Ride doesn't feel as real as FulGaz?

We use a Wahoo Kickr Bike with 3 different riders in my household. We use an AppleTV (latest).

I’m the only person using Zwift due to how unnatural the ascents and descents feel in Zwift compared to FulGaz. FulGaz feels like it does when riding outside. Grades feel accurate. It takes all of the chainrings, and all of the gears. When the grade is 20%, we can barely get up it, just like real life.

Why then am I riding a 10% grade in Zwift in my big chainring and halfway in my cassette? Is it in ERG mode? When I changed the difficulty slider, it still felt unnatural. I notice I am just going slow up the hill, but the resistance doesn’t feel like it.

Am I missing something basic here? Or is this just how Zwift feels? Is there a way to make it feel more realistic? What happens in racing then if people are making the grades easier, and can pedal down the descents?

I haven’t ridden on FulGaz to compare, but it sounds like there’s something wrong with your setup regarding climbing.

Sure, descending in Zwift doesn’t feel like real life, but that was a deliberate design decision from Zwift and personally I’m fine with that.

You shouldn’t be able to easily ride up a 20% gradient in Zwift though. Kickr bike users may be able to tell you more.

I have noticed same thing. I have Elite Drivo2 trainer and ascents on Zwift hits much harder my leg than ascents in real life ride outdoors. I have decreased trainer difficulty to 75% to make climbs and flats feel more natural. I have compared what gears i use when i ride outdoors and done comparison what gears i am using on Zwift when i ride flat and when i’m climb ascents and that 75% seems to feel closes i can get with my trainer. I have ride with Bkool sim as well and it feels different than Zwift, can’t say yet is it better, it just feels different.

Thanks for the reply.

I find that I can race to the top of the volcano in my second chainring in Zwift, while I would be in my 1:1 wishing for more in FulGaz. Grades also feel correct in Garmin’s Tacx’s app. This semi-erg mode seems to only occur in Zwift, and I’m getting the impression this is normal?

It’s not normal. I can barely get up a 20% slope in Zwift with my Trainer Difficulty set to around 75%. I have an Elite Direto XR so it can simulate steep gradients. I feel that this is realistic compared to how I perform on real-life steep gradients (which is poorly because my legs are not strong).

Thats so good to hear - There’s hope! I will get on the support line tomorrow and see if there is some setting that is wrong somewhere, as I just can’t imagine that this many people would be happy riding something that feels so fake to us.

I will check back in to update the thread when I learn more. Thanks!

Just a question : is your weight accurately set in Zwift ? Because in sim mode (when gradients are simulated) your trainer use the given user weight to compute the resistance to put.
The same trainer will not provide the same resistance at 10% for a 50kg rider than for a 80kg rider.

Check that you pair the trainer as power and controllable. if you use ANT+ then use the FE-c option.

Confirm that nothing else is connected to the trainer like some other software that may try to control the trainer.

Yes. I have lost 75lbs since the first of the year, so I am weighing in daily and making sure that everything matches, including my Strava.

Thanks Gerrie. It uses bluetooth with an AppleTV. It appears to connect properly, and only one app at a time can be used via the AppleTV as it is limited on bluetooth connections.

Out of curiosity, have you tried force-quitting the Zwift app on ATV and restarting (as well as making sure you are on the latest version)? I use both Zwift and FulGaz on ATV (though with a Neo 2, not a Kickr Bike) and find the resistance on climbs to be pretty close to each other (as long as I have the trainer difficulty set to 100% in both). As for descents, I know Zwift halves the gradient in determining resistance, but I can’t really speak to how this is handled on FulGaz, since all the rides I have done with a climb just end at the top and you don’t get to do the descent. On minor descents, though, it seems reasonably realistic, which the exception of tighter corners, which ‘suffer’ the same issue as Zwift: no braking!

Thanks for your suggestion Nigel. Its good to hear from a user that uses both apps.

After a few more hours of research, it seems apparent that Zwift is a game using a complex algorithm that makes this conversation messy. So any aspects are calculated - kind of like a facebook feed. Many users appear to be unhappy with its realism - yet SO many use it. I think I must agree with my room-mates. It feels pretty fake riding in Zwift, even though the power numbers seem good. Maybe its the old school 3d world that reinforces this feeling?

I tried to contact support, but was left (chat) for 15 minutes with no response.

The beauty of cycling is much more than just watts. Its the ebb and the flow. The attack and the recovery. The choice of the right gears. Making it to the top of the hill, and getting a rest for a few moments when you start your descent. I want to use all my skills. I don’t care for ERG mode, it makes me feel like I am on a gerbil wheel. I have to say Fulgaz has nailed this aspect of realism.

Yet we are always alone, just us and the road ahead. Hey, isn’t that like Real Life?

I will do a ride today at 100% with some steep climbs and drops, or maybe the rolling hills of “sand and sequoias”. It’s hard to imagine that moving this slider doesn’t affect how many matches are burnt, lactic acid build up, heart rate increase etc. If this is adjustable by anyone, how is this fair in a race?

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The difficulty slide does not make it easier or harder (insert can of worms here)

The slider only make you use more or less gears.

This is a crude table to give an idea of how it is understood.
0% - For a Single speed bike
50% - For a bike with 48/28 gears
100% - for a bike with 34/32 gears

I am not attempting the alpe de Zwift at 100% with a 48/28 :scream: :face_vomiting:


I just heard back from Zwift Support, and they sent me to an article at ZwiftInsider, (which I can’t seem to included in this post) which explains that it is designed this way. It’s not about being realistic, or a simulator like FulGaz. It’s a game with a bunch of computations and algorithms. Thanks for the info!

Molly, I’m a Wahoo Kickr bike user and have trainer difficulty set at the default 50%. Zwift has been on and off in terms of adjusting gradient on the bike itself depending upon which update is currently in play, however i can’t climb gradients higher than 7% for any length of time without dropping to the small chainring! Alpe du Zwift is 1:1 or 1:2 when you hit the 17% section. I’m 92kgs but that shouldn’t matter as long as you’ve told Zwift your correct weight.

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I think the real issue here is I have not attempted to climb the Alpe du Zwift! I must attempt to take the mountain! (And see what it’s like at different settings)

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Go, take the mountain, Molly!
(But I’d strongly advise you to do it after this weekend, as the current Hallowe’en graphics with perpetual night means you don’t get the same visual experience… although the Northern Lights at the top are quite beautiful.)

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I wanted to check back in and leave a breadcrumb for new users who may be experiencing the same issue.

I kicked the difficulty up to 100% yesterday, and rode some mountains with big grades. This is what I noticed:

  1. The grades and gear choices felt much more realistic.
  2. The Kickr Bike inclined more noticibly which added to the simulation.
  3. I’m stronger than I was, and I still used my second chain ring.
  4. Downhill I had some momentum, which was missing.

I think at 100%, the ride realism is “good enough for molly” and I look forward to continue my Zwift journey this winter. Thanks for all the help everyone!