Low-Tech Newbie Trying to Get Sorted

Zwift looks awesome and I want to be part of it. But there might be some technological hurdles. I’ve read the Support board extensively and haven’t seen any post that addresses my low-tech situation. I’d like to list how I think I can get started with Zwift and either get a “Yeah! Ride on!” or a “DNS”. Help a brother out, won’t you?

I have:

  • A dumb trainer (Not adjustable, not ANT+, just dumb)

  • Garmin500 w/ heart-rate monitor and cadence sensor

  • ANT+ dongle

  • iPhone w/ Zwift app

  • Laptop w/ Swift loaded w/ APT+ dongle

If I plug one ANT+ dongle into the Garmin (to transmit rider data) and the other ANT+ dongle into the laptop (to receive rider data), will I have the necessary tech in place to send and receive the kind of data (not watts, but some sort of “watt-equivalent data”) that will allow me to use Zwift?

Clearly I’m trying to avoid spending $500+ on either a smart trainer or a power meter. Any useful advice or troubleshooting would be much appreciated.

Did you see our beginner’s guide to Zwift equipment? This walks through what equipment combinations you can use to get started. If that’s still not clear, let me know so I can add to it!

In your case, a setup is going to depend on:

A: What classic trainer you have.

B. If you have an ANT+ speed/cadence sensor.

Give that article a read and let us know if you have other questions!


I’ betting my situation is a common one. That’s why I posted here. So that next time a prospective Zwifter seeks answers to their set-up questions (as I did), he/she can read this and have all of their questions answered.

I’ve read the Beginner’s Guide. My Garmin Edge 500 is ANT+ compatible. I have a Bell Motivator trainer that is not ANT+ capable (though if you’d enlighten me why one classic trainer matters from any other classic trainer for set-up purpose, I’d be grateful). Does this mean that if a plug the ANT+ dongle into the Zwift-equipped laptop, the Garmin will automatically communicate the necessary data to Zwift via the dongle? 

Presumably, Jason, you are the Zwift Tech Support Guy so please: Will my set-up as I’ve described it work?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. 


Just jumping in here, the Garmin 500 uses ANT+ to communicate the the sensors on the bike when you’re on the road (cadence, speed, heart-rate etc). So it can record your performance.

With Zwift, you don’t need the Garmin 500. effectively, by plugging in the ANT+ dongle, the laptop is becoming the receiver of the sensors - and passes it on to the Zwift software.

Ideally, you’ll have an ANT+ power meter - so Zwift will know the effort you’re putting in. However, most will not have one because of the cost. This is where zpower comes in. Every type of dumb trainer has a ‘power curve’. That is, it is known how much Wattage is being generated for the speed the resistance roller is turning. Eg, if it’s spinning at 200RPM, then you’re putting out 100W, at 300RPM it’s 250W etc.

As the speed of the resistance unit can be calculated from the speed of the rear wheel, then by sending just the bike’s ANT+ speed sensor info to Zwift, it can work out approximately the power being put down.


But of course, the trainer’s power curve is different between brands and models, whether is uses a fluid resistance unit, a magnetic one etc. So Zwift need to obtain the power curves for each trainer.

Steve Cox, you are my hero. Thanks for the guidance.

I’m going try and get this running on the weekend. I’ll post and let future generations know how it turned out.

So here’s the set-up:

Hi-end bike on low-end (dumb) trainer. Bike has Garmin Edge 510 w/ cadence & heart rate sensors. Laptop running MS Windows 64-bit (32-bit is unsupported) and Zwift. Garmin ANT+ dongle plugged into laptop, laptop plugged into flatscreen TV.

Straight forward, right? Works perfectly.

Steve, thanks for your help.