The cycling world, and especially the indoor cycling world, is abuzz today with the news that Garmin has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Tacx.

About the Companies

Garmin is headquartered in Olathe, Kansas, USA and has pioneered new GPS navigation and other wireless devices designed for people who live an active lifestyle. Garmin actually serves several “non-fitness” markets as well, including automotive, aviation, and marine.

Tacx is headquartered in Wassenaar, Netherlands with a distribution center in Vogt, Germany. They are best known in the cycling world for their indoor trainers, with their Neo and now Neo 2 being the flagship products, (arguably) at the top of their class. Their staff of 200 will be joining Garmin’s global team.

The completion of this acquisition, which is subject to customary conditions, is expected to occur in Q2 2019. Tacx is a privately-held company, so financial terms of the acquisition will not be released.

Moving Indoors

This move brings Garmin definitively into the indoor cycling space, an area where they have never had a strong presence. While they are the market leader in cycling computers used outdoors, they don’t sell any devices specifically for the indoor space (such as bike trainers).

“Tacx brings an entirely new product category to Garmin’s fitness portfolio that expands our reach into the indoor training market,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin president and CEO. “Together with Tacx, Garmin will offer a seamless, enjoyable and motivating indoor and outdoor experience for cyclists all year long.”

Hitting Back at Wahoo

Wahoo, arguably the world’s top manufacturer of smart trainers with its KICKR line, began moving into Garmin’s territory when it released the Elemnt bike computer back in early 2016, closely followed by the Bolt and Elemnt Mini a year later.

Today’s move by Garmin puts Wahoo squarely in the crosshairs, as evidenced by Garmin CEO Pemble’s reference to offering a “seamless, enjoyable and motivating indoor … experience for cyclists…”

What Does it Mean for Us?

Of course, competition is good for the consumer. When firms compete, consumers get the best possible prices and quality.

Tacx’s Neo is an amazing trainer (my wife rides one herself), but they continue to sell a confusing line of fairly poor wheel-on trainers known to lack accuracy and durability. And while they should be applauded for innovation in the indoor space, their Neo Bike Smart is vaporware thus far, and the Magnum Smart Treadmill is still only available in four countries, at a price of $10k.

In addition to their trainer business, Tacx still has Tacx Trainer Software (TTS), an outdated “Zwift-like” system, as well as Tacx Films, real-life videos that integrate into TTS.

My hope is that Garmin will bring more focus and consistency to Tacx’s product line, narrowing the catalog to (perhaps) three levels of updated, reliable smart trainers while getting the Neo Smart Bike launched.

We will certainly see tighter integration between Tacx trainers and Garmin computers, which can only be a good thing. It may even be that within a year or two Garmin will have developed an “indoor ecosystem” akin to Wahoo’s, effectively forcing cyclists to choose between two camps.

Will Garmin try to resurrect Tacx Trainer Software and take aim at Zwift? I highly doubt it, but if they did they would instantly become the most viable competitor in Zwift’s space, making things really interesting. I’m sure ZwiftHQ will be watching closely.