Zwfit setup on a budget

I am looking for a new way to do cardio in any weather and at home. I found zwift but it seems that it is very expensive. What is everything I need for a setup and what is the cheapest rig I can make?

Hi @relin_dwto welcome to Zwift forums.

We have a terrific support hub with great articles and videos that will guide you through the stuff you’ll need to ride on Zwift.

Maybe I shouldn’t assume you’re a cyclist. Zwift Run has a similiar set of how-to articles we hope you’ll find helpful.

Let us know if you have questions!

A fluid trainer that is recognized by Zwift like a Cyclopes, a speed sensor and a bike . Trainer you can buy used but make sure Zwift has it their list or else it can’t calculate power. You won’t get the full experience with a “dumb” trainer but it works. Magene speed/cadence sensors on AliExprss are $12? and the bike hopefully you already have. Total is under $150 to get going. A HR monitor is good to have, either a chest strap or some wrist models like Fitbit also work.

I don’t think Zwift itself is that expensive, considering you’d pay more for a monthly gym membership. And there are some good options for low budget turbo trainers. You don’t have to get the top of the range direct drive models, but as mentioned above, a smart trainer is really required.

Andrew, I disagree with you that a smart trainer is really required. A smart trainer is one that is controllable by Zwift and you don’t “need” that. A “dumb” trainer that is Zwift compatible and a speed sensor is the bare minimum to get going.

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I suppose as a bare minimum, but without control of the trainer by Zwift, you wouldn’t get automatic variation in resistance for changes to the incline, would you? For me that’s what brings indoor training alive. And you get the full benefit of ERG mode, also controlled by Zwift, for really effective workout sessions.

Yes, with a dumb trainer the resistance doesn’t change dynamically and ERG Mode would not work. That doesn’t mean it’s easier or harder because watts are watts. So, it really depends on what you want to get out of the experience. I started low budget with a free week on Zwift until I decided that I enjoyed it. Then it was easier to justify the cost of a smart direct drive trainer.

Is Zwift less than $10 per month?


Depends on location then. For me a monthly gym membership costs me £18/month, and that’s ultra cheap. Zwift is £12/month.

It does indeed depend what you want to get out of the experience. But this is all good information for the OP to be aware of.

You don’t have to provide and maintain your own equipment at a gym, that’s what the membership is for. Doesn’t really work as a comparison IMO.

Some links here for the OP, might help:
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My post on this thread may be helpful. An affordable way to have a “power meter” instead of zpower.

A speed sensor. That’s it but make sure that your “dumb” trainer is one that Zwift has on their list so then Zwift can calculate power. I started with a Cycleops Fluid trainer that I bought used on craigslist for $125 and a magene speed sensor that I bought from AliExpress for $12.00.

Now, Zwift will not be able to control your trainer so you won’t feel hills nor drafting effect nor ERG mode but my estimated power numbers were almost identical to my direct drive smart trainer so you can still have a blast and see if you like it.