Gone are the days when a session on the indoor turbo trainer meant staring at a cold brick wall in the garage while cranking out max efforts based on perceived exertion alone. Now an indoor cycling experience can be as immersive as riding your favourite roads alongside hundreds of fellow (virtual) riders.
It’s long been established that a key component to maintaining cycling fitness through winter is a regular dose of short, intense, mostly uncomfortable intervals. While in theory these sessions can be done outside on the road, an indoor trainer provides a much more reliable and practical way to train. Here in the UK especially, with limited daylight hours, family commitments and unpredictable weather, we’re increasingly time pressed and restricted by when and where we can take on those quality sessions. Investing in an indoor trainer can provide a consistency and intensity to your training that will have you riding into spring in the form of your life.
Like so many areas of cycling today, the technological advancement in the turbo trainer market means consumers are faced with a seemingly endless array of options to choose from. In order to select the right model of trainer you’ll first need to establish a budget, your training goals, how much time you’re going to commit to training and what sort of experience you’re looking for. We’ll take a look at the most popular trainers from market leader Tacx in this guide and explain the features and advantages each trainer has to offer.
Tacx Neo Smart Bike
The ultimate indoor training experience
This revolutionary smart bike trainer is designed to create an unprecedented, one of a kind, immersive cycling experience. It is equipped with advanced features including virtual shifting, gear feel and descent simulation. It is without question the most innovative smart bike offering the most realistic cycling experience possible. The Neo Smart Bike is compatible with most popular applications like Tacx’s own training software, TrainerRoad and Zwift.
Pedals, saddle, bars and crank length can all be customised as can which data is shown on the interactive screen. The rider can crank out up to 2200 watts and the trainer will simulate gradients of up to 25%. With an accuracy of <1% you know the data you’re seeing is accurate and reliable and dynamic intertia ensures the most realistic and smoothest ride possible.
Tacx Neo 2T Smart Trainer
Top-of-the-range direct drive trainer
The Neo 2T is an updated version of the Neo 2, with the newest iteration becoming even quieter and smarter. The original Neo set the standard for the ultimate smart trainer and its predecessors continue to lead the way in terms of indoor cycling experience. The motor has been redesigned in order to provide a better indoor cycling experience and ride feel, especially during climbs and sprints.
Sharing many features with the Neo Smart Bike, the Neo 2T offers the Tacx Ride Feel, which simulates riding over cobblestones, gravel and other surfaces. The Neo 2T features both bluetooth and ANT+, allowing it to be easily connected to heart rate monitors and training apps.
Tacx Flux 2 Smart Trainer
Realistic ride feel at a more wallet-friendly price
Upgraded from the iconic Flux, this smart trainer features much of the same technology as the more expensive Neo. The main improvements from the previous iteration include a bigger and stronger flywheel which results in a wider simulation range, better ride feel and a more accurate power measurement (<2.5%). The Flux 2 can simulate gradients of up to 16% and take a power surge of up to 2000 watts, slightly lower than the Neo 2T but a monumental effort nonetheless.
As with the Neo 2T the Flux 2 is easily connectable with training apps such as Tacx’s own software as well as Zwift and other training software programmes.
Tacx Satori Smart Trainer
Wheel-on smart trainer that offers connectivity and data
The Satori Smart is the only manually controlled trainer from Tacx that measures power, speed and cadence. It comes with ANT+ and bluetooth compatibility and can be connected to training apps just like the top of the range smart trainers in the Tacx lineup. Unlike the direct drive trainers the Satori controls resistance manually through 10 handlebar positions. This trainer can take up to 950 watts of power which still means it can be used for some very high intensity interval workouts.
This trainer is ideal for those on a tight budget who still want to monitor their data and get the most out of their indoor workouts throughout the year. With a wheel-on smart trainer we’d always recommend using a turbo-specific tyre as a normal road tyre will suffer wear as you’re cranking out the watts during those big sprints.