Newbie Asks : Should I Get a Smart Trainer for Zwift???

Newbie question here.

I’m in the market to buy myself my first trainer and I’d like something that works well with Zwift.

My question is - will I be happy with the Zwift/classic trainer combination? (note: I *do* have a power meter)

Or is the Zwift experience just so much better with a smart trainer? 

I guess it’s not clear to me how a classic trainer can realistically simulate hills without the ability to control the resistance.

We can get the Tacx Vortex for under $400 here in the US now so I’m tempted to splurge. But that’s still twice what I’d pay for a good “dumb” trainer like a KKRM.


Get a Vortex Smart. SO (!) much more fun.

A regular trainer does not simulate hills. It will estimate what your speed would be given the amount of power you are putting out.

If you have the money, and you want to seriously improve over the winter, I would get a smart trainer.

I just got a kickr and in Simulation mode it spins out on fast descents, I.e., wind resistance is not correctly reflected back as trainer resistance.  That can be a problem if you race in zwift.  While I like the option of having the smart trainer capable of sim mode, I hardly ever use it in zwift since I’m training to hold power, but not to have to switch gears constantly for incline changes because I’m usually trying to multitask.  Maybe you find realistic gear shifting enjoyable.  Plus erg mode on smart trainers can be really useful.

Without the changing of resistance it’s just like riding any other trainer application and with the inherent boredom that can come with it. Throw in the resistance means you have to keep changing gear and cadence to match the terrain, so the level of engagement is just the same as riding outside.

I would recomend getting a Smart trainer for Zwift and even if not for Zwift as this will give you many more options in the coming years

Get the Vortex Smart. It gives a extra dimension to the simulation. Also with the Vortex I don’t have the problemen it spins out on decents, btw when I go down hill irl with 60+ kph I spin out, so why not in Zwift. Never encountered any problems in  races in the descents, I’ve got more problems on the ascents :wink: I have the habit to race on max difficulty, I like the shifting


Highly recommend getting a smart trainer - it is just way more fun. I picked up a Tacx Vortex Smart T2180 in October and love it - I used to avoid turbo training, only doing the minimum time that I had to and now I actually go for extra indoor rides just for fun (sick eh?). 

I think the Tacx Vortex Smart is a good bet. In Canada it is the cheapest fully controlled smart training on the market (Warning - it must be a Vortex  SMART  - an i-Vortex, Smart Genius, etc, just doesn’t work well with Zwift). You could easily spend $1000 more on a Wahoo Kickr or a Tacx Neo and you would get a better, quieter training experience, but for me it wasn’t worth the extra cash. 

I have a lemond revolution. The wahoo kickr copied the system, but added all the electronic bells and whistles. You will have to use the zpower, and its calibrated. Its not like trying to spin on rollers or the standard wheel-in trainer. 

You’ll save half the money, but have to put up with the bleatings of the ‘real power’ people.

I personally have retired 2 dumb trainers for 2 smart. Vortex and Computrainer. Oddly I prefer the Vortex. The retired trainers are a KK Road and Cycle-Ops Fluid2. My guess is some people buy a dumb trainer to save $ and end up upgrading to a Smart. I would take the hit upfront and buy a Vortex Smart

I have never personally owned ANY trainer only messed around at the gym on a stationary bike and a set of rollers for about an hour (not as hard as I thought it would be) so I pretty much knew I wanted something nice that would simulate the real road feel so I took a huge hit (for my lil wallet lol) and baought a wahoo kicker snap and it was well worth the extra hundreds of dollars I didn’t want to just sit there and spin out this machine definetly keeps it interesting when you hit a 10 percent grade YOU WILL know it  

I have the Cycleops Powerbeam Pro and love it!  I think a smart trainer, if you can afford one, is the best way to go.  It makes the Zwift experience more real-world, in my opinion.  They cost much more than a “dumb” trainer, though, if you can’t afford a smart trainer, then a dumb one with ant+ speed and cadence and or power will at least get you going.

There are all kinds of dumb trainers. Not all are as simple as the wheel in the clamp. I have a lemond revolution. Its on the same tech type as the kickr, without the controllability. Its the control that makes it smart.


Its $700 and the Kickr is $1200. It’s not minor.