"Free Ride" in Zwift's FTP Test vs. Custom Workouts

In Zwift’s FTP Test, a 20:00 free ride block is used for measuring the rider’s effort. When I am riding this block, my trainer does not seem to be affected by terrain. Whether I climb or descend, there is minimal resistance change on my trainer. I can keep a consistent cadence and wattage during the block regardless of what my avatar is riding.

In Zwift’s Custom Workout builder, I created an FTP Test with the 2 x 8:00 format. I simply inserted two 8:00 free ride blocks between my warm up and cool down periods. During these two blocks, the terrain seems to affect my trainer’s resistance (e.g., climbing gets more difficult and descending is easier). While I can keep a consistent cadence, my wattage seems to vary based on what my avatar is riding.

Can someone please explain what might be different about the free ride blocks used in Zwift-created workouts vs. user-created workouts?

The 20min “free ride block” of the FTP test applies a flat resistance. The terrain/gradients in Zwift are irrelevant.

The “free ride blocks” in your custom workout are different. ERG mode is disabled and you are put into SIM mode where the changing terrain will result in trainer resistance changes. Think of SIM mode as how it feels to ride outside.

Hi @Jay_Womack: I was under the assumption that the default behavior of the free ride block in a workout was the same as you described for the FTP test.

But the good news is that there is a setting in the workout file that you can change to have free ride simulate the terrain or not.

The bad news is I can’t find the link to it. I remember it is some thing you need to change in the workout file using a text editor.

Thanks for the replies @Lin_Alan and @Gerrie_Delport! I thought I had thoroughly searched the topic before my post. However, once @Lin_Alan mentioned “SIM mode” (I was unaware of this term), that led to finding a solution suggested in Zwift’s Known Issues support.

I will try the suggested workaround to make my Custom Workout free ride blocks feel like the Zwift FTP Test’s free ride block. Then - hopefully - I can ride my own warmup and FTP test!

Custom Workout Free-Ride Blocks Set SIM Mode
Issue: We’re currently working on fixing an issue where custom workout free ride blocks can set the trainer into SIM mode instead of a flat resistance. This can cause problems if you’re entering the block in a gradient section. While we haven’t received confirmation that this affects all custom workouts, we recommend using the workaround below just in case.
Workaround: Before doing a custom workout with a free-ride block, we recommend setting your trainer difficulty to the lowest possible setting (Menu: Settings: Trainer Difficulty: move the slider bar all the way to the left). Even if you do hit the bug with this setting on, you will only feel a flat resistance (which is how the block is supposed to feel).


Interesting, I was under the impression that what I described was not a bug but in fact the way it was designed. While I have created workouts using the workout editor, I have only done a couple and never used the free ride block. I guess my understanding of the free ride block was incorrect. I will have to have another look in the workout editor. Learn something new everyday :slightly_smiling_face: