Power meter with dumb trainer or smart trainer?

Hi Zwifters,

My current setup for ZWIFT is a road bike fitted with a power meter + fluid trainer.

Do you guys see any benefit for me to get the smart trainer ie. Wahoo Kickr? 



Obviously the gearing would be different to simulate climbs on a dumb trainer, but would the amount of effort one puts differ on smart trainer vs dumb trainer?

The power you put out will be the same whether or not you have a dumb trainer or a smart trainer. It will still take x watts for y seconds to move a certain distance in Zwift. The only difference is that you might be able to spin 90rpm in the big ring on a dumb trainer, but on a Kickr you might be in your smaller gears averaging 70rpm up a virtual climb. When you have more resistance, you will need to put out more force to overcome this resistance, but your cadence can be lower to generate the same power. Essentially power = cadence * force. With a dumb trainer, you can pick your gears so that you can optimize your cadence, and then you can just stay with it or switch it up for sprints or recovery sections. With a smart trainer, it picks the resistance, so you are forced to switch gears or deal with a not-optimized cadence. This is a (likely) a poor explanation of how it technically works. I don’t have a smart trainer so I don’t know what it feels like. The main benefit is the more realistic feel of going up a hill or a little ease when drafting, not the fact that it makes it easier or harder in terms of power output.

That being said, it’s great that you have a power meter on your bike. I think it’s so much more important to have power out on the road than only having it on your trainer. This might be because I do around 95% of my riding outside, but I think it’s really important to have while racing also.

I guess my overall recommendation would be to consider the cost versus benefit. If you do a ton of riding inside and think that being able to feel the hills and drafting would make the experience much more enjoyable, then consider getting a smart trainer. If you do a lot of riding outside and use Zwift every once and a while or don’t have a very big budget, then you probably will be fine sticking with your current setup.

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6 rides a week, 5 on zwift. Perhaps its worth to consider a smart trainer. Ntl only when zwift is ready to support elite real turbo muin. Thats the only direct drive smart trainer the LBS carries. Thanks for the insight.

That’s a lot of riding on Zwift! You should definitely consider purchasing a smart trainer if you can afford one.

If your LBS doesn’t supply a certain item, maybe try asking if they can special order something for you. For example, one of my friends used to work at a primarily mountain bike shop, but he could order from a wide catalog that included road parts and even clothing. If that doesn’t work, there’s always the option to purchase online.

Yea. For sure. Thanks!