While direct drive trainers have gained popularity, traditional wheel-on trainers offer a number of benefits. The direct contact between the tire and trainer makes wheel-on trainers compatible with a variety of bicycle drivetrains and also provide a more realistic feel. That’s why we are excited to be reviewing the Elite Tuo smart wheel-on trainer which combines interactive features and a contemporary design. The Elite Tuo uses a magnetic resistance unit that can simulate upto 10° slope and is rated for 1300 Watts with an impressive 5% accuracy. To reduce wear and tear on the trainer and bike, the Tuo also features an elastomer roller that is unique to Elite trainers. As with other Elite products, the Tuo carries a premium retail price of $579.99 and looks the part with Beechwood legs and brushed metal accents.
The Elite Tuo wheel-on trainer is an interactive trainer with contemporary design and smooth elastomer roller.
|8.0 / 10
|+ Contemporary design
+ Elastomer roller provides smooth and quiet ride
+ Provides interactive riding experience
|– Premium price
– Poor ergonomic and complicated instructions
– Difficult to clean textured channels
|Where to Buy (US)
The Elite Tuo is tightly packed in a simple cardboard box with minimal graphics. It’s a surprisingly small box, as the Tuo trainer’s frame folds nearly flat. The trainer doesn’t come fully assembled and includes a number of parts inside the box:
- Elite Tuo trainer steel frame
- Magnetic drive unit
- Bracket + hardware to attach drive unit to frame
- QR trainer skewer + thru axle adapters
- Leg spacers for MTB setup
- Large instruction manual
- Power cable + adapters for different outlet styles
All the items are well packed, but as with any Ikea style product you’ll need to review the instructions to figure out what parts are actually needed for your setup.
Once you’ve taken the trainer out of the box, it quickly becomes apparent that some assembly is required. For whatever reason, Elite ships the trainer with the magnetic drive unit detached from the frame. Even though there are only a few bolts and a bracket, the instruction manual lists a confusing and intimidating 40+ steps. Aside from the poorly written instructions, the steps are simply placed in a very illogical order. In order to make the Tuo trainer compatible with both standard road bikes 28” tires, and larger mountain bikes (>28”), the drive unit has two installation locations which complicates the setup. Once you realize this and read through the steps, you quickly realize setting up the trainer is actually pretty simple.
The 40+ steps can be condensed to the following for a road bike setup: attach the bracket to the rear mounting location with the elastomer pointed forward and the knob backwards. Then attach the rubber bumps using your own screwdriver as Elite does not include one. Setting the trainer up for mountain bikes requires mounting the drive unit further back with the elastomer and knob pointed forward to accommodate the larger wheel size. The front legs also have a separate spacer to achieve the proper angle for mountain bikes with the road bike spacers pre-installed. Switching between the different setups requires about 5-15 minutes, so you’ll need to plan ahead before reconfiguring it. Before riding, you’ll also want to ensure the tire is centered on the elastomer roller by adjusting both the left and right wheel attachments by simply rotating them to extend or retract them.
FIT AND FINISH
While the Elite Tuo has a contemporary design it doesn’t deviate much from the traditional folding frame design of wheel-on trainers. There is a black steel frame which provides a secure mount for the magnetic drive unit and two folding legs for a compact design. Rather than using steel for the front legs, the Tuo features Beechwood which not only gives the trainer a more modern design but also claims to reduce vibrations. The magnetic drive unit has a styled square design with brushed metal exterior panels for a sleek look that conceals the mechanical parts. Together, the combination of brushed metal finishes, black steel frame, and wood mean the Tuo can be put on display rather than stuffed away in a closet when not in use.
Although we think a few tweaks such as better labeling or color coated controls could improve the usability of the trainer it is still pretty easy to use. Unlike the Elite Quick-Motion Rollers or other wheel-on trainers it doesn’t require a significant amount of force to setup or fold. The front legs simply fold back with little resistance and have soft rubber footings that hold the trainer in place. Even the lever to lock the bike axle in place is smooth in operation. The trainer is also compact when folded as the resistance unit tilts forward to reduce the footprint – something most direct drive trainers aren’t able to offer. In the folded position, the drive unit tilts forward so that it aligns parallel to the floor with the frame nearly flat which results in a small footprint for easy storage.
Although one of the perks of the wheel-on trainer design is that you don’t need to remove your wheel from your bike, you’ll definitely want to use a separate trainer wheel that has a trainer tire on it. We used our spare Mavic wheel with the Elite Coperton trainer tire to ride the Elite Tuo. To take advantage of the interactive trainer, we used Elite’s myETraining and Zwift. Although Elite’s myETraining provides a simple way to create custom workouts, we spent more time on Zwift as it’s a more immersive experience. It was easy to quickly detect and connect the Tuo to Zwift, perform a spin-down calibration, and start riding. The Elite Tuo provides a realistic feeling ride despite the small diameter of the elastomer roller. It’s louder than direct drive trainers but compared to traditional metal roller designs like a CyleOps/Saris Fluid trainer, it’s fairly quiet. Unless you’re going for a sprint or high-effort output, the vibrations are damped with minimal mechanical noise.
Even though the Tuo only can simulate upto a 10° incline, it provides enough resistance to simulate hard climbs and get you out of the saddle. We found the trainer was responsive to resistance changes which allowed for a more immersive experience. Using interactive training platforms such as Zwift it’s easy to forget your riding indoors as the Elite Trainer seamlessly adjusts the resistance to match inclines or workout power targets. We found the built-in power data was pretty accurate and provided an excellent tool for training. The Tuo also provides sensor-less cadence by using the speed/power data, but we found that it was inconsistent and preferred to use our own Bryton cadence sensor instead.
Overall, we found the Elite Tuo to be a sleek and fun interactive trainer. Although we prefer riding outdoors, with an interactive trainer like the Elite Tuo it’s easy to get a full workout without dealing with traffic or unpleasant weather. As a smart trainer, the Tuo can automatically adjust resistance to simulate upto 10° inclines and seamlessly integrates with platforms such as Zwift. We found the elastomer roller design reduces the amount of tire wear and noise that magnetic trainers are typically known for. It’s not as silent as direct drive trainers but vibrations and noise are well damped. The premium price of the Tuo is matched with a premium appearance that includes the Beechwood legs and brushed metal accents.
It’s a good looking trainer but we do feel like Elite sacrificed design over functionality in some places. Minor usability issues like the confusing dual adjustment dial, convoluted instruction manual and non-contoured skewer lever could have easily been addressed. That said, the wheel-on trainer design of the Elite Tuo makes it compatible with a variety of bike drivetrains and sizes. We also appreciate that Elite allows the trainer to be used for road and mountain bikes. Once it’s setup, the Elite Tuo is easy to calibrate and provides enough connectivity and smart features to utilize various training platforms. If you’re looking for a wheel-on smart trainer that has contemporary design the Elite Tuo is a competitive 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.