Tips for transitioning from a dumb trainer to a smart trainer

About three weeks ago my Elite Volano, a direct drive fluid dumb trainer, gave up the ghost. More precisely, the bearings gave out. I have about three years of experience training with a power meter (first a 4iiii, then a Quark DZero) on this trainer, so I have gotten quite good at staying on target power and judging my efforts.

After some deliberation, I got an Elite Suito. The trainer is very quiet, much quieter than my old trainer, so that’s a plus. I tend to use the trainer in 4th gear on a 1x12, so I am sticking to TR’s recommendation to not use a tall gear, especially at low power. I’m using TR’s new power match with the default settings (0.5). So I think I am doing everything right on this end.

But Erg mode is driving me up the wall. I am really struggling to keep my power on target and my cadence up. Even in Z2, my power is quite irregular and everything feels very unnatural. Very often my cadence would slowly drop, imperceptibly at first and when I try to lift it, my power spikes. Other times it is the opposite: the trainer would ease up to hit the target power on average, but my legs would want to continue putting out the target power, which means my cadence would rise. Overall that’d lead to me oscillating around the target power. All my natural instincts of spending countless hours on the trainer are now suddenly wrong, and I feel like I am fighting my trainer.

When I want to change cadence, I need to slowly increase or decrease it and wait for my trainer to catch up. Shifting gears typically causes a power mismatch, too. Sprints are the worst. And when I tried to switch to resistance mode, I was quickly overwhelmed after the sprint since my oxygen-starved brain wasn’t able to provide the necessary fine motor skills to hit the touch targets. And during my ramp test this morning, I felt like pedaling through molasses (even though the cadence was high and I did better than I thought).

Part of me is tempted to use my Wahoo Elemnt as a controller and turn my smart trainer into a dumb trainer. But I should at least give Erg mode a fair shake. Do you have any advice for someone like me on how to make the transition to a smart trainer easier?

I wish I could help you but I have no advice. I will thank you for confirming my decision to stick with what I have. Hopefully you get comfortable with it


I’ve got a suito and the power tends to float a bit above and below the target in erg, this is normal for it. I just try to keep my cadence at 90-92 and not worry about it, the average power for the interval is always bang on target. For zone 2 rides I don’t even watch the TR screen as I Watch something else on my ipad, erg always works just fine, just keep spinning away.
For vo2 efforts I leave it on erg and about 2-3 seconds before it begins I increase cadence to 100 and put out more power, this helps to smooth out the transition.


Switch ERG off. I have got a Suito and I tried to persevere with ERG for a few months but I didn’t like it or the ‘spiral of death’ which I was dragged into often un-perceivably at first and seemed to be straining my calf fighting it. I’ll use the smart features and enjoy them in RGT (I sometimes do a TR outdoor workout on a RGT virtual course) but I toggle ERG off (resistance mode). I prefer the freedom that resistance mode gives to let me on a good day pedal above target or on bad day to pedal below and to have that 2 seconds loss of power without being dragged unknowningly towards the spiral of death.


After 2 years I finally stopped the insanity and turned Erg off. Much better and more like riding outside.

So it seems I’m not alone, and it isn’t necessarily because the Suito has a reputation of slow resistance changes.

It seems my Wahoo can control the Suito’s resistance. However, I couldn’t figure out how to configure it properly. Any advice? I checked Wahoo’s website without any luck.

You can still use the the trainer road app without ERG - you can just turn it off :slightly_smiling_face:

Not familiar with the wahoo but I’m sure that you will be able to use it to control the resistance :+1: Probably could use ERG mode too if you wanted.

Just as an aside, I know ERG mode isn’t for everyone, but your experience doesn’t seem right. Might me worth reaching out to support? ERG mode should literally be “pedal and forget”.

I have tried that for sprints, and it was too fiddly to manually change the resistance on the touch screen. I’d rather have that on my head unit within reach.

Just to give you an idea: this was my last workout from this morning, this is a similar workout with my old dumb trainer.

Perhaps. But I am following TR’s recommendations (low gear, using my own power meter and power match). And while the Suito doesn’t have a reputation of being great at erg, I thought consensus was it is good enough.

Ahhh got you :+1: Didn’t realise you wanted to change the resistance on the fly - thought you would be just using your gears.

Yeah me too - that’s why i’m surprised you are having issues. I was wondering if you were actually struggling with electrical interference or something?

Your account is set to private - happy to have a look if you set to public but I would contact support - they are good.


We can’t see the workouts you shared, since your account is private.
You might want to try and see if ERG behaves easier if you’re not using powermatch (just as a test). As the powermatch settings may affect how ERG feels and behaves. If that feels better, maybe experiment a bit with the powermatch settings to get close to the same feel.
In general, stop trying to worry about matching power targets in ERG. That’s what ERG should do. Just cycle with a steady cadence. If you want to change cadence, just do it. Stop worrying about the speed you change it, and the (short) spikes or dips that causes.

(disclaimer: I only have experience with Taxc Neo, use ERG for 99% of all workouts I do…)


Elite’s erg mode sucks - I bought their top end trainer and returned after a week as it was so bad. If you contact them about it, they’ll tell you you’re pedaling wrong…

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Sorry, forgot about that. You should be able to see them now. While I did try to do some cadence drills this time, with the old trainer I was very good at keeping my cadence steady as any change in cadence meant a change in power, obviously.

That’s disappointing. I knew that other trainers did erg mode better, but my impression from reading the reviews was that it was usable. :slightly_frowning_face:

Here are a couple screenshots of workouts from earlier this year.

The sweet spot one is very typical of the suito in erg, just pedal and forget everything else with minor fluctuations, I keep mine on 3 second smoothing.
Ebbets was also done in erg with similar fluctuations but with the sprints. It takes some practice to get the power to not drop way below target as soon as the sprint ends but once you get the hang of it it’s easy.
I would definitely reach out to TR support, I don’t seem to have any of your issues.
I use my assiomas on power match controlled by the app.

All I can really tell from that is that I agree your cadence is all over the place but the power fluctuations don’t actually look that bad.

Do you feel like the trainer is forcing you to change cadence?

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I do think this is something that is prevalent on most Elite trainers. It is especially apparent on short, sharp spikes (10-30” efforts). I have it on my DiretoX and my previous Direto. I just spin up 3-5” before such an effort and it is fine.

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@OreoCookie I changed from a dumb trainer {Kurt Kinetic] to a smart bike [Stages] in the middle of last year with pedal-based power meters. The change and ERG mode certainly took some getting used to – more than the two weeks or so that you’ve had.

My initial feeling was that ERG was awful and so I spent 6 months or so using gears and cadence in resistance mode. But that required concentration and reduced my ability to watch something on my iPad [FulGaz]. So earlier this year I started using ERG mode on Z2 rides, essentially trying not to watch the TR screen at all and to watch the iPad instead. The trick I find is just to forget about the fluctuations in power – just try to keep your cadence reasonably steady and go for it.

But ERG does have its issues. The Stages is quite slow to adjust power. And the effect of changing cadence is counter-intuitive – raise cadence and pedalling gets easier. [In fact, this is great for doing Chad’s high cadence drills and for practising higher cadences.] But in general, for longer intervals or for Z2/tempo work with 10-20 per cent fluctuations in target power, just forget the power. Most important: if there is a large surge in the power target, do not raise your cadence dramatically to hit the target sooner – that’ll just lead to a sharp decline in power once your cadence returns to normal levels.

Then there are shorter intervals. By this I mean intervals of a few minutes or sprints [whether form sprints or real sprints with power]. For these I find that I simply have to turn off ERG after the warm up and then turn it on again for the cool down. Otherwise, by the time the power has stabilised, the interval is over or nearly over.

But I’m still learning about how to use ERG – and indeed, the peculiarities of the bike as controlled by TR. Keep at it and remember how long it’s taken people like me even to get to this beginner point.

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  • This is the key.

My saying is “Cadence is King!”, which means you focus on that while you MUST ignore power. Many new ERG users apply their prior experience in Resistance trainers by changing their cadence too often and too much, which causes problems when using ERG mode.

It is up to the rider to hold a steady and consistent cadence, which then works best with the ERG app and trainer to hold the desired power target. Watching power can lead to a rider trying to alter their input (cadence) in order to “solve” the power discrepancy that they may see. But it only makes the problem worse.

With respect to the Birch workout, the cadence seen is quite all over the place. It shows the rider was altering cadence as they would with Resistance trainers (higher cadence in the higher power, lower cadence in the lower power), which is not how you should be riding in ERG.

Assuming you want to hold a specific cadence (like 90 rpm), you must respond to the changes in resistance at the steps in the workout by increasing or decreasing your actual effort while working to hold your intended cadence. Once you do this, and really make sure you are sticking at the desired cadence (+ / - 3 rpm or so) you will get an actual “flat” cadence graph and the actual response from the workout as intended in ERG. So, watch cadence closely for a while, ignore power entirely (let the system do the work) and I expect you will see better results.



@OreoCookie after two years of Erg on a Kickr I came to the following thoughts/conclusions: Why develop a skill (‘cadence for Erg’) that doesn’t translate to outside? Outside and on simulators like Zwift/RGT/FulGaz you learn to vary cadence and power in response to conditions. Erg puts you into a monochromatic cadence world of droning on and on. And the power fluctuations are unnaturally smooth in Erg on my Kickr. Outside I don’t have to concentrate or focus to ride in zones, Erg isn’t required to multitask. I’d rather reinforce the skill of riding by feel and use gears. Resistance mode is not what you want, that’s the equivalent of a knob on a gym bike. You want a mode where resistance gets harder the higher the power output (level mode on Kickr) - just like outside. Those are most of the reasons why I said stop the insanity.


Turn off the power smoothing on the kickr app. With it on, it’s just showing you a pretty graph not what you are actually putting out. The worst part is that the data recorded is also bogus.

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It’s one of the first things I did, as part of my 2 year experience with Erg.

The unnaturally smooth power reference is with smoothing disabled. Some pics and data here and here.

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