot on their firmware to make things even better with Zwift.

      I know TacX have changed a lot of things on the Neo and firmware. – reinforces the feeling of using early adopters.

      If you can get a demo with both – on your bike (crucial point) that’s what I’d suggest.

      For my Scott Foil, and my need to move the trainer a lot, I’m staying with Wahoo.

      But if I had a garden, I’d be tempted with the Neo, just to be able to ride outside without power cables.

      Anyone who says there is a simple answer is simply wrong.

    • Hi Alex. It’s still really difficult. Wahoo has done a lot on their firmware to make things even better with Zwift.

      I know TacX have changed a lot of things on the Neo and firmware. – reinforces the feeling of using early adopters.

      If you can get a demo with both – on your bike (crucial point) that’s what I’d suggest.

      I like the solidness of the KICKR, but love the tech in the Neo, and the ability to ride outside without a power cable.

      As I move the bike a lot, I default to the KICKR.

      Anyone who says the choice is easy hasn’t used both!

  • Chase_R

    Thanks for the review although I feel you are being a bit too generous in Tacx’s favor. I am a long time 12 years plus user/owner of Tacx trainers and over the course of the last five years or so have stopped buying anything from them. Support is a major issue for me especially with high ticket items and if you live in the USA Tacx would be on my worst list of companies to deal with. I think your review is honest and as complete as one can state for the moment, it is still a new product come to market but I wouldn’t look for anything to get any better. Tacx hasn’t been known to make changes in their designs. One other feature or option Tacx markets for the trainers is their TTS software. It is a total fail. Don’t get suckered into thinking this software is something you should try, you’ll just be wasting your money. It is not Windows 10 friendly, VR terrains are terrible to ride, and some options like Google 3D map is now 2D and nobody likes using it. All that said, at $1699.00 US Dollar I wouldn’t touch the NEO. It’s just way over priced.

    • At $1699 I’d certainly agree. In the UK, you can find them at a similar price point to the Wahoo KICKR if you shop around which makes them a more reasonable choice.

      Overall I think that the review comes over as possibly bias towards TacX because it’s new and cool.

      HOWEVER both products are really quite different. Like comparing race horse and a shire horse. Both very capable, both excel at different things, one is good for speed, the other ploughing fields, but they are both horses, and yet will have different temperaments.

      I think the Neo is an amazing piece of engineering, I just wonder if I’m actually waiting for a unicorn in hoping that Wahoo will respond with a KICKR 2

  • Dennis

    Thanks for the quick response! Just joined the FB group, thank you for tipping me off to that!

    Many happy miles!!

  • Dennis

    Thanks for the great review. Even though it appears Tacx is having some teething problems with the Neo Smart, I ordered on anyway, hoping some of the bugs have been worked out.

    I just took my first ride on it. It was only about 4 minutes long, but at the end of the ride, the Neo Smart had a distinct “electronic burning smell”. I felt around the unit, and it was really hot at the vent at the top of the unit. Is this normal?

    Even though I only rode for 4 minutes, I cranked it up to about 725 watts, so I was putting power through it.

    I’m not sure if this is normal while the unit gets broken in. Or if I need to return it so it doesn’t burn my house down.

    • This seems to be an issue when the unit is breaking in. Not unlike a hair drier.

      There is a growing FB group for the TacX Neo and it seems that the early bugs are not showing up as frequently.

      (Although at least one other chap had two identical lock rings as well)

  • Bob

    Pffft but the kickr, or neo or wait, round and round and round………….

    Seems like a fluid trainer and my existing powertap hub gives me a sh1t load of fun for very little cost.

    So is the Neo revised now or not ?

    • I’m hearing people are happy with the units coming from the factory now.

  • D B Smith

    Interested in your observation re: rear derailleur hitting trainer in some gears.

    I have a brand-new Kickr “11-speed” and it has the same problem to the point that it is impossible to use the largest rear cog (so it’s really a 10-speed Kickr).

    Wahoo is aware of the issue, says it ‘only affects some bikes’ and (from the support guy I drew) “it happens to me with my Trek but I just don’t use that gear”. Right. So for my $1200 Kickr I should just ‘not use’ a gear or two!

    I found, too, that the free hub supplied with the 11-speed Kickr would NOT accept a stock Ultegra cassette — it wouldn’t seat properly leading to more shifting issues.

    I was hoping a quick move to a Neo would be the solution but your experience suggests that it might be a year early. Thanks for the excellent observations!

    BTW, IMHO Wahoo Support is sucky. They go offline and leave you hanging for days, even when they know you have a usability issue. Sucky.

    • It’s very odd. I’m on a Scott Foil 15, and no issues with all 11 speeds.

      Plus I’ve used two different Ultra cassettes on KICKR and a 105 without issue.

    • Trick with Wahoo support is call. I used Skype so not to get hit with phone bill

    • Michael

      I use my Specialized Roubaix and my Bianchi Oltre XR on the Kickr, both 11-speed and I use a std ultegra casette and there is no problems at all.

      Having trouble with the Trek only shows once again how hard it is for the manufactures to get all combinations 100% covered.

      Br
      Michael

  • troublebaker

    Have both the KICKR and a NEO and I honestly like my KICKR much more and have been kicking around (no pun intended) selling my TACX NEO, mat, 11/28 Shimano Ultegra Cassette (sorry no Campy tool) for a few hundred off the list of just the NEO alone. Not 100% decided yet, would not want to ship out of US if I could avoid it. The unit is awesome, the ability to better feel downhill >5 is a plus for a quick recovery coast / breath. The noise or lack of is great. The couple to a few degree lean to the right is enough to drive me crazy.

    I think if someone never had a KICKR they’d never even notice and those that do would not care. I’m overly picking with noise, perfection and so on,yet I am always a first gen consumer with new products.

    Anyway, my 3cents and in agreement with TG’s review / evaluation. I guess we will see how it goes, I can handle the extra KICKR noise if it means rigidity and no lean to the right. All TACX would tell me after over a week of waiting was that it’s a ‘feature’ the hub should move. Umm, yep very aware of this and it’s a great feature though feeling as though I need to ride side saddle, hopefully not a ‘feature’.

    • jrkeat

      The rightward lean happens because the bike isn’t centered over the Tacx Neo, so standing on your right pedal puts more torque on the bike than standing on the left. You can get rid of a lot of it by inserting the 5mm spacer that Tacx provides for a 135mm dropout. That will shift the bike to the left by 2.5mm. (My dropout is listed as 130mm, but is actually more like 132 and will fit comfortably on the 135) This gets it much closer to being centered. I also added about 1/8 inch of spacers (a pair of Garmin o-rings, actually, two on the outer foor and one on the inner) to the feet on the right, and the lean is basically gone.

  • Michael

    Thanks for a great review!

    Fact is you made me make up my mind not to sell my Kickr for a Neo wich I had been thinking about for a while.

    I am pleased with most things about the Kickr but no need to calibrate and more reliable poweroutput is on my wishlist for my next turbo, seems like “Neo 1.0” will be worth waiting for.

    Thanks
    Michael

    • Neo 1.0 will be AMAZING

      • Mike

        Great, informative reviews – Thanks.

        But how long do I have to wait for Neo 1.0 / 1.1??
        Not sure I can wait until the Summer, when I can get cycling out doors again… 😉

  • great review, wish I have the funds for this but for time being I will be using my Fluid2

  • Lee

    Nice review………..shame the Neo & Kickr are things of dreams for me. But if they are giving one away, I’m all ears. lol