Recommending Zwift to Non Cyclist Friend?

Hi Everyone,

Kind of a question and a bit of a vent here. First of all, I do love being able to Zwift and don’t want to complain too much. The value of being able to ride indoors and keep training even though I can’t go to the gym now is great for me. All had been well until the update at the end of October when my HRM stopped being able to cooperate and send a signal through the companion app, which I need to get everything hooked to the AppleTV.

After a few months of just pairing my HRM to my Edge 520 so I can see my heart rate, I would love to have the ability to record my heart rate on Zwift for upload to Strava, so I can take advantage of the new information available there since my husband gave me a full subscription to that for Christmas. I can also surprisingly foresee possibly wanting to try racing someday :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

So I did some more research and decided to get the 4iiii Viiiiva HRM that would bridge with my cadence to the Apple TV. After some initial pairing difficulty, I got it working. Unfortunately when I went to actually ride, the cadence shows up, but will not go over 61 rpm - no matter how fast I pedal. I’ve been in touch with 4iiii and have done all of the troubleshooting. I was even going to see whether it would give an accurate readout if I used my laptop instead, but after spending this whole morning on that, I can’t even get past the part where the little squirrel shakes his stick at me and says that my bluetooth is not on (it is).

I would dearly love to recommend Zwift to a friend of mine. She and I used to go to the gym regularly together and I would love to have the chance to meet up safely and work out and chat together. She would have to buy the whole setup though, including a compatible bicycle. And I would feel terrible recommending the rather sizeable investment since it appears that there is no way to guarantee that it will actually work. Am I seeing this too pessimistically right now? Have you recommended Zwift to friends and had it work out well? My friend has two bicycles of the style known in Germany at least as City Bikes. Lights, luggage rack, fenders etc - not really designed for athletic cycling. Where would I start if I wanted to recommend Zwift and indoor training?

I did. I recommended indoor cycling and Zwift to my school friend, who now lives on the East Coast. I think the key to success is (a) buy a higher end, brand name equipment [he bought a Wahoo KICKR attachment for his bike], and (b) explain to them what they need, i.e., a good fan or two, ANT+ dongle, and a computer with specs which meet Zwift requirements, plus a big screen - a large monitor or better yet a TV.

He loves it so much that he recently bought a Wahoo trainer as a birthday present for his cycling friend!

Zwift in general is stable and robust. I get a feeling that the majority of problems reported on forum are related not to the Zwift program per se, but to issues with computers on which users attempt to run Zwift (like, lacking or outdated drivers, as an example), old firmware on the trainers, or sensors which do not meet the latest requirements for connection protocol. ANT+ seems to be working better than bluetooth, which is a good reason to stay away from Apple portable devices if one can.

A road to failure, in my opinion, is to try to run Zwift on a phone without external monitor and use low grade hardware (I am talking about the trainer and sensors).

A road to long searches on the internet to figure out how to make things work starts with using smart watches as heart rate monitors (connecting those are quite tricky). I saw many posts of owners who struggle with that, at least until they figure it out.

Trainers like Wahoo Kickr can be used with pretty much any bike. KICKR comes with 11 speed cassette (which can be replaced), KICKR Core does not include a cassette, one should buy their own to match derailleur on their bike. Difficulty slider in Zwift enables one to successfully use literally use any bike, even single speed. Fully integrated trainers, like Wahoo Kickr Bike, do not require a bike at all, and by the way, they make an excellent do-it-yourself-at-home bike fitting device, but they are quite a bit more expensive.


To add to it, I can recommend this book:

It covers all the basics of indoor cycling, from selection of equipment to how to set everything up to how to train. It is written by very experienced cycling coaches.

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Hi @Andrei_Istratov ,

Thank you so much for your answer! I think I’ll call Wahoo tomorrow and just ask them what they would recommend. I had hoped her bike would be compatible with a Kickr Snap because we have two of those and my husband prefers to ride outside mostly anyway, so I could lend her that to see if she enjoys it. And I have an extra HRM so she could have that. I am perplexed by the indication on their website that the Snap supports practically every wheel size except 28 inch, which is the size she has. Also her wheel looks like it’s just bolted on, so I am not sure whether there is something super tricky about the axels.

I will have to ask whether her bike would work on the Kicker Core…

Thanks for the book recommendation! I will go have a look at that.


Beth, I can add one more consideration to what I wrote above. This thought came to me only after I hit the “reply” button. This is the question of motivation. There is a bike trainer, like attachment to a real bike or full-size bike trainer which emulates a road bike, and there are spin bikes. Both are great for workouts - non impact, smaller than treadmills, very safe (it is very hard to fall off those). Spin bikes are oftentimes more comfortable (you know, large seats, upright position, etc.) and are good for sweating for half an hour. Real bikes are oftentimes less comfortable. In order to enjoy a real bike in Zwift, one should like cycling and preferably have a goal - ride further in summer, make a long ride which one always wanted to make, be able to ride with friends who ride faster, etc. Zwift, due to its gaming element, stimulates one to continue exercising, but an external goal makes the desire to get on the bike every day even stronger.

If general fitness is all that is desired, spin bikes will do. But they either will not work with Zwift at all, or will only partly work. For spin bikes, subscription to Peloton app is the way to go. Spin bikes are cheaper, too.

Not trying to discourage you, just bringing up the motivational side of things.

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Hi Andrei,

Thanks for your thoughts on this! I will talk to my friend about it and see what she says. I do think that she would like Zwift as she enjoys immersive games and also fitness games. Your point about the external motivation and bike comfort of a spin bike vs road bike are well taken and important. Selfishly, I would love to have her join me on Zwift though… I really appreciate your insights.

Ride On!

This is the sort of situation where your friend ideally needs to be able to try it properly to see if it’s for them. Could you let her try or borrow your set-up at all (assuming covid restrictions don’t prevent this)?

If I was starting out from nothing then I would be tempted to look at the smart bikes from Wahoo/Wattbike/Stages/Tacx etc. They’re expensive but they also hold their value well if you want to sell them on should it not work out. They would also just work with the minimum of fuss.

Your friend probably already has a device that can run Zwift (phone/tablet/pc/mac/apple tv) so a smart bike and fan would be enough to start with.

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I recommend Zwift to friends all the time. Well, at least the few who are not already using it! For me, I think the easiest setup available, though certainly not the cheapest, is to start with an Apple TV and then get a HRM that broadcast in Bluetooth (I use a Garmin Dual) as well as a wheel-off trainer that will broadcast power AND cadence. With this setup the user gets all of the available information within the two Bluetooth connections available with the ATV. For me, this setup has worked flawlessly, and since I hardwired it to my network (was on WiFi for over a year) the speed has been great.

Clearly this setup might not work for everyone due to space or money or other constraints, but the setup is really straightforward and ‘it just works’. Yes, I know some people may have had a different experience, but I do think that this is likely the most ‘bulletproof’ setup. And while it would be great to have better graphics available, I’ll gladly sacrifice that for the ease of use.

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Hi @Sandy_Thomson ,

It just dawned on me that I do have what she needs to try this! My son is off at college and his bike is in the garage (a hybrid bike that would work on the wheel on trainer). I can lend her the bike (assuming the fit is ok - but she is a lot taller than I am, so it might work), our 2nd Kickr Snap, and a heart rate monitor. Thanks for your idea about the smart bike - I wouldn’t have thought about the resale value being pretty high, but you are probably right about that.

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Hi @Nigel_Tufnel ,

I would love to be able to recommend a setup that “just works”! That would be my ideal… Do you have a trainer recommendation? We are using Wahoo, so I called them today and got info about their Kickr and Kickr Core.

Is it difficult to hardwire it to your network? What does that entail? Thanks for your thoughts and help!

Well, I use a Tacx Neo 2, but I would think that any wheel-off trainer that broadcasts both power and cadence would suffice, and allow entry at a lower price point. (Of course, though, wheel-off trainers generally start at a higher price point than wheel-on trainers.) The Kickr and Kickr Core both do power and cadence, I’m pretty sure, as to the Flux trainers from Tacx. the Elite Direto and Suito, and Saris H3 (and probably some others).

As for hardwiring to the network: very easy. It just requires a cable that is long enough to reach from the router (or available ethernet port, if the house is wired for that) to the ATV. (WiFi works well, also, but may require the the router be set to broadcast on a specific channel, which is also easy to set up.)

Of course, it also helps if there is a dedicated space available so that you don’t regularly have to set up and tear down your ‘Zwifting Operation’. (I have mine set up in the basement, which is really only used for exercise.) And if you end up with a wheel-off trainer you’ll want to be sure that it can work with the same number of cassette cogs that the bike has.

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Beth I use a Kinetic Road Machine 1 with an inRide sensor on the trainer. My wife has a newer Kinetic trainer, it came with the sensor. I have a Cannondale Six13 sitting on the trainer with a std crank set. I use my iPhone 8 running Zwift. The iPhone is connected to a 42" diagnonal LCD TV using an HDMI cord and an Apple two way splitter. The splitter plugs into the iPhone, and the pig tail has two ports, one for a USB charging cord and the other for the HDMI cord. I use a Kinetic HRM and together I get cadence, power and heart rate. Works great. Had no issue setting it up just make sure blue tooth is turned on on your phone.


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