New Tacx Neo Bike Smart: Yes or No?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
maquisard
Posts: 2109
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 8:51 pm
Location: France

by maquisard

petromyzon wrote: ↑
Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:16 am
Given that the trainer element is non-upgradeable you want the cost of that to be a minimum rather than bundled in with the bike so that when it does become obsolete the financial pain is eased.
Good point of view - this is like Smart TVs. You can drop €1000 on a nice Smart TV, the display will remain usable for years but at the pace the technology moves at the Smart features may quickly become obsolete. That is why small FireStick/Apple TV are popular, they are cheap enough that you can buy one every few years to remain up to date with technology. Same with the bike and trainer, the mechanical bike aspect will be usable longer for many where as you might want to upgrade the trainer aspect sooner.

I like the idea of having a permanent bike, I still don't sprint on the bike in Zwift for fear of damaging my frame, it is tempo/threshold only efforts for me. I would however have no problems sprinting on this. However the price is prohibitive for me, I would rather spend the money on something I could actually use out on the road.

by Weenie


TobinHatesYou
Posts: 4021
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

Regarding the development of trainer hardware, yes and no. The Wahoo KICKR was released in late 2013 and has only really seen incremental upgrades in the past 5 years. The 2016 model got rid of the strain gauge, redesigned the handle, added real TA support and a slightly quieter drive mechanism. The 2017 model improved disc brake caliper clearance and added KICKR Climb support. The 2018 model redesigned the drive mechanism to use a quieter belt and increased the flywheel size (slightly improving its max power.)

While all these improvements are appreciated, none of them are gamechanging...none of them actually require significant upgrades to the electronics.

Likewise for other brands, the updates have been similar. The Tacx Neo 2 is barely changed from the 3-year-old Neo. The Cycleops H2 is even less of an upgrade compared to the 2.5 year old Hammer.

I thought about using one of the various holiday 20% coupons on a slight upgrade...I ordered both a Neo 2 and a KICKR18...cancelled both after deciding they really weren’t an improvement over my CycleOps Hammer.

The key to this space is price, not chasing spec improvements. Nobody wants a trainer that can simulate 30% grades and provide 3000W resistance. Everybody wants a KICKR/Hammer/Neo to be significantly cheaper. That’s why the KICKR Core, Elite Direto and Tacx Flux are so important. That’s why the new Elite Zumo exists.

I think smartbikes have a place in the market because the Peloton/spin class model is currently kicking Zwift’s ass (they aren’t profitable and won’t be for a long time...they have secured a lot of funding though, so they are fine.) But again, the market for a $3200 smartbike isn’t important... These things need to provide all the same functionality for between $1000-$1500, and preferably on the lower end of that range. Smartbikes for hardcore cyclists though? I’d much rather buy a $900 KICKR CORE and have the $2300 leftover for an Ultegra-level spare bike.

Again, the Tacx Neo Bike Smart’s advantages are a cleaner design (might matter for living room aesthetics,) programmable gear changes (11 speeds, 12, 13, 14, more,) virtual braking support (not yet implemented on any major platform) and lots of adjustability. It’s just not worth the price of admission to me right now.

TobinHatesYou
Posts: 4021
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

maquisard wrote: ↑
Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:12 am

I like the idea of having a permanent bike, I still don't sprint on the bike in Zwift for fear of damaging my frame, it is tempo/threshold only efforts for me. I would however have no problems sprinting on this. However the price is prohibitive for me, I would rather spend the money on something I could actually use out on the road.

I have seen zero broken bikes on the various Zwift and trainer owner FB groups. I have seen plenty of trainers making grinding noises, broken KICKR Gates PowerBelts, etc. So anecdotally you are far more likely to break your trainer than your bike if it is correctly installed onto the trainer. I sprint all the time on my Hammer, going as far as rocking it onto 2 floor contact points instead of keeping it planted on all 3. I do have a layer of interlocking gym floormats under a thick Wahoo trainer mat providing some extra give.

Imagine the cost of shipping a Tacx Neo Smart Bike back to Tacx for a warranty replacement. Tacx would have to pay for the shipping label because I’m not ready to spend $150+ on shipping.

My peak wattage is around 1250W my 15s is around 950W. My alloy “trainer” bike has shown zero signs of fatigue in 533 hours on Zwift. Yep, 533 hours.

mattr
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Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 6:43 pm
Location: The Grim North.

by mattr

TBH, the problem with "non-upgradeability" in modern consumer hardware is usually driven by an unwillingness to make newer software compatible with the previous versions of the hardware rather than an actual inability to do it. With most of the consumer hardware we have around us, you should be able to keep newer software compatible for at around 6-8-10 years if you wanted to. The reality is, with all the hundreds of incremental updates and hundreds of slightly different versions (TVs, Phones, Computers) support for older hardware gets dropped or skimped upon far quicker than it need to. Badly planned, accidental obsolescence. (Or maybe deliberate, not important though).

With something as simple as a trainer, with very long development cycles, and only a very very limited number of hardware versions, there should be no reason for it to become obsolete for many years, i suspect what will eventually kill something like my Neo, is a change to communications protocols, so a future version BLE/ANT+ or whatever will loose the backwards compatibility with what is installed in the trainer. But then, i can buy any number of out of date pc components all over the net. So even that wouldn't *really* kill it. Just make updates more tricky........

angrylegs
Posts: 164
Joined: Mon May 21, 2012 2:32 pm

by angrylegs

I think I'm more comfortable with a Neo and my training bike. There's just a little more to go wrong with an all-in-one unit like that. Shifters for example. I'm happier replacing some 105 part on my training bike if I need to. Not directly a knock on the NeoBike - looks awesome. I'm just wary of going that direction after a season and a half on a Neo and my training bike was really cost effective (once I picked up the Neo, obviously).

angrylegs
Posts: 164
Joined: Mon May 21, 2012 2:32 pm

by angrylegs

TobinHatesYou wrote: ↑
Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:37 am
maquisard wrote: ↑
Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:12 am

I like the idea of having a permanent bike, I still don't sprint on the bike in Zwift for fear of damaging my frame, it is tempo/threshold only efforts for me. I would however have no problems sprinting on this. However the price is prohibitive for me, I would rather spend the money on something I could actually use out on the road.

I have seen zero broken bikes on the various Zwift and trainer owner FB groups. I have seen plenty of trainers making grinding noises, broken KICKR Gates PowerBelts, etc. So anecdotally you are far more likely to break your trainer than your bike if it is correctly installed onto the trainer. I sprint all the time on my Hammer, going as far as rocking it onto 2 floor contact points instead of keeping it planted on all 3. I do have a layer of interlocking gym floormats under a thick Wahoo trainer mat providing some extra give.

Imagine the cost of shipping a Tacx Neo Smart Bike back to Tacx for a warranty replacement. Tacx would have to pay for the shipping label because I’m not ready to spend $150+ on shipping.

My peak wattage is around 1250W my 15s is around 950W. My alloy “trainer” bike has shown zero signs of fatigue in 533 hours on Zwift. Yep, 533 hours.
I share all these sentiments, including the same experiences, and incidentally, about the same wattage. Absolutely no issues at all with the bike on the trainer. Friend at work can outsprint me and best these numbers and no issues on his bike either over a couple seasons now.

Dexman
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:53 am

by Dexman

A product like this clearly isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but it ticks all the boxes for me, and I suspect it will for a fair number of others. Even though the atom suffers from some shortcomings, it’s still selling and many users are happy with it, so the integrated bike idea has some attraction to a portion of the market. If you buy a new Neo, it wouldn’t be all that hard to spend another $1500 on a trainer bike, so I think the price makes sense given what they’ve put into this bike. The vip coupon worked for early birds in any case, so I got it at a better price, plus free shipping. As far as upgrade risk, that’s true of every technology product. Software and firmware are always upgradeable, and resistance technology is not going to change much over the next ten years. Not concerned about it. Otherwise, I totally get why this product wouldn’t make sense for some, but I can’t wait to get a hold of it when it ships in January amd look forward to a much more flexible and usable bike for the whole family.

TobinHatesYou
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Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

It makes even less sense to me as a family proposition because it’s one unit for $3200. A KICKR Core is $900. A Flux S or Direto are less than that. You could buy 3 direct-drive trainers so your entire family can use Zwift/TrainerRoad/Rouvy/etc. at the same time. They also wouldn’t have to constantly adjust saddle position or reach/stack because they’d be using their own bikes.

If you really like the concept, whatever. Just giving you my take on it. I think the real money is in far cheaper smartbikes...less than half the price of the Neo Bike for the Peloton/spinbike crowd. It doesn’t need the best power/resistance specs. It doesn’t need 1% accuracy. Make it cheap enough to be a gateway device for people who typically buy treadmills and home gyms only to use them sparingly.

mattr
Posts: 4671
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 6:43 pm
Location: The Grim North.

by mattr

Dexman wrote: ↑
Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:54 am
forward to a much more flexible and usable bike for the whole family.
Only if you all use the same pedals, saddles, and crank length. Surprisingly enough, we don't. I don't know many who do.
Dexman wrote: ↑
Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:54 am
If you buy a new Neo, it wouldn’t be all that hard to spend another $1500 on a trainer bike
Cheapest trainer bike i've done was (well) under ÂŁ400, even if you include the bits that were rescued out of the bin. Mine owes me about ÂŁ1000 and it means i have a another bike that i can use in bad weather.

Other than using in a gym, i really don't see this (and it's competitors) as a particularly flexible solution.

upacs
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:50 am

by upacs

For some people I'd say yes. For me, personally, no.

I have a Neo with an old frame I built up into a dedicated turbo bike. Old worn out front wheel with worn out tyre, old 10sp parts. It's not very pretty, but the thing is dialled in perfectly and matches my on-road geometry spot on. Probably half the cost of this tacx trainer bike and I'm confident it can take a ton of abuse without plastic bits falling off.

As for chain/cassette wearing off, yes, there will be some of that. But you will find that with it staying indoors 100% of the time, and no road grit getting into the system, and no rain to wash oil off, durability is much greater than on a bike that is used outdoors

However, if I wanted a "pretty" setup or one where multiple people could share the same trainer, I would start to see the value.

The gubbins are based on the Neo, so that will be top notch, no doubt. My Neo has been nothing short of super awesome

AJS914
Posts: 3394
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:52 pm

by AJS914

I wonder how it will hold up for someone that rides it 5+ hours a week.

For $3200 I'd want it to come with a 5 year warranty and on-site repair. I bet it comes with a 1 year warranty. I'd be really pissed if it broke 10 years down the road and parts were no longer availble.

Dexman
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:53 am

by Dexman

Only have room for one trainer so no going with four, and this is a neo, so it doesn’t make sense to compare against three or four Direto’s or cores. I considered all that. I have a Direto, which while nice, is not a Neo. That’s like saying I could buy three vw’s for a bimmer. Well, yeah. I would also have to buy three or four more bikes since nobody in the house wants to fiddle with taking bikes off and on. Crank length is easily changed as are pedals, and one saddle will be fine. Maybe it will be possible to buy another quick adjust seat post if that becomes an issue, but I doubt it will be. To each his own.

TobinHatesYou
Posts: 4021
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

The KICKR Core puts out 1800W resistance, and can probably record more at higher flywheel speeds. It simulates up to 16% grades which is honestly as much as I'd ever want to experience indoors. Also just LOL at the idea that putting a bike on a trainer takes longer than adjusting saddle position, crank length, bar reach/stack. The only hitch would be mixed QR/TA usage and/or 10spd vs 11spd.

The car analogy doesn't work here. The Neo Bike doesn't have luxury internals. The Neo trainer isn't significantly better than even the KICKR Core. All these products are Chevys basically. They haven't really changed much since 2013 when the original KICKR was launched.

packetloss
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2015 2:29 pm

by packetloss

TobinHatesYou wrote: ↑
Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:52 am
The Neo Bike doesn't have luxury internals. The Neo trainer isn't significantly better than even the KICKR Core. All these products are Chevys basically. They haven't really changed much since 2013 when the original KICKR was launched.
There are a few important differences between the Neo and any of the Kickrs. The Neo doesn't use a stretchable rubber belt and doesn't require calibration.

I have a Velotron and it too doesn't require any calibration. It might not seem like a big deal but it's just one less hassle to have to work into your workout/warmup. Not to mention I like to turn up the fan and crack a window partway through my workout and it did have an impact on temperature sensative trainers that require calibration.

by Weenie


TobinHatesYou
Posts: 4021
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

packetloss wrote: ↑
Wed Dec 12, 2018 6:17 pm

There are a few important differences between the Neo and any of the Kickrs. The Neo doesn't use a stretchable rubber belt and doesn't require calibration.

I have a Velotron and it too doesn't require any calibration. It might not seem like a big deal but it's just one less hassle to have to work into your workout/warmup. Not to mention I like to turn up the fan and crack a window partway through my workout and it did have an impact on temperature sensative trainers that require calibration.

I see the belt as a mostly non-issue. I have around 400 hours on my current Hammer's belt and it is no worse for wear. I'll be sure to let you know when it breaks. The only time I've noticed numbers go off with temperature change is at the end of a session. It seems the Hammer overcompensates for the sudden loss in heat generated and the power numbers were lower than two other PMs during my warmdown vs being spot-on throughout the rest of the workout.

Also I don't preclude the $1300 Neo from the argument for trainers...it's certainly a more sensible option than the Neo Bike for most people.

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