Lower trainer difficulty for racing?

Well, yes, maybe.
But in the present state of technology the smart trainers are not consistent in their capacities.
In addition, people do have different trainers at their home, including different types of classic trainers etc…
So, yes, you might have a reason concerning the “general different effort”, but in the present reality, unfortunately you cannot force everyone to it.
Maybe in the future )

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The bottom line is that Zwift wants to be and needs to be INCLUSVE for all the differing types of Zwifter and their multitude of differing setups.

All shapes and sizes, weights and abilities, young and old, big budgets and small, casual and committed, for fitness and fun, professional or not, etc, etc, etc.
In this way so can all enjoy the platform and gain in health and fitness and well being. Anything else would be damaging to the Zwift’s user base as they would feel unwanted and leave which = revenue down = Zwift’s closure.

I totally get the idea that some of us want a race series that is harder, fairer, more life like and on a equal playing field.

If someone wants to organise say a “Neo series”, on a Neo 1 with a 52/36 11/28 on 100% slider difficulty with verified weight and no e-bikes and a heart rate monitor, no power meters using an iPad model?? etc, that is commendable. Or a “Kicker 2” series same rules or tougher. Anyone? I am totally sure there is a demand for it.

It could be a great series of races, but please don’t lets dictate/force what our other fellow Zwifters have to use in general Zwifting or general current Zwift racing. It’s a dead end for Zwift and us.
“Ride Happily On”


Interesting idea, by the way.

I suppose one could stay in one gear the whole time during a race but you won’t win no matter what difficulty setting you have on.


I am 100% for Zwift being inclusive. It’s one of the great things about the platform. Also very much understand that having the trainer difficult setting enables all the terrain to be accessible to everyone so am in favor of them keeping it as an option.

There is a lot of debate as to whether it changes the dynamics of the races. I think it does. Others don’t. Personally I am not going to lower it 0%. As said, it’s easier but it’s very boring. Back to the preZwift world of indoor training. It’s like any of the other sandbagging options there are.

But why not give race organizers an option to set it just like power ups and heart rate monitors, etc. It would give them one more tool and not exclude anyone (as there would be lots of other races where you can use it).

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Another suggestion would be to pass the data point to Zwiftpower so you could filter race results on it. We would quickly see if It has an impact if we had some data.


Why do riders feel they should be able to Zwift without changing gears?
I have a dumb trainer and I change gears all the time, just like IRL.
In Zwift, when I come to a hill I may choose to just spin along and maintain my present power out put but I will slow down and get dropped.

I usually choose to increase my power out put.
I can stay in the same gear and pedal faster but I don’t like a cadence greater than 90-95, so I shift to a higher gear and on a big hill, get out of the saddle and push my watts up.
There is no advantage going up hill.
Everybody can always down shift.
The advantage come on the down hill.
Dumb trainers and smart trainers with 0 difficulty can push the watts and not spin out.
I’m not sure how much of an advantage this is because other riders can draft on the down hill.
To train for this, I do high cadence and low cadence workouts.
This idea of not changing cadence and gears seems odd and very artificial.



I’m not disputing that the effort for the same climb is the same. That’s not what I’m saying. My point is that the variability in terrain and resulting gear changing has an impact on your average power output. You only need to lose a second over the top of a climb to lose the bunch.

Some of the YouTubers (eg GCN Cycling, @Shane_Miller_GPLama ) have proven your point by doing the tests on the various KOMs. But I think it would also be interesting to do a test over more variable terrain.

Think about about doing high/ low intervals versus maintaining a steady effort. You might hit the same average power but it makes your legs feels very different. Especially as you get older …

Even then, some might respond faster than others. Or have a greater simulated incline. Or behave differently on the “downhill”.

I think a lot here do not really understand the whole 0 or 100% settings.
There is no such a "maintaining aa steady effort " during the race on 0% difficulty or dumb trainer .
Since the pack is always dynamic.
The whole differece on 0% difficulty or a dumb trainer is that the shifting is in inverse direction.

Example: the pack is going at 3w/k flat and then hitting the climb at 4 w/kg. Those with 100% difficulty settings will be forced to shift. But same thing for those with 0% but the shifting is in reverse direction. And in some cases on 0% or dumb trainer will be forced to stand on the bike in order to get more watts.
So no differece in dynamics.
The only difference is for the smart trainer the shifting is when the trainer simulates the grade change. And on 0% or dumb the feel of the grade made by inverse shifting.
So a very experienced rider that knows really well the routes will almost feel no differece between 0-100% since he will always shift 1 second before the smart trainer will make it feel. …the real big difference might be for grades over 10-13% but I’m not sure, since never really tested enough that difference.

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I think they should add this to configurable stuff for organizers. A good and easy way is to make something like 3 presets for race where the organizers can choose from. The ‘serious’ category should have stuff like minimum 50% difficulty, hrm required.


I like this idea because it gives you pretty much all the “real world” gearing choices rather than some kind of artificial levelling out of the course.

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This is a good point about the lag. I sometimes feel the trainer doesn’t respond to the on screen slope in time. This has got to cost some advantage if you are running a higher difficulty,

No. …and yes.
For the races, if you would like to stay in the pack (any pack…) you will be forced to change gears.
Go and try it yourself with 0% and make 3-4 races and you’ll see that you’ll be forced to change gears (but in reverse direction) in order to stay in the pack - actually you will have sort of artificial smart trainer behavior due to the dynamics of the pack.
The one-gear option could be realized during a solo ride…- but we are not speaking here about how the rider decides to ride during his solo…
On that basis, I’m proposing just go and test the 0% during any race by trying to stay in the pack.
p.s. all that above being sad not in order to advocate 0% difficulty race riding or 100% difficulty race riding, but first understand the whole settings vs virtual and real physics vs in-ride group behavior vs trainers differences (including different incline support) vs actual reality prior of changing anything at all.


Multiple posters have mentioned what I think would be a pretty workable experiment:

  • give race organizers the option to control trainer difficulty settings.

    I think it would be interesting to see what would happen. Maybe certain settings would become popular, maybe the majority of zwifters would find it uninteresting… or maybe difficulty settings really don’t end up affecting outcomes that much. the only thing that would happen for sure is that we would learn something.
    I feel this experiment could be pretty valuable especially if you think there is going to be growth in e-sports.


First you will need to limit the type of trainer because a dumb trainer with power meter effectively has 0%. Then you have to limit all wheel on trainers because they can not simulate 15% grades. Then you have to pic a brand and model of trainer because they all see 100% as something different.

Then you are left with a few racers that don’t want to race up the epic KOM.

You should also inspect their bikes that they don’t cheat and use triple cranksets with 11-34 casettes.

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Hi Gerrie,
so are you saying I’m cheating if I put a triple crankset and 11-34 on my S-works?

(Well if I had a triple and an 11-34… oh, and an S-works) :slightly_smiling_face:

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LOL, only if they force us to 100%.

A triple on a S-works :thinking: :sob:

Depends on the results you’d like to see. I think you’d see plenty of interesting results without doing any of the things you specified. Also no one is “forcing” anyone to do anything in the hypothetical scenario I mentioned.

I thought you suggested Race organizers should control trainer difficulty, isn’t that forcing racers to do something.