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Wheel on vs Direct Drive

timboellistimboellis Posts: 223
I have been using Rouvy for the last few weeks and really enjoying it however seeing limitations with my elite qubo digital smart B+ seems a bit clunky , wheel slip and noisy.

So was looking at a elite direto but is it worth the extra, does it really make much different any thoughts?
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  • I would never go back to a wheel-on turbo trainer now.

    Direct drive means no need to have a spare rear wheel/tyre for the turbo or wearing out your expensive road tyre, no worrying about tyre slip on sprints, and they're usually quieter too (not always but I found mine to be).

    Whether those points are worth the added expense depends on your own situation.
  • Swapped to a Direto last June. It was definitely worth the investment for winter training.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    I'd never go back to a wheel on trainer either for the aforementioned slippage wheel on trainers suffer with. If you've got the money, I'd opt for a Neo 1 over the Direto. I recently swapped to a Neo 1 after too many frustrations with dropouts and delayed response with my Direto. The Neo has been a revelation.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • If tyre at correct pressure and trainer adjusted correctly no reason why wheel on turbos should suffer wheel slip. I have a Cyclops Fluid 11 and can adjust tension of wheel on drum and not had slippage so far. I use my old road bike with turbo tyre on it so no issues with wearing out tyre and I just leave it set up and ride my new bike on road.
  • diamonddogdiamonddog Posts: 3,397
    As above never had wheel slip on my turbo, I usually do a couple of minutes slowly then build up the speed to warm the tyre up then start my sessions.

    I have a cheap bike permanently set up on the turbo so no messing with wheels or tyres.
  • protoproto Posts: 1,476
    Finding motivation for turbo training I very difficult. Zwift has helped with that a huge amount, actually enjoyable and fun, and to get the best from it you need a decent trainer. I've had a few over the years, last 'wheel on' device was a Tax Bushido Smart, and it was ok, but on serious efforts and climbs wheel used to slip, and such a faff changing wheel; checking tyre pressure and roller resistance.
    So I bought a Kickr and its brilliant. So much better than the Bushido, and in my view, worth every penny.
  • +1 for Direct Drive.

    Depends on what you want to use it for. If you just want to hop on once a week or when the weather is bad it's a lot of money to lash out, so might be overkill, but if you want to use it loads:

    - miles quieter. I had a pretty quiet wheel on (Elite Hydro chrono) but the Direto that has replaced it is different league. Means I can train when my daughter is asleep in the room above no problem
    - accurate built in power meter. You might have a PM anyway, but having it on the turbo makes life easier e.g. only one thing to link up to on Zwift/Rouvy/Trainerroad and it all just works, especially if you use erg. Some wheel-on's measure power too, but they are less accurate and more faff. On the Direto you calibrate it once and never need to touch it again.
    - no tyre wear, no "turbo wheel or turbo bike", no tyre slip. You can work around wheel on's so they don't slip; but on a DD, it just can't happen. No tyre warm up required, you can do the biggest out of the saddle sprints you like - no drama

    Another thing to point out is that while DD turbos are miles more expensive, not all the extra money is due to them being direct drive. They just tend to be higher end models e.g. with bigger flywheels, fancier brakes, better electronics etc. Once you start using it with Zwift or Rouvy as part of creating a good indoor riding experience you'll want to use all the time, all this stuff makes a difference.
  • Thanks for the feedback , i took the plunge today, closed my eyes while i pressed the buy now button on a Tacx Neo 1.

    Just need to see what i need for it now, i have the cassette which ill take off my bike and hopefully the thru axle adapter i currently use will work on it.
  • timboellis wrote:
    Thanks for the feedback , i took the plunge today, closed my eyes while i pressed the buy now button on a Tacx Neo 1.

    Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.

    My Tacx NEO was a big chunk of cash for me to drop on a trainer, but I've put many, many hours of saddle time on my NEO now without a single issue. I love that there's no need to calibrate and (in my crude testing) it consistently reads within 2-3 watts of my power meter.

    Enjoy!
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    timboellis wrote:
    Thanks for the feedback , i took the plunge today, closed my eyes while i pressed the buy now button on a Tacx Neo 1.

    Just need to see what i need for it now, i have the cassette which ill take off my bike and hopefully the thru axle adapter i currently use will work on it.

    The Neo is a class above. No need to calibrate, works without power so can be used outdoors (not with full functionality though & its heavy so why would you cart it around), some sideways movement to help with standing sessions, auto freewheel on downhill sections making riding courses more lifelike, one of the most accurate inbuilt power meters out there and solid. I only wish I'd plumped for it from the start instead of wasting money on two other Smart trainers from Italy that were both problematic for me.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • SJH76SJH76 Posts: 191
    I got a Drivo about 6 months ago. Most noticeable improvements for me were the noise - or lack of it. So much quiter, especially if you have it on an upstairs room without a solid floor. Other is hard acceleration since you don't get tyre slipping under the extra power. I would recommend a direct drive to anyone. The Direto looks a really good bit of kit for the price too.
  • SJH76SJH76 Posts: 191
    philthy3 wrote:
    timboellis wrote:
    Thanks for the feedback , i took the plunge today, closed my eyes while i pressed the buy now button on a Tacx Neo 1.

    Just need to see what i need for it now, i have the cassette which ill take off my bike and hopefully the thru axle adapter i currently use will work on it.

    The Neo is a class above. No need to calibrate, works without power so can be used outdoors (not with full functionality though & its heavy so why would you cart it around), some sideways movement to help with standing sessions, auto freewheel on downhill sections making riding courses more lifelike, one of the most accurate inbuilt power meters out there and solid. I only wish I'd plumped for it from the start instead of wasting money on two other Smart trainers from Italy that were both problematic for me.


    Was this a Drivo by any chance? My only gripe with mine is Zwift sometimes throws a wobbly with it. But after using it with Elites own software and also using Road Grand Tours and Virtugo betas I know it's definitely not the unit that's at fault and is something between Zwift and/or the Apple TV I use it on.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    SJH76 wrote:
    philthy3 wrote:
    timboellis wrote:
    Thanks for the feedback , i took the plunge today, closed my eyes while i pressed the buy now button on a Tacx Neo 1.

    Just need to see what i need for it now, i have the cassette which ill take off my bike and hopefully the thru axle adapter i currently use will work on it.

    The Neo is a class above. No need to calibrate, works without power so can be used outdoors (not with full functionality though & its heavy so why would you cart it around), some sideways movement to help with standing sessions, auto freewheel on downhill sections making riding courses more lifelike, one of the most accurate inbuilt power meters out there and solid. I only wish I'd plumped for it from the start instead of wasting money on two other Smart trainers from Italy that were both problematic for me.


    Was this a Drivo by any chance? My only gripe with mine is Zwift sometimes throws a wobbly with it. But after using it with Elites own software and also using Road Grand Tours and Virtugo betas I know it's definitely not the unit that's at fault and is something between Zwift and/or the Apple TV I use it on.

    No. First was a Kura fluid "smart" trainer and the other a Direto. The Kura was ok, but not fully smart and the resistance was way too high even in the inner ring. The Direto suffered with drop outs, unrealistic resistance, power reading too high and too slow getting up to pace with intervals. Probably a duff unit, but Elite weren't exactly helpful, probably due to language issues.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • norvernrobnorvernrob Posts: 1,410
    I switched from a Qubo Digital to a Direto. There’s no comparison, the Direto feels so realistic and reads within a couple of watts of my Power2max.

    Using the Direto with Zwift has given me real motivation to get on and do some miles.
  • Is changing a wheel any more difficult than taking the wheel off and putting the chain on the turbo?
  • SJH76SJH76 Posts: 191
    Is changing a wheel any more difficult than taking the wheel off and putting the chain on the turbo?

    I'd say neither is particularly taxing. Putting on a turbo is a bit easier cos you don't have a wheel to line up in the brakes not that's not really difficult either. I swap my bike over from turbo to wheel very often but I'd be doing that with an training whhel with an indoor tyre anyway so it makes little difference.
  • hypsterhypster Posts: 1,183
    I have toyed with the idea of a smart trainer but the thing that puts me off is the abysmal reliability record of so many of these £1k+ machines. I know many of you are going to pile on and say "I've done X thousand miles on my ABC with no problems" but the myriad of horror stories on a variety of forums cannot be ignored. These are expensive machines and as such are complicated and bound to go wong at some point.

    I have a Kinetic Road Machine and a Kinetic Rock and Roll with inRide power modules that according to tests by DC Rainmaker and Shane Miller (GP Lama) are very accurate considering how inexpensive they are. The trainers are very quiet and bullet-proof with lifetime guarantees so I never have to worry about not being able to train because the flywheel has come loose etc. etc. With a decent trainer tyre, at the right pressure and well adjusted I don't get any tyre slip either.
  • rdtrdt Posts: 869
    hypster wrote:
    I have toyed with the idea of a smart trainer but the thing that puts me off is the abysmal reliability record of so many of these £1k+ machines.

    Generally-speaking, I don't believe there's abysmal reliability, but largely that the internet makes very visible those issues that do occur (and magnify issues such as the recent Kickr travails). And when people have plonked down up to a grand they'll have high expectations and are not going to keep quiet if things aren't spot on.

    hypster wrote:
    I have a Kinetic Road Machine (RM) and a Kinetic Rock and Roll

    The fluid-based Kinetics are possibly the most bullet-proof trainer designs out there; in comparison to pretty much any smart trainer they have a mechanical simplicity and an absence of electronics and software that means there's much less stuff that can go wrong. I don't blame you one bit for being very wary of swapping a pretty bullet-proof setup for something with much more complexity and therefore scope for problems to occur.

    Having said that.... I have and use both a Neo and Kinetic RM (they're in different locations), and I prefer using the Neo.

    I did have a mechanical issue with the RM last year when the thread on the tension bolt wore out. Not complaining as I'd had it a dozen years and I was able to get a beefier replacement, which is pretty good for a twelve+ year old trainer!

    I fairly recently got an inRide v3 for the RM (to replace virtual power), just because it was so cheap, but on Android it's a bit of a crock (Kinetic Fit app issues + periodic calibration issues within TR), and all the evidence suggests Kinetic cannot really do software reliably and in consequence I would not touch with a bargepole one of their smart trainers. In comparison, I've yet to experience a single issue with the Neo but it's early days (~3000 virtual km). The need to never calibrate the Neo is a big deal IMO.
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  • hypsterhypster Posts: 1,183
    rdt wrote:
    I fairly recently got an inRide v3 for the RM (to replace virtual power), just because it was so cheap, but on Android it's a bit of a crock (Kinetic Fit app issues + periodic calibration issues within TR), and all the evidence suggests Kinetic cannot really do software reliably and in consequence I would not touch with a bargepole one of their smart trainers. In comparison, I've yet to experience a single issue with the Neo but it's early days (~3000 virtual km). The need to never calibrate the Neo is a big deal IMO.

    I agree on the Kinetic Fit app front, it is a crock. I only use it for calibration which usually takes half-a-dozen or so attempts before you manage to get the Fit app to see the inRide. In contrast, I have had zero problems with Zwift seeing the inRide v3 connecting via Ant+ even with 12,500 riders on Zwift at one point. I upgraded to the inRide v3 from the v2 because I'd previously had Zwift dropout problems but that is a Bluetooth Zwift Companion app problem I understand, not a Kinetic one.

    I understand completely that many people will prefer the smart trainer experience over a dumb trainer, it's just that I'm not willing to shell out £1k+ to take that risk. Still too many people on their 3rd or even 4th Wahoo Kickr for instance for my liking. The Neo is not immune from issues either apparently but I wish you and anyone else the best of luck with yours and many happy training miles.
  • rdtrdt Posts: 869
    hypster wrote:
    I understand completely that many people will prefer the smart trainer experience over a dumb trainer, it's just that I'm not willing to shell out £1k+ to take that risk.

    Cannot fault your thinking as the fluid Kinetic trainers are really excellent tools. I've probably not had better value from any other cycling-related money spent.

    Re the inRide 3, I don't think I ever managed to calibrate it in the Fit app but have had more success calibrating within TR. I hear it works OK on iOS and these problems are confined to Android. Bit ridiculous that Kinetic seem incapable of nailing it and I'd take this as a sign they still don't "get" software.
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  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    hypster wrote:
    rdt wrote:
    I fairly recently got an inRide v3 for the RM (to replace virtual power), just because it was so cheap, but on Android it's a bit of a crock (Kinetic Fit app issues + periodic calibration issues within TR), and all the evidence suggests Kinetic cannot really do software reliably and in consequence I would not touch with a bargepole one of their smart trainers. In comparison, I've yet to experience a single issue with the Neo but it's early days (~3000 virtual km). The need to never calibrate the Neo is a big deal IMO.

    I agree on the Kinetic Fit app front, it is a crock. I only use it for calibration which usually takes half-a-dozen or so attempts before you manage to get the Fit app to see the inRide. In contrast, I have had zero problems with Zwift seeing the inRide v3 connecting via Ant+ even with 12,500 riders on Zwift at one point. I upgraded to the inRide v3 from the v2 because I'd previously had Zwift dropout problems but that is a Bluetooth Zwift Companion app problem I understand, not a Kinetic one.

    I understand completely that many people will prefer the smart trainer experience over a dumb trainer, it's just that I'm not willing to shell out £1k+ to take that risk. Still too many people on their 3rd or even 4th Wahoo Kickr for instance for my liking. The Neo is not immune from issues either apparently but I wish you and anyone else the best of luck with yours and many happy training miles.

    The only issue that a select few get with the Neo is noise from the disc that is caused when a minute spec of solder breaks off and rattles around inside. Because the disc acts like a megaphone amplifying the noise, owners assume something terrible has happened when it hasn't. TACX will send the owner the tool to remove the disc for free. Once removed, you simply wipe the inside down with a cloth removing the fragment that you probably won't even see with the naked eye and refit the disc. Its a 5 minute job.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • hypsterhypster Posts: 1,183
    philthy3 wrote:
    The only issue that a select few get with the Neo is noise from the disc that is caused when a minute spec of solder breaks off and rattles around inside. Because the disc acts like a megaphone amplifying the noise, owners assume something terrible has happened when it hasn't. TACX will send the owner the tool to remove the disc for free. Once removed, you simply wipe the inside down with a cloth removing the fragment that you probably won't even see with the naked eye and refit the disc. Its a 5 minute job.

    What about the wheel slip issue as well that many report including Shane Miller on the Neo and has not been fixed on the Neo 2? Wheel slip on a direct drive trainer, what's that all about? Honestly, if I was spending that sort of money on a trainer I'd expect it to operate flawlessly under all conditions.
  • rdtrdt Posts: 869
    edited February 2019
    hypster wrote:
    What about the wheel slip issue as well that many report including Shane Miller on the Neo and has not been fixed on the Neo 2? Wheel slip on a direct drive trainer, what's that all about?

    What that's all about is that there's a limit to the torque that the Neo's motor brake can oppose. It's possible in low gear / very high torque situations to momentarily exceed this limit, experienced as slight 'virtual slip', which can feel like a mild version of what can happen on wet roads on very steep hills in real life when pedalling torque exceeds tyre grip.

    This is a limitation imposed by Tacx's design choices: presumably they could've put more / more powerful neodymium magnets in the Neo's motor break, to raise the torque ceiling, but at a cost, so it's a trade off. Everything can be engineered better but at a "cost" either in monetary terms or other trade-offs, so the question is what is a pragmatic compromise? An iPhone battery could last you two weeks but does it need to, are the trade-offs worthwhile?

    Whether / how often users experience virtual slip on the Neo will depend on how they use their Neo (ie. are they commonly simulating very steep hills) plus the smoothness of their pedalling style when applying high torque. When I first got my Neo I rode some GPS routes of very hilly Peak District back lanes and felt some slip at times on the steepest bits in low gear applying very high torque. Now I use TrainerRoad all the time and don't experience it at all.

    hypster wrote:
    Honestly, if I was spending that sort of money on a trainer I'd expect it to operate flawlessly under all conditions.

    Spending more on things does not buy perfection. This applies to 911s, houses, smart trainers - and everything else in life. Making informed buying decisions is about weighing up pros, cons and price.

    I share philthy3's view that the Neo is a superb bit if kit - I think it's a beautifully engineered design that functions extremely well in the real world. Is it perfect? No, but I think it's the best trainer on the market, which is why I bought one.

    If other people disagree and choose other trainers, that's great, because it's competition (eg. from Wahoo's entry a few years back) that's moving the market on and giving us even more ways of spending money on bike stuff :lol:
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  • hypsterhypster Posts: 1,183
    rdt wrote:
    Spending more on things does not buy perfection. This applies to 911s, houses, smart trainers - and everything else in life. Making informed buying decisions is about weighing up pros, cons and price.

    I share philthy3's view that the Neo is a superb bit if kit - I think it's a beautifully engineered design that functions extremely well in the real world. Is it perfect? No, but I think it's the best trainer on the market, which is why I bought one.

    If other people disagree and choose other trainers, that's great, because it's competition (eg. from Wahoo's entry a few years back) that's moving the market on and giving us even more ways of spending money on bike stuff :lol:

    You make a good point and I agree in principle. However, the original question in this thread was comparing wheel-on trainers versus direct drive with wheel slip being one of the supposed advantages touted for direct drive. In the Neo you seemingly have virtual wheel-slip built in which would negate one of the advantages in going for this type of trainer.

    I'm not sure if some potential buyers might not be aware of this before buying so why I raise the issue in this discussion. I'm also sure that many Tacx Neo owners may not encounter this problem because they may not put out the required power to make the unit slip or even if they do, it may not be a problem for them. For me, it's just something else that would put me off an expensive, imperfect product.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    hypster wrote:
    philthy3 wrote:
    The only issue that a select few get with the Neo is noise from the disc that is caused when a minute spec of solder breaks off and rattles around inside. Because the disc acts like a megaphone amplifying the noise, owners assume something terrible has happened when it hasn't. TACX will send the owner the tool to remove the disc for free. Once removed, you simply wipe the inside down with a cloth removing the fragment that you probably won't even see with the naked eye and refit the disc. Its a 5 minute job.

    What about the wheel slip issue as well that many report including Shane Miller on the Neo and has not been fixed on the Neo 2? Wheel slip on a direct drive trainer, what's that all about? Honestly, if I was spending that sort of money on a trainer I'd expect it to operate flawlessly under all conditions.

    Never experienced it or heard of it other than Shane Miller reporting it. The circumstances in which he experienced it are extreme to say the least and beyond your average user. Search the internet and the only problem repeatedly reported is the amplification of dust behind the disc as mentioned.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    hypster wrote:
    rdt wrote:
    Spending more on things does not buy perfection. This applies to 911s, houses, smart trainers - and everything else in life. Making informed buying decisions is about weighing up pros, cons and price.

    I share philthy3's view that the Neo is a superb bit if kit - I think it's a beautifully engineered design that functions extremely well in the real world. Is it perfect? No, but I think it's the best trainer on the market, which is why I bought one.

    If other people disagree and choose other trainers, that's great, because it's competition (eg. from Wahoo's entry a few years back) that's moving the market on and giving us even more ways of spending money on bike stuff :lol:

    You make a good point and I agree in principle. However, the original question in this thread was comparing wheel-on trainers versus direct drive with wheel slip being one of the supposed advantages touted for direct drive. In the Neo you seemingly have virtual wheel-slip built in which would negate one of the advantages in going for this type of trainer.

    I'm not sure if some potential buyers might not be aware of this before buying so why I raise the issue in this discussion. I'm also sure that many Tacx Neo owners may not encounter this problem because they may not put out the required power to make the unit slip or even if they do, it may not be a problem for them. For me, it's just something else that would put me off an expensive, imperfect product.

    Wheel slip on a wheel on turbo is experienced by even the least powerful users.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • rdtrdt Posts: 869
    hypster wrote:
    You make a good point and I agree in principle. However, the original question in this thread was comparing wheel-on trainers versus direct drive with wheel slip being one of the supposed advantages touted for direct drive. In the Neo you seemingly have virtual wheel-slip built in which would negate one of the advantages in going for this type of trainer.

    I'm not sure if some potential buyers might not be aware of this before buying so why I raise the issue in this discussion. I'm also sure that many Tacx Neo owners may not encounter this problem because they may not put out the required power to make the unit slip or even if they do, it may not be a problem for them. For me, it's just something else that would put me off an expensive, imperfect product.

    It's high torque that causes it, and in the right circumstances (low gear, really stamp on the pedals) most (all?) cyclists should be able to reproduce it, but many people may not bump into it very often or at all. I experience this virtual slip less on the Neo than I experience actual tyre slip on the Kinetic RM, where I feel the need to consciously make an effort to raise pedal forces in a more progressive manner during big power ramps in TR than I do on the Neo. On the Neo I don't really think about it. (NB I use 3 turns of the RM's tension knob after first tyre contact & 100psi - I could use more turns to reduce slip but this'd be noisier and wear the tyre more, so the 3 turns and some slip is a compromise. That word again!)

    The Neo's virtual slip is fairly well documented in reviews, so buyers who do their research should be aware and have eyes wide open. I did.

    And clearly, I view it as a minor issue, more than offset by the advantages of the Neo's motor brake design, eg. lack of degradable components like belts, no need to ever calibrate which I see as a massive benefit compared to other trainers. With the Neo I just get on and go, certain in the knowledge that the numbers are spot-on whatever the room temp etc. No need to pause a w/o after 10 mins to calibrate and no chance of ever getting a glitch during calibration. I value things that remove sources of hassle.

    Having said all that, would I prefer a Neo that never had this slip? Sure, but it depends how much more it would cost as to whether I'd pay up for it. I'd pay a bit more for a bit more capable tool. And it wouldn't surprise me if indeed a future Neo resistance unit has more/more-powerful neodymium magnets in it so that it can oppose higher maximum torque than the current (85 Nm I think?). Won't be for a while though, since by all accounts the Neo bike and Neo 2 uses the same resistance unit design as the Neo (1), so clearly it's not viewed by Tacx as a priority issue that affects sales.
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  • rdtrdt Posts: 869
    Incidentally, the Neo Bike incorporates a belt, connecting the crank to the resistance unit, so theoretically more to go wrong than the regular Neo... (although clearly a Neo requires an actual bike with a chain to connect the crank to the resistance unit, and that chain will need a lot more maintenance than any internal belt). Still, be interesting to see what the lifetime of these belt is. I recall reading some bumpf from Tacx about this implying a very long lifetime but cannot remember what exactly they said...
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  • protoproto Posts: 1,476
    If you think about life of drive belts in motor car applications I don’t think the Neo will have any problems. Thousands of hours in a more hostile environment.
  • I've never experienced "virtual wheel-slip" on my NEO, but then again I'm no 1000W monster.

    I like being able to just leave my setup ready to go (lucky enough to have a dedicated turbo bike) and never worry about roller pressure, tyre pressure, tyre wear, calibration, etc. Just hop on and go. I have yet to talk to anyone who has gone from wheel-on to direct drive and regretted that choice!
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