Trainer Reviews

Hands-On Elite KURA – A Smart, Accurate Fluid Indoor Trainer

The KURA is a smart trainer from Elite that is smart in its own way. The trainer is a direct drive fluid trainer that isn’t electronically controlled. What I mean by that is, the trainer can’t be controlled by a third party software or your GPS unit. So the KURA is smart, but not really that smart.

To simply break it down to you, the trainer will communicate via Bluetooth or ANT+ with a third party app such as Elite My E-Training cycling app, Zwift, TrainerRoad, and other compatible apps. The Kura will transmit power and cadence data. However, it can’t  be controlled. So you can’t do ERG mode training, simulate terrains, or simply just adjust resistance.

So the KURA does few things but does them very well. But before we get into all of that, let’s go over setup and unboxing.

PROS

  • Requires no external power supply
  • Accurate power measurement
  • Very quiet

CONS

  • Kura cannot adjust resistance like an interactive smart trainer.

SETUP AND CALIBRATION

The Kura is a direct drive trainer which means you need to have your own cassette installed. The Kura is equipped with a freehub body compatible with 9/10/11-speed cassettes by Shimano/ SRAM or by other manufacturers that use the Shimano standard.  For Campagnolo, an accessory freehub body is available (not included) that is compatible with Campagnolo 9/10/11 speed cassettes.

IMG_WEB_7The Kura is compatible with bikes with 130 to 135 mm hubs with 5 mm diameter quick release and with bikes with 12 mm x 142 mm thru-axle hubs.

To calibrate the Kura, simply open My E-Training app and pair your trainer. Once the trainer is paired, just head over to Parameters and Advanced Configuration and perform the calibration. You always want to perform the calibration after warming up the trainer for about 10-minutes. Once the calibration is complete, you are good to go.

KURA IN ACTION

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The Kura is a fluid trainer which means, it uses fluid to create resistance. Fluid resistance increases automatically with speed, similar to wind when you are outside. You can adjust resistance by adjusting your gears. As with all indoor bike training, your training should focus on power and cadence rather than speed. You can use lower gears for higher cadence at a low power output, or higher gears for higher power and lower cadence. You will just have to play with your gearing to find the optimal power to cadence ratio for your specific interval.

You will find the Kura provide a wide power range, up to 700 watts, for when you want to do easy rides to hard rides with high power output by just adjusting your gears.

NO POWER SUPPLY

Ok, this is my favorite thing about the Kura. The Kura has a rechargeable battery that recharges via a small generator as you pedal. The battery continues to work even when stop pedaling and recharges when pedaling begins again.

There is also a micro USB connector to recharge from an external power source if you need to. For your first use, or after long periods of non-operation, the trainer’s battery may discharge. To keep the trainer on while simultaneously recharging the battery, it is necessary to pedal or, alternatively, it is possible to connect the USB plug to a power source.

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If the battery charge is low, the Kura Red LED lights will flash (1 second) indicating that the Kura’s battery is low or < 25% charged.

Talking about LED lights, you will find 3 LEDs (Red, Blue, and Green), which identify the power status and the operation of the trainer itself and which communication protocol is being used:

  • Red = identifies the trainer’s power supply:
    Red LED operation during training mode

    • Flashing (1 second) = indicates that the Kura’s battery is low (< 25%)
    • Steady light = The battery has a charge > 25% or is connected to the micro USB plug.

      Red LED operation in power saving mode:
    • Flashing (every 5 seconds) = when connected to the micro USB plug and battery is being charged.
    • Steady light = when connected to the micro USB plug and battery is charged.
    • Off when not connected to the micro USB plug
  • Green = identifies the operation of Kura with the ANT+ protocol.
    • Flashing = waiting for a connection.
    • Steady = Kura is connected with a compatible app utilizing the ANT+ protocol.
  • Blue = identifies the Kura’s operation with Bluetooth Smart protocol.
    • Flashing = waiting for a connection.
    • Steady light = Kura is transmitting data utilizing the Bluetooth Smart protocol.

NOISE TEST

I found the Kura to be very quiet. As quiet as the Elite Drivo. Here is a video of the sound coming from the Kura:

ACCURACY

IMG_WEB_9According to Elite, the Kura has been designed to guarantee very accurate power measurement. The Elite-designed ergometer represents the heart of the product and precisely measures the torque applied to KURA’s transmission shaft and calculates the right power level. That’s how watts are calculated and can be accurate with a ±1% tolerance, just like the most precise and professionally used scientific measurement devices.

In my tests using my crank based power meter, same power meter used on all my tests, I found the Kura to be very accurate. Just take a look at the graph from one of my test rides:

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 9.25.26 AM

Here is a closer look at one of the intervals. You can see how the green and red lines are bascially right on top of each other. This is really increadible and I’ve see this from only three smart trainers, two of them from Elite.

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Here is a power comparison table from each interval:

KuraPower2Max% Diff
Interval 12802800.00%
Interval 22782770.36%
Interval 32542530.40%
Interval 42642620.76%

FINAL THOUGHTS

For $899, The Kura is a cheaper alternative to Elite’s top of the line Drivo trainer with accurate power that is on par with the best trainers on the market such as Elite’s Drivo and Tacx’s NEO. Basically, with the Drivo, you get the automatic resisntance control, more max power, and no power meter calibeation.

However, the Kura doesn’t offer interactive resistance control which is becoming almost a standard now with most bike trainers. This mean, you can use the trainer with different cycling apps, such as Zwift, or TrainerRoad, but you will not get the interactivity like you do with other smart trainers. This mean, you will not be able to simulate courses or ride the trainer in ERG mode for interval training for example.

But with its accurate power reading, ANT+ and Bluetooth compatibility, the trainer can still communicate with almost all cycling apps that support these protocols. You will just have to adjust gears manually to reach your target power, which in a way, is similar to real outdoors riding.

Also, the trainer’s ability to recharge its own power via a small generator as you pedal can be a huge plus if you plan on moving it around or taking it out to a group training sessions or for a warm up before a race without having to worry about plugging the trainer to a power supply.

So, if you are looking for a direct drive quiet trainer, that is accurate and like the fluid resistance feeling, and don’t care about ERG mode or riding courses, then this trainer might be a good option that is worth looking into.

 

 

 

Elite Kura Smart Trainer, Black

$999.99
$939.26
5 new from $ 899.99
Free shipping
Buy This Item
amazon.com
as of September 24, 2017 7:46 pm

Features

  • Integrated Optical Torque System (OTS) power meter is certified to be accurate to within less than 1%
  • Direct Drive fluid trainer with 4.5 Kg internal flywheel for ultra smooth pedaling
  • Folds down for easy portage and storage
  • Internal generator means the Kura does not require power
  • ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart compatible

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