The Garmin Tacx NEO 3M looks like the best indoor trainer yet for mountain bikers

A man using an indoor cycle trainer
Ok, this fellow is on a road bike, but Garmin haven't supplied any MTB images (Image credit: Garmin)

Unlike many of our Lycra-clad skinny-wheeled cousins, we off-road riders (mountain bikers in particular) tend to keep riding through the coldest and muckiest months, but there are times when staying warm and dry indoors can be very tempting.

The latest Garmin Tacx smart trainer, the NEO 3M, comes with a number of new features when compared to the previous model – some of which should help to give better off-road simulation which could make riding indoors even more tempting, particularly as you won't need to wash your bike after every ride.

While the previous model, the NEO 2T, had motion plates as an optional extra, they now come built-in with the NEO 3M. The original versions offered only fore and aft movement, but the plates on the new trainer allow side-to-side motion too. Tacx says the motion plates are there primarily to make the indoor experience more comfortable, but they will also mean less stress on your bike's slender stays.

Unlike earlier versions, the NEO 3M comes with a choice of fitted cassette as standard and while a choice of SRAM or Shimano is offered, it only comes in 11-speed. Obviously, 12-speed is the cassette of choice in MTB and on most gravel bikes, but despite an extra gear growing in popularity on the road too, Tacx has figured that most roadies will be using older 11-speed bikes indoors. You can switch to 12-speed yourself of course, but it's just a shame not to have that option when purchasing.

an indoor cycle trainer

The two-sided front wheel block is compatible with tires up to 61mm wide, which translates to a 2.4in MTB tire (Image credit: Garmin)

The new NEO is also said to offer better power measuring accuracy than before, which should be within 1 percent of your true wattage output. If indoor competition is your thing, a new plug-in ethernet adaptor is designed to give a more stable connection when more than one trainer is being used in the same location.

The entire unit is completely self-powered and doesn't require a mains plug. But for accuracy's sake, you may want to plug it in if riding online routes, as your stats may become less reliable when coasting on a downhill section as you're not powering the trainer with your legs.

As you'd expect, Tacx's newest trainer is fully compatible with the Tacx Trainer App. This allows you to ride online, sync with, and automatically record ride data in Garmin Training Plans. You also get a three-month free subscription to premium options, which gives you access to training rides, real-world destinations such as Unbound stages, and rides with Garmin Pros.

The Tacx NEO 3M launches today priced at $1,999.99 / £1,749.99 / €1,999.99. For more info, see Garmin.com.

Richard Owen
Editor, Bike Perfect

Rich has been riding mountain bikes for over 30 years and mostly likes hitting flowy yet technical trails that point downhill. A jack of many trades, he has competed in cross-country, enduro and long distance MTB races. A resident of North Devon, Rich can mostly be found pedaling furiously around his local trails, or slightly further afield in the Quantocks, the Mendips or Exmoor. 


Current rides: Merida One-Forty 6000, Banshee Paradox

Height: 175cm

Weight: 68kg