Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+; The Ride

IMG_5550The Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ is one of the most inexpensive indoor smart trainers on the market.  Even though it is low on price, it still does a decent job inside the margins.  Athletic Tech Review ran this trainer through our testing protocols just to see how well it would perform.  There were no real surprises in our testing.  It struggles on low cadence climbs, and does a decent job on sprints.  However, there were some wheel slip issues when jumping out of the saddle for high powered sprints.  This trainer isn’t as bad as we expected.  It is fairly competitive considering the nearest competition is $100 more in price

You can see our full review in three parts.  Part 1 covers the design and build of this trainer and Part 2 covers the calibration process.

I wish I had a good affiliate link for you.  Instead, I have a super slow affiliate link below from Athlete Shop.  This trainer was reviewed because my readers wanted to know more about it.  You can find this trainer pretty cheap at $321 using my affiliate link: Athlete Shop UK .  You have to scroll to cycling, then click trainers which then takes you here: Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ (non affiliate link).  If you take the time purchase the Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ it helps me maintain and run the site.

Screenshot 2017-02-09 12.44.41General Overview

You can see the verified stats of this trainer to the right.  Max slope rating is closer to the 3-4% range if we are operating at lower wheel speeds.  Max wattage is 900+ watts.  It is rated much higher than that and it could easily go higher, but I can’t do seated sprint higher than that.  I’ll talk about wheel slip when we get to the sprinting section.  The sound level was decent.  It is not as quiet as the KICKR Snap, but not as loud as the CycleOps Magnus either.  75dB is the top end for me and sound levels.  I don’t like anything louder than that.

How Does It Ride

The overall ride isn’t bad.  It is very similar to other trainers that are much more expensive than this one.  You won’t get that road feel unless we start increasing that flywheel weight closer to 10lbs.  You have decent road feel with the Wahoo KICKR Snap and that trainer has a 10.5lb flywheel.  The Wahoo KICKR Snap also costs about $200 more than the Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ and we need to take that into consideration also.

Ripping the Legs Off

Sprinting performance on the Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ wasn’t bad.  The construction and design of this trainer is the main limiting factor with sprints.  This trainer has a swing arm design as you can see from the picture below.  That means you need to keep your body weight over the top of it to maintain tire contact.  This turns the Qubo Digital Smart B+ into a seated sprint trainer only.  No standing charges into a sprint here.

Wheel Off
The swing arm design produces wheel slip when you jump out of the saddle.

When seated, I was able to achieve 920watts on a sprint.  Not my max sprint capability by any means, but you can’t throw your weight around to really drive up the numbers.  The wheel will pop up and off the roller when you try that.

Screenshot 2017-02-08 14.03.01
I felt it had more to give above 920 watts in a seated sprint.

Climbing at a Low Cadence

Climbing at low cadence with this trainer was almost identical to the TACX Vortex Smart.  However, I will admit that the Qubo Digital Smart B+ did it a little better.  I used the 39 x 27 gear ratio at 65 rpm.  This creates low wheel speeds and lets me see the resistance that can be applied in those extreme circumstances.  The Qubo maintained about 115 watts at this low wheel speed which was about 15 watts higher than the TACX Vortex Smart.

Screenshot 2017-02-08 14.03.50
65 rpm on the 39 x 27 gear producing 110 to 115 watts.

This means the rider has to shift up into a higher gear to attain a higher wattage level.  Clicking a couple of gears down to the 39 x 23 produces 165 watts.

Screenshot 2017-02-08 14.04.19
39 x 23 gear produces 165 watts at 65 rpm.

The Qubo Digital Smart B+ and the TACX Vortex are big ring trainers.  That is what I call them because you need to be in the big ring to simulate climbs.  I wasn’t able to fully simulate the climbing environment until I started adding on enough gearing to increase wheel speed.  The higher end trainers don’t have this problem.  You can attain 340 watts with the Wahoo KICKR Snap on the 39 x 27 gear.

Screenshot 2017-02-08 14.05.20
The rider needs to use the big ring with low cadences to achieve higher wattage numbers.

Climbing in ERG Mode

I had no issues climbing in ERG mode if I stayed in my 53 ring up front.  The trainer held target levels very well.  The Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+  also held my weight down on the roller very well.  At no point was I worried about tire slip or falling off the bike.  The large foot print that this trainer has designed into the frame helps with stability, even on carpet.

Supporting Applications

IMG_5670I would consider the Elite My E-Training App as “Needs Improvement.”  There is nothing wrong with the look or feel of their training app.  I didn’t like that I had to register and create an account to calibrate this trainer.  That is the only thing Elite needs to create.  Elite needs to build a utility App for iOS and Android that allows you to map your trainers base map power curve quickly and without navigate through a bunch of menus.  (Calibrate the Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+)

Would I Buy It?

I think the strength of this trainer is it’s price point since it is the cheapest trainer on the market.  It works well within the margins but not as well rounded as the Wahoo KICKR Snap.  You can do everything you want to do on Zwift, The Sufferfest Training Centre, and TrainerRoad with the exception of sprinting.  I don’t see anyone winning the green jersey on Zwift with the Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+.  Would I buy it?  With a power meter I would buy it.   Using power match with this trainer is where it shines.  If I was really stuck on a tight budget and couldn’t go above $400, then yes.  I would also buy this trainer for a child.  This would be a great trainer for a kid who is 6 years old or older.  They won’t be pushing the Qubo to its limits.

Overall Rating

Style:  I would rate Style as  3 out of 5.  I do like the color scheme of red/black/white, but we lose a lot of points with the cheaper decals coming off.  I opened up my box and half of the decals where pealing off already.  Loss of style points there.

Build: The best you can do for the price, 3 out of 5.  This trainer is a mix of plastic and aluminum.  That does make it very lightweight.  Moving it around your house or basement is any easy task for anyone.  The swing arm design is nice if you want to use multiple wheel sizes, but the rider pays a penalty for that when they want to jump out of the saddle and sprint.  The swing arm design causes wheel slip issues when sprinting.

Performance:  Decent in the margins, poor outside the margins, 3 out of 5.  I was very, very happy with this trainer in the margins.  If you are training for Time Trails or just a normal cyclist within a normal range of power, this trainer holds ERG mode very well.  That is the Qubo’s saving grace; the ability to hold and track ERG mode very well.  Don’t get me wrong, this trainer will wear you out in those margins.

Supporting App:  Needs some improvement,  4 out of 5.  Like I said above, I want to get into the App and map my trainer.  I don’t want to sign up and have to remember another password and username.  Elite needs an Utility App.

Longevity: It worries me, 2.5 out of 5.  I am concerned with how open the back area of the trainer is where you plug it in.  That is a bit concerning because missing the location of the receptacle could cause you to short out your control board.

Overall: This trainer comes in at 3 out of 5.  That’s not bad for the price really.

Summary

At this price, it is a pretty good deal.  Especially for those users who are not concerned about accuracy.  A person who just wants some resistance control to use with an indoor training App will be satisfied with this trainer.  The rider who wants accuracy and the ability to make quick adjustments will be disappointed.  The wheel on design that relies on rider weight makes it impossible to be accurate for everyone.  Using Power Match is a must if you want accuracy and smart trainer control.  You can look at my part 2 review where I discuss how to change the map on this trainer to get you closer to reality.  Also, in part 1 I cover the general build and setup.

Up next, I’m going to compare the TACX Vortex Smart directly to the Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ and see how they compare.  On paper, it looks like Elite may win the head to head competition.  We will see when I have to break out some other things to consider when buying either trainer.  I have also been riding the TACX Bushido Smart over the past three weeks and I’m impressed.  In the next few months I have some running watches that I have people testing for me.  So, we lots more coming in 2017.  Stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe to the Athletic Tech Review Youtube Channel if you want the videos before I publish the articles.

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

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