interactive, with good range of smooth resistance; folds easily
inaccurate power measurement; not cheap or quiet
If you love rollers and like the idea of interactive resistance, the Nero is a great option. It's louder than most smart trainers and as expensive as a good smart trainer like the Elite Direto X, but it offers a unique way to interact with software like Zwift, TrainerRoad, or FulGaz.
Adjustable for wheelbase
Elite combined two of its products into one with the Nero. The Italian company had an interactive roller set with the Arion Digital B+, and a set of rollers with some gentle fore/aft movement in the Quick-Motion. The Nero works with third-party software like Zwift, changing the resistance to match a course or a workout. The set of rollers offers a unique physical interaction, too, with flywheels in the rollers and wheels under the frame combining for a silky, floating feel.
Elite Nero construction, interaction and ride quality
Like many smart trainers, the Nero works on Bluetooth and ANT+ to interact with software like Zwift, TrainerRoad or FulGaz, or computers like those from Garmin or Wahoo. The unit measures power output and adjusts resistance to match the software.
When you go up a hill in Zwift, the resistance at the Nero’s two rear rollers goes up; when you descend a virtual hill, it gets easier. Combined with the freedom of movement of riding rollers, this makes for a fun, engaging way to ride Zwift.
The Nero offers more than 800 watts of resistance, which I found more than adequate for nearly all riding, training, and racing. The only time you would top 800 watts would be for a few seconds in an all-out sprint, and frankly I would be hesitant to attempt such an effort on rollers anyway. So, for the sprint at the end of a Zwift race you might be giving up something compared to a fixed smart trainer, but the upside is that you get freedom of movement for the entirety of your ride.
There is a 6lb flywheel in each of the rear rollers, which makes the experience feel more like riding outside in that there is some initial resistance to accelerating and then some sustained momentum when you coast.
Proponents of rollers like to claim that riding them can improve a rider’s pedal stroke, making it smoother and more efficient. This is probably true. I just like them because it feels better and more engaging to me than a fixed trainer.
The mostly plastic body flexes a bit when moving the unit around, but feels sturdy when riding. The base adjusts to fit your bike’s wheelbase, and folds up at two points for relatively compact storage.
A little step with grip tape folds out on the left side of the Nero to make getting on and off the things easier. I still prefer to lean on something while getting on the rollers, but found the step helpful when stopping and climbing off.
The power cord is on the short side, at 5 feet.
Elite Nero power accuracy and noise
The Nero power measurement is poor. Before calibration, it was reading about 15 percent below the Shimano and Garmin meters I used concurrently to test against it. After a roll-down calibration, it read about 15 percent high. On its own, you wouldn’t want to use the Nero for serious training. And, to its credit, Elite doesn’t make any accuracy claims with the Nero. It is a set of plastic rollers, after all.
If you have a power meter on your bike, however, you can pair the Nero to it using the Elite app. This, in my experience, got the power readings to be much more inline with the meters I was using. But on some rides, the power would be way off again, and it was impossible to quickly tell whether the Nero was reading on its own or drawing from a power meter.
So, what I did was just use one of my power meters for output to Zwift and the Nero for interaction and resistance.
The Nero rollers are a bit loud. I measured them at around 70dB when riding at 200w at 90rpm. For the same output, a good smart trainer is in the low 60dBs.
Final verdict and recommendations
The Elite Nero is a fun, engaging way to ride Zwift. The ride feel is smooth, as are the changes in resistance. The frame easily adjusts to any bike, folds up for storage, and even has an integrated, fold-out step. With resistance of more than 800w, the Nero is a great training tool for everything but all-out sprints.
I wouldn’t recommend the Nero to riders who are looking for a smart trainer with accurate power measurement. However I would recommend it those who already have a power meter on their bike and are keen to train indoors in a dynamic way.