The Elite Direto XR is the Italian company’ update to Elite’s Direto X direct-drive smart trainer, which built upon the success of its original Direto

With virtual cycling and indoor training becoming more popular since the Lockdown, Elite has established themselves as a real contender in the trainer space.

Check Out Our Guide to Buying Indoor Trainers!

Elite Direto XR Smart Trainer


The Direto XR comes fully setup out of the box, with everything you need to get started included. All you need to do is put down the trainer mat, fold the legs out, plug the unit into the mains and attach your bike.

The legs have fixing bolts with large plastic knobs on them, which need to be screwed and unscrewed by hand in order to release and lock them. Unfortunately, they’re located on the underside of the legs, so the trainer does need to be turned over to access them, and it’s a shame the legs don’t have quick-release mechanisms.

Comes Full Setup Out of the Box! Cassette Included!

The included power cable is 2.5 meters long, so you shouldn’t need an extension lead, and once plugged in the trainer should quickly connect to Zwift.

Alternatively, you can connect to a cycle computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet via ANT+ or ANT+ FE-C, if your device supports those or you have a dongle accessory.


  1. Ready-to-Use out of the box, and with a cassette included. The Elite Direto XR is already proving to be one of the easiest trainers to set up. The 11 Speed Shimano cassette, which is factory fitted saves the buyer both time and money, which would have gone into purchasing one separately to use the trainer.

2. The Direto sports a whopping 24% grade simulation, and also sports a heavier flywheel at 5.1kg, compared to the Suito’s 3.5kg flywheel.

3. All trainers by Elite immediately send power, speed, and cadence data, thus setting themselves as effective instruments to build an accurate training program and replicated outdoor workouts as much as possible. 

4. Cadence is measured via a practical sensorless technology (that is, no sensors to apply to your bicycle) and is calculated on the Direto XR as a function of speed variations.


In this review, we will be focusing on 8 factors about the Elite Direto;

  • Type of Resistance Unit
  • Direct Drive vs Wheel-on
  • Power Accuracy
  • Connectivity
  • Compatibility
  • Portability


The Elite Direto XR uses an Electromagnetic resistance unit that provides the most accurate and real-like road feel among all types of trainers. Given the Direto XR is a smart trainer, it’ll change resistance automatically in a few different ways, primarily driven by different applications/methods. But most of this all boils down to two core methods:

  • ERG Mode – Setting a specific power level – i.e 220w. 
    • In this mode, no matter what gearing you use, the trainer will simply stay at 220w (or whatever you set it to).
  • Simulation (SIM) Mode – Simulating a specific outdoor grade – i.e., 14% incline.
    • In this mode, it’s just like outdoors in that you can change your gearing to make it easier or harder. Wattage is not hard-set, only incline levels

It is also the quietest of all trainer types, as resistance is generated using electromagnetic repulsion, which is frictionless and quiet. It is perfect if you’re looking to workout without waking up the entire house, and perhaps your neighbors!


The Elite Direto XR is a direct drive trainer, which means that you remove your rear wheel and mount your bike directly on the cassette mounted on the trainer. You place the trainer between your bike’s dropouts and clamp it with a quick release or a thru-axle. 

Direct drive trainers have more to offer than “normal” wheel-on trainers. The advanced technique brings more accuracy, makes the trainer generally more powerful, and simulates a more realistic bike feeling. A rear tire will deform and slowly deflate while you train, influencing your performance during training.

An additional advantage of a trainer set-up without a rear tire is that this will make your training much more silent. And because most direct drive trainers are equipped with a built-in power meter, your workout will even get more professional.

Direct drive trainers are the most convenient as they are easier and quicker to set up (if you already have a cassette installed on the trainer).

Direct-Drive trainersWheel-Drive trainers
More realistic
Self-adjust resistance via apps
More accurate
Responds faster
Higher resistance capabilities
Relatively silent
Built-in power meter
More affordable
Weight less
Easy to mount your bike


Elite claims (perhaps inevitably) the Direto XR is more accurate than its predecessor, with an error margin of +/- 1.5%, and that it can generate 2,300W of resistance and simulate a slope up to 24%. Those are top-tier numbers.

Even if you’ll never trouble the maximum resistance, it means there’s plenty of resistance for things like ERG workouts in the middle of the cassette. Elite uses an optical torque sensor to measure power, and it’s calibrated before it leaves the factory.


The Elite Direto XR has all basic communication protocols in place – ANT+, FE-C & Bluetooth Smart, and allows interactive resistance control across both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.

By applying resistance control, apps can simulate climbs and set specific wattage targets for your training. You can also connect to any device you want to. Be it a bike computer or watch, or an app – it’ll be supported.

Therefore, the Elite Direto XR is one of the most immersive and accurate trainers for virtual ride simulation on apps like Zwift. That means that the range of difficulties and change in resistance will be the most accurate than other types of trainers.

Anyone purchasing a Direto XR will get a free 1-month subscription to Zwift and a free 12-month subscription to the My E-Training software

Its plug-and-play setup is also one of the quickest set-ups we’ve seen on Smart Trainers in this category!


In terms of bike compatibility, again, there’s nothing to worry about. Since the trainer comes with a cassette in the box, all you have to do is simply put in place either the quick release or thru-axle adapter (depending on your particular bike). The unit includes a thru-axle adapter set for 142x12mm and 130mm/135mm quick release.

Note that you can install Shimano/SRAM 9/10/11 speed cassettes without any extra accessory, however, for Campagnolo cassettes (9/10/11 speed), you’ll need an adapter from Elite.


At just 16.2kgs, the Direto XR is very light compared to other slightly more expensive Direct-Drive trainers on the market, such as the Wahoo Kickr (21.9). This is great if you’re short on space at home and constantly need to move your trainer between sessions!

However, this lightness comes at a cost, as the Direto XR features a few more plastic components than its cheaper brother the Suito. This makes the trainer feel a little less sturdy and premium than other similarly priced direct drive trainers


  • Weight: 16.2kg
  • Accuracy: +/- 1.5%
  • Connectivity: ANT+ FE-C, Smart Bluetooth, and FTMS
  • Max Resistance: 2300 Watts
  • Max gradient simulation: 24%
  • Flywheel: 5.1kg
  • Thru-axle compatible: Yes

The Elite Direto XR is a solid package, in terms of functionality and performance. the only downside is that it isn’t as sturdy or “indestructible” as a Kickr, but for so much less, the Direto XR surely gives other similar trainers a run for their money!

Elite’s Direto XR is a quiet and reliable smart trainer, with a good ride feel and accurate power measurement. It has excellent specs for the money, and the value proposition is only improved by the inclusion of accessories like the cassette and riser block.

Overall, though, the Direto XR is a great option for any serious indoor cyclist.

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About the Author

Ayush Kundu

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING: I love the freedom which comes with riding a bike. On my Hardtail MTB , nothing is an obstacle, I seamlessly flow down trails and through traffic like water in a river. And that flow gives me immense satisfaction and the continued drive to get back on my bike the next day. DISCIPLINE: Mountain Biking & Commuting CURRENT BIKE: Marin Bolinas Ridge Disc DREAM BIKE: Cannondale TOPSTONE Carbon Lefty 3

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