Display Trainer Difficulty

As I have played with the trainer difficulty settings. And I used it to prep for some real world mountains. I started at 50% and each week added 10%. Now I’m sweating bullets going up the simplest hills.

I do like having the setting.

I would like to request a visual display of the trainer difficulty settings. A visual that everyone can see.

Most everyone will be at the default 50%.

My thought is three fold. 1) most people are unaware and this will popularize it. 2) if your are really killing it at 100% vs the guy who set it to 10%, it would allow each rider to see the sand baggers. 3) add a little competitive edge to those who want to “push” it.

Just my thoughts.

Visual display where? Like on the world selection screen, or just displayed all the time like watts and RPMs?

I don’t know if it would be a big deal to me to see it all the time, but I do think it would be nice if the slider had some indicators along the bar at either 10% or 20% increments.

Hmmmm, Michael, regardless of your trainer difficulty setting, 0% or 100%, you still need to produce the same number of watts to get over that hill. The only difference is what gear you will need to do it. Believe me, someone with a trainer difficulty set at less than 50% is not sandbagging.


But my understanding is that you are correct that the watts are the sane it is the grade thst changes.

So going up a 5% climb the following should be true
100% difficulty = 5% grade
50% difficulty = 2.5% grade
10% difficulty = 0.5% grade

So my same 200 watts will take me up the hill faster or slower based on the setting.

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I believe that you will get to the top of the hill at the same time if you put out the same watts but it will feel different.
For example, If you have your trainer set for 100% on a hill of 15% you might need the small ring to put out the same watts and probably a higher cadence to maintain the same speed. At 30% difficulty you can probably stay in the big ring maintain the same watts required to maintain speed.

Another great article: What's the Best Zwift Trainer Difficulty Setting? - Zwift Insider

Nope, it doesn’t change the speed of your avatar. It’s based on watts, weight, height, drafting, rolling resistance and bike/wheels used… but NOT trainer difficulty setting.


Good article. I had to read it twice to fully understate the nuances.

So… The difficulty setting only effects how “I” as a rider “feel” the resistances. So as long as I’m creating 200 watts at 100% or at 10% I go up the hill the same.

But I still feel that if I put it as low as I can , then generating 200 watts is eaiser that at 100% difficulty.

So if there was a race to the top of the epic KOM then with 10 riders each with difficulty setting set at at 10% intervals from 0 to 100% it would be a fair race? With all other things equal?

Yes, it would be a fair race. However based on a riders physical ability, weight and riding style one setting may be more favorable than another.

That is not true. Depending on your gearing, however, you might not be able to generate 200 watts at a comfortable cadence at 100% on a steep grade.

I’ve tried it at various setting and still finished last in my Cat. I leave it at 100% in hopes of it making me stronger somehow. Plus, the Kickr Climb moves based on the setting, so it’s quite a bit more interactive at 100%.

I keep mine about 30% because I don’t want to have to shift into the small ring in the front. With a 52 front and 11-28 rear I can do everything except for the longest and steepest climbs. Just a preference and if you enjoy the 100% then by all means leave it there. You get to use all your gears so more bang for your buck.
One nice thing about Zwift is that you can play around with stuff like this and see how you feel and how your performance is affected.


Another Trainer Difficulty setting article was just published, more to do with gear ratios this time, another good read.

In one of those articles you’ll find the reason I leave mine at about 50-60%…

While I actually like climbing, my problem in Zwift-world comes with flats and descends. I ride on an MTB mounted on a smart trainer and in group rides or races spin out in the draft on the flats… never mind going downhill!

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Same here… I actually find myself using my highest gearing (36:11) most of the time. Fortunately, I have a 2x setup unlike most modern MTBs that only have a 1x.
Especially for sprints and downhills I would love to have the option to increase trainer resistance, but until that’s the case I have to stay with lower difficulty settings. If there’s even a 1 % downhill, I’m struggling to hit 1000 watts at more than130 rpm…

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Zwift can barely display if a user in on Zpower instead of a power meter… And that’s actually useful information

I’m not sure seeing others trainer difficulty setting is helpful
Riding at 100 doesn’t make you cooler faster or slower vs riding at 25.

Now if your weight was displayed above your head so everyone could see…that’d be something


Thanks everyone for all the great info. I have changed my thoughts on this topic. @Florian_Wrensch I like your wreight idea better.

I did do 10 laps around the volcano with each lap changing the difficulty. I tried to keep my output consistent. I could feel the difference but in the game my laps were “about” the same.

I retract my idea.