Beginner! Cheap Zwift Spin Bike Setup?

Hi all,

I’m very new to this and the more research I do the more confused I get!

I’m looking to buy an indoor stationary bike / spin bike, and am trying to find the cheapest way to do this so i can connect to zwift. This will be mostly for enjoyment / engagement whilst I ride, nothing too serious, at least while I get started!

I see power meters, cadence sensors, smart bikes etc but wondering what the cheapest possible solution is to at least get me started, with a view to upgrading later on.

I don’t currently have an actual bike so turbo trainers etc would not work for me.

Any help greatly appreciated as Id like to get started as soon as possible! Best budget options?

A second hand road bike on a second hand trainer will be cheaper than any stand-alone smart bike capable of competently running Zwift.

You’ll also need something to run the app - a suitable Android or Apple phone, a PC or an Apple TV.

A heart rate monitor is a worthwhile addition and you can get a suitable HRM for not much extra.

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Any reccomendations for either of these? What trainer do you reccomend that will be great with zwift? I know there are a few but just wondered in your thoughts?

Depending on where you live, check Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace (or equivalent in Europe/World) for a Wahoo Kickr Snap or Saris M1, 2, or 3…I see Snaps for under $150. Tacx/Elite have similar models but research and maker sure it auto changes resistance. Ask here if not clear.
You can do ebay cheap but then pay for shipping. Then get any bike…really any bike and mount on the trainer. If you get a mountain/hybrid style bike make sure the rear tire is smooth. This is going to be as cheap as it gets for the intended Zwift experience.

You could save a couple of bucks with any fluid trainer (Saris or Kurt Kinetic or similar) but it has to be fluid with a consistent power curve and then add a speed sensor to the bike’s rear wheel. Cadence does nothing…has to be speed sensor. But this is, IMO, a poor mimic of the intended experience (automatic resistance changing) that it is not worth a couple of bucks.

Used Tacx Flow Smart or Tacx Vortex Smart. You can find them for $250 or less on the used marked. (for real: I just did a local search of want ads - I see one for $120CAD with $200 being pretty typical… I see a post below showing they’re available for much less in many markets)

The logical solutions are: used Tacx Flow/Vortex → Zwift Hub/Kickr Core → High-end trainer. (Tacx Neo/Kickr)

Pick whichever of these works for your budget. Don’t buy a dumb trainer or a spin bike, or try to cobble anything else together - the results will be disappointing compared to any of the above.


i sometimes use a tacx flow i got from ebay for £65 a couple of years ago. It was from wiggles ebay store too so came boxed and everything!

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I started with Tacx Vortex Smart as well many years ago! It had a great cost to benefit ratio and I was not sure if I will like virtual riding or not. Definitely go for something like it with Bluetooth and smart control of resistance.

It was so entertaining that I have upgraded to Kickr Core only 6 months later :grinning:.



You need a turbo. Cheaper ones are not smart but still I used a “dumb” trainer for years. Elite Chrono Fluid for 6 years. Not as accurate for power but still perfectly useable.

Dumb trainers you have to buy a speed sensor which simply attaches to the rear wheel hub. Can get for £30 with a cadence sensor. And I used an extended usb cable to plug in the ANT+ sensor into which are cheap from China.

A Heart rate monitor. From China about £10 and perfectly fine!

A fan.

I think you can do it for £200 with the exception of a bike.


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I can get a Snap or a Saris M for under that amount.

You said you wanted the cheapest way; as others have suggested I think the cheapest way possible is to get a second-hand Tacx Flow Smart trainer and a cheap second-hand bike with a road tyre at the rear. That’s what I did, I fell in love with Zwift and then upgraded to a Kickr Core after a year.

I’m pretty sure the Tacx Flow was the cheapest trainer ever made which changes resistance and simulates the hills you get on Zwift automatically. I bought mine second-hand for £110 in 2019 and they’re now available for as little as £50. You could find a Tacx Vortex for a similar price; just make sure you don’t get a Blue one, as that doesn’t change resistance automatically. Here’s a screenshot of a Facebook marketplace search for “Tacx Smart Flow”, showing there are loads of them out there, now so many people have moved onto direct-drive trainers.

Speed sensors were a common recommendation a few years ago but now there are so many second-hand smart trainers available at such a low cost, it’s a no-brainer to go for a smart trainer as a newbie.