Power Meter vs stationary meter. What to buy for the non-racing Zwifter

Hello fellow Zwift fans. Today I am posting a question about the benefit of a power meter vs a smart trainer. 

I do not race outdoors but love cycling. I enjoy CX, mountain biking, and riding on the road. I bike to work 7 months of the year and I use Zwift to help maintain fitness like many during the winter. Currently I am using a supported classic trainer, TacX Blue Twist.  This trainer challenges me but Zwift has a built in cap for it of about 350 watts, which I find limiting during things like sprint segments and attempting to keep up at the start of a race.  I do like the idea of having a smart trainer change gradients with the game, but I also do not have a problem going up a few gears to make sure I’m challenged during the climbs.

I would like to  get into the Zwift racing scene a bit more but its not something I plan on doing often. I see the benefits of both options, owning a power meter and using a dumb trainor vs a smart trainer. Has anyone else found themselves at this cross roads? What was your experince?

Difficult one Michael. What is your budget?

Well, I am very open to both options. I am not opposed to setting aside some $ over the next couple of months for the smart trainer, however I am torn on whether I’ll maximize its capabilities since I do not see myself commuting to work and back, then hopping onto an indoor trainer to continue riding inside when I am already outside. No matter what its a win with either option but such a tough call. 

i was in a similar situation like you and then decided to get a powermeter.

having a power meter allows you do ride indoors as well as outdoors. a smart trainer doesn’t. make sure to get power pedals to switch them between bikes if you consider riding road and mountainbike (like i do). i bought favero assioma pedals which are a bit cheaper than garmin vector 3 or power tap pedals and i ride on a dumb trainer indoors regularly. the fact that i need to change gearing or resistance of the trainer manually to simulate hills doesn’t bother me. switching pedals between bikes is a matter of seconds really. power accuracy is also better when using power meters, at least compared to the cheaper smart trainer models.

for detailed reviews on power meters and smart trainers (and any other bike related tech) look at : www.dcrainmaker.com

so, my conclusion was that a powermeter is actually less expensive, more versatile and more accurate.


If you ride a lot outdoors - commuting counts! - then I’d go down the fluid trainer & powermeter route.

Only downside of course is the lack of smart responsiveness in the trainer, but hey, that’s what gears are for!! Just mimic the slope with a few larger gears.

Benefit is being able to monitor the outdoor rides.

Worse thing to do is to get a ‘cheap’ smart trainer such as some lower end wheel-on ones. Save up for a direto as a minimum baseline.