Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ Part 1: The Build

img_5547The Elite Qubo Smart Digital B+ comes in as the cheapest smart trainer out there.  Suggested retail price for this trainer is $449.  However, through a purchase with Athleteshop.com, I was able to get this trainer for $393 from Europe.  We are going to review this trainer in 3 or 4 parts.  I say 4 parts because I don’t know how complicated the spin down calibration can be.  I’ve heard some explanations, and it sounds very confusing.  The Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ uses a virtual power curve and adjusts resistance from that.  This means we need to spend some time in Part 2 (maybe 3) looking at the setup.  If we don’t set this trainer up right, there is lots of potential for inaccurate power readings.  That will skew my review and I would hate to not give it the chance it deserves.

Support the site and purchase your Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ from Athleteshop.com using my affiliate link.  I will admit, the navigation takes a minute to load up.  You need to go to the website, head to cycling, then select trainers.  However, you can get some really good deals in Europe right now for some trainers.  

Part 2: The Calibration
Part 3: The Ride

If you want to skip all the words, here is my video below.  My videos will show up on my Youtube Channel a few days before I get the written review complete.  Subscribe to my channel to get early access to reviews.

comparisonMarket Comparisons

I won’t be comparing this trainer to the Wahoo KICKR Snap or the CycleOps Magnus.  The Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ just can’t compete on paper with the solid mid-range trainers in those categories.  This trainer is better compared to the TACX Vortex Smart.  They have very similar stats.  I am curious to see how well they perform against each when I put them head to head in a later review.  Also, digging up stats on the Qubo is a bit hard when searching the internet.  Elite isn’t very forthcoming with displaying their information or stats.  It doesn’t matter, because I’m going to figure it all out.

Take a look at those price numbers in the graph.  The price on the right is what I actually paid for it.  I did get a deal on the Qubo, but returning it would be a pain.  That is the downside of not purchasing a trainer from a bike shop.  The bike shop would handle all the details and shipping on a return.  If I had to ship it back to Europe for a return or repair, well that could be quite expensive.

What You Get

IMG_5620
Decal not fully seated on trainer.

When unpacking the Qubo you get a basic frame, a smart trainer component that needs to be attached, a skewer, and a power cord.  The power cord is very unimpressive.  It is small and looks like it would run an electric razor and not a smart trainer.  I took a look inside the Qubo smart component and figured out why that is.  I will cover that in the next section when we look under the hood.  Overall, I was not impressed when unpacking the Qubo.  Some of the decals were not full placed on the trainer frame and were coming off. The other thing I didn’t like is how cheap the plastic felt.  Construction is a concern for me.  Larger riders or sprinters be warned.  I wouldn’t recommend this trainer for anyone over 185lbs.  I don’t think it will ride well for you.

Design and Style

IMG_5550
All the pressure on this roller is created by the weight of the rider and the bike.

The design is a bit unique compared to other trainers in the same category.  This trainer doesn’t have an adjustment knob to add tire contact to the roller.  You connect the bike and then place the rear tire on the roller.  This is closely related to a roller that you ride.  There is a down side to this though.  Rollers have different resistance depending on rider weight.  For instance, if you build a virtual power curve for any pair of rollers, the power curve will be different for a 135lb rider vs a 190lb rider.  The heavier rider will create more tire contact and have to put out higher watts to maintain the same speed.  I am very curious to see how the Elite Training App deals with that when doing the spin down calibration.

Looking under the Hood

IMG_5544I took apart the Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ and was very surprised what I found under there.  I began to realize that you didn’t need a large power cord and understood why the power cord was so small.  The power cord only runs a motor.  that motor turns a screw.  The screw drives a plastic plate where there are two magnets attached.  Move the plates closer to the flywheel and you increase resistance.  I’m curious to see how much resistance those magnets create when I do the final part of my review, the ride.

Another thing I did not like about this trainer is the area where the plug connects and the light that is right next to it.  This opening is to large, the computer board is exposed, and there is another piece that could easily be mistaken for the power connection, right next to to the power connection.  This is horrible design.  You could easily short out that board if you force the plug into the wrong spot or damage something.

The red light also had me worried.  I like when companies stick to color themes.  Elite has the market cornered on the color red.  However, red doesn’t make a great color for a status light saying things are “All Good.”  When I plugged in this trainer for the first time, my immediate reaction was “Things are NOT all good.”

Supporting Products

IMG_5626
Good Luck Finding It.

I would like to give a glowing review here.  I thought I was going to do that, but I started to look around for it and HOLY GOD!  Can it get any harder to find a training app and just get the thing to work quickly.  The answer with the Elite myEtraining is no; it is not easy to find, log in, or even use.  Here are the issues.

First off, how the heck do you find this app.  Well, you need to search around Elite’s website because you can’t search for it in the App Store.  My search results for “my E-training” pulled up some very strange results.  They need a new name, and they need it soon.

Once you do find the app and get in, now you have to sign up with the App.  Listen folks, I just want to know how to do a spin down calibration and see if I can update the trainer firmware.  That’s it!  Why do I need to create an account?  Why do I need to dig around for the App? The App should be right on the front page of your website.

Okay, so I get into the App and go to select my trainer.  We are then confronted with the 80+ trainers that Elite has pumped out over the years.  That takes another 5 minutes scrolling through trainers and making sure I have the correct one.  We have problems folks.  That means things are set and programmed for each trainer.  Now I’m worried about the spin down calibration.

 

At this point I started digging around on the Zwift forums.  Oh boy!  I am dreading part 2 of my review.  I may not be able to do it completely.  I don’t have that kind of time.  Here is the link if you want to see what a mess things are.  Zwift discussion board.

Here are the high points below which have me very worried.  I need to send some emails to Zwift and find out what is going on.  Kevin has me worried.

Screenshot 2017-01-04 21.26.51

Then Zwift just confirms that my smart trainer isn’t really that smart.  It needs a power meter to even be close to accurate.  What a bummer!

Screenshot 2017-01-04 21.37.50

Summary

In the end, I’m not sure this trainer is even worth my time anymore.  The spin down seems super complicated, it can’t be calibrated to work with Zwift or the Sufferfest unless I do some weird stuff with P3, P2, and P1 (what a pain).  I guess if you have a power meter already, that might work with power match.  Who knows what is going to happen in part 2 of this review.  I don’t know if I’m going to be investing hours and hours trying to crack the nut on this spin down offset.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel if you want to see me get frustrated with Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ in part 2 and probably throw it into a wall.

Part 2: The Calibration

Part 3: The Ride

Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson

Aaron served in the military for 20 years. Multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired from the military after 20 years of service to take care of our three small children in 2013 as a Stay At Home Dad.

athletictechreview has 60 posts and counting.See all posts by athletictechreview

2 thoughts on “Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ Part 1: The Build

  • February 21, 2017 at 4:20 pm
    Permalink

    Hello Aaron. Thank you for review!
    I recently purchased the predecessor of Smart b+ named “Qubo Digital Wireless”. I fully share your opinion about Qubo’s built quality and brake-unit design. The plastic enclosure of the brake unit is made of the cheapest plastic, the casting is awful. The flywheel on my unit was dirty right out of the package. The item looks more like a production concept and not like a finished consumer product.

    But, anyway, Qubo Digital is the cheapest trainer on the market which allows to run interval training based on power. It can be a good choice for anyone who isn’t looking for virtual/social capabilities.

    Advice for those who are hesitating with the choice: If you can afford Tacx Vortex Smart, then get it, it is much better device than Elite Qubo Digital. But if you are choosing between electrically powered Qubo Digital and manually-controlled Tacx Satori Smart, then Qubo Digital is a better choice. Additionally, Tacx has just started to sell Flow Smart, which may probably deprive Qubo Digital of the title of the cheapest Zwift-compatible trainer.

    Reply
    • February 21, 2017 at 4:29 pm
      Permalink

      I agree Dennis, the build quality can be quite off putting. However, I can’t deny that the Qubo Digital Smart B+ did outperform the Vortex Smart in a few areas. I still prefer the TACX Vortex Smart because it just looks better on the outside and seems to be put together much better. However, you can sprint higher with the Qubo, it handles low cadence climbing a bit smoother, and the price has really dropped on it recently to about 320 dollars.

      I need to look closer at the Flow Smart. I haven’t paid much attention to it.

      Reply

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