I’m new to zwift and cycling, so I have no idea about any of the bike terminology or compatibility.
I’m looking for a budget bike. So far, I have been looking at MTB, Road and hybrids. I want a ride that is comfortable, which is why I would prefer MTB or hybrid as opposed to Road.
I’m very unsure about the gearing in zwift. For example, if I get a mountain bike that has 18 speeds (6 gears in back and 3 gears in front), will it be too slow for races?
I’m also lost on bike compatibility, will the Zwift Hub connect to a bike that has only 6 gears in the back? Also does the brand of the derailleur matter? Can I just buy any bike?
These are two bikes I have been looking at atm, I just don’t know if they will work:
I’m so lost…any help would be much appreciated!
The Zwift Hub is designed for 8-12 speed Shimano cassettes, so the easiest solution would be an 8 speed bike with Shimano (or compatible) components. A 7 speed cassette can work if you buy an extra spacer, so the Decathlon bike you linked should be possible to fit on the trainer with some additional effort (or take it to a bike shop to be fitted). The Microshift derailleurs and shifters should work fine. The bike ships with a Shimano brand cassette so that’s a good sign it should work.
Most 6 speed bikes do not use a cassette. Usually they have a threaded freewheel which can’t be used on the trainer. 6 speed cassettes exist, but they are very uncommon and I wouldn’t recommend going that route. I haven’t seen one in years.
As for the gearing, it depends on how strong you are and your pedaling speed (cadence). If you are a fit rider then I think the high gear of 42x14 on the Decathlon will be too small and you might not get enough resistance for hard efforts. You could increase the size of the gear with a different cassette and get a high gear of 42x11 which would be better. I would avoid bikes with a single front chainring which will probably result in a high gear that’s too small.
If you like the flat handlebar design, a hybrid bike with 3x8 gearing should work well. I haven’t seen this one myself but it looks like it would work.
EDIT: it would be better to get a bike with a rigid front fork or with a lockout on the suspension. The front suspension won’t add any value indoors.
Are you buying this bike to ride both outdoors and indoors ?
No matter what bike you use, there is a lot of issues to sort out for your individual set up.
That’s one of the amazing things about Zwift, there are tens of thousands, maybe a million, users and we all have different setups that get the job done.
That said, MTB bikes tend to be among the most “fiddly” of setups and are harder to get a satisfying result.
The very low gearing of modern MTB is the main issue in free rides.
Work outs in ERG are reported as fine.
There no reason why the Hub cassette has to be the same as the real outside IRL set up.
You might need a shorter chain so you may have an outdoor chain and a Zwift chain.
I’d recommend start with a cheap, used road bike of any brand.
On a trainer, wheels and brakes wont matter.
All you need are shifters and derailures.
Also, about bikes, my MTB is my most complex bike and has, by far, the most moving parts and gadgets that need routine maintainance.
The road bike is very simple by comparison.
Something 2. hand with some Shimano Deore 2x9 or 3x9 could be worth looking at.
The x9 Shimano is quite strong and also easy to maintain.
Not much “bling bling effect” but it works and weight probably isn’t you main concern at this point.
Thanks for the detailed reply Paul!
A hybrid bike could be exactly what I am looking for. I want to be able to sit up right like a mountain bike as I have a groin injury and sitting upright on my spin bike allows me to cycle pain-free. If I were to lean over like a road bike, I think long term, it could just irritate the injury further.
In terms of bike maintenance, is there much difference between MTB and hybrid bikes?
Just indoors. I don’t plan to cycle outside at all.
Would there be less issues with a hybrid bike instead of a MTB bike setup with zwift?
The only issue I have with road bikes is seating position. I have a nerve groin injury and the more upright I sit, the less issues it gives me.
I’m not too fussed about weight to be honest. Just something that is comfortable and can allow me to pedal fast in zwift.
For indoor only others will give much better advice than I can offer but from what I have read on this forum:
- Do you have a good bike shop nearby as
a. You don’t need good wheels
b. You don’t need breaks
c. I believe race gears will give you a much better Zwift experience.
A good bike shop can probably fit you only what you need for indoors at a fraction of the cost. A bike shop will also help you with getting the correct size frame, seat and bars positioning to provide most comfortable fit. Good quality second hand, through the bike shop, might work well.
- How long do you think you will ride indoors each session? Most people(not everyone) don’t ride for that long indoors so comfort might not be so important that you need MTB, Gravel or Hybrid bike.
There are no significant differences.
I agree with @Ian_Attoe that you would benefit from making a trip to a bike shop where you can try out the bikes and get advice about the fit you need. That could help you avoid buying an unsuitable bike.
Thanks for the reply Ian.
I’m not sure how long I will be spending on the bike but I will be replacing all my running with cycling. So maybe about 1 hour, four days a week? I’m not sure how long cycling sessions last as I am new to the sport.
Going to a bike shop and getting them to supply only the parts I need is a great idea! Especially if it can possibly reduce the cost! I’ll give that a go. Cheers Ian
Yeah the safest bet seems to be getting fitted by someone in-store.
Cheers for the help Paul!
Something like a Trek FX or another flatbar bike could be what you want.
I did my early Zwift years on a Trek FX with 3x9… lot’s of gears for everything, upright seating position and I guess they can be found cheaply in most parts of the world.
You wont win any cat A races on it, but that’s probably not your goal anyway
Other brands have something similar too.
A few more things to consider:
You have been a runner - were you competitive? If so you will want to be competitive on Zwift and that might well be more important than comfort.
You mention comfort. This is not just the bike saddle or geometry of the frame, you should also consider a really good pair of Cycling shorts or better still bib shorts. IMO don’t try and cycle without proper gear.
What shoes are you going to cycle in? Cycling shoes give better foot support and comfort. Whatever footwear you decide to use will dictate what pedals you need.
If you don’t plan on riding outdoors, get a frame with the fewest moving parts.
I would steer clear of MTB and hybrid.
Hybrids still freq have front suspension fork and this will just bounce up and down and steal power from the wheels/trainer.
A flat bar road bike with bar ends is what I use.
My bar ends are triple wrapped with cork tape for padding and to increase the diameter for comfort.
This issue with the road though is my body position when seated on it.
I would prefer to be upright like when on a hybrid/MTB. Is that possible on road bikes with flat handlebars?
Era not really competitive.
However, what sort of bike would I need to be competitive in Zwift, if I wanted to go that route some day?
I’ll definitely be buying so cheap cycling gear too. But with the pedals I was thinking just flat pedals.
Indoors only: do not buy a mountain bike. I would even say don’t by a hybrid.
A “flat bar road bike” is an option but I would strongly suggest a drop-bar, endurance road bike.
Endurance road bikes have a more upright position than a pure racing (or TT) bike so they’ll be comfortable for long rides but will still help with more forward weight distribution and efficient pedalling versus a super upright hybrid or “cruiser.”
Giant Fastroad AR is a flat bar road bike. Trek Domane, Giant Contend AR, Specialized Roubaix would be drop-bar endurance road bikes. Don’t buy anything with a single front chainring as it’s too limiting for gear range - a 2x8 or better (2x9, 2x10, 2x11) is what you want.
The Triban RC120 would be an option if you’re on a budget: Road bike Triban RC 120 Disc Brake - Grey - Decathlon
The used market would be good value but you must absolutely know the size of bike you need and avoid buying one that doesn’t fit or you’ll end up so uncomfortable you won’t want to ride.