How can I get a bigger gear?

I’m running Zwift at 100% difficulty (except for Alpe d’Zwift!!) and using 13-23 cassette on the back, 53-39 on front (I think that’s right). I’m running out of gears to grind. I know I can increase my cadence, but still want a heavier gear to push. Whilst I could change my cassette, going by recent experience, what with COVID increasing bike popularity, that will take weeks to get sorted. Is there any way to increase this via the game. In a way, like you can ‘buy’ wheels and frames in the Zwift shop, perhaps you should be able to buy casettes. The difficulty rating just doesn’t go high enough. (I don’t push massive watts by any means, but reasonable watts/kg, so don’t know why this is an issue for me, other than I’ve always pushed big gears on the road). Just to add, I use a Wahoo Kickr, so everything should be accurate.

Hi T,
Welcome to the Forums. Sorry, I don’t know of any way of doing this in Zwift, apart from using heavier and less aerodynamic frames and wheels. (Riding an MTB in a group ride on asphalt tends to make me do an extra 0,5 W/kg to keep up, for instance. The Zwift Safety Bike and Wheels are also very slow and heavy, but you need to reach level 44 to be able to buy them, and they are incredibly expensive.)

However, those are some relatively heavy gear possibilities that you have, already. Do you often find yourself spinning out when using the 53 and 13 combination?
Have you done a spindown/calibration using the Wahoo app, just to make sure that you’re getting the right resistance on your set-up? I’m not questioning your cycling abilities whatsoever, just wondering if there’s something not quite right, that could be fixed easily.
I’m also on a KICKR (2018/v4 model) and find that the spindown in Zwift gives me a realistic ride feel (when running at 100% trainer difficulty). Others have suggested that the native spindown in Wahoo’s own app is better. If you’re on the v5, no spindown is necessary, apparently, but I don’t know if it’s still an option. Just spitballing.

If you were looking to get a higher physical gearing (some stuff is out there, still), most cassettes only go as low as 11 teeth on the smallest cog; chainwheels generally top out at 53, although you can get up to 55 in some elite series.
Your highest current gearing combination (53x13) gives you a 1/4.08 ratio. Adding a cassette with an 11 would give you a 1/4.82 ratio.
In comparison, I use a 50/34 compact chainwheel with an 11-32T cassette on my road bike mounted on a 2018 KICKR. Although I am more a spinner rather than a grinder (and definitely no watt monster), I rarely find myself engaging the heaviest gears (50x12 = 4.16; 50x11 = 1/4.55) in Zwift, so I wonder if spindown/calibration might not be your issue. Good luck with finding what makes the experience better for you.

1 Like

Hey thanks,

I do do regular spin downs on the Kickr app on my phone. It feels right, in terms of the watts produced and from previous FTP testing etc on other bikes appears accurate. Funnily enough I generally spin quite high (90-100rpm) when just watching Youtube and listening to music, but during racing and on the road am more of a grinder. Maybe I just need to work on combining the big gears with cadence more for racing. In fact, now I think of it, I tended to run out of gears on the road too. Just done so little outdoors recently that forgot that was becoming an issue. Yep, maybe an extra gear and more spinning.

Thanks for your suggestions. I’ll mull over my options😊


1 Like


This question comes up again and again on the Zwift forums, and I’ve just found a page on ZwiftInsider which makes me want to ask:

Do you use Bluetooth to connect to your KICKR core and do you have the option of trying a different connection?

The article below says:
connecting your KICKR via Bluetooth results in significantly lower base resistance than connecting via ANT+ FE-C.

I’d be very interested to know if this is still the case.

1 Like

Wow, thanks Paul,

So first up, I’m a luddite, hence my late arrival to the work of Zwift, to which I am now addicted! However, this could indeed be a part of the issue. As I said before, I do have a bit of this issue on the road (the real world). But I feel it is more marked on the turbo, especially since racing has got me stronger. I only get one option when I sign in, so I think it must be Bluetooth. So from what I gather, is that it’s not offering me the full resistance of the other methods, so I can’t put the watts in I’d like to on a descent or flat, unless my legs are whirling like a dervish (or that’s how it feels, even if my cadence may be a little shoddy). I’ll have to find someone more techie than me to see how to sort that, if possible. Otherwise, I guess I’m left with trying to get a 11 cog on the back. Thanks. Great to know there’s a reason, though it’ll be really frustrating if I can’t fix it.

I think your experience may be similar to mine. When I switched to the KICKR, I was surprised that I didn’t like the feel as much as with my old trainer, but I put up with it because it was more responsive. Your post has made me want to look at this again though.

What device are you using for Zwift? PC, Apple TV, etc.? I’m going to have a play around with this, because it’s made me wonder if I can improve my setup.

1 Like

Zwift app on MacBook air or iphone, screen mirrored to TV.

Something is definitely very wrong if you’re not a pro rider. You shouldn’t be running out of.gears with that setup.

I also do run out of gears on the road. Though. To a slightly lesser extent. I have very muscular legs and I’m very light. Don’t know whether that’s a factor? Watts wise every thing seems very accurate. I haven’t got a brilliant sprint, but better on the road. The gearing is holding me back on Zwift. I might try the app on the Tv snd see what happens. No not a pro, but told I had the capacity once… then life got in the way. Trying to make up for lost time. Thanks😊

what kind of cadence are you doing?
if you don’t do massive watts and with 53/13 you’d having to either be spinning very very slowly or doing some pretty decent power output.

Mmm, not sure. About 70rpm maybe in a race. Lower I suppose at times, even though during sessions I do spin quite high. My power output is not super high, but on a weight per kg basis, FTP is 4.7w/kg. But when I want to sprint, there’s just no where for me to go gear wise other than really rev up the cadence. maybe that’s just my problem.? The watts all look right and in line with tests, and what happens on my Wahoo. But with my Wahoo app, I could set it for a power and therefore reach my limits easily that way. Will have to do some playing around.

It does sound like you’re a powerful rider. If the cost and logistics aren’t prohibitive, I do think it’s worth obtaining a cassette with an 11T cog for the extra range.

70 isn’t really a very high cadence - there is no real “correct” cadence - everyone is different and some people prefer a lower cadence.

maybe give it a go - a good way to try it out is to do a workout in erg mode and have a long section at the same wattage and change to an easier gear and try and keep the same wattage which means you’ll have to spin quicker.

It does sound like the problem may be that you are too used to a quite low cadence. Improving that would make more sense to me than getting a higher gear.

You should be able to find some workouts with cadence drills, and you should really be aiming for something more in the range of 80-100.

1 Like

Thanks all three of you. So yep, I will try more high cadence on Zwift and generally focusing on that. During Wahoo sessions I always do 90-100rpm (basically along with the beat of some kick-■■■■ music!). I’m not sure whether I get sluggish during a race. Never really paid massive attention, but I do know when I randomly look, it is lower. And in team time trials, because of having to use Discord, I can’t listen to music, so my cadence probably slips even more, along with having to change my rhythm as dictated by the team. However, I think there is a little more to it than just cadence, so I will investigate getting a 11 cog too. Today I might see how running the App in Apple TV works in comparison. Thanks:)

1 Like

Ha, I love how it’s blanked out such a relatively innocuous word!

1 Like

Has anyone here compared two direct drive trainers side-by-side?

I’ve only ever ridden a Wahoo Kickr so I have nothing to compare it to, but it feels like the base resistance using it on Zwift is just too low, and I wonder if anyone has compared different trainers to see if different trainers have different/higher base resistance?

Not side-by-side in the literal sense, but I did have a Tacx Neo briefly, about 18 months ago. On the same day, I was able to mount the same bike and cassette, in the same place, on my Wahoo KICKR 2018 and then the Neo, then back to the KICKR.

I was curious about how different they would feel and sound. As a relatively inexperienced indoor rider who was coming back to cycling after 10 years off the bike, I expect that I wasn’t very sensitive to the nuances, but I don’t remember thinking that one was different to the other in terms of base resistance. I found I was getting the same numbers for comparable efforts, too.

Those folks who have (or have had) a stable of trainers that they test and rotate, like Shane Miller or Ray Maker, would have great insight into this!

1 Like