Elite Sterzo Smart feeling more natural without spring

Just wondering if anyone else with an Elite Sterzo Smart (ESS) has had a similar experience, i.e. riding with/without the spring.

About five months after starting to use mine, the centering spring snapped due to apparent metal fatigue. After opening it up, removing the spring remnants and realizing that no simple repair was possible – I couldn’t be bothered with contacting Elite at the time – I found the Sterzo Smart perfectly usable without the spring and was riding with it like that ever since. (The steering centering tool in the Zwift pairing page allows for very easy calibration, so it doesn’t matter if the ESS base isn’t perfectly centered below the bike.)

Fast forward to last week, when I acquired the non-smart version of the Sterzo for virtually nothing. I decided to transfer its identical spring to my old ESS, to get the original sprung feel back again.
Having now ridden with this standard set-up twice since then, I’m surprised to find that I miss the featherlight feel of the spring-less steering that I’ve been used to. The spring introduces a pronounced tension when the bars are turned even a small amount, like when my original ESS was new, which now doesn’t feel at all natural.
I wonder if Elite didn’t design this device with a stiff centering spring principally for the sake of general neatness, rather than for the ride feel. Without the spring and without the rider, the bars are free to turn any which way, which some might find annoying. The spring keeps everything straight all the time. I did notice that when riding without the spring, the bars seem to center themselves naturally and I can even make them steer slightly by leaning left or right on my saddle without my hands on the bars, like one can on a real bike.

Anyway, I’m thinking of removing the spring again if I don’t get used to it soon. I know that there aren’t many people who use the ESS to start with, but have any of you used it regularly without the spring? And did you like it, or not?

The spring is too stiff when seated, but when standing is not stiff enough - so not perfect.

I just couldn’t get used to that stiff sprung feel, so have removed the spring in my ESS. It’s much more comfortable to ride again and on free rides I find myself ‘steering’ naturally without thinking. I recommend this to anyone who’s interested in trying it, especially since it’s 100% reversible. Installing/re-installing the spring isn’t without its challenges, but can be done with some basic tools and some lateral thinking.
The warranty on the unit is void, of course, but I can live with that.

A bit off-topic, but has anyone figured a way to through hardware manipulation to make the steering more sensitive? I suppose depends on the bike, but full steer left or right leads to annoying toe overlap – which IRL doesn’t happen because at speed one doesn’t really need to turn the bars that much for similar movement left/right.

Not me.
I’ll admit that I didn’t take much interest in the sensor/electronic system when I’ve had mine apart. In a past life, I spent a lot of time soldering thru-hole componentry, etc. This is much more advanced and beyond my ken.

If you haven’t had yours apart, it’s interesting to note that the Sterzo and Sterzo Smart are designed and assembled such that the only difference is the electronics, which can be inserted in one go in the Smart version without any soldering on/in the unit.

I reckon that the steering angle is decided by a proximity or position sensor on the board and then the rest is a microcontroller and software control.

Here are some images showing the very small PCB involved:



image

Sorry the last one’s so out of focus. From what little I know, the largest chip on the board - ‘Dynastream’ - is the wireless unit.

To go further, there’s this interesting page: A Deep Dive Into The Sterzo Steering Plate | Hackaday

…which leads to Keith Wakeham’s 45-minute video on reverse-engineering the Sterzo. Way, way over my head: Zwift - Steering without Sterzo (DIY, reverse engineering) - YouTube

that is correct, there is a magnet on the shaft, you could probably change the magnet. but it won’t be easy.

In order to change the sensitivity of the steering as @Wannie is looking to do, I think that the most practical approach would be to modify the programming of the Sterzo microcontroller such that x degrees of movement from zero on the unit moves the Zwift avatar further than it currently does. I agree that the angular range of steering is unrealistic and excessive.
From watching the video that I linked to, that sounds like a possibility, but you’d need to have some serious programming and Bluetooth chops, and plenty of time on your hands! And of course, Elite have since locked down the firmware so that motivated amateurs cannot modify their units so easily, or perhaps at all.

(BTW, I’m very lucky in that I have relatively short – though hobbitly wide – feet, and a bike on which I don’t have any toe overlap, despite it being an XS frame. Them’s the breaks.)

My spring is broken as well (months ago) and i love it more without the spring. Sorry for the late reply

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