Garmin has released the Garmin Tacx Neo Bike Plus and it’s an improvement on its Tacx Neo Bike. The new version adds more adjustable features, a realistic road feel, a free Zwift trial, and over 150 more follow-along workout videos than its predecessor. However, the price is incredibly high, making this a bike for dedicated cycling fiends rather than spin-class aficionados.
The Garmin Tacx range is Garmin’s indoor cycling label, offering turbo trainers and some of the best cycling tech for indoors to compete with the likes of Wahoo, along with indoor exercise bikes to take the fight to competitors like Peloton.
Although people grumble over the price of a Peloton, the ultra-premium Tacx Neo Bike Plus is even more expensive than the Peloton Bike gold Peloton Bike Plus (opens in new tab), coming in at an enormous $3,999.99 in the US, £3,499.99 in the UK, and AU$6,499.00 in Australia. It’s possibly one of the most expensive indoor bikes we’ve ever seen.
However, Garmin has made sure to stuff this bike with features to compensate for the high price. The road feel is very realistic, right down to changing gear and riding over different surfaces like gravel or cobblestone. It simulates the feeling of descent and forward motion with ‘dynamic inertia’. The bike can connect to your TV or iPad with the Tacx training app enabled to run simulated rides, which are connected to two fans to simulate wind resistance. The surface, elevation, gear-changing, and course are all simulated at once, truly giving you the feel of a realistic ride.
Maybe you’re training for a specific race and the Tacx training app has your course on file, or maybe you’ve just got a lot of money and always wondered how you’d do against Team Sky. But if you’re a regular cyclist, the lengths Garmin has gone to bring the outdoors inside are impressive. It’s an experience you can’t get with a conventional bike locked into a turbo trainer, which is why the turbo trainer versus exercise bike argument is moot at this price point. You’re paying for the simulation features as much as anything else.
Even though you’re off your regular bike, you can still log your workouts in the same way using a Garmin Edge cycling computer. The Edge works with the Tacx to calculate effort, distance traveled, and other metrics in the same way it does while you’re out and about. It’s also adjustable for five different rider heights, while your bike is surely set up just the way you like it.
Garmin’s promotional material states the bike is designed “to be used by multiple athletes in the household,” and the use of the word ‘athletes’ is quite telling here. This is, for all intents and purposes, a Serious Bike for elite riders.
Perhaps the best-known maker of expensive exercise bikes, Peloton, doesn’t want you to go outdoors. Why would it? It means you spend less time on its bike. Using social media’s dopamine-hooking trickery, Peloton’s content subscription service provides access to hundreds of live classes and thousands of on-demand, pre-recorded classes, some of them packaged into programs.
It offers points for miles cycled (or ran or rowed) on your machine of choice, shows the number of classes you’ve attended, and lets your favorite instructors shout out your username as they pedal along with you, all to ensure you get that hit of recognition.
What Peloton replicates is the feeling of a sweaty spin class with throbbing music, not a ride from Mont de Marsan to Bordeaux, but that’s ok. As we found during a deep dive into the company, Peloton holds a lot of value for its users, thanks to its addictive nature, despite the high price of its subscription service. The Garmin Tacx Neo Bike Plus is an incredibly expensive unit but offers a much cheaper smart training subscription at $99.99 for a year.
Serious cyclists looking to train indoors should eschew Peloton’s frippery and opt for the Neo Bike Plus, or save a few hundred bucks and go for the standard Neo Bike, or even a turbo trainer. Those looking for a fun exercise machine, though, should steer clear of this over-engineered beast and check out some cheaper options, or even stick to the great outdoors with the best cheap e-bikes.