Want to Zwift. Don't own a bike yet. Looking for knowledge

Title says it all.

I’ve always loved riding back in my hometown but I just kinda stopped when I moved to a big city and needed to use my vehicle more and more. I’ve been wanting to get back into shape and Zwift checks all the boxes for something that will get me motivated and keep me hooked while letting me stay around the house so if my disabled wife needs assistance, I can be there for her in a flash.

That said, I don’t currently own a bike and all the “Beginner Guides” and “What to Buy” videos usually assume that having a bike is a given so they don’t really cover what to do if you don’t own a bike.

So that’s my question – what considerations should I make if I want to start Zwifting but haven’t owned a bike for years? At this time I don’t really plan on using the bike outside so whatever I get will likely be mounted to a direct drive trainer and left that way.

I originally thought this would be a good reason to just drop the money on a smart bike but I’m leery since it seems the technology for Zwift is still advancing and I’m worried a smart bike would likely become outdated in a year or two as Zwift continues to evolve. I’ve also seen mixed reviews for the various smart bikes, along with their hefty price tag, so I’m doubly cautious of going down that route.

Ultimately I’ve boiled it down to getting a direct drive smart trainer and all the associated meters to make the most of my zwift experience, and in that regard there is PLENTY of information online.

But as for bikes… the most I’ve seen is “Any bike will work” but that doesn’t exactly give me confidence in my ability to go out and purchase a bike.

What aspects of a bike are relevant for Zwifting? Component-wise, what is important and what aspects are less relevant if I intend to keep as an indoor trainer only? Where should I invest my money?

Further, if anyone is familiar with the Toronto, Canada area and has suggestions for stores that could facilitate these decisions, that would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

With Zwift, the bike you use is basically just a frame to allow you to comfortably generate power, so the weight and age of the bike have little or no impact.
What I’ve found does have an impact is comfort level, especially because your body tends to move less on a trainer than in real life. You tend to achieve comfort through doing things like making sure you buy the right bike size for your body, and by doing a professional bike fit, so a bike fit is where I’d consider spending money.
I’d also recommend test riding or trying bikes in real life if at all possible. Many bike shops (at least in the UK) allow test rides, and this allowed me to realise a £500 bike was better for me than a £750 bike.
I think your reasoning behind getting on Zwift is great - I love the fact I can jump on when I have a spare half hour, and jump off quickly if needed - if sounds like it could really work well for you. You might also want to consider paying more for a quieter trainer and quieter fan so, if your wife calls you, you’re more likely to hear her.

I don’t have any authority by any means - just a recreational cyclist - but I would think this is because its hugely personal. To me the most important feature to look for would be your ‘fit’, which is personal. Different brands/models use slightly different geometries so try these out. If your not comfortable on your bike then Zwifting on it won’t be much fun either. Since you intend to only ride indoors this means you need to find a comfortable position when riding stationary. Things like electronic shifting and number of gears (2× 8sp or 3x 11sp) are all subordinate to comfort in my opinion. Care of your bike after a session (by wiping the sweat) is more important than the materials your bike is made of. I leave opinions regarding the role of the bikes stiffness to the experts…

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  • The contact points - saddle, pedals and handlebars. The bike has to fit you.
  • The drive train - gear shifters, derailleurs, front crankset and rear cassette. The bike should shift gears well. More “speeds” are generally helpful but not required. Any modern bike starting with 8 speed will work with trivial adjustment needed for 8, 9 and 10 speed bikes. Seven speed will work as well, with slightly more adjustment needed. Eleven speed bikes will work right off the shelf. Direct drive trainers meet the eleven speed standard right out of the box.


  • Bottle cages or at least the contact points to attach bottle cages.
  • Appearance good enough for wherever you’ll leave it.


  • Brakes
  • Weight
  • Aerodynamics
  • Tires
  • Wheels *see below

Be aware of:

  • Quick release versus through axle wheel attachment. Earlier direct drive trainers did not accommodate through axle. If you look for a used trainer you might require a quick release set up. I’d guess that all current direct drive trainers accommodate both wheel attachments, so either style of bike would work with those.

Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for.