The new Elite Drivo II smart turbo trainer is more accurate, more stable and more responsive than the original – is it as good as its rivals from Wahoo and Tacx?
The new Elite Drivo II is said to improve on everything the original Drivo was. Better road feel, better response to terrain change in apps like Zwift and higher accuracy levels to within +/- 0.5 per cent.
In a world where turbo training has never been so good Elite had to impress – and if claims are to be believed then impress the new Elite Drivo II will.
Out of the box the new unit requires some self-assembly. This is the first smart turbo I’ve come up against that requires a few bits to be bolted on. It isn’t that complicated and the tools are provided to help you with the process – a spanner and an Allen key.
Once the legs are in place you have yourself a rather large looking unit and set up side-by-side with the CycleOps Hammer, Wahoo Kickr or even the Tacx Neo there is no denying that the Drivo II is portly.
Because of the design and its size it’s a bit hard to move around. The handle at the top is a good place to have it but all of the unit’s weight is at the bottom and I struggled to move it around comfortably. And there’s the added issue of the retractable legs that don’t sit flush with the unit when the arms are folded in. You can’t leave the legs out if you want to move the Elite Drivo II as it won’t fit through the door!
The good thing though about its wide footprint and low-down weight is that the smart turbo is very stable and doesn’t rock uncomfortably. Even during big efforts the Drivo II remains assured.
I tested the Elite Drivo II turbo using Zwift’s training platform and linked to an Apple iPad via Bluetooth. Connection was quick and stable.
One issue I had when completing a specific training sessions is that the Drivo II kept increasing in resistance until I couldn’t pedal any more. Trying to do a sprint effort when the resistance of the turbo is getting harder and harder is not only annoying but pretty soul destroying when you can’t put out the required numbers.
This was with the ‘erg’ mode enabled, so to get the turbo to reduce the resistance I had to stop, turn erg mode off and then continue. This didn’t happen when erg was switched off during a training session on Zwift, which is recommended.
Away from the training session and just riding Watopia the Elite Drivo II performed very well. I was very impressed with how fast and refined the trainer’s motion was to changing gradient while riding the platform and I was happy with the realistic feel of the unit: the Drivo II has a super-fast magnetic system that claims to allow you to go from zero to 24 per cent gradient in three seconds. Not that I tried this.
The 24 per cent gradient that it can replicate is a whole four per cent more than the Wahoo Kickr can do, and is the highest output on the market despite a smaller flywheel of 6kg compared to Wahoo’s 7.25kg.
The Elite Drivo II claims to be one of the quietest turbos on the market today. I did some testing with a simple and free app on my phone. In the riding position at 150 watts I rode for a minute to get an average decibel reading and found the Drivo II to be at least six to seven decibels higher than the Kickr in the exact same environment. This reading was around 58db and is a like a medium hum.
As with most of the latest turbos, the noise level is far quieter than the old type, but the Elite Drivo II does fall short of some of the best out there at the moment.
Accuracy of the unit is said to be the best on the market at +/- 0.5 per cent, which is better than the class-leading Tacx Neo and Wahoo. Riding Zwift and comparing efforts with the Wahoo mainly I felt like these numbers where on point with no wild readings. Sadly at the time of testing I couldn’t compare with my normal power meter as it was out of action for a bit.
This was without a calibration since Elite suggests that once calibrated in the factory, barring any software updates you shouldn’t need to calibrate the unit all that often.
You don’t get a cassette with the Elite Drivo II but you get good compatibility between thru-axle and quick release, something you don’t get with the Tacx Neo for example, for which you have to buy a separate adapter. You also get a free 36-month subscription to My E Training software.
The Elite Drivo II is a very good turbo trainer and offers similar performance to the likes of the Wahoo, Tacx and CycleOps. It isn't the best designed, however, and although relatively light in weight it is awkward to store and move. Noise wise it is completely reasonable but it is a good five or so decibels higher on average compared to Wahoo's Kickr.