Are you doubting what kind of indoor bike trainer alternatives for home training to choose? Imagine your perfect workout on this simulator.
How do you feel it?
There are 2 ways: riding a bike on an avarage speed and being involved in a competition with other bikers. This article will help you to make a difference between two variants: Peloton bike and Zwift platform.
Of course, you can easily buy any of them right now. But it is recommended to rely on fitness experts’ experience and consider all pros and cons at first. Let’t start!
If you are not simply looking for Peloton for their great app, and prefer competing with other riders, consider spinning bikes that work with Zwift.
Actually, Zwift is an interesting and exciting experience. It differs from Peloton due to its interactivity. You have the opportunity to compare the stats and get a motivation to train hard. Here is the Peloton vs Zwift comparison chart:
|Name of features||Zwift||Peloton|
|Best for||People who appreciate the group riding, since the app have 1 million users. Besides, great for someone who likes competing with other riders, even if you have never met them before. The best choice if you use the app via an Apple TV interface.||People who appreciate being part of a real spin workout. Besides, it is suitable for those who have a higher price point and budget.|
|Not for||Those who need real-life workout – here everything is done using gaming technology. Besides, not for those who has an unreliable internet connection. You need stable network connection to work properly.||Those who actually want to train on their actual road or tri bike. Besides, not good if you are on a budget.|
|Pricing||To use Zwift, you need an account; you can start with a 25km free trial, and then your pay for monthly subscription is $14.99 (recently increased from $9.99) that is refreshed every month.||The membership costs $19.49 per month plus tax, and includes unlimited workouts. A full access Peloton membership, as it was really designed to be used, is $39.99 a month.|
|Other reviews||Industry websites like RoadBikeReview, BikeRadar, and Cycling Weekly, provide mainly positive reviews. They highlight the system’s nice graphics, easy setup, great interaction with riders. iTunes and Google Play display over 1,500 customer reviews for the mobile app, with a total rating of four-star and good feedback.||Is reviewed by online publications such as PCMag, SMART Bike Trainers, and Digital Trends. The feedback is very positive, due to the interactivity (live and on-demand) and affordability. On the App Store platform, more than 22,000 users have reviewed this platform, giving an overall 4.9 rating.|
What is Zwift?
It is an online multiplayer game where you (and a few hundred, or even thousands of people from all over the world) sit on a bicycle, not at a computer. Currently, Zwift is among the best indoor cycling apps compared.
How does it work?
You turn the machine and your avatar travels in the digital world. Its speed depends on your power. Plus, the speed is influenced by your weight and the gradient of the virtual world. Everything works as in reality.
An avatar can accelerate, drink from a bottle when you lose power and relax, add power when you descend from a mountain like Frum to TDF and much more. There is even the effect of sitting on the wheel.
There are levels for which shape, bicycles and wheels are changed – the game is the same. You can train and compete with cyclists from around the world. Sometimes real pros call in there.
There are training programs with power, group races. No matter how ridiculous it looks – but although the races are virtual, you will make quite real efforts.
There is a trial period – 1 week or 50 km (which will come sooner). The advantage is that if you drive and your free 50 kilometers have ended, you will not be thrown out of the game. You can calmly prove the training. Another plus is that you do not need to enter your credit card details for a test run, as in some other programs.
- Computer with an installed program
- ANT + connector (called USB ANT + stick or ANT + dongle) or Bluetooth
ANT + connector (called USB ANT + stick or ANT + dongle) or Bluetooth (with bluetooth, the connection will be through the Zwift Mobile Link app for smartphones and Bluetooth Smart (BLE).
But here’s the kicker:
It was experimentally found that Android is needed above 5.0. Some Macs can receive a Bluetooth signal directly. Also, in the fall of 2016, an iOS application was released in beta mode, where you can also sign up for testers on the page.
- OS: Windows 7 x64 bit, OSX 10.8
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
- Memory: 4GB
- Graphics: 1GB dedicated GPU, or embedded Intel HD 4000 / AMD R5
- Hard Drive: 4GB of free space
- iPad Air 1 and 2
- iPad Pro 9.7 ″ and 12 ″
- iPad mini 2, 3, and 4
- iPod 6th gen
- iPhone 5SE
- iPhone 6/6 + / 6S / 6S + / SE
Swift’s language is power. The best option is to transfer power from a bicycle or machine. For those who do not have such an opportunity, the developers made an option when using a cadence and speed sensor on a bicycle (transmitting data via ANT + or Bluetooth) and a compatible classic machine.
Smart machine tools
Able to transmit power, speed and cadence. In addition, Zwift can control their resistance, so they can simulate the relief of the game world. Full immersion!
Not all such machines are suitable, but only those that transmit data using open protocols. Some old devices have failed to be forced to cooperate. But now, as new products appear, the market is booming.
- Wahoo kickr
- CycleOps Hammer Direct Drive Trainer
- Tacx Bushido Smart T2780 (Needs ANT + FE-C update)
- Bkool Classic (needs ANT + FE-C update)
- Elite Qubo Digital Smart B +
- Kinetic Rock and Roll | Smart control
- Racemate Computrainer (FTDI USB to stereo adapter needed)
Machines that transmit power but do not change resistance (semi-smart or half-dumb). In the end, you can switch the resistance with the machine’s shifter (on machines with magnetic resistance). The gradient of the virtual mountain is always indicated on the screen.
- Kinetic in ride
- Elite Turbo Muin Smart B + (with the Misuro B + sensor)
- Tacx Satori Smart T2400 (ANT +)
- The Lemond Revolution with Wattbox
If you have both a smart machine and a bike’s power meter, you can choose Power Source at the entrance to the game. From where the shift will see the power: from the machine sensor or from your computer meter.
This is convenient because their power readings may differ, and for training you probably need the readings of the same device that you use in real life. Virtual power: conventional machine + cadence and speed sensor
No pavermeter or compatible smart machine – not a disaster yet. Zwift can use virtual power curves. There are two options: ZPower and Virtual Power curve.
- ZPower can take into account acceleration – it behaves better in sprints
- Virtual Power – a smoother power curve, fewer jumps, but with sprints-accelerations comes out so-so
When connecting for machines with regulation of the load level, it will be indicated on which division to set its index (L2, L3 or, for example, L4). Remember one thing: you cannot switch from this load later, because there will be a misrepresentation of the data.
- Kinetic rock and roll
- Kinetic road machine
- CycleOps Fluid²
- JetBlack Z1 Fluidpro
All of these machines were tested at the Zwift headquarters. The list is slowly increasing. You can write to tech support and ask to be tested.
Q: What to do if your machine is not yet in the list of compatible ones?
A: Not a problem, you can still connect right now and get high from the apparently boring winter activities. But in this case, when connecting, it is important to select Not Listed trainer from the list. The screenshot is old, now the picture is prettier, but just for clarity, at the same time you can see the load levels that need to be set on different machines.
The watts you actually generate, and what the program thinks, may also differ as a result. Virtual power, and so not very accurate, often gives overestimated figures. From people who switched to a smart machine, I heard reviews that the world has slowed down a lot, and the FTP test numbers are very offensive.
And if the machine is also chosen incorrectly, it can turn out very strange. Participants with improperly adjusted machines that swiftly pass by are called fliers. It can be seen that the pulse is not the same on which professional riders ride butchering. But “power” is already somewhere out there. For Z-power there is a limit of 1200 watts (so for sprinters you need to look for other options, but for most this is not very relevant).
People with virtual power are also a little discriminated in some races – riders at virtual power giving out the entire race more than 3.99 W / kg cannot claim prize places in categories, and those with an average of more than 5 W / kg per race will be disqualified. But this can always be argued by presenting evidence of your similar power from real life.
Q: How to make friends with your computer sensors?
A: You will need a USB antenna (connector) for ANT +. Google and the keywords “USB ANT + Stick Compatible With Garmin Forerunner 310XT 405 405CX 410 610 910 ″ help you find very affordable options, from $ 12.
For Bluetooth sensors, you will also need a smartphone with the Zwift Mobile Link application installed.
If the power disappears or is somehow buggy, try using an extension cable for the ANT + connector to position it closer to the sensor. Please note that if it is on the floor beneath you, it can get sweat (there is a lot of sweat during indoor training). There were cases when these antennas ceased to work due to corrosion, and quite suddenly. So it’s better to put it in a fist.
Optionally, you can add a heart rate monitor. It is not needed by the zwift itself, but it can be useful for training. Besides. I read that some teams in the zvift (there are also teams), require participants to use it.
Q: How does Zwift work?
A: When you pedal on the machine, the sensors send data to the computer via ANT + / BLE. Zwift processes this data and allows you to ride and compete with other users around the world.
Q: What equipment do you need?
A: Zwift works with smart cycle machines, regular cycle machines, or an exercise bike. If you have a smart machine, you don’t need anything else. For simple machines, depending on the model, you will need either a parameter or a speed sensor. We have collected several budget options for starting in Zwift, but you can choose any.
How to increase accuracy when using virtual power?
In addition to using a supported machine with virtual power, the following things are important:
- Use road wheels with 23 tires (the default program assumes that you have them). With off-road rubber, the compatibility was not tested. The option to buy a special wheel for the 26 machine tool will not work either. Only 700c x 23mm
- Inflate tires to 100 PSI (check before riding)
- Correctly set the machine resistance (no matter what it means in case of your device)
Put it all together?
- ANT +: Launch the shift. Antenna in the computer, great in the machine.
- Bluetooth BLE: We start the shift. Turn on bluetooth in the phone and launch Zwift Mobile Link. We hope that it all connects.
- A fan, water, a towel – it is better not to forget about them, they will be needed.
- We start (press Start Ride, while there is an opportunity, when we rolled out test kilometers – you have to join)
- The program is a bit loaded (the Zwift is not loaded instantly. Consider this if you are planning to participate in organized races or trips. You can really be late. You can’t fit into a group race after it starts).
- You will be taken to the device connection screen, where you will connect your sensors. Depending on which path is activated, a small icon in the upper left corner will glow.
In this case, Bluetooth and Zwift Mobile Link are activated.
You may need to “wake up” the cadence-speed sensors by scrolling the pedal. Zwift itself will begin to search for devices and will offer to connect them. Nothing is connected in the screenshot yet.
You can, skip this step and just watch the movement – but then your avatar will not move. Sensors can be connected later in the process. Zwift will remember your choice and in the future will try to connect familiar devices automatically. This can be changed by selecting a search.
- A bicycle station of any type, or speed and cadence sensors with connection via ANT + or Bluetooth LE.
- Bicycle. Any type of bike compatible with your machine will do.
- Windows or Mac computer. Or a suitable iOS device.
- Receiver for ANT + or Bluetooth LE signal. Many modern laptops have built-in Bluetooth LE.
- Fan, towels, water. During training, you will sweat a lot more than from traveling on the street.
- Downloaded game + monthly subscription. A subscription costs $ 10. But you can try for free, there are 7 days for this.
Bicycle machines and sensors
A smart machine transmits power data and can change resistance, depending on the route and type of training. Driving ups and downs in Zwift you will feel on the machine. This is perhaps the most fun and interactive option.
Conventional bicycle machine, including roller + power meter
A power meter is the most accurate way to determine your effort. If you have a meter, then you can use any machine, regardless of the year of manufacture, manufacturer and model.
Conventional bicycle machine + speed sensor
Zwift can calculate power using the front wheel speed metrics, the so-called “zPower”. “zPower” is calculated only for machines from this list. This is one of the budget options. If your machine is not in the list, you can still use Zwift – the program will calculate the virtual power.
Though you don’t have to count on accuracy, and your power will never exceed 400 watts. Other users are not too supportive of users with virtual power. To begin with, this option is suitable, but over time it is better to upgrade your system.
The Zwift website has a list of exercise bikes that have built-in power sensors and can transmit data. If your simulator is not in the list, it may be possible to use it together with a parameter.
- OS: Windows 7 x64 bit, OSX 10.8
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
- Memory: 4GB
- Video Card: 1GB GPU, or Intel HD 4000 / AMD R5
- Hard Drive: 4GB free space
- ANT + / BLE receiver
If your sensors transmit a signal only through ANT +, you will need to buy a receiver. You can find it in google at the request of ANT + Dongle. These receivers do not always work smoothly, so it is better to buy a USB extension cable (USB Extension Cable) and put the receiver next to the sensors.
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