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Elite Zumo TRAINER REVIEW | ZWIFT GEAR TEST

With the Elite Zumo, Elite seems to be adopting a Mercedes approach to smart trainers, produce a trainer for every possible niche, and every possible price mark. Available at £427, the Elite Zumo is the cheapest direct smart trainer on the market, let’s take a look at what might be Elite secret weapon for 2020

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Elite Zumo SMART TRAINER REVIEW | ZWIFT GEAR TEST

TLDRStunning price, and shows what is actually possible, if you really trim back the bells whistles. If you’re looking for a bargain basement trainer, and what the benefit of a warranty, The Elite Zumo is the unit to buy.

TG SCORE: 4/5

The Elite Zumo trainer, has been a very long time in coming to market. To the degree, that after it was initially announced, and then seem to drop off all radars, I have actually considered that this unit was quietly being dropped, with neither reviewers, nor the public, ever likely to see this potentially very interesting trainer

The reason being why this train is so interesting, is the absolutely bargain price. To be absolutely clear, there is no other direct drive unit it on the market which comes close. Sure, you may be able to pick up the original generation Tacx Flux which have somehow got stuck in stock rooms, but other than that, the Elite Zumo is coming in a good £75 under a current release Tacx Flux S – the reason being that Elite have cut every frill going – just look at the legs!

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The legs are just simple steel tubes with holes cut for the feet!

Sure the Elite Direto X legs are not exactly the most complicated engineering structures in the world, but they are certainly going to be more expensive to make than the tubes holding the Elite Zumo level, and this is going to factor into the utterly bargain price of the Elite Zumo

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On given the nature of the Elite Zumo trainer I think there’s definitely space to address to rational behind the £1000 Elite Drivo II, compared to the bargain basement Elite Zumo. Let’s not forget that around Christmas time you could have had the Elite Zumo in deals for an astonishing £399.

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There I think it’s the key. For somebody who thinks they might like to get into indoor cycling. Somebody who is definitely on a budget, and will likely be using their existing bike. The Elite Zumo is a gateway device. A lot of new riders come on balk the concept of paying £500-600 for a power meter When they have no idea, whether or not the likes of Zwift, and RGT are going to float their boat. However, unlike many sports, there is a high bar to entry into indoor cycling, one of the largest can be the trainer.

I think the idea of such a low-cost trainer, as a gateway device is a really good idea both the customers, and the producers. If the purchaser, finds that they enjoy indoor cycling, then it’s quite likely, that they will look to upgrade in the fullness of time – The ability to simulate a 12% climb on the Elite Zumo out, it’s not terrible, but is a notable difference compared to the 20% from the Wahoo KICKR. To be fair, your wallet will notice the difference in the two trainers about as keenly as the pain in your legs going from a 12% slope to a 20%

In which case the Elite Zumo can hopefully be recycled within the household encourage other users. Whilst it is great fun to be able to Zwift with friends across the world, it is another level when they are next to you!

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Elite Zumo – Design

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For diving into the testing, and the nitty gritty of the Elite Zumo review we need to get things unboxed and built. Noticeable change from the Elite Zumo compared to the Elite Direto is the brown cardboard box. Whilst on one hand, I can see how the brightness of the Elite Direto box would be better for positioning in a shop

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I would imagine that the Elite Zumo packing is less energy intensive to produce and probably easier to recycle – Something that I’m beginning to feel is quite important, as the packaging realistically it’s not meant to be kept around by most users. Plus a full colour box is no doubt going to have a higher cost then the simple Zumo box – what do you feel is better though?

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That said, Elite does have some room for improvement, as within the box we have two large slabs of polystyrene holding the Elite Zumo in place. We have seen Kinetic, using cardboard packaging in order to protect their trainers, so we know that more eco friendly packaging is possible

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When we actually get things out of the box, we’ve got the three tubular turbo legs, four bolts and allen keys to attach them to the trainer, and adapters for thru-axel compatibility. Power supply, training skewer and paperwork including manual.

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Instructions for the Thru axle connectors, are relatively straightforward, and should not cause any significant difficulty for anyone

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Unsurprisingly at this price point a cassette isn’t included in the box. This is one of the few areas, where you begin to see quite a bit of crossover in the Elite lineup. As Elite have strongly marketed the Elite Suito as the the real “starter” trainer, given the included cassette, but the £70 difference here will more than cover the cassette price.

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Assembling the trainer, is very straight forwards, just attaching the front three legs, into the slot at the front of the trainer – like the Elite Direto trainers before it the legs then turn out to 90deg giving a nice stable platform

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Even with the budget price point, the Elite Zumo still is quite a stylish trainer. You can see the direct echoes in it from the Elite Direto X, with the flywheel, but also how the rear portion of the trainer has a cut out to allow for longer rear cages

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The handle on the top aspect the trainer does exactly what you’d expect it to do, providing an easy grip, and mobilisation of the trainer.

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On the forward-facing, non-drive side of the Elite Zumo we have the three status lights, ANT+, BLE and power. Pretty self-explanatory really

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Directly under the lights is the power socket, there is a little cable retention system there to prevent you from yanking on the trainer if you trip over the wire. The same system is used on all the Elite trainers, and if I’m honest, I see how it would protect the trainer, but just moves the damage to the cable. I’d much prefer an easier cable release as on the Saris H3

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One area, that Elite is very clear to make sure to all owners, and buyers is is that the Elite comes with a power meter link – suggesting is that whilst the Zumo does give power data, you may get a better experience, by using an existing power meter and having that communicated to the unit

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Right, with that little overview out of the way, let’s get into the details of the Elite Zumo

Elite Zumo Turbo Trainer – Specifications

  • Communication:
    • Bluetooth, ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, BlueTooth Smart Trainer Protocol FTMS
  • Slope Simulation:
    • 12 % (Direto X 18%, Suito 15%)
  • Built-in sensors:
    • Power, Speed/Cadence
  • Max Wattage:
    • 1340W @ 40km/h, 2200W @ 60km/h
      • Direto X – 2100 W @40kmph and 3250 @60kmph
      • Suito – 1900w @40kmph, 2900w @60kmph
  • Power Accuracy:
    • +/- 3%
      • Suito +/- 2.5%
      • Direto X +/- 1.5%
  • Flywheel:
    • 4.2kg
      • 3.5kg Elite Suito
      • 4.2 kg Elite DiretoX
      • 5.4kg Wahoo CORE,
      • 6.7kg Tacx Flux S
  • Weight:
    • 15kg
      • 14.5kg Elite Suito
      • 15kg Direto X
  • Size:
    • Unfolded: 33.07in x 25.59in x 21.65 in
    • Folded: 11.81in x 25.59in x 21.65 in

Elite Zumo Manual

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Unfortunately for once I have been unable to find a manual for the Elite Zumo. However when it is available, I would expect it to appear here

Elite Zumo – Zwift Gear Test

Once you have built the Elite Zumo, it is then time to install the Elite app in order to calibrate. But don’t search for an “Elite app”, as you’ll not find it. You need to look for “MyETraining” confusingly! Which you can then download from either iTunes or the Google Play store

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The app is important as it allows two major functions with the Elite Zumo – firstly the Calibration. It’s always worthwhile to do the spin down after the trainer has been used and walked up. Elite have always requested at least 10 minutes of use beforehand. Previously, I’ve kind of given that 10 minutes a bit of lipservice, however with the Elite Zumo, I have noticed that it appears form slightly better after it has actually warmed up

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Also in the app, is the previously mentioned Power Meter Link, if you wish to use an alternative power meter attached to your bike. The Elite Zumo has an accuracy of 3%, which compared to trainers of a few years ago, is not too shabby. However, a dedicated power meter is likely to have much greater accuracy, again supporting the concept of the Zumo facilitating riders getting into indoor cycling.

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Although it must be said, this is more likely to be an issue within something like the Elite app itself as normally on Zwift, I’d be opting for a separate power meter anyway, and PML is just adding another level of complexity, and possible issue for responsivity

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Whilst the Elite app does allow you to calibrate the Elite Zumo, this can also now be done from within Zwift

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This renders the Elite app only really required you are wanting to dip into their training world as upgrades to firmware are now handled with the Elite Upgrado app

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Elite Zumo Sound Test

So firmware up to date, calibration is done, let’s have a look at how much sound the Elite Zumo makes. Given this is the lowest cost direct drive trainer, I think the sound profile is commensurate with the cost

There is no other way to put it. The Elite Zumo is a noisy trainer. But with a rather interesting profile, seeming to have the highest sound output around 400watts of effort

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Elite Direto X ERG mode

When it comes to ERG mode, I was a little surprised with the early performance, in that the Elite Zumo feels like it actually needs time to warm up. I’ve not encountered this was a trainer before. When you first do a warm up, the trainer seems to lag, or be slightly slow in reaching his unit needs to WARM up! When I started Jon’s test for the first time, you can see how long it takes for the unit to respond in terms of increasing the resistance on the high-powered sections.

First off, you can see that the graphs that are ever so slightly blunt, but more importantly, I was very aware that my legs were absolutely flying in terms of cadence.

If I overlay the cadence to the graph, you can see what I mean. On the first high-powered section I hit nearly 138. But But on the second one, one minute later, the Kent is much lower. If we carry on going, on the final cadence everything feels reasonable

Now we must keep those comments very much in keeping with the price. This is a really budget direct drive trainer So you can’t be expecting a snappy response in the same way as he would drive out to trainer, which Launch cost nearly 3 times as much

Another little test that I did, it’s during steady-state training, seeing how quickly they not respond to me increasing the power of each stroke. As you can see, designer is capable of this, it just bounces around a little bit

Elite Zumo Review – Power Meter

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To ensure we are all on the same page, let’s run through the approach to trainer testing I use here. Trainers run in two modes: ERG mode and Sim mode

  • Sim mode is basically just blasting around on Zwift. 
  • ERG mode is harder for the trainer, as the device is tasked with varying resistance to enable to you target certain wattages – normally as part of a training plan:
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In order to perform in ERG effectively, a trainer needs to be able to adapt quickly in order to stop the resistance ramping too high – Often called “burying the rider” where the resistance is set too high to even turn the pedals!!

Whilst setting the resistance at an insane level might seem odd to the rider, it makes sense to the trainer’s electronic brain if you are not putting enough power down, increasing the resistance makes you push harder, helping riding hit the power target. But that can lead to a death spiral of increasing resistance which really breaks the mode. As such ERG mode is something which companies put a lot of development time, and is where some of the additional cost of the top end trainers like the Drivo II and the Neo 2T is going. 

Which is why I always start off with an ERG Mode test – specifically Jon’s Mix. All sensors paired, so let’s kick-off

I always start out with Zwift’s Jon’s Mix as that requires me to try – crucial word there – and hold 834 watts for ten secs (which I’m actually getting better at hitting!). I think that the recurrent phases of high power, fast changes, and plenty of warm-up time are challenging test for any trainer, and if we’re going to lock up in ERG mode, we’ll see it here

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As ever the power graphs produced from the power meter on the test are compared with data from two other power meters, you need three units to determine if one is out of whack!. NB I’ve applied a 4-second smoothing to the data, which can be effective in highlighting subtle issues, and makes the graphs look, well smoother!

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So here is the first run of Jon’s Mix,

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You can see here the Elite Zumo compared to the C1 power meter, everything is in the ballpark. Not perfect, but certainly in the ballpark. Let’s pull a little closer into the second block

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Here we can see that the Elite Zumo is keeping pace pretty accurately. We do lose a little on the initial power spike, where I overcooked the start, but other than that, things look good. It will be interesting to see how the Zumo does on the intense 10-second blocks. Speaking of which…

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Again, the Zumo is just missing out the true intensity of the spike, but let’s not forget that the PowerTap C1 when released cost more than the Elite Zumo here!

If we zoom in to the high-intensity areas individually we see the same again, simply a blunting of the power profile.

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The same is repeated on the next spike as well. Overall, for the price, I feel that Elite has produced a very reasonable trainer in terms of the data

Elite Zumo Review – Conclusion

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When it comes to smart trainers, the battles are getting fewer. When it comes to sound profiles – that has been resolved with the Tacx Flux 2T, the only sound you really get there is your drive train

Accuracy has been claimed by the Elite Zumo’s grandfather (?) the Elite Drivo II

Price is the new battleground and Elite has been one of the strongest players in reducing the cost of the direct-drive unit. The fact the after the delayed release, the Zumo could be found for £399 is absolutely astounding.

I will be amazed if other manufacturers can get much lower and still make a viable product!

The biggest criticism I have of the Elite Zumo is that it’s a loud bit of kit, BUT at least the sound profile isn’t unpleasant on the ears. For a regular price of £429 the Elite Zumo is an easy 4/5

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James Gill

Author of TitaniumGeek, which started after smashing off my RIGHT elbow. <br /> <br /> After learning a lot about olecranon fractures, I was introduced to the world Zwift, and slowly transitioned into writing about sports gadgets and the like<br /> <br /> Trying to keep up cycling, swimming and running whilst being a busy General Practice Doctor