[OPINION] Garmin Tacx NEO 3M Smart Trainer

Garmin tacx neo 3m reviewGarmin Tacx NEO 3M Smart Trainer – OPINION

Garmin‘s statement indoor smart trainer comes with onboard motion plates and a hefty $2000 price tag, yet omits features boasted by competitors. Is it really worth $400 more than the Wahoo KICKR MOVE? Let’s see.

TACX NEO – A Brief History

Garmin bought the Dutch company TACX in early 2019. Later in the same year came the NEO 2T, still regarded as one of the very best indoor trainers on the market.

TACX NEO2T ($1400, $900) is complemented by cheaper, less functional trainers like TACX FLOW ($370), TACX FLUX S ($750, $500), and TACX FLUX 2 ($900, $600). Above it in the Garmin range sits the TACX NEO BIKE PLUS ($4000)

An interesting accessory for the NEO 2T is the $300 NEO Motion Plates. Essentially, NEO 3M represents a slightly higher spec upgrade to the NEO 2T with the motion plates integrated into its design.

INDOOR Trainer Features

But what about new features?

The top-end trainers across all brands have coalesced towards all these features, many of which are available on cheaper models (NEO 3M has those in bold)

  • RIDE FEEL – ability to feel more like riding on the road and other surfaces. Including the ability to raise the forks or use a motor to simulate gradients, vibration to simulate gravel, and side and fore/aft movement for ride feel
  • CONNECTIVITY –
    • WiFi and direct cable connection
    • Ability to simultaneously connect bike computers, smart TVs and apps
    • To provide a sensor bridge, collecting multiple sensor streams broadcast over one Bluetooth channel
  • PERFORMANCE
    • 1% error (99% accuracy)
    • 10Hz updates – 10 power updates a second rather than one for more responsive power numbers (capable)
    • Autocalibration
    • Left/right power, cadence and speed estimates
  • BIKE FRAME COMPATIBILITY
    • Supporting disc bikes, Thru axles, 12-speed cassettes,
  • PRACTICALITY – carry handle, small footprint, silent operation

Garmin Tacx NEO 2T vs NEO 3M

There are quite a few relatively trivial design tweaks. The meat of the changes are that: the motion features are now inbuilt; there is support for a WiFi/LAN accessory; 2 Bluetooth connections are possible; you get a free 11-speed cassette; and there is a carry handle. Oh, and there’s the $500 price jump although the NEO2T is on sale right now while stock last for $1100 less than the NEO 3M.

Here is that in detail

 

garmin tacx neo 3m specs comparison vs tacx neo 2t

Garmin Tacx NEO 3M vs Wahoo KICKR Move

NEO 3M includes a motor to simulate downhill efforts but KICKR Move supports KICKR CLIMB which realistically mimics uphill gradients. Whilst both can simulate some road movement, only NEO 3M lets you feel surface noise.

Both claim equal levels of accuracy but only NEO 3M give you left and right power estimates. Then again, only KICKR MOVE gives you a 10Hz race mode as of today

turning to connectivity, both support FTMS, FE-C, ANT+ and Bluetooth but KICKR MOVE has one extra Bluetooth channel (3).

TAKE OUT – NEO 3M

Whilst the price is eye-wateringly high, Garmin assumes that if you want the best you are not price sensitive. You are also paying for the security and trust that comes with Garmin’s premium branding.  On the other hand, if you are price sensitive then many competing models are less than half the price and effectively as good as NEO 3M.

You are getting a wholly re-engineered take on the earlier NEO 2T. Under the hood, there is probably little that hasn’t changed even though the headline specs appear similar. For example, even though the accuracy claims are unchanged, dcrainmaker reports NEO 3M now has “accuracy perfection”. That said I still doubt this trainer is suitable for quality sprinters as the max torque is unchanged at 88 Nm (Cyplus T3 is 110Nm).

Garmin will add 10Hz race mode. Whilst that is in the realms of ‘nice to have’, we have to wonder what other goodies Garmin has stashed away in the internal hardware that will be made available in the months to come

In simple terms, if we assume that Garmin adds “10Hz race mode” and you can easily afford to get the WiFi/LAN adapter, then the NEO 3M is very similar in capabilities to the Wahoo KICKR Move.

You probably just prefer the Garmin brand.

Go for it.

 

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4 thoughts on “[OPINION] Garmin Tacx NEO 3M Smart Trainer

  1. Does the neo2T really need to be plugged in? The OG Neo definitely doesn’t, never heard of that being removed.

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