Zwift with a 1x10 (MTB)

(Brian Thomas [MTB]) #1

So I’m new to Zwift (Yay Christmas) and have a Mountain bike which is a 1x10. I’ve noticed that on flats, I can’t sustain a very high power likely due to the front ring being a medium sized ring instead of running on a 2x10 with a large/small ring up front.  Is there any way to be able to generate more power on the straights and then be able to adjust it on the DH so that I can keep up more with the majority of the road bikers out there?


Thanks a ton folks,


(Steve Ellis) #2

Brian: I suspect that it’ll be useful to know what trainer you are using and how you’re running Zwift (PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, etc.), and what sensors you’re using (Garmin ANT+, Wahoo Bluetooth, etc.).

I won’t know the answer for your 1x10 but I suspect the info above will help.

Welcome to Zwift! 

(Brian Thomas [MTB]) #3

Wahoo Kickr trainer
Ant+ Garmin Dongle for my laptop
Garmin Fenix 3 HR watch
Android Phone for managing in game
Laptop Windows -> TV (HDMI)


I should also note I don’t want to increase the power I need to exert full time, I’d just like to do it on flats and downhills so I can keep up with the folks around me.  If I had to increase the power full time, I’d get destroyed on the up hills as I wouldn’t be able to pedal on steeper sections due to the size of my front sprocket and rear cassette.

(Paul Allen) #4


The only way you could increase your speed on the flats is to use the Zwift TT bike or draft off of another rider. The Kickr broadcast the actual watts you are producing and Zwift uses that plus, elevation changes, your weight, in game bike used, and drafting to give you your in game speed. 

Not sure what you are really asking for.

(Brian Thomas [MTB]) #5


I know the trainer broadcast the power to Zwift. The problem I’m having is I’m in the lowest rear gear and can only do about 180 Watts with about 120 RPM on the pedals.  I’d like to be able to pump out more power on the flats so I can keep up with a road biker. I was just curious if there was any settings I could do in game/app/trainer that could bump the wattage so I can get more speed and a bit  better of a work out.

Right now hills are the only thing that really are able to make me feel anything and even then, I’m not in the highest gear where as when I mountain bike often I’m usually in the 1-3 top gears due to the % grade on the trail. 

(Paul Allen) #6

About all you can do is to make sure the difficulty slider is at 100% or make a change to your front crank.

Some of what are asking for is to cheat the game by artificially increasing your watts.

(Brian Thomas [MTB]) #7

No, there’s no cheating in my ask. I want to pedal that power. Ie I’d like the trainer to bump the resistance by say 25% when I chose or have the ability in game. The only way I can see pushing serious power is on erg mode

(Paul Allen) #8

With that gear ratio could you keep up with road bikes in real life? The limiting factor in your setup is your gears, not the trainer. Zwift tries to make everything as realistic as possible especially with smart trainers like the Kickr. Your options are to make sure your difficulty slider is al, the way too 100%, upgrade your crank or use a different bike with more gears. 

(Steve Copeland) #9

If you want to stay with the road bikes you are going to need road gearing.  The game just takes what you have and represents it in the game world extremely accurately.  There would be no point in the game changing the characteristics of your bike to make it something it isn’t.

Easiest solution is get yourself to one of the recycle places and pick up a free/cheap road bike and stick it on Zwift if you want to ride with the roadies.

I am actually running my hybrid bike on Zwift as the gearing is identical to my road bike.


(Nick Adams (B)) #10

Hi Brian, sounds like your MTN bike is geared for the mountains. What is the gear range of your rear cassette? If it doesn’t go down to an 11-tooth ring at the bottom, you could swap it out for a heavier-geared cassette, something with 11 teeth (or even 10!).

(Brian Thomas [MTB]) #11

It’s the default cassette on the wahoo kicke. I believe my front is a 32 or 34

(Nick Adams (B)) #12

Wait…you say that you can hit high wattages up hills, and the problem is mostly on the downhills? And you have a Wahoo KICKR? Move the trainer difficulty setting to 25-40%. Why you ask? Check this out:
Read the whole thing, but the section that applies to you is the one that starts with “GETTING DROPPED ON DOWNHILLS? One common complaint from Wahoo KICKR owners is that they get dropped by other riders on downhills…”

(Brian Thomas [MTB]) #13

I have it maxed out in zwift

(Paul Allen) #14


It’s not just the down hills he is having issues with, he is also having issue putting out watts to keep up.


With a 34x11 you should be able to put out over 200 watts. Are you doing a spin down on the Kickr?

(Brian Thomas [MTB]) #15

First thing I did before riding on zwift was do a spin down in zwift. I can pump out over 200 on ups barring my ankle (surgery 7 weeks ago) but on flats I think it was about 125-150 if I was doing 120rpm. Flats felt super easy which I get, but just wanted to stay competitive a bit. Seems like I’ll try to keep to hilly terrain as that had me on largest gear on rear and sweating like a beast and doing 150+ watts.

Just waiting until ankle allows me to push harder up. I can try changing difficulty to easier but I think it’ll still have similar effects of me feeling no pain on flats

(Nick Adams (B)) #16

Here’s why I think backing off the trainer difficulty might help: When Zwift simulates a downhill it reduces the resistance to the point that many KICKR owners have complained that there is nothing to push against. I think that the effect is exacerbated with your mountain gearing on your bike (not a high enough gear to generate any power when resistance is reduced on downhills). By reducing the “trainer difficulty,” it won’t reduce the resistance so much on downhills. In fact, just to test the idea, try sliding the trainer difficulty to 10-20%, and see if the downhills feel better. Maybe that could be a short term fix until you get a bike with a wider range of gears…

(Homer Simpson) #17

Have you tried the training programs and ERG mode?  Might be a better approach for your gearing.  I’m primarily a mountain biker but ended up buying a gravel bike (with a 1x11) for trainer/training.  I find that I have a similar issue as you do.  I generally run in the 4 hardest gears all the time.  I have 42T front sprocket.  I’m thinking up upping a couple teeth and swapping to the E*Thirteen cassette with a 9T rear.

No matter how you slice it, running a 32T front is a fractional output to the road bikes.  Especially if your smallest rear is 11T (or higher).

Cheapest solution is buy the biggest front sprocket you can and swap for the winter.

(Jeff Covert) #18

I’m new to Zwift too and I too am using my mountain bike.    Since I have a Tacx Vortex I also have the disadvantage of the smaller rim.   

I can’t believe there is no demand for mountain bike settings.    I would think it would not be that difficult to have an algorithm for wheel size and gear ratios.   Its not “cheating” because the rider still has to make the wattage output.  The current program puts mountain bikers at a big disadvantage because the runs are set for road bike gear ratios.    The Tacx app does have settings for bike type and wheel size.

Even if that was not possible it would be nice if you could at least identify yourself as a mountain bike rider so you could ride with other mountain bike riders.

(Gabor "Yeti" Rosta) #19

As a mountain biker, who also rides on the road with slicks, I think Zwift is making a nice job replicating the feeling I get when riding with my roadie buddies. They can leave me in the dust on the flats and downhills any time, but hey, that is what road bikes are made for - and I can safely disregard potholes, which they can not, and climb hills they will be challenged to finish:).

That being said, my solution, after playing with the trainer difficulty setting, was to purchase an old bottom bracket and fit that with an old roadie crankset, therefore increasing my ratio from the previous 46x11 to 53x11. No, the chainline is not ideal, and I am still using 26" wheels, but at least I am closer to what others feel and do on the screen.