Road bike vs mtb

i come from a road racing background years ago and now do mtb exclusively. I’m new to zwift riding a top fuel 2021 on the kickr core. i use the mtb avatar. i understand the gearing differences between road and mtb but i’m curious if i were to choose a road bike avatar would my speed reflect in the virtual road rides?
If it does, can you have more than one bike in your zwift account or to you need to change that before ride, depending on where you are riding? thanks for any thoughts. owen

Riding a MTB in Zwift on the road does make you slower in game than a road bike for whatever wattage you’re producing. They do have a speed advantage on dirt and gravel, however.

You are also able to switch bikes mid ride. You need to be at a standstill, click the Menu button, and click the Garage. You should be able to switch your bike at that point.

1 Like

Also note that your MTB gearing is most likely much different than a standard road bike and you might find yourself “spinning out” on the flats in Zwift due to a lack of base resistance on the trainer and not having a large enough chain ring on your bike.

Check out for many posts and articles about the speed of different frames and wheels in Zwift, you can probably find the answer to almost all your questions using the Zwiftinsider search tool on the website.

Hi Owen, welcome to forums.
I mountain bike too but not on Zwift.

Zwift is designed for an indoor trainer and indoor trainers are designed for road bikes.
So, your set up should be some kind of bike that is anything but a MTB.
Your bike frame is just the game controller that allows you to generate a source of power.

Your in game avatar can be on any bike in the game.

In the game, you can ride any bike on any surface but almost all workouts are geared to road riding thus, most MTB riders will be developing base fitness.

You can perform MTB specific drills.
These would consist of short duration but very high intensity intervals (VO2 max and neuromuscular) that should be performed out of the saddle and lots of resistance
That’s why we have those gears on our MTB.
I really don’t see what I would call a MTB specific workout in Zwift.

Not exactly sure what you mean by this. But you can change bikes, you just have to be on the Zwift homescreen or in the game (go to Garage/drop shop to find bikes). There are MTB frames on Zwift, though like in real life they’ll be really slow on non-dirt surfaces. They are scattered throughout the various brands, you just have to find them. The fastest for both climbing and flats is the Scott Spark RC World Cup, with the Trek Supercaliber close behind. :mountain_biking_man:
You might find this interesting: Speed Tests: Learn How Zwift’s Mountain Bikes Perform | Zwift Insider

You definitely can put an MTB on a trainer (granny gear up Radio Tower would be so nice and steady!), though what @Mike_Rowe1 said is probably true about lack of base resistance (I have no idea myself, but it sounds logical :slightly_smiling_face:). As for using an IRL MTB with a virtual road bike, I would just use the same kind of bike in Zwift that you use in real life, personally. I don’t really know if you’d go faster in Zwift with an IRL MTB and a virtual road bike than if you did IRL and virtual road bike.

great info. thank you. can i assume you have to get a certain # of pts to gain access to the brand of bikes?
I don’t see that available in my garage.
Also, is there a way to search out mtb trails. i stumbled upon “repack ridge” through a youtube vid which allows you to utilize the stearing control on the mtb. its pretty incredible but only limited to that section in zwift. it also allows me to utilize the full range of gears which somewhat simulates a mtb ride compared to riding on the road. Where can i find the “radio tower” ride?
Thank you for your help.

Thanks Tim, Thanks for the good info, but with all due respect I guess you’ve never been to a world class mtb event or mtb race in general? They are all riding on smart trainers with there mtb’s before races and I know many who train on zwift with there mtb’s. I also ride on the wahoo core and they specifically make adapters to fit the boost width of the rear axle for the mtb. When your riding in ergo, the gearing is irrelevant.

This website will help you understand which bikes you can afford and how they perform on various routes:

That’s the only MTB trail in the game. There are some gravel routes such as Jungle Circuit, Sea To Tree, Valley To Mountaintop. ZwiftMap will show you the amount of each surface type for a given route.

It’s at the top of the Epic KOM / Epic KOM Reverse segment. Mountain 8 is a route that goes there.

To get more resistance out of the trainer without changing the gearing on your bike, there are two things you could try. First you can control the trainer from the Wahoo app or a Wahoo head unit instead of having Zwift control it. Using the Wahoo app you can adjust the resistance to be greater. Second, you can use the QZ app ( to increase the resistance. Your trainer may not be supported by QZ yet but if it isn’t, the developer is very quick to add new trainers if you file an issue on the GitHub page and provide the necessary details about the trainer.

Yes, there are XP levels to unlock frames, and then amounts of drops to buy the ones you want. Zwift Insider is all-knowing as to these things, would definitely recommend searching the site:

Speed Tests: Learn How Zwift’s Mountain Bikes Perform | Zwift Insider

Further explanation:
Drops: How to Purchase Bike Frames and Wheels from Zwift’s Drop Shop | Zwift Insider
XP levels: XP, Levels, and Unlocks for Zwift Cyclists | Zwift Insider

To get to Repack Ridge, choose Muir and the Mountain or Dust in the Wind. You also must have a phone (running Zwift Companion) mounted to your bars (for steering). Eventually, there will be a turnoff right before you start the Titans Grove KOM.
The only other MTB-oriented places in Zwift are Jungle Loop area in Watopia and the Kappa Quest area in Makuri Islands (each are a loop with a few connectors in the middle). These areas are covered in dirt surface, where MTB/gravel bikes roll easier than road bikes (though gravel bikes w/ name-brand wheels are faster than heavy MTBs).
I’m glad someone else wants to use an MTB on Zwift as much as I do! :ride_on: