Rotation: 34 degrees on each side
Max wheel size: 56mm wide
Connectivity: Wireless; Double ANT, and Bluetooth
Powered by: 3 AAA batteries
How Obtained: Company sample
Available: Online or retail
RBR Sponsor: No
Take Zwift Racing to the Next Level
If you want a Zwift racing advantage or just want your avatar to catch a sweet draft around Watopia, Elite’s STERZO SMART Steering Riser might be your dream come true. With quick installation, just unbox, place under your front wheel, pair with Zwift, and ride. Yes, literally that simple.
Released in August 2020, the STERZO SMART Steering Riser comes fully assembled, including 3 AAA batteries already installed. I just pulled out my old stationary riser, slipped the STERZO under my front wheel, and opened up the Zwift app to pair. It pairs the same way as a smart trainer and HRM pair. An icon appears in the left bottom corner of the screen showing you it is paired.
Then next screen displays to provide pointers about steering within Zwift. First, you cannot collide with other riders. Second, you cannot steer off your side of the road. I tried several times on purpose to cross the centerline or go off the road to the right but was constrained to my side of the road. Third, the best place to capture the draft is directly behind a rider. There are no crosswinds in Zwift that would require echeloning.
The rise on the STERZO versus my stationary riser was the same. I measured them both from the floor to the top of the handlebars and they were the same height. Note that even though the base comes with anti-slip feet, make sure you place the STERZO on a mat or non-slip surface to prevent the whole platform from moving around.
What’s So Cool About Steering?
If you’re into the gaming aspect of Zwift, It helps to make the indoor riding experience more realistic. With 34 degrees of rotation on each side, it eliminates the static feel of a trainer ride. Your Zwift avatar can move around groups of riders which is especially advantageous during a race. Steering to take an inside corner and surge in front of the pack could give you those precious few seconds that might win you the race. Or tuck behind the pack and enjoy the advantages of a draft. Once you’re in place, just let the platform spring back into its neutral position.
The steering should work on Zwift rides, events, meetups, and races however, all the TDZ events I participated in had steering turned off. Not sure why they disabled the feature, but each time I joined a TDZ event a message popped up saying “Steering has been disabled for this event.”
Another aspect I like about the STERZO platform is because the handlebars aren’t rigid, I find I engage my core more during the ride. This is another way it provides a more outdoor realistic feel to an indoor ride.
I would like to see the next version of the STERZO be more eco-friendly and come with a rechargeable battery. Even though the company says the batteries will last 500 hours, I just hate to be so wasteful.
I purchased this unit in October 2020. I wouldn’t purchase again, not at this price anyway (there are at least 2 sellers on eBay selling them new for under $70 as of last week, one of them a highly reputable, recognized outdoor company). Even with the latest updates for Zwift installed at all times and replacing the no-name junk batteries that came with it I still have numerous issues with it. Often it works as described here, but just as often it will look as if I’m impaired even if I have it back in the center/neutral position and not steering at all – and I calibrate each time. Sometimes it doesn’t even want to pair. I didn’t find my Zwift time any more enjoyable even when it worked properly and because it’s so fickle it often would detract from the experience. On a meetup with one other person it would sway me into the other person. I stopped and unpaired just the Sterzo for a better meetup and immediately the person I was riding with could no longer see me. Plenty of other people on Zwift who have it also reflect similar experiences. Think these things were a problem during the 30 day return period? Of course not!
My take is that it’s got the potential to be some thing that helps you be more engaged with the ride, but may be the 2.0 version they will eventually come out with would be better. They can work out all of their bugs and have a smoother experience. While not even remotely the same literally, it does have that “you never buy the first model year of any new vehicle“ feeling – wait until it’s been around a little longer.
Personally, I am glad it uses 3 AAA batteries, but the junk ones that come with it should be replaced with good batteries. I’m sick of all of these things that are rechargeable – more cords, but more importantly it’s also more $ you spend when an internal battery just won’t hold a charge any longer. I cannot recall if directions indicated whether or not you could use rechargeable AAA batteries with it or not. That could be an option.
My rating: 2/5, sadly. I wanted to love this, but if I get the opportunity I’m going to sell mine. I wish I could give it a glowing review, but just can’t.
Many Thanks Kath,
I was going to spring for this Elite steerer block for my Direto, but based on your review and comments, I will definitely hold back, read more reviews, and wait for them to iron out their bugs (if ever – as Elite has never released any software/firmware upgrades for the Direto)…
Hi G! I know some people who haven’t had any issues, but more often than not I hear of problems, especially if you have a BT cadence sensor and BT HRM in addition to a BT smart trainer. It seems more quirky with more BT devices. Again, I want to love it and hope it gets better. I Zwift 4-5x/wk so it’s not like I’ve only tried it a few times. Definitely has potential, but overall disappointed thus far.
Brian Nystrom says
If you want to add the freedom of steering without connecting to Zwift, you can do it very inexpensively and it does make a significant improvement in the comfort and realism of trainer rides. I installed a lazy Susan from Home Depot between a couple of layers of 1/4″ plywood scrap I had kicking around and attached the riser block from my Tacx Neo to it. Because mine sits on a fairly deep carpet. I put short wood screws through the bottom plate at all four corners, to keep it from moving around. For hard floors, thin rubber pad or feet would do the trick. Total cost was around $10.
I would post a picture of it here, but apparently that’s not possible.
Jim Langley says
That’s an interesting approach, Brian. If you wanted to email me some photos – it would be good to get one of your entire indoor trainer setup including monitor/screen and your whole bike/trainer and also your cool steering hack, I will take what you wrote and use it for an upcoming Jim’s Tech Talk. My email is jim @ jim langley dot net,
Brian Nystrom says
Jim, some pics and a description are on the way.
Michael Andalora says
Nice!. Thanks JIm. I’d heard Zwift was doing this but hadn’t seen the device used. I like steering, I have a loose velcro strap on my wheel so I only turn it so much. but it does feel more real to me to turn the wheel. I also turn the wheel when I stand and sprint as I feel it gives the bike more stability and hopefully is better for the bike.
Just to update my earlier comments – there is no update – I remain unsatisfied with this product. I used the Sterzo again this weekend hoping it would behave and encountered the same issues again after completely unpairing the Sterzo. It had me weaving like a drunkard without me even moving it which not only looks annoying, but is distracting as well. It was swaying me so much yesterday that someone jokingly mentioned it on Zwift, to which I replied that I regretted the purchase and suggested that anyone considering it wait for the 2.0 version. To be fair, it was fine during one ride, but the enjoyment did not last. I can use it to steer without batteries in it to engage my upper body, but Brian’s option discussed above, which is featured in the 2/4/2021 newsletter, is a much cheaper option and probably much more satisfying at this point.
I’ll be boxing mine up and asking my buddy who runs my LBS to ask and see if anyone is interested in buying this. I’ll lift some light weights for my upper body.