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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

Tacx Neo 2T is a powerhouse on both spec sheet and performance but does the premium ride quality make up for a few design inconsistencies?

Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review
(Image: © Graham Cottingham)

Our Verdict

Superb ride quality and packed with a top-spec for class-leading performance, some compatibility issues could be sticking points for some riders

For

  • Very sensitive and smooth transitions of resistance
  • Very stable
  • Quiet in operation
  • No calibration required
  • Pedal stroke analysis
  • Can be used without a power source
  • Wide selection of training options from Tacx's own app including POV video and following outside routes
  • Replication of road surface is surprisingly realistic and spices up riding
  • Folds down for quick and easy storage
  • Can be used with road, gravel and mountain bikes simply by swamping included adapters

Against

  • Road disc calipers rub on trainer casing without extra spacers
  • Don't go for a 'cobbled' ride if you need to be quiet
  • Tacx app is paired down without an additional subscription

The Tacx Neo 2T is one of the most feature-rich and top-spec smart trainers available. On paper, it's about as good as it gets with a range of user-friendly features for the casual rider and plenty of performance that will satisfy even the most competitive Zwift racer.

However, the turbo trainer market is a tough sector especially with the ever-increasing popularity of apps like Zwift which are tempting more and more people to ride indoors to train and even ride socially. 

That said, it isn’t that straight forward and the Neo 2T struggles with a few compatibility issues that may be a deciding factor for some users. If you are willing to work these out, or won’t be affected, then the Tacx Neo 2T is a real contender as one of the best turbo trainers on the market.

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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

Tacx Neo 2T is a great looking smart trainer (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

The wings on the trainer form a triangle base for stability when riding (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

Rubber feet should avoid any damage to flooring, but they're not adjustable (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Design and aesthetics

The Neo 2T shares exactly the same outside form as the previous Neo 2 and the Neo 1 before. Compared to some other trainers on the market, the Tacx looks superbly refined with its sleek enclosed casing and the wing-like supports form a sturdy base. The triangulated footprint creates a wide base and is very stable even when sprinting. I was able to rock the Neo 2T onto one leg a little during very spirited efforts but it never felt like it would pitch me off the bike due to the gentle angle of the supports. Rubber feet help stop the trainer shuffling around when riding and there are a secondary set of rubber feet on the underside for when the trainer is folded away. 

There are lights that illuminate the underneath of the trainer when you are riding and change colour based on the effort you are putting in. These don’t provide any functional purpose other than providing a little drama and pain cave kudos as you ramp up your effort. There are three LED indicators on the side which provide an indication of power, ANT+ connection and Bluetooth connection and help offer some troubleshooting if an error occurs. The power cable plugs into the back of the trainer and although there is no handle to carry it around, the folded legs do provide a good hold to lift the 21.5kg weight.

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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

The power lead plugs into the rear of the trainer (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

Three LED indicators on the side provide power, ANT+ and Bluetooth status (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Specification

The Tacx Neo 2T is amongst the most powerful trainers able to punish your legs with a potent 2200 watts of resistance which is delivered by electromagnets that simulate a virtual 125kg flywheel. The use of magnets means it’s quiet as well, so quiet in fact that your drivetrain will probably be the most significant source of noise when in use - unless you have road feel turned on, which is a particularly noisy feature that adds a rumble of vibration through the bike to simulate real road feel.  

Tacx claims a power and cadence accuracy below one per cent which will satisfy data nerds - not to mention the new Zwift rules - and the Neo 2T is able to measure and provide pedal stroke analysis (when connected to third party software or a Garmin Edge device). 

Tacx offers its own app, available on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices, which has a few taster routes and workouts for free, and a huge library available if you choose to subscribe. The Tacx app is also used for firmware updates and to set up the trainer with variables such as rider weight and type of bike so the trainer can give as realistic a simulation as possible. Chances are most riders will opt for one of the many popular virtual cycling apps like Zwift or TrainerRoad for indoor riding however the Tacx offer a month of free access to both the full Tacx app and Zwift in the box so you can decide yourself.

Connectivity is straightforward with the Neo 2T allowing the trainer to connect to pretty much any device using either ANT+ or Bluetooth to control the trainer and record your rides. There are a few exceptions, for example, the Neo 2T will ignore gradient resistance changes when riding a route in Indoor Mode using a Wahoo device. We are not aware of any issues with other non-Garmin head units although it’s something to be aware of. Ultimately if you do have a Wahoo and want to follow an outdoor course you will need to subscribe to the Tacx app or use a third-party service with this feature.

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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

The Neo 2T folds up to make it easier to store when not in use (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

The freehub is simple to swap if you need SRAM XD or Campagnolo compatibility (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

This indicator shows when the support wings are securely clipped into place (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Setup

Setting up the Tacx Neo 2T is a fairly simple process. The legs fold out and clunk into place, while it’s pretty obvious when they are properly folded out, there is a small indicator that changes from red to blue to confirm the legs are properly locked in place as the last thing you want to do is crash your bike in your living room. Tacx includes a wheel block to raise and position your front wheel in the correct position.

Tacx includes most of the parts you need in the box although like all trainers on the market, if you are a SRAM or Campagnolo rider you will need to purchase an additional freehub body. We were using a SRAM XDR freehub and switching it was a simple process of screwing the axle adapter off, pulling the freehub body off and slotting the new one on before replacing the axle adapter. If you want to use a SRAM Eagle mountain bike cassette it’s just a case of fitting the included washer to correct the spacing. The Neo 2T doesn’t come with a cassette so you will need to factor this into the cost, fitting the cassette is the same process as on a bike, explained in full in our guide on how to fit a cassette

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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

Axle adapters that are included with the Tacx Neo 2T (included spacers not shown) (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

The 142mm thru-axle adapter with added spacers so the caliper would clear the trainer (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

The Neo 2T is compatible with standard quick release (130x10mm and 135x10mm), bolt-thru (142x12mm) and the mountain bike boost standard (148x12mm). However, it's not compatible with Rapid Axle Technology (R.A.T.) thru-axles. 

Changing the end caps is simple, the quick release adapters unscrew using a 5mm allen key and the bolt-thru adapters tighten with a 17mm cone spanner. From there, it should be just a case of fitting the bike, but unfortunately it wasn’t that simple. Despite using the correct 142mm axle adapter, the disc brake calliper touches the trainer housing. Tacx suggests in the manual that if this is an issue to use the included 2.7mm spacer. Annoyingly this wasn’t enough, Tacx does offer a 4mm spacer on request though. I ended up using two of the 2.7mm spacers instead, and while this is probably not recommended, everything fitted securely, tightened up satisfactorily and gave the brake calliper the clearance needed. It's worth noting that this may not affect all road bikes and there was loads of clearance with wider mountain bike spacing. 

Ultimately disc brakes on road bikes have been around for a while and dominating the sales of new bikes so it's a glaring oversight by Tacx that it's not compatible straight from the box, especially considering the price point.

The power lead is a decent length although the Neo 2T has a party trick, it doesn’t actually require a power source. Instead, it can run off the power generated by the rider. You do lose a few features, for example you won’t get the downhill freewheel simulation, and you will need to start cycling to bring it to life before any additional devices are connected, but it means you can use it to warm up at a race or do some Zwifting in the garden (if the weather permits, of course) or an unpowered garage. 

You also technically don’t need to connect any additional devices to control the Neo 2T, with the trainer simulating a flat road and ramping up the resistance the faster you ride in standalone mode.

Riding experience

Performance when riding Tacx or Zwift routes is superb, the ability to replicate up to 25 per cent gradients, simulate downhills and a wide range of surfaces from cobbles to ice. The transitions in resistance are smooth and accurate and almost indistinguishable as you roll through virtual terrain making for a very natural ride feel when following a route as well. The simulation of surfaces adds a dynamic and engaging element to virtual rides, as does the simulated downhills when the trainer spins up the rear to simulate the inertia of descents and give you the feeling of momentum over rolling roads. 

The negative of the Neo 2T’s fast and accurate transition of resistance is that the Neo 2T is pretty unforgiving during training sessions, as you transition into intervals of effort the resistance will change immediately. That means you need to keep on top of the cadence as the ERG mode does its job matching the sudden increase of power to your cadence. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you just need to be ready for it, plus the Neo 2T quickly recorrects any power overshoot allowing you to quickly settle into the effort.

Power seemed to read consistently however I don’t currently have a power meter accurate enough to verify Tacx’s claim of power accuracy within one per cent. Cadence measurement seemed accurate too although while it worked faultlessly with both of the road bikes I used on the Neo 2T, it didn’t work with my mountain bike. We spoke to Tacx regarding this fault and the tech team confirmed Tacx was aware of this sensor issue and, despite it being an unusual occurrence, offers a solution consisting of a metal strip that attaches to the crank arm by zip ties. It feels like an awkward workaround, and if you also intend on riding the bike outside, it won’t be easy to remove and will gather dirt. The alternative is to record cadence through a separate stand-alone cadence sensor which is probably a better solution.

The Tacx app that can be used alongside the trainer is a bit of a mixed bag as well, although Tacx is overhauling the app in the next month which will hopefully address some of the app's navigation, login and profile issues I experienced with the old macOS version. What hopefully won’t change is the huge selection of standalone workouts, training plans and the custom workout creator that’s available to premium Tacx subscribers. On top of that, Tacx has a huge library of POV video and GPS routes available to explore which can be selected based on their length climbing or difficulty, perfect if you just have an hour or two and want to do a ride rather than a training session. 

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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

Marks on the Neo 2T from contact with the brake calliper (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer review

The 'Cadansstrip' provided by Tacx that fits to your crankset if the trainer isn't reading cadence correctly (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Verdict

Frustratingly there are a number of niggles and while Tacx offers solutions to many of them using spacers and accessories, I feel that these problems shouldn’t exist in the first place, especially when you consider the price of the unit. The app isn’t perfect, although it’s getting refreshed in the near future, and most users will probably choose to use Zwift anyway.

Beyond the aforementioned issues, setup is extremely easy. The Neo 2T quickly folds out and connects to your desired app or recording device. There is no calibration needed or requirement for additional sensors so you can just get on and start riding. The plug-free usability is going to be a big selling point to some and its slim folded-down size makes it easy to tuck away when not in use.

Once you are set up, the Tacx Neo 2T is a trainer that offers a top-spec, incredibly smooth riding experience and is packed with features that will appeal to casual virtual riders and those who take racing and training extremely seriously alike. The sensitive 2200-watt resistance output and 25-per cent incline replication can pack a punch and the ride feel is quiet, smooth and superbly refined. 

Tech Specs: Tacx Neo 2T

  • Unit weight: 21.5kg
  • Flywheel weight: 275.6 lbs / 125 kg virtual
  • Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth Smart 
  • Accuracy: <1 percent
  • Max power: 2200 watts 
  • Max grade simulation: 25 per cent
  • Max torque: 88 Nm
  • Freehub compatibility: 9/10/11sp Shimano/SRAM (Campagnolo, Shimano Microspline, SRAM XD- and XD-R freehubs sold separately)
  • Price: £1,199 / $1,399.99 / €1,299 / $1,999.00 AUD