The App that turns indoor training into a game.
What is it and what do you need
“Zwift is the first company to use massive multiplayer gaming technology to bring the outdoor cycling experience indoors,” says Zwift – only you can leave the bad weather and dark conditions outside. Athletes from around the globe can ride with each other in rich 3D generated worlds simply by connecting their existing devices”.
Zwift takes the boredom out of training. There’s a range of virtual worlds to choose from – including Watopia, New York, Innsbruck, Richmond and London. These virtual worlds can be better than outdoor riding, where weather, traffic (safety) or time constraints are negated.
You’ll need your own bike for Zwift. Most cyclists use modern road bikes, but mountain and hybrids are also suitable.
You will also need a Trainer (Smart Trainer preferred) that will interact fully with Zwift, provide the appropriate resistance and monitor resistance, cadence and heart -rate. A smart trainer is the only way to replicate that true ‘road feel’ experience indoors, where resistance is adjusted automatically based on a virtual course’s elevation changes (you can train for hills indoors!). But Zwift also seamlessly interfaces with most standard power meters and can even calculate estimated power output via data from speed and cadence sensors. wahoo-v4-kickr
There are a few other things required, so check out my “Additional products for a quick (but Pro) set up
Download Zwift from the App store and create an Account. Start with a free 7-day trial and ride. No payment required. After your first week, you can sign up for a monthly subscription (approx. $20AUD based but subject to US Exchange rate) and cancel at any time.
With an Account, you can tailor an Avatar that can look just like you with options for skin color, hair colour, facial hair, and even preferred sock length!. You can immediately can join all rides (races or group rides), or set up your own training regime. If you’re new to Zwift then you won’t have that many outfits and bikes to choose from, but as you ride more you will gain achievements and move up through the levels, letting you unlock more outfits, bikes and wheels as well as new Virtual routes.
In addition to Zwift, download the ‘Zwift Companion App’ that will assist you to join the planned rides in advance, and Zwift will give you a calender entry and reminder. This great App also tracks your rides and allows you to interact in real time.
If you’re looking to use Zwift for serious training instead of just riding around or joining group rides and races, then you’ll probably be interested in Zwift’s workout mode, and group workouts.
In group workout mode, riders all train at the same effort level – based on a percentage of their FTP. That means that they can be producing different power values, and still stay riding together.
All your rides on Zwift are saved by default onto Zwift Cloud, or upload your rides to Strava by selecting this option.
The Zwift website is full of easy-to-follow information that’s backed up by a solid tech support team.
Zwift – Smart Trainer full set-up
What equipment do I need to Zwift?
The most obvious thing you need to use Zwift is a turbo trainer. If you want immersive gameplay, are going to be using Zwift regularly, and can afford it, then a smart turbo trainer such as the Wahoo Kickr could be a good option. wahoo-v4-kickr
These turbo trainers generally have a direct drive design, with a built in power meter and variable resistance. These turbos will measure your power output, then send this data to Zwift to power your online avatar.
The variable resistance on these turbos will also allow you to feel as if you’re actually riding in the online world, so when you are going uphill on-screen the resistance will increase, and when you are going downhill it will decrease.
However you don’t have to splash out on an expensive smart turbo trainer to be able to use Zwift. At the most basic level you can use any old turbo trainer combined with an ANT+ or Bluetooth speed sensor (although the system will work better with a power meter).
Data from the speed sensor (or power meter) is then sent to your computer and transferred into the game.
Finally you will probably need an ANT+ dongle, which is a small USB stick that you can plug in to your computer to allow it to communicate with your ANT+ speed sensor, power meter or smart turbo trainer, or if an Apple user, go with an Apple 4K TV, allowing you to communicate without a dongle.
The Apple 4K TV also provides instantaneous connection to Zwift, and offers great graphics in full 4K HD. apple tv 4k
When it comes to the display, my advice is to go with a BIG screen. The bigger the better so that you can get right into it, and read all of the essential facts, and who you are riding with/against at the time.