TRAINER DIFFICULTY - naming change

My opinion: relating this setting to gearing/cassettes will cause way more confusion. Not only do many cyclists not understand gearing, but also: this analogy only works UPhill. Downhill it’s the opposite!

Set at 10% and you’ll have all the gears you need going up hill. And you also won’t spin out on descents, since it’s only giving you 10% of the gradient. So you feel like you have a wide cassette range on the climbs, and a narrow range on the descents.

Set at 100% and you’ll have to shift a lot on climbs, maybe even run out of gears. And you may spin out on the descents.

Gearing analogy just doesn’t work. I don’t understand why people always want to use it. And there’s no way Zwift would go for it!

“Gradient Feel” or “Trainer Realism” get my vote.


I think it’s unclear what the effect will be if we talk in these terms.

At the extremes, sure, it is simple enough. But at “halfway”, it seems far less clear.

For example, a Tacx Vortex can simulate up to 7%.

At “Max” trainer difficulty, you’ll get 7% on a 7% hill, and 7% on a 10% hill.

But at halfway, what? On that 10% hill? We’ve cast it in terms of the range the trainer can emulate, so 50% here could mean simulating a 3.5% gradient, because the trainer can only produce up to 7%. But it could also mean simulating 5%, because that’s half of 10% and the trainer can manage it. That’s 71% of the maximum range that the trainer is capable of producing; so the “halfway” slider position becomes disconnected from trainer range.

Ride comfort adjuster.

Save your knees setting thingy.

Graidient Simulation or Climb difficulty

             Virtual Cassette Changer

<- low gearing ------------------------- high gearing ->

So many options…
Why not just leave the naming field empty and everyone will name it as they wish.


Gearing scope

There appears to be two different issues. The first is the change in gradient which has no effect on distance traveled with respect to wattage or physical effort. The second is the effect this has on what gears people use based on the gradient setting. The slider affects the first directly which then has the effect of leading to gearing changes depending on what one’s set up is.


Hi all,

For my understanding the trainer difficulty is nothing more than a virtual cassette for the people that want to climb and do not have a real climbing cassette. So, why dont you change the % percentage on the difficulty bar to cassette numbers? that will make it easier for people to figure it out which difficulty to choose depending on the ride they are doing.

Just my opinion.


I’m not sure that your statement

“At “Max” trainer difficulty, you’ll get 7% on a 7% hill, and 7% on a 10% hill”

is true. Alternatively they could be mapping the full range of any given trainer to the full range of gradient in the zwift universe, so you only feel the full gradient on your trainer, whatever it is, on the steepest hill in zwift. So if your trainer has a lower capability, you still feel the hill getting steeper all the way to the steepest pitch. That actually make more sense to me in terms of the slider. You’re just changing the mapping to a lower maximum gradient.

Although I have just started on Zwift again, for me this would make sense, as I use it so I can keep on a gear selection where my chain runs straight and I dont change gears much so I can just phase out and listen to music.

Named : Gear selection



Alternatively they could be mapping the full range of any given trainer to the full range of gradient in the zwift universe

This is exactly what I said in the paragraph following the part you quoted.

Really, the onus is on Zwift to give a very clear and complete explanation. The amount of debate shows that it’s confusing for a large number of users, and mystery meat UI sliders do no one any favours.

Sort of. I am saying that I don’t personally know whether your statement about someone on a 7% capable trainer feels 7% on a 7% hill and 7% on a 10% hill when the slider is at 100% is true. There is a possible different way that could be handled. Let’s just say for example that the steepest gradient in Zwift is 15%. They could have set it up so that whatever your trainer max capability is, when the slider is at 100%, you feel that max capability on the steepest, i.e. 15%, grade. So you feel 7% on a 15% hill. You feel 3.5% on a 7.5% grade. While someone on a 10% capable trainer feels 10% on the 15% grade, and 5% on the 7.5% grade. I don’t know if this is how it is, but it is another possibility from what you said. It would be a reasonable way to do things if you wanted to address trainers having different capablities but have the rider experience in the virtual universe be realistic in the sense that hills seem to get steeper all the way to the maximum, rather than topping out at whatever the particular trainer difficulty is. This is just speculation. I haven’t seen it documented anywhere how they have actually set this up. You may be right about how they’ve done it. But if they have done it the way I have outlined, then the difficulty slider doesn’t have any ambiguity in what it means. The mapping is straightforward.

Here’s my suggestion for sorting out some of the confusion in zwift with regard to weight and trainer difficulty and so forth.

Change the “weight” field in the profile settings to “true body weight.” You can type in anything you want here, but it should be equal to your true body weight.

Create a percentage slider in the game settings called “avatar weight.” This is a percentage of true body weight and is what the game uses to calculate performance. It is at 100% by default. This new slider could also adjust the transparency of your avatar in proportion.

Rename the “Trainer Difficulty” percentage slider to “Trainer Weight” where that is defined as the weight resistance that you feel on the trainer going up hills and it does not affect in-game performance in any way.

For racing, the avatar weight would obviously have to be locked at 100 percent, because if you race with something less than 100 percent of your true body weight, you are cheating. Whereas if you are not racing, then the way that you choose to use the simulator that you are paying to use is your business and won’t be a matter of concern to anyone else in zwift world.

This isn’t going to fly. The whole point of trainer difficulty is it enables people to make adjustments depending on the type of terrain. Although it’s not a gearing selector, it’s used as a proxy for changing cassette to suit the course. Anyone who says people must race at “100% trainer difficulty” completely fails to grasp this, and the same would be true of a renamed slider.

You should re-read my post. I’m proposing two sliders. One for “avatar weight” and one for trainer difficulty renamed “trainer weight.” The only one that would have to be at 100 percent for racing would be avatar weight. The trainer difficulty changes what is felt in the legs on the climbs. What is felt in the legs on climbs is a direct resistance to a portion of your body weight determined by the slope of the road. Some people may think of it as a proxy for cassette changes, but they are wrong in terms of the physics. If you set the trainer difficulty to zero, it makes it feel like the road is flat. If you wanted to do that with a gear change, the rear cog would have to be very large or the chainring very small. The correct way to view it is in terms of the weight you feel in your legs in the real world on the trainer, as opposed to the weight of your avatar going up the hill in zwift. With the trainer difficulty set to zero, it is exactly like riding weightless in terms of what you feel on the trainer. Hence, my proposal, trainer weight. The avatar responds to the power output as it always does, in accordance with the avatar weight.

OK, so where does weight come into it? I don’t see how this is any less confusing. The trainer doesn’t have any weight. The avatar “does”. I can see confusion increasing even more if people are told they can vary their “avatar weight” and “trainer weight”. The point of any name change is to make it clearer what the slider does - and this doesn’t do it.

Absolutely, I agree 100%.

Cadence selector.

Well, maybe the problem here is that I’m trying to propose a solution to a “problem” that isn’t a problem for me, personally. It is clear to me what the “Trainer Difficulty” slider does, and I don’t have any issue with the current name of it. I was just trying to offer a clarifying explanation, in terms of weight, which I believe is the important variable. A smart/controlled trainer gives zwift the ability to simulate the effect of a real person who has weight driving a massless picture of a person on virtual terrain by controlling the load that the person feels due to their weight on the virtual terrain. I think it is generally agreed that it is more difficult to ride uphill than level or downhill. It is also generally agreed that the difficulty is because of weight of rider. “Trainer Weight” might not be the best name for what I outlined. It could be “Felt Trainer Weight” or “Hill Weight Factor” or “Trainer Weight Difficulty”. But part of the problem here is that a one or two word name in the user interface may not be able to perfectly describe a control whose function is a little bit tricky to grasp. Like I said, I personally don’t have any issue with “Trainer Difficulty.”

Yes. Gradient is best, bearing in mind that it affects both positive and negative gradients.