Garmin released the Tacx NEO Bike over three years ago. And Tacx announced it two years before then, so it has been in a long development cycle. The NEO Bike is firmly established as one of the top Smart Bikes, but three years is a long time in Garmin years, so Garmin is giving it a few little refinements that enhance the bike a lot.
What is interesting is that these three refinements address criticisms called out in the original NEO Bike reviews. So this is Garmin listening to its customers and making improvements to a solid product. The NEO Bike Plus is the same core platform with these three changes:
- Updated shifters
- 5 crank arm lengths
- Improved seat and cockpit adjustments
ShiftersThe original shifters were clunky. They looked like road bike shifters from a distance, but they were clunky with two buttons on the side of the paddle area. They checked the box, but they were not “normal. In Dan’s long-term review, he said “the shifting on the Tacx NEO bike is not as intuitive as I’d like and, at present, not subject to a settings change. It’s certainly something one can get used to. I acclimated. But that’s the thing: It would be nice to not have to acclimate to a product.”
Welcome to the new shifters. Instead of blocky game controllers, they more closely resemble traditional road bike shifters with paddles instead of buttons. And as a huge plus, they can be programmed for Campagnolo, Shimano or SRAM. Early units are not available yet, so the blow-ups from the media pictures and owner’s manual show the new shape and design.
Crank ArmsThe old crank arm length adjustment could have been a deal-breaker for some people. It only allowed three of the longer lengths (170mm, 172.5mm, and 175mm) and used funky little insert pieces on each side of the pedal eye. If you lost one of those pieces, your bike was offline. The new crank arms flare out to a wide end with 5 sets of pedal holes from 165mm to 175mm. This is a vast improvement and the same approach used by the Wahoo KICKR Bike and a few others. Now it is super easy to change lengths, you don’t need external parts, and it can go down to 165mm.
Cockpit & Seat AdjustmentsThe new NEO Bike Plus has seat and handlebar adjustments marked in millimeters instead of centimeters on the original. This gives riders better precision to exactly replicate positions if they are frequently changing or want to have more nuanced control.
All the Goodness From the OriginalThe NEO Bike Plus retains all features and specifications from the original, including:
- 1% Accuracy
- 2,200 Watt Maximum Power
- 25% Grade Simulation
- Built-in USB Chargers
- Built-in Fans – Interactive fans that are automatically controlled by your power and heart rate
- Road Surface Simulation – Feel different road surfaces, such as cobblestone and gravel
- Simulated Shifting – Feel the sensation of your chain jumping into a different gear while shifting to experience more of your ride
- Dynamic Inertia – Maintains a sensation of forward motion based on your speed and gradient to make your ride feel more realistic
- Downhill Simulation – Drive downhill with descent simulation
- Dual-Sided Power – Built-in dual power meters to measure the position of your left and right legs and cycling dynamics