No one will ever develop a turbo trainer that makes indoor training as fun as a real race or a ride outside, but this high-tech trainer from Tacx certainly raises the bar for indoor cycling systems. The NEO Smart T2800 boasts some interesting technological advances, not to mention an almost silent cycling experience that should keep your family and neighbors happy this winter.
The NEO Smart T2800 gets its name from its Smart technology features. This turbo trainer connects with all of your devices. It even connects to multiple devices at one time, meaning your fitness watch, smart phone, Garmin computer and laptop all can monitor your workout simultaneously.
To do this, the trainer uses Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ technology, allowing you to monitor your workout and easily download races and maps from Tacx. Plus, the trainer is compatible with most training software and apps, like Zwift, Bkool, Kinomap, and TrainerRoad.
Real-Time Internet Racing
Part of the appeal of the NEO Smart is the interactive racing features. Not only are there a wide range of available map apps, but you can also compete in internet races against real cyclists. This gives your indoor workout the edge it’s been missing.
Tough, Versatile Workouts
The NEO Smart T2800 uses a direct drive. This means there is no physical transmission, reducing noise and wear and tear on the trainer and your bike. It also means that the NEO Smart works plugged into AC power and as a stand-alone trainer. The virtual flywheel calculates the resistance and continually adjusts using FAST technology, enabling it to create the effect of inertia.
You also don’t need to connect your trainer to an electronic device. The NEO Smart behaves as a fluid trainer, meaning it increases resistance as you increase speed, giving you a good workout and a great pre-race warm-up.
The NEO Smart accurately mimics the resistance of hills up to 25% and a decline of -5%. You work hard on the way up and coast on the descent. The NEO Smart even accounts for the side to side motion of the bike as you stand in the saddle.
This trainer boasts powerful resistance figures for serious cyclists. When the NEO Smart is plugged in, the motor applies up to 2200 Watts of resistance to give you one of the most realistic road experiences on the market.
While you might not want to admit how much you like the LED lights at first, the color coded indicators offer a convenient way to keep track of your progress and devices. As your workout increases in intensity, the LED lights closer to the ground change color to demonstrate resistance.
The trainer also keeps track of your devices. Three lights on the side let you know the state of your Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ connections, as well as if your trainer is connected to power.
What Sets It Apart
Near Silent Cycling
The NEO Smart is quieter than any other trainer on the market, according to Tacx. This makes it less offensive to family and neighbors and might even win it a place in the living room, instead of the lonely basement or garage where most trainers spend their time.
Accurate Real Road Feel
The powerful resistance, live racing, and sophisticated electronic components of the NEO Smart create a realistic road feel. The slight flexibility allows for side to side motion, and the road resistance is among the most accurate of the products in its category.
The direct drive technology is the future of turbo trainers. The superior braking and hill simulation sets this trainer apart from the rest. As an added bonus, the trainer is incredibly simple to set up and install due to its small number of parts. It is also relatively portable at 22 kg (48 pounds). It’s not light, but you could take it with you to a race for a realistic warm-up and combined upper body workout.
One of the best features of the trainer is the number of possible connections.
- The ANT+ option broadcasts your speed, power, and cadence to compatible devices. This includes Garmin products, PowerTap products, and the Suunto Ambit12 line, to name a few.
- The Bluetooth connection broadcasts your stats to iOS and Android devices along with any other device that supports Bluetooth.
- Tacx also broadcasts to its own desktop apps through yet another channel, making it easy to connect to the latest Tacx products.
These three options cover almost every device you might want to connect to your trainer. While Tacx carries a decent lineup of products, the versatility of the connectivity options allows you to also use third party programs for a well-rounded workout.
The NEO Smart offers a state of the art indoor training experience, but it comes at a price. The trainer alone costs around $1,600 and 1,400 euros, ranking it one of the most expensive trainers on the market. That price does not include cassettes and maps.
Many cyclists find the hefty price prohibitive, limiting the NEO Smart to professional racers and cyclists with deep pockets.
There are a few potential drawbacks to the NEO Smart aside from the price. The lack of a rear wheel reduces wear and tear on your bike. It also makes connecting your bike to the trainer a little tricky, especially on a bike with rear-facing dropouts. This is the only drawback to the direct drive system, as once the bike is on it stays on, without the slippage reported with conventional trainers.
The trainer is also heavy. At 22 kg (48 pounds), it is possible to take it with you on the road, but you’ll probably want to avoid moving it around too much. It also lacks a convenient handle, adding to the weight issue. To top things off, it is larger than previous Tacx trainers and the competition. The upside is that the NEO Smart is very sturdy, giving you a solid base constructed of metal instead of plastic for longevity.
All in all, despite the large ticket price and a few minor drawbacks, the NEO Smart T2800 from Tacx is a high-tech, reliable training tool that appears to be worth the money. The build is solid and the added features make it easy to use and highly adaptable.
The noise aspect is particularly appealing for cyclists living in apartments or housing where noise is a concern. The only sound you hear while using this trainer is the sound of your bike and a slight electronic hum, notably less than a refrigerator.