Elite’s trainer is packed with plenty of features, most of which we liked, some that could be improved. As turbos go, it’s got the basics nailed. Set-up couldn’t be easier: once you’ve secured the back wheel into the frame, you hop on the bike and your weight pushes the wheel onto the Elastogel roller, rather than you having to tighten it on.
It’s stable under power and thanks to the roller compound we didn’t experience any tyre slip, even when sprinting out of the saddle. It’s also got a nice road feel to it, though this is dependent on the resistance setting. We wouldn’t describe it as quiet, even when using the Elite rubber training mat. The magnetic resistance unit needs to be powered via the mains – a slight downside for a ‘wireless’ trainer but we imagine it could be adapted.
The mag unit communicates with a handlebar mounted computer via the ANT+ wireless protocol, which means no cables from your bar to the unit. After entering a few basic settings into the computer, you’re ready to go. The computer has three training modes: power, level and program. In ‘power’ you enter a wattage number (which you can vary during the session) and the trainer will work out the resistance needed to ride at this power at a certain cadence and speed. ‘Level’ is similar but more useful: you choose between 16 different levels (which can also be changed while riding) and you will get a power and speed readout. ‘Program’ allows you to pre-set different resistance levels that kick in at certain times, so you can do a pre-programmed interval session.
These are all handy features but we did find the power and speed numbers bore little resemblance to reality (namely, our PowerTap). Elite are aware of this, telling us that tyre type, pressure and temperature are variables that can significantly affect the displayed power. However it should be – and was – consistent within a given session. As an example, when riding in level mode, we could get our PowerTap power to agree with the trainer power , say 120 watts. But when we pedaled harder, the trainer power rose too steeply: 180 PowerTap watts was 230 trainer watts, and 230 PowerTap watts was 300 trainer watts and so on. Similarly, the speed didn’t seem to correspond to what you would actually do outside.
If we’re honest we wouldn’t expect a turbo trainer costing £400 to accurately measure power – you typically need to pay another £1000 to get this. Fortunately, the Elite SuperCrono Forte does everything else pretty well.