Zwift racing on a MTB. Is it a noticeable disadvantage?

For context, I connect my MTB to a wheel on kinetic rock and roll smart control trainer. It’s a 1 x 11 setup with a 34T front chainring and 11-46 cassette. I notice that on flats that in order to output the watts I’m targeting I need to put down an uncomfortably high cadence and on the downhills its amplified. Can someone explain to me how much of a disadvantage if any using the above bike would be for zwift races?

Hi @Karel_Soel, welcome to the forums. Yes the MTB you describe will be at a disadvantage compared to a standard road bike. The road bike will have a larger front chain ring, probably 52 teeth compared to your 34. Larger chain ring means more power at the same cadence.

Hi @Karel_Soel and welcome!

I switched my Zwift setup from my road bike to my MTB this summer and I’ve missed having higher gears when on the flats and downhills - which is most of the time in races. It definitely makes a difference.
How much of a difference seems to depend on the base resistance of your trainer, and sadly the only way to get around a lower resistance seems to be to use different gears or a different trainer.

Actually you can also modify the virtual gearing in Zwift also by setting the “Trainer Difficulty” settings which offset the issue of drive train issues like this . I doubt it will ever totally equalise things because you loose the fine graining of more gears but should help for sure.

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won’t help on the flat roads however…

Trainer difficulty helps if you’re on a climb using a bike with higher gearing (e.g. a road bike) and you want to reduce the resistance, simulating the lower gears road bikes often lack.

But, on a flat, the resistance is always the same whatever your TD setting, and TD doesn’t allow you to simulate the higher gears MTBs lack.

well Karel is probably not spinning out on climbs, and if TD is at the default 50% then the decline feel is even lower than it could be. Remember that Zwift cuts the decline in half so that a -5% feels like a -2.5%, but at 50% TD a -5% would feel like -1.25% (I think?), so increasing TD to 100% will slightly help on the declines, but I suspect Karel will still spin out.

As ZI said , one of the more misunderstood settings in Zwift .

He will need to set the TD low to compensate for low gearing .

But It won’t make a difference on flat roads.

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