Autumn is upon us, and that means turbo trainers reviews. The Elite Drivo II is the first up in the TG cave, and this preview gives my first impressions of the Italians lastest indoor bike trainer, along with a report of my 2018 Elite Factory visit and the Elite Fuoripista. So let’s get into things!
Elite Drivo II Preview and Factory Visit 2018
Ok, I’ll confess, I was on a family holiday to Venice with my sister and her child/spawn/daemon/angel (delete as applicable for different parts of the day) when the opportunity to address the fact I hadn’t seen the new Elite Fuoripista in person at Eurobike came upGiven that Elite SRL was only a little over an hour away from where we were staying (funny that!) it would be rude not to drop by and see things for myself as well as look over their 2018/2019 offerings. So I rented myself a true Italian Stallion (a Fiat Panda still technically fits that description!) and headed off in search of turbo trainers was previously lucky enough to drop over to Elite to see the Elite Fly bottle production, and remain impressed by the sheer Italian elegance of the Elite Factory
Elite is currently comprised of 50 employees, nestled in the Veneto region, on near to the banks of the River Brenta. The company has been building cycling accessories since 1979, and in 1989 moved into their current headquarters – those towers you see? They are from an old limestone furnace! When the company needed a new, larger site, this seemed the perfect location. Rather than flattening the old structures, they painstaking renovated the furnace, whilst maintaining as much as was possible, to render what must be some of the nicest offices anywhere to work in! But what of the Elite Fuoripista?? Well, I can tell you it is as jaw-droppingly beautiful as you would imagine. When you see the unit for the first time, it doesn’t quite look… functional. Take the gear selectors, for example, positioned to provoke memories of classic road bike shifters. They look too much as though they have been pulled from a concept car, a feeling possibly inspired by the Italian oak. Like many features on the Elite Fuoripista they look as though they shouldn’t work – yet they do! The same can be said looking towards the clear front wheel, and drive mechanismThe clear glass support panels on the Elite Fuoripista have been tested with a rider (read selection of weights) up to 120kg currently, while attached to a rig allowing 200,000 cycles of horizontal movement to get through the materials. Currently, the final specification of the panels has not been locked in, as Elite is looking for the optimum balance between panel weight and strengthLet’s look at some details of the Elite Fuoripista rather than just drooling over its lines, we’re not that shallow after all!
Rather than using an optical sensor as is found the the Elite Drivo II and the Direto, the Elite Fuoripista uses a new in-house magnetic torque system in order to squeeze the brains of the machine into the steel and chrome plated aluminium bottom bracket case. This gives the smart bike an accuracy of 2%, which may raise an eyebrow on a unit expected to cost in the region of £14,000. Style doesn’t come cheap. Then again, I supposed if you are putting that down that level of cash, splashing out for a pair of Italian Favero Assioma power meter pedals to chase that additional accuracy, isn’t likely to strain the bank too much. Further more the Fuoripista will be able to simulate a max resistance of 14%The magnetic system has also allowed a change to a pad braking system, ensure that the unit is quieter than the Elite Diretto – as you’ll need to be able to listen to the water lapping at your superyacht, which is clearly going to be home to many Elite Fuoripista units!. Also magnetic system allows the Elite Fuoripista to feature virtual gears, so no need to mess around with a cassette. Further more, you can easily adjust your virtual gears to mimic different cassettes enabling you to train for different routes and setups out in the real world but what about if you don’t want wires trailing around your hyper stylish and minimalist gym? The Elite Fuoripista features a 2600mAh battery, which will give 10 hrs of riding time disconnected from the mains.
The battery sits within the structure of the smart bike, protected and out of the way, but also easily accessible in years hence for servicing
There is a small OLED screen on the “head” of the unit, displaying your power and setting. I’m actually surprised that there is not a larger more functional display here. However Elite counter than significant system interaction can be performed via the Elite app, and that the Elite Fuoripista, using BlueTooth FTMS and ANT+ FEC, has been designed to utilise tablets or connected devices for the main data display Since the Elite Fuoripista has been revealed, there have been some comments about the handlebars. The unit will arrive fully assembled and will ship initially with the bars seen. In choosing the proportions for their smart bike, the Elite team looked at the position of seats on various road bikes from S to XL in size. As the gears have been removed, there is no need to have an adjustable stem length. Seat height, fore and after movement, along with bar height and angle should ensure that all riders find the right position for them. Maybe this is a reflection on the expected clients for the Elite Fuoripista – that does mean that you will be looking at a comfortable setup for this smart bike, you are not going to be able to transfer over your TT bike positions for example
But what about sweat and water? As any Zwifter knows you pain cave let along your bike, tend to swim somewhat after a hard work out! The steel and chrome plating have been selected specifically for sweat and corrosion resistance, given there is such a lot of plating required for the Elite Fuoripista, this part of the manufacture is one of the more costly for Elite. A further design tweak is planned before the units ship at the end of Q4 2018, that is that exposed edges of the glass wi be repositioned so that the Italian oak has a more streamlined profile, and to prevent sweat going between the wood and the panels preventing unwanted staining
As for overall first impressions – it’s beautiful – in fact so much so, it might be a shame to actually sweat on it
But now onto our second new toy of the day, the Elite Drivo II
Elite Drivo II Preview
The Elite Drivo came to the stage in 2016, visually setting itself apart from the crowd of turbo trainers with it’s Star Wars Storm Trooper white case. Since this Wahoo has pushed out three revisions of their Wahoo KICKR, the Cyclops Hammer launched, Tacx has pushed out both the Flux, and now the Flux two, whilst Elite has rather taken the shiny off their top of the line unit with their own Elite Direto – ok, it is debatable how much of a problem a company has when a new product eclipses something further up the product line, when they have to ramp up production to meet demand
As a result, for winter 2018 Elite have opened up their tool kit and given the Elite Drivo and good going over. The new unit this treatment produced looks very much like the love child of a Drivo and Direto. The question will be has the Elite Drivo advanced far enough above its baby brother to justify the price difference now? We’ll have the wait for the full Zwift Gear Test for that!
Externally have broadly the same case shape and lay out as the original Drivo, but now with two stability feet influenced by the very stable Direto, and of course the move to much more sombre black.
To my mind the headline really does have to go to the new fold out feet, which have just been nabbed from the Direto. The original Elite Drivo had many great features, but one of them was not stability. Certainly not when compared to the likes of the KICKR, NEO, Kinetic or as mentioned Elites own DiretoAnother reason for the foot print change, not merely because people don’t like to fall off their trainers, is the power which the Elite Drivo II can handle, 3600 watts @60kph. Although I don’t know many, hold on, change that, ANYONE who can put out that power or speed, but that is what the internals are capable of. Heck even at a slightly more pedestrian 30kph, a power level of 2296watt is still industry leading – as is the Elite Drivo II’s 0.5% power accuracy from their OTS sensor. At which point it is worth while looking over the new unit specs
Elite Drivo II Specifications
- Communication: Bluetooth, ANT+™, ANT+™ FE-C, BlueTooth Smart Trainer Protocol – both ANT and BLE can be used simultaneously
- Slope Simulation: 24%
- Built-in sensors: Power, Speed/Cadence (Advance pedal analytics from this including pedal roundness)
- Max Wattage: Get ready to have your socks blown off the DrivoII ships with 3600Watts @60kph… but for real humans that are going to be 2296w @40kph
- Freehub: Shimano, 9/10/11 speed compatible – no cassette in the box
- Compatibility notes: bikes with 130-135mm hubs and QR skewers, or 12mm x 142 thru-axle hubs,
- Max weight of user: 113kg
- Power Accuracy: 0.5% with Optical Torque Sensor
- Flywheel: 6kg
- Weight: 21kkg
Elite Drivo II user manual can be found HERE
Elite Drivo II Accuracy
As mentioned Elite has now managed to push the level of accuracy down to 0.5%+/- as a result, they don’t believe it would be worth trying to push for an even tighter measurement. This is because being able to measure the error on the power measurement itself becomes a challenge as your accuracies are so high! Elite is happy to raise the point that the Drivo has actually been able to operate at 0.5% accuracy for some time now, something they have been able to measure, as this is the accuracy level of the factories torque meter used in testing. However, it is only with the Drivo II that this has been certified to be reliable across the entire output range. Part of this is from work done to increase the accuracy of the Elite Direto before it shipped.
Originally the torque sensor in the Elite Direto was not able to hit the desired 2% accuracy level in its first interaction during development. An approach to linearisation of the power data was developed, by including data on friction which was previously not included in the power generation formulae. This data-driven improvement in accuracy has been certified in Germany along with the OTS and now streamed to the Drivo II. This has resulted in a change for the user – calibration of the Elite Drivo II is now very important in order to get the advertised accuracy
Most of the changes which matter are very much under the skin. However one aspect which will certainly be relevant to Zwifters is the change in resistance speed
The internal brake has been adjusted so that the responsiveness speed has now trebled, meaning you are going to get a more immersive experience going through the Watopia hills
So I don’t think it would be unfair to describe the changes to the Elite Drivo II as iterative overall. However, I fully believe that for many buyers the change from white will be one of the biggest factors. I have always liked that Elite was brave enough to put out the Drivo in white – and then briefly in pink – BUT in reality, even with the best will in the world the original Elite Drivo did have a tendency to get mucky with chain oil.
I’ll follow up in a few weeks with a full Zwift Gear Test when I have had the chance to get to know the Elite Drivo II as we all know that the temperament of a smart turbo is more than just what is written on the spec sheet!
OK, that is the preview sorted, and I’ll head back to testing. However, I had a few other pictures which didn’t quite sit well in the post, so I thought I’d put them here, as I didn’t want them to go to waste.
Ever wondered what a white Elite Direto would look like?