Garmin TACX 3M reviewed

Garmin TACX Neo 3M is a novelty among top cycling smart trainers. I deliberately didn't mention the brand (except for the name) in the headline because it's probably the first time Garmin has introduced its own cycling trainer to the market. The box no longer only shows the TACX brand but Garmin TACX. In 2019, Garmin acquired TACX, and since then, TACX has been under the Garmin corporation.

The Garmin TACX Neo series (Neo 2T, 3M, Neobike) is named after the braking system, which operates on the principle of 32 neodymium electromagnets.

Neo 2T (left) and Neo 3M (right) side by side

The TACX Neo 3M is a top-tier trainer, even better than the equally well-rated model Neo 2T from the same manufacturer. Garmin TACX 3M has the same technical specifications as its predecessor, the TACX Neo 2T. However, the introduction of this model to the market has its significance and brings benefits to customers, although it comes with one disadvantage. The packaging itself weighs 30 kg, which means you'll need a strong person to carry it from the store to the car. Actually, two – the price of Neo 3M is unusual for the domestic market, but compared to the market (where Neobike costs over 90,000 and Neo 2T with motion plates, according to the promotion, starts from 31,990), the price of 47,990 CZK is understandable.

To use the Neo 2T model, you had to perform several steps before starting, such as purchasing a cassette, fitting it, and properly adjusting the reduction - quick release versus through axle. However, Garmin has opted for the 'IKEA assembly' route, and now, setting up the trainer is so easy that it's almost as straightforward as riding a bike outside. Maybe even quicker than dressing correctly in autumn/winter (sometimes even spring) cycling gear and heading out into adverse weather.

Neo 3M comes with everything needed for a pure road cyclist. The trainer comes standard with an 11-speed Shimano/SRAM compatible cassette. The 3M includes the 'motion plates' accessory. Simply put, this accessory is already built into the Neo 3M, including the ability to lock directly on the rails. Motion plates add a bit of complexity and are useful for cyclists who want to simulate more realistic riding conditions.

There's a lock mechanism on each motion plate

Star Wars? let's see what's inside ...

Ah... a Star Wars ship – hopefully, Darth Vader won't come to show me the power.

One of the distinctive elements is the built-in power source in the trainer's body, meaning you don't power it externally but plug the trainer directly into the socket. This has the advantage of requiring less cabling, but the downside is that the supplied cable is shorter than the one for the Neo 2T, potentially causing issues in case of a short circuit at the transformer. With Neo 2T, only the power adapter can be replaced, whereas with Neo 3M, the entire trainer might need to be sent for service. The cable for Neo 3M is 180cm long.

Neo 3M has a built-in handle for transportation. Before moving it, it's recommended (though not necessary) to lock the built-in motion plates. If you don't lock them back after moving, the trainer might 'elliptically sway.'

The Neo 3M trainer is suitable not only for road cyclists but also adapted for MTB. There's a front wheel support mat available, which has two sides – one for thin tires of road or gravel bikes and the other for MTBs. However, a fat bike probably wouldn't fit this device.

TACX Neo 3M operates with an electromagnetic flywheel. This system offers several advantages:

  • The trainer can be used even without power from the electric grid. When you start pedaling, the trainer starts powering up, and most functions begin working. Without external power, however, the flywheel won't work, so pedaling is necessary even when riding downhill. This isn't a problem with power.
  • Electromagnetic brakes allow setting different resistance levels, enabling cyclists to simulate riding in various terrains and adjust training intensity. The maximum power is 2200 W with 1% accuracy and simulation of up to 25% incline, meeting the requirements for UCI virtual competitions.
  • TACX Neo 3M is appreciated for its ability to provide a realistic riding feel. It can simulate different types of terrain and responds to intensity changes, helping cyclists better simulate outdoor rides.
  • Compared to other turbo-trainer models, the TACX Neo series is known for its quiet operation, which is pleasant for many users during home training.

The Neo 3M model now has the option to additionally purchase and connect a 'network module.' This adapter allows connection to Wi-Fi or Ethernet for better connection stability. This is crucial for those serious about racing with a stable connection. Unfortunately, this adapter cannot be connected to the older Neo 2T model.

Differences compared to the Neo 2T model:

  • Built-in motion plates (Neo 2T has add-ons – functionally identical, only differing in convenience of operation – locking versus unlocking under the trainer).
  • Reportedly expanded trainer incline range (ability to tilt into turns). Subjectively, however, I didn't notice any difference.
  • Improved ERG mode accuracy (subjectively, I also didn't observe any difference).
  • Support for Wi-Fi/Ethernet adapter (this is justifiable, but not everyone will use it).
  • 3M includes a cassette in the package (the best upgrade Garmin has made – no more searching for and fitting the cassette).
  • Possibility of 2 simultaneous BT channels – advantageous for owners of watches other than Garmin (Suunto, Coros, and Polar don't have the option for ANT+ sensors, so their 'home' rides wouldn't be recorded).
  • Power adapter is relocated to the trainer body (at the expense of a shorter cable – this can be solved, but it's strange that nobody minded this during testing?).
  • Automatic power-saving mode (auto power off) – a function missing in the Neo 2T model.
  • Double-sided front wheel pad.

Front wheel pad - road bike side

 … flip side for MTB

I want to emphasize one thing. Automatic power-saving mode. Neo 3M goes to sleep on its own, so you won't have to search for sensors when the pedals aren't turning. The trainer wakes up as soon as you start pedaling, and the sensors connect automatically.

What I personally observed, and it's a subjective feeling – unsupported by measurement, is that Neo 3M seemed even quieter to me than Neo 2T.

In general, the TACX Neo is considered an excellent choice for serious cyclists who want to train at home with a realistic riding feel and interactive training options. The Neo 3M model is pricier than some other variants of turbo trainers on the market, but once you try it, it'll be hard to go back to a lower level. Simply put, the Neo 2T and especially the new Neo 3M models belong to the top tier available in the market.

As I mentioned at the beginning – Neo 3M comes at a relatively high price. On the other hand, this is a trainer that can be inherited and will practically be used by the next generation if your kids become cyclists. Another factor is – how expensive is the bike you're putting into the trainer? Are you chasing grams, aiming for carbon? We're talking about a sum that's essential for more reasonable bikes around 60,000 CZK. So, if you want to ride at a higher level – or in an apartment where silence and minimal vibrations are significant limitations (the noise of the motor and bearings is a question between your neighbor and death), then Neo 3M is a very good choice.


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