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Zwift’s New Workout Mode: First workout overview

This weekend Zwift rolled out the first iteration of their new workout mode.  This is a bit of a departure from their past claim to fame, which is the 3D world known as Zwift Island (or more recently, the Richmond UCI Road World Championships).  In that world, you race hundreds of others in real-time around a looped course.  You can go as hard or easy as you like, but like Strava – you’re continually being judged against others and yourself on segments and efforts.

Where the workout creator differs is that instead of racing against others, you’re effectively racing against your ability to nail a specific workout as close to the prescribed steps as possible.

Selecting a Workout:

First up is the decision that you’re going to do a structured workout versus just riding around in a circle within Zwift (though don’t worry, you’ll still do that).  To choose a workout simply click the ‘Select Workout’ button at the top right; before you’d otherwise select to just ‘Ride’.

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Next, you’ve got a boatload of choices. Far more than Zwift implied was coming.  These are categories into a few different areas.  First are ones by various coaching groups or training entities – such as Marco Pinotti and Hunter Allen (Peaks Coaching Group).

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Then you’ve got another pile sorted by length.  So you have under an hour, 1-2 hours, and so on.  For most of us, we’re trying to match a block of time we have to a workout that fits that.

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Then, on the right side you’ll see a profile of the workout.  You’ll also note a small text box that allows you to specify your FTP (Functional Threshold Power).  By default Zwift will auto-calculate your FTP for you and stick it in the box.  But in my case it was far too low.  So I manually overrode it (to a number that I low-balled and was also too low).

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But, if you’d like to know for certain, you can take one of their FTP tests and then suffer for an extended period of time to get that number.  Your choice.  Either way, once done go ahead and select the workout and let’s get this party started.

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(Note: If you’re looking for a listing of all of the workouts to date, reader/blogger Titanium Geek has painstakingly taken screenshots of them all.)

Riding the Workout:

With selection taken care of, it’s time to start the workout.  The first thing you’ll notice is that you’ll be plunked down on the Course du Jour (i.e. Zwift Island or Richmond, as it may be), just like everyone else.  In fact, you’ll be riding alongside of everyone else…just sorta in your own parallel universe (The Girl tells me the same thing all the time).

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Once you start pedaling you’ll notice a slew of differences.  First is that along the bottom you’ve got a graph of your power as well as your heart rate.  The power graph along the bottom is color-coded based on your power zones.

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On the left side you’ve got your workout structure, all itemized like a test.  And in a way, it is.  See, you’re actually graded on each piece of the workout – from the hardest of the hard, to the easiest of the easy.  Like a child, you’re given little stars for those that you do successfully.  And half-stars for those done half-assed.  You can see this below on the 5th line down:

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For example me, I had a problem going easy.  Those 80w easy recovery sections, I pushed too hard – and thus got two cases of half-stars.  And one case of no-star.

The listing of sections is pretty self-explanatory, though the harder sections are highlighted.  These are the ones that’ll suck more.  Meanwhile, up in the middle is a banner chunk that updates you on progress through each section (or segment) of the workout.  This includes the target for each section (a specific wattage), your current wattage, the time remaining for that section, and your current heart rate and cadence.

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Now in my case I was riding on the Tacx NEO, which is an electronically controlled trainer (like the Wahoo KICKR, PowerBeam Pro, CompuTrainer and many others).  That means Zwift controls my resistance level.  But it doesn’t actually control it as tightly as some other workout apps would.  In this case, it actually gives me a bit of play.  So I could overshoot or undershoot, and then ultimately lose my stars.  So basically: It gives me just enough rope to hang myself.  And it reminds me of that as I go along:

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As you’ve probably noticed by now – I’m riding on the same course as everyone else, and can hear and see everyone else at the same time.  The only difference is that I don’t get the impact of the hills (up or down).  Instead, it’s all equalized against whatever my target wattage is.  This was sorta interesting actually on one of the steeper hills in the Richmond course.  Here I had an interval end mid-hill, and my speed went from being slightly faster than everyone to exceptionally slower (2MPH).  All tied to wattage of course (or rather, Watts/KG).

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However, course aspects like sprint zones and other segments aren’t triggered as normal (except when later uploaded to Strava).  Instead, you’ll get your own set of banners, placed at the start and end of each interval.  You’ll see them as giant halo’s/arches over the course:

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The actual finish of the entire workout is sorta anticlimactic.  I didn’t get anything else special, other than the usual Zwift completion screen.

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However, I did think it was interesting to note that the second you complete the structured workout you’re dumped right back into regular Zwift mode.  So if you want to cool-down, or do a few extra miles you can.  And once back in regular Zwift mode you’re back to competing for segments, etc…

Wrap-up:

Overall I’m pretty impressed with things.  It’s far more detailed than I expected, and actually – far more structured workouts than I expected.  Without question, it’s the fastest I’ve ever felt 50 minutes go by on a trainer before (actually, even faster than regular Zwift).  I think that’s because I’m the kinda guy that actually prefers a structured workout more than not.  In other words, I typically prefer TrainerRoad style workouts (or structured workouts from my coach rather than just Zwift roaming around.  However, this was sorta that perfect little blend, with the secret sauce being that I could still see and communicate with others on the course.  For example, three folks yelled out to me during the ride (Hi!).  So it made it a bit more community driven than just a pure solo workout.

It had the significant benefits of a true structured workout with the social aspects of a group ride.  I’ll certainly be looking forward to being able to create my own workouts, which is coming down the road in a Workout Creator mode (something that TrainerRoad has had for quite some time).

Of course – the real test will be later this week when Zwift finally turns on the credit card readers and starts requiring payment.  It’ll cost $10 per month (but £8 if in the UK).  How many of those tens of thousands of beta users will stick around once they’ve got to start putting quarters in the machine?  That’s the real question.  This weekend’s workout mode update certainly seems to be aimed at priming the excitement ahead of that cutover.

Thanks for reading!

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198 Comments

  1. Bogdan Urma

    Ray,

    Do you know if Zwift plans to implement something like TrainerRoad’s PowerMatch, where you can have your external PM control the resistance of your smart trainer (KICKR, etc.)? The reason being, when doing FTP and workouts/training, you want your indoor power to match your outdoor power. Up until now, it didn’t matter as Zwift would just adjust trainer resistance and read your on PM’s numbers. But for training at a certain wattage, something like PowerMatch is necessary IMO.

    Bogdan

    • Richard Grieve

      I’m going to guess that they already “support” this mode. Can you not just pair your external PM as the “Power Source” and the Kickr as the “Controllable Trainer”? In this way, Zwift receives power data from your third party PM, but still controls the load on the Kickr. I don’t have a suitable PM to test this with (my other PM is a PowerTap), but I can’t see why this wouldn’t work exactly like you’re asking.

    • Joseph Bank

      While they certainly have the data necessary to do this, it didn’t look to me like they were doing it. I tried workout mode yesterday with my kickr and a quarq. Normally my kickr reads low (which TR handles nicely). The Zwift workout mode seemed like it was setting my kickr directly while still displaying from my quarq, so I was below the target wattages for the entire workout. Hopefully they fix that soon.

    • Richard

      You can indeed do what you mentioned, I use my Stages for Power on Zwift and real roads but use my smart trainer for resistance. Keeps the data accurate, especially as there is a power difference between my smart trainer and Stages….

    • Bogdan Urma

      Tim, Richard is correct, and I do the same (pair my power meter and trainer both and Zwift reads my power from power meter and ignores trainer power numbers), BUT this only makes sense as it’s not implemented when riding a course – not when doing a workout or FTP test. When riding a course, Zwift can increase your trainer’s resistance as a percentage, and then whatever watts you need to pedal through it, it will read from your power meter if you have it paired that way. So your numbers will match if you are also sending to your Garmin or head unit for example, because it’s ignoring the trainer’s power numbers. It doesn’t matter in this case. But in workout mode or FTP, it has to send a specific wattage to the trainer, so then it won’t work. Say it sends 200w to the trainer for an interval. Well the trainer’s 200w may be lower or higher than your power meter’s. So it needs something like Trainerroad’s PowerMatch.

    • Bogdan Urma

      Yes, this is what I’ve observed as well, which is why I asked in the first place. Without a PowerMatch feature like Trainerroad’s, Zwif’s workouts will not match your power meter.

    • Bogdan, am a TR user, just tried Zwift in workout mode this morning. The resistance control in Zwift is very loose, so it’s up to the rider to increase/decrease your effort and “matching” the target power.

    • Bogdan Urma

      Yes, correct. I also tried it. I just don’t think this is a good way to go – it’s like TrainerRoad before PowerMatch came out…

    • Simon J

      Bogdan,

      I asked zwift this very question, as my Stages/Kickr combo had me consistently falling short of the target wattage by about 10w.

      They replied that indeed the program only uses the kickr wattage to control the resistance….the stages power was for display only. Disappointing – this is make or break for me. I’ll continue to use TrainerRoad for my training….but I’m not sure if I’m willing to pay $10 for the odd roam around the island to break up my winter widing.

    • Bogdan Urma

      Simon,

      I agree it’s disappointing, but I also spoke with them and they are now “seriously” looking into it. I brought this up with them back in June, but they didn’t think it was important to implement as a feature. Maybe now they will change their minds, only time will tell. I for one will not pay $10 for the odd ride around as you say as well. Trainerroad is the way to go for training, and that’s what I’ll be using too. If they fix this, then I may reconsider it.

    • Yvan Poulin

      Somehow that didn’t work for me. I use the Vector for power, but the training mode wouldn’t work unless my power source was the Tacx Vortex (for the ERG mode). What am I doing wrong?

    • FJ

      A bit late to the party, but as I’ve just ordered a Vortex to use with Zwift I started looking into this.

      Would the following workaround do the trick?

      * Perform an FTP test using Zwift (or TR or whatever) and record the power from the trainer (not from the PM)
      * Separately record power from the power meter using your head unit (garmin,polar…) and compute the FTP from the data.

      You now have two FTP values, one from your trainer, and a second from the power meter. Then use the trainer FTP value when riding in Zwift, and use the real FTP from the power meter when riding outdoors.

      Any reason why this shouldn’t work until Zwift implement a solution?

    • v

      such workaround should work. why not ? :)

  2. David Lusty

    Considering the cost of a trainer capable of actually using this I would say £8 a month is very reasonable. This update looks really good and may be responsible for a lot of people actually doing their winter training where in previous years some of us may or may not have stopped just after buying the trainer and a new wheel :)
    If I had a power capable trainer I’d definitely sign up, and far from that £8 being a blocker, I’d say it’s likely that this will make me invest in a power capable trainer and give away the old one.

    • David Lusty

      Doh! I just checked and my trainer is actually supported, I could have tried this after all. Ant+ dongle now ordered :)

    • I tried this the first time a week ago with my dumb Taxc trainer (supported). I have to say, time flew way faster than watching movies. I am not sure how polished the workouts are, so I have to think who to give my $10 to – TrainerRoad or Zwift. Right now I am being conservative and leaning towards TR.

    • Dave Lusty

      Just tried for the first time, dongle came today. This is simply awsome, I’ve never enjoyed using a trainer before, and I’ve certainly never put in this much effort for this long. A few more goes and I may start thinking about upgrading to a smart power enabled trainer and a big TV for the garage. £8 a month through winter is peanuts for this, not sure I’d pay during summer though so if they need a yearly buy in I may think twice.

    • Dave Lusty

      On second thoughts – the experience is somewhat ruined by the fact that with a Tacx Booster I can only get to 390 Watts on zpower because it’s limited to level 2 on the trainer. This means I can’t physically get to the top of the results because people with real power readings can generate, or rather record, more power and therefore go faster.
      It also means, although I’ll admit this may be somewhat of a niche requirement, that I can’t get my HR up or properly try the FTP test which makes these workouts more of a Sunday ride, but still much more fun than staring at the wall!
      I’ve opened a support ticket so hopefully they will enable other Booster levels as it has another 7 above this one so should be an easy enough fix. In the meantime I plan to just replace the trainer once Ray says which one to go for – the Elite looks interesting enough to warrant waiting for the review and then I can really see if I’m superman or whether the zpower readings just make it look that way!

    • v

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      Personally I think for now Neo is a less evil compared to Kickr (too loud, problems with power accuracy) and Muin.

    • Andreas

      I have the same issue and I would also love to select the difficulty setting at the start of my ride, in order to be able to select the zpower range I would like to train for.

  3. Henry Levy

    Ray,

    Since tablets are becoming an integral part of the trainer experience, any recommendations. I have I-pads but they don’t have expandable memory. The android devices take the mini cards but do they work with the trainers as well as the Apple products. The Tacx app allows for video download but my I-pad would only hold 2.
    Henry

    • It’s tricky. Apps like Zwift aren’t on tablets yet (just PC’s/Mac’s). And the remaining apps for trainers are heavily slanted towards desktops and iOS devices. If I look at all of the trainer apps available (not just utility apps for trainers), the vast majority are on iOS devices. Or at least, have far more functionality on iOS devices.

      I suspect that’s somewhat an artifact that the Wahoo KICKR started off being iOS first, so that’s where the developers went.

    • I doubt Zwift will ever be a “mobile” application (either tablet or phone). It has too high requirements in terms of graphic cards… it’s basically an HD 3D game

    • I use a Microsoft Surface Pro (first gen, upgraded to Windows 10) with a Garmin ANT+ key. Works perfect for running Zwift.

      It has a mini-display port on it, so you can get a MDP to HDMI adapter, and hook it up to your TV and away you go.

      I have a soundbar that supports bluetooth, so I just have it setup to play sound on it. Works out great.

    • Simone

      Technically speaking the Surface Pro is a laptop ?

    • Depends on who you ask. ;)

      Good to hear a Surface Pro 2 does well on Zwift. Not a bad option, especially if you can find one cheap. Wishing I didn’t have so many Surface RT’s sitting around acting as picture frames…

    • David lusty

      Well it certainly isn’t a tablet whatever you call it. It’s huge, runs full Windows, and has no tablet apps available. Oh, and I have yet to see someone using one without a keyboard. It’s a laptop that just happens to be terrible on your lap. Decent work computer though for us commuters.

    • Frans

      Even a Surface 3 (non-pro with Atom quad-core running full windows 10) runs Zwift in the lowest setting (572p) with about 50% processor usage on a secondary display. No problem; ok, my new laptop runs it smooth at 1080p. But it is remarkable that you don’t need a heavy duty laptop for this 3D environment. Nice programming.

      Will be trying out workout mode to-morrow and I think I will stick to Zwift for at least this winter

    • Olivier Champoux

      Accordind to Zwift it will be available on ios and Android in 2016

      link to zwift.com

      Down the page
      Can I use it with my tablet?
      Not yet. iOS and Android support is coming Summer 2016.

    • Martyn

      There is a bit of confusion about that. Implies on website as you mentioned that iPad version will be available next year, but in the Zwift Facebook forums the team have said it is not currently on their roadmap as tablets aren’t powerful enough.

    • Mike

      How does the Surface Pro do? I was running zwift on a lenovo desktop that is about two years old with a decent enough i5 processor and RAM but with a very basic graphics card (i.e., intel, no nvidia etc), and it was not all that impressive compared to the screenshots I’ve seen. Zwift says that all of the apple mobile chips (including the new apple tv) aren’t powerful enough to run the software. I would prefer to use my TV rather than a computer generally…

    • Kai

      I was using Zwift on a rather cheap ($199) 10″ tablet running 32bit Windows 8.1. Attached it to my bike by means of the TACX tablet mount. It worked _very_ nive until, someday, they decided to drop the 32bit support in Zwift and went all 64bit….

    • Kurt

      Hei Kai,

      Could you go into specifics about the specs of your tablet (brand, ram, cpu, etc)? I’m looking to buy a windows tablet and it would be nice if i could use zwift on it.

      Thanks in advance,
      Kurt

  4. Chris

    Ray, any thoughts on the depth of the training plans within workout mode? TrainerRoad has a very broad set of detailed training plans, which still seems like an advantage over Zwift. The user experience within Zwift wins hands-down, or course.

  5. Einundsiebzig

    Ray, do you know details about the payment options? Will paypal be available like it is for TrainerRoad?

  6. Mark

    Any word about BT sensors?

    • David Lusty

      Here’s a word – Niche. Bluetooth is very new (to fitness sensors) and not heavily adopted so support will be slow to come across the board. Ant+ is the standard for fitness right now, and likely to remain so for a while, at least until BTLE gets all the features like broadcast/multicast. Add to this the various compatibility issues we’ve seen with BTLE sensors and it seems like a nightmare for companies to support right now, meaning they probably are better waiting. Look at what happened to Polar with the v800, they were blamed for support issues whether those issues were their fault or not. This means new entries to the market have a choice – Ant+ only and look like you have great software, or BTLE and look like you’ve just learned to write code.
      Other than Polar, does anyone actually make a BTLE only sensor?

    • Duane

      Zwift has stated that they intend to support BTLE but it isn’t a high priority at this time. As for other companies that are invested in that communication format, Wahoo Fitness has a pretty strong inclination and production line.

    • Jon@Zwift

      We’ve been riding Zwift via bluetooth sensors internally for a few weeks now so a an early version will be available as a test soon to select users. We don’t support controllable trainers over BLE yet, but that’d be the next logical step.

    • David Lusty

      Wahoo are all dual sensors though aren’t they?

  7. Looks awesome (I rode Zwift all East Coast winter this past year but haven’t tried workout mode yet…was definitely going to plunk down the monthly cost to keep going even if they didn’t add this!). One immediate thing that appears to be missing though is your average wattage for each interval. Wattage bounces around a lot as we all know and at least for longer intervals I’m used to keeping an average otherwise you can keep undershooting and overshooting. I guess I’ll have the average on my bike-mounted device after the fact, though. Perhaps they show an evolving average at least for the FTP test where it really counts?

    • Jon@Zwift

      Indeed average watts during the FTP test will be in the next update – I’m not sure it’s actually very useful on the other segments as average wattage doesn’t determine whether you “pass” or “fail”.

  8. wojtek

    I don’t know, whether you are allowed to simply answer such question ;) but I was getting ready to start paying 10$ month for Trainerroad over the winter. I have already used their trial period and was quite happy with it. So what would be your advice – Trainerroad or Zwift? My main goal is to have structured workouts, or actually some kind of virtual trainer, who will tell me when to do intervals, how intensive or how long. So Trainerroad was ideal choice for me and got everything I needed. But some virtual world as provided by Zwift would be a nice-to-have. (if it will provide comparable functionality as TR).
    I don’t have a computrainer, but only a low cost Elite Novo Force – does Zwift provide virtual power at all?

    • David Lusty

      FYI Ray answered this on the podcast a couple of weeks ago. I think it came down to structured training vs. gamification to pass time although this announcement may change that a bit. Podcast is well worth listening to btw so suggest you have a listen :)

    • Paul Wilson

      Wait… he has a podcast? Why was I not told about this? Why am I always the last to know? :)

    • Mike

      I just read this and learned this too, so don’t worry, you weren’t the last to know :)

    • David Lusty

      If only Ray had repeatedly mentioned it in the weekly update posts… ;)

      Admittedly the ad on the front page is kind of hidden halfway down the page so not all that obvious.

  9. Phil

    I tried the workout mode twice this weekend. On Saturday, something was buggy (connection, workout mode, my PC, who knows) so it was super laggy (i.e. my actual riding time was double what zwift recorded due to lag). It kept switching camera views too. Odd, but I wrote it off as an anomaly

    Yesterday went much better, although the workout selection window was a bit buggy for me (I’m using a core2duo from 2008 so I’m not expecting miracles, to be fair). Did an FTP test (all time 20min high of 268, woohoo, although I really should have held 275 like I had for the first 15mins, I kind of struggled with cadence/gear ratio toward the end, trying not to spin too much but the low 80s were a grind as well). My one little gripe is that it gave me an FTP of 241, so I was bummed at what I thought was a wasted hard effort, but then looking at data realized it was 90% instead of 95% of my 20min. But that’s just ego

    I’m really liking it so far, I’d like to do some more exploring of their plans, but this could definitely be my go to app for the winter

  10. David

    Ray,

    Could you comment on the accuracy of the power readings? Also, did you experience any technical issues? I was bumped into erg mode on Saturday and Sunday while doing structured workouts and the power reading was dropping to nil an average of once every minute or so. I ride a kickr.

    -David

    • I didn’t have any technical issues on my ride (Sunday evening), perhaps I lucked out in that had I been successful earlier in the weekend it would have been more challenging. I suspect some sort of teething pains.

    • Mike

      Any issues with the Tacx overheating with TrainerRoad or regular Zwift? Seem to be a handful of issues with the Tacx getting overpowered by both on the Tacx discussion boards…

    • I haven’t seen any there, on Neo. Are you referring to Neo, or other Tacx units (more common)?

    • Bob

      David, in my one trial of the workout mode so far, I also experienced numerous false reports of power dropouts. I was pedaling steadily and Zwift would momentarily show 0 watts.

      I also record Zwift rides on a Garmin head unit and it does not show power dropouts at those times. Also Zwift in regular mode did not show those power dropouts at any time during many hours of riding.

      I expect Zwift will cure whatever the glitch is. I experienced a problem a couple of months ago with the program crashing at the end of the ride, before completing the final ride data sync with the online records. They cured that and I’m impressed with the experience.

      It would be nice if they succeeded in building a volume of paying users and were able to discount the annual cost. I’d like to see something lower than $120.

  11. Florios

    Hum! I would like to use Zwift more often (with their new features), but my USB dongle shows random power metrics as soon as I push the pedals… (It is a mini Suunto dongle and Garmin speed/cadence ANT+). Do someone knows the problem? I have no problem with TrainerRoad with the same configuration…

  12. Ben Mills

    I think it’s a little odd that the intervals don’t match up with the terrain. I wonder if in the future you’ll get on the fly custom terrain that matches your intervals. So a big climb that matches with a big power interval. I guess that would completely eliminate the social aspect though.

    I think I’ll stick with TrainerRoad. The big question is whether I want to pay $10 a month for Zwift for the occasional “mix it up” ride.

    • Mark Hewitt

      Now that they have training mode the lack of different courses is the biggest thing missing from Zwift. Ideally a workout like this is best on rolling terrain so you don’t look like you’re doing interval work up and down hills.

    • The logic with not having those in workout mode ‘ride the terrain’ is that it might not match the actual workout structure. So you don’t want someone grinding away up a 9% hill when they’re supposed to be doing a 90-second long easy spin between hard intervals.

  13. Marc Steingrand

    Ray great as usual
    So the question is I am signing up on both zwift and trainerroad
    Need to see if they build in zwift as well training plans or just training where you choose

  14. Fra

    How do you communicate with Others during workout? wher is the keyboard?

  15. phr3dly

    Any idea about the bandwidth requirements to use zwift? I have affordable 1Mbps DSL, and super-expensive/capped LTE internet (~15 Mbps). If I have to route zwift through the LTE, then it’s a much tougher sell. But if I can use it with my DSL then that may be enough to get me into a Tacx Neo…

  16. Jason

    The workout features look nice at a glance but once I started looking at each plan I was underwhelmed a bit. I am/was gearing up to start Trainer Road’s Mid Century plan. This gives me about 6-7 hours a week on the bike with strength training during the week varying in time and an endurance ride on the weekend. Compare that to Zwift’s Century plan which seems to be all endurance and the shortest ride is ~2hrs, most of which is the same thing repeated day after day. Talk about monotonous. The 12 week FTP looks better with more variety and I suppose one could roll their own program using a mix of workouts from the various sections but that’s not something I want to do, I like more structure it keeps me motivated and on track. Now I realize this is still all new and they will be improving upon it over time but I don’t think it’s mature enough to pull me away from TR just yet. I’m set up to run both TR and Zwift at the same time (did that all last winter) so I could go that route again, or perhaps do my structured training on TR during the week and then an endurance ride on the weekend with Zwift. The big question is if I want to shell out for both over the winter…

    • Jon@Zwift

      The plan you mention is straight from Marco Pinotti (ex-BMC) and he’s more of a serious cyclist and goes by the book. We’ve literally got hundreds of workouts to put into Zwift yet and I think we’ll have an FTP plan with more variety soon if that’s your thing.

    • Scott Heitman

      im really really enjoying the 12 week ftp builder plan. its so cool . Just wish I could access it to see whats on the agenda for today. My gf wants to know how long i am riding today.

  17. ekutter

    I had the opposite response to you as after 30 minutes of my hour workout, I was watching the seconds tick by. When I use Zwift in the normal competition mode, time fly’s by.

    On the other hand, I had similar issues to you where the power numbers were way too easy despite manually upping my FTP.

    Definitely a good addition to the app though, especially for those days I want to take it easy. In regular competition mode, it seems nearly impossible to restrain from chasing people down and going too hard.

    • Mark Hewitt

      I had the same experience this morning. Normally just riding it’s very engaging but in workout mode I was watching the seconds tick down, trying to mix it up a little saying after 1 minute I’ll go on the drops etc. It was great when the workout finished and I could just ride again!

  18. Ubrab

    Is using a basic trainer (in my case the Elite Crono Fluid) + the Garmin speed sensor and then the estimated Swift “Z-power” worth it?
    I’m considering buying the dongle and trying Zwift out, but I’m afraid to end up disappointed by the power estimate…

    • Neil Glessner

      Last night I did my first Zwift workout (20 minute FTP test). Using Z-power based off of a kenetic RnR and garmin speed sensor I found the power number in zwift impossible to hold at any specific level. For example I’d try to hold 255 watts for 20 seconds… I’d see my power jump around like crazy between 200 and 300 watts. I stopped mid-ride and switched to using TrainerRoad’s power relay (basically trainerroad takes in the speed sensor data and outputs the wattage optionally using 1/3/5 second smoothing). Using this method it was completely tolerable. I was able to hold +- ~5 watts and nail the intervals. Zwift REALLY needs to implement smoothing or something for Zpower. As it is, I find it unusable for workout mode.

    • Ubrab, did you go ahead?

      I ask because I’ve just bought the same turbo and Garmin Speed/Cadence sensors, a Suunto Ant+ dongle and it all arrives tomorrow…

      Be interested to hear your findings. :)

  19. Jaimie

    Nice write up. I have been using Zwift for a while and think that the Workout Mode will be a perfect match. This is just v1 and I can only imagine it will get better. I also love the way that it works with Strava. Great way to cross pollinate both ecosystem. If you are on Strava then I think you would like Zwift even more for the community aspect.

    I really enjoyed riding the Richmond course and then watching the races. It was a very cool way to experience where they were racing.

    I think once they allow custom workouts this will be a perfect way to spend the winter.

  20. Chris

    Did you update the firmware on your neo.. I was understanding the new firmware took care of some issues with gradient/wattage control… in particular for trainer road…

  21. John Hallas

    I have 3 problems with Zwift. 1) I cannot run it on my laptop as it is 32 bit. 2) I train in my garage and my wifi signal isd a bit variable/weak. 3) I dont want to race, I want to train. Therefore, as I do not want to pay out for two subscriptions a month I will be likely to stick to Trainer Raod.

  22. Nate Thompson

    If they had the workout library of TrainerRoad, I’d be all over this. As it stands right now, it is definitely a step in the right direction and I definitely want to play around with it a bit, but I’ll be keeping my TrainerRoad subscription for now. Hopefully they will continue to build out their training plans as we get closer to the 2016 training season.

    • Jon@Zwift

      I’d like to point out that we weren’t even able to add workouts to Zwift until about 48 hours before we sent the update out to everybody, and we had just one person authoring them. Including the days of the training plans that’s 109 workouts we added in 2 days…..building up the library won’t be an issue this winter. Coaches have provided us with a pretty large pile of assets.

    • Einundsiebzig

      Workout Editor and the option to create own Workouts would fill this gap too….

  23. Ross

    I think Zwift is off to a great start with their workout mode. At the moment, I won’t be abandoning my TR workouts but if Zwift can produce an extensive library like TR, then I can see myself making the switch. The main difference I see between TR workouts vs. Zwift’s, is that I’m actually having fun doing the Zwift workout. The visuals cues, completion stars and the halo’s really made time fly in workout mode. Plus, seeing the other rider avatars and most importantly just reading the community conversations taking place. The community is what really makes Zwift, no matter how many virtual laps I do around the courses, the experience is never the same because of the community. That is so vital in keeping you motivated during training or even when doing a social ride. Keep up the good work Zwift!

  24. Steve

    Is it much better than bkool?

  25. Just tried it this morning. During two out of five intervals, I was around or I think slightly lower already than the target power, but it kept slowly upping resistance while I had to shift to a higher cog to counter and maintain my cadence, until finally I ended up on my largest cog and it ground me down to cadence below 50rpm … and killed me. ;-)

    As a software engineer I’d say this is a predictable and probably easily solvable negative feedback loop caused by the loose power control they implemented. Even if they don’t know which gear I’m in, I’d hope they’d look more at my cadence to adjust resistance. They might have to “learn” and adjust to the cadence patterns of individual riders.

    Other than that … it “succeeded” in having me bear a higher pulse for a longer time than usual not giving up, but I’m too sensitive to motion sickness caused by optical flow even on a 17inch Laptop.

    • Steve

      So are workouts not done in Erg mode if you have a smart trainer?

    • Einundsiebzig

      I do not have this problems, I have ridden a 2x 30min. Intervall 180W with NEO smart trainer and measured that up with my Powermeter and Garmin Edge and had with only +-1/2 Watts diff exact the same average then it was setup…

    • Steve, as written by Ray, the workout mode allows the rider to choose intensity so it’s likely not Erg mode – at least in my understanding of how Erg mode is implemented. I’d guess it’s resistance mode based mainly on target power but also some other factors. In contrast, normal Zwift would be resistance mode based on slope (and maybe some other factors), TR without power matching pure Erg mode, and TR with power matching probably Erg mode with some offset calculated from external power meter data (or resistance mode in a feedback loop).

      Einundsiebzig, thanks for your comment. Yes, wouldn’t expect that to happen to most – if it did, I’d expect that it would have been ironed out in beta phase. I might have done something that the developers didn’t expect; if so, I would like to know what that might have been? Attached is the data from one of the intervals, in case Zwift support might be reading here. I was riding with the Neo and target power was I think 235W. The graph shows how my cadence kept dropping as resistance was increasing and I try to keep target power by shifting down – what else could I do? When I reach the largest cog at 0:34 I gave in for the first time. Tried two times to get back into a reasonable gear but wasn’t able to. (Haven’t checked what my power meter readings were but the Zwift was just connected to the Neo, so that shouldn’t be an issue here?)

    • Einundsiebzig

      The workout mode is 100% Erg Mode if you have a smart trainer!
      As you can see the the 2x 30min. Intervals almost exactly at 180W!

    • Thanks, Einundsiebzig, I see your data and I believe you, so that is … interesting. What I experienced with my smart trainer was, as you see from my data, not an Erg mode, and I believe that’s also what Ray wrote – that you can choose your own pace and then are scored by stars; getting those start wouldn’t make sense if it ‘s Erg mode or not?

      There is this “Use Erg mode” radio button (which seems to be checked by default), so there seems to be two modes. From the available information, I’d guess could be either this loosely controlled mode and a strict Erg mode (which would explain your experience but would mean I had that unchecked?), or the loose mode (which they call Erg mode?) and standard Zwift mode (i.e. resistance by slope) – but this wouldn’t explain your experience. I don’t think I touched that radio button but I am not absolutely sure. I’d also expect that Ray tries it in whatever is default… Can I assume you had the “Use Erg mode” checked too?

      Anyway, from the posts by Zwift it seems that this workout public beta really just got ready and was not preceded by a more private, restricted beta phase (which I thought any serious company would do, but well, we live in a world now where customers are experiment subjects…), so it wouldn’t be a surprise if there are some glitches…

      Would the Zwift guys be able to chime in and clarify?

    • Another possible difference could be if someone connects a power meter other than the controllable trainer as power source… ?

    • Did a brief test. With “Erg mode” checked it was indeed Erg mode, unchecked it was this loose mode. In the window for workout selection sometimes left and right half wouldn’t correspond correctly and I wasn’t able to find a reasonable rule for when Erg mode was default and when it wasn’t since it changed somewhat randomly today, yesterday it seemed to work better or I at least I didn’t notice those irregularities.

    • Einundsiebzig

      Ich you connect the Neo as Smart Trainer, indeed you should not pair the powermeter on top of that… Why should that make sense?

    • Interesting, I didn’t even notice the Erg Mode button. That’s cool. Nice find and follow-up Einundsiebzig & Takura!

  26. Mad_triathlete

    Question to all of you, who have already done some structured workouts:
    Does the recording of your workout already have that structure when you upload to strava, tp,…
    In other words, does it for instance contain the laps for the individual stages of the workout?
    Thanks for your feedback

  27. Jorge

    I’ve never used zwift but seems really interesting.
    Talking about how to display zwift: from a PC, Is there a way to ‘chromecast’ it to a projector or TV??, I mean for cases when you don’t have plugged that display directly to your PC. It would be convenient though I guess it would not be possible if zwift runs from an .exe file (vs running from the web browser that has chromecast extensions). Any idea?

    • Mark Hewitt

      You can use an HDMI sender. Although I’ve even used it through Teamviewer on my iPhone! Although you’d still need your bike sensors to be in range of the ANT+ USB stick.

    • Giles E Endicott

      Google chrome chromecast add in will let you cast the entire screen, just do that

  28. JASON DURST

    Cannot find the ZWIFT podcast

  29. g00se

    Tried it with a Bkool Classic but the ERG mode kept trying to set the resistance higher than needed, So the power I was putting out was higher than each segment demanded – but about 20%. Sounds like the same issue the Bkool has with TrainerRoad.

    As said in the article, there is a bit of wiggle room so you can go above and below the power requirement, but it will slowly try to set things right.

    • Jonathan

      Same experience. I have the Bkool pro and there is no way I can get power down in the recovery sections, end up in the granny ring under 50rpm and still unable to drop to 80w.
      Found I have to stop, Zwift detects it has no input and switches off the ERG mode which resets the resistance on the trainer until the next section.

      My expectation is with a power controlled trainer I shouldnt need to change gears during the workout mode. Just spin at a certain cadance and the trainer modifies the resistance appropriately to the target wattage.

    • IN the Setup menu there is a slider called Trainer Difficulty. Default level is 50% but if you set it to 100% it does what you mentioned. You don’t need to shift throughout the entire ride. That said, if you need to sprint for any reason during the ride, you’ll want ERG mode off, or that level way down. Otherwise it’s to hard to get up to power in the sprint.

    • Jay

      This is the same thing I’m going through right now. If I pause the workout to go to the bathroom or something or if my cadences to low my ER G goes off and it will not come back on. Sometimes it will come on the next session. This is extremely annoying when you’re on a long ride and you want and need the ERG mode.

      Any fix that you have found?

  30. JimG

    Tried the workout mode last night. I have a simple setup with a Kurt Kinetic trainer. The power numbers in Zwift were jumping all over the place. With a steady cadence of 90 rpm, my power numbers jumped around in increments of 5-10 watts. Perhaps it is the algorithm that Zwift uses to create the power numbers.

    Frustrated, I abandoned the ride and fired up a Trainer Road session. My virtual power numbers with Trainer Road were steady as usual. An interesting comparison.

    This was also my first Zwift ride on the Richmond course. I’m with Ray, it is b-o-r-i-n-g. The island is much nicer.

    • Mark Hewitt

      Thanks JimG, I thought I was the only one who finds Richmond deadly boring DULL DULL. The workout mode only serves to make a boring course even worse.

      Watopia on the other hand is always glorious!

    • JimG

      It’s like a bomb went off that killed everyone (except the cyclists), but left the boring architecture intact.

    • Yes, I did a workout which required a lot of sprinting so I turned ERG mode off for the session effectively turing my smart trainer into a dumb one. As you mentioned watts jump around a lot. Other users have mentioned all they need to do is normalize the power numbers by 3 seconds or so which will smooth the numbers out.

  31. tosin

    Ok, so I have to say that since I have started using Zwift, I’ve used TrainerRoad once, and it was running concurrently with Zwift, just to see how it worked to have 2 dongles working at the same time. I have to say that TrainerRoad did make me a faster cyclist in the few years that I have been using it. However, an hour on TrainerRoad feels like an hour of effort. I have been doing mostly 1.5 hour rides on Zwift, and that time flies by. I have also been doing one of the Tuesday night races over the last few weeks, and just looking at the numbers, my overall workout power average has slowly been increasing each week.

    So, is it is as focused as TrainerRoad? No. Does it have as extensive a library as TrainerRoad? No/Not yet. The entertainment value and the ability to meet up with people that I have become acquainted with on Facebook has made it more of a social pain cave. Finally, although TrainerRoad has a very extensive workout list, I usually stuck to very similar workouts, and didn’t really push along with the training plans. For all of those reasons, and because sometimes you want to just do a chill group ride, I’m getting rid of my TrainerRoad account after I finish this posting.

  32. Mark Hewitt

    They have extended the ‘beta’ period by another week.

    However the update on 27/10/2015 has removed the ability to use ERG mode on a smart trainer whilst using an external power meter. Not sure why this is or if it is temporary; but considering Trainer Road works fine wit that sort of setup there’s no reason why it can’t work.

    • John

      A great feature, love the portals and other cool stuff.

      One thing I don’t understand, why are workouts and FTP tests excluded from segments, draft effects, etc.? None of those effect the test, so why exclude? Is it a smart trainer thing? Are portals too quirky otherwise? Couple guesses…

      It would be nice to set a one lap PR while doing an FTP test, since they’re mutually inclusive :)

  33. DAN SEKERA

    I tried a workout Monday night all seemed well except for 1 small thing.
    There was something bothering me on my seat. I assume a seam from my chamois, or a bunching of fabric or who knows
    What it resulted in was in the middle of an interval I could not take it anymore and briefly stopped, and I mean briefly but long enough for wattage to fall to zero
    And instantly I received a message that why not word for word the gist was erg mode temporarily stopped. It did not restart at all during that interval so all of a sudden I’m in panic
    mode of trying to find the right gear / cadence combination to be at power target where before the trainer was keeping me there

    it was very frustrating that it did not instantly resume erg mode as soon as I started pedaling again. Maybe there was somewhere on the screen I could have clicked to reset it or restart it but I was working
    too hard to try to figure it out

  34. Marcos

    Hi Ray,

    Is there an option for listening a cadence workout session matched music?
    That would help a lot!

    Tks

  35. Jason Prosseda

    So then if your interval workout puts you into a 600 watt load when you are on the part of the course with the steepest decent, your speed will be like 60 MPH. If that decent is a Strava segment you will be KOM due to higher than normal speed because instead of recovering from the previous hill you were resting up the hill and hammering down. Erg mode will change the profile of the course and skew Strava segments. Couldn’t you then artificially lower your FTP and then overpower all the intervals to get a ridiculously fast lap time? If the answer is no, then that would only be because everybody will be limited to a fixed MPH when you hit your erg target so theoretically everyone would go the same speed if they did the same workout and only the wattage would be matched to that rider.

    • Ross

      People already try to cheat on Strava doing outdoor rides and videogames are notorious for people cheating, just no way to stop it. Zwift automatically flags erroneous and/or super human segment times. If you’re using a turbo trainer with a power meter or a turbo using Zpower, you don’t feel the Zwift terrain resistance unless you switch gears and pedal harder to make your character go faster. But the Zwift algorithm makes everyone, regardless of what power source you use, slow down up hills or speed up on descents based off your body weight and watts you’re pushing. If you are using a smart trainer in workout mode, the resistance is set by the interval not by the terrain but your character still follows the same laws of Zwift gravity just like everyone else riding in Zwift.

  36. Ian

    I’m looking at Trainer road and/or Zwift at the moment. Can anyone give me a few bullet points highlighting any key differences?
    Also you talk about using your phone or a PC. Do you use your phone as a display? Or is the phone purely used for the data instead of a far in head unit? Or am I missing something here ?

  37. v

    Using of both simultaneously is so fun! Time flies without being noticed while you follow your TR plan. Two Ant+ antennas have to be used for such setup.

    TR has much better library of workouts and plans for almost any purpose. They all have really good structure and often useful realtime on-screen instructions. So the quality of workouts content in TR is definitely better, at least for now. Plans in TR are exceptionally useful.

    Zwift takes away any boring aspect making your indoor session really interesting and enjoyable. Pure TR is not enjoyable at all, it is just a work, effort. While TR & Zwift simultaneously – it is something different, in such combination real fun is born ;) I don’t know why but you can feel it. I do ;)

  38. Rdjehv

    Can the zwift window be minimized? TR can minimize the window to diaplay only the info I need so I can use most of the screen for tv/movies etc.

  39. tudor

    Dear all,

    a question regarding the following setup:
    1. Vortex Smart
    2. Edge 520
    3. Stages Power / GSC 10
    4. Zwift :-)

    Now, how do I connect all the above to get the same power data / Speed / Cadence as Zwift displays it, on the Edge 520 ?

    My guess – Zwift/PC to Vortex using FE-C, and Vortex to Edge using Indoor Trainer profile (FE-C) on the Edge. This would assure same datastream being broadcasted but my question is- what device would control the trainer, since both the Edge / Zwift would try to take control over the trainer?

    Another way – connecting the Zwift to the Vortex only and the Edge to the Stages & GSC – in this setup the power data does not quite match – there’s at least 20W difference between Zwift and Edge.

    So…what’s the best way of connecting them?
    Kind regards & thanks,
    Tudor

  40. v

    Rdjehv,
    when you say “minimized” you mean changing the geometry of zwift’s window (height and width)? yes, you can change the geometry of zwift’s window. in zwift’s settings you should select “window interface” instead of “full screen interface”. after that you can change the geometry with your mouse.

    • rdejhv

      Hi V,

      thats indeed what I meant. I reaaly like the interface of TR. see screenshot here: link to s1338.photobucket.com
      does it look similar for zwift?

    • v

      No, I think you can’t comfortably use Zwift in such narrow window. But you can get something like this: link to facebook.com

      Or you can connect second monitor to your computer – one for Zwift, second for movies/etc.

      By the way, when you use Zwift you really don’t need to see moves/etc, it is so entertainment and fun itself, no boring at all. Before Zwift I also used TR + some cycling video (Tacx films to be precise). Now I do not need video, Zwift is absolutely enough.

  41. v

    tudor,
    > and Vortex to Edge using Indoor Trainer profile (FE-C) on the Edge

    wrong ;)
    Vortex also broadcasts as PowerMeter and as Speed/Cadence. On your Edge 520 you should connect Vortex as a PowerMeter only. Also I recommend to connect your GSC-10 to your Edge instead of Vortex’s speed/cadence. GSC-10 will give you more accurate cadence data.

    I have the same setup ;) Zwift (and TR simultaneously), Vortex Smart TDF, Edge 520, GSC-10. Vortex is connected to Zwift as a PowerSource (PowerMeter), GSC-10 is cadence source. In Edge 520 Vortex is connected as PowerMeter, GSC-10 is Speed/Cadence source. In TR Vortex is connected as ANT+ FE-C, ERG mode is active, GSC-10 is Cadence/Speed source.

    In your case Vortex should be connected to Zwift as Smart Trainer, GSC-10 as cadence Source. On the Edge’s side Vortex should be connected as PowerMeter, GSC-10 as Speed/Cadence source.

    Stages is connected to nowhere ;)

    You can also use Stages as Power Source for both Zwift and Edge. But in this case you will not feel Zwift’s hills since Zwift will not be able to change resistance of your trainer in real time.

  42. tudor

    V,

    thanks a lot for your input. will give it a try ;-)

    thanks,
    Tudor

  43. v

    you are welcome ;) have a nice Zwift trip! :)

  44. Henrik T1

    Hi Ray & Company,

    Reading along your in-depth review, and comments, I am looking for a little advice, regarding which system to get. I am a triathlete and are looking to really put some hrs into the bike training this winter.

    I have a Garmin forerunner 920 Tri pack, and are getting
    – a set of PowerTap P1 for my Tribike.
    I´ve got a spinningbike (fitted like my tribike)
    A 27´iMac, iPad, iPhone
    A big flatscreen TV + AppleTV

    From Ray´s super review I am quiet set at the Zwift system.
    But, originally I was going to put the Power Tap P1’s on the spinning bike, witch together with the Forerunner 920 should do the trick.

    But looking into getting a better set up, with interaction between the virtual road/track (and not going forward with designing a transformator system connecting the Zwift system with the spinning bike “resistance regulator screw” witch I have been working on) – What would be a good (minimal investment) but full working setup?

    Cheers
    Henrik

  45. Matt vW

    What Zwift really needs is true scheduled massed start events on proper road (non looped) courses , perhaps with races dedicated to specific trainers to keep it a bit more fair..

    You can’t believe how fast a session goes until you do a MS event… Tour de Giro is awesome for this… The last thing you care about when racing is the pretty scenery…

  46. Ed C

    OK… so I’ve been riding on Watopia for several months, with an old Spin bike and my Garmin Vector. I’ve been doing some free riding and some of my own designed workouts independent of Zwift island using the resistance ‘knob’ on the spin bike. With the LONG winter fast approaching [and twins on the way in the spring] I just purchased a Tacx [very] smart trainer. I have a few issues/questions to help optimize and guide my indoor riding experience. I figure this group is a good resource. Your advice will be taken to heart [pun].

    1) When I get the smart trainer, should I continue to use my Garmin Vector, which I also use as my outdoor power meter? My thinking: Zwift can control my smart trainer, but the ride data from the peripherals [Vector/HRM] can be recorded by my Garmin head unit. This way may power will be recorded consistently across all indoor/outdoor uses with the same device.Also, will the Vector and Smart Trainer simultaneous transmissions screw up the Zwift control of smart trainer?

    2) TrainerRoad vs Zwift: I had never heard of TranerRoad before I read the comments to this post. Since the point of HIT workouts is to be within a relatively narrow wattage target range, to me the deciding factor between the two applications would be how accurate the each one can precisely measure my effort. So with a Smart Trainer [and/or Garmin Vector] is Zwift or TrainerRoad more precise with Wattage readings?

    3) I am getting a one year ‘license’ to use the Tacx ‘virtual road’ software. Has anyone used this? Can anyone compare/contrast to Zwift/TrainerRoads?

    Thanks again for any insights you can provide this newbie.

    • tudor

      hello & welcome to the world of fe-c ;-)
      basically i had the same questions and a very nice user replied (not finding the post anymore, to quote him exactly); anyway – here’s my current set-up:
      1. zwift is paired using fe-c (trainer profile) with the trainer
      2. your garmin power meter is pretty useless in this scenario- you don’t have to pair it with anything. you will connect instead the garmin head unit to the power profile of the trainer; if you have a separate speed / sensor combo (garmin gsc10) you can use this as your speed/cadence source to the head unit, as it will be more accurate then the speed / cad profile computed by the trainer (speed & cad on the trainer are computed by the trainer itself that’s why the sensor is more accurate). you’ll then be able to either upload the fit file from the garmin or the one from zwift, both should have the same power output, but the one from zwift will have the speed matched to the elevation profile of the zwift course.

      regarding zwift/ trainerroad readings – most probably they will be the same, since they only pick up broadcasted data,

    • v

      > When I get the smart trainer, should I continue to use my Garmin Vector, which I also use as my outdoor power meter?

      You may use Garmin Vector to record you indoor Zwift ride on your Garmin head unit. Instead of Vector you also may use power broadcasted from trainer itself. In this case you will record the same data you see in Zwift. In case of using Vector you will record slightly different power curve – power is expected to be a bit higher than power you see in Zwift (due to loss of power on friction in transmission and in roller/tyre point). But as you correctly said in this case “power will be recorded consistently across all indoor/outdoor uses with the same device”. It’s a good thing. The cons is only one – in Zwift’s recorded file power will be slightly lower.

      > Also, will the Vector and Smart Trainer simultaneous transmissions screw up the Zwift control of smart trainer?

      Don’t worry, it’s not a problem at all. Everything will work simultaneously and flawlessly ;) ANT+ is designed to work correctly in such scenarios.

      > TrainerRoad vs Zwift:

      Please see my above comment: link to dcrainmaker.com

      My experience says that TR is more precisely deal with my effort than Zwift. ERG mode (Ant+ FE-C) in TR I like more than workout mode in Zwift. On the other hand ‘Wattage readings’ in both apps will be the same when you use Ant+ FE-C (ERG mode). One extra note – I found out that in Zwift for Tacx Smart trainer (Vortex in my case) there is a lag (1-2-4sec) in increasing displayed power *readings*. So when I sharply accelerate my Zwift’s character accelerates with a lag. Maybe such way they simulates inertia on trainers with small flywheel (virtual 11.8kg is in case of Vortex).

      > I am getting a one year ‘license’ to use the Tacx ‘virtual road’ software. Has anyone used this? Can anyone compare/contrast to Zwift/TrainerRoads?

      You mean Tacx TTS4? link to tacx.com

      If so than… In the past it was really buggy. Now it’s better and even usable. Sometimes I use its Virtual Reality feature and Tacx Films feature for relieving the monotony of life and for entertainment ;) It’s not so fun as Zwift is and the graphics is worse but for occasional use it’s rather good.

      So the recommendation is: if you want to effectively train use TR, if you want fun and social aspects more use Zwift, if you want both – use both apps simultaneously ;)

      Have a nice indoor (and surely outdoor) sessions :)

  47. Waldo Pepper

    Hello,
    has anybody seen the recently renewed iOS app? There is a new setting for BLE sensors now. What is tha supposed to do?

  48. Stuart Brown

    I noticed that this morning – it seems to suggest that the app will handle BLE sensors (and even smart trainer control shortly) and pass that via wi-fi to the desktop app?

    Are they planning to add BLE to the desktop app too? That would be nice from my point of view

  49. Magic 10

    Great Article as usual!!!

    Any one used the Tacx Satori Smart?
    Once it is a semi-smart trainer in which slope we have to use it in zwift (Its smart because send all de info via BT and ANT+ but can´t be controlled by the PC)
    The Tacx Blue Motion use the same magnetic break of Satori I wold like to know if the recommended slope to use is the same
    The recommended slope for the Tacx Blue Motion is 4
    Another issue is the accuracy of the zPower
    Using the Blue Motion in the slope 4 (as recommended) the power on the screen is much different from the numbers of a real Power meter?

    Thanks

  50. Happy Runner

    With “create your own” workouts about to be released on Zwift and the fairly safe assumption that something like PowerMatch will be implemented on Zwift, isn’t TrainerRoad in serious trouble?

    Once those pieces are in place, it seems like TrainerRoad will be headed the way of CompuTrainer — a great product in its day, but left in the dust by the competition. Which is too bad because Nate is such a nice guy.

    The future seems so bright for Zwift — its roll-out was impressively smooth. Not only does it have the normal subscription revenue stream, but there are a wide variety of other revenue streams — in-app purchase of kits, bikes, etc., not to mention the possibility of selling advertising, such as roadside billboards or branded stores in the virtual towns that we ride through. There’s also the possibility of product placement in the virtual world.

    It’s not too hard to imagine clubs or teams paying a fee and head-to-head competition between the virtual clubs, with prize money awarded. There are just so many possibilities for Zwift due to its rich platform.

    I’m not pronouncing TrainerRoad dead, but if it were a publicly traded company, I would definitely short-sell its stock. I think the writing is on the wall.

    • FJ

      Yes, TR is in serious trouble, but that could be seen the moment you tried Zwift back in the early beta days. I would hope Nate also saw this one coming and either has something on the side for a “rainy day” or is working on a counter offensive.

      Personally I’ve used TR a couple of times (two months or so at a time for the harshest winter months) but I always felt I was not getting quite enough value out of my $10 per month. Now they are up to $12 and there is more competition out there, I doubt I will be using TR this winter.

      I would have switched to PerfPro long ago if it wasn’t for it’s horrendous UI. A riding buddy uses it with his Kickr to great effect

    • v

      TR has great structured plans for almost any purpose, with real time on-screen instructions. While there is no workout content of such quality in Zwift – TR is safe enough.

      TR also has some unique useful features which Zwift doesn’t have now – Train Relay, Power Match.

    • v

      Power of both best apps :)

    • FJ

      Hi V

      I agree with you 100%. However, finding training plans is not really much of an issue. Pick any training book or quickly search online and you’ll find plenty of training plans on offer, for free or a very small outlay. And there are a number of tools you can use to train with those plans (Zwift too once they support custom workouts).

      TR are trying to sell the workouts and “career” aspects of it (link to trainerroad.com). The first is easy to have elsewhere (as I highlighted above) and the second is easily done with free Strava. Or, to pull things into topic, training plans are already in Zwift (and more will follow, with custom workouts being the final feature), and career is handled by Strava integration

      The strength of TR is the software, I’ve used it for two winters and I really like it. The interface is simple and intuitive, and it just works, and has useful features for those of us who want to focus on high quality training. However, $12 per month is a little hard to justify in light of new entrants in the market.

      As for me, I’m currently trying out Zwift. I’ll check out BKool too, but the jury is still out on whether I’ll end up using TR this winter until Zwift/Bkool mature a bit further

    • v

      FJ, you are also saying right things i agree with :)

      i just would like to note that for searching/creating your own plans/workouts/etc you have to spend some your time. Time in my opinion is the most valuable resource each of us has. So personally i prefer to use ready-to-use things from TR/Zwift and spend my time on other interesting stuff :)

      Anyway I would like to wish the prosperity to both TR and Zwift. They both are great apps, with really nice people behind them :)

    • Happy Runner

      So Zwift’s “Workout Editor” feature has been released. How long will it be until coaches simply create and then email their athletes workout files?

  51. Does the workout mode have any use for bog standard turbo trainers. E.g, will it work at all?

    • v

      yes it will work. the same way as it works in TR for VirtualPower dumb trainers. you have to hold requested watts yourself since there is no ERG mode in this case.

  52. Richard Chazal

    Has anyone tried using Zwift or Trainer Road with an Intel Compute stick or any other HDMI based computer?

    link to intel.com

    • Happy Runner

      Interesting product but it seems fall short of Zwift’s minimum specs for system memory, graphics memory and graphics processor.

  53. Scott Heitman

    106 Powerhouse Rd. Ketchikan, Alaska. I agree the end of each section is anticlimatic. I wish they would give out some sorta prizes that you could use in game. The major issue I have with the work outs is you cant access them outside of the workout mode making them hard to plan for. For example wouldnt it be nice if we could import a workout into our calanders.

  54. Charles Hicks

    I like the looks of the Zwift program. I’ve been riding the Wahoo Kickr using TrainerRoad. After reading about Zwift (and the comments here) I think I’d like to jump off and start using the Zwift program. I’ve read about computers and seems that if you have an Nivida 970 video card or higher you are good to go. I was going to buy a gaming PC to run this program. Does anyone have any recommendations as to gaming PC’s or a good source? I see that Zwift recommends the Dell AlienWare computer.

    • v

      link to zwift.com

      link to support.zwift.com

      you can build your gaming PC yourself from the components personally you like :) Motherboard, CPU, GPU, HDD, cooling system, etc. The same way as we build our beloved bikes :)

      personally i run Zwift on this machine link to global.shuttle.com with 4Gb of RAM and 64Gb SSD, almost a year. worked good but only with the lowest resolution.

      so even nettops are in general ok for Zwift. yes, graphics will not be the best but it is acceptable.

    • Scott Heitman

      I use a middle of the road Asus lappy and hook it up to one of those Walmart black Friday 55″ screens ($250) through hdmi. So, trainer and monitor were about $ 500.00. Then you need a bike. Instead of my $60000 synapse I use my old garage sale special a laptop that cost $1200. Garmin ant + thingees (heartrate monitor, cadence, speed sensor) mabe all around $150 there you go. All you need for agreat winter ride /workout experience. You dont even need a power meter. The game has one. have some fun.

    • Chris Takimoto

      As the owner of an entry level Synapse I would love to see what a $60,000 Synapse looks like. Heck, even a $6,000 Synapse must look pretty nice, too. Is it carbon with electronic shifters and disc breaks?

    • Scott Heitman

      carbon/Ultegra
      . its pretty sweet. It cost 1000 to go get it. no shops in my town. I picked it up then rode it from Denver to Loveland.

    • Scott Heitman
  55. Scott Heitman

    Check this out. on their fb
    View previous replies
    Zwift
    Zwift Workouts award experience based on “Perfect” scores on an interval. Getting some achievements will give big rewards too, e.g. 100km & 100 miles smile emoticon
    Like · Reply ·

  56. shilou

    I am a real newbie in all the cycling gadgets and apps

    so ive been using zwift on and off for about two weeks. I find I like it much better compared to just riding on the trainer with a tv on. this keeps me more engaged.

    so I have a kickr snap, wahoo speed and cadence sensor and as I have an entry level felt road bike with no power meter.

    my mileage on zwift is significantly different than what garmin/wahoo tell me. Im not really training for power (as I have zero idea about this) and I am consistently at 60-95watts…

    so my question is whose mileage should I go by in the essence that I am training for miles and to somewhat survive hills during races

  57. MAGNUS

    I have a few question on sensors and power meters (pedals and trainer). I have the following setup.

    Power Meter Pedals: Garmin Vector
    Smart Trainer: Tacx Vortex
    Speed/Cadence: Combo Sensor

    Why do my cadence readings vary depending on the sensor? Before I begin my ride I have the option to select any of the above for cadence. When I select the pedals or trainer both readings are almost identical if not the same however if I select the combo speed/cadence sensor it varies quite a bit. Pedals/Trainer ~80 vs Combo sensor ~105+. The measurement however only varies on Zwift. If I record my activity on my Edge and Fenix I get the same cadence reading on both devices.

    Power Meter variances? I know there’s some smoothing being done on Zwift however I’m not entirely sure how much. I haven’t had my pedals very long, and just bought my trainer, so I’m still learning about power. I calibrate both the trainer and pedals before each ride but readings vary quite a bit. I should note, I use the trainer with Zwift as well as record my workout on the Edge using the Vector pedals. Any ideas or suggestions as to what I should do or focus on? ie. Zwift or Edge recordings?
    Given that the “Smart Trainer” broadcasts all important variables (Power, Cadence, and controlled by Zwift) should I simply set the software to use it for each setting?

    Is it even worth the hassle of recording both trainer and Vector power readings on two separate fit files?

    Thanks in advance.

    • MAGNUS

      Does it make sense*** recording both power readings on two separate fit files?

    • Scott Heitman

      I think you should figure out why you want power data. At that point choose the power solution that is most consistent. Stay with that solution until you’re ready for the road. On the road your garmin pedal/headset is your only solution so get a feel for where your power is at by using them indoors and doing an ftp test. Keep what you are using outside consistent. Same with inside. Be ready for the issue that indoor and outdoor power may not be identical but hopefully consistent.. Ride On.

    • MAGNUS

      Thanks for the response…

      That is essentially why I’m trying to verify which is the most “optimal” route/setup. I want to be as consistent as possible. As you said, my only source of power outside is the pedals so it would make sense to use these inside as well. But then that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a “smart trainer”. Ideally I would want to use the smart trainer indoors for a more interactive trainer session but I also want it to be close (I understand it wont be identical) to what I am getting outside. Or even inside when comparing to my pedal readings.

  58. Scott Heitman

    The bigger issue, I think, is whether or not to use zpower when on the trainer. This is what I would do.. I would do ftp tests for both scenarios. work off the respective power numbers.. When indoors test your power on the trainer and use that power to train.. Disconnect Strava and Garmin Connect. Continue using the head unit so you can still sync with Connect and save your data there.. The ride will be recorded to Strava as a virtual Zwift ride.. Take the Zwift FTP test. do all your indoor workouts using only the trainer and this power.When you ride outside sync and calibrate your pedals and head unit.. Remember to reconnect Garmin and Strava accounts. Do an ftp test. Do all your outdoor workouts based on this power. About every 8 weeks or if the workouts are getting easier retest ftp. This is what I do. Good lucj, I am not a coach.

  59. Dave

    Can you create a workout that would match, for example, a hill? ie. distance and grade? Thanks !

  60. Paul Holmgren

    I’m so disappointed on Zwift, not in general but the fact they cant do a power match between a power meter and a smart trainer in workout mode.

    I have emailed with Zwift support and they say more or less they don’t care.
    When I connect both my Stages power meter and my Kickr Zwift turns off ERG in workout mode.
    So its either two bad things.
    I get correct power reading and resistance but looses the function of my kickr (electronic regulated resistance) so I must change gears and regulate my cadence to get the correct power.
    OR
    I get the functions of my kickr but with wrong power readings( some times up to 20W)

    This have resulted in I have not extended my Zwift subscription after a really long Beta testing period and my extra Strava premium months.

    I using TrainerRoad instead where I can get both power from my power meter and ERG mode on my kickr.

    But this is only in Workout mode and I did enjoy the other part of Zwift.

    • Happy Runner

      Can you imagine how much is on Zwift’s plate right now? Huge roll out, huge popularity. They have scaled with very few issues. Heck, they have even added routes (Ocean) and have more routes around the corner (Mountain). Adding intersections to the mix must have been pretty difficult (not only the turn, but the resulting change in the leader board, etc.).

      So PowerMatch is probably pretty far down on the list of things to do, and remember this product has been out for just a few months. Understandable that you need to leave for now, but keep an eye out and I bet we’ll see you back in Watopia pretty soon.

    • FJ

      Yep, they have been rather busy, but I’m with Paul here. All those features are “nice” but without the ability to control resistance based on wattage from a power meter Zwift is pretty useless as a training tool for me.

      If I was doing unstructured training, or was into those races that seem to take place in Watopia/Richmond then it would probably be fine. I too have cancelled my subscription, but will check it out next autumn/winter in case they have added this feature

  61. eminusx

    Man, ive totally had it with Zwift workout mode now. Its just too broken to be of any use.

    Example workout 1:
    2hrs of 30 intervals, made up of mainly 3-5 minute segments. Only 17 of the intervals were ‘complete’ because of the amount of drop-outs. My ‘workout’ when transferred to Trainingpeaks is a complete shambles. This happens everytime I use Zwift workout mode.

    Example workout 2:
    Approaching a 30 sec sprint @ 200% ftp. I finish the sprint and instead of dropping back to the next interval %age, zwift stays at 200% ftp for 5 minutes. This happens probably three times every session, either on low or high percentages, it just sticks. which means I have to completely stop and start a new ride which is pointless. This usually happens on most rides, if im near the end ill just try to continue and hope it corrects itself.

    So basically, not a single ride ive done using workout mode is even remotely accurate and can be used to gauge improvement. Waste of time.

    And it isnt my pc either. Ive got ANT +USB2 stick literally 2ft away from my Kickr, ive tried my Stages Dura Ace Crank, Garmin 520, all manner of tech and its just broken. All drivers are updated. My set up works flawlessly with Trainerroad software, Veloreality software is consistently more reliable too. Zwift is basically a glorified video game, very disappointed!

    • Mark Duncombe

      I have just finished the 12 week FTP builder (best part of 50-60 workouts) with my kickr and not a single drop out.The only times I didn’t get the star for an interval was when I had to stop to turn the fan on or open a window. Each workout was in ERG mode with wonderfully (smoothed) power graphs. I am seeing huge gains from using the workout mode, indeed just today knocked 22 seconds off my PR on a climb in Strava.

      Have been using Zwift for more or less a year now and in all that time I think I have had it crash on me twice. I am actually surprised at how reliable it has been given how many people are using it and how new it is.

      So I dont think Zwift itself is fundamentally broken but obviously something is broken for you.

      I have the Ant+ dongle on an extension cable about 2 feet to the left of my kickr and about 2 feet off the ground.

      All I can suggest is swapping component out starting with the the easiest/cheapest things first like cables, borrow another PC and see if its any better, try eliminating any other sources of wireless interference (video senders, baby monitors, microwave ovens etc).

    • eminusx

      Hey Mark, cheers for the reply.

      Wow, im jealous! Wish I had that success.

      This is what I cant understand. My pc is immense, 32gb ram, gtx980 card, ssd. Ive moved all my phones and other bits and bobs elsewhere so there is no interference. Ive tried the same set-up with Trainerroad, Veloreality, all good.

      Maybe i’ll just re-install the software and see if that makes a difference, it would be a shame if i had to dump it as i love the format, it actually works better when it isnt in workout mode and im just pootling around, which is strange and what makes me think its something to do with the programme/coding, hit and miss.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Mark Duncombe

      I guess one thing I should mention is I have a dedicated, well almost dedicated PC for Zwift and a few steam games. Its an Alienware Alpha i3 upgraded to 8GB and an SSD.

      I have a Suunto Ant+ dongle on a 3 meter extension, to the side and above the left side of the Kickr, which is I beleive where the kickr electronics live.

      Really odd that workout mode gives you more grief than pootling.

      Have you tried looking at the zwift log using this tool link to zwiftalizer.com

    • Mark Duncombe

      and here is what my log reveals.

      Note I have vsync turned on to avoid any tearing going round corners, with vsync off I see 40-60fps

    • eminusx

      ah thanks for the link, i’ll definitely have a look at that.

      I use windows 10 also by the way, I upgraded a few weeks back, no idea if that would make a difference but some of my other progs like Pro Tools are upset by the switch to 10.

  62. Malcolm

    Is it possible to skip a step in the workout using the keyboard? or only using the app?

  63. Malcolm

    Is is possible to skip a step in the workout using the keyboard? or only using the app?

    • Mike

      Press Tab to skip a step.

      On another note is it possible to reduce workout intensity on the fly? On TrainerRoad if you’re having an off day or finding it too intensive you can lower it a few % and still get a good workout.

    • Malcolm

      That’s great, thanks! I’d also like the option to adjust the workout FTP % on the fly. It would allow me to fine tune intervals so that my effort matched my bike’s power meter readings rather than my trainer’s setting of X Watts in the work out. Zwift doesn’t yet have an equivalent of “power match” so this would be a good work around but I don’t think it’s present in Zwift either. The only manual resistance adjustable option I’ve found is Freeride but whilst that lets you adjust the resistance, it does not hold a power level for you, so not really helpful for me.

    • Mike

      Pressing E brings up the workout window and you can change the ftp there. I haven’t tried changing it though so I don’t know if it will affect it mid-workout, or even reset it again once you ‘OK’ it.

    • Malcolm

      I’ve used that in the past but it’s really only helpful if you know (or can calculate) an exact and constant offset between your bike’s power meter and the trainer’s power. However, as it’s unlikely to be a constant offset, the ideal would be if either:
      A) Zwift used your bike’s power meter to set (the trainer’s) workout resistance rather than the trainer’s power meter.
      B) OR Zwift used the trainers power meter to set workout resistance, but allowed you to make small FTP% changes on the fly (with the +/- buttons) so that you adjust the setting until your bike’s power meter matched whatever Wattage you require.

      A) probably requires quite a good algorithm to make it work well. I am not sure why (b) hasn’t been implemented as a pretty good compromise though – it would be far easier to implement. Perhaps they prefer to focus developers on the long term goal of (a).

      The inability to do (a) or (b) in my workouts has caused me to leave Zwift until it’s implemented. I simply can’t do ERG controlled workouts when my trainer power meter reads one day 6W and another day 25W different from my bike’s power meter (and yes, do roll down calibration etc.). I’ll be back when it’s implemented as it’s a company and concept I want to support.

  64. Jon

    Might have missed this one but I did the Ftp test and trying to find out my average heart rate for the test itself, not the whole 1hr.

    Anyone got any ideas, I do have access to strava and training peaks.

    Managed to get a few gills during the Ftp test which I wasn’t expecting, from what I have read it’s meant to be a flat course?

    Thanks from Australia
    Jon

  65. Isaac

    Hi Ray, just bought my first smart trainer (Tacx Vortex as your review), and also the type of guy who prefers structured plans (in a trainer) than roaming around. I was checking on TrainerRoad and now reading this review, I see Zwift it’s a new player in the workouts field. The value that brings ZWIFT to the table is the social/virtual reality/entertainment side in a trainer which TRoad lacks, so if you need to choose between either one as a training tool, which do you advice or choose? or can work with both of them simultaneously?

    Appreciate your input as always,
    Have a good one!

  66. Isaac

    I talked with TR customer service, they told that in order to control trainer’s resistance and other stuff, will need and Ant+ stick…. Btooh will only transmit data (speed, cadence),

    Also for using the TR app in a tablet, will need the wahoo ant+ stick for controlling resistance.

    Contacted Zwift, and recently they enabled Bluetooth connection (iOS/OSX) to have full control of trainer, as I understand, no need the ant+ stick anymore in case you have Mac/iOS device ble enabled. Check this link

    link to support.zwift.com

    • v

      Isaac, thanks for the actual info! I didn’t know that still there is no control via BT4 in TR for MacOS, was sure they have already implemented it.

      So for both zwift & TR on your Mac you need only one ANT+ stick, BT4 is already onboard. Nice and clean setup:) In my case it is two ANT+ sticks & PC with windows :)

    • Sebastian

      This is not true at all. I use trainer road and my KICKR, HRM and cadence sensor all through Bluetooth on my iPad. Attached is a pic of my KICKR getting picked up from two stories down in my house through Bluetooth

    • Sebastian

      I forgot to add that the resistance on BT works perfect on a tablet.

  67. Alicia C

    Using Kurt Kinetic Road Machine with a Powertap wheel, a dumb trainer, basically. Ant+ connection to desktop Mac, and iPhone by the bike to work controls. When in workout mode, my virtual speed is dictated by the terrain of the course. Not a big deal, since I’m targeting power for the workout. Yet, directions on the screen might say 90-100 rpms, but if I happen to be on a hill on the course, my virtual cadence is also dictated by the course, not what I’m actually doing. I could use my Garman 500 if I want to know my actual cadence. Why doesn’t Zwift do this if I’m in workout mode? Should I care?

  68. Carlos Sertório

    Hello DC!
    Hope everything fine :)

    I have a question…
    I have been using ZWIFT with speed/cadence sensor (+ hr chest strap), instead of Powermeter or Smart Trainer (i have a tacx booster).

    Do you feel that the power calculated by zwift is accurate as if i was using a truly powermeter or a smart trainer?

    I am asking this because when i do max sprints with zwift, the power calculated goes to almost 400w…
    When i do the exactly same sprints in a stationary bike with powermeter integrated (in the gym where i work), my max power goes up to 850-1000w.

    Best regards,

    Carlos Sertorio

  69. Changren Y.

    Is anyone else with devices similar to mine paired in Zwift having issue with Zwift workout mode not adjusting the resistance (or perhaps taking a very very long time to adjust the resistance) on a Tacx NEO?

    – Power meter (I’m using Quarq Elsa RS but I think it can be any other non-Tacx NEO power meter)
    – Controllable Trainer (Tacx NEO with the latest firmware)
    – Cadence (Quarq Elsa RS)

    I did my first workout last night in Zwift using my brand new Tacx NEO (the 2017 model). In the previous day, I had no issue doing a TrainerRoad workout with the NEO. The adjustment in resistance was near instantaneous during the entire TrainerRoad workout. However in the Zwift workout, I had to constantly change gear to get near targeted power.

    Furthermore, supposedly the Road Feel mode in Zwift is automatically off in a workout but that’s not what I experienced last night. Not only was Road Feel enabled, it was physically harder to ride over wooden board and gravel sections because riding over them while trying to maintain the same cadence for the part of the workout that had no changes in targeted power would result in much higher power output, which caused Zwift to alert me to lower my power. I had to switch to a lower gear to maintain that targeted power. I’m pretty sure this is a bug because if there was no change in resistance when I was climbing and descending, why would riding over cobbles require more effort in an ERG-enabled workout?

    • Sebastian

      I’m having the same issue with Bluetooth and my KICKR. They are aware of the issue. However I also have drop outs on ANT+ with an extension cable. I think there are bugs in their latest release. Never had this issue before. At one point it had me riding off road and underwater.

    • Changren Y.

      Got a response from Zwift. As of now they do not support using a separate power meter and the ERG mode of a smart trainer concurrently. They are looking at implementing this feature in the future. I will try a workout tomorrow without a separate power meter and see if things work better.

  70. S. Savkar

    Zwift now has an update (as of May 3) to support a separate power meter in ERG mode! Finally!!!

    Can’t wait to get back home from my current trip to try it out. Had been up to now having to dump Zwift for workouts and had gone to using Trainerroad. But this may change things if implemented correctly.

    Also means i no longer have to do the kludge where I was trying to have power meter data sent thru my KICKR to Zwift which never appeared to work well.