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Elite’s New Square Smart Frame, Avanti & Justo 2 Smart Trainers First Look!

Elite has just announced a new smart-bike setup of sorts, as well as two new trainers. The new smart bike is effectively an upscale take on the also recently announced Zwift Ride, seemingly addressing the three most common complaints of that unit, albeit, for a price. This includes things like adjustable crank arm length, a belt drive, as well as Elite RIZER compatibility.

Meanwhile, the company has also announced two new trainers. Or rather, one entirely new trainer line, Avanti, and then the second edition of another, Justo 2. In both cases, both units get built-in WiFi, while the Justo 2 gets an included 12-speed cassette.

Of course, these units were just announced, and I haven’t had any real rides on them yet – just some brief time pre-show on the Eurobike show floor. Still, I’ve got a couple of quick thoughts we’ll dive into down below.

Elite Square Smart Trainer Frame:

The Elite Square follows in the mold of being a smart bike, without the baggage of a smart bike. It’s technically just a frame, but with built-in handlebars and virtual shifting like a smart bike. Except, without the baggage of the smart bike. No dealing with massive units that are impossible to upgrade, no dealing with massive units that are expensive to ship, and no dealing with massive units that are a nightmare to repair/get fixed when something goes wrong.

Of course, the even more interesting thing here is that you can actually pair this frame with *any* trainer, not just Elite trainers. That’s because, in effect, the Square is attaching to its own little cassette of sorts. So, for a 3rd party trainer, you can just mount that new belt-cassette onto the existing trainer using existing free hub standards.

But let’s back up a second, the Elite Square features four big-ticket items that the Zwift Ride Frame doesn’t:

1) Adjustable crank length (165/167.5/170/172.5/175mm)
2) Belt drive for entirely silent operation
3) Support for Elite Rizer gradient simulator accessory
4) Proper road-bike style shifters, as opposed to game-style buttons for shifters

In addition, it also has more adjustability, specifically, the ability to slide the saddle forward/back.

When it comes to that belt drive system, as noted, it effectively attaches to any trainer using a new-style cassette on the back.

To attach the frame to the trainer, you’ll lower a tension adjustment lever on the back of the frame (below the seat post, as seen in the video), which then removes tension. From there, there’s one additional bolt that must be loosened up.

From a ride feel standpoint, it felt pretty good when paired to an Elite Avanti trainer. But I was just in street clothes and running shoes on the Eurobike show floor, so hardly a very useful test. But everything did feel smooth.

Here’s a closer look at the adjustable crank length system, which is kinda like what we see on other smart bikes for adjustable crank length, except frankly, a whole lot cleaner looking than most of those.

For the remaining adjustability, here’s some fit-type spec goodness:

– Minimum rider height: 152cm / 4’11”
– Maximum rider height: 198cm / 6’6”
– Maximum rider weight: 110kg / 242.51lbs

And then here’s a quick page of all the rest of the fit coordinates:

Next up is the handlebars. These handlebars feature both clickity-clackity actual real-bike style shifters, as well as built-in Zwift Play style control buttons, for controlling both Zwift and other apps/devices. For example, here they’ve got it also set up to control the fan speed.

On the shifting, you can customize both the shifting style – such as SRAM/Shimano/Campagnolo, as well as the entire virtual gearing setup (exact gears you want, and the number of gears).

You can also do the more basic sequential style-shifting.

For gearing, you can choose a virtual cassette with 10/11/12/13 speeds, as well as the number of teeth for each cog, from 9 to 52. You can select 1-3 chainrings, and the number of teeth from 60 to 22. You can further create specific ride profiles too, saved for quick swapping (e.g., hilly vs flat). All of this is done with the Elite App, roughly like other smart bikes. The controllers are run using a coin cell battery (CR2032), which is found on the inside of the handlebars, and easily accessed. Though, the battery life there is 80 hours, so a bit less than I’d have hoped. Albeit, 80 hours of actual indoor ride time is still a fair bit for most people.

One other nice touch is that they’ve built in a Garmin quarter-turn mount. This allows you to quickly mount your Garmin Edge device there. Of course, it’d be easy enough to get a plastic insert made for Wahoo-style mounts too:

Ultimately, the Square is a pretty interesting option. Of course, priced at 1,250EUR for just the Elite Square (not including a trainer), it’s the same price as the Zwift Ride (including trainer). Zwift expects to start selling the standalone Zwift Ride Frame later this summer (likely in late August or early September), and while they haven’t announced exact pricing, I’m told to expect it to be roughly the simple math of the total price, minus a Wahoo KICKR CORE+COG+PLAY. That’d put the Zwift Frame somewhere in the $600-$700 ballpark, depending on how one prices the above components.

So basically, the Elite Square is twice the price(ish). Of course, with that increased price you’re getting a belt drive, adjustable crank length, more adjustability in rider positioning, Elite Rizer compatibility, and much better feeling shifters. A lot of people asked for that on the Zwift Ride, without probably realizing each of those four things costs more money. Here’s roughly how much more money it costs in real life.

It’ll be up to you to decide whether or not those extra features are worth the cash – much like pretty much every other higher-priced thing in the indoor cycling world. Still, it’s cool to see these concepts exist, which continue to be a fraction of the price of the larger and bulkier smart bikes.

Elite Avanti Smart Trainer:

Next up we’ve got the new Elite Avanti lineup. This is effectively a head-to-head competitor with the Wahoo KICKR CORE series (including the Zwift Hub One variant of it). Except Elite is aiming to one-up the Wahoo/Zwift offering in pretty much every possible spec department. Albeit, at a slight premium to that price.

The biggest ticket item here is the inclusion of WiFi, but also things like Race Mode in Zwift, as well as lateral sway/movement. Plus a higher accuracy spec, higher simulated gradient, and heart rate bridging/passthrough to solve the issue on Apple TV.

Here’s the tech specs for the Elite Avanti smart trainer:

– Direct drive trainer: This means you remove your rear wheel
– Flywheel: It has a flywheel weight of 4kg/8.8lbs
– Cassette: Not included, compatible 9-12speed
– Sound: Essentially silent.
– Handle: Yes
– Flexible Feet for Motion/Sway: Yes, 4.5° lateral sway
– Protocol Compatibility: ANT+ FE-C, ANT+ Power, Dual Bluetooth Smart Trainer Control, WiFi DirCon, Bluetooth Smart Power (everything you need).
– WiFi: Yes, Direct Connect to all apps via WiFi
– Wired Ethernet: With Elite Gateway accessory
– Zwift Race Mode: Yes, 10 Hz
– Heart Rate & Cadence Bridging: Yes, can rebroadcast your heart rate sensor within a single channel, ideal for Apple TV Zwift users (who are Bluetooth channel limited)
– Control trainer from Di2 buttons in ERG mode: Using The Elite My E-Training app, you can increase/decrease resistance levels using the Di2 extra buttons
– App Compatibility: Anything and everything
– Skewer Compatibility: All the skewers and adapters you could ask for: Road 130mm, 135mm, 142x12mm
– RIZER Compatible: Yes
– Max Incline: 18% simulated grade
– Max Wattage: 2,100 watts resistance (2,100w at 40KPH, 920w @ 20KPH)
– Stated Accuracy: < +/1.0%, Automatic Calibration
– Power Cable Required: Yes, power block compatible with 100-240v
– Pricing and Availability: €749/$849 August for Europe, September rest of world

In this case, I didn’t have a chance to ride the unit yet, since it was physically mounted to a shelf. Though, I did convince them to spend about 20 minutes detaching the 78 bolts that had been used to hard-attach it to the shelf, to put on the ground for some photos. I’m sure the Elite booth folks love me now.

Below is the back of the unit, for both the power plug as well as the Ethernet adapter port (in case you wanted a wired connection via Ethernet with their Elite Gateway accessory).

My initial thoughts are that this is super interesting as a mid-tier trainer. It’s certainly one-upping the specs of the Wahoo/Zwift offerings, but at that slight price premium. The KICKR CORE is selling for about $500 these days, and with the bundles from Zwift, you’re looking at around $650 or so. This is a bit higher at $849, but with added features like Race Mode and WiFi, it’ll appeal to a higher-end audience. Same goes with higher gradient simulation. But features like heart rate bridging are genuinely useful for all riders, especially (actually almost entirely) for Apple TV users, that run up against the limitations there. All while sticking the landing with a +/- 1% accuracy claim.

But of course, my favorite feature is the tiny little drawer holding all the axle adapters, that hangs out in the bottom of the trainer:

Years ago, when James Huang reviewed the Wahoo KICKR CLIMB, he noted that it’d be awesome to have a small compartment to hold all these adapters, else they get lost. Finally, that’s arrived. Only took 6 years. Still, kudos to Elite here.

Nonetheless, I’m keen to see how all these things hold up in real-world usage of course – including both bits like road feel, as well as, of course…accuracy. Assuming it’s just a mini-version of the Elite Justo, then all will likely be well.

Elite Justo 2 Smart Trainer:

Next up is the Elite Justo 2, which is a minor incremental update to the Justo 1, which was announced two years ago this week, which adds the following features:

– WiFi built-in
– Switch to 12-speed cassette included

That’s it. Quick and easy. Elite says that they didn’t want a scenario where the cheaper Avanti had WiFi, but the Justo 2 didn’t. This solves that. And of course, the upgrade to 12-speed is logical given the target market here.

In any case, here’s the Justo 2 specs:

– Direct drive trainer: This means you remove your rear wheel
– Flywheel: It has a flywheel weight of 7.2kg/15.98lbs
– Cassette: 12-speed cassette
– Sound: Essentially silent
– Handle: Yes
– Flexible Feet for Motion/Sway: Yes, both 7° and 4.5° lateral sway feet
– Protocol Compatibility: ANT+ FE-C, ANT+ Power, Dual Bluetooth Smart Trainer Control, WiFi DirCon, Bluetooth Smart Power (everything you need).
– WiFi: Yes, Direct Connect to all apps via WiFi
– Wired Ethernet: With Elite Gateway accessory
– Zwift Race Mode: Yes, 10 Hz
– Heart Rate & Cadence Bridging: Yes, can rebroadcast your heart rate sensor within a single channel, ideal for Apple TV Zwift users (who are Bluetooth channel limited)
– Control trainer from Di2 buttons in ERG mode: Using The Elite My E-Training app, you can increase/decrease resistance levels using the Di2 extra buttons
– App Compatibility: Anything and everything
– Skewer Compatibility: All the skewers and adapters you could ask for: Road 130mm, 135mm, 142x12mm
– RIZER Compatible: Yes
– Max Incline: 24% simulated grade
– Max Wattage: 2,300 watts resistance (2,100w at 40KPH, 920w @ 20KPH)
– Stated Accuracy: +/1.0%, Automatic Calibration
– Power Cable Required: Yes, power block compatible with 100-240v
– Pricing and Availability: €1099/$1,199 – August for Europe, September rest of world

Just in case you’re trying to figure out the actual differences between Avanti and Justo 2, they are:

1) Justo 2 is $1,199 vs $849 on Avanti
2) Gradient simulation is 24% on Justo 2, and 18% on Avanti
3) Justo 2 includes a 12-speed cassette, Avanti doesn’t include a cassette
4) The flywheel weight is bigger on Justo 2 at 7.2kg versus 4kg on Avanti
5) Justo 2 claims greater than +/-1.0 % accuracy, versus +/- 1% for Avanti
6) Justo 2 includes two different flex feet styles, versus one set for Avanti
7) Slightly higher max wattage of 2,300w on Justo 2 versus 2,100w on Avanti
8) The Justo 2 includes 2 years of the Elite app, versus 1 year on the Avanti
9) That said, only Avanti includes the new bottom axle accessory drawer

Got all that? Good.

Going Forward:

Obviously, down the road, I’ll have in-depth reviews of all these things. Likely Avanti and Justo 2 first, sometime in the August-ish timeframe, and then following with the Square in the November-ish timeframe. Some of that will depend on exactly when units arrive at the DCR Cave, and how deep the queue is at that point. Currently, I’m predicting a very long queue this year, between indoor trainers and smart bikes.

Still, I’m looking forward to it – especially for both Avanti as well as the Square, and then, the two of them together of course.

With that – thanks for reading, and stay tuned for plenty more from Eurobike!

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45 Comments

  1. Niels

    Thats looks promising.
    Looking forward to see what other companies have to offer at Eurobike.

  2. JH

    Assuming this thing will be App-neutral. So will support “free ride” across all apps and not just ERG-mode like the Zwift Ride?

  3. Yondaime

    It’s almost as if dedicated hardware companies know how to make hardware than other want-to-it-all entities. Thanks for the write-up !

  4. Fabio

    Hi Ray, a question not only refferring to Elite product. I train a lot in TT position with aero bars and it seem to me that there is still nothing ‘smart’ for this kind of bike except for the “trainer plus tt bike” combination and even in this case the button are not easy to use.

    IS there a better way?

    • Hmm, not at the moment, as you couldn’t really use the Zwift Click with this at this point, unless I suppose you were paired to a trainer that supports the Click. Currently no Elite trainers do.

  5. charlie

    So I could mount the Square on a Tacx Neo and freeride Fulgaz with no problem? Great!

  6. I’m thinking about investing in my first indoor bike setup that’s very “app-neutral”, will be compatible with anything, reliable and “maintenance free” over the next 5-8 years. This new option looks very interesting! Zwift Frame is absolutely no-go due to the propriety nature of it and other limitations. I don’t want to constantly pay subscription fees.

    Would Elite Square Smart Frame make sense to combined with Jetblack Victory, that’s much cheaper than Avanti? Would it work together and be cheaper/better than alternatives? In the future I’d extend it with the climb option.

    I will, of course, keep an eye on other stuff presented on Eurobike.

    • John H.

      The Italian flair you would associate with design appears lacking in The Square? It’s no looker, aesthetics aside, has decent features but is that the final product or protype? The Zwift Ride kicks its ass on looks….

    • For me, the design doesn’t matter. Square, Round, or Frame. Just quality/price, maintenance, repairability and open platform. Zwift Ride is too coupled with the Zwift online platform for me.

    • Marco

      Elite’s designs have always been function driven.
      Also maybe the issue is that the Rizer is visually different from the rest with it’s rounded silver design.
      I was at Eurobike yesterday and I would say that the Square looks much better in person because the build quality is so good.
      In any case I think it’s a really solid product. For me, 3rd party compatibility is a necessity. The Square is the best product of this kind right now.

  7. Todd Tannenbaum

    Does The Frame virtual shifting work only with the Avanti? How about older Elites like the Direto XR? Or perhaps (dreaming) it can work with any smart trainer similarly to how indieVelo does? Thanks!

    • Mattia Gomiero

      Ciao Todd, the virtual shifiting Elite has developed in the Square works with no connection at all with any indoor training app. That means it works with any smart trainer of both Elite and other brands al long as they come with FEC communication protocol. Indeed the trainer only will be connected to the software while the Square won’t. So yes the Direto XR is compatible and works superbly well. And again, since the Square virtual shifting is not controlled by any app’s protocol, it can work with all these apps.
      The trainer will be controlled both by Square (virtual shifting) and by the app (e.g. braking while you hit a climb).

    • Tom

      What happens when I’m in ERG mode and use virtual shifting?

      In my setup I use a softer gear for ERG because if I would set a harder gear the vibration / inertia of the trainer would be greater.

      Would this be identical with virtual shifting? Would shifting up during an ERG mode session increase the vibration / inertia of the trainer and virtual shifting down reduce the vibration / inertia of the trainer??

    • Thomas De Jaeger

      Compatible with the regular Direto as well?

  8. Thomas

    Maybe I missed it, but does the frame come with a “fork” or something similiar? Or do you need a Rizer? Would it be compatible to the Kickr Climb as well?

    • Mattia Gomiero

      Ciao Thomas, it’s got its own fork which in this video was removed because of the Elite Rizer. The Square is not compatible with Kickr Climb right now.

    • Alex

      Mattia, what will be the price for UK consumers in GBP and how soon will the Square be available? Thanks

    • Mattia Gomiero

      Both price and availability should be decided soon. The price won’t drastically be far away from 1250 euro while availability I’d say around mid Nov and mid Dec

    • There is a photo above, showing the Square with the regular fork. It’s the one with the plain white background.

      *Update…err…I guess I didn’t drag it in. Will do in a second.

  9. Paul

    Really intrigued by the Square (though at 107 kg, I’m close enough to the upper weight limit that I’m not sure I’d want to risk it). It really seems like the buttons would lead to a need to be able to lock out the steering on the Riser. I wonder if that means that virtual shifting is coming to their “legacy” trainers soon (I ride Elite Direto XR-T).

    If cross-brand compatibility is an option, the Square plus the JetBlack Victory would provide just about everything that is lacking in the Zwift Ride for a small-ish premium. If they worked together (and I was in the market for something like that), that’s they way I’d go.

    • Mattia Gomiero

      Ciao Paul, by stating 107kg we are actually just following the general guidelines in terms of safety. The Square has been tested with much more weight than 107kg.

      The Square is already compatible to Direto XR-T so you can virtually shift. Square is compatible with all the most recent direct drive trainers which come with FEC protocol communication. Both Elite trainers and other brands’ trainers.

    • Niels

      so a Tacx Neo 2T will work too with The Square?

    • Mattia Gomiero

      yep

    • Mat

      Hello.
      How much more weight was it tested on? Because i am 125 kg and am very interested in elite square.
      Also will it be compatible with saris hammer h3?

  10. Joel

    Does this frame has the adjustability to mimic a TT/triathlon geometry?

  11. Charlie Hay

    Regarding the Square, does the regular front fork have feet that enable any side-to-side tilting movement, if your attached trainer at the rear also happens to allow some tilting?

    Or is the front rock solid stable on the ground, such that it would impede any side-to-side tilting at the trainer end?

  12. Thomas

    In regard to pricing of the Avanti: Why would you compare to a Zwift bundle…it’s only the trainer, right? Therefore, it has to be compared to a Kickr Core at 500$… and, honestly, imho that’s not the same ballpark, it’s not even close, but it’s almost double that price.
    I don’t feel that we (or the market) needs more trainers close to a thousand bucks, but more low cost trainers. Or higher end ones with new features.
    I personally feel that it is too close to the Justo, both in terms of specs and pricing.

  13. Marco

    Can you elaborate how the Square connects to a trainer? Do you have to go through the Elite app?
    And do you have to go through that each time or does the Square remember the trainer and connect automatically as soon as it wakes up?

  14. Ciprian

    I am trying to understand how virtual shifting with a Tacx Neo 1 while free-riding/racing in Zwift will work in practice:
    1. Elite Square will connect over ANT+ FE-C protocol to Neo
    2. Zwift will connect over ANT+ FE-C protocol to Neo as well
    3. Zwift will send incline data to the trainer
    4. Square will also increase/decrease resistance/incline based on the user’s shifting

    Will the trainer be able to combine this data and provide a smooth experience for free-riding/racing?

    • Ciprian

      Or, after reading the specs for Square: Square will act like a bridge between apps and trainer, and will do the magic of the combing this data (slope and shifting) and send it to the trainer?

  15. Paul

    How think is the Square’s frame? Is thigh rub a concern like some of the thicker smart bikes?

  16. Vic

    What’s the real benefit of WiFi connectivity for a trainer? I see discounting on Justo 1s now, but what would I be giving up?

  17. John Watson

    Guessing this frame is a vapor product because I can’t find any website that sells it.

    • Chad McNeese

      It’s not vapor. It’s a brand new product announcement that is not necessarily linked to actual ability to buy it as of today.

  18. Jason Richardson

    I have a Tacx neo 2T with motion plates. Would the square work with my trainer? Would there be some way to allow the “fork” to move forward and backward? I can imagine making a little motion plate for under the “fork”, but it would be great to have an off the shelf solution.

    Not sure I would be ambitious enough to attempt getting the Elite riser to work in this setup—several issues would need resolution: allowing the whole riser to slide front to back, allow the square frame to rotate on the 2t, and finally allow zwift to somehow control the riser which currently requires an elite trainer. While all three are difficult, the last seems insurmountable, unless the square can take the place of the trainer to bridge the riser control.

    Also, one question about the square controls, does it have steering controls like zwift play?

    Also I wonder how well the shifting works? It sounds too good to be true? There is no precedent for this approach. Did Elite figure out a new way?

  19. Tero

    Do the handlebars turn? Does the Rizer attchment part use standard Front axle? I love the innovation in this and in the Zwift Ride, but at the same time I’m a bit disappointed that neither seems to be compatible with my Gymrail X1 Rocker. The quick adjustments etc. would enable mutliple users, but it still looks like that thoase with rockers that connect to front axle (Gymrail, E-Flex…) cannot use this or Zwift Ride.

  20. PoorInRichfield

    I like the Elite Square brake lever design over the “gamified” version that Zwift Ride bike. I personally want my trainer bike to feel like my real bike, not a game controller.

  21. How close are the major groupset brands to bringing out a “Indoor only” groupset? Either bespoke components (direct to customer or OEM) or repackaged and developed current components? I really like the look of the Elite shifters from this review, more so than the frame etc. Frame adjustability is great if it’s multiple users, but for solo users once you’ve set up, you never touch the adjustability again!

    For controlling my Di2 setup and Zwift, I really don’t want shifters AND a Zwift play controller/buttons, I’d much prefer a virtual platform agnostic shifter with the Play Controller bits and pieces also controlling my Di2 mech/derailleur (or eTap or EPS if that’s your flavour). And I’m still in the mind of a cassette over a Zwift cog so that I can use my indoor and road bike on my trainer. I’d love to be able to have my road bike shifters to have the same feel to my indoor shifters but with the added Zwift controls. With current Zwift cog and virtual shift options, as soon as you lose the cassette the normal shift triggers become useless and the indoor/road muscle memory and shift feel changes.

    Will Shimano/SRAM/Campag(?)/other Chinese brand come to the market with an “Indoor Groupset”?

    * Single crank option but with the crank length variability, greater corrosion resistance on chain rings.
    * Beatings sealed for sweat dripping all over them (especially bottom bracket), reliability and efficiency over weight loss.
    * Corrosion resilient chain (again, reliability and noise over weight loss)
    * No brake options available, as who needs brakes inside??
    * Shifters shift button can easily be switched to be assigned to either physical mechs or virtual shifting depending on if your have a cassette or Zwift cog on that session.
    * Common/generic mappable/assignable buttons for controlling fans, Zwift/platforms, climb devices, Spotify volume/skip functions etc.
    * Brake levers reassigned from physical cable pulls/hydraulic cylinders to in-game virtual braking
    * D-fly type link to Zwift/virtual platforms for integrations
    * Front mech (optional) greater sweat and corrosion resistance and better sealing, weight is irrelevant
    * Rear mech (optional) reliability, weight is irrelevant, slightly greater bash protection if frequent removal

  22. Janneman

    Aesteticly, my wife will leave me if I ever brought that square into our home…

  23. Matthew

    Ray,

    Do you know what the effective physical gear combination is for the Square? That is, how many teeth does the front “chainring” have, and how many does the rear “cog”?

  24. Matthew

    Have you asked Elite, Wahoo, etc. why they don’t build in native ethernet instead of requiring stupidly expensive (the Elite ethernet Gateway is like ~$150USD) dongles? How expensive are the parts for native ethernet? $5? $10?