Using a bike with few gears :)

Hi all! Question to see what people have done in the past. I use Zwift to keep in shape for racing MTB, so i do my riding on my Specialized Epic plopped onto an Elite Direto. The issue is it has a 34T front ring (which is as big as i reasonably can fit on the frame) and 11 to 42 in the back, with relatively larg(ish) jumps between gears. As a result, on even the smallest downhill it’s pretty easy to spin out.

Not a big deal normally, I just do workouts with Erg mode, but i’d like to try racing.

What’s the recommendation to make it work the best? Take trainer resistance setting down to Zero and hope the biggest gears are big enough to keep up, with really no feeling of up and down hill?

Or set the resistance up to 100% so that I can be assured of having a big enough gear on uphill grades, even if that means spinning out and getting passed by on the downhills?

Thoughts? Anybody else (e.g., MTB or CXers) facing this kinda thing?

Buy a cheap road bike! I too am a MTB’er. I was initially happy to use the workout plans with my bikes but when I ventured into a race, I was on my own. I could hold my own on say Alp de Zwift (or anything with good gradient) but anything that had a flat is not worth it. So I bought a CX bike off a mate for bugger all and now dont have to worry about swapping etc. It had nice new Shimano drivetrain and now I can compete (and have a heap of fun).

I added a suggestion here about 6 months ago to cater for mtb’s with lower gearing but know from my IT background, its a big ask compared to other priorities they have here.

I agree, buy a used bike. I’m currently using a used bike I bought in the back of a bike store. If you use social media, put out a request. It really is true that the vast majority of bikes sold are barely every used. In my case I added a new rear tire and tube, but even the drive train only needed cleaning and adjusting.

Thanks guys! Very helpful. @_Dean, what do you ride when you’re not Zwifting?

@Devin_Knickerbocker2 - I have a couple of Santa Cruz’s (Nomad4 and Hightower LT). My initial Zwifter was a Production Privee (steel is real!) hardtail which I use for those winter rides that I know I will trash bike and self. And you?

I am using Zwift to help with endurance side so I can last a little longer and not drain myself for say enduro type races. Its a big help in every aspect but I love the racing and convenience of Zwift so I’m a bit addicted (though its summer when I am so outside is still more appealing).

Nice! I’ve got an older Specilized Epic hardtail and a Salsa Pony Rustler / Horse Thief (it’s a 130/120 travel trail bike that can take both 29er and 27.5+ tires, lots of fun).

I’m going to replace the hardtail soon and still trying to figure out what it’ll be, it could be (i) Cannondale F-Si, (ii) newer carbon Epic, (iii) KHS team 29er (which looks super fun), or (iv) Ibis DV9

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Nice back at ya! Since getting my Hightower, I am a 29’er convert. So fast and whilst we have different riding styles, I’m definitely heading to your style and looking to the replace the h/tail with a the kind of platforms you are looking at.

That Salsa would be nice in 29 form. Fast with 29’s and DW suspension is generally a good pedalling platform. You’re spoilt for choice these days!

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I got a new set of 29ers to try slapping on the salsa, all i’ve used so far are the 27.5+, which actually are surprisingly fast once you learn how to ride them. I’m super pumped about the 29s though!

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Also one other question. If you do a group workout, is erg mode available? Or is it like a normal group ride where you have to shift gears for everything to work right?