Better groupset on trainer

hi folks,

been contemplating upgrading my 8 speed claris group set on my trainer either 105 or tiagra. Will I see improvements especially during climbing ? or maybe even flat surfaces?

Have anyone had similar experience like mine? is it a waste of money?

thank you

The highest & lowest gears should still be the same, but the incremental steps between gears would be smaller. I.e. if you are struggling to find exactly the right gear to feel comfortable, it might make it a bit easier.

It would involve changing Shifters, mech, chain and a new cassette. Personally I wouldn’t bother, it won’t make that much difference.


Thanks Paul. cost me around usd450 to upgrade to tiagra 10 speed, 105 would be around 700-ish. And yes ,i have same thought too regarding the steps, I think performance wise,on paper, it’s pretty much the same, but on a longer climb, once i found the sweet spot, wont get tired easily.

i’d probably churn out couple of watts more vs lesser group set. just in case someone here have a different experience when they upgrade, and i’d like to know their feedback

thank you

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If the issue is simply the range of gears, consider either buying a different cassette and/or fiddling with the Trainer Difficulty setting in the game. Otherwise I’d agree with Paul. I went from my first entry level bike with Claris to a [much nicer] ‘proper’ bike with 105, just because I wanted something better all-round. Can’t say I notice the difference on Zwift on a daily basis. Is it better? Yes. Is it worth spending hundreds of dollars on the entire groupset alone? Nope.

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The logical ‘upgrade’ for an exclusively trainer bike is, if you have an outdoor bike, to demote the current outdoor groupset when upgrading that.

If you are in no rush then browse local ad’s and online auction sites. You can pick up odd bits of groupset pretty cheap and collect all the components required over a few months.

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This may not be correct, so someone please put me right if not.

You might be able to use the trainer difficulty to adjust slightly in between your current gears. So if you are on a long steady climb and there is too big a gap between two gears, then adjust the difficulty slightly.

I’ve never messed with my trainer difficulty, but I think that’s what it does.

[EDIT] Saw that Dave has mentioned similar, so perhaps this is correct… :laughing:

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Haha, I really didn’t want to open this massive can of worms. :rofl:

But basically yeah you can fanny about with it to tweak the ‘feel’ of the gearing on hills. It doesn’t affect in-game speed, but I’ll leave it at that!


hi Dave, i’m using 36t now which I believe it’s smallest on claris. i just felt that on smaller gear, i wish that there’s a better choice of gear on steeper and longer climb. the one i have now is either too heavy or tad too light

anyway, thanks for the advice folks. looks i’m sticking with no upgrade. next would be finding a perfect saddle for trainer. i have swapped 3 saddles and still trying to find my sweet spot. but that’s entirely different discussion. cheers

Definitely play with the Trainer Difficulty slider a little then. Should be able to find the sweet spot for you.

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in my case, should i slide to left or right? thanks

Try and get the same saddle for both your bikes.

If the easiest gear isn’t quite easy enough, you want to reduce the TD slightly. So move the slider to the left a little bit. Bear in mind this will ‘move’ the whole cassette, so your next cog will also feel a little easier etc. Hopefully with a bit of playing around you can find something that suits you better than the default (which is 50%, in the middle).


As others have kind of already said, if the changes between the gears are ok (i.e. the difference changing from one gear to the next is ok and you don’t go from too hard to too easy or vice versa between gears on the cassette) then changing groupset won’t help as the extremes the very easiest and very hardest gears will be the same.

if when going up a steep climb you wish there was an extra easy gear then lower the trainer difficulty (slide left)
If you are spinning out on downhills or on the flat seeing if there is a cassette that fits your current set up that has a small sprocket on the cassette (11t is usually the smallest)

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thank you folks, i will tinker with the difficulties settings and see if there’s any difference. as of now, its on the default position

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am using fabric line shallow on my outside bike, and i like it, no complaint whatsoever, but when i move the saddle to my trainer bike, after 60 mins, my crotch starts numbing. idk is it because of my position on the trainer, or the way i ride indoor compared to outdoor (body posture, a lot more pedaling while straight up), the saddle i use outdoor didnt work for me

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I think I’m the same to be honest, but I don’t think it’s a saddle issue, as you say, it’s more of a “how you ride” issue.
When I’m on the trainer I don’t move around a lot, I don’t get out of the saddle much on climbs and I don’t stop for a few seconds at junctions to wait for fellow riders. I also don’t ride on the drops much on my trainer which I would in the real world in to headwinds or when on the front of a group.
In the real world I also sometimes lift my ■■■■ off the saddle slightly on long descents. So on my trainer my backside also gets a bit numb a lot sooner than it does in the real world.
Perhaps try some drills to force yourself to move around a bit more. Stand on any climbs over 6-7%, hoods for 5 minutes, drops for 5 minutes etc. to see if that helps at all.
The other things to check is that the angle of the seat is exactly the same on the two bikes. Use a spirit level, 1 degree difference will be noticeable over a decent distance.

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thanks Paul. you probably a lot advanced cyclist than me, both real world and virtual. longest i’ve done trainer is 2:30 hrs and my average wattage weight ratio only around 1.5 so far. i’ll check and adjust the angle of the trainer bike and see if that’s help

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personally I wouldn’t bother upgrading for indoor training only but if you got money to burn then go for it.
8-speed can give you 1 gear that is way too hard and 1 gear that is way too easy, going to 10-speed makes a pretty big difference in being able to hit that sweet spot.

or you could just adjust trainer difficulty slider for free :stuck_out_tongue:

Be nice to be able to do in the companion app while riding…a small PITA to stop and dig into the menu system…