I have a lot of questions about trainer calibration that would probably be answered in a white paper authored by Zwift.
I have read through various post in the forum on the subject of calibration and there appears to be a lot of confusion and concern about Zwift ability to accurately reflect one’s performance within the game.
When the term calibration is used I want to know precisely what is being calibrated and why. My simple understanding (guessing) is that the only thing that need to be calibrated/determined is power loss due to friction forces within the fitness equipment being used. It is my understanding (guessing) this required so Zwift can compensate for the difference between a well maintained/optimized and poorly maintained/suboptimal equipment to make the Zwift’ing experience all about the person’s ability and not the fitness equipment.
It appears there is an assumption that ALL power meters report accurate power. I have yet to see a maintenance/test procedure an end user can use to determine the accuracy of the power reading and how to compensate for any error.
What I want to know is how Zwift uses data from the various sensors in play to accurately reflect in- game performance. There must be a huge difference if a power meter is in the mix or not.
With the exception of someone with a dumb trainer and an ad-hoc collection of speed, cadence and possibly a power sensor, “calibration” should be the purview of the smart trainer manufacture. I only see the need for Zwift’s built-in calibration process to support dumb trainers. A smart trainer should have its own procedure (app) to calibrate power and determine fictional power losses and Zwift should just trust the power numbers it receives.
I currently am using a Wahoo Kicker V5 (2020) and it claims to be “calibration free”. Actually, it supposedly (guessing again here) it self-calibrates continuously by monitoring the spin deceleration rate of its flywheel under a 0 power input state. Therefore, there should never be a reason to use Zwift’s built-in calibration procedure. Whether the Kickr V5 adjusts the power number before sending to Zwift, or sends raw power numbers and an occasional compensation factor is unknown to me.
I just like to know how things work so I can have some confidence in the accuracy of the game experience.