Indoor trainers and Zwift
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Thread: Indoor trainers and Zwift

  1. #1


    Join Date: Oct 2008
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    Indoor trainers and Zwift

    Not entirely sure what I'm asking here, but it would be cool to see what you Zwift users think of Zwift and smart trainers.

    Basically, is it any good? It looks like the difference between smart and non-smart trainers in terms of price is pretty substantial. I'm a little skeptical that having some animations play on a screen that coincides with resistance changes is really that much better than simply changing resistance yourself with a more conventional trainer. But maybe it really does introduce a lot of fun into what can otherwise be a bit soulless and boring.

    Is the non-manually controlled resistance really a benefit that you think is worth the premium?

    It'd be really cool to be able to have a try on one, I guess. But that's not really possible. I ride on my Jack Jones, so don't know a bunch of people I can ask.

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  3. #2


    Join Date: Sep 2008
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    I dig it. Any program that measures caloric output in terms of slices of pizza is cool in my book.

    The major problem with the trainer is it's boring as shit. You just sit there and pedal and try not to think about how awful it is. The second major problem is there's no real way to track progress, over and above time, which simple time ridden is a metric that I'm not that interested in.

    Zwift addresses both of those. Even just having a virtual world to ride through, and seeing scenery change and having discrete routes and loops you can ride, really helps with the mental engagement side of things. Then there are the in-game features like timed KOM hill climbs and timed sprints, and a couple loops with timed leaderboards as well, and having a timer start ticking is a pretty awesome motivator to get out there and hammer. It also integrates neatly into Strava, so you get Strava segments and your virtual mileage is included in your total annual mileage, etc, which is also pretty cool - the segments, especially, give you a great way to see how you're trending over time, so if you really hammer a sprint segment one day, not only can you see on Zwift that you set a new 30-day PR, when you get off the bike on Strava, you can see that you've also set a new overall personal PR, and how you stack up against riders all over the world (which, on the Watopia island main loop, oftentimes is now more than 260,000 riders). That's cool.

    As far as smart vs conventional trainer... I rode on Zwift for maybe a year with a Kurt Road Machine before splurging for a Wahoo Kickr. The Kickr definitely improves the realism and IMO is a beneficial training tool - the winter I spent on my Road Machine, I felt like my steady state power was pretty good but I wasn't really able to similar getting out of the saddle on a steep climb with that kind of resistance in the cranks, so when I hit a steep climg for the first couple weeks of the season, it felt like I hit a wall. The first year I was on the Kickr, I felt pretty strong. That said, both years I was riding way better than I was before I got on Zwift when I spent barely any time at all on the trainer. They calibrated their Z-Power estimated power monitoring using rhe Kurt, and IMO I didn't see much in the way of substantial differences in my measured power output between the Kurt and the Kickr, so you can definitely use it with a passive trainer and not be at a disadvantage (or unfair advantage), just make sure it's one of the supported ones. But, IMO, the smart trainer does add a lot.

    You definitely are going to want a fan, though. Several, even.

    I guess the tl;dr version is Zwift is definitely worth the $15/mo they charge as a way to add a lot of interest to the trainer. A smart trainer adds a lot to the realism, but is also a pretty big expense, especially if you already have a trainer Zwift supports. For me, I'd do it again, but that's a question that will vary a little more from person to person.
    "They can kill you, but the legalities of eating you are a bit dicier." - David Foster Wallace

  4. #3


    Join Date: Dec 2011
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    TIL Zwift is a thing
    Spoiler
    Jesus dies at the end....

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  6. #4


    Join Date: Sep 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheKindred View Post
    TIL Zwift is a thing
    https://zwift.com/?utm_source=google...UaAg4XEALw_wcB

  7. #5


    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Boston, MA
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    Drew covered most of it. Zwift is awesome. The stats aren't the most accurate thing in the world, but at the end of the day who cares? It's definitely cooler than grinding away on the trainer staring at the Garmin.

    If you're actually tracking mileage, it's kind of a double-edged sword. It does tally up your annual miles, but you'll definitely be faster on the trainer than you are outside. I know tons of guys who regularly put up 20mph+ Zwifts (myself included) who have never once put up a 20+ mph real world ride (myself included, lol). That's really the only sniggle that I have with it, and it's more of a trainer thing than a Zwift thing really.

    I wouldn't recommend a smart trainer out of the gate though. There's a very real chance you'll try it and say "oh my god, this fucking sucks". :lol Most people start with a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine (~$300 USD) and go from there. They're easy to find use and easy to resell because they're the best of the inexpensive options. You can still zwift on them, they just won't give you changing resistance like a smart trainer. I went to a smart trainer last year and I like it, but I work out a LOT, and use it all year long. I think it's worth it, but for beginners it's a lot of coin to plunk down to get started for something that you may very well despise.

  8. #6


    Join Date: Sep 2008
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    I'm a little skeptical that having some animations play on a screen that coincides with resistance changes is really that much better than simply changing resistance yourself with a more conventional trainer. But maybe it really does introduce a lot of fun into what can otherwise be a bit soulless and boring.

    Is the non-manually controlled resistance really a benefit that you think is worth the premium?
    This isn't how manual trainers work, though. There's no resistance control at all, manual or otherwise. The resistance is fixed and never changes, you just go faster as you go through the gears. It's semi-realistic in that you won't be spinning at 900RPMs all the time, but there's no real variation in resistance at all with a non-smart trainer.

    Almost every bike shop around me is peddling smart trainers hard these days - I'm sure you can find one within striking distance that'll let you demo one.

  9. #7


    Join Date: Oct 2008
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    Thanks guys. Interesting takes. Good to read your thoughts on it. Sounds like it really would be ideal to have a go on one. I don't really have any experience to compare it to, so I think grabbing a basic trainer and then finding somewhere I can check out a swisher smart trainer would be a good move.

    Maybe we're at crossed purposes, but, besides some basic rollers, I've not seen any trainers that don't offer resistance settings. Even the cheapest magnetic, tyre on one I was looking at in a store yesterday had 7 different settings. Maybe the direct drive ones don't offer resistance settings? I guess that makes sense.

    Another couple of questions:

    If you only had one bike, would you be happy using it on a trainer? I'm wondering if the rigidity of them is no good for the frame.

    If you were using a tyre-on trainer, would you use a separate tyre (or maybe even wheel) for it?

  10. #8


    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Boston, MA
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    My bad. Magnetic trainers offer resistance settings, and a couple of fluids, but you don't want one. I'm too lazy to explain why, but to sum it up, they are shitty.

    This is what you want: https://www.kurtkinetic.com/trainers...c-road-machine

    I have a wheel-on smart trainer, this one: https://www.wahoofitness.com/devices...p-bike-trainer

    Drew has the direct drive Kickr. Both are great, but as above - I'd get a good inexpensive one first to see how you like it.

    I use a Kurt trainer tire, and just have a separate rear wheel that I leave on for the winter when my road bike gets retired to the inside. It's not 100% mandatory though, I use my regular road tires here and there during the regular season when it's just a rainy day and I'm too lazy to switch. A few seasons ago I didn't bother, and I put 1000+ trainer miles on my regular road tire/wheel each year. It's less than ideal but not the end of the world, the tire flattens out a hair on the trainer but after a few miles on pavement it rolls back out.

    Don't worry about it hurting your bike, my road bike is hilariously expensive (carbon frame/wheels/everything else) and it's fine. Good trainers are made for it.

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