Some thoughts from a ZPower user

Hi everyone,

I started to use Zwift just a few months ago, and I really love it so much. Actually, I do workouts almost every day. I’m using a basic, unlisted trainer and of course, Zwift uses ZPower to calculate watts, but I suppose that you guys know how works.

Despite that, I’m tired to listen complains and jokes about ZPower in races, coming from other Zwifters. Sounds sad for me that I can be seen like a rogue for other people, or disqualified or even can’t join a race just because I use ZPower.

In the case that there are problems or limitations or inaccuracy about ZPower, it’s not my fault. It’s a Zwift’s problem, not mine. I know people would like to have races so “real” and fair as possible (me too!), but I’m not cheating at all!

I don’t want to become a pro biker, nor to win some race, nor to be the next Peter Sagan or something like that. I’m just trying to do my best on workouts and have some fun. Anyway, I’m a paid customer from Zwift like all other people.

Sorry guys, just some thoughts about this subject. I’m going to keep to use Zwift (with ZPower, of course) by the way, joining some races when I can, and if some people don’t like it, well … it’s not my problem!

People usually don’t have a problem with zpower. What gets them excited is when a zpower rider race in the A category and do a constant 5.5w/kg and closing every gap that they work so hard to create.

If you are a D,C or B racer that keep your trainer as accurate as possible and race the correct category then I am happy to race against you.

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I appreciate your perspective and think it is good feedback. But, as someone who uses a power meter, I’ll admit to being biased. In another post of yours, you were discussing the max power of the trainer and mentioned having an FTP around 400w. Now, I’m not saying you don’t … but surely you understand how rare it would be to have that high of an FTP?

And therein lies the problem. Fundamentally, it isn’t that I think people are cheating, it is that I simply don’t trust the device making the measurements. It is frustrating seeing KOMs and sprints where the top riders are zpower all significantly faster than power meter riders. I certainly don’t want to compete in races with zpower. Not because of the people, it is the device, and I think it is a good idea for zwift to have controls for races and events.

Admittedly there are also lots of situations where people are barely moving in zwift — so kind of the opposite problem. But illustrates how these devices can be all over the map.

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I don’t think anyone using Zpower to estimate their power should be joining races in any category. Join all the group rides, ‘E’ rides, fun fondos, and social events, but stay out of the races.

Thanks @Bthlonewolf, I got your point, I don’t disagree with you. And yes, in my early days on Zwift I had some doubts / issues about trainer resistance, and Zwift’s community helped me to understand and fix that (actually, I didn’t know a value 400W is a high value haha).

I’m not saying there is no a problem, or a difference between ZPower and power meter / smart trainer. But i’m saying that I (and others) am not the “bad guy” here. I can’t believe that ZPower is so inaccuracy that I could cycle on equal terms with better cyclists, and I can’t believe that someone is a let’s say, “worse” cyclist by the simple fact that him is using ZPower! Is so impossible that someone using ZPower could be a good cyclist and could be a good performance?

If the answer is “yes”, well, Zwift will have a lot of work ahead, because all ZPower users will be something like “suspects”. And trust me, is an unconfortable situation: I find a event that looks like interesting or in a good time for my schedule, so I open the description to read more about it and … “ZPower users may be disqualified”. I understand the reasons and I see some kind of “gray area” here, but it’s frustrating.

By the way, actually, I’ve never been close to winning a race, or be a top rider in sprints or KOMs. ZPower hasn’t been help me so much :rofl:

I used ZPower for 3 years in group rides, events, and, yes, races. I was usually DQed from races, but did them anyway. You should use Zwift the way you want to use it. If you are allowed to join the event, you can ride it. That’s what you are paying for, after all.

However, if you also want to be respectful to the serious Zwift racers who are trying to bring legitimacy to esports on Zwift, then there are a few simple things you can do:

  1. Join races that allow ZPower
  2. If you join non-ZPower races, stay off the front of the group you are in.
  3. Have fun and ignore the ZPower haters.

I did finally get a smart trainer with an accurate power meter. I can say for a fact that ZPower is definitely not accurate and can lead to super human sprints (which are a lot of fun but not very fair).

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You are right — it could be the majority of zpower riders are acceptably accurate. Unfortunately the only real way to know is to test it with a power meter, but if you have a power meter, you wouldn’t need zpower. :slight_smile: And some have done just that… test them. But the results are individual, of course.

I like the advice of another poster: just participate anyway. You might get some snarky comments and might get removed from results, but if you get serious enough, you would probably want to upgrade — not just for zwift, but because it is more accurate for training. And honestly, gear is getting cheaper all the time. I’m not saying everyone should be able to afford it, but it is certainly much more affordable than it was just a few years ago.

While there are untrained exceptional riders, phenoms, etc., I’d assume all A level riders are serious enough they would have decent gear, and this probably applies to most B level as well.

I agree you aren’t a bad guy here. No beginner would reasonably know if 400w was high, low, or in between. If you were serious about lifting weights, for example, you’d probably invest in decent gear, accurate/labeled weights, etc. You could get great results by lifting rocks and stumps, but estimating their weight and then competing with others doing the same might be fun, but is meaningless for any qualitative measure, as I’m sure we’d all agree.

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I had the same experience as OP but luckily I had a birthday and a generous son who got me a Wahoo Kickr a month ago. All my times tripled when I re did the courses I ran on the dumb trainer, and I am starting from scratch. But I think the main problem is the 400 watt limit for unlisted trainers. It should be more like 200 w. That would be an easy fix to not tick off serious riders, and to smooth the transition if ppl do make the jump. That being said, I do think the Zwift business model is sound; making newbies think they are waaàay better than they really are is a good way to get people hooked on the game. Much like being to kill a big boss in a video game or something like that. Imagine if everyone plodded around at 130 watts like I am now, after 1400 " miles" and 70 plus hours in. Many uncompetitive people would just quit after the free trial. I wish I could have afforded a proper trainer back in March, but am still happy to be here, no matter how slow I am! Ride on everyone!

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Have to tell you a quick experience I had. I was so excited about the look of the new France world that I posted a few pics of the lavender fields and balloon sprint, with some kind words. Someone disregarded my message, expanded the pic and analysed my wattage etc, then 2 or so ppl jumped on and piled on too. Most comments after that were respectful and supportive. But it’s 2020, people are on edge, and well, the internet is full of trolls we all have to deal with. I was unprepared for the level of scrutiny for just posting a series of pics, but I understand it now. Lesson learned!

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Wow a lot of good advices here, thank you guys! I agree that the better (and the right) thing is have fun and to keep training hard. Thank you all!