Using MTB for other races

Hello, i just bought a Elite Suito T to start Zwift and ready to start getting back into shape :slight_smile:

I still have to buy the bike and i was wondering if there was any drawback on considering a MTB rather than a race bike ? I would rather go for a MTB but i’m affraid it would forbid me regular races or perform poorly while riding along with other players. Can anyone enlight me on that before i regret my choice ?

Will i have access to all the races and tracks even with a MTB and will it adapt to the fact i’m using a MTB for them ? I’m not sure how good it will perform.

Thanks for any advise.

Hi @Aphex

Welcome to the forum.

You can use any bike on the trainer (no e-bikes please) and you can enter any race.

With MTB gearing you will have a disadvantage just like when you are on the real roads.

Not Zwift or any rider will know if you have a MTB, Road bike or track bike on the trainer.

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Hi @Aphex, welcome to the forums. Most people that use a MTB on an indoor trainer find that the gear ratio is too small to perform as well as a standard road/race bike. MTB’s generally have smaller front chainrings, resulting in a “spinning out” effect on the flat roads in Zwift (not enough resistance to push against).

As Gerrie said, you can use it, but it will be at a disadvantage.

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Thank you for your replies !

I suspected i would ride with a disadvantage yet i’m reassured i can perform all the tracks and races.
Will it be really exhausting on flat roads or only a little ? I don’t mind the extra effort since i aim to shape up rather than win races :wink: Can Zwift adapt to that ? or can it be tuned to compensate that disadvantage on regular races ?

With my weight, i also thought a race bike would be too fragile or have a too uncomfortable posture to start with.

Sorry for all the questions. And thanks again for the tips. The more i know, the more confident i’ll feel with my purchase !

It won’t be more effort, you will just be a bit slower than a person on a road bike.

If you are getting just one bike and you plan to ride inside and outside get the best bike you can for outside.

No you can’t set the base resistance in Zwift. This has been asked for many times.

I had a MTB on Zwift for over 3 years and I changed the front chainring to compensate. (my MTB was a very old crappy one just for the trainer)

O yes I know that to well. Go for the comfortable bike.

It all depends on the type of riding you are planning to do outside, you may look at a gravel or hybrid bike.

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To be honest, i didn’t ride for years. I’m living in a big city and would go for a practical bike rather than a competition one. So right now i intend to use it more for inside exercise than outside. Plus i’m rather a shy biker and i’m even scared too thin wheels would get stuck in tramway tracks and similar hazardous environment, hence the reason i would rather go for a robust MTB frame :grin:

So far i’m pretty much convinced getting a MTB for Zwift. But i’ll check the gravel/hybrid bike too. They sound like best of two worlds.

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@Gerrie_Delport_ODZ I’m picking up on your comment about changing the chainring to compensate. Would it help if i pick a MTB with a larger chainring ?

And finally (my last question :grin:), since there are MTB with 1x9, 2x9 or 3x7 gears, which of these would be the most suited for using Zwift on flat road tracks ?

And thank you all for your help. Can’t wait to get that bike !

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The gearing will depend on how much you want to spend.

A bigger front chainring will make you faster on the flat road.

I also use an old MTB. One thing I had to change (wel, leave default) is the incline simulation - sorry I cannot remember the correct Zwift term - which is set to 50 by default.

If you set that to 100% your gearing will not allow you to even remain in a peleton on flats. And still, recently I had a TTT where I could not shift to my widest gear and simply got dropped on the start, spinning like a hamster!

So yes, MTB is more than fine, esp if fitness is your focus. And you can ride pretty hard with it as well.

Of those, I’d pick the 2x9 (or anything with two chainrings in front). It gives the best combination of range of gears while keeping the gaps between the gears reasonably small.

A 1x drivetrain is simpler for sure, but the gaps between each gear can be quite substantial, meaning that your cadence (pedalling frequency) will have to change a lot whenever you change gears.

A 3x drivetrain, on the other hand, is mainly useful for giving you a really low low gear (which you don’t generally need on Zwift because you can indeed just reduce the trainer difficulty to work with the gears you have), but there tends to be a lot of overlap between the front chainrings (usually so that more or less all the gears in the middle chainring are redundant) and using the front derailleur is a bit less reliable in my experience (based on using road triples for about 20 years).

Thank you all for your replies and suggestions!
It’s a matter of days and availability now.

I might see you all on Zwift soon (coughing my lungs waaaaay in the distance :p)

I use MTB bike with Zwift - 3 * 8 speeds (upgraded from 2 * 8). Of course, road bikers have an advantage on flats but I don’t care about my time and position in the game usually, just pedaling. Unfortunately, Zwift is too poor for MTB routs : I know only one, and I’m not interested in normal roads at all.

I’m going to disagree a bit, I use a MTB on Zwift. It’s a pretty old (around 15 years old) hardtail with a 3 (30-42T) by 8 (11-32) gearing setup. This is what I had when I started zwifting and the only time I found the gearing hampered me was trying to put out a lot of power going downhill. Sprinting hard on flats I would like a bigger gear, but those are efforts I can only sustain for maybe 30 seconds.

Since then I have bought a road bike which does have a 50T chain ring on it so a significantly higher top gear on it. I have put the road bike on Zwift and I do like the higher gears, but on flats (even sprinting) my power numbers are the same. Due to the hassle of switching bikes on the trainer and multiple people in the house using Zwift I just leave the MTB on there and I’m perfectly happy with it.

I would recommend a smooth road slick tire.