How to set up your ‘not so’ smart trainer on Zwift?
During the colder, darker winter months the last thing you want to do is go out on the bike however now to get a good workout on the bike you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home. Zwift has revolutionised the indoor training industry by providing exciting and fun workouts all from your garage or home.
Smart trainers can be a costly purchase to get you set up on Zwift. While smart turbo trainers remove much of the fuss of getting connected to Zwift and other online training programmes, just having any turbo trainer is a good first step.
It may seem like another expense you can do without however Zwift doesn’t have to be. Making your old turbo trainer smart is easy to do. Even the complete Luddite can get connected easily. With just a few quick steps and a handful of gizmos, you’ll transform your brainless trainer into a fully functioning member of the internet community.
In this how-to, we teach you how to make that boring turbo trainer a smart turbo trainer.
How do I make my turbo trainer smart?
Let’s assume you’re using a laptop, PC, or Mac, and you’ve got yourself the speed/cadence sensor and ANT+ USB.
The first thing you need to do is connect your speed/cadence sensor to your computer. There are two ways to do this – Bluetooth or ANT+. For those just starting out, ANT+ is the cheapest. Attach your speed/cadence sensor according to the instructions and pair your smartphone or computer with the sensor.
Download Zwift onto your mobile or laptop/desktop. For smartphones, both Apple IOS (IOS 9.0 or higher) and Andriod (7.0 or higher) are currently fully functional.
Once you’ve downloaded Zwift, sign up and follow the instructions. It’ll ask you to set up a profile and calibrate your trainer. You can see a full set of instructions on the Zwift website.
Zwift is based on power and once you have your set up all connected you must calibrate Zwift and your trainer. To calibrate it you will need to set your power. There are two options you are presented with, Zpower or Estimated power.
Zpower is available to those with turbo trainers made by many better-known brands. Zwift creates a power curve for each trainer they have listed, creating an estimate of the effort needed to spin to a particular speed. Selecting your model of trainer from the list of trainers, you will set the resistance level specified by Zwift (capped at 1,200 watts). You are then free to get the legs moving with a level of reasonable accurate resistance.
Estimated power is less precise than Zpower however it applies to a larger list of trainers. Working off the same principle you can cap it at 1,200 watts and as long as you hold a steady effort you will see the reasonably accurate result.
Step 4 (optional):
For the best experience, many Zwift users use their phone as a conduit between their trainer and computer or Smart TV. This allows them to use the phone as they would a bike computer, relaying stats and information, while also acting as a remote interface with the training programme on their big screen.
For this setup, download the free Zwift Mobile Link (ZML) app to your phone or tablet (which you’ll mount on your bike handlebars). This app becomes the bridge for both Android and iOS mobile devices to send trainer data to the Zwift desktop/laptop/Smart TV programme, allowing you to get fully immersed in a big display.
Although you can use your smartphone’s WIFI or Bluetooth signal, it’s recommended you connect your phone to your display using an HDMI cable for a seamless connection.
While Zwift is incredibly popular around the world, there are several alternative programmes. These include Trainer Road, BKOOL Simulator, The Sufferfest, Rouvy, KINOMAP, and more. Set-up will be like Zwift, and you may find their focus on data or realistic graphics more to your taste.