• Backcountry
  • Competitive Cyclist
  • Wiggle

Elite Direto XR Smart Trainer In-Depth Review


The Elite Direto XR continues the lineage of the Direto trainer brand, but significantly ramps up the capabilities of the trainer. For example, it’ll now replicate grades of 24%. But in doing so, this more powerful Direto kills off the Drivo series trainers from Elite, which were Elite’s prior top-dog trainers. Of course, that added power comes at a slight increase in price – now $949, but it now includes the cassette pre-installed, saving you money there.

In addition to the included 11-speed cassette and ramped up internals, the unit also  increases the flywheel weight as well – from 4.2kg to 5.1kg. As usual, it comes with a front wheel block. Oh – and they’ve taken a page from Wahoo’s playbook this year: The Direto XR is shipping as of today. Depending on which region you’re in, it’s either already available to order and ship today, or it’s on a boat.

I’ve been using a media loaner Direto XR for a few weeks now on a number of workouts, including Zwift and TrainerRoad, putting it to the test to see how it handles everything from shorter rides to longer ones – including climbing Mont Ventoux in Zwift. Once I’m done with it, I’ll get it packaged up and back to Elite. Until then, whack that play button below to get the whole skinny in one tidy video:

And for everything else, you can continue swiping down through piles and piles of text and photos. Just the way I roll!

What’s New:


Before we dive into all the usual review stuff, let’s just do a super quick recap of what’s changed between the Elite Direto X, and the newer Direto XR. Also, we’ll recap some general spec stuff too:

– Cassette now included (11-speed Shimano/SRAM compatible)
– Increased grade simulation from 18% to 24%
– Increased flywheel from 4.2kg/9.2lbs to 5.1kg/11.2lbs
– New ERG mode algorithm with increased responsiveness/stability
– Trainer is now fully assembled out of box (no attaching legs or cassette anymore)
– Now includes 1-month Zwift coupon

Update July 31st, 2020: There was a mistake in the original flywheel specs/sheets from Elite, which didn’t actually include the weight of the discs. They’re updating their specs now to conform to how it’s usually spec’d. So in reality it’s 5.1kg (not 4.5kg as originally announced), thus making it 21.5% higher than the Direto X.

Elite says this makes a 26% larger inertia amount:
Direto X Moment of Inertia = 15800 kgxmm2
Direto XR Moment of Inertia = 19930 kgxmm2
Increase Moment of Inertia 26%

In any case, that’s not a hugely long list of new things, but some of the items in it are big ticket ones – notably the inclusion of a cassette, but also the increased grade simulation. Which, in turn gets us to the quick overall specs:

– Dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart support, including FE-C and FTMS, plus power/speed/cadence broadcasting
– Axle Compatibility: Race 130x5mm, MTB 135x5mm, 142x12mm (with adapter for 135×10-12mm & 148x12mm)
– Cassette compatibility of 8 through 12 speed cassettes (adapters required for XD/XDR/NX/Campy)
– Max 24% incline
– Max 2,300w supported resistance (at 40KPH), 1,100w @ 20KPH
– Integrated Power Meter (OTS), with accuracy claim of +/- 1.5%
– Requires power cable/be plugged in

Got all that? Good. Let’s get this puppy unboxed.


Finally, an Elite unboxing that’s flawless. While the Suito was pretty darn close last year to the perfect trainer unboxing, this one just seems a tiny bit more polished somehow. Though, the box is bigger (because, the Direto XR is bigger). So much so that it actually hit my overhead camera rig I use for smaller watch unboxings in my video. I ended up having to move it out of the way. No worries, not a normal person problem.


While the box tells you to point it upwards, it’s actually going to slide out from the side once you remove the top, which, works exceedingly well. Sorry if I get excited about these things – but I’ve unboxed a lot of trainers over the years, and manufacturers come up with some pretty “special” ways of getting trainers out of boxes. None of which are usually good. This was good.


In any case, with all the things on the table you’ve got a pile of freebie codes for various apps, including a free 30-day card for Zwift, as well as some paper manuals you’ll never read.


There’s also the axle adapters for thru-axle and standard quick release, plus two spacers in the event you need to swap out the cassette.


And down below there’s the quick release skewer, and various freebies.


Also included is a 30-day trial on Zwift, and the manual you won’t read:

DSC_7280 DSC_7278

There’s a power cord, which measures 2.5 meters:


Atop that there’s the front wheel block, which helps keep your front wheel straight, as well as makes the rest of the bike even in height.


Oh, and yeah, there’s the trainer:

DSC_7284 DSC_7285 DSC_7286

As noted, it has the cassette on it, and it also has all the legs pre-connected. So nothing further to install or dork with. Just throw it at the ground and plug it in: Done.

The Basics:


Elite has taken the Suito ‘pull it out of the box and done’ concept from last year, and applied it to the XR. No cassette to install, no legs to assemble, and hopefully no foam to clean-up. Just remove the trainer, plug it in and you’re done.

After removing all the plastic stuffs, you’ve got the trainer ready to go, which takes precisely three steps:

A) Unfold legs
B) Put correct axle adapters on sides, add skewer
C) Plug it in

And I guess, if you count adding your bike atop it – then you need to do that too.

Oh, that said, here’s a before/after of the folding legs, in case you do need to fold it up and put it away somewhere:

DSC_7752 DSC_7745

If you need to move it around, it’s got a handle atop it, so it’s pretty simple that way:


Also, it’s not that heavy. The entire unit only weighs 16.2kg.

On the underside of the legs are two feet, in case your floor is wobbly. I found that I needed to extend them slightly, just so the trainer actually rests on them, versus the larger legs. That made it nice and stable:


And as for the power cord, it’s got a small trip prevention sorta thing there you’ll twist it through. In theory this keeps it from breaking the trainer power port if you trip over it and rip it out. In reality though I think it’ll just snap the power cord in half. This is the one area I’d prefer Elite adopt what Wahoo has done with a small flexible ‘tail’ plug, that will easily detach if tripped over.


Oh, and here’s the power adapter side going into the wall:


On the non-sexy side of the trainer there’s the status lights. These show the state of your trainer. Specifically whether or not it’s powered/plugged in, followed by whether or not there’s an ANT+ device, and/or then a Bluetooth Smart device controlling it.


So finally, with your bike on it, don’t forget to stick that front wheel block up there:


Or, you can throw that out the window and put an Elite Sterzo down there instead:


And now, we start pedaling.

Given the Direto XR is a smart trainer, it’ll change resistance automatically in a few different ways, primarily driven by different applications/methods.  But most of this all boils down to two core methods:

ERG Mode: Setting a specific power level – i.e., 220w.  In this mode, no matter what gearing you use, the trainer will simply stay at 220w (or whatever you set it to).
Simulation (SIM) Mode: Simulating a specific outdoor grade – i.e., 14% incline. In this mode, it’s just like outdoors in that you can change your gearing to make it easier or harder. Wattage is not hard-set, only incline levels.

In the case of simulation (aka slope) mode, the Direto XR can simulate from 0% to 24% incline – way above the original Direto X at 18%, and well beyond anyone else at this price range. For the most part you don’t clear 20% until you get above $1,000.

That said, it’s a bit of a spec battle for the sake of battling. First off, nobody actually wants to go up a 24% hill. Seriously, you don’t. And atop that, there’s little reason most of this matters if you use the defaults in Zwift, because it automatically halves the values anyway. A 10% grade feels like a 5% grade. You need to change the ‘Trainer Difficulty’ level to 100% in order to feel it (and most people don’t bother to). Where it can matter though is at low-speed high wattage climbs up those 12% or beyond ascents.

2020-07-24 16.25.21

The second mode the trainer has is ERG mode.  In that case, the company claims up to 2,300w of resistance at 40KPH. Although, realistically, you don’t care about that. I can only barely (maybe) break 1,000w for a second or two, and even most front of the non-pro pack cyclists aren’t going to top 1,800w.  The pros would only be just a bit beyond that.  Said differently: Peak numbers in this competition don’t matter.  Instead, what matters is actually a harder metric to make clear – which is the ability to simulate high grades and lower speeds (especially if you’re a heavier cyclist).

One core test I do with all trainers though is responsiveness: How quickly does it respond to ERG mode changes? I typically do that with my 30×30 test via TrainerRoad, though it doesn’t really matter what method you use as long as you’re looking at big shifts in wattage:


Now, I dive into all the nuances of this later on in the accuracy section, specifically including my 30×30 test via TrainerRoad, though it doesn’t really matter what method you use as long as you’re looking at big shifts in wattage.

So what about road feel and noise?

Like I always say – for me personally, it’s hard to separate the fact that I’m riding indoors from outdoors. It’s still a trainer, and I’m still looking at a wall in front of me.  My brain can only turn off so much of that.  Still, much of the road-like feel is driven by the flywheel, and be it physical or virtual, flywheel sizes tend to be measured in weight.  This impacts inertia and how it feels – primarily when you accelerate or otherwise change acceleration (such as briefly coasting).

All that prefacing done, the Direto XR is in the same realm as the Flux 2 in terms of road feel, though the Flux 2 has a larger flywheel. Still, I didn’t think the road-feel aspect was as nailed on the Flux 2 as the XR. So I’d give a slight edge to the XR, but only slight (I rode them back to back).


Elite says that the increase of flywheel weight from 4.2kg to 5.1kg was specifically done to increase the road feel realism. And it feels good, but I’m not sure it’s appreciably different enough that most people be able to notice unless the two were side by side. Of course, it’s not the same feel as you’d see with a KICKR or Tacx NEO or Saris H3, but those are all more expensive trainers. So you have to balance that aspect in there. Still, I think most people will be good with it.

It felt perfectly fine climbing Mont Ventoux for nearly two hours a few weekends ago, which has a grade that fluctuates between 9% and 14% for the vast majority of it. No issues with overheating or anything else there.

2020-07-18 10.49.46

And as for sound? Well, it’s not loud. But it’s also not silent. Still, it’s pretty darn quiet. Quieter than a Flux 2 for sure, but not as quiet as a KICKR Core. But it’s below that of most people’s fans, unless you have some quiet fan or something. I cover it within my video at the top of the page.


Ok, with all the basics out of the way, let’s talk app compatibility.

App Compatibility:


The Direto XR follows the same app compatibility standards as previous Elite products, and essentially follows the industry norms as you’d expect from a high-end trainer.  As you probably know, apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, SufferFest, Rouvy, Kinomap, and many more all support most of these industry standards, making it easy to use whatever app you’d like.  If trainers or apps don’t support these standards, then it makes it far more difficult for you as the end user.

Thankfully, that’s not the case here.  The Direto XR transmits data on both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, as well as allowing interactive resistance control across both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  By applying resistance control, apps can simulate climbs as well as set specific wattage targets.

The unit supports the following protocols and transmission standards:

ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control): This is for controlling the trainer via ANT+ from apps and head units (with cadence/power data). Read tons about it here.
ANT+ Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard ANT+ power meter, with cadence data
ANT+ Speed/Cadence Profile: This broadcasts your speed and cadence as a standard ANT+ Speed/Cadence combo sensor
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard BLE power meter, with cadence data
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Profile: This broadcasts your speed and cadence as a standard BLE combo Speed/Cadence sensor
Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control): This allows apps to control the Direto XR over Bluetooth Smart (with cadence/power data)

Between all these standards you can basically connect to anything and everything you’d ever want to. Be it a bike computer or watch, or an app – it’ll be supported. In fact, Elite’s really been one of the leaders for years in supporting the various standards – including FTMS.

In the above, you’ll note there’s cadence data baked into the various streams. That’s handy if you’re connecting to Zwift on an Apple TV, due to Apple TV’s two concurrent Bluetooth Smart sensor limitation (plus the Apple TV remote).  This means you can pair the trainer and get power/cadence/control, while also pairing up a heart rate strap.


For me, in my testing, I used Zwift and TrainerRoad as my two main apps (which are the two main apps I use personally).  In the case of Zwift, I used it in regular riding mode (non-workout mode, aka SIM mode) as well as ERG mode (workout mode). Whereas in the case of TrainerRoad I used it in a structured workout mode (ERG mode). I dig into the nuances of these both within the power accuracy section.

Starting with Zwift, you can see the Direto XR listed as not just a controllable trainer, but also within the regular power meter and cadence section. You’ll want to pair it up as a controllable trainer (which will also pair it as a power meter) – as seen above.

You’ll see the trainer enumerated in a fairly similar manner on TrainerRoad as well:


Also, TrainerRoad’s tips page on using smart trainers in ERG mode (which interestingly thinks this trainer is the Elite Real E-Motion B+):


I’d *strongly* recommend you either read that page, or just simply do two things:

A) Calibrate the Direto XR: I did it once upon initial setup, but never calibrated again. Frankly, it was spot-on, and so I wasn’t about to dork with it again.
B) Ensure you’re using the small ring up front: This is for ERG mode specifically, shift into the small ring to get better control. I’d also recommend going to a mid to upper-end portion of the cassette as well (towards the wheel hub) in order to increase precision on the XR (more on this later).

As far as calibration goes, you can complete it easily from most apps – including TrainerRoad and Zwift. You’ll see either a calibration prompt in the app (like TrainerRoad), or a small wrench or such in the settings (like Zwift).  For example, here it is doing the spin-down within TrainerRoad on an iPad:

IMG_1736 IMG_1738 IMG_1737

It’s super easy to do, you just pedal a bit fast for a moment until it reaches a given threshold speed, and then you stop pedaling. It’s going to measure how long it takes to coast to a stop. Super easy.

In general, you should calibrate every once in a while (perhaps every few weeks), or anytime you’ve moved the trainer some distance (like to a new home/etc…). Additionally, you should calibrate if you’ve had a major temp swing (such as if it lives in your garage and now the sweat puddle on the floor is frozen).

Finally, Elite does have their own app that you can use for a handful of functions, but frankly I had no use for it here at any point in the testing cycle. And technically, there are two apps here. The first is their Elite My E-Training app, which you can do calibrations from within:

2020-07-24 17.07.05 2020-07-24 17.06.12 2020-07-24 17.06.26

As with most trainers, they recommend you warm-up first:

2020-07-24 17.06.51 2020-07-24 17.06.44

And then there’s the Elite Upgrado app – which actually launched in the fall of 2019 for updating Elite trainers (finally!). This allows you to do firmware updates of the trainer. Simply crack it open and let it search for nearby trainers:

2020-07-23 13.22.36 2020-07-23 13.23.05 2020-07-23 13.28.06

At present there aren’t any firmware updates for the Direto XR, and historically speaking we don’t see Elite do too many firmware updates. Though also, historically speaking they didn’t have an easy way to issue those till the Upgrado app last year. In any case, assuming there is an update, the process usually only takes about 4-5 mins, super quick and super easy. Just like most other companies’ trainer update apps.

Last but not least there’s a few configuration options within the Elite My E-Training app. Most notable of those options is what Elite calls Power Meter Link (PML). This means it can match up to an external power meter to provide more finite control of the trainer. Personally, I’m not a big fan of power meter matching/linking type technology from any company, as I often find it does weird things around delays in power. I’d rather the darn trainer be accurate to begin with. So I don’t use it. But, if you want it, it’s listed under ‘Power Smoothing’, where you then pair it up to an external power meter.

2020-07-24 17.06.58

With all those things covered, let’s get into a look at how accurate the trainer is.

Power Accuracy Analysis:


As usual, I put the trainer up against a number of power meters to see how well it handled everything from resistance control accuracy, to speed of change, to any other weird quirks along the way.

In my case I used one primary bike set up in the following configuration:

Canyon Bike Setup #1: PowerTap P2 Dual-sided pedals, Quarq DZero crankset
Canyon Bike Setup #2: Garmin Vector 3 Dual-sided pedals, Quarq DZero crankset
Canyon Bike Setup #3: Favero Assioma Dual-sided pedals, Quarq DZero crankset

This is all in addition to the trainer itself.  Note that because you remove the rear wheel I can’t use something like a PowerTap hub to compare as well (which I would use in power meter testing normally).

In any case, I was looking to see how it reacted in two core apps: Zwift and TrainerRoad (Bluetooth Smart on Apple TV and iPad). The actual apps don’t typically much matter, but rather the use cases are different.  In Zwift you get variability by having the road incline change and by being able to instantly sprint.  This reaction time and accuracy are both tested here.  Whereas in TrainerRoad I’m looking at its ability to hold a specific wattage very precisely, and to then change wattages instantly in a repeatable way.  There’s no better test of that than 30×30 repeats (30-seconds at a high resistance, followed by 30-seconds at an easy resistance).

There’s two ways to look at this.  First is how quickly it responds to the commands of the application.  So for that, we need to actually look at the overlay from TrainerRoad showing when it sent the command followed by when the Direto XR achieved that level.  Here’s the levels being sent (the blue blocks)) by TrainerRoad (in this case via Bluetooth Smart on iPad) and how quickly the Direto XR responded to it:


In general, when it comes to ERG mode ‘accuracy’, I’m actually looking at three specific things:

A) Base power accuracy: Is the power measurement aspect correct?
B) Power Responsiveness: How quickly can it achieve a given set point (e.g. how long to go from 150w to 450w?)
C) Power Stability: How stable is it in holding a given ERG mode setting?

So, looking at the Direto XR, the simple answer to all of those is: Pretty darn good in most cases.

For example, on responsiveness, it was taking about 3-4 seconds to go from 150w to 450w, pretty consistently. In some cases I might prefer 2-3 seconds, but I’m not going to quibble too much there.


The next bit is stability. In the case of the above workout, it was after doing 90 mins of relatively hard riding. So I was a little bit shot. So some of the intervals I was a little bit less stable than others. The key ones to look at were #5 & #6, where I actually pretended to focus on pedaling nice and smooth and focusing on form. In that case, those were pretty darn smooth.


I’d note though that I did need to go up 1-2 shifts mid-way through on the cassette to get things more stable. As always for ERG mode, I used the smaller ring in the front chainring (as recommended by trainer company and app company, as it helps control flywheel speed). However, I typically don’t worry too much about the rear cassette. But in this case I found that keeping it on the upper half made a big difference in the power stability (how much it wobbles). No biggie, that’s easy enough to do.

So what about actual power accuracy then? Meaning – how does it compare to other power meters? For that here’s a comparison with a Quarq DZero power meter (data set here):


As you can see, they’re super close – basically identical. I normally would have a third data point, but for that set I was having issues with the SRM X pedals I was running, so I excluded it from the set. Since then, those issues have been resolved. In any case, it’s basically identical – within 4-8w @ 450w, which is what I’d expect for slight differences in drivetrain.


Next, let’s look at a longer TrainerRoad workout with longer sets. Because, longer is better – right? Here’s that data:


Now in this case there’s a slight offset between the Direto XR and the two other power meters. My guess here is that due to the temp shift of the room (up about ~8°F/4°C from the previous day), may have contributed to this. However, I don’t know which units were off. At the lower recovery intervals they were slightly further apart, whereas at the upper work intervals the gap was closer (about 5w on 265w).

And in this interval there were short 400w intervals built into each set, and those handled quite nicely actually for all of them.


Also, looking at cadence briefly – I do see a handful of calculation dropouts here. Meaning, I suspect this is an algorithm based error rather than interruption based dropout, because I was recording on multiple devices and the power never dropped out (part of the same channel), on any devices.


Note that none of my other workouts had cadence drops in them, so whatever was unique about this workout or gearing/resistance combination was more challenging.

Next, let’s look at some Zwift sessions. This was a crit race on the new Zwift Paris course, and so you can see the constant ups and downs of it. Yet, despite that, this and the two other power meters are virtually glued together. It really is impressive. Here’s the high level overview:


Here’s a closer look at a few different surges as well. These are all crazy close together, especially considering how quickly and dramatically the power is shifting.


Same goes for whatever little I had left in the tank (basically, nothing) for a sprint to the finish:


Cadence meanwhile, is mostly very good. However, there are a few obvious cadence spikes in there, where the green line spikes up for a second or two, to 120rpm+:


Finally, let’s look at that previously mentioned Mont Ventoux session on Zwift. Here’s that data:


Given how long it is (and somewhat variable), it can be hard to see the nuance, so let’s just zoom in to a random section:


Overall it’s very very close together, though there are some slightly lower spots from the Quarq when I ease off the power. But be mindful of the scale of this particular graph here. We’re talking a difference of on average about 4-5w. Very small amounts, largely within the accuracy claims of the various units.

Looking at the mean/max graph for this ride, it’s also pretty darn close:


And on this long ride, cadence looks perfectly flawless:


So, overall I’m not seeing any issues related to power meter accuracy on the Direto XR. There’s a handful of minor cadence quirks in occasional spots, but as you can see from the chart above – it’s only in certain ride situations and is limited to a second or two. I haven’t fully figured out the pattern there, but it wasn’t something I even noticed while riding – only afterwards looking at the charts.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well, more details here.)

Trainer Comparison:

I’ve added the Elite Direto XR into the product comparison database.  This allows you to compare it against other trainers I’ve reviewed. For the purposes of this particular table, I’ve compared it against the Tacx Flux 2, Wahoo KICKR CORE, and Saris H3. While the H3 is slightly higher in price, it’s also so often on sale for $800-$850USD, that one should at least check the price before making a purchase decision. You can also mix and match and create your own trainer comparison charts with just about any trainer on the market in the aforementioned/linked product database.

Function/FeatureElite Direto XRTacx Flux 2Saris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated September 29th, 2020 @ 4:12 pmNew Window
Price for trainer$949$899USD/€799$999$899
Trainer TypeDirect Drive (No Wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (No Wheel)
Available today (for sale)YesYEsYesYes
Availability regionsGlobalGlobalGlobalGlobal
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYes (no control w/o)YesYesYes
Flywheel weight5.1KG/11.2LBS7.6kg (simulated 32.1kg)20lb/9kg12.0lbs/5.44kgs
Includes cassetteYes (11 Speed SRAM/Shimano)NoNoNo
ResistanceElite Direto XRTacx Flux 2Saris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoNoNoNo
Maximum wattage capability2,300w @ 40KPH2,000w @ 40KPH2,000w1800w
Maximum simulated hill incline24%16%20%16%
FeaturesElite Direto XRTacx Flux 2Saris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right Power9EUR one-time feeNoNoNo
Can rise/lower bike or portion thereofNoNoNoWith KICKR CLIMB accessory
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)With steering accessory & compatible appNoNoNo
Can rock side to side (significantly)NoNoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoNoNoNo
AccuracyElite Direto XRTacx Flux 2Saris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE
Includes temperature compensationN/AYesYesYes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesYesYesYes
Supported accuracy level+/- 1.5%+/-2.5%+/- 2%+/- 2%
Trainer ControlElite Direto XRTacx Flux 2Saris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYesYEs
Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYesYEs
Data BroadcastElite Direto XRTacx Flux 2Saris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE
Transmits power via ANT+YesYesYesYes
Transmits power via Bluetooth SmartYesYesYesYes
Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connectionsNo, just oneNo, just oneNo, just oneYes, 3 Concurrent
Transmits cadence dataYesYesYesYes (with Sept 2019 firmware update)
PurchaseElite Direto XRTacx Flux 2Saris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE
Amazon LinkLinkLinkN/A
Backcountry.com LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Competitive Cyclist LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Wiggle LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerElite Direto XRTacx Flux 2Saris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

What about within the Elite product lineup? Well, essentially that’s simplified now to three products: The Elite Tuo, Elite Suito, and Elite Direto XR. The Elite Drivo series is being retired, as is the existing Elite Direto X. Elite will continue to make some lower end trainers and rollers, but the core three they’re focusing on for this ‘season’ will be the Tuo, Suito, and Direto XR.

The only problem? The Tuo still (a year later), isn’t shipping yet. Supposedly that’ll happen in the August-September timeframe, but the so-nicknamed toaster (because it looks like a toaster) is still missing in action. If however, it can live up to the road-feel that I saw last year at Eurobike, as well as the accuracy claims they have, it’ll be a solid budget option for those that don’t want to deal with taking off their rear wheel.


In any case, here’s that comparison chart:

Function/FeatureElite TuoElite SuitoElite Direto XR
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated September 17th, 2020 @ 4:14 amNew Window
Price for trainer$499$799 (incl cassette)$949
Trainer TypeWheel-onDirect Drive (No Wheel)Direct Drive (No Wheel)
Available today (for sale)Available Maybe Fall 2020YesYes
Availability regionsGlobalGlobalGlobal
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYesYes (no control w/o)Yes (no control w/o)
Flywheel weight2.5kg / 5.5lbs3.5kg/7.7lbs5.1KG/11.2LBS
Includes cassetteN/AYes (11 Speed SRAM/Shimano)Yes (11 Speed SRAM/Shimano)
ResistanceElite TuoElite SuitoElite Direto XR
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoNoNo
Maximum wattage capability1,250 (40KPH)/2,050 (60KPH)1,900w @ 40KPH / 2,900w @ 60KPH2,300w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline10%15%24%
FeaturesElite TuoElite SuitoElite Direto XR
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerNoNo9EUR one-time fee
Can rise/lower bike or portion thereofNoNoNo
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoNoWith steering accessory & compatible app
Can rock side to side (significantly)NoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoNoNo
AccuracyElite TuoElite SuitoElite Direto XR
Includes temperature compensationYesYesN/A
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesYesYes
Supported accuracy level+/- 5%+/- 2.5%+/- 1.5%
Trainer ControlElite TuoElite SuitoElite Direto XR
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYes
Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYes
Data BroadcastElite TuoElite SuitoElite Direto XR
Transmits power via ANT+YesYesYes
Transmits power via Bluetooth SmartYEsYesYes
Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connectionsNo, just oneNo, just oneNo, just one
Transmits cadence dataYesYesYes
PurchaseElite TuoElite SuitoElite Direto XR
Amazon LinkLink
Backcountry.com LinkLinkLink
Competitive Cyclist LinkLinkLink
Wiggle LinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerElite TuoElite SuitoElite Direto XR
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

And again, as always don’t forget you can mix and match your own trainer product comparison tables using the database here.



The Elite Direto XR is somewhat the equivalent of a trainer graduating up from high school to university. The Direto product series has always been the mid-range offering, but with the increases in power, inertia, and ERG mode control – it effectively becomes a freshman college student. Sure, it’s not quite in the same grade as a full blown Wahoo KICKR or Saris H3, but it’s not priced there either. Instead, Elite cuts the price and adds a cassette – making it far more accessible with very few trade-offs.

So what are the unknowns? Well, long term and/or manufacturing issues would be one. We saw stumbles with the Suito last year in that realm, though not with the Direto X. That kinda makes sense because the Suito was new-new, whereas the Direto X was basically just a slightly revamped Direto. And hopefully, since the Direto XR is a tidier Direto X, that we won’t see any manufacturing issues. But again, only time will tell. It is clear though that there’s improvements around the firmware, beyond just hardware. The ERG mode accuracy is crispier than in the past, which Elite says comes from improved algorithms around the newer flywheel size.

I’d have no reservations in recommending the Direto XR at this point, it checks all the boxes and is ideal for someone who doesn’t want to deal with anything more than just pulling a trainer out of the box, sticking a bike on it, and starting riding. Which, come to think of it – isn’t that all of us?

Found this review useful? Or just want to save 10%? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Backcountry & Competitive Cyclist, which help support the site here when you purchase through them.

Elite Direto XR Trainer  (USA)

For European/Australian/New Zealand readers, you can also pick up the unit via Wiggle at the links below, which helps support the site too! With Wiggle, new customers get 10GBP (or equivalent in other currencies) off their first order for anything over 50GBP by using code NEWGB at check-out after clicking the links below.

Elite Direto XR Trainer (EU/UK/AU/NZ – Wiggle)

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that most folks getting a trainer for the first time might not have already:

ProductAmazon LinkNote
Basic Trainer MatThis is a super basic trainer mat, which is exactly what you'll see me use. All it does is stop sweat for getting places it shouldn't (it also helps with vibrations too).
Front Wheel Riser BlockHere's the thing, some people like front wheel blocks, some don't. I'm one of the ones that do. I like my front wheel to stay put and not aimlessly wiggle around. For $8, this solves that problem. Note some trainers do come with them. Also note, I use a riser block with *every* trainer.
Honeywell HT-900 FanI've got three of these $12 fans floating around the DCR Cave, and I frequently use them on rides. They work just fine. Sure, they're not as powerful as a Wahoo Headwind, but I could literally buy 20 of them for the same price.
RAD/Lifeline Cycle Trainer DeskThis desk is both a knock-off of the original KICKR Desk, but yet also better than it. First, it's got wheel locks (so the darn thing stays put), and second, it has two water bottle holders (also useful for putting other things like remotes). I've been using it as my main trainer desk for a long time now and love it. Cheaper is better apparently. Note: Branding varies by country, exact same desk.
Tacx Tablet Bike MountI've had this for years, and use it in places where I don't have a big screen or desk, but just an iPad or tablet on my road bike bars.

Or, anything else you pick up on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

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  1. ubrab

    That last picture, bravo Ray 👏

  2. Vid

    Is it possible that the new improved ERG algorithms will be applied to the old Drieto X? I see slow ERG response as the only downside of my trainer.

  3. Fabio Mux

    Hi ray, great review.

    Jut to be sure that i’ve not got it wrong: is the Drivo lineup dead? …so at the moment the high end trainer from elite is the direto XR?

  4. andre

    Links from the accessoires list link need to be fixed, they link the review itself, not the item on Amazon.

    • Hmm, good catch. Looks like a new bug from a change made last week (it shouldn’t show a hyperlink unless there’s an actual review for said accessory). Appreciate it!

    • Andrew Walchester

      In a related note, next to the fan you say they’re about $18 dollers, but they’re no where near that on Amazon at the moment. I’d love to know where you can get them for that price.

    • JD

      Just to be clear — If you click on the description link it cycles back to the article. If you click on the word Amazon in the next column it goes to the correct product page.

    • On Amazon US, they’re actually down to $15 right now. Normally $18, but for whatever reason it shows $15 with 2 hour delivery. In any event, if you’re outside the US it’ll redirect to whatever is the closest Amazon to you.

      So for example, Amazon Germany shows that same fan as 19EUR: link to amzn.to

    • Dan G

      £42 on Amazon UK 😄😭

    • Brett

      Shucks, it is £43 in the UK….

  5. matteo

    What would you choose between this new Direto XR, the Drivo II at 840€, the Kickr Core at 699€ (refurbished or 749€ for a brand new unit), and the Saris H3 at 840€ ?

    • That’s tough. Between this and Drivo II, I’d probably go Direto XR. Between this and CORE, that’s tricky – but 200EUR cheaper and I’d probably go CORE. And H3? Hmm, it’s louder for certain, but ERG mode is so darn good.

    • matteo

      I think that the best choice would be the Kickr Core since I am used to a very very basic trainer (those cheap 80€ trainers you can buy on Amazon). Then, with the money that I would save with respect to the Direto XR or the Saris H3, I could also buy a good quality front light just in case I wanted to ride outside during autumn/winter.

    • Bill Mitchell

      Thanks for the great reviews – narrowed down my options to the Saris H3 and Elite Direto XR. I found good deals on both, with the Saris slightly more expensive by the price of a cassette.
      Any thoughts on how they compare for noise – both while pedaling and when coasting (admittedly not common during most Zwift sessions, but still a consideration for me)? I watched the videos for each, and the fast speeds & sprinting actually sounded louder on the Direto XR video, which is contrary to your comments above. Maybe the video difference is just due to different recording setup or levels?

  6. Ian

    I’d have thought they’d have fitted/included a cadence sensor to use the Elite app pedaling analysis. The cadence sensor it’self is cheap and would be great if they didn’t charge so much for postage. With the cadence sensor they can offer pedaling anlysis, why not include it with the top of the range trainer… pedaling analysis out of the box would give them a differentiator.

    • Yeah, I suspect honestly the challenge is that so few people use the pedaling analysis that it’s probably a non-thing. And those that do really want it, probably already have a cadence sensor floating around.

  7. Rodrak

    “…Axle Compatibility: Race 130x5mm…” shouldn’t you mean “Road 130x5mm”?

    • It’s a linguistics thing actually. In many European countries when they say ‘Race’ they mean ‘Road Bikes’ (because, logically, most other bikes go on the road like commuter bikes). I used the same wording I had for that table on my Direto X review, so it carried over.

  8. Pete

    Ray / anyone,

    I note the fact that in ERG mode it is advisable to shift to a small ring at front and towards the hub at the back. I too have found this best on my trainer (Kickr Core fwiw), can anyone explain to me why this is the case? Just curious, but can’t get my head around why this may be.


    • Essentially it’s a speed thing. The bigger ring in the front makes the flywheel go faster, which makes it harder for the trainer to control resistance on a dime. So by going into the small ring, you reduce the speed, which in turn makes it easier to control.

    • Peter

      Aha yep that makes sense. Thanks

  9. usr

    Slight mistake in the pictures:

    Ray you might want to double-check the mandatory wall wart picture *before* you let that thing roam free in the DCR power brick sanctuary, never to be found again.

  10. Pete Parfitt

    And presumably the Zumo is long dead. I have one which seems to work really well for me, has kept me sane through lockdown and done 4000k on Zwift in that time, but too much overlap with Suito?

  11. Your reviews and comments about products most valuable!!!

  12. Neil Jones

    I’m feeling now more than ever we need a new field in your comparison tool for product name pronunciation 🙂

  13. Charlie

    Slightly off topic – what shoes are you using here?

    • Anton Bentzen

      They look like Fizik Infinito R1s. Fizik at least, might be an older shoe they no longer carry.

      link to fizik.com

    • Indeed, pretty close.

      It’s the Fizik R4B, though, they seem not to make it anymore. Bought these ones last summer: link to awin1.com

      Funny sidenote, I semi-standardized on the Fizik shoes because they matched my road bike frame. However, I’ve carefully picked out three different models that are visually different. And each one has a different cleat type on them (SPD-MTB/Look-Keo/SPD-SL). Otherwise sometimes I’d accidentally grab the wrong cycling shoes for a trip or packing or such.

  14. chris benten

    I like the metal dropout spacers….the spacers for the H3 are plastic and feel like one might crush them with even a little torque to tighten.

  15. Tim

    Do you think we’ll ever actually see the Tuo? I’m in the market for a smart trainer, but direct drive is out of my price range right now. The M2 seems to be stocked places, but the KICKR Snap is always out (is that a harbinger of things to come?)…

  16. Akiva Wasser

    “nobody actually wants to go up a 24% hill”

    Well, I live in Seattle and I am training so I can make it to the corner from my house without walking. 🙂

    (Not really, but you get the point).

  17. Matthew Fields

    Bravo on the full Elite line-up shot! That gave me a good laugh.

    I feel like the 24% grade and 2300W capability is more about bragging than useful product design. Luckily it doesn’t seem to detract from a successful design, but I’d usually be worried about a design that focuses on flashy marketing points and potential ignores the basics.

    Good stuff!

    • JD

      I’m waiting for a 100% slope unit so you can practice riding into immovable objects.
      Post-ride analysis works best as long as your power meter supports Crash Dynamics.

    • Yeah, I don’t think Elite would disagree on max grade being about marketing. In fact, it’s something most of the trainer companies have said – a variant of: What’s really the point?

      That said, the one thing that max gradient tends to underpin though is lower/slower speed ascents of heavier riders with steeper gradients. It’s not always 1:1, but in general if a trainer can put out 24% gradients for a lighter rider at higher speeds, then it can likely also handle a 12% grade for a 250lbs rider at 10KPH.

      Tacx alluded to some of this in their Flux 2 series, and I included some charts showing it.

  18. Anirudh

    Were any Doritos consumed in the making of this review?

  19. Heiko

    Ray, is the difference to Gen1 Direto noticeable enough to justify an upgrade? I wouldn’t mind slightly less noise and faster ERG but e.g. the improved resistance is of zero relevance to me.

    • The ERG mode is definitely noticeable, but the sound isn’t dramatic. I think upgrading a V1 to this might be a push unless you spend a lot of time in ERG mode.

  20. AW

    “….You need to change the ‘Trainer Difficulty’ level to 100% in order to feel it (and most people don’t bother to)….”

    Really? Do we know that for sure? That would be really surprising to me. The whole reason I like zwift and bought the original Drivo was so that I could train with the proper simulated grade. I want to suffer on 15% hills to better prepare me for outdoor riding.

    Wouldn’t every cyclist want this?

    • JD

      Has always been 50% by default.
      See — link to zwiftinsider.com

    • Narrator: Now we watch as AW change the difficulty setting
      [5 mins later]
      Narrator: This is the moment that AW finds out what 15% hills actually feel like
      Narrator: In a strange turn of events, AW is now walking is bike and trainer up the hill…err…garage.


    • Chris Benten

      It is a neat feature to be able to dial it back. I normally run 100% but, in a fit of insanity, Sunday I rode Alpe Du Zwift. I figure 8.5% avg…i can do that (I am closer to 59 than 58, run 225-230 lbs, and have the VO2 max of a piece of granite…asthma). I run a 34 x 28 and after two switchbacks at 250+ watts @ 50 rpm up 10-13% inclines…I dialed it back to 70%. The avg is misleading…filled with 10%+ ramps and flattish hairpins. I finished but it was not pretty. I would not have finished without giving myself extra gearing by dialing it down.

    • Chris Benten

      It is a neat feature to be able to dial it back. I normally run 100% but, in a fit of insanity, Sunday I rode Alpe Du Zwift. I figure 8.5% avg…i can do that (I am closer to 59 than 58, run 225-230 lbs, and have the VO2 max of a piece of granite…asthma). I run a 34 x 28 and after two switchbacks at 250+ watts @ 50 rpm up 10-13% inclines…I dialed it back to 70%. The avg is misleading…filled with 10%+ ramps and flattish hairpins. I finished but it was not pretty. I would not have finished without giving myself extra gearing by dialing it down.

    • AW

      Thanks for the winky, Ray, but the first thing I did was change my trainer to 100%.

      So I’m riding bigger hills than you (and most ppl, I guess) both in real life and in zwift 😉

    • Chris Benten

      In Zwift the hills are the same. Lowering the trainer setpoint does not diminish the hills but essentially lowers the speed and gives more gearing options. A 10% grade “feels” like 5% because it slows one down via lower wattage for a given gear. A 1000 foot climb is still a 1000 foot climb.

    • Paul S.

      But the point is, on a trainer you’re not doing a 1000 ft climb, you’re doing a zero foot climb. How it feels is entirely up to the trainer.

  21. Felix

    Did you notice any change in the belt/pulley design? I suppose you did not open the unit up to compare but just in case… Any chance this XR may be less prone to belt breakage problems?

  22. Bob

    Does it work with thru-axle bicycles?

  23. Pekka

    Elite Tuo, Available November 2019?

    Maybe Nov 2020…

  24. any cycling dynamics?

  25. FredStig

    So a question that some of us may have: now that they’ve been able to make ERGmode work well on the XR, is there any chance they’ll release a firmware update to the Direto (original) so that we can get some love as well? I’m on the verge of selling the Direto for a H3 because ERG mode is so… marginal.

    • FredStig

      Aaaand… maybe I should have read more of the comments first. But an addendum: Modifying the algorithm for a slightly lighter flywheel shouldn’t be too much effort (though likely more than just a multiplication factor).

    • Heiko

      Elite never released any firmware update for the first Direto since it was more or less bug-free. It appears they prefer to have new features exclusively on newer devices even if they could be implemented for the old ones. It’s bad for consumers but a valid business strategy. Garmin does it as well.

    • FredStig

      I’m still hoping that they will come to their senses and release an update if it’s feasible. Though I know they likely won’t for reasons that you outlined. And I don’t begrudge them that since they do need to make money. But that would just push me to getting the H3. If I’m going to spend that kind of money I’d rather do it on a quieter trainer that has bang-on snap-to ERG mode changes. It sounds like the XR is “good” but that the H3 is still better. For the same money. So why not just get the better trainer?

    • I checked with Elite on this, and they’re going to start doing some testing to see if it’s possible to update the Direto X firmware with the new algorithm. Due to summer holidays/etc, that testing won’t likely be completed until September. But they said it’s on their list.

      Also related, there was a mistake in the original flywheel specs/sheets from Elite, which didn’t actually include the weight of the discs. They’re updating their specs now to conform to how it’s usually spec’d. So in reality it’s 5.1KG (not 4.5KG), thus making it 21.5% higher that the Direto X.

      Elite says this makes a 26% larger intertia amount:
      Direto X Moment of Inertia = 15800 kgxmm2
      Direto XR Moment of Inertia = 19930 kgxmm2
      Increase Moment of Inertia 26%

    • FredStig

      Aww… bummer. I have one of the original Direto models. It’s been mechanically flawless and accurate, but ERG mode is… lacking. And I spend most of my time in TrainerRoad while watching either BikeTheWorld YouTube videos or Zwift. So ERG mode is key. The inability to evenly perform burst intervals of less than 20-30 seconds means a lot of workouts are off the table (unless I want to be really annoyed). So if they can’t improve ERG mode then perhaps a new trainer is in order. Which is too bad b/c I do actually like my Direto apart from the ERG mode issue.

      Thank you for checking!

  26. JD

    A bit OT but you show using the Elite Sterzo for the riser block and mention that you always use a riser.
    I assume the Sterzo is designed to level the bike when used with an Elite model trainer and 700c wheel.
    What about when used with other brand trainers? Seems a bit hit or miss between brands.
    How do you feel about spending hours in the saddle on an trainer without a riser?
    Doing so means simulating a slight downhill ride. Or a riser too tall means a slight uphill slope.
    I suppose levelness on a trainer is a minor consideration in the larger scheme of things, but I found out the hard way it makes a BIG difference if you mess with saddle position on the trainer and later realize something isn’t quite right on a long road ride. 🙂

    • Chad McNeese

      Some trainers are designed to be used with or without a front wheel riser. The key is to partially ignore that and simply measure the axle height from the ground to the rear axle.

      First option and common recommendation is to have the front axle level with the rear axle. This is effectively a “flat” road condition being level. It works for many, but I and others find that the level setup leads to more pressure on the hands and arms. This sometimes results in numbness or other discomfort, even on bikes that are otherwise “perfect” when ridden outside.

      Second option and the recommendation I suggest is to have the front wheel 1-2″ [25-50mm] higher than the rear axle. I do this to alter the weight distribution and shift the rider weight slightly rearward. The reason I do this is a faux proxy that is meant to replace the backward push we experience when riding outside, from wind resistance.

      That wind resistance causes a rearward push against our torso in particular, and I suspect leads to a related weight distribution shift. My high front axle trick can lead to a similar shift, and works to relieve pressure on many rides I have shared this trick.

      It does not work for everyone, because some still prefer flat setups, but it is worth a simple test, especially if you are experiencing issues with your bike inside (that is comfortable outside).

    • JD

      Interesting but aren’t you essentially riding long hours with your saddle nose up if you use a tall riser?
      1-2″ high riser is like a 3% slope.
      That’s where I got in trouble installing a new saddle. Leveled on the trainer was nose down on the road.
      Plus I went looking for a new saddle because long intervals on the trainer were getting uncomfortable.

    • Chad McNeese

      Yup, 1″ [25mm] is about 1.5* up and 2″ [50mm] is about 3.0* up.

      As ever, YMMV and I don’t claim it’s a cure all. The presumption is a bike that you are comfortable with and have no problems while riding outside, and then taking it inside. Level axles on that setup may result in overloading on the hands and arms. If so, my suggestion is to test with front axle higher.

      Testing it only takes seconds to apply with wood, books, wheel riser, etc. and a single workout can often let a person know if it works for them or not.

      As to saddle comfort on the saddle, that leads into my other recommendation, which is a rocker plate. There is nothing natural about locking a bike vertically like done on most trainers. A rocker plate or trainer with some motion (Kinetic R1, some older Elites, and even the Tacx Neo “flex”) can give just enough saddle motion to relieve the pressure compared to no motion at all.

      Contrary to popular belief, we are not perfectly stable or vertical when riding a bike outside. I feel it’s problematic to lock it as most trainers do. Some short rides and riders can get away with no motion. But longer rides, especially ones at lower power levels can lead to saddle pains that are often addressed with rocker plates and the like.

      Worth a consideration, and the hack trick to try is some extra thick foam padding (excercise mats, firm foam sponges, etc) under the support feet of the trainer, to allow some leaning motion. Based on my testing, even a small amount can lead to improved comfort while seated.

  27. AW

    Thanks for the winky, Ray, but the first thing I did was change my trainer to 100%.

    So I’m riding bigger hills than you (and most ppl, I guess) both in real life and in zwift 😉

    • Watts are Watts

      No you are not. At least on Zwift. All it does is effectively change the gears you have available. People have explained this a million times. One example is below. Watts are watts.
      link to zwiftinsider.com

    • No, AW is correct. He’s riding bigger hills. He didn’t say he’s going faster in Zwift. And that’s 100% correct.

      No matter how many times people try and justify/explain this, they get that part right (speed in Zwift), but they often get the rest wrong. It’s absolutely making it easier because most humans pedal bikes easier and more efficiently at a 80-100rpm cadence than a 50-60rpm one.

      – It effectively gives you a massive cassette, which makes it *easier*, since it’s a fake cassette that doesn’t exist in real life, effectively flattening the hill.
      – If it wasn’t, then racers wouldn’t be using it to be faster in race
      – If it wasn’t, then the darn option wouldn’t literally be labeled ‘Trainer Difficulty Level’
      – By having an endless cassette, then it makes it easier to go up that hill because most people can spin more efficiently at 90RPM then 50RPM when the hills get really steep – that article explain exactly that. Of course, if you go to 0%, then you potentially swing too far the other way.

      I don’ know why some in the Zwift community keep trying to push back on this concept. Also, if this wasn’t the case, then Zwift wouldn’t already be discussing setting this to 100% for certain races.

  28. Alan Jackman

    When does this hit the market?

    • crazycanuck67

      Hi Alan,
      ELITE: Thanks for the interest. We are shipping units as we speak. Being manufactured in Italy, product will arrive on European shelves first and overseas countries later.

  29. ArT

    Simple insertion procedure for stronger magnets and the product is ready. You can do it yourself, but new software is needed and you won’t get it.

  30. That “9EUR ONE-TIME FEE” as mentioned in the table seems a bit silly.. Couldn’t they just have added that amount to the cost of the unit itself?

  31. Marco

    Hi Ray, Here in Portugal I can find the Direto XR and the Kickr Core for about the same price. Which one would you pick? Most important aspects for me in the following order are: ERG responsiveness, noise and climb simulation. I am tempted to pull the trigger on the XR specially due to its climbing capabilities which I can simulate a lot of hills in my city (10 to 25%) but I am concerned with the noise. Is that bearable for an apartment or should I go for the Core? I have very sensitive neighbors but I only had wheel-on trainers in the past so I don’t have a good noise reference. Thanks

  32. Greg Friedman

    Hi Ray,

    The link to the trainer desk review looks bad. It keeps sending me back to the Elite review? The amazon link works fine though.

    • Yeah, there’s a bug in the table whereby if there isn’t a review (such as that cheaper trainer desk), then it loops back to the current review. Working on a fix!

  33. jordi riu

    My new smart trainer elite XR trainer and the question about the measurements estimates left / right power with the single rate of 9 euros. How and where can I get this information (pay)?

    I also have assioma duo pedals and can compare information

    • crazycanuck67

      ELITE: Hi Jordi, thank you for choosing Elite. Pedal Analysis is an in-app purchase from the myETraining app. The Direto XR comes with a free yearly subscription of myETraining then it’s €19.99 per year – compatible with Windows, MAC, iOS and Android. Peter

  34. jordi r.

    My new smart trainer elite XR trainer and the question about the measurements estimates left / right power with the single rate of 9 euros. How and where can I get this information (pay)?

    I also have assioma duo pedals and can compare information

  35. Brad

    If price is an issue but not totally unaffordable, where do you draw the line between a wheel on and direct mount trainer? I am interested in getting one for the winter. Normally my winter rides are going to work in the wet and rain in the PNW, but with covid and WFH that may be a bit harder to motivate. So I am trying to decide if I should get a wheel on or direct mount, and how to decide which one. Is it a fitness level difference? Just enthusiasm? Pre-COVId I would bikr around 300 to 350 k per week and I can avg a bit over 30 kph over 2 hours in flattish conditions, relatively few stops and light wind.

    • crazycanuck67

      Hi Brad, yes the often asked question Direct-Drive or Wheel-On?
      Price/Bdgt: Wheel-on trainers are less expensive than direct-drive models. That said, 3 years ago the gap between the two was more or less double compared to where we are today. It’s gone from around $600 down to about $300. So there’s still a difference but it has reduced considerably. Then you’ll need to consider tyre wear with a wheel-on trainer which clearly you don’t get with a direct-drive model. On the other hand, you need to get a cassette with a direct-drive (although there are models on the maket like the Direto XR that come with a preassembled 11spd cassette).
      Ride experience: Direct-drive trainers offer a better all-around indoor experience compared to wheel-on models. A. Road-feel: the heavier flywheels that direct-drive trainers have offer more inertia effect replicating better outdoor riding. B. Noise (or better said the lack of noise): direct-drive trainers are generally speaking quieter than wheel-on trainers due to less friction surface between the bike and trainer. With direct-drive trainers there’s no tyre rubbing on the resistance unit. C. Rear tyre slippage (or better said the lack of slippage): direct-drive trainers don’t slip during sprints or at high power levels with low RPMs. While this can happen on wheel-on trainers and it is more incline to happen if you are a big/strong rider.
      Power data accuracy: direct-drive trainers are generally speaking more accurate regarding data on your watts.
      Versatility: actually wheel-on trainers are generally speaking more versatile as they are smaller and lighter and there is no wheel assemply required. So if you intend using the trainer also for outdoor races for warm-ups and cool-downs, then a wheel-on trainer is more suitable. And if you will be using the trainer with multiple bikes with different speeds/cassettes then again the wheel-on option is the preferred choice. That said, there are now direct-drive models on the market that are smaller and easier to carry around compared to where we were 3 years ago. Equally, with a wheel-on trainer although there is no wheel assembly, you do need to make sure your tyre is clean and have the right tyre pressure and finally regulate the resistance unit so you apply the correct amount of pressure on your tyre.

      Here is a video we did earlier this year comparing rollers // wheel-on trainers // direct-drive trainers. But just google wheel-on vs direct-drive and you’ll find some really good content on the subject … in addition to what you can find here at dcrainmaker.com 😉

      Tks, Peter.

      link to youtu.be

    • Chris Benten

      Spend the $$ and get a Direct Drive unit. I had a Snap for several years (since they came out). Once I switched to the H3 I had wished I had gotten the Kickr way back when…

      Just my $0.02

    • Yeah, Peter from Elite pretty much outlined everything spot on. As Chris noted, easily go direct-drive rather than wheel on. There’s very few cases I’d recommend a wheel on trainer, except to save significantly on budget.

  36. Luc

    Direto xr:762 € on bike-discount.de, should i get it ? I am thorn between this one and the Core

    • Marco Monteiro

      I was considering the Core too but I think the Direto XR is more future proof and I have better Elite support in my area. I bought my Direto XR 15 min ago from Bike-Discount.de

  37. Gaz

    I own an Elite Real Turbo Muin. From my interactions with Elite customer support and lack of help to other customers, I would not recommend people buy any Elite products other than water bottles and cages lol as they do not support their customers. There have been no updates over the years to my trainer, they just release new ones and forget about older trainers.

    • Marco Monteiro

      That’s is a good (actually bad) feedback. The Wahoo representative in my region is nearly dead, they have a horrible website with nothing for sale and never respond to any email, so I hope I have a better experience with Elite. As for software updates, the way I see it is that some companies like Garmin releases a lot of updates, but mostly to correct the huge amount of bugs and things that do not properly work when they launch a new device while Wahoo, for instance, releases fewer updates to a properly working unit so I am not really concerned about many software updates as long as the unit works as advertised out of the box. Just as an example after 5 years using the Garmin Edge 1000 it still has some crazy flaws so I care less about updates and rather look for a stable working unit.

  38. Brett

    If there was only a £25 difference between the Saris and this, is the Saris a better unit to go for?

    Replacing an old Bushido. Thanks much

  39. Craig

    Hi any, advise woukd be great. I looking. To get a new direct drive turbo trainer and have found the elite suito for £580 or the elite drivo 1 for £600. Which woukd you recommend. Thanks

  40. Edu

    Direto xr or Wahoo Kickr Core?

  41. Orbea MTB rider

    I’ve got a question: my MTB has got the boost 148mm standard. Is it possible to put a 148mm boost frame on this trainer?

  42. Ivo Roylev

    How is the ERG mode responsiveness of this trainer? I have Drivo 2 and it takes 14 seconds to ramp up or down. I spoke a lot with Elite support, they provided me some guidance and extra firmware settings to speed it up, down to 8 seconds. But as a result, the power overshoots the target by over 100W before stabilizing to the desired watts – making the training session much harder to complete.
    I saw similar picture in your trainer road screenshots, though it is hard to get the correct duration and overshoot from a picture.
    Keep in mind that TrainerRoad anticipates this delay and starts ramping up(down) the power before the interval starts. If you use Elite’s own software, MyETraining, or the Garmin/Wahoo head unit to run the intervals, you will get the full delay.
    Create a workout with 1 minute@50W, 1m@100W, 1m@50W, 1m@200W, 1m@50W and 1m@300W and you can see how slow the ramp up/down is and how much does it overshoot.
    I use 39/25 teeth gearing, bluetooth connection with no other BT in range, no WiFi, no ANT+ connection either. I keep constant 90 rpm cadence, +/- 2 rpm.
    I have Quarq DZero PM on my bike and readings are identical, both in values and in shape in time.
    P.S. The trainer hardware is more than capable of doing it better, when doing the crit zone in Zwift, on the rollers, the trainer instantly changes the resistance to match the terrain. Much faster than my old Tacx Flux1. Still, Flux had much better, faster and no overshoot ERG mode.

    • I cover the ERG mode responsiveness within two sections in the review, including the power accuracy section, with a much more difficult 30×30 workout. Here’s my results: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Ivo Roylev

      Ray, thank you for your reply. I am not bothered with accuracy since I train only on this trainer. And yes, the power is very accurate, following exactly what the Quarq DZero reports, with the same responsiveness.
      The issue is with the “Power Responsiveness” and the initial “Power Stability” while responding to changes. From the picture there, I can’t get how long does it takes to ramp up the power and how big the overshoot is. Though it seems better than the Drivo2.
      As I wrote in my previous comment, it is better to test these outside of Trainer Road. They know about these trainers and preemptively increase/decrease the power even before the interval starts, to provide consistent experience for their customers. You can create a simple workout in Training Peaks and sync it to your garmin or wahoo head unit, and run it from there. You will get a better picture of the actual trainer responsiveness and initial stability (over/undershoot of the target)

  43. Luc Ferrari

    Can you give + and – after using it for 2 weeks ?

  44. Dal

    Does it support multiple simultaneous connections to stream data to different devices, as the Kickr does?

  45. John S

    I recently got the Direto XR and was wondering if there is a way to pair my Garmin HRM-Tri to Zwift. I know Zwift doesn’t support ant+ for the hrm-tri. But is there a way to pair my Garmin hrm-tri to the Direto XR and then pass the heart rate to Zwift by using the Direto XR as an Ant+ to Bluetooth conversion?


  46. Matt

    Great review Ray!

    Between this and CORE, which one would you choose? The Direto XR is at 805€ including shipping and the CORE is at 850€ including shipping, a Shimano 105 cassette and the tools.

  47. Sophie Yarwood

    I’ve read pretty much every review of yours for direct drive smart trainers including the comments. I had initially thought of getting the Wahoo KICKR CORE but I was feeling pretty nervous about all the problems they seem to have and then I read that Wahoo cannot guarantee the power accuracy below 15 degrees! I plan on setting up my trainer in the cellar which gets cold in winter so I’m guessing that’s a definite “no” to a Wahoo!

    I read in the comments that Elite say their trainers work in colder temperatures and users have reported no problems with Elite trainers in cold temperatures.

    So my question is: would you recommend the new Direto XR (£824) (which is new and reliability is unknown) or the discounted Drivo II (£749.99) (which is now being discontinued and therefore I assume any problems would be difficult to address?)

    The included cassette isn’t a deal breaker as I’ll be using my 10-speed bike on the trainer and will need to buy a cassette whichever trainer I get!

    Thanks 🙂


    Can be used without power cord in a pre race scenario as a warm up
    Thank you

    • Salvatore

      Hi Konstantinos,
      Yes, you can use the Direto XR even without power cord and work a single-level mode.
      You’ll just need to connect the trainer beforehand and set your resistance level of choice.

      When the trainer is unplugged, the brake is automatically set to a minimum percent gradient (say, between 0 and 1) for you to train without electricity, but you can actually choose any resistance you wish by unplugging the trainer while you’re still in the training session.

      Should you close that specific workout, the app will automatically set the resistance to 0 (that is, a little higher than 0, also depending on speed, as in the first scenario above).

      Please feel free to give me feedback if you have any doubts.



      Great answer
      Thank you
      So before ending the workout unplug in the desired level of resistance
      A second question right now
      Can I customize workouts let’s say in garmin connect (as I am doing right now) and sent it to the trainer to follow after (like I am sending it right now to my watch) let’s say to hold me in a specific power zone for a given time? Per given times ?
      Thank you

    • Ivo Roylev

      You can send the workout to the garmin device (edge or probably the watch can do it too) and follow it from there. From the trainer itself, without any app or device, you can’t follow a program.

  49. AldoU

    First of all, great review!

    Then I have a couple of questions:
    1) what about the cadence sensor? Wouldn’t be more accurate to call it speed sensor? Being connected on the far-end of all the spinning stuff, how can it possibly know the actual pedalling frequency without knowing which gears you are using?

    2) wheel size : I know that this is a very tricky topic. Do you think that the nominal size is the default value that is reported on MyETraining app (the 2070 mm you can also see in your review) ? And I do not mean here the size to be specified on garmin devices (which I think has to be the nominal value / 12.1 for Direto XR)

  50. KSav

    I just got this trainer and so far, it’s not a good experience. I’ve calibrated it multiple times and it just won’t keep consistent power. I don’t even mean in ERG mode either. The resistance goes up and down, seemingly at random, then will get so hard that I can barely turn the cranks. One second it’s at 40W then it’s at 400W. Hopefully, this will get sorted out. It’s pretty disappointing so far.

    • That doesn’t sound normal of course. What app are you using to control it?

    • Salvatore

      Hi K,
      as said by Ray, this isn’t normal.
      Can you please open a ticket at the link below? My colleagues will reach out asap to fix it out.
      link to support.elite-it.com

      – Elite

    • Kevin Savage

      I used both Zwift and My E-training. At one point, it must have gone up to near max resistance without any indication it would, as it felt like the chain would break before the cranks would turn. I’ll try again later when I have time to warm it up.

    • Ivo Roylev

      It often happens on my Drivo2 when I backpedal during the interval, or for any other reason when I cannot hold the prescribed wattage. Out of nowhere, the trainer decides to kill my legs, ramping up the resistance to MAX. It doesn’t matter what app is controlling the trainer, it needs to be in ERG mode. Once it happened during cadence drills and I was doing 130rpm at 100W – very difficult to do, my body is bouncing off the saddle. But I decided to hold whatever the trainer threw at me – after 5sec, 1135W was the maximum I could do before my legs died. Funny that it was easier to hold 1000W than 100W at such high cadence

  51. Alan

    I’m using the Elite XR + Favero Assioma Duo pedals connected to Zwift. I’d like to record the turbo and power data on my Garmin Edge 830 as well. Is this possible?

    • Salvatore

      Hi Alan,
      If you wish to record your trainer’s data on your Garmin while you’re on Zwift, you need to set up your trainer as speed&cadence sensor and as power sensor on your Garmin.
      Before that, remember to enter as tire size on your Garmin the result of your wheel circumference divided by 12.1.

      – Elite

    • Alan

      Brilliant, thanks for the prompt response.