Tacx Neo trainer update lets you experience different road surfaces

Ride the Tour of Flanders' cobbles from your own home

Tacx’s flagship Neo trainer is, in our opinion, one of the very best home trainers around. With its combination of realistic pedaling, simplicity of use and quiet operation it’s at the top of our wishlist.

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However, Tacx is now set to make that real-feel go even further with a firmware update to the Neo that enables it to imitate different road surfaces including cobbles, gravel and the rumble of cattle grids.

Bikeradar got to try out Tacx’s new road patterning upgrade at a recent trip to their Dutch manufacturing HQ where head of product development, Martin Smits, took us through their upcoming products. Smits explained: “Because the Neo’s motor controlled resistance can sample 1,000 times per second, we were able to introduce patterns of resistance change that closely simulate different roads.”

We were able to introduce patterns of resistance change that closely simulate different roads

To try out this new feature we linked the Tacx Neo up to an iPad and chose a section of the Tour of Flanders, which took us from tarmac to small cobbles and then to tough pavé, and the way the trainer felt through the legs across these different surfaces was remarkable.

Next we tried the Tacx Neo out on simulated wooden bridges, cattle grids, gravel, more cobbles, and in icy conditions – and it felt surprisingly realistic through the pedals on all of these obstacles.

Get set up

Tacx’s Neo has a motor resistance that can be controlled at 1,000 times a second, this means that patterns of resistance can be added that closely simulate the feel of different road surfaces
Tacx’s Neo has a motor resistance that can be controlled at 1,000 times a second, this means that patterns of resistance can be added that closely simulate the feel of different road surfaces
Warren Rossiter / Immediate Media

The Neo already virtually simulates a wide variety of road surfaces via Tacx Films in the Tacx Cycling tablet apps, Tacx Trainer software 4 (TTS) in Windows PC and hooked up to virtual worlds like online training game Zwift. But soon these virtual worlds in TTS 4 will also support road-feel for an even more realistic indoor riding experience – imagine riding with a VR headset!

To update your Neo trainer and simulate road patterns you will simply be able to use the latest firmware update via the Tacx Utility app. You can download the Tacx Cycling app for free in the App store or on Google Play and then select the ‘Flanders NEO road patterns demo’ through ‘Tacx Films’ in the main menu of the app.

Virtual group ride

Riding a section of the Tour of Flanders you'll experience tarmac, cobbles and tough pavé surfaces
Riding a section of the Tour of Flanders you’ll experience tarmac, cobbles and tough pavé surfaces
Warren Rossiter / Immediate Media

Zwift is backing Tacx’s new road surface emulation in a big way, and to celebrate they’re hosting a Tacx NEO ride on 19 July. If you own a Tacx NEO Smart then you’re invited to Zwift’s first road pattern enhanced ride, which sets off at 8pm and finishes at around 9pm.

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To join, log into Zwift and make sure that your trainer is up to date with the Tacx Utility app (free in the App store or Google Play) – and don’t forget to register with Zwift beforehand.