Turbo trainer specialist Tacx has just lifted the lid off its new Neo Smart direct driver trainer, which uses a fully electronic design - there is no flywheel - and is claimed to be silent with a realistic road feel.
The Neo Smart shares a direct drive design similar to the Wahoo Kickr we tested last winter. You remove the rear wheel and the bicycle frame mounts directly to the trainer, with a cassette locked onto the freehub. It’s compatible with Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo.
There the similarities with the Wahoo stop. The Neo Smart has no heavy flywheel, instead it’s a virtual flywheel, using electronics to control the resistance. The sleek and futuristic looking trainer houses a motor with 32 Neodymium magnets that rotate around 30 coils, and control of the current passing through these coils adjusts the resistance. The larger the magnetic force, the higher the braking power. It’s effectively an electronic brake.
The two benefits of this design that will most appeal to indoor training fans, is the realistic road feel and silent operation the company is claiming. The Neo Smart can handle up to 2,200W and provides a high resistance level even at low speeds, and can simulate up to 25% inclines. Ideal for hill training then.
With ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart compatibility the Neo Smart can be paired with speed, cadence and heart rate sensors, and easily synced with a smartphone, tablet or computer, which allows you to easily control the resistance.
This resistance control via a smartphone or tablet was one of the most appealing, and useful, aspects of the Wahoo Kickr trainer. The main drawback of the Kickr was a dependency on mains power. The Neo Smart can be used with or without mains power, which makes it a lot more flexible.
Alberto Contador has been using one this season, and sounds impressed.
He says: “I experienced the Tacx NEO in my warmups and cooling down during the Tour de France. It really is the ideal trainer: widely compatible, no sound, no maintenance and above all extremely powerful and accurate. It will definitely become part of my standard training equipment as it is the best fit for my needs.”
So there you go, looks interesting, and we'll try and get one in for review soon. We don’t have a UK price yet, just that we know it’ll cost €1,400. As for availability, that is expected to be September. More info at www.tacx.com/en/products/trainers/neo-smart
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.