When Elite released the Elite Direto, it instantly demonstrated their drive for excellence, and with a wealth of turbo trainers to suit all budgets to choose from, the Elite Direto is the one to have.
Identifying the growing market for smart direct drive trainers and a wealth of apps to use them with, Elite wanted to ensure they got this right. Countless testing was done on competitors models, seeing what they did well, what they didn’t, and what could be improved on.
When I first heard of the Elite Direto I wrote a brief pre release article, which caught the attention of Elite as I had pitted it against Tacx’s range topping Neo. Elite were quick to point out that the Direto was not designed to compete with the great Tacx Neo, but rather the Tacx Flux, and the ‘mid’ range direct drive smart trainers, which given the similar pricing strategy, makes sense, but I feel Elite have sold themselves short here and have a bit of kit just as capable as the Neo. Sure, it’s power meter is ‘only’ accurate to 2.5% rather than the 1% of the Neo, but it is still more accurate than the Flux at 3% and near enough matches the Kickr at 2%. And let’s not forget that 2.5% accuracy is extremely good in it’s own right. In testing I found it to be much closer than this when comparing it to my Garmin Vector pedals, with it remaining close to the Garmin figure at varying power from steady cruising through to full on sprints. Then there is the performance, with the 4kg flywheel capable of simulating gradients up to 14% and offering over 1400w of resistance it is more than up to the job of keeping with almost all cyclists, certainly amateurs like you or I. So lets look further.
Well, out of the box the Elite Direto is simple to assemble, with 3 legs quickly screwed on and you’re ready to go, these legs fold away quite quickly and simply to allow easy storage and a handle on the top makes lifting the 15kg unit much simpler than it could have been without, and is lighter then the Drivo which waddles in at 21KG. The fetching fibreglass wheel gives the Elite Direto a stylish and quality look and make the Flux look plain dull by comparison. This is the Italian in Elite coming out, ensuring it looks as good as it performs. You’re excited to ride just by looking at it, with its purposeful stance and solid feel. You then have the usual setting up of zwift/garmin/elite apps that have become the norm since we stopped using music to alleviate the boredom of turbo sessions. Plugging in the annoyingly short power cable the unit whirs to life and three lights illuminate to indicate power, bluetooth and ant+, with various colours and flashing indicating searching, pairing, etc which helps if you were to have any issues.
The unit comes with some adapters you allow you to run 130-135mm QR hubs, or 12×142 thru axle and fitting your bike is as quick as changing a wheel out, and being direct drive you don’t have to worry about tyre pressures, wear, calibrations, accuracy and so it….
In my keenness I jumped straight on and went for a few laps of Zwift to see how it does. Obviously there are a growing number of options available for you to use and this is compatible with all to the best of my knowledge. That is great news because this is where the joy of a smart trainer really lies. Hitting a steep climb in the virtual world of pain I was instantly caught out and ground to a near halt as my unsuspecting legs failed to keep up with the change in resistance. And what a change it was, as mentioned, the Elite Direto provides up to 14% gradient and 1400w of resistance. Finally reaching the top, the resistance eased and I was back up to speed as the resistance eased and my legs gained some momentum again. Road feel is good and the unit quiet, at around 70dB. Not as quiet as the top end units, but you would only notice this really if you were to compare side by side. Even so, it was still quieter than the noise from my drive train and more than quiet enough for me to use with my children asleep without fear of angering my tolerant cycling widow wife.
When stopping pedalling the unit continued for what felt like a realistic period and changes in pace were dealt with smoothly and realistically. Elite offer the MyElite app which offers extra features such as creating your own training session, allowing you to set power based workouts and leave Direto to adjust the resistance to suit your cadence for the duration of your interval. This ia also true of 3rd party apps such as the ruddy marvellous Sufferfest.
With communication options covering ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, and Bluetooth, as well as the option to use ANT+ and BLE together, you should have no issues pairing with whichever device you see fit. The Elite Direto measures power and cadence directly and accurately so so extras are needed beyond a cassette for the free hub.
So is it the perfect trainer? Well, it isn’t quite as accurate as the ‘top’ trainers, with it’s 2.5% accuracy compared to their 1% but as mentioned I found it more accurate than the claimed 2.5%. The gradient of 14% is short of the Neos huge 25% but who rides up 25% hills!? And yes, the Neo also offers a Chris Hoy beating 2200W over the Diretos meagre’ UCI pro tour 1400W but again, most mortals can’t top 1400W in s sprint. You see how I keep comparing it to the top end trainers? You see, that’s because that’s where I see it. Yes it is is priced to compete with the next tier down, and on paper it can’t match their needlessly high figures, but unless you really want to feel a little rumble as you ride over cobbles in Zwift, or truly believe you need 25% hills and over two thousand watts resistance, then the top end trainers offer nothing the Direto can’t do or do nearly as well for £500 less. Sure, it is a little louder than Neo which claims to be the quietest, but only by 1dB, and yes the power cable is frustratingly short, but I can live with that with a simple extension cable which I wait for Elite to notice this and produce a longer one for future models (I’m hoping not promising!), because once plugged in and the pedals start turning you forget about these minor gripes and realise what a pleasure it is to ride. Elite have created some special here that punches way above its weight and it is up to the others to respond now.