Tips for New Rider on Keiser M3i?

Hi all–I just finished my second day on Zwift and took on Stage 1 of the Tour de Zwift. I’ve been riding Keiser M3 and M3i at a cycling gym for 7 years and, as a recreational rider who isn’t going to race, decided to purchase one for home use rather than buying a smart bike.

Obviously I weighed the drawbacks to using a Keiser rather than a smart bike.

My question is really about how cadence affects speed within Zwift when using the Keiser. In my forum searches, it appears that cadence doesn’t affect speed at all - that speed is calculated using a combination of watts (transmitted by the Keiser) and my height/weight. Is that fairly accurate?

In the gym, my sweet spot is riding a high gear with low cadence - 60-65 RPM; of course I don’t do that exclusively, but it’s where I can put out the most average watts. Is there a disadvantage to doing this on uphills/flats/downhills? What sorts of adjustments should I be making based on grade? Should I be going low cadence/high gear on hills and vice versa on downhills or does it not matter?

Perhaps my biggest challenge so far has been to ride within myself. I find myself getting caught up in keeping pace or passing others and I’m blowing up. Perhaps understanding the mechanics a bit better will help me ride a little more within myself!

So far I love Zwift - it’s a breath of fresh air after 7 years at the gym. I hope to see other Keiser riders out there!

Yes, Zwift uses not only estás, height, weight but also your virtual bike, wheels, and of course incline.

“Should I be going low cadence/high gear on hills and vice versa on downhills or does it not matter?”

What matters is how you best manage your power and heart rate. Zwift allows you to play around with gearing and cadence to learn what works for you. You didn’t mention it but HR is also a import metric to monitor.

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This is all part of the fun and learning curve of Zwift. Riding in a group is very interactive so you will learn how to ride within yourself as well as keep your cadence in a place where you can respond to breaks and group accelerations. The biggest thing is try different things, including the trainer difficulty setting and have fun.

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Hey there! I’m getting my m3i next week and am excited about joining the Zwift Community! Now that you’ve been at it awhile, what tips can you provide about how to adjust gears since we have to do it manually. Do you look at the gradient and make a decision that way? Any other tips, greatly appreciated!

Hi Roy - you’ve got it exactly right. I usually try to manually match my gear to the gradient. It’s kind of weird, because my mind seems to buy into the concept that I’m really on a hill…and when I get to the top, it feels natural to take some of the gears off to adjust to the flats

One thing I’ve noticed is that when I’m riding in a group, folks tend to increase their wattage when going up a hill to maintain some speed.

I’ve also discovered that - like people on trainers - we can “freewheel” (stop pedaling) when descending steep hills. That’s really nice after a long climb! I was concerned that stopping my pedaling would cause the M3i to tell Zwift that I’d stopped riding, but that isn’t the case.

You’ll definitely get into riding with groups. It can be difficult to find a group that rides the same pace as you, but you’ll definitely get the hang of it.

Once you ride around a little, you’ll get a sense for how many watts-per-kg you put out. That’s ultimately what determines how fast/slow you go. Because it simulates real cycling conditions, you’ll also find that those extra pounds make climbing “harder” (or slower) and you’ll need to put out more watts to keep up with skinnier cyclists who need less power to ascend. But you’ll also descend faster.

Once you know what range of watts-per-kg you can sustain, you can find group rides geared towards riders of the same range. That’s a great way to meet people, to learn how to draft and use power-ups, etc.

Finally, one thing specifically about the M3i - since my spin classes were never more than an hour, I had some challenges adjusting to longer rides on Zwift. I’m still making some microadjustments to my cleats and considering replacing the saddle with something more geared for endurance to deal with numbness and soreness.

There’s a lot to learn, but I’ve really enjoyed the experience. Have fun!

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Brad, these are the nuggets of niceness!

Thanks for the tips! I’m going to hold these close as I start out. I’ve watched seemingly every Youtube Zwift video, like a Talmudic Scholar…and am so glad to have struck gold on the first query of a fellow M3i’er. I suppose one just finds out what gear corresponds uniquely to you and what gradient % it is… Can’t wait to figure it all out. There’s so much on the app, and I plan to make good use of it all. Don’t hesitate to share more, I’m a beggar eager to learn where others found bread. Appreciate you! (Erik)

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Roy, you’re off to a great start and remember a lot of the fun is learning how you, your trainer, and the app all work together. Think of it as a new adventure and have fun with it!

Hi Roy, adjusting the resistance becomes natural pretty quickly (I go by the gradient % in the upper right hand corner as the terrain can be deceiving). But as you improve your FTP, you have to start all over again. :laughing:

I really struggled to find my groove in the app at first as I am very early in my journey to get fit again. Keeping up with group rides was pretty impossible for me. So if you find that to be true, I recommend choosing some of the group workouts instead - while some people hate the rubber banding that keeps everyone together, it really helped me as an out of shape newbie. Also, group rides tend to go out hard at first and them settle down, so warm up before the start.

I also figured out that the Keiser significantly underestimates my watts. So I ended up buying Assioma power pedals. An expensive solution, but it’s really improved my experience.

Finally, the training plans are great. Highly recommend.

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Loving my M3i! And notice that my eye is always looking at the gradient, speed, and power to know when it’s time to increase resistance on climbs which to me simulates the effort in a climb just nice.

No problems whatsoever either pairing all my devices to the companion app and ATV, or, just running it off my iPad.

This is great! So glad I got the M3i vs that Nordictrack s22i

Lisa, interesting on the Watts—that’s something that Keiser prides itself on—the accredited accuracy of their Watts. Did you ping them to see if something might be off?

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Hello Everyone,

I also purchased an M3i a couple of weeks ago and absolutely love it. Have never been a cycler, but just not able to run like I used to and needed an alternative. Using the Keiser with Zwift has been so much fun and I am really enjoying it. A lot of great tips here, especially what Lisa mentions about watt output (will look into those power pedals). Appreciate the info from the community and look forward to trying out all the advice given here for the M3i.

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Roy, I did not as I read a lot about other people with the same experience.

And the power pedals will be great when work travel starts again. I can take them with me and Zwift on hotel spin bikes.

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I build alternative Keiser m series Bluetooth converters ‘K2pi’ if anyone gets fed up with the flimsy original one - mine are usb powered and I have a ANT+ version too (great for connecting to windows/ Garmin Multisport watches and bike receivers)

Facebook - search ‘K2pi’

Online store and sometimes on Ebay - post worldwide.