MTB vs Road bike power

When I ride Zwift on my full suspension MTB with full lockout and high pressure in shock and fork I still feel like I’m losing 10-15 W for long efforts compared to when I use the same setup (Wahoo Kickr V5) with my road bike. Does anyone else feel like this is true?

Hi Felix, When I put my MTB on my Wahoo Kickr, the biggest difference I notice is the gearing. While it doesn’t make much difference going uphill, I find it harder to keep up on the downhills and even the flats; I need more resistance to put out higher watts. Could the gearing be part of your issue?


Hello @Felix_Silver1 and welcome to the forums!

I would venture a guess that your road bike and MTB are not really “the same setup”, you may be using the same trainer, but the gearing is different I’m sure. The MTB most likely has a smaller chain ring than the road bike, so the difference should be quite noticeable.

Raise the Trainer Difficulty slider to 100% in the settings window. It is essentially gearing and will give you a higher (numerically) gear for descending. MTB’s have too much low gear for Zwift.

For folks that want to use a MTB on Zwift, to race or group ride, (not ideal by any measure) I think you would want the smallest cassette ,with a narrow range , on the trainer and probably a shorter chain that you use just in doors.
Still, I don’t see how you will overcome a chain ring of 35 or less compared to a 52.
Workouts in ERG you will be fine.

Trainer difficulty is not gearing…its gradient simulation - i.e. makes no difference on the flats.

In fact, Zwift only applies 50% of the virtual gradient on the declines - which is further reduced when TD is is reduced - i.e. increasing trainer difficulty means you are more likely to spin out on a decent.

Fully agree! I ride on an old MTB set up permanently on my trainer. Have to take DOWN realism not to spin out on flats, let alone downhills. Pretty sure there’s an article about that as well on ZI.