Does the bike on your smart trainer, matter for Zwift?

I am thinking about putting a cheap bike on my direct drive trainer so it is always ready to go. I’m wondering how much it really matters about what bike I use on the trainer. I figure that if is has the same drivetrain config and frame geometry then that’s all I need to worry about.

Looking for someone who does the same and can offer advice and to share the experience.

I use my 23 year old TCR on mine, disconnected the brakes, put a sweat guard on, draped a towel over the bars and no issues, 20,000 km later. I have had a 1st Gen Kickr and now a Neo 2T. Just make sure you have the right rear cassette and use the right spacers. A lot of people do the same, you can pick up a reasonable bike quite cheap.

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I have my old CX bike permanently on mine. Its 10x2sp. My real life bike is 12 x 1. I have different seats and bars but none of those differences are a thing for me.

I do have my trainer bike geometry as close to my gravel bike as I can and use same SPD’s and crank lengths on both bikes.

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Frame composition and weight are irrelevant when it comes to Zwift.
I found a cheap frame identical to my road bike. It has no brakes and a di2 kit that’s tie wrapped externally to the frame.

The only thing I would say is that an alloy frame will suffer with sweat and the sugars in sports drinks more than a carbon frame.


Yes, I’ve certainly found that always having a bike set up on the trainer and ready to go with the flick of a switch has helped with removing the friction of getting going for a ride. As long as your physical contact points are in the right places and your drivetrain is in the road bike range, the rest is of limited-to-zero importance.
When I first started zwifting, I used a 19 year-old steel frame with down tube gear shifters, as that is all I had. Perfect… until I got sucked into desiring a more modern experience. Didn’t need it, just wanted it.

The one thing that you might want to change on purpose is the saddle, since we generally spend far more time sitting than for the same ride duration when outdoors. Something designed for endurance/comfort could help. A three-hour indoor ride feels like five to me, seat-bone wise, but that’s probably a YMMV situation.

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I use an old mountain bike (a 3x8) on my trainer mainly because there are 2 regular zwifters in the house (and an occasional 3rd) and everyone’s bike has different cassette and my old mountain bike is the least used outside and is one everyone can fit on with a quick release seat post.

I have had my road bike (2x11) on there, but I got sick of swapping the cassette multiple times a week. I started out with the MTB on there and when I first put my road bike on there I was hoping for more sprinting power with the higher gears available, but it would appear the engine is the limiting factor :frowning:

It may depend on what you want from it, I generally ride 100% indoors in winter and 100% outdoor in the summer. When I switch over I notice the gear ratios aren’t as close together indoor when free riding, but I soon forget about that. This winter I’ve mainly been doing a training plan so been in ERG mode where the gears don’t matter anyway.

Despite obviously very different geometries and gear ratios my power output and performance on all the courses I’ve looked at are identical in both things like short sprints and longer concerted efforts.

At one point I was thinking of buying another used bike more similar to my road bike that I could put on there, but I just can’t be bothered anymore. I don’t have sweaty bar tape issues for one and there are other things I could spend the money on (deep section wheels and a power meter for outside for starters).

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I used my old 2013 Giant TCR Advanced SL3 (upgraded to DA9000 SL1 specification). Main thing was fit and comfort. I kept the bike well maintained however in case I want to take it back outside.

Then I switched over to the Kickr Bike. It’s a great convenience having the bike permanently there so you can ride when you want with minimal setup time.

The kickr bike, the thing I like most because it is so adjustable, either in fit or in terms of configuration of the virtual gears. It’s also a bit smaller in dimensions than a real bike on a direct drive trainer. And no chains or cassettes. That’s the best bit because you don’t have to mess about with stretching cables or chains jumping, etc

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As long as the bike’s drivetrain is in good working order and it is a comfortable fit to you, it will be fine. I just switched to a Neo Bike, but previously I had my back-up road bike on a direct drive trainer from late fall to early spring. This kept my main bike free and ready for those good outdoor riding days.

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