Elite Rizer Review: An Added Dimension to Simulate Climbing

Guides

It’s that time of year (at least in the northern hemisphere) when a lot of us are still riding indoors on smart trainers. For those still riding “dumb” turbo trainers (or not doing any indoor riding at all), what makes smart trainers smart is their ability change the power load (up or down) to a prescribed wattage (usually in concert with a training program such as Xert, Wahoo SYSTM, Trainer Road, Training Peaks, etc.) or to simulate gradient on a virtual ride (e.g., Zwift, RGT, Open Road, etc.) by the trainer applying braking force to the watts you have to generate — the more braking force the trainer can apply, the bigger the gradient it can simulate (I call this “virtual gravity”). If it’s a direct drive smart trainer (where you take the rear wheel off and attach your bike directly to the trainer), the greater flywheel weight creates more realistic ride feel than a wheel-on trainer. But you’re still riding what amounts to a fixed, stationary bike.

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The Elite Rizer accessory makes indoor riding a little more realistic by being able to change the incline of the bike (to match the incline of the simulation you’re riding) and allowing steering input (for Zwift). PEZ got the Elite Suito smart trainer and Rizer gradient simulator with steering to see what it’s all about.

Elite Suito smart trainer $849.99

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The Suito is Elite’s second tier model in their smart trainer lineup (their top-of-the-line is the Direto XR). Specs per Elite:

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  • Power: 1,900 watts max resistance (simulates 15% slope)
  • Accuracy: ± 2.5%
  • Wireless connectivity: ANT+ FE-C or Bluetooth FTMS
  • Comes with Shimano 11-speed cassette (11-28t) pre-installed
  • Includes 1-month Zwift membership gift card
  • Includes 12-month My E-Training subscription
  • Flywheel weight: 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs)
  • Compact and stable steel structure for easy storage
  • Foldable frame with integrated handle for easy transport
  • Includes front wheel riser block
  • Compatible with 130-135x5mm QR and 142x12mm thru axle (130×10/12mm thru axle and Boost 148x12mm adaptors available separately)
  • Compatible with standard Shimano and SRAM 9/10/11 spd cassettes (Campagnolo-compatible freehub body available separately)
  • Compatible with all major indoor bike training software including Zwift, Trainer Road, Kinomap, Rouvy, The Sufferfest, Bikevo, and more
  • Size: 30″ x 22″ x 20″ (open); 6″ x 22″ x 20″ (folded)
  • Weight: 32 lbs.

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What’s in the box

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The Suito trainer

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Front wheel block raises the front wheel ~1.5 inches/4 cm

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Shimano 105 11-28 11-speed cassette

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Back: Skewer and adaptors for QR. Front: Spacer for 10-speed cassette and thru-axle adaptors.

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Power cord/plug plus different plugs for different countries

Set up

Setting up the Elite Suite is fairly straightforward.

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Lift this to unlock the legs to open/close

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Spread the legs out and lock them in place

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Put the cassette on (NOTE: I ride an 11-30 cassette on the road so that’s what I put on the trainer. Also, if you ride something other than 10/11-speed Shimano/SRAM, Elite makes freehubs for Shimano Microspline 12-speed, SRAM XD/XDR 12-speed, and Campagnolo 9/10/11/12- speed.)

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Put the right adaptors in for your bike (in my case, conventional QR)

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Attach the bike via the rear dropouts. NOTE the adaptor that goes on the outside of the dropout for 130mm spacing (it goes on the inside for 135mm spacing)

Once you have the bike physically mounted, plug the trainer in and use the Elite UPGRADO app to make sure the software is up to date (easy to do and easy to show with screen shots).

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My Suito was already up to date

The other thing you need to do is to configure the Elite Suito using the Elite My E-Training app (again, easy to do and easy to show with screen shots).

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You can configure the Suito to transmit cadence, speed, and power

NOTE: If you want, you can connect the power meter on your bike rather than using the Elite Suito trainer power meter. Per Elite:

Suito implements also a function, called Power Meter Link, the allows having much more accurate power data. This function allows Suito to use a power sensor present on the bike as power source. This way, Suito is more precise since the power data measured by the sensor are more precise than those Suito can calculate with its formulas.

I didn’t do this, but it’s done on the My E-Training app:

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Riding the Elite Suito
I did some riding on the Elite Suito with just the front wheel block just to get a feel for it. As smart trainers go, it does what you would expect/want it to do. I had no issues pairing the trainer via Bluetooth with Zwift (on my Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone), Wahoo SYSTM (on my iPhone) or Xert (on my iPad and iPhone). The flywheel is hefty enough to provide good ride feel, but I could notice the difference vs a trainer with a heavier flywheel. And the resistance unit changes the power (up or down) to a prescribed power level or applies the braking force to simulate gradient fairly smoothly.

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The Suito’s flywheel isn’t the heaviest, but it gets the job done

I can’t vouch for or measure Elite’s accuracy claim of ± 2.5% (if you absolutely must have/need greater power accuracy, the Elite Direto XR has in integrated power meter with ± 1.5% accuracy), but the power values shown on Zwift, Wahoo SYSTM, and Xert were usually within <5 watts of what my Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM displayed for my 4iiii Precision left-side crank arm power meter that calculates power output from my left leg and simply doubles it for total power output. The differences weren’t consistent, e.g., the Suito wasn’t always higher or lower than the 4iiii Precision. And there were occasional very brief differences of as much as 10 watts between the two. Differences in power output could be due to different power averaging measurements and differences/lags in the time it takes to transmit data and display on my ROAM vs. the different riding apps. There’s also the fact that power is being measured in different places so you wouldn’t expect the numbers to be the same — like a car measuring brake horsepower at the engine vs wheel horsepower that takes into account drivetrain loss. But the differences weren’t enough for me to worry about it. Ditto for any differences in cadence. [NOTE: I’ve experienced similar differences with other smart trainers.]

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The “brains” of the Suito are in here

If you’re in the market for a smart trainer, at this price point (and I’ve seen the Suito discounted by some online retailers) the Elite Suito is probably more than enough for most mere mortals. Unless you are world class sprinter, you’re probably not likely to exceed the Suito’s 1,900 watts maximum (it’s more than double my current peak power, but I’m also not a sprinter). And there are only a few climb sections on Zwift that exceed the Suito’s 15% maximum (parts of the Radio Tower Climb are 16-19%).

NOTE: The 15% maximum is dependent on different variables. First and foremost (without getting into a whole discussion/debate), the default 50% setting on Zwift means a 15% grade in Zwift is only 7.5% on your trainer — so only half the Suito’s max capability. Also, your weight affects the max gradient a smart trainer can simulate. Most manufacturers use a 75 kg (165 lbs) rider to calculate resistance and the maximum incline. If you weigh more, the maximum incline is less than spec (and the opposite is true if you weigh less).

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Leave it to the Italians to create a serpentine plug-in connection

Another thing to consider if you’re looking to buy a smart trainer (Elite Suito or otherwise) right now is that high demand and supply chain issues (both in large part due to COVID-19) have combined to make it harder to find available stock (both at your local LBS and online retailers). So if you find a smart trainer that meets your needs, you probably don’t want to ponder the decision too long because it might get bought out from under you.

Elite Rizer gradient simulator$1,099.99

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For more than what a lot of smart trainers cost (including the Elite Suito), this is what you get from a technical spec perspective:

  • Maximum grades: Ascend up to 20%; Descend down to -10%
  • Patented steering system
  • Compatibility: Direto XR, Direto XR-T, Suito, Suito-T, Tuo
  • Size (H x W x L): 728x345x387 mm / 28.6″x13.5”x15.2”
  • Included adapters: QR, 12×100, 15×100, 15×110
  • Max load: 120 kg (264.5 pounds)

What’s in the box?

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The Rizer

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Power brick plus a different cord with different plug

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Back: Thru-axle adaptors. Front: Skewer and QR adaptors.

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The base of the Rizer moves back and forth so the bike can rotate to accommodate up and down movement

Setting up
Getting your bike set up on the Rizer is fairly straightforward but requires some attention to detail.

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Put the right axle adapters in the “thingie” (yes, that’s a technical term) — in my case, QR — to mount the fork

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The “tricky” part is positioning the Rizer properly

As with the Suito trainer, use the UPGRADO app to make sure your firmware is up to date.

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Finally, you need pair the Rizer with the trainer using the Rizer app.

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If you use an out front type mount for your bike computer, you’ll probably want to remove it because it will hit the Rizer unit when it lowers

Riding the Rizer
The Rizer is compatible with a number of different riding apps, but I primarily used Zwift to put it through its paces.

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I won’t get into a whole discussion/debate about Zwift’s Trainer Difficulty setting for simulated climbing and descending but it’s important to understand for using the Rizer. Zwift’s default setting is 50%, which means “50 percent of the grade resistance you’d find while riding the same grade of hill in the real world. Leave the setting unchanged and climbs often feel challenging. Descents also provide resistance, which means you almost always have the opportunity to keep pedaling.” That means the Rizer will mimic Zwift’s halving of the gradient, i.e., a 10 percent grade on Zwift will result in the Rizer moving up to 5 percent tilt.

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You have two choices if you want the Rizer to match the real gradient. You can change the Trainer Difficulty to Max so “your Zwift climbs feel as challenging as outdoor climbs of the same steepness. Remember that downhills get steeper, too. You can find yourself going so fast that spinning the pedals adds little more speed.”

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But if you prefer to keep the Trainer Difficulty on the default (or any other) setting, you can use the Rizer app to set the Rizer at 100 percent difficulty so it mimics the actual gradient and not Zwift’s Trainer Difficulty setting. You can also enable Double Negative Slope so it doubles the downhill gradient (because Zwift always halves it regardless of Trainer Difficulty setting).

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You also have to pair the Rizer in Zwift separately from your smart trainer.

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At this point, you’re ready to ride hills with the Rizer. My experience was that the Rizer’s up and down movement sync’ed up with the changes in gradient on Zwift and the changes in resistance on the Suito. Most of the time, the change in gradient was smooth and subtle. And because the Rizer motor is very quiet, it was almost like I didn’t notice that the bike was being tilted up. But when I hit more abrupt, steep climbs, e.g., the 23rd Street climb on the Richmond 2015 UCI Worlds Course, the change was more rapid and you could feel it because the change was more dramatic (plus the motor was louder).

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Adding bike tilt to the trainer resistance definitely adds another dimension to simulated climbing. It’s most noticeable when the gradient changes, but once I was on a climb and if the gradient was steady and not too steep (<10 percent), I didn’t always feel the effect of the bike being tilted up, i.e., not level. I think this may be one of those artificialities of riding indoors on a video simulation. The bike may be tilting up but the video screen (in my case, an 82 inch projector screen) is stationary. As a result, it’s not the same as looking up the climb like I would in the real world. But above 10 percent, I could definitely feel the physical difference between the bike being level and tilted up.

If you’ve ever wondered what different gradient looks like:

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Whereas I didn’t always notice the immediate effect of upward tilt, I almost always noticed when the Rizer tilted the bike down. Even on shallow descents, I could notice the front of the bike being lower — even if only a few degrees.

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The UCI may have outlawed the super tuck, but it’s legal on Zwift

Where I found the Rizer most fun was on rolling Zwift roads with lots of ups and downs. Combined with changes in trainer resistance, the Rizer changing the incline/decline of the bike to match the undulation of terrain added “feel” to the riding. IMHO this is where the Rizer was at its best adding enhancing the Zwift experience.

NOTE: I also rode the Rizer on Wahoo SYSTM, where it worked the same as on Zwift. It definitely added some variety to Michael Cotty’s On Location rides in the Pyrenees and Provence.

Manual Control
Although not something you’d have a reason to do Zwifting, you have the option of manually setting the incline on the Rizer. Assuming the Rizer is paired with your trainer (the red LED on the top of the Rizer will be lit), press and release the lock key to exit SIMULATION mode and enter MANUAL mode. Then:

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Use the up and down arrows on the top of the Rizer to manually change incline/decline in one percent increments

Or you can use the app:

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A word about steering
The Rizer also incorporates steering that you can use in Zwift. (NOTE: Zwift is selective about enabling steering on event rides and races. For example, I didn’t have steering when I recently rode Tour de Zwift.) With steering you can change your position on the road within the limits of the road, i.e., the centerline and the edge of the road. Just be aware that it’s not like riding a real bike. You’re riding a bike in a video game so there’s a learning curve to get the feel for how much handlebar input is needed to move your bike as far left or right as you want.

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Without getting into a discussion/debate about how you steer a bike IRL, with the Rizer you steer left by turning the handlebars to the left and steer right by turning the handlebars to the right

For those riding Zwift who are totally into the video game aspect of the app, steering is probably something they want/need. Instead of Zwift dictating your position on the road, you have control. That said, I don’t know that it makes any substantial difference which part of the road you ride on, i.e., if there’s any benefit. For example, if steering allows you to ride a faster line through turns, it wasn’t apparent to me. The one true benefit is that you can steer to position yourself to take advantage of riding in someone’s draft. I’ve had fun using it on Meetups I’ve organized to slot in front of someone just before they can get into the draft. But if Zwift has disabled steering on an event ride or race, you lose that benefit when you might want to use it most.

Compatibility
As you would expect, the Rizer is compatible with all of Elite’s interactive trainers, including the Tuo rear wheel-on trainer. But not with the Elite Turno (what Elite calls a “smart” trainer but it isn’t interactive — meaning it doesn’t have 2-way interaction with Zwift or other training software that control the trainer) or their Classic trainers. So if you wanted the Rizer and didn’t already have a smart trainer, the “no brainer” thing to do would be to buy it with a compatible Elite trainer.

But what if you already own a smart trainer? Can you use the Elite Rizer with it? The answer is: It depends.

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I know Elite would prefer you buy one of their trainers (and Wahoo would prefer you buy their KICKR CLIMB), but the Elite Rizer played well with my Wahoo KICKR Axis

To begin, you need a smart trainer that allows your bike to rotate. Not just up, but down too (most allow you to rotate the bike up — sometimes to nearly vertical — but some trainers’ form factors are such that there isn’t enough clearance for the chainstays to rotate down). Not surprisingly, Elite doesn’t publish a list of non-Elite compatible trainers. So if own another brand, contact the manufacturer to find out if your trainer will work with the Rizer. You might also want to find out what their policy is if your bike is damaged using the Rizer with their trainer.

That said, Wahoo trainers that are compatible with Wahoo’s KICKR CLIMB can accommodate the necessary up and down/rotational movement. So that means the most recent versions of the KICKR, CORE, and SNAP (but you still probably want to contact Wahoo just to be certain). FWIW, I rode the Rizer with my Wahoo KICKR Axis and didn’t experience any issues.

Is the Elite Rizer for you?
This is the $1099.99 question.

First and foremost, I think you need be a Zwifter for the Rizer to make sense. Yes, it’s compatible with other apps, but it’s really about riding in the pixels.

And then I think it really comes down to a question of $$$.

If you already own an Elite (or otherwise compatible) interactive trainer and are a hard core Zwifter who is trying to get as realistic a ride as possible, you’ve probably already spent some serious dough on your set up. For example, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve also invested in a rocker plate (perhaps something like the KOM Cycling RPV2). If you’re that serious about your indoor riding and have already laid out that much coin, then the Rizer might not seem exorbitant — especially if you want to eek out every last bit of realism from riding in the pixels.

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If you don’t already own a smart trainer, why not go Full Monty and jump into Zwifting with an Elite interactive trainer and Rizer? If you have the money to spend (or are willing to live on a diet of Ramen noodles), go for it.

But if you’re like me and basically a “winter” Zwifter, it’s a harder question to answer. As cool and as fun as the Rizer is, it’s also not absolutely necessary from a strict training perspective. My indoor riding is about riding to the watts dictated by my trainer (and app that I’m riding) — the Rizer doesn’t really affect that one way or the other. That said, it does make the Zwifting experience more immersive. I just think it’s harder to justify the cost if you’re only riding Zwift 2 or 3 months out of the year. Plus my indoor riding isn’t only on Zwift — I also ride Wahoo SYSTM and Xert.

But that’s my rational side speaking. We all know that all purchases related to bikes are emotional, i.e., it’s more about want than need. Especially if a significant other is involved, some sort of plausible explanation is required. So how’s this …

A logical use case might be if you lived somewhere completely flat and wanted to use the Rizer with Zwift as a “hill experience” to break up the monotony. For example, we will eventually be moving to the South Carolina low country that is flat, flat, flat (and often windy). The only thing resembling a “hill” will be going up and over the Cross Island Parkway bridge.

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If this is the only hill I’ll have to ride, a Rizer might be in my future

While a lot of people hate hills, I have a sado-masochistic love affair with them. A newbie to my group rides said he figured out pretty quickly which direction all the turns were … whichever way went uphill. And there’s my Wednesday Night Hill Ride aka WNHR aka Peña Peña aka Pain Party that generally packs ~2,000 feet of mostly punchy climbing into a ~20 mile urban ride. It wouldn’t be the same (and there’s no substitute for having to overcome real gravity), but with the Rizer I could get my hill “fix” in the comfort of my home. And it wouldn’t be just for my benefit. My wife and daughter both say I’m grumpy whenever I don’t ride. Imagine how much grumpier I would be if I can’t ride hills? With a Rizer, I know I would be a much nicer person to be around, so a win-win. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

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Out of the saddle on a Vuelta-esque 20 percent incline!


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This just in! Elite Cycling and Zwift are pleased to announce a unique opportunity for the cycling community. Starting this Thursday, February 17th, they will be hosting a monthly race on Zwift called the Elite Pro Series. Professional cyclists have been invited to line up and race shoulder to shoulder with cyclists from across the globe using the Zwift platform, giving amateur riders the special chance to measure their ability against the very best.

Courses will vary from month to month, ensuring that everyone will be able to race on a route best suited to their strengths; including big mountain climbs.

  • There will be a mass start for all categories from the pens so cyclists will be able to catch a glance of the Pros before the racing kicks into high gear.
  • The race will operate standard categories, A-D, including E for “Women Only”.
  • Rules: Heart Rate monitor required and Zwift Power for official results, winner of each category.
  • Prizes: Bragging rights and Zwift high-fives.

The first event kicks off on February 17th at 7:30 pm CET / 11:30 am MST and will be hosted on the “The Magnificent 8” course, on Zwift’s main map, Watopia. The route is quite flat, with the only climb being a reverse Hilly KOM.

  • Length: 28.6 km (17.8 miles)
  • Elevation: 131 m (430 ft).
  • Expected Duration: 45-60 min

Six professional riders will be joining the inaugural ride this Thursday. Teams who confirmed the participation for the first round are the Movistar Team, both the Men’s Team and the Women’s Team, the Movistar eTeam and the Équipe Cycliste Groupama-FDJ. Elite invites cyclists of all abilities and disciplines to join these Pros at the start line.

  • Matteo Jorgenson, Movistar Team
  • Barbara Guarischi, Movistar Team
  • Tobias Ludvigsson, Groupama-FDJ
  • Lewis Askey, Groupama-FDJ
  • Vidar Mehl, Movistar eTeam
  • Steph Clutterbuck, Movistar eTeam

Note: If you have other experiences with gear or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products you see here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper/safe use, handling, maintenance, and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

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