Which DD Trainer?

Hi All,

With the news that Zwift is “pausing” its foray into hardware (I for one was quite interested in what they were doing) I need to start thinking about my set up again.

I am currently using a Flow Smart, on which I have racked up almost 15,000 km on Zwift, but starting to really feel its limitations and want to look more seriously at a direct drive trainer to replace the old workhorse.

It seems to me that the two logical choices are the Kickr and the Neo2T, but wondered if any existing user of those (or anyone else who has made the same choice recently) might be prepared to share their perspective on which they chose and why … or if there are other possibilities I am ignoring.

For example, is the road feel, extra gradient simulation etc. worth the Neo’s extra price tag, or are they too similar for that? Is one more robust, easier to set up/maintain, quieter than the other … and so on?

Thank you in advance for any wisdom you are prepared to offer.

If you are in the USA I would suggest also looking at the Saris H3.

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Tacx NEO2T owner here.

I used a dumb, magnetic trainer for years, I’ve tested the Flux S and a friend has the Flow Smart (wheel on).

The NEO2T appealed because it never requires calibration, there’s no belt to wear out and very little to ever go wrong. It’s also as quiet as you can get in a direct-drive trainer.

Road feel: forget about the “rumble” thing. It’s way too intrusive in Zwift because there’s no intensity slider. (other apps have one) I’ve gotten into “flow state” on it, where it actually feels like you’re going up and down hills - the transitions are really smooth. (no conventional flywheel, all software controlled with electromagnets acting on the disc)

One criticism I’ll grant: the NEO’s virtual flywheel can slip, especially under high torque in low gears. (trainer difficulty set to 100%, steep inclines) It feels a bit like wheel slip but unlike a wheel-on trainer that’s actually slipping, this doesn’t seem to impact actual power measurements. It’s so rare and I care more about reliability and accuracy so I’ll take that over anything with a belt drive.

Wahoo is wildly popular but for some reason their hardware has odd quirks that have me avoid them. A few of biggies:

For those and other reasons, I wouldn’t buy another Wahoo product. Their solution seems to be “throw customer service at the problem” and I read about people getting sent multiple replacement items. I’d rather have one that just works out of the box.

Saris H3: great reputation for power, road feel. I wish they’d built auto-calibration into it but users seem to report it rarely needs calibration if it’s in a temperature-stable environment.

Sorry, but I beg to differ (Neo 2T user myself).

There are countless reports of terminal failures usually related to over-heating, but not exclusively. Mine died after about 14 months, before that it had been faultless. Luckily it was still under warranty and Garmin did replace it (with a refurbished unit, not a brand new one as is their practice in the UK) with just the balance of the warranty being honoured i.e. 10 months. Every time I ride, it’s squeeky bum time, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Have a poke around in here Tacx Neo Owners Group | Facebook

H3 can be a good choice in UK too, £599 from Halfords (but sadly British Cycling membership 10% discount doesn’t apply).

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I have the H3 and it, for the most part, has been pretty reliable. Early models had a ticking problem, including one of mine, but that seems to have gone by the wayside. They also have a terrible power connector on the trainer side. The first H3 I replaced with a generic from Amazon and the second H3 I am very careful.

Saris customer support is iffy. some have had good response. I have 2 dozen calls/emails into them with no response. Zero. They claimed due to Covid but I still get Marketing crap.

The H3 will overheat…when it is warm (I ride in the garage…in C Texas…we are already in the mid to upper 90s) and if you are on the larger side and like to ride at 100% on the slider…going up the Tower Road at 45 rpm is not a good thing.

I rarely calibrate…I tried last night as it is now drifting away from my P1s and it seemed to tighten up but need a couple of rides to confirm. Going to be 100 this weekend and tonight I think I am moving it into the house. I must be getting old.

The H3 is supposed to be the ERG-meister…but I do not ride that way so cannot confirm.

Not as quiet as the Kickr5 or Neo but that necessity depends on you and your environment. I ride with IEMs so does not bother me. My dog did not like though.

All-in-all it has worked pretty well this last couple of years. Works well in Ant+ or BT for me with no extension cords. Its cadence counter can go off the rails but that is about it. Sometimes I wished I had sprung for the Kickr4 but the H3 has worked although it is the second unit (REI replaced the 1st due to the power connecter …).

We have several CycleOps/Saris direct drive trainers in my family. They are great and I highly recommend them. However I’d look at the Wahoo offering with the hardwired port to aid connectivity/prevent/reduce potential dropouts.

I think there is not a lot between the major brands.

I had a Kickr 1 and it was great, used it for 5 years flawlessly, it started to drift quite a bit in the hot weather so I got a Neo 2T, again no issues at all.

I rarely use road feel but like the idea of not having to calibrate,

Wahoo customer service was very good, although my kickr was way out of warranty they offered me a very good deal for a new one.

The Saris has good reviews and I had a cycleops fluid 2 for a few years… customer service was great, they sent me a new resistance unit although it was over 4 years old.

now is a great time to buy from the Zwift shop, huge sale. As others have said, there isn’t a lot of difference in the top brands, I would get as much as your budget can allow for.

Neo 2 user here for the last 2 years (or 3 i forget )

What sold me was the zero calibration. it’s been faultless so far. never serviced just works every time and had no connection issues with bluetooth to ATV or PC.

Road feel: hate it had it switched off within 5 minutes.

All top end direct driver trainers are pretty good these days but you can always been unlucky. kickr belt snapps, neo overheating etc get shouted a lot on forums but it’s the few that shout and silent majority are all very pleased.

as above zwift has some really good deals on them right now so worth a look.

Gordon, for whatever reason(s) the older Neo 2 units seem to have fewer failures than the current Neo 2T (at least that’s the common wisdom on the FB user’s group). I’m a real lightweight and obviously can’t push the limits of what the 2T can achieve/endure and yet mine failed without warning. Maybe I was just unlucky but there seem to be quite a few of us with similar failures. Before I purchased mine, I did all the due diligence etc, read all the reviews/reports etc., so I was quite surprised at the failure and even more surprised to find out that it was quite “common”. Apart from playing the lottery every time I ride, everything else about it has been great. Whether I’ll buy another when this refurb dies, hmmmmmm, dunno.

yeah that seems to be the way the 2T does seem more problematic. i’m not heaviest rider so some will strain it more that might see more axle issues.

The overheating is an odd one. I always wondered if it’s people that run it without mains power. I always leave mine plugged in for 5-10 mins after to allow fan to continue running.

Mine’s plugged in permanently now and never switched off (can’t wait for next 'lece bill :laughing:). I’ve also got fans, heaters, dehumidifiers etc.; it’s like mission control. Fingers crossed it’s more robust than the last one.

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I have had both the Neo 2t and the V5, and i would say ir very much depends on what you want to do with it. If you are goin for steady state, Vo2max intervals etc, or longer rides where comfort is important, i would go Neo2t. If you are more interested in racing, sprints or want the wahoo ecosystem choose Kickr v5.

The Neo side to side movement is a lot better than the Kickr axis feet. Its not natural, but it relieves stress points, and the downhill assist its a nice feature as well. For me the kickr feels a bit better on ride feel, as something just feels the slightest bit off on the 2t and the Neo smartbike as well.

From power accuracy and the test i have done with both, the trainers are inside a 1 % of eachother as long as you are doing steady state. Both trainer obviously tries to account for drivetrain loss in some way, as every other highend trainer outthere. Where the 2T struggles is rapid power changes and sprints like you see in races, as its too slow to pick up accelerations, thereby cutting of a that first second of a sprint. This its quite clear if you check out a dual recording with the neo where the curves are a lot smoother than what the PM shows, or what other trainers shows as well. Then you also have the problems with slippage in sprints or on steep sections that some people experience

Both trainers and the industry in generel have reliability problems, so thats more about being lucky, than one being better than the other.

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One comment that’s often bandied about goes something like, “If you want to win a Zwift race don’t use a Neo 2T”, or something similar :laughing:. I must say, however, that my refurb unit seems pretty accurate and is within 1-2% (lower) of my Assioma Duo pedals for steady-sate efforts.

Rutland cycling have it for £570 at the moment.

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I’ve been holding off getting a new trainer. It seems like there haven’t been any released in a few years (i know some of that will be because of covid/lockdoiws etc) so i’m going to keep hanging on for a bit because I think there will be something new soon and either i’ll go for that or it will likely mean the old ones are even cheaper.

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Saris H3 is IMVHO best of all trainers I have now (others are Tacx Neo, Wahoo Kickr V5, Thinkrider X7 Pro and X2) or I was testing for longer period of time (Wahoo Core, Elite Direto XR, Thinkrider X5, Magene T300). Smooth ride experience with big flywheel and very good powermeter.

I also think new models will drop at the end of the summer. The H3 is getting old.

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Neo 2T had some pretty severe issues with reading too low in the earlier firmware versions, which probably contributed to its reputation (my 2T, V5 and Assioma are within ±1% of each other as well so I guess it has been fixed by now).

I think the Neo ride feel is worse even with the simulation gimmicks turned off, I can still feel the unevenness of the magnets in normal endurance riding. The good things about the Neo are that it is a sligthly more compact package to store and transport, looks better (very much a question of taste, obviously) and it works without AC power.