With the expansion of immersive virtual training software, indoor cycling has seen a massive rise in popularity. As people spend more time cycling indoors, a variety of trainer accessories have been developed to make it feel more realistic. In this review we’ll be looking at the Elite Sterzo Smart which replaces a traditional plastic wheel block with an electronic steering plate to allow you to virtually steer on Zwift. Designed to work exclusively with Zwift, the Sterzo Smart is $124.99 and features double ANT+ and Bluetooth communication protocols. Unlike the non-smart version ($64.99), the Sterzo Smart seamlessly connects to Zwift and offers 34° rotation in both directions. The Sterzo Smart is powered by three included AAA batteries which have a claimed 500 hour battery life.
The Elite Sterzo Smart offers a seamless way to add virtual steering to Zwift for a more immersive experience.
|Retail Price||$124.99 ($64.99 non-smart version)|
|Rating||8.3 / 10|
|Weight (in g)||1040|
|Likes||+ Seamless pairing|
+ Spring loaded design returns back to neutral position
+ Makes riding on Zwift riding more interactive
|Dislikes||– Premium price|
– Steering at intersections does not select route
– Lacks force feedback for more realistic feel
|Where to Buy (US)||Elite|
The Sterzo Smart comes in a simple environmentally friendly Elite branded cardboard box with specs printed directly on to it. A folding cardboard inner layer with cutouts holds the Sterzo securely in place and keeps the block centered. With the version we received, the AAA batteries were pre-installed so there was no setup required. Note, you will likely need to download the Elite Upgrado app to update the firmware to the latest version before you can use it with Zwift – otherwise you’ll see an out-of-date message when pairing.
FIT & FINISH
Visually the Elite Sterzo Smart looks like a shallow wheel block mounted onto a triangular plate. The wheel block itself has a wide u-shaped profile that can accommodate up to 66mm wide tires which should cover everything from road bikes to mountain bikes. To enable steering, the wheel block is attached to the backing plate at the pivot point near the front. There are two horizontal wheels mounted on the front of the block that slide along a channel on the plate. The block rotates smoothly and has a built-in spring that keeps the block centered on the plate and provides a natural return to center feel. A combination of rubber stops and the tension from the spring prevent you from steering beyond the 34° limit.
The Sterzo Smart itself is a button free design, there is no power button or sync button. Instead the Sterzo Smart automatically turns on when any steering input is detected and shuts itself off after five minutes of inactivity. That means you simply need to apply a small amount of steering input and press the sync button on Zwift to start riding. A simple LED on the front of the Sterzo Smart indicates the battery status and bluetooth syncing status. As with most devices, the battery status indicator is only a two-level design and will flash red every 8 seconds once the battery status is below 15%.
Since its limited initial introduction of virtual steering in Zwift in late 2020, Zwift has expanded the feature to all routes and locations. That means you can steer within your lane on the classic Watopia routes or off-road with the latest offerings. Aside from ensuring you have the latest firmware updates using the Elite Upgrado app, pairing is a simple one button click with a basic “point it straight” calibration. Once you’re on the road you’ll see the steering wheel icon and will be able to steer the full width of your lane. Unlike open world games, Zwift doesn’t allow you to steer off course or into people which means steering is only useful for staying in a draft or slightly cutting corners.
Unless you are doing TT or other Zwift races, the steering doesn’t really make a significant difference. If anything we found ourselves riding the shoulder more often out of habit instead of the default center-lane route Zwift seems to prefer. We were disappointed to find that the steering doesn’t allow you to change your route at an intersection (for which you still need to use the Zwift companion app or a mouse/keyboard). Although the steering does make Zwift feel more interactive we couldn’t help but feel like it’s still lacking. Unlike the Repack Mountain single-track course which requires frequent steering, most routes require minimal input. Hopefully Zwift will add more interactive elements such as slalom style courses or support force feedback on the Sterzo to simulate surface changes in future versions.
Overall, we found the Elite Sterzo Smart offers seamless steering in Zwift. The all-in-one design with pre-installed AAA batteries allows you to do a one button pairing with Zwift to take advantage of the steering. Unlike the previous app-based versions which had sensitivity issues, the Sterzo Smart has a smooth spring loaded design that precisely steers upto 34° in both directions. The steering itself is smooth and secure as the non-slip rubber pads on the Sterzo in place on a training mat.
While we found the Sterzo Smart fun to use, we can’t help but to feel like Zwift isn’t really fully taking advantage of the steering capability. Although you can steer on all tracks, its only purpose seems to be to improve drafting or optimize lines on turns which is why we’d give the Sterzo Smart a mixed rating and in our opinion is a bit pricey for the limited functionality. Personally we think adding force feedback to simulate terrain or adding more interactive elements on routes that require steering would really elevate the steering function and improve the feature. That said, if you spend a lot of time on Zwift and want a more immersive experience, the Sterzo Smart is a good option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Elite. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.