Today, Garmin-Tacx releases an updated smart bike – the Tacx Neo Bike Plus – in a move that not only marks an update from just one company, but also a recognition of the ever-increasing role of training indoors in the larger ecosystem. .
Years ago you would have taken an old bike and put it on a turbo trainer, or maybe some rollerblades, and spent your time watching a stopwatch manage intervals or watching replays of Paris-Roubaix on a DVD that you found in the back of the video library. These days, the old bike on a turbo-trainer often still sums up the experience of riding indoors, but now the turbo-trainer is smart and you ride in an immersive virtual world. There are even other people in the world to ride with. It changed the whole ecosystem of cycling, but it continues to grow and change every year.
The natural next step is to stop using an old bike and instead optimize your indoor cycle for indoor riding. Basically, we’re talking about an exercise bike, but it actually covers a few different types of products. You can get more details and options in our list of best exercise bikes but among the offers there is a small list of options that offer indoor outdoor riding.
These are better known as “smart bikes,” and they replicate the experience of riding a bike outdoors but optimize the hardware for the rigors of indoor riding. It’s a small category and the new Tacx Neo Bike Plus is the final option.
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What is the Tacx Neo Bike Plus?
Where the Neo Bike Plus – and its predecessor the Neo Bike Smart – stand out from the competition like the Wahoo Kickr Bike and the SB20 steps is mainly in the absence of a standard flywheel. Instead, you’ll find a virtual flywheel that uses magnets and a motor to create the same effect, and allows for some unique functionality. That’s unchanged from the outgoing model, but it’s an important distinction from the competition.
With a motorized flywheel, Tacx can actively accelerate the flywheel to better mimic a descent, giving a more realistic feel when descending a slope in a virtual world.
As before, it’s capable of a maximum resistance of 2200 watts and a simulated incline of up to 25%, but there are ride feel features as well. The unique flywheel design can do more than just provide resistance and by using the ability to instantly turn resistance on and off, Tacx can stutter the motor. When done the right way, it simulates different road surfaces, such as dirt or gravel. You can find these features on the Tacx Neo 2T smart trainer and in the previous version of the Tacx Neo Smart Bike as well, but the trend continues with the Garmin Tacx Neo Smart Bike Plus.
Garmin is also an expert in power measurement on a bicycle. The Garmin Tacx Neo Smart Bike Plus offers accurate power, speed and cadence measurements to within 1%. Then, the use of two wattmeters allows an in-depth analysis of your pedal stroke; by tracking the position of each leg, the bike can break down your pedaling technique to help you develop a more efficient ride. Again, this has not changed from the previous generation.
On the hardware side, the Neo Bike Plus also retains the cockpit setup, which includes a pair of fans placed on either side of a central tablet holder, above the small integrated screen.
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Where you actually see some small changes is in the physical design of the bike. As mentioned, a smart bike eliminates the need for a standard bike.
At the front of the Tacx Neo Bike Plus there is an integrated screen, fans and a tablet holder. There’s also a pair of shifters that mirror the design of an outdoor bike. Part of the magic of an indoor bike is that the gearing is purely virtual and as such can be configured to mimic Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo, with a choice of gear ratios . From the app provided, you can designate up to three front chainrings with between 22 and 53 teeth per chainring. At the rear, the virtual cassette can have up to 12 sprockets with between 11 and 40 teeth per sprocket. When you change these virtual gears, the same mechanism used for road feel will mimic the snapping feeling of jumping into a different gear.
Not only are all the gears and controls virtual, but there’s nothing to say that the actual design of the levers and knobs has to be the same as an outdoor bike. The previous Tacx Smart Bike used a much more radical shape, but this time around Tacx have come much closer to a traditional exterior design. Judging by the photos, those familiar with Shimano Di2 should feel right at home.
Likewise, the design of the whole bike doesn’t have to mimic that of an outdoor machine; there is no need to consider aerodynamics or weight, and there is an expectation of fit. With a weight of 50 kg/110 lbs, smart bikes tend to stay in place and be used by multiple people. The easily adjustable seat position and handlebar stem benefit from an updated measurement scale in millimeters for greater accuracy. For crank length, swapping between 165, 167.5, 170, 172.5, and 175mm involves screwing your pedals into a different mounting hole.
Connect to the software platform of your choice
Like all smart bikes – except those from Peloton – the Garmin Tacx Neo Bike Plus remains open to the software platform of your choice. Standard Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ connections allow for use with TrainerRoad, Zwift, the Wahoo SYSTM app and more. Tacx also continues to develop its own training app, in which there are currently more than 250 real videos to simulate famous courses around the world, as well as structured training plans and live races.
If you prefer not to log into the software, there are options as well. A lot of best bike computers have ways to control a smart bike and Garmin head units will even allow outdoor route tracking. In stand-alone mode, no mains power is required, the Neo Bike Plus will simulate a flat road, and the faster you ride, the higher the resistance.
Price and availability
Coming soon to select stores, the Tacx Neo Bike Plus has a suggested retail price of £3,499.99/$3,999.99. To learn more about the Tacx Neo Bike Plus, visit the Garmin website.
Technical specifications: Garmin Tacx Neo Bike Plus
- Maximum energy: 2200 watts
- Precision: +/-1%
- Maximum score: 25%
- Connectivity: BLUETOOTH Low Energy Technology (LE), ANT+
- Compatibility: Apple, Android, Windows
- Unit Dimensions: (LxWxH): 54.7″ x 29.5″ x 46.1″ (1390 x 750 x 1170 mm)
- Display: 4.5″ integrated
- Lester: 110 pounds (50 kg)
- Q-factor: 147mm
- Saddle height (from center BB): 25.2″-35.4″ (640-900mm)
- Handlebar Stack Height (from center BB): 21.7″-31.9″ (550 – 810mm)
- Handlebar Reach (from center of saddle): 15.9″-33.3″ (405-845mm)
- USB ports: 2 USB Type A ports (charging only)
- Calibration: Not required
- Crank length: Choose from 5 crank lengths (165-175)