JUMP TO:

Zwift Confirms New Hardware Division: Posts Job Positions To Build Indoor Smart Bikes

DSC_8932

Ahh yes, the rite of passage for any tech company is posting job positions that give away your future plans. Be it Apple posting autonomous car engineering positions or Uber trying to build flying things, eventually companies have to show their hands on what their plans are.

Today’s episode of this is brought you by the Zwift Career page, which just showed they’re working on an indoor smart bike. I suppose technically it could also be an ANT+ connected construction digger, but that seems unlikely once you look at all the components they’re looking for. After all, they had previously entered into contractual agreements with VirtuPro to license that technology for future hardware projects. But a year later that contract has unraveled and is now caught up in a legal mess.

In a statement, Zwift confirmed today to DCRAINMAKER that the new Fitness Tech group is responsible for production of new indoor training hardware, though says it goes beyond that (more on that in a moment):

While Zwift’s Fitness Technology division is a new addition to the business, this news will come as a surprise to few in the industry and the picture has more depth than manufacturing our own hardware….We know it is no easy task to create hardware. Our industry partners have years of trusted experience and our priorities as a business will continue to center around our core business as a software platform. “

So Zwift is clearly taking matters into their own hands. These postings are far more concrete on their intentions, with incredibly specific experience requirements that leave no room for guessing.

Zwift’s Job Postings:

DSC_8946

Let’s get right into what they’re looking for. Zwift has posted 7 job positions, for positions in a division called ‘Fitness Tech’. Of course, like any company, that doesn’t mean they’re only asking for 7 employees, rather, those are the 7 specific job titles.

They could well hire 10 software developers under a single posting. These positions are based in Surrey, which is a bit outside of London. In other Zwift job postings, their London office is explicitly listed as ‘London’, versus these being listed as ‘Surrey’. In any case, you’re in the greater London area one way or another.

image

Back to that ‘Fitness Tech’ Division, here’s what Zwift (via the job descriptions) says about the new group:

“Fit-Tech will consist of high calibre, experienced individuals rolling up to the CEO through the Director for Engineering and the VP Fitness Technologies. The division will form a new P&L within the business and will focus on topics of high strategic importance to Zwift and Zwift eSports, in particular developing new products that improve or enhance the overall Zwift offering. Fit Tech consists of 3 main divisions, of which Engineering is the largest, the others being Programme Management and Product Management.”

And yes, they spelled both ‘calibre’ and ‘programme’ the British way. No Americana posting here.

We’ll start with the first job posting, which is for the production manager. This position is clearly overseeing the production of the units, and goes onto specify exactly that. For example, FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) would be used on any sort of fitness device, but specifically a new device for the company (as referenced by the NPD notation used twice).

image

Later within that job posting you’ll see the travel requirements – specifically to Taiwan, where the vast majority of cycling industry products are made. For example, the Giant factory made Wahoo KICKR trainers for years, and countless companies make their products there. This also sidesteps any current China tariff related issues too. The fact that they know they’re going to Taiwan already is actually somewhat surprising –but may tell you just how far along they are. Compare that with Wahoo for example that shifted production to Thailand and China in the last few years.

Note that all positions in the Fit Tech group have travel to Taiwan for manufacturing as a requirement.

image

But let’s get to the fun stuff. There’s the ‘Technician’ position. At first you might overlook this less-noble looking title compared to the others, but this is where many of the cards are laid down. Specifically, this person is responsible for tearing down competitor products and seeing how they work:

image

Given the number of smart bikes on the docket right now, it must be slightly awkward for companies to send bikes to Zwift for compatibility testing, knowing that the job role of the person above is to take them apart for competitive reasons.

Further, you see ‘Welding Experience’ a bonus. Let’s be clear, there’s no welding going on in some random Zwift footpod or small steering device. Welding happens when you build a trainer or other large device. And of course above there’s the building of prototype equipment as well, meaning this person is likely acting as the one to build up prototypes in the office before moving to manufacturing in Taiwan. They too have travel to Taiwan on the list.

Then we get to the electronics engineers. It starts off pretty normal, with the person needing experience designing circuit boards, which you’d of course need in just about any electronic device:

image

However, one line in the next section gives it all away. Can you spot it?

image

Nope, not the ANT+ or Bluetooth ones – that’s expected.

Rather, the one listing ‘electromechanical actuators’. In other words, a KICKR CLIMB (or, KICKR BIKE). The only indoor trainer device that uses that today is the KICKR BIKE, which uses an actuator for replicating the uphill/downhill movement and it moves the bike from +20% to –15%. Even the MEMS inclusion also gives things away as well (MEMS is Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems). A footpod this is not. Plus of course, regulation and distribution of power. Sure, you’d have regulation of power on just about any device. But it’s really going to matter here.

Meanwhile, shifting to the senior mechanical design engineer, she too needs knowledge of actuators and sensors. Note in the context here the words ‘small scale actuators’, because they’re not looking for something at the construction level here. Technically speaking there’s even actuators in cell phones for vibration alerts, but that’d be an off the shelf component. Whereas this is clearly buying an actuator and needing the two engineers here to both understand the basics of it, but also be able to program it.

image

Next, the senior embedded software engineer needs knowledge of ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart. But they also need knowledge of USB. None of the current indoor smart bikes have USB on them, but it’s often been discussed that for Zwift racing scenarios, having a USB connection could be beneficial on numerous fronts. First, to reduce latency. Second to minimize interference issues. And third, to improve security by minimizing what’s broadcast. Sure, many times companies will troubleshoot via USB. But the fact that it’s on the same line item as ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart seems pretty telling.

image

The software developer position only gives one small hint that they’re building more hardware, when they say quite clearly it’s to “develop hardware…that creates the best enhancement to the overall Zwift experience.”

image

Then we’ve got the ‘Systems Engineer’ role. Most of the items on the complete list here are pretty vanilla and expected, and don’t give away too many details. However, one does – this person is responsible for dealing with 3rd party companies/apps. However, that doesn’t actually mean what Zwift is building is compatible with 3rd party platforms. It just means this person may need to interact with them. For example, if you use an ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap – they might want compatibility. And this person’s job may be dealing with some of that.

image

And with that – we pretty much wrap things up. Sure, could they be building something else? Perhaps, but unlikely. To distill this all down into the most important bits that clearly point to an indoor bike (or very high-end trainer), you’ve got the following:

1) Tearing down 3rd party competitor designs to understand how they work
2) Requirement for work with electromagnetic actuators (like a KICKR BIKE’s CLIMB component)
3) Requirement for welding experience for prototyping, meaning they’re building something that handles heavy load
4) Requirement for ANT+, Bluetooth Smart, and USB, meaning they’re likely looking for a wired option for competitions
5) Requirement to work frequently in Taiwan for manufacturing/assembly
6) Specification that this is a consumer goods device (listed within the product manager’s job description)
7) Setting up of a supply chain is specified in the listings, indicating this isn’t a one-off internal project

Of course, I doubt Zwift is going it alone here. Many of the trainer companies in the indoor space have been for sale. We saw Garmin purchase Tacx earlier this year, and almost all the companies except Wahoo have a number they’re willing to sell for. Some less than others. I suppose even Wahoo’s private equity financers have a number too – but frankly Zwift’s investors can’t afford Wahoo (and it’d be a waste of money anyway).

For example, we still don’t know who the heck ever bought the CompuTrainer portion of RacerMate. Nor do we know what on earth SRAM/Quarq are doing with the other portion yet (Velotron that they acquired), which…happens to be a variant of an indoor smart bike. There’s also plenty of companies out there swirling around making variants of Peloton bikes, which would clearly be appealing as a way to kickstart into this space. There seems to be a new one each week.

In addition – whatever Zwift is planning isn’t going to happen quickly. Given they’re just starting to hire the lead positions for this, they’d be at least 18-24 months out. The KICKR Bike was roughly a 2-year development process from initial ideas to where it got to today, and the Tacx Bike even longer. Both companies with significant experience in this sector. Certainly, if Zwift were to enlist other industry partners they’d rapidly move things forward. There are other indoor bike companies that are for sale that would seem to be a better fit than re-inventing the wheel. But we’ll see.

The Impact On The Industry:

DSC_8914

I’ve long talked about this day. The reality is, every trainer company feared it. Though, most thought it’d happen via acquisition – and, to be clear, it still might. There’s very good reason (all the reasons actually) it’d be faster to jumpstart this via purchasing one of the handful of companies that are purchasable (Elite, Wattbike, trainer division of Saris).

Of course- there’s no good reason to believe this would be limited to smart bikes (which are higher end in cost). The division isn’t called ‘Smart bikes’, it’s called ‘Fitness Tech’, and the vast (overwhelming) portion of the market today is trainer. Zwift has approximately 300,000 paying users right now, but they’re growth rate appears in recent months to finally have more than doubled that of previous seasons (at least based on some data floating around the interwebs in the last week or so).

While Peloton counts hundreds of thousands of subscribers (including people who have bought bikes), there’s undoubtedly a wider market for people willing to buy a fitness-focused indoor bike than a Zwift focused one. At least, based on how Zwift is positioned today (tagline: “Fun is fast”). If Zwift were to pivot just a little bit to include Peloton-like workouts or a division like that, then the world is their oyster for an expensive bike.

So it’s likely that trainers are somewhere in the mix here. They’ve tried repeatedly to close various ‘tighter’ partnerships with trainer companies, but have never quite sealed the deal. Part of that hesitancy comes from these companies’ concern that Zwift will essentially go direct to consumer with trainers, cutting them out of the picture. I’m a firm believer that more competition is better. And the proof is in the pudding here. When we had less trainer companies doing smart trainers a decade ago, prices were high. Now they’re lower than ever, quality better than ever, and experience better than ever.

Today these trainer companies share all of their advanced/forward thinking plans with Zwift, including piles of confidential information on their roadmaps. How that will shift going forward remains to be seen. After all, they’d be giving their biggest (and most important) competitor information on their product roadmap.

On the flip side, they somewhat have to. If they want to be able to ensure compatibility for launch, and ensure new features are supported – they have little choice but to acquiesce to Zwift. At least to an extent. Though, the current status quo hasn’t seemed to helped anyway – more trainers have issues upon launch with Zwift compatibility than ever before. So I suppose customers having to wait another few weeks probably isn’t a big deal.

Finally – for completeness, here is the entire statement from Zwift concerning the group division and hardware futures:

“While Zwift’s Fitness Technology division is a new addition to the business, this news will come as a surprise to few in the industry and the picture has more depth than manufacturing our own hardware.


First up, as we have always sought to do, we will continue to work closely with hardware partners to deliver business growth, new innovations for cyclists, runners and triathletes, and create a more immersive and better value consumer experience. As the industry leader in indoor training, Zwift will continue its commitment to grow the market for industry hardware sales.


This vision of better integration between partner hardware and Zwift software aligns with our ambition for Esports. With the first UCI Cycling Esports World Championships taking place next year, we at Zwift need to ensure we take on the responsibility of certifying trainers for esports competition at the highest level – where world titles and prize money is on the line. This certification process will be a key responsibility for the department.


We know it is no easy task to create hardware. Our industry partners have years of trusted experience and our priorities as a business will continue to center around our core business as a software platform.


It’s too early for us to disclose any more detail, or to provide any indications on timings at this point but, as ever, we look forward to what the future holds.”

As it notes – they’ll continue to work closely with their partners (as expected). They noted the previously announced UCI Cycling Esports World Championships for next year. Obviously, there’s no chance of them building hardware with a new division in time for that (unless they acquire someone or work specifically with an already in existence industry player). The certification element they discussed is something that Zwift has long since noted in various industry circles as a core area they need to focus on. And I agree. It’s far more broad and deep than I think most people realize today, if having a UCI world championship event is a milestone along the way to the oft-stated goal of the Olympics. But, it also perhaps more importantly impacts everyday riders like you and I.

We want our gear to work out of the box just as much as anyone else.

Which, may ultimately be what this is all about. Zwift has seen the overwhelming success of Peloton. The ‘just works’ factor is enormously high. Their subscriber retention rate is astronomically high (94% – not even drug cartels can manage that). All of which manage to sidestep the fractured aspect of the indoor trainer market today. Too many pieces that often don’t work the first time around, or are clunky to get working for someone not a geek.

If Zwift can master that, they’ll probably see continued success. They just have to navigate their partner waters carefully until then – as they’re wholly dependent on those partners for their own future success.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture

*

68 Comments

  1. tizzledk

    “(94% – not even drug cartels can manage that)” that was hilarious…ok its big news but not what I was expecting, I was actually hoping they would come out with a run power meter to compete with Stryd…but alas it’s not to be….yet. Now let’s see who buys one of the other virtual cycling worlds out there or makes some other move. Buying Elite could be a good move for Zwift.

    • If you turn on the way-back machine*, when Zwift acquired MileStone to become the Zwift Pod, it actually had all the elements required to generate running power metrics. That data was in the app at the time. Just a case of putting those math’s together (as RunScribe did).

      *Details: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • tizzledk

      Yes, chop, chop Zwift 😛 Seriously, I can’t figure why they haven’t done this and take Stryd’s lunch. It seems like a no brainer to me.

    • Tim Grose

      Stryd is nice but Peloton are selling an effective high-end smart treadmill not a cheap foot pod. I wonder if a Zwift treadmill may eventually feature in this area…

    • No point in continuing with the footpod thing. It’s all about smart treadmills from now on.

    • Curtis Repen

      You are being sarcastic, right? There are nine bazillion existing treadmills that aren’t smart, and aren’t being replaced by a new $5000 smart treadmill anytime soon. A footpod can be worn outside for consistent metrics and analysis. I can take it to the hotel treadmill when travelling. Footpods are supported by existing standards and 3rd party apps, without having to invent an entire ecosystem. Footpods will still be useful and “smart” if their manufacturer dies, whereas a “smart” treadmill gets dumb really fast if the infrastructure behind it dies or becomes irrelevant to your use case. I recently (12 months) purchased a treadmill, and very deliberately selected for mechanical specs and no need for “smarts”. I don’t think I am alone. I love Zwift, but I would not pay one single dollar more for the same treadmill with built-in Zwift integration.

    • Spencer

      I’ve not heard of a single satisfied milestone/zwiftpod owner who runs at different paces. Until they demonstrate that the footpod can accurately estimate different paces, I wouldn’t trust power estimates either.

    • RunPower

      Not related to Milestone/Zwift RunPod, but the Stryd foot pod has been rock solid for me at measuring distance without calibration (on or off of a treadmill).

    • Andrew Cushen

      Speaking of power…and apologies if this is too far off-topic…but is the annual bike power meter buying guide coming out anytime soon? I waited too long to send my ailing Powerpod in for repairs and now they are telling me it’s not worth fixing. Though they are offering me a discount on a new one, I thought I’d wait for the DCR guide to see if I should move up to a strain-based meter, knowing how drastically the PM landscape has changed since the last guide came out.

  2. hmmhhhh…. standardised bike set up for esports…. leaving home users market to existing vendors?

  3. Steve

    Gotta find somewhere to spend that VC money after realizing that esports for games that are 100x the size of Zwift arent breakeven

    Best of luck to them.

  4. Malcolm

    Trying to remove my cynics hat…but it seems stuck to my head. Any possibility that Zwift’s non-implementation of the steering buttons and the patchy (or in my case non-existent) implementation of road feel on the Tacx Neo Bike Smart could be influenced by Zwift’s desire to ensure their bike “just works” and others do not? Granted, there will be a lead time before they can produce a bike, but that just makes me wonder whether they won’t be somewhat indifferent to sorting out the kinks in the experience on other bikes until then. I hope I am wrong, but I can’t really see what’s in it for Zwift to help deliver a perfect experience on rivals’ bikes far in advance of their own product coming to market. Happy to be proved wrong though!

  5. Richard

    I’d be expecting them to be developing rowing machines to extend the Zwift brand to other disciplines outside of cycling.

    • I often wonder if there’s a meaningful market there. As in, I understand lots of people row – and I’ve seen all the numbers. But if I step back and think globally across any city that I can think of in the world, there’s just exponentially more cyclists than rowers.

      And that’s in the context of all the challenges they’ve had getting any profitable amount of runners.

    • Tim Grose

      Yeah am not sure if rowing is a “thing”. I have tried it a few times but was kind of “done” after about 15 minutes tops. Hardly worth starting Zwift for that duration. And whilst I bike and run on Zwift as an alternative to doing it IRL I can’t see if I would ever actually want to go and row in a real river etc etc.

    • I use rowing machine to keep my back / core in proper condition after sitting all day in font of computer. I made a little power meter for this machine and use it with our own software.

    • Daniel J

      You would think that rowing is especially well suited for a virtual online esports platform. In fact, RowPro offered real-time, online, virtual rowing competitions on standardized (!) equipment already in 2004. Rowing athletes, uniquely to many other endurance athletes, have a close to 100% participation rate in indoor rowing machine training. This is due to many factors: standardized equipment with reliable power meters having a long history (40 years), sports-specific fitness testing being standardized on the Concept2 ergometers for at least 30 years, and even the degree to which outdoor weather conditions influence training opportunities. Compare this with runners or swimmers knocking out intervals in a controlled environment every day and historically not benefitting that much from any current method of measuring power output.

      But still, rowing is just way too small of a sport. Crossfit massively popularized rowing, resulting in roughly 10-fold growth in the market for indoor rowing, but it’s still an order of magnitude or two smaller than cycling, which in turn is less accessible and popular than running. And like you said, most casual rowers, cross-fitters especially, have a high aversion to 90-minute indoor rowing sessions. Only the hardcore rowers do traditional base miles, sweet spot or threshold work on the machines.

      And regarding building rowing machines from scratch… from a hardware perspective rowing on Zwift is already possible on the Concept2. Like the older and beefier non-Atom Wattbikes, it relies on air resistance as opposed to magnetic resistance, so there’s no software resistance control or erg mode. But trainer control is far less important for rowing, since by definition it always takes place on flat terrain, and nearly all rowing training and racing consists of evenly paced time trial efforts.

    • Daniel J

      On a related note, indoor rowing has long been part of the World Games – something indoor cycling will probably have to graduate to first before being considered for the Olympics.

      But there’s a big difference in comparing the two indoor disciplines to their IRL counterparts. Indoor rowing is neither weight-adjusted, height-adjusted nor bodyshape-adjusted, unlike indoor cycling. Success in indoor rowing and the physiological requirements and advantages are orthogonal to success in rowing. There are many world class indoor rowers who have never so much as stepped in a carbon fibre boat.

      Most competitive professional cyclists, however, would be relatively just as competitive in indoor cycling. Which in my opinion makes (weight-adjusted) indoor cycling simply too similar to existing cycling disciplines, and takes away from its ability to diversify cycling as a sport.

    • ekutter

      On the surface, seems like rowing would have at best 1% the customer base as cycling or running. But if you had better equipment with an app that some how engages you (I was skeptical about Zwift for riding and running at first as well), maybe they could turn it into something. There’d be no real competition for it, like there would be for creating yet another trainer.

  6. Paul S.

    “The only indoor trainer device that uses that today is the KICKR BIKE…” Surely the CLIMB is not the only place? My STAC Halcyon uses actuators to move the magnets around, and I suspect that most (all?) resistance units use some kind of actuators to move magnets/increase friction/etc. Still, point taken, they’re not going to use these in a watch (unless it’s the nacho cheese attachment that was talked about in the comments in the Fenix 6 review).

    • Yeah, I was specifically talking bikes in that line (in my head anyway).

      Most of the industry is moving towards electromagnetic flywheels (see KICKR Bike, Tacx NEO series, etc…). I wouldn’t see anyone building a new device from the ground up on anything other than that.

  7. Chris Barber

    Sounds to me like they they are building a smart treadmill 😀

  8. Not surprising… Fitness is THE big market. I guess they want on one side to do like Peloton and on the other have certificated devices for UCI races… Smart!

  9. Scott Shell

    It’s not at all unusual for companies to buy/acquire competitor’s products to break down and determine how their design differs.

    I know the company I work for has done this before with mixed results. It can give some good ideas albeit sometimes you get to see some of the more strange designs that others are producing.

    • David E.

      I think that’s precisely Ray’s point. The reason to hire somebody to tear down other companies’ products is if you are planning to produce a competing product. All part of Detective Maker’s sleuthing. . .

    • Carl

      or to review the compeitors products to help identify the best aquasition

  10. Fabio

    I suppose i’m the only who prefers a great trainer with my own real bike than a smart bike

    Maybe a smart bike is good if u want to create something like a room for zwift in a local gym or a ‘zwift room’ but for me there is nothing like my own bike, i think that when i start riding outdoor in spring it s really better if the bike is the same in and outdoor.

    I hope they will also produce trainers (maybe they can really ‘buy’ lite) and not only expensive smartbikes.

  11. Dave

    “but they’re growth rate appears in recent months to finally have more than doubled that of previous seasons (at least based on some data floating around the interwebs in the last week or so).”

    Where did you read this, Ray?

    • You’d be surprised the astoundingly detailed data people post to Reddit and then realize shortly thereafter was probably something they shouldn’t have posted to Reddit.

    • Kyle

      I realised what that guy did was possible a few years ago but didn’t do it because it’s obviously against the terms.

      The way it works is you park up in Zwift and watch the accounts riding past you as Zwift freely spits out the data to populate the “riders nearby” list. You could probably enumerate every account ID but I’m sure you’d quickly get rate limited which would make it take too long.

      The data was gathered from “logged in users” meaning it used the tried and tested park up and watch method. Thus the spike in October 2019 isn’t growth – it’s not-yet-expired trial accounts that rode past. If you rerun the experiment in a month’s time then October will fall into the same pattern as previous months and November will have a huge spike.

      You’d have to get out a ruler to check but it looks like Zwift’s Q3 2019 growth is actually down on Q3 2018?

  12. Steve LeMire

    I currently have a rowing machine and use Zwift.
    I also thought about the rowing aspect, however, there is already a rowing app that has been in place for several years. Check out RowPro at: link to digitalrowing.com

  13. davie

    My guess, a combination smart bike/continuous weigh bridge with some way of preventing the power data from being intercepted and manipulated. Cables??

  14. Marcus Dali

    You can hire all the engineers you want. If you don’t have an original idea you will end up only copying what others have done. The Director’s vision must be strong enough and not a design by committee. The job postings look committee oriented. I say this because if the director had the vision already he would have narrowed down the requirements and add a couple of very specific engineering disciplines that will be required. Regardless they should have a division that does nothing but this. Its not that expensive. I wish them the best of luck.

  15. J.marshall

    I’d have to join the others thinking smart treadmill. I really don’t see why Zwift would spend money developing a product that is hard to do right (as seen by your reviews of trainers) when other more experienced companies will do it for them.

    Now a smart treadmill.. that would open them up into a huge market of runners that they don’t have now.

    • usr

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the honest top secret internal answer to that question was “whatever”.

      Short term they might want little more than a rocker plate that integrates an approved weight scale, to show commitment against e-sports cheating without jeopardizing hardware sponsoring contracts or opportunities.

      But long term, I guess it’s any/all. The first step of all those options is the same, it’s establishing a hardware division. And once that is done they have all those strategic options they previously lacked. I don’t think that they just want a trainer or a treadmill or whatever the initial project will be, they want skunkworks to task with whatever the next strategic reorientation will require.

  16. Jay

    Cool. If reading/watching trainer reviews has taught me anything, this will be a good time to pick up a trainer and give them a year or two to get it right. 🙂

  17. Andrew

    My take is that Zwift are buillding an indoor smart bike for sanctioned eSports competitions and you will need one of these bikes to compete? It’s the only way to create a level playing field.

    • Ryan Cooper

      The thing that popped into my head when I read this post was small boat Olympic sailing (One Design). (Definition via wikipedia below)

      One-Design is a racing method which may be adopted in sports which use complex equipment, whereby all vehicles have identical or very similar designs or models. In motor racing, it is also known as one-make racing and spec racing.

      You want it to be about the athlete so you have to standardize the equipment as much as possible. In sailing you can still have multiple manufactures produce a one design boat but there are strict guidelines that must be adhered to. Of course if Zwift owns the racing and the guideline development, it doesn’t preclude other manufactures from building their own variant … but I’m sure there would be some certification process and maybe a license cost… etc etc.

  18. David W

    I think that Zwift will come out with a bike with proprietary features like data encryption and/or hardware data transmission and then require these features for official bike races and higher end unofficial races. Then, like Peloton, they sell the bike for cheap and make up for it with subscription income. Zwift could easily undercut the competition since none of them have an ongoing stream of income past the hardware sale.

    • Carl

      Yup, my thoughts.

      And over time the “verified Zwift” requirement for races would slowly extend pushing more people into purchasing their hardware. Eventually (5yrs +) there may beocme a 2 tier Zwift.

      The ahrware should also include some weight measurement as well.

  19. Pavel

    Hope their new hardware will be better than Zwift RunPod. At least mine was extremely unreliable – main reason why I’ve stopped running with Zwift.

    • Curtis Repen

      Hi Pavel, were you using it via the Zwift Companion app bridge? I’ve had ongoing and frustrating problems using it via the ZC bridge to my Windows PC running Zwift, but it has worked 100% and very smoothly when connecting directly to Zwift on my iPhone.

      I thought about buying an iPad so I can connect directly and have a larger screen, but then I need a BT HRM to replace my Garmin HRM-TRI. But if I replace my HRM-tri with HRM-Dual I lose running dynamics on my FR930 which I use simultaneously.

      Sigh.

  20. Sam

    I am quite qualified for one of the position, but damn it, working in UK???? with all that brexit nonsense going on ? thanks but no thanks, i’ll stay in Europe, sorry (I’d rather go to Trump’s US, at least there is hope this can change there)

  21. Speedygonzi

    Hi Ray,

    very interesting tear-down of a couple of postings 🙂 However I agree most of the points here. A still believe an acquisition (or something like that). If you just take a look, milestone footpod is now zwift pod. They could quickly go in market with a product their users might need (with a good price). I’ve needed a chep pod, and I’ve chosen that one instead of the 2-2,5 times more expense polar one…
    There’s high competition in the lower end of the market, but it’s also easier to sell a $300 trainer than a $900.
    I know many people how are not that serious cycling that they’d put heavy $$$ to a trainer, but they can quickly hook up with a tacx flow smart , as zwifting with it seems fun…

    By the way,
    is the Elite Suito or Tuo or both reviews comming soon? I’m really considering placing an order on a suito, but I’d happy to see how that performed on your tests…

    Regards,
    Speedy

    • Yup – the Zwift Pod via acquisition was a good example of that executed well. I’m not sure it’s really moved the needle on running (despite literally giving thousands away), but it was remarkably efficient for them.

      Elite Suito review is super close, but I don’t have a Tuo unit yet.

  22. Neil Jones

    I wonder if they really mean Surrey or if they’re getting mixed up with Elephant and Castle again?

    • It’s funny – that was one of my very specific questions that I figured they would answer (and figured I’d get “no comment” on the rest). Though oddly, I didn’t get an answer on that one.

      I’ll ask though, my suspicion is that just got lost in the shuffle. For any job applicant though it’s a pretty important difference.

    • Roger

      I seem to remember when the Surrey Hills expansion was released that there was rumour that Eric Min lived nearby – maybe this new division will be working out of his garage?

    • Michael

      U.K. Companies House lists Eric Min as one of the directors of Zwift UK Ltd and he was appointed as a director of the predecessor company Sakonet Technology way back in 2001. Only addresses given are for registered company correspondence.

  23. Neil Jones

    So is the indoor bike market (and, by extension, the trainer market) open to price disruption? Could Zwift come along with a comparable product that undercuts everyone massively, or are current prices genuinely competitive already? Notwithstanding I guess that Zwift already have the subscription service that they can treat as their core revenue stream, so could potentially position any hardware as a low profit/loss-making gateway.

    • Absolutely open to it. And all the companies I’ve talked to agree (plus, Wattbike simply proves it).

      I think within 18 months we’ll see sub-$2K USD bikes. Maybe 22 months tops. Wattbike already has that base in the ATOM.

      Plus, Wattbike’s manufacturing scale is tiny in comparison to others, mostly due to essentially only shipping to a handful of countries.

      That’s why I (and others), think a Wattbike/Zwift marriage is by far the smartest move. They’re close geographically, Wattbike has a product that’s ready to ‘orange’ and another weeks away in the pipeline that’s incredibly close to what Zwift needs to have a Peloton-style experience.

      Plus, they’re for sale. It’s a no-brainer.

  24. Simon

    m2c: I see this as a push for Zwift in gyms, more than the home market. You go to the gym and use the Zwift bike, the Zwift treadmill and Zwift rower, with Zwift membership integral to gym membership.

    Zwift stair climber….

    Follow the stages bike model, build gym equipment with a domestic version too.

  25. Olli

    Treadmill or spinning bike? The bike would make sense since it is Zwift afterall.

    Nobody takes gaming for a serious sport though, and I know we all played Space Quest.
    So I think it’s a niche and consider these UCI zwift races but a marketing stunt.
    I don’t know the Zwift numbers though but my understanding of the local cyclist scene is,
    that the ambitious racers use their trainers only in ERG mode and are all over the different plattforms.

    Given, cycling ain’t the new golf over here, so I don’t know the potenial customer numbers
    in differents parts of the world but I doubt bike crazy nations like Belgium or Italy are markets
    with endless potential.

    Runners on the other hand…cycling out of the city on sunday mornings
    I can count the road bikers on one hand. The runners on the other hand are countless.

    For me the casual runners who’d rather stay on the couch than go out in bad weather
    would make for a great audience for a gamelike running experience.

    But those wouldn’t raise a mortgage on the house for a smart treadmill.

    There goes my argument.

  26. JHA

    Any chance this could lead to a Smart Treadmill that controls elevation?

  27. Barry G

    Is Zwift really growing? This is purely anecdotal, but the number of riders online seems fairly stagnant versus this time last year. I know there’s the choice of worlds without the hack option now, but even adding both together, rider levels don’t seem that high. It’s also a product that hasn’t improved dramatically over the last couple of years. They put effort into building new worlds that more or less disappear after a month or two. And now the rolling resistance on dirt…

    As for the smart bike, it would be nice to leave my road bike in the garage and not constantly deal with taking the rear wheel off, but not for the price of what’s out there. There’s always the buy a $200 Walmart bike and mount it on a trainer option.

    It’s still an awesome option for training, but I’m not really sure how big the market is. General population fitness trends are very fad oriented.

  28. Alvaro Valencia

    Rowing and Cycling: Historically Man learned Rowing long before after walking along Rivers and Beaches. I may say we first walk. then learned to swing and soon to Row horsebacking a wood tree trunk. Many centuries later. We invented cycling. Rowing machine are verygood for your body, must of your body muscles. Machine are simple and I love them indoors.
    Replicate Cycling indoors. We going to need lot of springs and sensors to replicate outdoors cycling muscle use including: cornering, Flat road, Uphill technics “Pedal Dance” and Downhill cornering. including Breaking, Excentic body inertia compentation. and Aerodainamics. wow quite complex. The way Zwift is now: I loved and do not care to be a champ. but is fun and cool to keep my cycling body on shape indoors. once in a while I GO OUTDOORS.. oK ZWIFT Im still happy to pay you my Montly Membership. Keep it cheap please

  29. Kev W

    I think if they do a bike they should also include the hardware to actually run the zwift software too.

    They don’t seem that keen on on android, but the nvidia shield demonstrates that android can be used as a capable gaming platform, so adding an extra £200 onto the price of the bike to get rid of any need for wireless transfer to the software seems a good idea. I’d still have ant+ and bluetooth for external sensors.

    Incorporate a screen but have hdmi, chromecast or airplay if you want to hook up to a big screen.

    Maybe even have zwift running on the cloud like google stadia in the future if internet speeds improve as they should…

  30. James

    The job ads do not bode well. They will need very good production partners who they listen to and treat as partners as opposed to sub contract manufacturers. Just DFM and FMEA in the design philosophy is a start but that’s all.

  31. Gary B

    Wow great analysis Ray.

    So much better than the usual tech news. I actually find the whole Zwift corporate stuff fascinating.

    keep this blogs posts coming. Thanks!

  32. Much of the chatter about this news seems to revolve around Zwift building an indoor bike specifically for e-racing. But my mind keeps circling back to a comment you made on your recent BKool post:

    “…to hold a national championship on a singular platform seems incredibly bizarre.”

    That post was about BKool exiting the trainer hardware business and focusing on their software platform. The Ray quote was in reference to BKool signing an agreement with the Danish Cycling Federation about hosting races on BKool this winter, as opposed to only racing on Zwift. That made sense to me.

    The idea of only one platform providing an officially approved racing bike seems sharply at odds with that.

  33. Richard

    I’m becoming a little frustrated with Zwift on the whole at the moment. They seem to be focussed on adding extra functions which doesn’t seem to add very much to be experience. I my view it would be good if they were to develop more and better training plans to improve the app as a training experience. This surely wouldn’t be an expensive option for them but would add to the perceived value.
    With Bkool having moved away from hardware to focus on software there is now a possibility for Bkool to extend their user base by adding 30day free cards with products from other manufacturers now they are no longer a competitor. I could see someone like elite or tacx finding this attractive as they could end their own software programmes and look to move away from a zwift focus.
    Zwift cos it’s marginally better than looking at a blank wall 🙂