Road bike with smart trainer vs. dedicated 'spin bike'

Hey Zwift friends,

I currently use my own road bike with shoes/pedals with a TACX vortex smart. Part of me is considering buying a dedicated spin bike for winter indoor riding - something like a Schwinn IC4 (or similar)…

Am I crazy?

It’s not that I have issues with the vortex smart, or feel limited by it…but I am just latching onto this idea of have a specific spin bike for indoor riding. I am sure there are many people who think that using your own specific bike (with specific fit) would be vastly superior to a spin bike.

Any thoughts?

If you want that indoor-bike for Zwift, forget about spin-bikes.
Get a Wahoo Kickr Bike, a Stages SB20 or the Tacx Neo Bike.
These three are the only indoor-bikes fully compatible with zwift.
It’s cheaper to get a good, solid direct drive trainer like Kickr Core, Elite Direto, Saris H3 or Tacx Neo 2T.

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Assuming Zwift fully controls a spin bike what are the reasons not to use a spin bike?

Zwift doesn’t control a spin bike, you have to do that manually.

Either dedicated smart bike Like Tacx or s smart trainer is the way to go a spin bike is just that with resistance only added when you want it. ideal for Peleton but not Zwift

I think they are a couple of spin/smart bikes that do or at least say they control resistance within Zwift. Zbike (former Bkool) and the Bodytone SMB1

The Bodytone looks like a hybrid…manual or auto control. It may work but I did not see any specs to the power meter. And no reviews on the site I looked at. I know this has not shown on DCRainmaker and I do not recall anything by GPlama. Without a review from one of them, or someone like them, I would not touch with a 10-foot pole. And at that cost, I would pay a bit more for the Stages bike.

I could not find the Zbike…you have links? As far as I know, BKool got out of the hardware business and only does software now.

Not allowed links, but search for zycle zbike

And bodytone smb1 v1 or v2

I have a v1 on order, it’s not ideal, although Zwift will control resistance as a rider you can’t, i.e. no gears. The v2 I have been told you will be able to change resistance while riding, buit it not available until march/April. The price is very interesting.

Cost more than the Bodytone…

Unless someone known reviews either of these and says it works, I would stick with the Stages. Happy to be wrong but that is a lot of cash on unknown quality.

Well I will let people know how the bodytone SMB v1 works as I have one on order . I not going for ultra realistic, I just need it for exercise and a bit of fun.

The Bodytone SMB v1 cost me £725, the stages sb20 is £2800, quite a big difference in price.

Quite a few issues on this forum about getting spin bikes to work. Just because they claim compatibility does not make it so. I hope it works out.

sorry about the pricing for the Stages…for some reason I thought it was $2K - $2.2K…Maybe it came out at that price and demand has driven it up.

I read that several high end spin bike have some level of compatibility with cycling apps, like Zwift. Somewhat told me that for extra money one can get an interface to Zwift on Peloton, and I think I read that top of the line Schwinn also has some ability to communicate with Zwift. Since there is absolutely no way how cycling apps can control resistance of a spin bike (in all spin bikes resistance control is mechanical, with a single red handle on the frame), you would not be able to do workouts in Zwift in ERG or Level mode - you would have to adjust resistance manually to reach target power. It is an open question if you would be able to use other cycling apps, like SUF or Rouvy, I never saw a statement that they are supported by spin bikes manufacturers. Well, I do not even know how Zwift will like a trainer which cannot be connected as controllable! I do not know if it will be able to pick up cadence, either.

This means, you most likely would have to forget about Zwift and subscribe to Peloton (their program can in principle be used with any spin bike, although without power data) and do their simulated spinning classes. This is a good workout, but it is a different experience.

Your question is half way to a question if you should sell your TACX and buy a treadmill. :slight_smile: Road / MTB biking simulation and spin bike are quite different ways of exercising. None of them is better than the other. It is up to your preferences.

I would imagine a cheap bike might be cheaper than a decent new spin bike. I built a broken frame into a trainer-only bike and I love not having to put my regular road bike on and off the trainer in the shoulder seasons when I ride outside and still zwift a lot.

Hey, I’ve got the smb1 v1 and I’ve had the following experience: The sales pages say: “The bicycle connected to cycling simulator apps such as ZWIFT or Bkool can automatically adjust the resistance depending on the selected route, you can also change the resistance manually and have full control of the exercise.”

That means exactly that.

The resistance is only regulated automatically on the route on a free ride. This is based on the slope of the route. The sensitivity can, however, also be regulated to be easier or harder.

In a workout, the resistance to be pedaled does not automatically adjust to my cadence. I have to manually adjust the resistance here to balance the cadence and watt.

I do not have a solution for this yet. Maybe there is one. Would be nice if someone knows someone who knows something :slight_smile:

I did see a Spanish video setting the smb1 v1 up with zwift, do a youtube search, have no idea if the videphelps as I don’t speak Spanish.

I’m sure this will be of no help, I did contact bodytone and asked then what the difference was between v1 and v2 bikes, they said both worked with zwift and automatically changed resistance, but with v1 you could not change gear/resistance when riding but could with v2.

I did have a v1 on order, but the company supplying it cancelled my order, I’m now waiting of feedback on the v1 and v2 (v2 will ship mid April i was told)


How did you get on with the SMB1?

I picked up one of the inxide XS08’s its a spinning bike with magnetic resistance the same as the bodytone (smb1) the controlled resistance is a little odd though when riding in zwift and rouvy doesn’t seem to be able to control the resistance, I found in zwift I can average higher and more stable power out put when setting it to manual controls, using the controlled option the bike seemed to be way too low geared in the flats and too difficult on the hills, EGR mode is different again, that seems to be a better balance.

The Inxide XS08 actually shows up as an SMB1 IN zwift and rouvy, they do look similar as well, just the flywheel difference 22kg bs 24kg really.

I’ve a V2 i only ride 2 times on zwift but until know it works fine…

There are a million ways to Zwift and it is amazing to see how others get it done.
That said, Zwift was developed for a bike on a trainer and the farther you get from that, the more issues people seem to have.
Enough money and ingenuity seem to work wonders.

Sadly it doesn’t seem to work properly for me,

I got a replacement unit of the smb1 after the first one was doa.

The replacement does react to gradient changes but adjust e.g. shifting doesn’t work. The bike adjust for a second but immediately goes back to whatever data is being sent by the app.

Weirdly enough in bkool you can adjust as long as you are on an incline, but on a flat you seem to be stuck on the easiest resistance.

Customer care isn’t helping, takes days to respond and generally doesn’t seem to have a clue about their machines.

I would not recommend getting the smb1 for zwift, or at all.

P.S. i have the v2

I’m pretty new to Zwift but having just received my Bodytone SMB1 V2 it seems to be working out of the box.

I am getting speeds and distances that are comparable to my road cycling.

The resistance seems to be being controlled correctly.

You could try this app. I contacted him and he has added the SMB1 but its only in the beta version at the moment.

As I said, I haven’t needed to use it for Zwift, but will for other apps and just recording a workout to add to Garmin.