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Zwift Shows Off Zwift Ride Smartbike & Zwift Wheel Hardware Designs

Zwift appears to have just pre-announced their own new Zwift bike & Zwift trainer, in a hardware purchasing survey that went out to a selection of users. The survey outlined two new Zwift products – a smart bike called the Zwift Ride, and then a direct drive trainer called the Zwift Wheel. Most notably, the Zwift trainer can be upgraded into the Zwift smart bike, which then includes illuminated wheels to basically make yourself a real-world glowing Zwift Tron bike. Seriously!

This is the first time we have seemingly real details about Zwift’s previously announced hardware projects. For those just catching up here, Zwift has actually previously confirmed they were building their own indoor training hardware, after posting job listings that made it clear they were. From there, the company has steadily dripped out such plans, largely in CEO interviews, but also in various other ways.

Today’s survey was sent on behalf of Zwift, by research firm Toluna, but appears to otherwise carry the usual Zwift formatting. Here’s a copy of that e-mail:

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In this case, the survey was sent to longtime DCR Reader Steve Leonard, who shared a few screenshots he took from the survey.

The survey essentially has the user go into a fictional online store, where they pick from very non-fiction products. There were both trainers and smart bikes. In the trainer category there was the Wahoo KICKR, KICKR CORE, and Tacx NEO 2T, alongside Zwift’s offering (the Zwift Wheel), while in the smart bike category, they included the wahoo KICKR Bike, Tacx Bike, Stages Bike, and Wattbike ATOM. The prices for those products were set to their standard list prices.

The Tech Details:

First up, let’s take a look at the trainer, called the ‘Zwift Wheel’. This is at first, admittedly, a bit confusing to look at. But essentially, it’s a direct drive trainer that looks like a wheel. You can see that in this configuration, it doesn’t include a cassette, but instead, that would be supplied/added afterward. So while this looks like a wheel sitting on a base, basically it’s a direct drive trainer. You can see the metal-looking flywheel in the middle there, in a design very similar to what you have on a Tacx NEO series trainer.

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Below the trainer in the ‘retail shop’ is text that includes very specific details about what the Zwift Wheel includes, of which these specs line up very close to a Tacx NEO 2T. Notably listed in this:

– You supply your own bike atop it
– Max power of 2,200w (that’s pretty standard)
– Stated accuracy of +/- 1% (also pretty standard in higher-end trainers these days)
– Wireless game controller for your bike’s handlebars for steering, braking, and other game controls
– Downhill acceleration (aka forward drive acceleration to increase the wheel-speed going downhill)
– 25% Gradient simulation – this would be on the upper end of trainers (note: This is just the simulation, not inclinng the actual bike like a CLIMB/RIZER)
– Terrain simulation – my assumption here is that is akin to the Tacx road surface simulation to feel cobbles and such
– Z Cog – a so-called single cog design that needs more than just this line to explain
– Upgradeable to the full Zwift bike (aka Zwift Ride)

So at this point, this roughly looks like a Tacx NEO series trainer in terms of specs, but within a gigantic wheel. Certainly, there are aspects missing like max gradient and such. But the most interesting item here is the “Z Cog” line. This combined with the fact that you supply your own bike atop it, is…interesting. In theory, in a virtual shifting world on a normal smart bike, your shifters don’t physically move anything, but rather just virtually change the perceived effort/gearing. But if you’re supplying your own bike, then that means your shifting is already there. Be it 11-speed, 12-speed, something older like a 10-speed, etc… That in turn means that your rear derailleur plans to shift something when you push shift/click your levers.

Notable, is that like the full bike I’ll talk about in a second, this has an illuminated rim.

Zwift-Wheel

But in this case, it specifies “virtual shifting”, which would imply that either the shifting is done from the secondary game controller buttons that were mentioned elsewhere, or…that they’ve got something else up their sleeve. In any case, it certainly sounds intriguing. Finally, price-wise this survey listed this option at £900 (~$1,214USD). Again, keep in mind the point of this survey was likely pricing focused, so different people likely received different prices.

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Ok, so next up we’ve got Zwift’s smart bike, called the Zwift Ride. The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s actually effectively an accessory to the Zwift Wheel, which makes up the rear of the bike. Hence why in the Zwift Wheel portion they noted that it’s upgradable to Zwift Ride. Basically, you’re buying a bike frame here. They listed the price here at £1,700 (~$2,294). And again, remember the point was to compare this to other market options. But I would note that a $2,299 price is incredibly competitive to other market options which range up to $3,500 for the Wahoo KICKR Bike. This easily undercuts them and all other of their core competitors in every case. If that’s a viable price on the table, then I’d be very concerned as Zwift competitors.

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So, with the visuals out of the way, what are the specs here? Well, essentially it’s the exact same as the Zwift wheel, but now with some fit/frame aspects:

– Max power of 2,200w (that’s pretty standard)
– Stated accuracy of +/- 1% (also pretty standard in higher-end trainers these days)
– Downhill acceleration (aka forward drive acceleration to increase the wheel-speed going downhill)
– 25% Gradient simulation – this would be on the upper end of trainers (note: This is just the simulation, not inclinng the actual bike like a CLIMB/RIZER)
– Terrain simulation – my assumption here is that is akin to the Tacx road surface simulation to feel cobbles and such
– Virtual Shifting from the aforementioned Zwift wheel
+ Added Full handlebar controls built-in, including steering, braking, and game controls
+ Added “immersive lighting” – again, just like the Tacx NEO series has below the bike and on wheels (you can see it in the dark photo above)
+ Ability to rotate bike upwards/vertically to save space (this is super cool!)
+ Designed to fit riders 5′ to 6’6” (152cm to 198cm), including multiple adjustment points
+ Multiple crank lengths shown (you can see the bear-claw style pedal interface design similar to the Wahoo/Stages bikes)
+ The Zwift Tron Bike front wheel design, with illuminated front/rear wheels

Did I note again that the thing appears to light up like a real-world version of a Zwift Tron Bike?!? They’ve incorporated what looks like an LED ring around each wheel, allowing it to change from white to orange (and probably any other color). [Update – Thanks to DCR Supporter Tim in the comments for getting a dark screenshot of it]

Zwift-Ride-Bike-Dark

Undoubtedly, like the Tacx NEO series lighting that’s emulated below the bottom bracket above, the lighting is probably linked to in-game events. In the case of Tacx they tie it to intensity, whereas Zwift would have plenty of other things it could link to.

Zwift-Ride-Bike-Angled

In any event, here’s the full text from the survey:

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Again, like the trainer, there’s certainly plenty of details missing here. More tidbits on fit for example, as well as protocols. And surprisingly, a lack of Wahoo CLIMB (or Elite RIZER) feature to rise/lower the bike. That’s something that earlier job listings fairly clearly outlined. However, that’s also something that would have significantly added both cost and manufacturing complexity to the build. And since numerous industry sources have noted that Zwift has really struggled on the manufacturing selection aspects here, cutting out something like that could save them significant time in getting this to market.

Additionally – a bit item missing is whether or not it’s going to support standard industry trainer/power protocols, most notably both ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth Smart FTMS. Without those, it wouldn’t be compatible with 3rd party platforms. One would hope that Zwift would support these protocols, otherwise it’s likely to be a non-starter for many people that don’t want to buy a trainer/bike that doesn’t support industry standards and/or other platforms. After all, many Zwifters also use other smart trainer apps. And inversely, Zwift wouldn’t exist without the benefit of these industry standards, as today they rely upon them for 100% of their users to use their own hardware (trainers/smart bikes).

So, what does Zwift say on record? Well, I asked, and here’s their official response from Chris Snook of Zwift:

“We are currently conducting a hardware-focused survey, so the survey is genuine. The hypothetical pricing and features covered in the survey are designed to help inform the value that Zwifters place on different hardware product features. We’re excited about the launch of Zwift hardware and look forward to sharing more information with you in the future.”

Though, in addition to the above quote, ZwiftInsider.com has also received direct quotes from Zwift’s CEO Eric Min noting a few additional details, they include, as exact quotes from Eric Min:

  • “The front wheel comes apart and could be replaced with one that has a riser feature included.”
  • “We’ll eventually have a fan that will be integrated into the front wheel which would be a way smaller footprint that other setups with a fan.”
  • “The other thing I will leak to you is the possibility of using your existing trainer with our frame. Now that would be pretty innovative!”

ZwiftInsider.com also noted after that conversation that some sort of future integrated screen seems high on the list, albeit that’s not a direct quote from Eric. But that would match all the desires Zwift has expressed over the last 1-2 years.

Still, the fact that Zwift is looking to have other modules including a fan and some sort of front riser/gradient simulator option makes sense. As does the idea to make the frame compatible with any existing non-Zwift trainer. That’d in fact make a heck of a lot of sense – assuming that such a frame offers something substantially unique. In any case, ZwiftInsider’s article is worth a read for a few of their thoughts and other added details.

And finally, what about timing and release? Well, Zwift proper didn’t have any comment on that, but various folks that have connections to the hardware team say Zwift is targetting a July 2022 announcement, timed to the women’s Tour de France, which is headlined sponsored by Zwift. That’s also within a week of Eurobike 2022, which would be a natural place to announce this smartbike (as every other company in the space has done in previous years). Further, Zwift has apparently built about 100 bikes at this point for testing. From a timing perspective standpoint, we’ve historically seen other companies in this space at that point at about a year out. Which doesn’t mean Zwift is behind, but just to give perspective.

Final Thoughts:

Zwiftscreenshot

As with any survey from a company, the point of them is to solicit feedback on ideas. In this case, it appears largely to solicit feedback on pricing, since the context was a fictional store with all other items being real-world products. In that vein, one could argue this bike and trainer aren’t real. But that’d be a silly argument. Not to mention, the ability to upgrade a smart trainer to a smart bike is brilliant. It’s been hinted at before, but to see their thinking here is super smart.

Far too much design, wording, branding, and tech ideas went into this survey for these products to be fake. Not to mention it mirrors elements of some earlier Zwift hardware surveys the company has done. Now, there could be other options offered to other survey takers. For example, with added features at different price points. Only time will tell.

Of course, things not outlined in these little retail store snippets are other backend software features on these units that are tied to Zwift as a platform. For example, the lighting hints at some of that. As does the “game controls” bit mentioned with both units. Braking too. And undoubtedly, like any product store listing, there’s only a handful of features that make the cut for the countless features that actually exist.

But what Zwift has presented here seems very much in line with everything they’ve discussed in the past, combined with the painful realities of trying to ship a first-gen product in 2022, in terms of world manufacturing, chipset, and logistics availability (something Zwift CEO Eric Min highlighted just over two months ago in an interview). As an example of these gaps, Zwift has often referred to Peloton and their complete bike solution as an example of where they want to go hardware+software integration-wise. Yet, we don’t see an integrated screen here. Meaning that Zwift is still reliant on yet another device (e.g. tablet/TV/computer/etc).

Still, these offerings seem to hint more towards competing with their current partners, rather than offering a game-changing experience.

Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see where Zwift goes with this, and what their ultimate timing is on actually getting something like this to market. Every company has to start somewhere on the hardware train, and trying to ‘boil the ocean’ features-wise on a first-gen smart bike didn’t appear to be working well for the company. So shifting directions to something more achievable is probably the right first step for them to take.

With that – thanks for reading!

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118 Comments

  1. cybirr

    I think the lack of an integrated screen follows with the lack of elevation/incline mechanism. More time investment than they’d like to spend. Plus, there are a lot of excellent screen options that’d be foolish to compete with. For me (as an example) I’m on AppleTV with a 42″ screen. What could Zwift offer in a little, integrated tablet that would be better than my setup? Also, the form factor of the wheel, seems overly large, maybe? I’ll be curious to see the unit side-by-side with a Tacx Neo.

    • As a consumer, I’m happy to not see the integrated tablet since that technology advances so quickly.

    • Fred Lee

      Totally agree. My brother has one of the fancy Peloton treadmills with the big screen. He hates it. It doesn’t work well. Having that much money tied to one device is ridiculous. Apple makes a fantastic portable screen that works well, can be replaced independent of the smart-bike, and can be used for other stuff too.

      For Zwift to replicate that on their trainer would add way too much cost, and would frankly be a big turnoff for me.

      Don’t try to market based on spec-sheet checkboxes. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

    • Adrian

      I’m sure Apple’s new VR headset/glasses will provide an even better Zwift experience than even current TV configurations.

    • Andy McKay

      VR headset while exercising? Pass. I sweat enough as it is on the trainer.

    • Secret squirrel

      What makes you think Zwift will support it?

    • JimC

      > Apple makes a fantastic portable screen that works well, can be replaced independent of the smart-bike, and can be used for other stuff too.

      That’s not simplifying anything – use an iPad or Android tablet and you’ll still need to pair it and install the Zwift software. And when the Bluetooth fails to connect or your device doesn’t support the latest version… Personally I don’t mind troubleshooting this kind of thing, but then I work in IT and I’m used to it. It would however definitely be a deal-breaker for my wife (if I weren’t around to help out 🙂 ).

      A simple solution is turnkey: plug it in, enter your username+password, and off you go. Which is what Peloton offers, of course. Personally I hope Zwift doesn’t go down this route, as it would almost certainly lead to a closed platform and less competition in the home trainer market. But I can certainly see the logic in it, from their point of view.

    • Adrian

      What if the AR glasses were similar to the glasses cyclists wear outside? Similar weight and size.

    • mpulsiv

      I think Zwift has reached the point where ultra-high profile at 4k is as good as it gets. Personally, I treat Zwift as a training/racing platform, not a video game to please my eyes. I would hate VR on my face, when fan is blowing, sweat is dripping, HR in zone 5 in a breakaway.

  2. It’s an interesting route that they’ve decided to go. I like (maybe love) the idea of being able to upgrade a trainer into a full bike.

    On the other hand, since it does seem like a Tacx with a bunch of window dressing on it, I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to feel like a bunch of cheap plastic. Hopefully it doesn’t smell like a cheap Halloween costume as well.

  3. Kevin

    I also got the survey but didn’t think about taking screenshots until I was almost done, and there was no back button. D’oh!

  4. My survey had the bike priced at $2800, $1200 for the wheel

  5. It will be interesting to see how the competition reacts.

    I am wondering about compatibility with other platforms — lots of folks use trainer road for training and Zwift for multi user experience.

    Thanks for the heads up Ray

  6. EV

    Like the upgrade path, but it’s kind of ridiculous to have those full sized wheels front and back if they are just for show. Maybe they think that adds to the feeling being on a real bike, but it just looks silly and will take up more space than needed. Dumb design. And if it’s $1200 for the wheel plus $2200 for the bike upgrade, how is that competitive? Looks like some guy in the creative design department had the final say and went with a cool looking but ultimately stupid design.

    • Funky T

      I had the same thought, $1200 trainer + $2300 bike upgrade isn’t undercutting anything. I’d rather wait for an update to the Kickr bike at this price point.

    • JD

      That’s not what I understood.
      $1,200 for the trainer only and $2,200 for the full smart bike setup.
      An upgrade option is available (just buying the frame to put on the trainer) but Ray didn’t gave a price-tag for the upgrade (not provided by the survey or forgotten in the article ?).
      One can imagine that trainer + upgrade will cost more than the full smart bike setup because of the logistics involved in having two products instead of one.

    • inSyt

      Totally agree. Hopefully Zwift has not patented this and it spurs on other manufacturers to create compact frames (with game controls and/or incline simulation) for their trainers. A minimalist steel frame with a seat, handle bars, crank, pedals and game controls should easily be able to retail for under $1000.

    • Yeah, the pricing was $2,200 (well, it was GBP, but I converted it) for the full bike. Not an upgrade. Which undercuts all pricing for all smartbikes in the market.

    • Steve

      Yes, correct. As the person who shared the screenshots with Ray, the “zwift frame” upgrade that’s referred to in the zwift wheel listing was jot in the fictional shop. The £1,700 was for the full smart bike.

    • Robert Martin

      Looks sell and my initial thoughts were “wow, that looks cool”. A lot of people buy things because they look good and don’t check all the specs against the competition.
      I suspect they thought that the Tron look is something that differentiates them as a USP and that they will sell enough units to make it worthwhile.

    • Paul

      Absolutely. Takes a huge lot of space in the room and can’t be stored away. Works and looks nice in Hollywood star mansions but not in cramped appartments in bigger cities and in Europe in general. The beauty of Zwift is having the option to exercise without having an expensive pro-bike and the space for all of it.

      Why would a stationary bike with plastics panels require U$2200 if any cheap ebay bike would fit the purpose? I’d rather take my old bike for the trainer and my new high-performance bike out on the roads.

  7. Avery Abbott

    Also interesting to note that both the Elite Rizer and the Wahoo KICKR Climb rely on a front axle that’s noteably absent on the Zwift Bike, so even though the rear axle apparently supports rotation, you won’t be able to do so with any existing third party platforms.

    Curious to see if they include some form of ANT+ to Bluetooth retransmission or at least the ability to retransmit Bluetooth accessories (HRM, cadence, etc).

  8. Andrew M

    Hopefully, the Tron wheels will change color with your power zones.

  9. Eugene C

    Wondering how the Wheel -> Ride upgrade will work. Is there a Z-Cog and then a Z-Pulley for moving to the belt driven Zwift Ride? Or is the Zwift Ride using a roller chain also…

    • Max

      And will the upgrade be compatible with other trainers? In theory it should be mechanically possible, which might allow people to save their Sunday best and still use their NEO/Kickr etc. Which will spawn hacking websites, it’s own Facebook group etc. The Z cog solution, if as we imagine, may put less strain on bike drivetrain to begin with though….

  10. Joe

    The whole z-cog / virtual shifting thing sounds like a huge bonus for apartment usage. I’ve been told when I switch gears (even with a new cassette, chain, and chainrings, though the derailleurs are old Shimano 105s) that the downstairs apartment can hear/feel the thunk.

    Also, I assume Zwift at least partly intends to market this towards people who are new – it’d probably avoid a lot of confusion from who get confused with things like what gear to put the bike in when in ERG mode.

    Besides that though, braking would be a godsend for group rides and pace partners as far as I’m concerned.

    But without some sort of rise / tilt simulation, I’m not interested. I find that it helps me to mix up my position more when the bike actually simulates climbing that way.

  11. JD

    I think I never had so much mixed feeling for a product!

    On one hand I think it’s brilliant!
    Being the first to offer an up-gradable WO trainer is awesome, it’s both innovative and also shows that they understand the market. Not only it allows to spend money step by step (you only buy the trainer if you don’t have enough money or just don’t know if you’ll like indoor trainer enough to buy the whole setup) but it also allows you to “downgrade” your smart bike to a trainer + real frame if you want to spend some time on your usual IRL frame or if you want to “lend” your trainer to someone else or want to take your trainer to an event…
    And the design! They had the choice between trying to make something more of less weird like everyone else, or to make a statement. And the Tron bike is such iconic to the zwifters that this choice is perfect. It makes so much sense! And if they’re smart, they can provide a discount to people who have unlocked (legitimately IYNWIM) the Tron bike in-game. Obviously the wheels have to have included LEDs otherwise it would be a complete fail.

    On the other hand, the huge-ass wheels and the wide footprint of the trainer are kind of disgusting. The idea behind a smart bike is to make things more efficient. Here it seems that it will take more space than a regular WO trainer + regular frame.
    The rear wheel don’t need to be so big, and I guess it will create some compatibility issues with some small frames. But it provides more space for the mechanical and electronic parts of the trainer I guess. Providing engineers more troubles to make everything fit.
    Same foes for the font wheel, that absolutely unnecessary and takes too much space.
    And I can’t see this frame being up-gradable to an incline setup. They can probably offer another frame with incline in the future : you keep the trainer but change only the frame. That’s another good point for the “two-parts” system.
    But they decided to go the whole “real Tron bike” design road and it’s seems logical. I like it and hate it at the same time.

    Anyway, I was kind of desperate on waiting for news on the smart bike market and this one is definitely a huge surprise. I’m very excited for the future!

    Thanks Ray & your sources

  12. Tim Loake

    I got some of the images you were missing. Here’s the bike in the dark

  13. K V

    Who would even take the risk by buying a hardware product from Zwift? They can’t even give decent support on their own game, and introduce bugs at every release.
    @Zwift, keep doing what you’re supposed to do: develop the game

    • mpulsiv

      Only casual riders that don’t commit to training plans and racing labels Zwift as a “video game”. I was a beta tester back in 2016 and it never crossed my mind that training platform is a video game. I don’t pay attention to graphics. I flatten my back and go to work. Eyes on the power output.

  14. Don

    Ray,

    I think this is built by Tacx (Garmin) for Zwift. Is there any way you can check on that?

    • I’d be surprised if that’s the case. While there’s undoubtedly many similar concepts here, I’m not aware of Garmin Fitness/Outdoors ever doing OEM work for another company. And in fact, I’d even struggle to think of an example across any Garmin business lines where they do that.

    • jan

      Any rumors on FTMS support?
      Does Garmin/Tacx support FTMS on their Neo series by now?

    • Will

      I was a participant in last year’s UCI Esports World Championships in which every competitor was supplied with a Tacx Neo 2T. That coordination work was done directly with Tacx Netherlands and then Garmin North America. After the event we had to ship back the trainers to a Technician at Zwift to a residential address in New Jersey. This prototype definitely has the looks of a Tacx Neo trainer. Perhaps they just used the trainers we used and built a new housing for this.

    • JT

      I like it. Plus very competitively priced for the bike with its customisable geometry suiting anyone from 158-192cm.

    • usr

      “Perhaps they just used the trainers we used and built a new housing for this.”

      My thoughts as well: the logical approach for Zwift would be to team up with some company that knows their way around manufacture/engineering but can’t get a foot on the ground in terms of branding, but it seems like none of those has tried their hand at the low RPM “direct direct drive” approach of the Neo, they all seem firmly set on belt transmissions that get high RPM to the brake/flywheel. Could it be possible that they team up with Garmin? Possible, but I wouldn’t consider it likely (doesn’t seem like much of a fit on both sides). Could they copy the Neo from scratch? Also possible but unlikely, and I if they did I’d expect them to deviate at least somewhat (like a bigger radius of the brushless runner), to make it less obvious. So my guess is that the pictures are closer to the outcome of some idea-finding mockup experiments built around gutted existing trainers than actual preproduction models, likely not even meant for use this survey but opportunistically used when they did want to make a survey (perhaps even with plenty of time between)

      Or maybe they in fact did find a grounds for cooperation with Garmin. Zwift seems to constantly fail at everything even remotely related to actually making a profit so it would be entirely in character for them to take an offer that Garmin made in that non-serious way of politely saying “no we don’t want to sell to you, but for $somenumberslightlytoohighforanyonetoaccept we might”. In that case, the “testing the water in terms of pricing” thing that Ray suggested as the goal of the survey would truly make a lot of sense for Zwift, as in “could we possibly break even with this?”.

      But maybe the core goal of that bike/trainer project is simply showing their own brand in stage competition events, where they already put all participants on Neos, with wheel vs wheel + frame options selected depending on logistics. Then they’d just convert a fleet of Neos, declare the project successfully done. Growing that into an end-user product (for which the survey was testing the waters) would only be an optional add-on

      A funny side observation: the design of the bike-addon’s frame, with its chamfered corners reminds me so much of the actual Neo chassis, it almost screams “Neo”. But by staying somewhat true to a real bike’s shape (but with all those arbitrary “why???” nonfunctional extra corners) it falls into some kind of uncanny valley where it looks so much more “cheap plastic toy” than the actual Neo bike that I’d rather pay*to have it removed from my flat than pay to get it in there.

    • GLT

      There have been a small number of OEM things historically. They make the Cannondale wheel sensor hardware today.

      It would be surprising if they collaborated on something like this product though.

    • usr

      Right, and that weird Bontrager 1030 that still forces them to make an extra build of all firmware updates two years later. So not quite as unlikely as I thought then.

    • Matthew

      The Bontrager Edge units, or is that something different?

    • GLT

      Yes, the Bontrager Edge bike computers would be the other OEM-ish cycling thing they’ve done in recent years.

      Getting into the Trek-Bontrager catalog with that, and the Cannondale catalog with the Wheel Sensor creates an opportunity for those brand loyal customers to grow into the Garmin product lines over time.

    • Yeah, the Bontrager is a fair example. Though, in that case it’s super clear it’s still a Garmin device. Nobody is trying to hide that, versus a typical OEM/whitelabel scenario is different where consumers generally have no idea the item is made by company X instead of Y.

      It’ll be interesting to see what happens here. I suppose I could just ask Garmin. They’ll either say “No, not us”, or “No comment”. If they say no comment, then obviously it’s them.

      But I’d be surprised. While Tacx has a massive new production facility that just opened in the last year, I don’t think it’d be able to handle that kind of demand for both trainer+bike, without Garmin sacrificing their own product lines. No matter how the unit ends up being, it’ll sell well simply because it’s the Zwift one.

      Of course, there’s long been talk about expanding Tacx production beyond the Netherlands, and maybe this is the opportunity to do it. We’ll see…

    • GLT

      Looks like another co-branding collaboration with Cannondale was just rolled out with the SmartSense package on the new Synapse endurance bike. Varia radar & VDU but Lezyne for lighting.

      Now that the F7 (and friends) are rolled out it would be great to eventually see some excitement from the Edge/Varia/Tacx side of the house.

    • Somewhere on an airplane there’s one of those bikes headed my way. I think my head of week.

    • GLT

      Most excellent. 2022 is off to a good start w/ sports tech.

  15. Fabio

    Hi all,

    i am i the only one who think that it’s a waste of space puttin a ‘real’ front wheel in a smart bike ?

    • Gordon Coale

      No I’m in the same boat. The wheels are a gimmick too far. It’s a space bike it doesn’t need 26-700c wheels. They could have achieved 90% of the effect by designing around some small 18 or 20” wheels.
      Looks tacky and will take up even more space than a smart bike does.

    • usr

      Not if the primary goal of the project is to put “Tronbikes” on the stages of those in-person high level virtual cycling events that they seem to be trying to establish as basically an alternative to track cycling.

      For everything else: hell yes, waste of space. Same for the rear wheel actually, no need for a trainer to extend further to the rear than the biggest cog of the cassette (or the circumference of the brushless runner if you happen to re-package or clone Neos), except engineers not trying.

    • JimC

      It’s only a waste of space if it doesn’t sell. Look at all the 4x4s (“faux by faux”) on the roads today: the majority are just tarted up road cars, with extra bodywork to make them look adventurous and off-road capable. And they sell in their millions.

      I’m personally not a fan of the Tron bike look, but I bet loads of people are. And it’s certainly aesthetically more interesting than the rest of the frankly ugly smart bikes on the market at the moment.

  16. Schwinn-man

    I’ve never received the survey, but if I did I would TOTALLY support the idea! In fact, this is news I was waiting for since beginning of zwifting…(circa ‘2018!). The reason I love Zwift, but I hate its flaws based on multiple settings that compromise the output. Well, it’s a Global Company. I understand that. People all over the world using different equipment, different connections, set ups, modes, screens, controllers, features, attachments, etc… They also receive different results. But, anywhere you go, whether is a Zwift platform, Blog, Zwift Insider, Facebook Support Group, riders complaining about the glitches, errors, lack of connectivity, No Signal, No Power, Low Power, No Resistance, High rpm and so on… Many of them might be fixable by little adjustment or set up, but some of them, the REAL ones, are usually headaches for the riders, and there’s NO help from anyone! If you call Zwift they might say it’s your Trainer problem, if you follow with Trainer Company they will question the way you CALIBRATE the unit, or… the Bluetooth/Wi-Fi connections on your Mobile device. Whatever is used for Companion: Android, IPhone, tablet, PC, ATV, etc… As many devices and gadgets involved in the simple process of riding indoor, as many different reasons of crashing it… I think, Zwift Ride would be the answer to MOST of it, or at least pointed in the RIGHT direction, if these shall happen again! So, YES!! Bring the SHINY wheels to my basement in ’22, please!! I could even pay EXTRA for a little stupid screen in front of my handlebars if it comes with it…
    🖥👈😁

  17. Rui filipe soares santos

    Na Paz

  18. WorkOnSunday

    i would get one just so i can modify a shXt out of it and ride it outdoor. lol

  19. Matthew Papapetrou

    Hey everyone,

    Extremely exciting news hear, thanks Ray.

    My thoughts are that Zwift has hit the nail on the head, really smart prospect to being able to build/upgrade from trainer to full bike setup.

    However in my opinion the lack of a ‘CLIMB’ is a deal breaker. I’ve been using trainers for many years now and the CLIMB has been one of those revolutionary products which makes riding indoors bearable for rides beyond 1hr.

    If we ignore pricing, which most cyclists do, when it comes to quality products the lack of a CLIMB will cost them in the long run in my opinion.

  20. Chris B.

    As others have pointed out, the elephant in the room is wether this trainer supports open protocols to use with other apps or if they somehow tie their connection down to just use this with Zwift. I think it looks interesting, but as someone who uses two indoor cycling platforms (I know, I know) that would be a stopper for me for sure.

    Thanks for making this public, Ray, very interested to see where things go. 👍

    • Jan

      Yes, Zwift is already pretty bad/restrictive with their API. Does not bode well for a bike…

    • usr

      Considering how much that thing looks like a badly disguised Neo I’d expect it to support whatever the Neo supports, down to firmware updates with the Tacx App 😉

      (the steering control however, yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if it even struggled to be compatible with Zwift itself a few updates down the line)

  21. Jason

    Hey DCR – thanks for sharing this. The wheel / upgrade / full bike looks really awesome. As you mentioned, it would be the integrated software components that would convince me to switch from my bike indoors to their ride. Love that you can start with the wheel and upgrade from there.

    There is still some initial sticker shock. $2,200 towards an indoor bike? Much rather put that to an outdoor ride, but again if the software is so much better than maybe… I’d be on the lookout for 0% financing for 36 months. This is what Peloton did for a bike similarly priced. But PTON’s software is 3X that of Zwift’s. So maybe we should be on the lookout for software price increase and expect Zwift to sell the hardware at cost?

  22. Mike

    Really depends on compatibility, if it only works with zwift I wouldn’t consider it, also I’m not a fan of the dummy front wheel, takes more space

  23. Paul

    The beauty of Tacx Neo, Wahoo KICKR’s etc. ist that they can be folded and stored away when not in use or during the summer time. That’s their main selling point compared to a stationary spinning bike.
    – The Zwift Trainer is huge (!) and requires a big closet to store away, which is quite problematic in small European appartments or in NYC!
    – The Zwift bike actually adds no advantage compared to one’s own bike and takes even more space. It’s a design showcase with a bling! Don’t see value-added features like climbing options and ventilators. That’s where complete and compact solution like the KICKR Bike shine. In the end those missing features are relevant for buying decisions of serious bike enthusiasts.
    I see the Zwift solution as a competitor to Peloton and its limited useability, and not as a main competitor to smart trainers from Tacx, Wahoo, Elite.

  24. Gareth Cooper

    I’ve been in the market for a smart bike for quiet some time now, on hearing that Zwift were developing their own, I decided to wait, thinking it would be worth waiting to see their offering. Got to be honest, if this is it I’m extremely disappointed. If you was to show me these pictures and ask me to place this in the genesis of indoor cycling equipment, I would have placed this a generation before the current smart bike offerings. I really expected better from Zwift, in recent times their all ethos appears to be based on neon lighting.

    • Nuno Pinto

      Very interesting but my money is still on a TACX NEO BIKE (that I own) or a Wahoo.

    • Secret squirrel

      I also own a Tacx bike. Bitterly regretting not stretching to the Wahoo. Tacx’s lack of support for steering and the 120w erg “bug” have left a bitter taste in my mouth. The wheels put me off on the Zwift bike.

    • Malcolm

      As someone who also owns a Tacx bike, I’m curious about issues you have. I use ERG mode (i.e. Zwift workout mode driving the trainers resistance) for 99.9% of my rides. I have no issues what-so-ever (besides rubbish legs!). Is there a bug/issue that you have that I’ve been lucky to avoid? The steering issue is mostly a fault of Zwift (intentionally) not implementing it for Tacx – their hardware buttons are there (albeit not as intuitive as real steering) but Zwift (likely for competitive reasons) have not implemented them, despite requesting that Tacx and other manufacturers provide hardware options for steering.

    • Gordon Coale

      Hi Malcolm.

      Background on the 120w “bug” here. Short version you won’t see it unless you do an ERG plan and it has a part of it that drops you below a 120w target. Or on big intervals or during warm down. Anyone over a 300w ftp probably won’t see it at all as their intervals won’t dip low enough.
      https://forums.garmin.com/sports-fitness/indoor-training/f/tacx-neo-bike-smart/257288/fan-speed-issue-erg-mode—fan-stops-below-120w

      I hold Zwift and Tacx equally responsible for the lack of steering. It takes 2 to tango.

  25. Markus

    I love that technical stuff 👍

  26. Maarten

    I like the looks and from a practical point of view, the handles on various locations to move the setup around. Pretty cool design and seems they payed attention detail, like that. Just wondering, the “full-wheel” form factor will make the wheel option way larger for a smart-trainer then a KICK-r or a NEO.

    Surprised to see no obvious (to me) shapes in the design to accommodate steering or even elevation. I would expect a device at this price level to have a better ZWIFT-platform integration and experience than any other 2nd tier vendor for smart trainers. Could be this is just a “impression” of what it could be to check if the design language is attractive, but otherwise…..

    Side note:
    – Big fan of the NEO light, light effects around the wheels…. love it.
    – On the design side, love the kind of aero looks of the frame, but with a chain guard?!?

  27. I sure hope THIS isn’t the final answer. Or even close to it. I’ve been planning on a Kickr Bike. Maybe this year. Was thinking about waiting for an upgraded edition or even waiting for the rumored Zwift Bike. If this IS truly the Zwift Bike forget it. I don’t get who this is for? It looks like a Cracker Jack prize. I may wait to see what actually happens, but I’m not impressed at all by what we’re thinking is happening.

  28. P.Kman.

    No matter how cheap Zwift makes it’s zwift bike.
    To make the Zwift virtual cycling experience more real & engaging less boring since the competition Wahoo bike , Wahoo kickr + climb and Elite Rizer allready simulate bike gradient changes the least zwift should have done is to add a front fork rizer.
    I my self was even able to manyfacter a electronic front fork actuator bases rizer for my wahoo smart trainer.
    That’s really no hard engineering science.
    Bottom line:
    As long as the zwift bike can’t make you feel the climbing and decending positions it is no competitor at all. For me.
    Allso downhill forward drive probably makes it harder to push high power watt output compared to smart trainers that don’t push the electronic motor forward for you .

  29. CJ

    I love the scalable “platform” nature of this product line – buy just the trainer with the option of a “mule-bike” to make it a full-on smart bike. IMO, they nailed that, design-wise: I often recommend “smart trainer + mule bike” for those who don’t have a bike already.

    The ONLY x-factors: quality control (only time will tell), and standard ANT+/BLE fitness protocols (which we’ll know right out of the gate).

    I think Zwift will eventually get the QC right because they have a vested interest. However, if they make it a closed platform, this is a dead-end product.

  30. Tom

    In the end the Zwift wheel/trainer is just another high end smart trainer and not the revolution that Zwift pretended to offer. A huge miss in my opinion is missing LAN cable support.

    The Z cog is nice and I’d love to see Tacx/Garmin replicate that function somehow (maybe via app so that it could be used besides (?) TR for fast virtual gear switches during on/off intervals (instead of physically shifting cogs or changing resistance level inside TR app which is too cumbersome)).

    Besides missing Climb function the Zwift Bike doesn’t even have steering (or even swaying as some recent competitor has shown)

    • James Eastwood

      How do you know there is missing lan support? No connectivity specs have been shared. It could have anything.

    • Secret squirrel

      It’s clearly stated that the Zwift play controller has steering buttons. It could be interesting to see that sold on its own.

  31. John Tobin

    The bike doesn’t look like it will accommodate smaller adults, never mind larger children. Also the seatpost won’t allow the saddle to move far enough forward for tri/tt positions. And the trainer appears to be a 700C-only design due to the size of the wheel.

    It seems the entire point of having a Zwift-branded trainer is to provide a more seamless experience without the connection issues and complexity that plague many people these days, so I’m wondering how they will accomplish that?

    Count me skeptical that Zwift will be able to accomplish the massive transition from software to hardware manufacturing in a seamless and fully successful manner. But I certainly have no desire to see them fail. We’ll see.

  32. Ben M

    Usually in these types of conjoint analysis surveys they’ll randomize out the features and price points to understand willingness to pay for different bundles. You mentioned price but it’s not out of the question that someone else got asked to evaluate a $4000 bike with a completely different set of features.

    It would be interesting to see if others got the survey and had the same feature set.

    • usr

      Given that the features/performance properties all match the current Neo and the device itself very much looks like a repackaged Neo (that big metal bushless runner disk) I’d say that Ray is right in that price is the only variable in this survey.

  33. Corey Jenkins

    Cool idea, looks really cheap and full of plastic.

  34. Sam

    I have been too frustrated with their bugs, misfeatures, non features in software to hope anything from their hardware… sorry zwift i know you don’t care but you have been working on this for too long while not caring about your core users and you lost me (and probably others) along the ways.

  35. Michael

    Since when is April Fools in December? This has to be a joke, right? Right?? Please!?

  36. Wes Stocker

    I think this overall is great, the modularity commendable as well. The front wheel is likely static and rigid. The future riser module could attach anywhere on the front wheel. I also see that weird orange block on the virtual “head tube” and imagine that is a screen support point for another upgrade.
    My Neo 2T has some sway, but no rotate support. I wonder if that is a trade-off they made for now.
    As a nerd, I want that not only do they offer the current standard interfaces of ANT+/BLE but also a hard-wired or WiFi option as well!

  37. Paul

    Interesting that still seems to be an industry that isn’t looking to include lateral motion in the equipment, to make a more imersive experience.

    Wonder if to do that well at the moment to have for and aft, would just cause it to be too expensive for majority of customers

  38. Rob McKillip

    I got and filled out the same survey yesterday. The products seemed competitive. However, since I already have a good smart trainer setup, I wouldn’t be interested unless there was something really compelling.

  39. Charles

    This is what you get when you have a bunch of “yes people” working for you. Cringe worthy ideas. How in the hell is Zwift still in business? No serious alternative is the only reason.

    • usr

      Well put! I wonder if the “repackaged Neo” was an actual leadership decision or just the outcome of the “fake it ’til you make it” strategy applied internally (like “yes people” like to do, and like it should *never* be done, FI[UT]YMI should always be strictly limited to the outside of the economical unit)

  40. Nicich

    I don’t know it doesn’t convincent me.
    IT seems that copy somenthing from a product and something else from another one is not the better chooise.

    1200$ for a smart triner put it on the top but 1000$ for a plastic bike who allow you to manager gear change and sterring it is too much even if it is compared to other smart bike in the market.
    What I didn’t see is any kind of innovation or improvent of what already exist.

    Tacx bike = new restistence mode(Elctro magnetical)
    Whaoo smart bike = incline mode
    Stages bike = solid like a tank and dual real power meters in the crank set.

    Zwift bike ??????? = two wheel with a color light………………

    Clearly speak these are my concern on what I can read on the paper, for sure in the real the bike is fantastic.

  41. Vic Tex

    I think it would be a great to have the integrated climb as optional so it can be offered at different price points. Also, it is not good to integrate a screen, but instead have an available mount to add any display you like. I would also believe a rocker solution would also be added. Looks great, but if this does release, I would hold out for a Gen 2.

  42. Zach

    It will be interesting to see what the drivetrain is on the Bike. A huge problem for Tacx Neo Bike users has been the v-belt with tensioner design, which has caused slipping, fraying, sapping, dusting, etc. A number of owners have had to overhaul that mechanism themselves. Presumably, the Zwift Bike is using a chain on a single cog (per their reference to “Z Cog”)?

  43. Heinrich Hurtz

    It’s cute, but too bad it doesn’t have integrated full motion. That’s one thing I’d def want in a dedicated indoor training bike. AFAIK, none have it so you have to stick them on some sort of platform capable of handling the weight.

  44. Gabe

    The kid in me says “yes cool! Tron bike!”

    The adult in me screams “that’s ugly as f”

    AnywAys happy to see more competition.

  45. Andy Linquist

    Just over a year ago I bought a Kickr Bike but sort of wondered if I should wait for a Zwift smart bike. Seeing this, I’m sure glad I made the decision to buy the Wahoo. I can’t imagine having waited so long for a Zwift smart bike only to see this. Instead I’ve had a year enjoying the Kickr Bike and it is likely to still be a far superior product even when Zwift’s comes out, which will probably still be months or years away. If anything, I’d imagine this reveal might boost Wahoo’s smart bike sales.

  46. James Eastwood

    Eric Min has shared more details in the Zwiftinsider article.

    The frame can be used with other trainers (not sure how this will work!)

    The front wheel can be taken apart, and replaced with a riser or a wheel with a fan built in.

    Modularity is the key thing.

    Sounds promising. Let’s also enable tacx neobike steering please?

  47. Paul Smith

    Zwift invited me to take the survey. Toluna ended the survey after the first question – age – when I answered 73.

  48. Rob Davis

    Thanks!

  49. Ian Tubbs

    I took the survey. I don’t think a cassette would be something you’ll add later. It looked to me like it was a single cog mounted on the drive side. I tried to zoom in as close as I could to the angled picture of the Wheel. Although in one picture it did look like there was a cassette installed.

    I saw the same pricing as Chris Hammond did, $1200 for the Wheel, $2800 for the Ride. I don’t think that was an upgrade price either. At least that’s not how I understood it.

  50. JimC

    One concern I have (which no one else seems to have mentioned): how will this design age? It looks pretty futuristic now, but in 5 years’ time? Scuff it up a bit, and maybe a couple of the wheel LEDs have failed… how’s it looking now? That’s not a problem for Zwift, in fact it’s a positive advantage – they can put out a “new” model whenever they feel like it without actually having to change anything important, just a few new colour schemes or flatten a tube profile or whatever. But it’s not going to help you, as a consumer, when you decide to upgrade and you discover your expensive Tron bike is no longer fashionable and its value has dropped accordingly.

  51. rich rutishauser

    I made my own Tron bike using $16 in LED lights from Walmart.

  52. Nate

    I hope they address the issue with laughable accuracy in racing. If it never uses calibration, like the neo. Throw in an integrated weight sensor to flag weight doping. Market it as the “true” race platform with anti-cheat technology built in. Have people racing it show a badge as verified. Make the racing less of a joke.

    • Renato

      Nice ideas. They could also put small sensors on the seat, handlebar, bottle cage so the avatar could replicate standing, riding one-handed or hand-ooff, drinking 🙂

  53. Sandy Woolley

    Great piece DC and very interesting. Some cool things here that interest me! I wonder if an integrated projector instead of a screen could be a low cost option and require just a white wall for that big screen experience?

  54. marcel

    Add on feature: take this zwift tron bike outside, and use it in the real world

  55. Jason

    Kind of cool. I think Zwift is awesome, one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I do hope they keep supporting the lower end kickers and such. Not everyone has $2300 for a price of work out equipment, but a used kick’r and $14/ month is doable for many. Ride on!

  56. pavlinux

    Сrankset patented by SRM ?

  57. Tay

    If this isn’t a complete bugfest and actually looks good in real life (I’m worried it has a cheap plastic look in person), then I’ll definitely sell our Neo and gravel frame which is just a trainer frame these days.

    Indoor cycling is pretty much a core fixture in our home now so I want a setup that looks stylish too, just can’t see us paying for the Wahoo – looks class but feels too pricey.

    £1700 though for the full setup and part funded by selling the current trainer is an easy sell.

    Bet it’ll be hard to get one for years. Stock trickling in and out. Hope not but will see. Glad there’s no screen in it – have a huge TV just for Zwift now, though I’d like more gimmicks. The lights are superb, just needs that riser wheel accessory Min hinted at and we’re sorted.

    Just keep those fingers crossed it’s not cheap looking. That’s probably harder to get right at this price point than the internals.

    • “I’m worried it has a cheap plastic look in person”

      I would agree with this, and actually go a step further and say they should ditch the orange highlights here. I’d replace them with grey, roughly the same tone as the Wahoo KICKR bike.

      While I get that orange is Zwift’s color, I think there’s also a reality that it’s not a color everyone loves – especially something that might be sitting in a living room or such. Having the LED’s makes it easier for the wheels/underside. But I think the other bike accents would look classier in a more muted color, and then also allow people to better customize the LED’s to their liking.

  58. Warren

    I like the idea, makes a lot of sense they should try and offer an integrated solution for trainer and frame especially being able to sell the lifestyle package to zwifters.
    I’m not in their potential customers though, i basically gave up on zwift when running was added for free and the price of cycling went up.
    Sounds salty, but I was using Zwift as my free ride / cross training with structured plans in Sufferfest at the time, and real world rides.
    With the price increase, it meant I looked at my subscriptions for various things and decided, zwift, I don’t need you at that price.
    So a trainer branded to a service I don’t use would have to be demonstrably phenomenal in function, competitively priced and compatible to other services to even get me to read the specs.
    Thanks Ray for another interesting sport topic I would have missed by being out of that loop!

  59. MT

    Ray, thanks for the review. Have you tried or do you plan to review NordicTrack treadmills and the iFIT platform? -6 to +40% incline (high incline walks can support a wider range of family members and abilities), auto adjust by program or to heart rate or both, tons of content (nature runs/hikes are beautiful, although far fewer live classes), better treadmill build (IMO), and iFIT has lower monthly fees. Thanks.

  60. mglow

    Seems like they went full form over function on this one. It sounds basically like a Tacx neo but infinitely less portable. People probably aren’t moving these things all that often but when I visit my parents for the holidays and such I bring a trainer along. It’s hard enough to fit a trainer in the car but It would be impossible if it had a giant 2ft diameter disc sticking out of it.

  61. SCDC

    The appearance alone gives me the chills. I’ve never wanted a trainer, but I want this to put on my tech mantle. 🙂

  62. marcel

    Hi ray will you do a review of the new Technogym Ride trainer bike which looks very promising?

  63. Djb

    Any idea on release ?