New to Zwift

Hi all. I am new here and using a classic trainer. The Jetfluid pro. I am not sure how immersive this can be using a classic trainer. I have only had my trainer a few weeks and I was somewhat aware of Zwift but didn’t think I could use it with a basic trainer. Now I am already considering sending it back in favor of a direct drive smart trainer. 

I guess my question is how you as a zpower user conducts yourself in a race or a group ride. For example when you get to a hill do you shift to your big ring and drop down on the cassette to make it more like a hill? What’s stopping me from dropping to the small ring and cranking up the rpm’s to blow by people? I don’t want to get all sucked in to this only to discover that using a classic trainer isn’t immersive enough to keep me interested. I have roughly a week to decide whether to keep the jetfluid or send it back. Thanks.

Send it back if you got the money  for smart trainer.   in Racing  rules not Tow gaps back,  and you get yell  at for doing so. no top  3 place in all groups  top 3 race WBR EVR +kiss (No zpower CVR you win trips around to place to race in IRL)

Using zPower, you change your gears and cadence as if you were on flat terrain. Zwift calculates your in-game speed as if you were on the course in-game, up hill, down hill, or flat. In your home, your screen display looks like you are immersed in-game. In your home, it feels like you are pedaling on a flat road. So, as you wrote, definitely less immersive.

We mostly use a direct drive smart trainer and are pleased with it. I can recommend it.

A different step up would be getting a power meter that you would use indoors and outdoors. A good power meter would reliably report your wattage to Zwift so your performance in races and group rides would be viewed as more trustworthy. 

A good power meter will be a step up indoors and outdoors. A good smart trainer will give you a more immersive experience indoors. If you are on Zwift a lot, I’d lean to the smart trainer. If you’re both inside and outside a lot, I’d think about the trade offs of a power meter versus a smart trainer.

 

Hi Nick,

I’ve been using Zwift with a classic “dumb” trainer with virtual power. It’s been a nice way to get my feet wet without spending a fortune. If you have your dumb trainer set up properly (proper tire pressure and resistance unit tension against your tire), it actually performs well in workouts and group rides. But as someone already mentioned, the power estimates are not considered accurate enough to allow you to place in the top three in races, so the most competitive people should opt for something more accurate. I’m planning to upgrade to something more accurate soon, but not in the direction of a smart trainer. Let me explain what I’ve reasoned to be the most suitable for me, and maybe others will agree…

As you already mentioned, the full potential of Zwift is realized when using a “resistance controlled” trainer, which adjusts the resistance you feel on the trainer to match the grade of the road. (Note that not all “smart” trainers are “resistance controlled” trainers. “Smart trainer” means that the trainer measures power and cadence, not necessarily that it can be controlled.) While resistance control might be a neat feature, and something I’d certainly like to try someday, I’m not sure that it enhances the experience all that much. Here’s why: When you hit a hill on a resistance controlled trainer, it gets harder to pedal, so most people shift down to get back to a cadence/power output that is manageable. If you don’t shift down, you either have to put out a bunch more power, or you cadence will drop to an inefficient level. In contrast, when you hit a hill with a dumb trainer, you don’t feel it so you can just stay at the same cadence/power output that is manageable—and you can always manually shift to harder and easier gears to vary the cadence/power profile of your ride. And to answer your question about blowing by people on hills by switching to an easy gear: remember it’s all based on the amount of power your putting to the pedals, not cadence. So you’ll notice that shifting to an easier gear and ramping up candence on the hills will oftentimes reduce your power output, and you’ll go slower. To launch up hills, you’ll actually find that shifting to a harder gear, and then trying to maintain a reasonable cadence (80-100 rpm) is most effective, but it’s hard! And it actually manually simulates what your peers on resistance controlled units are experiencing. Where you’ll find the biggest advantage to a “dumb” trainer is on the downhill—the resistance controlled trainers resistance drops so low that they have to shift to their hardest gear and they still struggle to put out any power. Meanwhile, you have plenty of resistance to push against, and you’ll be able to produce enough power to get flying down the hills.

My opinion is that the most important thing for a great Zwift experience is finding a setup that accurately measures power. Like I said before, the estimated power probably works okay if you have the bike set up properly on the “dumb trainer”, but nothing is as accurate as having a power-metered smart trainer or a physical power meter on the bike. Smart trainers (including the resistance controlled trainers) all measure power, but before I spend $400-600 on a cheap version of those, I think I’d rather get a power meter for my bike, because it’ll stay on my bike even when I’m not Zwifting. With a power meter, I can stick with my old dumb trainer, and I won’t have to use Zwift’s algorithms for power estimates—Zwift will read straight from the power meter.

So that’s my plan. I’m keeping my dumb trainer, and I just ordered Garmin Vector 3S pedals ($600) so that I can Zwift with some real power data that can stick with my bike, even when I ride outside (heaven forbid). Happy to update you on how the power meter pedals changes my Zwift experience once I unwrap them and install them on Christmas morning…

-Nick Adams

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Tough question Nick,

I’d agree with most of the other comments here but this is my experience.

I started using Zwift on a basic ‘dumb’ fluid driven turbo trainer with speed, cadence and heart rate devices. It worked well and it allowed me to get a good feel as to whether I would be subscribing to Zwift.

I did join and decided to go the route Nick Adams has commented about. I bought a pair of Powertap P1 pedals hooked 'em up to Zwift and was very happy with the results. As Nick A pointed out the pedals could be used on my ‘outdoor’ bikes and Zwift.

So, my problem. I’ve been cycling 40 or so years, I’ve also been a marathon skater plus a few other disciplines that all required good leg strength. I worked hard on gaining a lot of leg power, esp. leg torque.

After my pedal upgrade, I found the weak link with my sessions on Zwift was when I wanted to ‘explode’ torque on sprints. The tire/roller combo could not handle anything above 500 watts reliably.

To that after a year on Zwift I invested in a controllable smart trainer, the Wahoo Kickr direct drive. To keep the story short, the Kickr was everything I was looking for, total immersion and the ability to reliably push the watts on sprints.

I guess the question is going to come down to finance - as it usually does. <sigh>

Ride On!  

Thanks everyone. Very useful input. Placing in the top 3 is not a concern of mine. So maybe that’s less of a factor. I really wish I would have discovered zwift the day I got the trainer. It’s now crunch time for keeping or returning. Decisions decisions.

So I opted to get the Magnus trainer. I really wanted the Hammer but didn’t want to spend that much. But I wanted a step up so this is my happy medium.

I have a dumb trainer with power meter cranks on the bike. I’m pretty much exclusively using zwift for the workouts so having a smart trainer is not important at this moment. As someone has already noted having power measurement on the bike is an advantage when it comes to summer riding as you are able to directly compare your winter indoor efforts to your on the road efforts.

Horses for courses though. I can see the appeal of general riding with a smart trainer for the immersive experience.