Sell me on a smart trainer

Opinions wanted – I use a dumb trainer with a power meter that seems to work well

I do not plan to use Erg mode

I understand a smart trainer will simulate the game better – is that really worth it?

Will I be able to draft more consistently with a smart trainer ? Or perhaps might I be able to benefit from the draft more with a smart trainer?

Will there be less of a lag between power output & the game with a smart trainer?

It does seem in TTTs I have to maintain slightly higher consistent power than those I ride with.

Who can sell me on a smart trainer ? Thanks for the consideration

The increase in the feeling of realism on gradients will make it worth it. Smart trainers have come down enough in price not to make it a hugely expensive upgrade.

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This is not because of the trainer, power is power does not matter where it come from.


Definitely worth it. Check used for a high-end Direct Drive (kickr, neo, H3) or find one of the closeout H3’s. Do not mess with a tire on smart. They work but not quite as well as DD.

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Whether it’s worth it depends on you, the price you pay for your smart trainer and how much you value the most immersive experience. :wink:

I spent around £300 on my first smart trainer (a wheel-on one), then £1000 on my current smart trainer (direct drive). Both were worth it to me.

Possibly, but only because the trainer will react to the terrain so you’ll be more likely to naturally adjust your power along with those around who are also on smart trainers. With a dumb trainer, when the road goes up you will tend to maintain the same power; but Zwift will think you’re going up hill so it will slow you down in game. With a smart trainer, you’ll feel the increased resistance and naturally apply more power, keeping your speed higher.

On the flat, it won’t make any difference.

On downhills you might find you’re worse off, as the smart trainer will reduce the resistance meaning you need to consciously keep the power on. It’s one of the reasons many smart trainer racers use a trainer difficulty of 40-50% or so, as it helps level out the roads making it easier to maintain pace on descents, while still enabling the natural increased power on increased ascents.

I think this will vary and depend on the dumb and smart trainers in question. I’ve noticed less of a delay with my DD trainer than with my wheel-on one, but it’s 3 vs 4 seconds or so I think.

What a smart trainer will do is make the ride feel more varied. You’re not sitting at one resistance pumping out the same power all ride. Instead, you’ll have times where you need to apply more power, and others where you can apply less as the road goes up and down. (Alternatively you can turn trainer difficulty off and pretend you’re on a dumb trainer).

After riding with a smart trainer, there’s no way I could go back to a dumb one.


You will feel terrain gradients if you use the controller aspect, especially if used at 100% on a turbo that can simulate a steeper slope eg. the Saris H3 can simulate 20%…

Your power numbers may well drop by some margin, so after ~60 days max, you may well be able to race in a lower category.

But your power numbers should be more consistant on a direct drive turbo.

Thanks, great feedback

To put it simply, for me moving from a wheel-on smart trainer (old Kurt Kinetic) to a direct drive zwift-controllable trainer (H3) has made my trainer rides feel like I’m actually riding a bike. I love riding my bikes. I love the gradient changes that I have to respond to, occasionally being able to coast, having to shift, etc. And with my non-controllable Kurt, trainer workouts were really not much like riding my bike at all. I had to (like many people I think) force myself to get on the trainer, force myself to hammer through workouts, and then I’d finish and say “Okay, there. I’m done. And I’m happy I did it. I guess.”

The H3 has entirely changed that. I find that I prefer Zwift, but even using it on Rouvy was such a big difference that I found myself (and still do) looking forward to getting on the trainer. It just feels like riding a bike. And that means my attitude is entirely different, and it’s much more enjoyable. Which means I get on the trainer more, for longer. So I’m training more, and improving more. (I’ve been training for years and years, and in 1.5 months with H3+Zwift my FTP is now significantly higher than it’s ever been. And I ain’t getting younger :smiley:)


Excellent thoughts thanks

The OP is currently using a power meter so power numbers should stay about the same.

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I say do it. I started Zwifting on dumb rollers with a crank power meter, then switched to a Kickr Core after ~6 months. You’ll be able to draft more consistently with a smart trainer because gradient changes will affect you just the same as the others in the group you’re riding with. On a dumb trainer, I had to consciously increase/decrease power on gradients to try to match everyone else (and still usually didn’t get it quite right). It makes Zwift much more immersive and transfers better to outdoor riding as well since you can no longer just cruise along at your desired cadence and power all the time. Riding up AdZ or Ventoux is an entirely different beast on a smart trainer than on a dumb one. If you’ve got the funds, consider an incline simulator (Kickr Climb or Elite Rizer) too!

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