We’ve had a Tacx Neo Smart Bike since December of 2019, after purchasing it to replace our basic wheel on trainer. We use it with Zwift and Fulgaz, and at least 4 family members ride it regularly. Generally, we’ve enjoyed it very much, when it works. Unfortunately that hasn’t always been the case. We’ve had three issues now that have prevented us from riding until we resolved the issue with Garmin (who owns Tacx, so I’ll use both ). I’ll go over these issues and how we resolved them.
The first issue came after a few months of riding: During a Zwift ride, the trainer began to slip while pedaling, and so we decided to open up the belt cover. Upon doing so we discovered that the belt was frayed and about to snap. Fortunately, Garmin’s customer service was excellent and we were able to quickly get a new belt to replace the old one. Garmin has officially resolved this, saying that they had revised the belt design to prevent this. As of this writing, that issue hasn’t come up again, so I think they truly did fix the issue. We have replaced the belt once simply because the old one had well over 8000 miles on it.
The second issue reared its head after about 9 months of use. The bike had started to make a squeaking noise while pedaling. This problem wasn’t constant, and sometimes the noise was non-existent, and at times it was intolerable. For awhile we lived with it, but eventually we decided to try and diagnose the issue. We opened up the belt cover and started taking things off, to see if we could find a part to grease or clean. After over an hour of fiddling, we had taken off everything that was easy to take off in the belt area. This left us only one option: the freehub assembly. (I should note that it isn’t a normal freehub like on an outdoor bike, but a design exclusive to this bike.) We began to try and pull the wheel attached to the “axle” off, and eventually the assembly came off. Upon examination, we discovered that the spring holding the freehub pawls in place was broken, however we weren’t sure if this was the cause of the issue. Regardless, we needed a new spring, so we contacted Garmin Support.
Garmin was extremely helpful in helping to resolve the issue, and after exchanging some emails and chatting, they told us that the freehub body that we had taken off wasn’t supposed to come off. Oops. The broken freehub spring was an issue they hadn’t seen before, so they kindly filed a warranty claim, even though we were 2 months after the end of the warranty. With the way the bike is designed, we had to get a new “frame” unit to fix the issue. So we received a new unit and installed the legs, handlebar assembly, and seatpost onto the new unit and shipped the broken unit back.
This fixed the noise issue, so we were happy. After putting around 1500mi on the unit in about a month and half, the unit was still going good, and we had no complaints. Then disaster struck again.
During a Zwift ride I was going for a sprint segment at around 1000w (the trainer’s max is 2500w), and the bike started to slip, similar to the first issue we had. Within a few seconds it was close to impossible to pedal the bike, as if the whole thing had locked up. Upon opening the belt cover no issues were found with the belt, and I took it off of the drive system. At first looking around I couldn’t find anything wrong but then I looked at the freehub body. The same piece we had taken off THAT WASN”T SUPPOSED TO COME OFF, had come off by itself. The freehub could slide back and forth on the axle and you could pull it far enough to see the freehub pawls where they came out. I tried to see if I could get the freehub to slide back in place, but nothing worked.
So what’s my verdict? Well when the bike works, it’s great, when it doesn’t it’s not so great. I sure hope this new bike won’t have the same issue, but I’m not too confident in its longevity. The freehub issue the third time is what really has me worried. Tacx has fixed the belt issue, the first problem with the freehub was us amateur mechanics trying to fix an issue, but this second problem with the freehub is something that shouldn’t be happening. So far Garmin’s customer service has been STELLAR, helping us quickly and providing a fix ASAP. I’d give the customer service reps a 5 star review. The bike, not so much. While I’m perfectly happy with it when it works, if this freehub issue crops up again, Garmin needs to figure out what the issue is with the bike. I hope that they haven’t had this issue and that this was a statistical anomaly.
I’ll put a new post up if this happens again, and also with any pertinent updates regarding the bike.