Featured Trainer Reviews

Hands-On the Elite DIRETO Smart Direct Drive Trainer

Last month, Elite announced their latest direct drive trainer- the Direto. This direct drive trainer is placed at Elite’s high end of their home trainer range, alongside the Drivo but at a much lower price range ($899). For comparison, the Drivo is $1,300.

The Direto has an integrated OTS (Optical Torque Sensor) power meter, which measures power with +/- 2.5% accuracy, simulates slopes up to 14% and 1400 watts max power output at a 25mph speed (40 km/h).

I had a chance to ride a final production unit that Elite sent me for the past few weeks and I was very impressed with the trainer accuracy, sound level, and overall performance.

So let’s go over the trainer and see what you get for $899.

The Direto comes in a big box. Once you take it out of the box, you will find three legs that you will need to put together using the tools included. Next, you will need to install a cassette which isn’t included but you can easily get one from your local bike shop or online for about $50. Here is an 11-speed Shimano from Amazon that I recommend.

Here is everything in the box

You will need to install four bolts to attach the legs. All the tools you need are included in the box to attach the legs.

Legs can be easily folded for storage.

At first impression, the trainer is housed in hard plastic similar to the NEO and Elite Drivo. It felt lighter than other trainers which make it easy to carry around. It weights 15 kg (33.1 lbs). The KICKR weight 47lbs and Tacx NEO comes in at 50lbs just for comparison.

But size wise, it’s a little taller than other trainers I’ve used including the Tacx NEO so a front wheel block is a must. You will need to raise the front wheel by about 1.5 inches. Elite offers the Elite Su-Sta Elevator Block which you can adjust up and down to give you the height you desire.

Here is the Direto next to Wahoo KICKR

SMART CONNECTIONS & COMPATIBILITY

The Direto is totally interactive and ANT+ FE-C and Smart Bluetooth 4.0 compliant. It can interact with a multitude of apps, software, computers and devices (smartphones and tablets) with iOS, Android, OSX and Windows. It can be managed with the with Elite’s My E-Training app available for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac. You also get a 12-month free subscription to My E-Training app. It works with Zwift, TrainerRoad, Perfpro, The Sufferfest, and a multitude of other apps.

  • Bike Compatibility: The Direto is compatible with both road and MTB frames, with 130-135 x 5mm hubs and quick release and 142×12 with thru-axle.
  • Sprocket cassette compatibility: Shimano 9/10/11 speed, SRAM & Campagnolo 9/10/11 speed. An adapter that’s available from your local Elite dealer or www.shopelite-it.com is required for compatibility with Campagnolo.

ACCURACY

This is the fun part. This is what separates really good trainers from almost good trainers. This is why some trainers cost more than other trainers.

Elite claims +/- 2.5% accuracy for the Direto. In my tests against my crank based power meter (Power2Max), the trainer met and exceeded Elite’s claims.

First, you will need to do a quick calibration using My E-Training app. Warm the trainer up for 10 minutes and then perform the calibration. I’ve done the calibration once since I got it and didn’t need to do it again since but usually, you want to perform calibration once a week or so.

To start off, I decided to go out and climb up to the tower on Zwift with trainer resistance setting at 100%. The climb is about 5 miles long with approximately 1,800 feet in elevation and max out at 17% slope for few seconds. The DIRETO supports up to 14% slope and that was hard enough to put me on the smallest gear. The majority of the climb is around 8-14% slope.

Here is the chart for the full ride. You can see how the Direto was practically following my powermeter.

Here is the section from the full climb. Nothing abnormal to report. Just beautiful two lines hugging each other

I decided to do a couple of all out short sprints towards the end. Not much left in my legs at that point but managed to get up to about 800 watts just for the sake of testing

Not sure what exactly happened with the second sprint but the lines were following each other. The Direto reached all the way up and then dropped where my powermeter gradually made it to max power. I think I dropped one gear and that’s possibly where the Direto power estimate dropped a little which can be expected with hub based powermeters.

How about interval work? I did bunch of those as well. Here is a comparison table from an interval workout I did in ERG mode. You can see all intervals came within 1%-2%.

Elite DiretoPowermeter
Interval 12822781%
Recover119120-1%
Interval 22822781%
Recover123126-2%
Interval 32792761%
Recover114118-3%
Interval 42792771%

ERG MODE

ERG mode works well in Zwift and TrainerRoad. However, TrainerRoad doesn’t support Bluetooth connection to the Direto yet. I reached out them and was told BT support should be available end of August or early September via TrainerRoad Beta. You can still connect the trainer using ANT+FE-C and it will work just fine. However, if you use TrainerRoad iOS app, then you will need the ANT+ Key and Apple lightning to 30-pin adapter to make that connection.

Update 9/26/2017: Bluetooth support for the Direto has been pushed into production on all TrainerRoad apps.

In the table below, you will see my goal wattage vs actual wattage for each interval in ERG mode with TrainerRoad. All intervals came within 2-4 watts which is typical.

GoalActual
Interval 1 (10 min)280278
Recover120120
Interval 2 (10 min)280278
Recover120126
Interval 3 (10 min)280276
Recover120118
Interval 3 (10 min)280277

CADENCE

The Direto does provide cadence data out of the box so no need to purchase a sperate cadence sensor. The Direto estimates cadence rather than measuring it directly. You will see some spikes here and there and I noticed it when you suddenly try to accelerate or adjust power. For whatever reason, I noticed it more during my recovery intervals. While the cadence was very stable during the hard part of the interval, it became a little erratic during recovery.

 

ROAD FEEL

The Direto comes with a 9lbs (4.2kg) flywheel. Not as heavy as some of the other direct drive trainers but heavy enough to give you good inertia and a decent road feel. For comparison, the Elite Drivo and Wahoo KICKR come with a 13lbs flywheel and CycleOps Hammer still sits on top with a massive 20lbs flywheel. Pedalling on the Direto felt smooth and the trainer responded quickly to changes and gradients in Zwift.

NOISE

The trainer doesn’t really make a lot of noise. You would probably hear more noise from a fan or chain. It’s fairly quiet and didn’t notice much vibration. Once you are up at higher speed, you might hear a fan like noise. That’s the cooling fan inside the trainer itself. Other than that, the trainer is fairly quiet and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quiet trainer.

Here is a short video demonstrating the noise from the DIRETO

FINAL THOUGHTS

Every so often you see a revolutionary product that puts the pressure on competitors to match it. I won’t call the DIRETO a revolutionary trainer but it is in the sub $1,000 space.

The DIRETO sums up all the best features that a home trainer needs to have for any serious athlete. For $899, you will have a top of the line bike trainer that is accurate, consistent, quiet, responsive, with good road feel, and compatibility. The only thing remains to be seen with the DIRETO is how it will perform under long term use.

It will be interesting to see how competitors react to the DIRETO. We will certainly know for sure if any company will come out with a new product in this space next week during Eurobike or Interbike. We might see new players enter the market with a wheel-on smart trainers but not so sure about the direct-drive space at least for the remainder of this year.

If you are looking for a direct-drive trainer, that is quiet, accurate, and compatible with Zwift, TrainerRoad, Sufferfest and other apps, give the Direto a try, you won’t be disappointed.

WHERE TO BUY

The DIRETO is expected to start shipping in the U.S. early September. Amazon is currently shipping this trainer via a 3rd party supplier and you can order it today.

eBay also carries the trainer with free shipping. Also take a look at our Pricing chart for the most up-to-date price information.

COMPARISON CHART

Elite Direto Interactive Cycling Trainer

$899.95
2 new from $899.95
Buy Now
amazon.com
as of November 20, 2017 2:21 pm

Features

  • It's a new totally interactive ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth home trainer, compatible with all software supplied by Elite and with the other most used platforms, so the cyclist can go online to challenge other users
  • Has direct drive for easy set-up and zero tire wear or slippage, wirelessly transmitts via ANT+ (FE-C, Power and Speed & Cadence)/ Bluetooth, simulates slopes up to 145%, develops 1400 Watt power output at a 40 km/h and boasts a power measurement accuracy score of +/- 2,5%
  • Compatible with both road and MTB frames, including 142 x 12 with thru axles and third party apps such as Zwift, Trainerroad, Bikevo, Kinomap and Sufferfest; manage your Direto with a smartphone, tablet, bike computers, sport watches, ANT+ and/or Bluetooth computers
  • Practical and easy to use: very stable, easy to transport, folds quickly for storage even with limited space available and is Ideal for any type of training, specifically for those training sessions directed towards working on: cadence, power and sprints that require absolute accuracy
  • Compatible with both road and MTB frames, including 142 x 12 with thru axles and comes with a free 12-month subscription to the My E-Training software & app

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