An Expert Guide to Garmin Tacx Trainers
Cycling Expert Adam L. deep dives into the five different types of Garmin Tacx trainers so that you have all the info to choose the right trainer for your needs!
Tacx began as a Dutch company focused on cycling trainers and accessories. In 2019, sports technology behemoth Garmin acquired Tacx to give itself a footprint in the rapidly growing indoor training market. Since then, Tacx’s cutting-edge development of indoor trainers has only accelerated, and their models have become an even more popular choice for riders using Zwift and other indoor training platforms. These products are normally co-branded as Garmin Tacx. But for simplicity’s sake, we’ll just say Tacx throughout this article.
With the exception of the Boost—which isn’t a true smart trainer—all of Tacx’s trainers broadcast and can be controlled over Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ protocols. They’re compatible with common cycling computers as well as with training apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad. They’ll measure data including speed, power, and cadence and can follow prescribed workouts from a head unit. ERG mode allows the trainers to hold a set power number—great for structured workouts while watching a movie. Within the lineup, there are large differences between the basic wheel-on models to the higher-end, wheel-off premium choices. This guide will lay out the technical differences between Tacx’s offerings with a less technical “Best For” summary at the end of each description.
The Tacx Lineup
Tacx Boost Trainer/Bundle
The Boost Trainer is not technically a smart trainer, but it is compatible with online riding platforms when using a speed sensor (either included in a bundle package or purchased separately). Its maximum resistance is 1050 watts and is controlled by a 10-setting manual handlebar remote. No external power is required and setup is extremely easy—two lever clicks and the bike is ready to ride. The rear wheel drum also has a vibration-absorbing core that quiets down the trainer and makes this one of the quietest wheel-on trainers available
Best For: Since resistance is manual, you won’t get as realistic a riding experience on Zwift as a true smart trainer, but the Boost is a good option for riders looking to try out smart training.
The Tacx Flow is a small and lightweight entry-level smart trainer. It uses a wheel-on design, which can easily install a bike with the same two lever clicks—a nice benefit if you’re mounting and unmounting your bike each ride.
With a 3.5lb flywheel, it can simulate just a 6% gradient or provide 800 watts of resistance; so, this isn’t the best option for really large or strong riders. The Flow works with quick release skewers out of the box, and adapters for thru-axles must be purchased separately. The Flow has a vibration-reducing drum, as well, and is relatively quiet for a wheel-on trainer.
Best For: Riders who know they want a smart trainer but don’t need the high resistance of more expensive models.
Tacx Flux S
The Flux S is based on the original Tacx Flux model, with internal and external improvements for better performance and wider compatibility with bikes and drivetrains. It utilizes a wheel-off design that mounts the bike directly to the trainer without a rear wheel. The power measurement is accurate to within +/-3%, and resistance goes up to 1500 watts, or a virtual 10% incline. The trainer is based around a 7kg flywheel and external power is required.
The Flux S also comes set up with a Shimano freehub and adapters for common axle standards including quick release, road disc brake, and mountain bike boost. A cassette is required and sold separately.
Best For: Riders who want a high-quality smart trainer but don’t need the top-end features of the most expensive models. Or, smaller riders who have trouble reaching the maximum power numbers of the Flux 2. The Flux S provides excellent value and performance for the price.
Tacx Flux 2
The Flux 2 is the upgraded version of the original Flux model. It features a similar cosmetic design as well as more robust internals supporting greater power output. The flywheel is slightly larger at 7.6kg, and maximum power increases to 2000 watts—or a simulated 16% incline. Power measurement is more precise as well, with +/- 2.5% accuracy.
The Flux 2 is otherwise similar to the Flux S, coming setup with a Shimano freehub and adaptors for common axle sizes but no cassette.
Best For: Riders who will use the higher power and gradient numbers will find the upgrade to the Flux 2 worth it over the original Flux.
Tacx Neo 2T
The Neo 2 is an expensive and high-end premium trainer for serious indoor riders. It uses a different design than the Flux models and a virtual flywheel that can simulate everything from a 25% incline to high-speed descending.The maximum 2200 watts of resistance can handle the most intense sprints as well. The motor is designed to remove vibration and make for an extremely quiet riding experience, but it can also simulate rough surfaces—including gravel and cobblestones—by generating vibration.
Power measurement is accurate to +/-1%, which is important for serious athletes as well as competitive Zwift racers. In addition to the standard speed, power, and cadence metrics broadcast to compatible devices, the Neo 2 can also report left/right pedal balance. The Neo 2 can generate its own power and doesn’t need to be plugged in, but some features (like simulated descending) require external power.
For an even more realistic ride feel, motion plates are available that attach to the base of the Neo 2 and add a few centimeters of natural movement to each pedal stroke. And through the end of February 2023, Garmin is offering a full rebate on the cost of the motion plates.
Best For: Serious riders who ride frequently indoors and will use the advanced features available on the Neo 2. It’s an investment, but frequent indoor riding brings the cost per use down significantly and the top-end performance benefits are noticeable.
Is it Tacx Time for You?
Any cyclist who can’t ride outdoors year round—whether due to weather, sunset, or scheduling—can benefit from an indoor trainer. Tacx’s diverse lineup, from the simple Boost trainer to the space-age Neo 2, has something for every cyclist. The Boost and Flow are great options for space-constrained riders who might be getting started with indoor cycling, while the Neo 2 and Flux models are well suited for cyclists who need premium performance from their indoor trainers for platforms like TrainerRoad, Zwift, and others.
If you’d like to learn more about Tacx trainers, get help figuring out what model might be best for your needs, or are interested in free, customized gear recommendations, connect with a Curated Cycling Expert today!