Lower trainer difficulty for racing?

Mike Smedley. what he is saying is people don’t want to change their cogsets to do a hilly race.

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It’s not, it’s a gradient adjustment. Whether you feel no gradient changes (“Off”) or the realistic gradient (“Max”) depends on the position.

At the default halfway position, a 10% gradient will be simulated as a 5% gradient. It feels like it’s adjusting gearing range but that’s because the game tells you you’re riding a 10% hill, but your smart trainer is putting you on a 5% one.

If you have a 12-28 cassette at Max, you still have the same range at halfway.

Of course, even at Max you will only get a 7% gradient simulation on a 10% hill if that’s all your trainer can simulate.

Yes it is. :man_shrugging:t3::sleeping:

Pantomime season is almost over.

Hopefully not, because there still isn’t much to say about it. If “gradient adjustment” is a mental model that works for you, why not. Meanwhile, virtual shifting works for others (including the marketing departments of Wahoo and Tacx).

Since Zwift itself does not support the concept gradient in any way at all[0], other than graphics rendering on a screen, the idea of adjusting it doesn’t work well for myself.

[0] To be fair, one could argue that it does for users of the KICKR Climb/Bike.

If I have an 11-28 cassette on my bike, and a 50/34 compact, I’m riding that when the slider’s at Max.

What’s the gear range I have if I put the slider to “Off”?

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I don’t care, to be honest, especially about range, I care about the ratio that I need to overcome a given resistance.

In practical terms, my indoor bike’s front derailer broke a few months ago, and for the time being I’m perfectly happy to use 50/19 at 50% to get the same ratio that I had when I could still use 34/25 (at the maximum acceptable cross chaining). The slider doesn’t have markers and stops, so I’m not splitting hairs there, but that’s a UI problem.

I used the same setup for more than 2.5 years at 100% and can’t say I notice any difference, other than a slight entertainment penalty because overall I shift less.

If you’re out to solve Zeno’s paradoxen for cycling mechanics, we don’t even know if that slider represents a curve or a line. :joy:

Neither of these change.

Of course, because you’re not riding up as steep gradients. The peaks and troughs are flattened out (although not in terms of what Zwift reports as your vertical ascent). You’d expect to shift less over rolling hills than larger ones.

You cited Trainer Road marketing, but Zwift describe their own slider as a gradient. It says “scale the feel of gradient changes” in the UI for example.

Well we do know that midway represents a 50% reduction in resistance.

To me, that suggests a linear adjustment.

I used to think it was a gearing adjuster too. I thought Zwift should be able tell me where to put the slider to emulate 48/34 12-32 on a bike that has 50/36 11-28. There are probably posts asking for exactly that on this very forum.

But I do believe now that it’s nothing to do with gearing. It’s all about how the game calculates the resistance to apply, and that’s a factor of the gradient it’s trying to simulate via the smart trainer.


Well, I never thought that. There is a feature request for virtual shifting, by the way, which would be great IMO. (The marketing I referred to was about ‘virtual shifting’ from Wahoo and Tacx smart bikes. Without chain blades, cassettes and chains, all you have there is a bunch of user friendly resistance presets.)

Moving the slider does not give you different gearing in a static manner, I get that. But it still changes the lightest available gear ratio that you have at the highest in-game resistance. On a sliding scale, if you excuse the pun. :slight_smile:

FWIW, that’s what I (and people I talked to about it who agree) mean by virtually expanding shifting range.

No it’s not. Turning difficulty to 0% means that there is no need to change gears. Selecting the correct gear over a changing slope requires skill and takes effort. There is a lag in changing gears especially when accommodating abrupt slope changes. Not having to shift at all is absolutely more efficient than shifting to accommodate a changing slopes. I’m not sure how anyone can in good faith argue otherwise. There is a reason why it’s called a “difficulty” slider.


I think the slider should have marks or some sort of numerical read out so we know exactly what setting we have it on.


Thanks for not reading.

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Yes, The slider should have some form of reading.
I want to know if it is 50% or 60%.

Also I’d like some form of basic level trainer offset.
When doing basic training on flat roads, like the desert, I have to be in the 50 - 12 oder 13 gear and the flywheel of my Direto X is spinning very fast. That’s quite noisy.
On my old Tacx Blue Motion I could be in the 34 front ring for that, it was much quieter.

Yeah, sorry I meant to check as I was writing my response. I knew one of them started with a T. :smiley:

It’s great that after nearly 5 years we can still have a good discussion about what that slider actually does. :wink:

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Read the entire thread and there is nothing that adequately contradicts what I said. Your assumption tells me a lot though.

Zwift clearly states that a climb of 10% would actually feel as a climb of 5% when the trainer difficulty is set on 50%.

That said, the reason to make the trainer difficulty adjustable is to allow users of “smart trainer” to train with whatever cassette they want.

I know.

I was saying if you want to tamper with the resistance you should only be eligible for a result that compares you only to others who do so.

Many others don’t want to purchase a power meter either. Nothing wrong with this, power meters are expensive. But don’t expect to be placed in the official results with power meter users.

The Zwift Power website takes care of this for the most part. Some races only allow official result for those using power and heart rate monitors.

If you want to fiddle with the resistance, then you can race and compare yourself with other fiddlers. Easy.

You could even use it in the title. “Race for riders that don’t like resistance”. :slight_smile:

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Racing should be locked at 100%…anyone who rides in the real world knows that having to do a climb at 350w @ 65rpm is dramatically different than 350w @ 95rpm…not all watts are equal and that is from the training with power bible. Locking the realism at 100% will also keep people from going full gas on the downhills because they don’t want to shift 9 or 10 times. We can’t stop people juicing their power meters or lying about their size but I am pretty sure Zwift can force the realism to 100%.


what about people that have 56/48 chainrings and 11/24 cassettes on their Zwift bikes. Not everyone use their road bikes on Zwift. some people don’t even own climbing gears.


Race what you ride…I don’t change cassettes…there is no full-proof gearing…I have grinded up plenty of hills. 52/36 in the front and 11-28 in the rear…not ideal for long steep climbs…but I am not swapping out gears before every ride I make in the real world. With that being said I get making changes for a Cross or Gravel bike but if you leave the option the cheaters will abuse it.