Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Today’s DIY upgrade to your indoor riding comes courtesy of Brian Nystrom who read Sheri Rosenbaum’s review of the Elite Sterzo steering device for smart indoor trainers: https://www.roadbikerider.com/elite-sterzo-smart-steering-zwift-review/.
Brian left this comment:
“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 ¼-inch 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 pads 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.”
Details for Making Your Own
I replied asking Brian to send me a couple of pics and more information to help any of you who might be interested. Note that Brian’s device is for making your actual bike steer. If you’re riding in a virtual world, such as Zwift, his steerer will not make your avatar on the screen steer (the way the Sterzo will).
Brain explained, “the lazy susan is attached to the base plate with very short sheet metal screws and to the top plate with machine screws and nuts. The Tacx wheel block wedges tightly between pieces of quarter-round molding glued to the top plate. The pencil line is the center of the pivot, which is helpful for making sure that the front axle is directly over it.
Commercial units I’ve seen are typically angled upward so the pivot plane is roughly perpendicular to the steering axis. I chose not to do that and after using it, I’m glad I didn’t. As it is, turning the wheel causes the front end to rise very slightly and it also puts some lateral pressure on the block. This creates a modest self-centering effect as it tries to find equilibrium, which feels somewhat akin to the self-centering one gets on the road.
While the overall effect feels more road-like, it obviously has limits. The most noticeable one is when you try to negotiate a tight corner in a video and the bike doesn’t lean as it would outside. I have closed-cell foam blocks under the feet of my Tacx NEO, which permits a few more degrees of lean, but it’s still not close to the real deal. At some point, I may build a rocker plate, but I haven’t gotten to that yet.
As for my complete setup, it consists of the trainer sitting in front of a black wire shelving unit that holds a large fan (aimed at my head and chest) and a 24″ Dell all-in-one PC with external speakers (I got it cheap at an estate sale). The front fan is connected to a speed controller (a Home Depot item) that hangs on my handlebar.
Everything is connected to a smart UPS, so it all turns on when I power up the PC. I have a ceiling fan overhead and if I sit up straight, I can reach the pull chain to change the speed. I’m still experimenting with an accessory table for a mouse, a phone, a towel, food and such.
Although I have overhead lighting, I actually find that having just a small lamp behind me works better for watching video on the PC.”
Very cool, Brian. Thanks for sharing your clever outside the box hack.
Ride total: 9,899
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.