My Cart
Checkout Secure Icon Checkout Secure Icon Checkout Secure Icon

Buyer's Guide: Comparing The Best Tacx Smart Trainers

Buyer's Guide: Comparing The Best Tacx Smart Trainers

The idea of training indoors, particularly for cycling that is enjoyed for its outdoor appeal, seems counterintuitive and perhaps even rather boring.

We're sure the very thought of pedaling away, staring at the inside of a home gym wall isn't hugely appealing to most athletes. But, unfortunately, this is the reality most of us are facing again this year with the continuation of the current global pandemic.

So what can be done to ensure your cycling doesn’t fall to the wayside?

Well, thanks to Tacx's award-winning range of Smart Trainers, indoor cycling just got a heck of a lot more interesting.

Tacx's Smart Trainers offer athletes an interactive and fully immersive cycling experience like no other. And with Tacx’s Smart Trainers’ ability to integrate with a wide array of 3rd party cycling apps, indoor cycling has never been more fun.

If this sounds like something you'd like to know more about, you're in the right place.

In this post, we discuss the differences between exercise bikes and smart trainers, as well as outline the different types of smart trainers that can be currently found on the market, and, of course, detail the very best smart trainers from Tacx’s range of indoor cycling equipment.

What's the difference between a Stationary Exercise Bike and a Smart Trainer?

Before you rush out and buy yourself an indoor cycling trainer, it's a good idea to understand that smart trainers and exercise bikes aren't exactly the same.

A stationary exercise bike is what you'd imagine when you think of an indoor cycling bike. Just like any traditional bicycle, it is made up of a saddle, pedals, and handlebars. Resistance is then applied through magnets, fans, or friction applied by a brake-based system.

On the other hand, smart trainers attach to the rear tire or rear dropouts of a real road bicycle. And depending on which of these two attachment methods they use leads them to be termed and defined differently.

Smart trainers that attach to the rear tire of a bike are termed wheel-on trainers and those that attach to the rear dropout of a bike are termed, direct-drive trainers.

Wheel-On Smart Trainers

Wheel-on trainers allow the rear tire of a bike to spin upon a roll. The roll presses harder to lighter against the rear wheel of the bike to create resistance and facilitate a harder or easier workout.

Wheel-On Smart Trainers

Direct-Drive Smart Trainers

And direct-drive trainers are smart trainers that require the rear wheel of the bike to be removed and are then placed upon a cassette that is mounted to the smart trainer. Different levels of resistance are then applied to this cassette to vary the intensity of a workout.

Direct-Drive Smart Trainers

How Smart Trainers work

Smart Trainers communicate using NT+ FE-C, ANT+, and Bluetooth. This enables a trainer to connect to a wide range of different devices like smart TVs, computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, fitness watches, heart rate monitors, speed/cadence sensors, as well as many others.

Tacx Smart Trainers are very much compatible with specialized bike computers. Although, most people simply use a device they already own and download either Tacx's Tracking App or other third parties applications like TrainerRoad, RGT Cycling, Zwift, and Peloton's Fitness App.

Utilizing Tacx's own application or a third party app really brings out the best a smart trainer has to offer. These applications allow athletes to virtually ride real-world circuits from famous tracks around the world, join virtual group rides with a community of fellow cycling enthusiasts, and easily track all their riding stats and progress all in one place.

Recommended Bike Cassettes

Before using any one of Tacx's smart trainers, athletes are required to purchase and fit a suitable bicycle cassette.

Depending on the Tacx trainer model chosen, you'll need to find an appropriately fitting cassette. Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo cassettes generally work best. Anything from an 8 through to an 11 or 12-speed cassette will fit, some will require spacers depending on which cassette is chosen.

For absolute clarity, find more information on cassette compatibility here.

Once a suitable cassette has been selected, fitting it to the trainer is pretty straightforward. A few tools are required, a lockring tool, a wrench, and a chain whip should do the job. From there, all that is left to do is attach your bike to the trainer, flick on your connected device of choice, open up your fitness app, and cycle until your heart's content.

The Best Tacx Smart Trainers of 2021

Here is our list of Tacx’s best smart trainers that we both know and love.

Check them out below.

Tacx NEO 2T Smart Bike Trainer

Tacx NEO 2T Smart Bike Trainer

The Tacx Neo 2T sits at the top of Tacx's Smart Trainer range, making it one of the best trainers currently available on the market. It's clean, sleek looks, +/- 1 percent accuracy, incredibly quiet operation, and super stable design leaves absolutely no room for arguing it's supremacy.

Setup

Setting up the Neo T2 for use is relatively easy. Once out of the box, simply fold out the trainer's bi-folding legs, attach a suitable cassette, whack on your bike, plug the trainer into the mains power, and finally jump on for a ride.

Ride Feel

Once both cleats are clipped in, the trainer's 750 long x 580 wide x 550mm tall frame makes the Neo T2 feel insanely stable and comfortable to use.

Tacx's trainers also provide some of the most realistic ride experiences of all smart trainers available for purchase. For example, the Neo T2 simulates the feeling of riding over a range of different surfaces including bitumen roads, gravel, pavement, and even cobblestone.

Couple this with Tacx Films, available on their app, or other applications like Zwift or TrainerRoad, and things start to get very real.

The Neo 2T's flywheel simulates climbs and downhills and, coupled with Zwift's app, the flywheel will also deliver true downhill inertia. Most other trainers will immediately power down when the user stops pedaling but the Neo 2T's flywheel delivers a small amount of resistance back into the unit, resembling that real road feel.

Resistance type


Unit measurements (length x width)


Height


Unit weight


Mass inertia


Suitable cassettes


Suitable axles


Wireless communication


Controllability


Data and riding stats readout on


Warranty

32 Neodymium magnets


575 × 750 mm (22.6 × 29.5 in)


550 mm (21.7 in)


21.5 kg (47.3 lbs)


Variable up to 125kg (275.6lbs)


Shimano and SRAM 8-12 speed, Campagnolo, SRAM XD, and XD-R body


Width of rear fork: Race 130 mm, MTB 135 mm, 142 mm & 148 mm. Adapter for 135 x 10 mm available.

NT+ FE-C, Bluetooth Smart open


ANT+FE-C bike computers, connect to a computer via ANT+antenna, smartphones, tablets

Bike computer, computer with ANT+ antenna, smartphone, sports watch, tablet

1 year


Check if your bike will fit here

The Tacx Neo 2T’s features include:

  • 125kg flywheel force, the largest of any smart trainer currently in the market
  • Exceptionally quiet operation, the only sound that is emitted is the slight hum of internal fans and electronics
  • Foldable legs make the unit easy to store
  • Compatible with a wide range of riding apps including Zwift, TrainerRoad, Round Grand Tours, Rouvy, Kinomap, and SufferFest
  • 25 percent simulated incline, the highest of any smart trainer on the market
  • Excellent read accuracy, with one percent error range
  • 2,200 watts of resistance

Tacx Neo Bike Smart Trainer

Tacx Neo Bike Smart Trainer

The Tacx Neo Bike is sure to give indoor cyclists an experience that is basically impossible to find anywhere else. And although it's not technically a wheel-on or direct-drive trainer, Tacx does categorize the Neo Bike as a smart trainer, and, in our opinion, it's just far too good not to add to this list.

The Tacx Neo Smart Bike possesses a tonne of unique features such as real road feel, handlebar-mounted air fans, gear change simulation, and downhill drive inertia, bestowing athletes with a fully immersive and extremely realistic riding experience.

The Tacx Neo is also super quiet, is super easy to set up, possesses an easy-to-use and intuitive integrated digital display, plus a whole tonne of other awesome features.

Setup

It really couldn't be any easier to put together the Neo Bike. Simply pull all of the trainer's components out of the box and using the Allen key provided, assemble the front and back legs, attach the pedals, the seat, the handlebars, the fans, and lastly plug it into mains power.

Ride Feel

The Neo Bike's integrated features like handlebar fans, shift shudder, and virtual gears make for a very convincing ride.

Couple this with a riding app like Zwift or TrainerRoad and you'd swear you'd pulled your bike out onto your street and taken it for a spin around the neighborhood.

Resistance type


Unit measurements (length x width)


Height


Unit weight


Mass inertia


Gear ratio





Wireless communication


Controllability


Data and riding stats readout on


Warranty

32 Neodymium magnets


1390 × 750 mm (54.7 × 29.5 in)


1170 mm (46.1 in)


50 kg (110 lbs)


Variable to 125kg (275.6lbs)


Chainring set-up: up to 3 sprockets, teeth per sprocket adjustable between 22 and 53
Rear cassette: up to 12 sprockets, teeth per sprocket adjustable between 11 and 40


NT+ FE-C, Bluetooth Smart open


ANT+FE-C bike computers, connect to a computer via ANT+antenna, smartphones, tablets

Bike computer, computer with ANT+ antenna, smartphone, sports watch, tablet

1 year


Check if your bike will fit here

The Tacx Neo Bike Smart Trainer’s features include:

  • LED power indicator lights
  • Interactive handlebar-mounted air fans that adjust with athlete’s riding speed, power output, and monitored heart rate
  • The gear feel feature emulates the sensation of changing gears out on the open road
  • Virtual shifting allows athletes to quickly and easily change gear ratios through the smart trainer’s digital console
  • Virtually cycling downhill will trigger a function that will speed up and ease pedaling, emulating the descent on the open road
  • Smooth and silent operation, Tacx Neo's smart technology coupled with first-class internal parts makes for one of the most silent indoor training bikes currently available

Tacx FLUX S Smart Bike Trainer

Tacx FLUX S Smart Bike Trainer

At a very affordable price, the Tacx FLUX S offers the same great features as much higher-priced bike trainers. The FLUX S features upgraded internal mechanics from previous models, ANT+ FE-C connectivity, a 1,500-watt resistance system, and a simulated gradient of up to 10 percent.

The FLUX S also possesses a mechanical brake for smoother ride feel, data is accurate to +/- 3 percent, the dynamic inertia and different simulated road surfaces really emulate that real on-road cycling feeling, plus Tacx stroke analysis will keep you up to date with your most recent workout efforts.

Setup

Set up is relatively easy, simply put everything together with the Allen key that is supplied in the box, attach a bicycle cassette of choice, and mount your bike.

From there plug the unit into mains power and load up your favorite cycling app.

Ride Feel

The FLUX S Smart Trainer has a very similar feel to the FLUX 2 and Neo 2T. It’s smooth and seamless under load, makes only a small amount of noise under operation, and, thanks to its wide base, feels very stable and secure.

Couple this with a quality bicycle cassette, your choice of road or mountain bike, and you’d swear you were out riding on the open road or on your favorite mountain trail.

Resistance type


Unit measurements (length x width)


Height


Unit weight


Mass inertia


Suitable cassettes


Suitable axles


Wireless communication


Controllability


Data and riding stats readout on


Warranty

8 permanent ferrite magnets and 8 electromagnets


670 x 642 mm (26.4 x 25.3 in)


460 mm (18.1 in)


21.3kg (46.9lbs)


22.8kg (50.3 lbs)


Shimano and SRAM 8-11 speed, Campagnolo, SRAM XD, and XD-R body


Width of rear fork: Race 130 mm, MTB 135 mm. Adapters for other widths available

NT+ FE-C, Bluetooth Smart open


ANT+FE-C bike computers, connect to a computer via ANT+antenna, smartphones, tablets

Bike computer, computer with ANT+ antenna, smartphone, sports watch, tablet

1 year


Check if your bike will fit here

Tacx FLUX 2 Smart Bike Trainer

Tacx FLUX 2 Smart Bike Trainer

Tacx’s FLUX 2 is a new and improved version of the iconic FLUX Smart Trainer. Featuring an inclined gradient of 16 percent, an improved maximum resistance unit, plus all the other standard Tacx features that you come to expect like near-silent operation, excellent build quality, and reliable internal mechanics and components.

As with any of Tacx's Smart Trainers, you won't have any trouble connecting them with your favorite cycling app or Tacx Utility software. The unit supports all your favorites like TrainerRoad, Zwift, Rouvy, Kinomap, just to name a few.

Setup

Like any Tacx trainer, the FLUX 2 is fairly straightforward to set up. Once out of the box, use the provided Allen key to attach the front and rear legs as well as the pedals.

Once in place, attach your bicycle cassette of choice and mount your bike. And bingo, you're ready for your very first ride.

Ride Feel

The ride feel of the FLUX 2 is as you'd expect from any good smart trainer. It's smooth to ride, quiet under load, possesses a ton of resistance when needed, and set up is really quite easy.

The FLUX 2, like the FLUX S and Neo 2T, has a wide footprint making it feel very stable while being ridden. And the unit's 7kg flywheel is heavier than most other high-end trainers, making it suitable for just about any athlete no matter their fitness level.

Resistance type


Unit measurements (length x width)


Height


Unit weight


Mass inertia


Suitable cassettes


Suitable axles


Wireless communication


Controllability


Data and riding stats readout on


Warranty

8 permanent ferrite magnets and 8 electromagnets


670 x 642 mm (26.4 x 25.3 in)


460 mm (18.1 in)


21.3kg (46.9lbs)


31.2kg (68.8lbs)


Shimano and SRAM 8-11 speed, Campagnolo, SRAM XD, and XD-R body


Width of rear fork: Race 130 mm, MTB 135 mm, 142 mm & 148 mm. Adapter for 135 x 10 mm available.

NT+ FE-C, Bluetooth Smart open


ANT+FE-C bike computers, connect to a computer via ANT+antenna, smartphones, tablets

Bike computer, computer with ANT+ antenna, smartphone, sports watch, tablet

1 year


Check if your bike will fit here

The Tacx Flux 2‘s features include:

  • 7kg flywheel resistance
  • Realistically simulated inclines of up to 16 percent gradient
  • 2,000 watts of resistance
  • Near silent operation
  • Capacitive left and right detection sensor that accurately tracks the position of an athletes legs
  • +/-2.5 percent power measurement accuracy
  • Power curve tracking through stroke analysis for personalized workouts
  • Integratable with Tacx Utility software

FAQ

Is the Tacx App free?

The Tacx Training App is free to download. It is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers and can be downloaded from either the Apple or Microsoft Store. The app includes two demo films and, with the purchase of a premium subscription, allows access to up to 30 films per month

Did Garmin buy Tacx?

Yes, Garmin signed a purchase agreement to acquire Tacx back in February of 2019. Tacx's headquarters will still operate out of Wassenaar, Netherlands, and its distribution center will also remain where it is located in Vogt, Germany. All warranty and customer services will now be handled by Garmin.

What is the best Tacx trainer?

That really depends on whether you'd prefer a wheel-on or direct-drive smart trainer. A great wheel-on option is Tacx's Boost. On the other hand, Tacx's Neo 2T direct-drive is an awesome option for anybody who wants that true real-world riding experience.

Can you connect Tacx to Strava?

Yes, you sure can. To do so, go to the settings section in the Tacx Training App and enable Strava. You will then be prompted to log in to Strava. Once completed, within the share and connect section, enable automatic exports to upload new activities directly to the Strava database.

Which Tacx trainers work with Zwift?

All Tacx trainers not only work with Zwift but also many other cycling apps as well. Apps like TrainerRoad, Round Grand Tours, Rouvy, Kinomap, and SufferFest are all compatible. So there’s no need to worry about missing out on any of the great free or paid options out there when choosing between Tacx’s awesome range of smart trainers

Final Thoughts

Whether it be time constraints, a niggling injury, bad weather, or a global pandemic, there are plenty of day to day circumstances that keep us from jumping on our bikes for an open road ride.

But thankfully, Tacx's range of smart trainers makes things a whole lot easier.

No matter what's happening in your life or around the rest of the world, there's always time and space to jump on a trainer that's conveniently waiting for you in the home gym.

Smart trainers are not only convenient but they also present a great opportunity to record more ride data than ever before. Tacx's stroke analysis coupled with third-party riding apps makes the recording of your improving fitness level and riding metrics super easy.

And the best part?

During these times of lockdown and self-isolation, escaping the living room has never been easier. Simply hook up the TV, mount your bike on your new trainer, and load up the fantastically realistic replications of famous cycling routes from around the world.

Enjoy rides anywhere from the French Alps to the rainforests of Australia, all from the comfort of your own home.


Browse Tacx Collection

Related Articles


Added to cart!