Staying In Tune With The Tuo
by Chris Galley
by Chris Galley
I’ve been using Elite Cycling’s interactive home trainer ‘Tuo’ now for several weeks. I have to say, now that I’m further into the experience, it’s most definitely providing the levels of performance and interactivity that I had anticipated from the marketing information on the Elite Cycling website. It still amazes me how it can simulate such differing topography, but I’ll come back to that shortly.
First of all, I do use Tuo as a simple turbo trainer. Let me explain, as an age group Triathlete I often spend time in the pain cave looking for new and painful ways to train over the winter. Using a mixture of circuit training, weight training, HIIT work outs and core specific training, I can make sure that along with a healthy diet, my body and mind are ready for a new year of racing.
The Elite Tuo fits into this perfectly, taking it’s part in both the cardio workouts and the circuit training routines that I cunningly devise to make me feel a little sick. Elite Cycling state that the Tuo will take up to 1300w of power through it and I’ve found it to be robust and solid, showing no signs of burning out or vibration as I put my all through the pedals. Obviously, using bike gears alone to up the resistance and therefore upping the pain levels. I use short but intense intervals in high gear, high resistance followed by short intervals of low resistance spinning as part of the wider circuit session. And in truth, this is enough for anyone and in some sense reflects sprinting or overtaking in the real world.
Now, most of my indoor riding sessions have been spent riding around Harrogate Tour de Yorkshire routes or Watopia using Zwift. I’m by no means in a knowledgeable position to talk with any credence about Zwift. Those who use it often know far more about that than I do and if you want to part with £12.99 per month to play this intuitive cycling game, and then feel free to do so. However, I can say that I find it a very clever system. In that, I mean the way in which it connects with the Elite Tuo, to provide the resistance needed to simulate elevation and descent is in a way quite spooky – but extremely clever – I think I used ‘witchcraft before’. It does sometimes take me by surprise and a glance away from the bars up to the map on the screen is required to remind you that you’ve hit a gradient and are now climbing a Watopian hill or a hill on one of the countless maps provided by Elite in their ‘My E-Training’ app. Connection is simple. Switch on, watch for the blue light, start Zwift and connect the various tools once you’ve started pedalling. It will pick up the Tuo trainer in a jiffy and you’re soon ready to go. The only slight snag that I’ve found is that my Garmin Chest HR strap uses ANT+ and Zwift does not really support this, so its much easier to buy a Bluetooth HR strap if you’d like to scare yourself looking your real time heart rate data.
Elite Cycling state that the gradient simulated is around 10% and I would agree with that in practice. Some of the climbs would certainly be more than 10%. Whilst the level of resistance is turned up for climbing by the clever system behind the elastogel roller, you also need to use the bikes gears to adjust accordingly. Trust me, the speed drops rapidly and the pedals get harder to push to reflect the gradient being negotiated. I particularly like using a high resistance level to get to the crest of a climb and competitively pick off riders as they slow for the top, using this as a sprinting game. When I’ve stopped gasping for air it makes me smile ?. Another interesting aspect of Zwift is your avatar on the bike. This is obviously customizable once you’ve played for a while. Mine is of course a Triathlete.
The avatar will be standing up on the pedals whilst climbing, riding on the bars in a normal position (or in a tri position if you are using the avatar as a triathlete), but Zwift will also show a sprinting avatar if you push hard and create a higher power output. It does make me smile every time I catch him sprinting, as it’s a signal that you’re working hard. The accuracy is right up there too. Elite Cycling state accuracy is around + or – 5% and I would say that’s about right. I’ve not noticed any wildly incorrect speeds at all. The only issue that I have found is one of internet connection and it causes data drop outs every once and while. Again not an Elite Tuo or Zwift problem, but more an issue of internet signal strength so, it might be worth checking your internet strength where you intend set up your own Elite Tuo. I use a separate studio building in my grounds, and so a wifi booster will help. A quick check on one of those many apps would help you to understand your signal strength and then either move closer or as I suggest, obtain a suitable booster for the room you intend to use.
I don’t intend to continue using Zwift myself however. For me, the Elite apps are awesome and great value for money. However, I do like the Zwift interconnectivity. Most of my riding will be outdoors for the year and the Elite Tuo is my training backup. You can of course use the ‘My E-Training’ App, which is free for a year with Tuo or any other indoor training system from Elite Cycling; and to be honest, this is all you need. Elite ‘Real Video will show video mapping of pre-recorded rides, whilst the training app will give you training sessions of various types, and you can plot your own ride on their mapping. Plus, you can take FTP (functional threshold power) tests and the system is mobile so can be used with either your chosen computer set up or your smart phone. It will also link to my Garmin Chest HR Strap as it uses Ant+ which is a nice bonus. There’s many other internet based cycling game systems to use and they can be found on Elite Cycling website if you want to have a look around.
So in summary, as I progress my use of the Elite Tuo; it’s definitely a classy and smart piece of equipment to look at, and it’s easy to physically connect and disconnect the bike when you want to ride outside. It also has all the interactivity of a much more expensive piece of equipment. It works seamlessly with the Elite ‘My E-Training’ app and its performance on Zwift is excellent. It’s probably all the indoor cycle trainer you’re likely to need – unless you want to progress onto the Elite Interactive trainers being tested by our competitive racer, Larisa 😉