Worth upgrading from wheel-on to direct drive?

I’ve currently got a wheel-on Tacx Bushido which has mostly been working well after I managed to hack a fix after the mounting system broke several times however after receiving a bonus at work I am considering spending some of it on a direct drive trainer.

The main reason is that I am noticing that the Bushido is woeful at applying the correct power on short spring intervals and that Power Match can often take quite some time to zero in on the required resistance at the beginning of workouts, even after calibration

My main hesitation is that one of the major benefits of a direct drive is stated to be its power accuracy however as my power source is (and will continue to be) my Assioma Duos this is not a factor for me, I also have a dedicated bike I use on the trainer with a trainer tire so wheel so the hassle of swapping wheels also isn’t a consideration

If however, that the riding experience on a DD trainer is noticeably improved and can address my above issues with my wheel-on trainer I am happy to part with the dollars

Would be interested to hear peoples thoughts, especially from those who have had the experience going from a wheel-on to DD and if they thought it was worth it

Thanks in advance

Hi, went from 4iiii pm and elite quibo to elite direto.
First thing I noticed was the resistance felt more solid and constant than wheel on.
For sprints or high watt intervals the time it took to ramp up resistance and settle was much better but can still take a few seconds. Also no tyre slip to contend with.
Reduced noise - big plus for my setup.

For me a DD trainer improved the quality of the training. You’ve got accuracy with your Duos, a DD will add a bit of fine tuning.


I had a Cycleops Magnus and have switched to an H3 and I think it’s worth it.

The wheel on trainer is kind of a pain in the ass. Even the Magnus, which makes setting the tire knob super easy is still kind of a pain. For some reason, I’d end up with flat tires periodically, signals would drop out, or thered just be times when I went to work out and instead had to try and troubleshoot the trainer or patch a bunch of tubes and it was just a hassle when that happened.

With the direct drive trainer I just pop my bike on (or leave it on) and its just good to go every time. I don’t need to release the roller from the wheel or worry about anything. As a bonus, I can also put my wife’s bike on it if she decides to try it at any point. Her bike doesn’t work with the wheel-on trainer since it has 650c wheels. I haven’t had any issue with the H3 since I got it a couple months ago and its almost worth it for that alone.

I made the shift to direct drive back when the Lemond Revolution first came out, I could never go back. The ease of use and feel is world’s apart.

I’d really like to buy a direct drive smart trainer for the interactive resistance, but here in New Zealand they are completely sold out in essentially all models.

For me, It’s not as big an improvement as you’d expect. I switched last year to a 2nd hand Neo and would probably not go back to wheel on. But don’t expect a massive change in ride feel, assuming you’re happy as is and ERG is ok for you. If you have a friend with one and can manage to be socially distant then worth trying before you buy. For me it’s better, but not 1k better. Wheel on trainer with PM is absolutely fine.

I switched from non-smart wheel-on to non-smart DD 5 years back and then from non-smart DD to smart DD a couple of years ago and won’t go back. Some of the advantages other people didn’t mention:

  • DD is much quieter than the wheel-on. And the volume doesn’t increase as power goes up as the wheel-on does.
  • I don’t get the vibration / resonance noise that I would sometimes get with wheel-on.
  • No wheel slip in high torque situations and no squeaking from tire slip.
  • I feel better about not having to clamp down as hard on the bike to hold it in place with a DD trainer.
  • Not having to deal with the whole mess of ensuring a certain tire pressure and/or tightening the resistance unit up to the tire reduce slippage.
  • Less mess from having little bits of rubber fly off the tires as they wear.

Good question and one I’ve considered many times.

I’m happy enough with my wheel on trainer, but then I don’t have any source of power so it’s Virtual Power for me.

That puts me off making the upgrade is the problems that some people seem to have with their units failing.

I’d love to make the upgrade to power pedals because then I could gauge my efforts outside, but until then I’m very happy with what TR does.

In addition. I would be interested in a TR survey of what equipment rides use. Like power units, DD and Garmins. I would certainly find it useful to know what ‘most’ people used successfully. @mcneese.chad

YESS definitely. It’s way more accurate in absolute terms (depending on the trainer you buy) and also relatively (power changes within exercise).

I’ve been using a Tacx Vortex prior to my Neo 2 for 3 years. Difference been night and day. With a wheel-on vortex I was always struggling with resistance, tire pressure, heat building up, and calibration all the time.

I want a wheel off trainer but my biggest knock on all these products is that they are expensive ($800-1200+), come with short 1 year warranties, are not user serviceable, and service parts are not available. On top of it some have been notoriously unreliable. If I’m going to spend $1000 on a trainer I’d really like the option to repair it in 5 or 7 years for a couple hundred if need be.

I’m just going to keep using my wheel on Tacx Vortex trainer with my bike’s power meter until the Tacx dies. Hopefully by then reliability across the board will have improved.


Started using a Cycleops Fluid 2 and moved to a wahoo Kickr 2018. The nicest part of the direct drive setup is that it gives you options in how you want to be “locked in”. Sometimes you might want to use ERG so you just have to focus on putting out the power. Other times you want to use standard/resistance because you want that “outdoors” feel of having to be conscious of how you’re putting out power. Ultimately it is a convenience thing but in my opinion it is well worth it

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I’d say it is worth it. I changed from a Power2Max / Stages + Vortex to a Direto two years ago.

The changes are way smoother and the feeling is just better. Power match was a bit jerky sometimes and it sometimes took too long to change. The weaker trainer also required me to change gears and that combined with the somewhat unreliable resistance adjusting made it hard for me (especially with interval brain) to know if the trainer was acting up or if I had to change gears.

I got the Direto for 500€ and I’d switch again. If I had to buy again, I think I’d go for an H3, but I would have to check prices and compare …

Without a doubt. Have had 2 wheel on trainers. Both sold without use, but my kickr is seeing plenty of use.

I went from a Tacx Flow to a Elite Zumo to a Elite Direto My flux was getting really noisy and the change to the Zumo meant that I no longer had to worry about tyre pressure and calibration, I dont think the Direto changes resistance that quickly it seems to make a change then wait for feed back from the powermeter then change resistance again in a loop.

I expect this question has been answered somewhere in the forum.

Have you experienced a difference in RPE when switching from a wheel-on to direct drive trainer?

Today was my first ride on my shiny new Kickr Core after 5 years on a Magnus. On the Magnus, I’ve been using my PowerTap hub to connect with TrainerRoad. Also, I’ve been using PowerTap hubs on several bikes for 6+ years and have a good idea what different power ranges feel like.

Today’s ride was identical to last Tuesday’s ride. The only difference is the trainer. My heart rate was far lower. RPE lower. IF of this ride was .85 and it did not feel like a .85.

Is this expected when moving to a direct drive trainer?