For indoor bike training with realistic resistance and seamless response to applications, both the Wahoo KICKR Power Trainer and the Tacx NEO 2T offer numerous features for optimal interactive training with Zwift in the comfort of your own living room.
The Tacx NEO 2T is the new and improved smart trainer featuring a quieter, more powerful drive. Tacx designs the motor to provide a better indoor cycling experience and ride feel, especially for sprints and climbs.
Since its launch in 2014, the Tacx Neo is known as one of the quietest smart training options on the market.
By comparison, the Wahoo Kickr Power Trainer delivers a realistic ride feel and precise power. It remains unmatched in compatibility, which includes three simultaneous Bluetooth connections — creating a game-changing indoor cycling experience.
Even though both smart trainers are leading products, there are still some differences to consider. In this guide, we’ll compare the two and explain the differences in both products to help you make a better and more educated purchase.
The Tacx NEO 2T Trainer
Being a top-line trainer, it’s hard not to fall in love with the Tacx NEO 2T. While it’s more expensive than its trainer counterparts, it delivers accuracy and an overall ride feel.
It’s easy to set-up and use, includes a durable platform to ride on, and conveniently folds up for storage. You don’t have to worry about noise with this trainer, as it’s considerably quiet while running.
While most trainers produce a bothersome “whine” while running, the NEO 2T’s noiseless feature receives praise from indoor cycling enthusiasts. The only noise you’ll hear is whatever sound emits from the bike’s drivetrain.
The main reason the NEO 2T trainer stands out from the competition is the use of the virtual flywheel. This function offers a comfortable ride feel and guarantees both fun and realistic training.
Another big selling point for this trainer is its cordless functionality, which is great for race or time trial warm-ups.
Unlike other indoor trainer setups, the NEO 2T offers simplicity. The Tacx trainer is encased in a sleeky, compact unit. This minimalist construction includes the flywheel and two legs to securely support the unit and bike. With this model, Tacx really backs the “less is more” phrase.
Even though the design is minimal, the trainer remains stable at high power.
When it comes to the riding experience, the NEO 2T includes built-in flex to allow for a more comfortable, natural, and realistic ride. The trainer even incorporates accurate simulations of pavement, gravel, and other biking surfaces.
You can also ride uphill or downhill with additional inclining and declining simulations (The Wahoo KICKR mimic inclines and declines but only with the Climb Unit’s additional purchase).
These simulation features add to your Zwift riding experience. It also provides varying saddle positions to reduce pressure and promote comfort — making for an even more enjoyable workout.
The NEO 2T also offers an advanced lighting system of backlight colors and intensities, showing how much power you’re producing. Constantly monitoring your screen’s power can be distracting, but with the 2T’s colored lighting feature, you can focus all your attention on biking.
Tacx’s innovative flywheel design makes the unit the only option on the market that offers accurate downhill inertia. In the majority of trainers, once you stop pedaling, the unit’s power output immediately drops to zero.
Whereas when you use Zwift on the NEO, it applies a small amount of resistance into the unit, giving off a freewheeling effect and simulating a real road ride.
Of course, it’s difficult to list all of Tacx NEO 2T trainer’s incredible features. Praised for its realism, the 2T doesn’t include chains or belts, allowing for a smoother ride overall. When it comes to accuracy, response, and ride feel, the Tacx NEO 2T certainly measures up.
The Wahoo KICKR Trainer
With their new and improved KICKR Power Trainer, Wahoo offers a straightforward option with improved power accuracy and quick and easy calibration.
Instead of having to obtain a rocker-plate for this at-home trainer, Wahoo strategically adds a five-degree function for lateral side-to-side movement. This feature offers accurate, immediate response by responding to changes in body position and rider’s speed of motion.
The trainer also boasts the all-new AXIS Action Feet, replacing Wahoo’s standard fixed feet — a simple, convenient and practical modification to achieve a more realistic and customized training experience.
The AXIS Action Feet also features the ultimate ride feel. The KICKR CLIMB, KICKR HEADWIND and KICKR AXIS combine to deliver the simulations and movement of exercising outdoors into virtual indoor workouts and rides.
As you pedal, the KICKR’s AXIS feet let the trainer sway back and forth, which Wahoo claims reduces rider fatigue so you can ride harder, longer. The feet also include three different stiffness levels, allowing for adjustable movement.
For a standard session, simply lock the feet out; let the feet go fully open for virtual races.
Wahoo’s new KICKR includes updated hardware that improves power accuracy from +/-2% to +/-1%. And with a sudden rise of online racing, accurate power monitoring is crucial for ensuring the authenticity and dependability of data coming from racers located all over the world.
And with the increased accuracy, you can rest assured that you are training to the target numbers. Instead of manual calibration, the new KICKR offers a self-calibrating feature.
With their new KICKR Power Trainer, Wahoo maintains its signature features that make their trainers a flagship product in indoor training. The flywheel (which is electromagnetically controlled) gives off a natural, consistent, and road-like feel.
Additionally, wireless communication with online apps and virtual cycling courses creates an immersive training experience. With the Wahoo app, you can record workouts and take advantage of other smart features.
More experienced riders, however, prefer more of a challenge. Enter Zwift — famously known as the premier virtual world for biking. With this app, you can connect and train with cyclists around the world — all in the comfort of your own home.
With Zwift, you can ride, race, train, and even socialize with other cyclists. Unlike many other training applications, Zwift adds the social aspect of cycling to chat with other cyclists who are riding the same course.
But back to the KICKR Power Trainer.
The self-calibration tool allows for more accurate power monitoring, which also reduces the chances of fellow Zwift cyclists cheating.
Now that we’ve explained both products’ features and differences, you may still have some questions regarding their noise, accuracy, or compatibility. Luckily, that’s exactly what we’re here to do.
Let’s get started.
One notable differentiation between the Wahoo KICKR and Tacx NEO 2T is noise emission.
Both trainers feature a flywheel that simulates resistance. But while the Wahoo KICKR includes a physical flywheel that offers resistance, the NEO 2T has a virtual flywheel, featuring a computer-controlled resistance that’s more accurate.
Due to this difference, both machines produce a different noise.
With the NEO 2T, you hear primarily just the magnet system’s noise, while the KICKR emits noise from the flywheel.
But don’t be confused; the noise production of both trainers is very little. Many users say the Wahoo KICKR produces noise at low speeds, whereas the Tacx NEO 2T remains relatively quiet at low speeds or while keeping your legs still.
Both the Tacx NEO 2T and Wahoo KICKR measure power with incredible precision. The NEO 2T is the only smart trainer that doesn’t require a calibration process, and it measures your power accurately within 1%.
The Wahoo KICKR measures power accurately within about 2%. This percentage means that the measurement of your power at most varies by 2% from what you pedal.
Regarding a built-in power meter to produce accurate results, the KICKR and the Neo Smart are very similar. It’s important to keep a very close eye on the effectiveness and power of your effort with both bike trainers.
Compatibility and Connectivity
This next fact makes the NEO 2T one of the most popular options on the market: It’s wireless.
The direct-drive setup makes it so that you don’t even need to plug it in. You can use the trainer without outside power. But something to keep in mind: not having the trainer plugged in causes you to lose some of the incline/decline functionality.
But besides that, you can treat the NEO 2T as a self-charging trainer.
Both the Tacx Neo Smart and the Wahoo KICKR feature compatibility with the most popular applications on the market. The Wahoo KICKR works with Wahoo Fitness, TrainerRoad, KinoMap, Zwift, and BKool Simulator.
The Tacx NEO 2T works with Tacx Trainer, TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, Zwift, KinoMap, and BKool Simulator. Both devices respond seamlessly to the applications, but the NEO 2T features a virtual flywheel and direct-drive, making the setup process almost instantaneous.
With the Tacx NEO 2T, you’ll have no problem connecting to your favorite training apps.
Wahoo offers users the ability to directly connect their trainer to either a computer or internet router. This feature gets rid of fussy Bluetooth setups and dropouts from weak Internet signals.
This feature, however, is not included with the original purchase of the Wahoo KICKR. To receive access, you need the $99 Wahoo Direct Connect accessory, as well as an ethernet cable.
In addition, if your computer doesn’t include an ethernet port, you’ll need to purchase an adapter for that.
Both the Wahoo KICKR and Tacx NEO 2T are relatively heavy trainers (21 kilograms). But this is primarily to ensure optimal drive functionality, even while standing on pedals.
Both offer the ability to fold and store them after use, but the KICKR is especially known for its compact design. The device includes a handle, making it easier to transport and store in between cycling sessions.
The NEO 2T isn’t made with transportability particularly in mind. But since this trainer includes wireless functionality, you can use it basically anywhere.
Since the Tacx NEO 2T is a direct drive trainer — meaning you do not need to have your rear wheel on when using it — the bike’s drivetrain directly connects to the trainer’s axle (similar to the Wahoo smart trainers). Most cycling enthusiasts consider this particular trainer a standard in smart trainers today.
Tacx’s NEO 2T model allows you to connect directly to the unit’s motor, which reduces the needs for any drives or belts in the unit.
Unfortunately, the NEO 2T doesn’t include an installed cassette, so you’ll need to install one yourself. The NEO 2T trainer handles various different common cassettes, including the Shimano or SRAM 11 speed design, as well as the Campy or SRAM 12 speed cassettes.
Once you’ve set it up, mourning the trainer’s unit is relatively simple. If you’re looking for a machine that promotes both for ease of mind and ease of use, both the NEO 2T and the Wahoo KICKR trainer measure up.
Many assume that in order for a smart trainer to be stable, it would require a large, bulky design. However, Tacx NEO 2T trainer proves that theory wrong.
When it comes to safety, most users primarily concern themself with the flywheel design. Since many trainers use them in their home, the last thing they want is children or pets harming themself from the machine.
Luckily, the Tacx NEO 2T features a covered flywheel, but a covering located on the side of the flywheel moves with the axle. While it doesn’t stick out or protrude, nor does it prove to be a hazard, it’s still a moving part of the machine.
The KICKR, on the other hand, does have a covering that protrudes, so if you do have children, we recommended avoiding leaving it out.
The NEO 2T offers a rider weight limit of 275 lbs, which is typically average in most high-end trainers. The Wahoo KICKR has a rider weight limit of 250 lbs.
With world events and an ongoing pandemic, it’s important to consider safety. At home workouts are becoming more and more popular, and riding a stationary bike inside your living room is probably one of the safest ways to get in proper exercise without jeopardizing your health or the health of others.
Especially with stay at home orders still in place for many parts of the world, that makes it rather difficult to do outdoor exercise.
Many cyclists recommend buying a stationary trainer like the Tacx NEO 2T trainer of the Wahoo KICKR trainer. Now, you don’t have to stress about scheduling times or concern about whether or not it’s safe to hit the biking trails. With a stationary trainer, you can train anywhere, any time — all while staying safe.
Conclusion — Which One Should You Buy?
While both trainers are unique in their own way and offer a variety of features, the question still remains: is the Tacx NEO 2T worth the expense?
The short answer? Yes. The long answer? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for in a trainer.
Both of these top-of-the-line bicycle trainers from Wahoo and Tacx are extremely close in terms of performance, price, and possibilities. Both trainers are very relatively quiet, offer interactive features and include optimal resistance that will make even the most professional cyclists break a sweat.
If you’re looking for a trainer that offers steeper slope for uphill/downhill functionality, go with the Tacx NEO 2T. But if you’re looking for a smaller, compact option that’s easy to transport and store, choose the Wahoo KICKR.
Both the Tacx NEO 2T and the Wahoo KICKR are effective fitness tools and make a great addition to any cyclist’s workout arsenal. Each product offers a simplistic design that’s easy to set up, use, and allows for quick compatibility with virtual biking programs like Zwift.
Instead of having to schedule the time out of the day to go bike riding while taking into account changing weather conditions, you can now cycle in the comfort of your own home.
One thing to consider is the add-on features for the Wahoo KICKR. The Tacx NEO 2T, on the other hand, already includes a lot of those features, making it worth the purchase.
For example, while the incline/decline feature for completing climbs on Zwift is standard on the NEO 2T, it’s actually an add-on feature for the KICKR trainer.
Similarly, the Wahoo KICKR trainer offers the ability to directly connect your trainer to the Internet, but in order to do so, you must purchase an additional accessory. This purchase would also require buying an ethernet cable and port.
That being said, the decision ultimately boils down to how much functionality you want built-in to the unit straight out of the box, versus how much you’re willing to spend post-purchase. The less functionality you want, the cheaper the product will be.
So while the NEO 2T is more expensive, it includes more standard features — making it one of the big reasons as to why it’s such a popular purchase for at-home cycling enthusiasts.