What's the best Smart Trainer? Which one gives you the most realistic indoor experience?

June 06, 2019

Indoor trainer studio setup Tacx Neo 2

I get asked a lot about the ideal setup for an indoor trainer.  I'm slowly setting up my own ideal home setup and I've seen some cool ones along the way.  I'm learning, technology is changing, and there's a lot on offer. This year I've made a few improvements and changed trainers again, after making my way through a few in the last three years.  Hopefully I can answer a few of the popular questions here.

  • Is the Wahoo Kickr with the Climb the coolest setup?
  • How much better is the Tacx Neo, is it worth the extra money over the Kickr?
  • Is the Neo 2 worth the upcharge over the other Tacx models (Flux S, Flux 2)?

The Wahoo system with the Climb simulator is kinda cool, but it's not that useful in creating a more immersive experience on your favorite online program.  Personally, after having sold Wahoo, Tacx, and Cycleops, and having tried all the main models from these three brands, I've settled on the Tacx Neo 2 as the most realistic.  The virtual flywheel gives a more realistic sprint up to speed (wind up) and coasting (wind down), plus the downhill drive (for realistic coasting and descending) and the gentle "road feel" that the trainer inserts into the rear of the frame while riding over different surfaces, delivers this experience. These subtle, haptic features collude to really immerse you in your program of choice.

I find a more stable trainer (not moving up & down in the front), with a strong, fast resistance unit that reacts instantaneously to what you see on the screen, and with a drive unit that feels most like riding outside is the best setup.  The most realistic is the most immersive, and immersion in your program is where you lose track of time.  When you are focused on power, speed, the rider in front of you, lowering your heartrate by coasting downhill, the w/kg of the rider coming up behind you, how many kms to the KOM marker, or even bracing for the wooden bridge up ahead which slows you down a bit, you can beat the boredom and dig deep into your ability to put up a good ride that you can be proud of - even if you don't use Strava.  The pool of sweat on the floor under your trainer is evidence that you somehow used this app, this hardware, to motivate you to work so hard.

My ideal setup uses the Tacx Neo 2, because I feel this unit delivers that little 1% extra that makes it real.  And when you aren't making little excuses in your head for the little equipment quirks and just getting on with it, you dig a little deeper and go harder in the program.  Good music, Zwift on the Apple TV, a convenient placement of my phone on the bars with the companion app loaded, a big TV in front of me (not too high on the wall), a cold bottle of water, a fan blowing hard, and a gel just in case I go over an hour and decide to do another lap.  That is my ideal setup. 




Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

Flat Pedals - how to get the best from riding without clip-in pedals
Flat Pedals - how to get the best from riding without clip-in pedals

February 27, 2021

Wearing runners or Vans on spiked pedals is a no no.

Continue Reading

2020 Cannondale Evo Supersix Disc Etap - Long term review
2020 Cannondale Evo Supersix Disc Etap - Long term review

December 05, 2019

The 2020 Cannondale Supersix has surprised me on a couple levels; It's fast on the flats and in the wind, and the most confident descender I've owned.

Continue Reading

Tacx Neo 2 Review
Tacx Neo 2 Review

August 28, 2019

Tacx Neo 2 Review - My winter season on the best high-tech Smart trainer on the market.

Continue Reading