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Zwift Ride Indoor Bike In-Depth Review: The Future of Smart Bikes?

After years of rumors, pivots, and do-overs, Zwift has finally announced their much-discussed indoor bike. At least, depending on how precisely you define an indoor bike. But no matter which definition you use, this is going to significantly shape the direction of the indoor cycling industry, just as Zwift did when they launched the Zwift Hub nearly two years ago.

The new Zwift Ride combines a new Zwift indoor “frame” with the Wahoo KICKR CORE + Zwift COG trainer, to make a one-stop-shop option for getting on Zwift. Within the Zwift Ride product, you can literally see years of Zwift history and direction changes unfolding like layers of rock. It’s actually kinda fascinating.

But more fascinating than the history lesson though, which I’ll save for another day, is riding the thing. And I’ve been doing so for more than a month now, putting it through its paces to see how it handles across a wide variety of riding. Not just me, but my wife as well – helping to validate whether or not Zwift’s one-size-fits-all design can properly accommodate both a tall rider (me), and a vertically challenged rider (her).

As usual, this unit is a media loaner, and it’ll go back to Zwift. After which, I’ll go out and get my own for any future testing needs. If you found this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a behind-the-scenes video series and more! And of course, it makes you awesome.

A Quick Overview:

Before we dive into all the box parts, let’s just quickly go through what this thing is. It’s not complicated, but for those that want the skinny real quick – this chunk of the review will give you everything you need to know. In short, the Zwift Ride takes the previously rumored Zwift Tron Bike concept, and simplifies it. That general concept actually carries through here today, minus the giant glowing wheelset and overly complex design.

Instead, you’ve got two key components:

A) The Wahoo KICKR CORE ONE smart trainer: This is the same trainer that released a few months back, with one minor tweak. That trainer is a standard Wahoo KICKR CORE, except it’s got the Zwift Cog on it. And in particular, a newer version than what shipped a few months back (the newer version is quieter for this particular chain).

B) The Zwift Frame: This is a single-sized adjustable indoor frame, which has integrated shifters and a variant of built-in Zwift Play buttons and controls functionality. Meaning, it’s got everything Zwift Play has in terms of controls, plus a few more things. Outside of the handlebar button portions, the frame itself though doesn’t have any electronic components. It’s just effectively a bunch of stylish steel tubing, with a nifty single-speed chain system (more on that down below).

The two pieces together make ‘Zwift Ride’ (the name of the whole thing). Later this summer, you’ll be able to buy just the Zwift Frame portion, pairing it with existing Zwift Hub smart trainers, and Wahoo KICKR smart trainers. And concurrently, Zwift says other trainer companies are already working to make their trainers compatible with the Zwift Cog (any trainer will work with the Zwift Frame from a physical standpoint, it’s the Cog that needs special firmware on a given trainer.

With that, let’s quickly hit up the key technical specs.

The Key Specs:

First up, let’s look at pricing, inclusive of both the trainer and frame portions (everything you see/need in this post):

USA: $1299.99
EU: €1299.99
UK: £1199.99
Canada: $1,999.99
Australia: $2,299.95

However, there are some additional costs:

Shipping fee: USA – $75, EU – €100, UK – £65
Tablet Holder: USA – $49.99, EU – €49.99, UK – £39.99

Next, we’ve got the two sides to this hardware specs story. One half being the Zwift Frame, and the other half being the KICKR CORE + Zwift Cog.

Starting on the Zwift Frame side, the specs here are:

– Crank Arm Length: 170mm (non-standard Square Taper)
– Pedals: Flats included, but can swap to any pedal you want
– Q-Factor: 150mm
– Handlebar Width: 420mm
– Handlebar Drop: 125mm
– Handlebar Reach: 70mm
– Handlebar type: 31.8mm
– Rider height: 5’ – 6’6” // 152 – 198 cm
– Saddle Height Min-Max: 61cm-87cm (center bottom bracket to top of saddle)
– Stepover Height: 30 in // 76 cm
– Max Rider Weight: 265 lbs. // 120 kg
– Zwift Frame Weight: 38lbs/17kg

Then transitioning quickly over to the Wahoo KICKR CORE side:

– Flywheel weight: 5.4kg
– Cassette: Zwift Cog (slightly updated)
– Protocols: ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, both ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth FTMS
– Max Incline: 16% simulated grade
– Max Resistance: 1,800w
– Claimed Accuracy: +/- 2%
– KICKR CORE weight: 40lbs/18kg

Got all that? Good, let’s get it cracked open.

In the Box:

The Zwift Ride essentially comes in 3 boxes. The first is the main Zwift Ride frame, the second is an accessory box for the handlebars & extra components, and the third is the Wahoo KICKR CORE box. In my case, I already had the Wahoo KICKR CORE ONE with Cog, so I just had two boxes to deal with (there was no reason to waste sending another identical KICKR CORE to the one I already had).

Once you unpack everything, you’re left with the following piles of goods. Note in this case, you’ll see a plastic bag in front of the KICKR CORE, that’s actually a slightly updated COG to replace the one I previously had. Thus, if you order a Zwift Frame later this summer/fall, you’ll get that. Whereas if you order the Zwift Ride now, it’ll come pre-installed on your KICKR CORE.

Looking at the piles of stuff, you’ve got instruction booklets for both the KICKR CORE and RIDE frame. These were in the small cardboard holder seen above, which also has a QR code with more guides.

You’ll see the tablet holder included in this bundle (which is a $50 surcharge), as well as two different silicone insets/covers, one for the tablet holder, and one without the tablet holder. There’s a thru-axle adapter and dual-prong USB-C cable.

Meanwhile, for bigger part pieces, you’ve got the handlebar assembly, as well as the handlebar post that goes up and down. There’s a pair of flat pedals you probably won’t use, two small magnetic cable holders, and another manual for the handlebar pieces.

Assembly is pretty darn straightforward. You simply drop the frame onto the KICKR CORE like any other bike, then rotate the orange knob you see below upwards, which adds tension to the chain.

From there, you’ll add in the seat post and handlebars, which can be adjusted using the orange wrench seen in the background of this photo, attached to the top tube:

The entire assembly process takes about 5-7 minutes, it’s super efficient. I’ll dive into more tidbits of that in this next section though.

Riding With It:

In riding the Zwift Ride over the past month, I’ve often forgotten it’s not a smart bike in the traditional sense of a smart bike. Meaning, it’s technically not one piece – but it acts like all other smart bikes. Maybe we need to change the definition of what a smart bike is. After all, this is effectively a trainer + a frame, just like any other setup. Except in reality, the only difference here is that you can split it into two pieces, and it has an exposed drivetrain. In almost every other way, it’s a smart bike.

So, first up we’ve got the fit-related customization components. How does it fit different rider sizes? In my case, I’m 6’2”/188cm, and my wife is 5’2”/157cm, thus, a pretty healthy spread between us in terms of height. Both of us are able to ride it and adjust it accordingly. In her case, she does most of her training on a dedicated triathlon bike, but we could easily enough add clip-on triathlon bars here if we needed to.

The Zwift Ride has adjustability in the following locations:

1) Saddle height (up/down)
2) Saddle position (forward/back/angle of saddle)
3) Handlebar height (up/down)
4) Handlebar position (forward/back)

However, one area you can’t easily adjust is crank length, which is set for 170mm (same as a Peloton Bike or Wattbike). This is a good broad ‘everyone’ option, but isn’t optimal for every rider (I usually ride 175mm). Most other smart bike makers use a bear-claw style design, which allows you to quickly change between 3-5 different crank lengths. But unfortunately, Zwift went with a single size here. That said, for those with enough bike wrench geekery in them, you can technically swap out the crank arms which are square-taper, however the bottom bracket isn’t standard, thus Zwift highly doesn’t recommend doing so. But again, that’s beyond most people.

One of the best parts of the Zwift Ride is the hex wrench. Seriously.

First off, it’s bright orange and has a dedicated magnet mount on the underside of the frame’s top tube (seen below). This means it always has a home, on the bike, for easy access. Every other company should steal this concept. Second, and most critically: Every single adjustment point uses that single same bolt size. Thus, one wrench to rule them all. It’s super smart.

It’s these little design things that make the difference between a bunch of engineers designing a product, and ones that have been vetted by countless end-user trials, constantly tweaked based on those results. I’ve got a separate post/video diving into that and some of what Zwift did in those areas.  Which isn’t to say other companies don’t user test, many do, but as we saw when Zwift introduced the Zwift Hub, the nuance in the initial setup and packaging makes such a difference to newbies when approaching the indoor cycling world.

Next up, there’s the handlebar setup, which of course is adjustable, but atop that is a flat area for placement of your phone. One miss though is that there’s no USB ports here to charge your phone (or, wireless charging). That would have seemed like an obvious one, but Zwift has prioritized design simplicity and price, over USB ports.

If you look closely though, it lists that location as appropriate for bottles, pizza, and donuts.

In my case, I tested bottles, phones, and donuts. Sorry pizza, just didn’t work out:

Donuts however, did work out perfectly fine. Be aware though that you should consume the donut in the early portion of your trainer session, to avoid a sweat-filled donut hole. Nobody wants a sweaty hole. Albeit, the Zwift Ride removable silicone tray does have a sweat drainage ditch at the bottom.

Speaking of water bottles, down below you’ve got two water bottle cages. Interestingly, these are ‘open’ pages. Sorta the equivalent of a convertible car. The first time I used the bike some months back, I was concerned the bottles would fall out, but no matter how much rocking-horse I throw at the bike, they haven’t gone anywhere. Frankly, if the bottles fall out, you’re unquestionably on the ground alongside them.

Speaking of which, let’s talk movement and riding, before shifting. Given the weight of this beast, it doesn’t move much. But then again, it’s still half the weight of many indoor smart bikes. So while there’s not much give in the system, it was never something that substantially bothered me. If you’re really into rocker plates though, you’ll probably find it a bit stiff. But I’d see no issues sticking this on a rocker plate. As far as sprints and such, I’ve had no stability issues, it’s no different than riding the Wahoo KICKR on a regular bike, except just a bit heavier.

Likewise, there’s no issues with that front peg-leg style design. It actually makes a lot of sense as it simplifies the manufacturing and design compared to a fork design. The bottom cap is removable, so that they can adjust the height down the road for different trainer heights.

However, it’s not natively compatible with the KICKR CLIMB or Elite RIZER climbing accessories. Zwift says they initially went down that road of trying to add compatibility, but it just increased the cost and complexity for a V1 product too much. But it’s something they’re keenly aware of.

So let’s switch direction and talk shifting and shifters. As noted above, effectively the Zwift Frame has two pieces. The big white frame portion, and then the detachable handlebars. These handlebars have what is effectively a variant of the Zwift Play controllers inside them, but with an extra set of buttons.

On the shifting side, you’ve got buttons on both sides for shifting, both sides for steering, and both sides for braking. Plus another extra Drop button set.

Then, facing you topside, you’ve got two sets of game control buttons – identical to that of the Zwift Play. These control functions in the game, for example giving Ride On’s, confirming selections, or navigating through the quick access menu.

Within this you can choose which route to take at a road junction, control ERG mode, take a screenshot, change your view and more. As anyone whose used Zwift Play knows, these buttons are game changers, and so much better than trying to use the Zwift companion smartphone with sweaty fingers – which usually becomes impossible.

Now when it comes to shifting, you’ve got three different configurations. You can do sequential shifting (which is basically just one series of 20+ gears), SRAM eTAP/AXS-style shifting, and Shimano Di2-style shifting. You’ll choose these in the menu:

Additionally, you can choose from a few different virtual gear setups below that. You can’t create a completely custom bike like some other smart bikes, but I suspect we’ll see that down the road, as that’s just a minor software update.

From a responsiveness standpoint, I had no issues with the shifters and responsiveness – which was/is just like the Zwift Click+COG combo on the existing Wahoo KICKR HUB ONE and Zwift Hub trainers. It’s all virtually instant. For most of my testing I used either SRAM or Shimano mode, and with all these modes it’ll show you the gearing in the upper left corner:

That said, as good as the button approach is, I still prefer the real-bike-like shifters of the Wahoo KICKR Bikes, or other indoor smart bikes that have real shifters that actually click. The indoor smart bike industry started off with gamified buttons years ago, but quickly switched to real-bike style shifters, because…you know…realism. Having a game controller just feels, blah, to me. Of course, that’s just my opinion – and I just like the real-world sensation that comes with shifting on an actual bike. However, Zwift says the buttons are more approachable to those newer to the sport.

Switching topics slightly, as far as things like road realism/feel goes, that’s entirely a function of the Wahoo KICKR CORE. When people talk about road feel on trainers, they’re essentially talking about acceleration and deceleration, and how that feels relative to the outside road.  I always say – for me personally, it’s hard to separate the fact that I’m riding indoors from outdoors. It’s still a trainer, and I’m still looking at a wall in front of me. My brain can only turn off so much of that. Still, much of the road-like feel is driven by the flywheel, and be it physical or virtual, flywheel sizes tend to be measured in weight. This impacts inertia and how it feels – primarily when you accelerate or otherwise change acceleration (such as briefly coasting).

Starting with road feel, the KICKR CORE has a flywheel weight of 5.4kg, larger than the 4.7kg of the Zwift Hub series. However, unlike some endeavors, size isn’t everything – because flywheel weight is merely one factor – especially because it can be multiplied depending on the exact gearing internally. Nonetheless, this feels good to me. Accelerations are good, decelerations are good, and I’m totally happy with riding it. I’d be totally happy if this was the only trainer/bike I had, in terms of road feel.

Meanwhile, for noise, there’s actually some differences here to a normal KICKR CORE setup. In this case, you’ve got the KICKR CORE itself and the noise it makes (which is none). From there you’ve got the updated Zwift Cog on it, which makes a little bit of noise. Then you’ve got the frame portion, which is both the chainring and the small orange puck that the chain glides over. Collectively, you will definitely hear the chain. You can hear it in my video, however, as you’ll hear, it’s not obnoxious or super loud – it’s simply sub-fan-level noise.

Lastly, when it comes to connectivity, I do want to briefly mention that the Zwift Ride experience wasn’t great for me with Apple TV. This is because Apple TV has a two Bluetooth connection limit, which means that the trainer takes up one connection, and the Zwift controllers the other connection. That leaves you out of luck for your heart rate sensor, as neither the KICKR CORE (or Zwift controller) pass that through like the older Zwift Hub did. Thus, you’re forced to use the Zwift Companion app for pairing (with Apple TV), and unfortunately, I saw constant drop-outs using that. To the point it simply wasn’t usable for me.

As one who does almost all their Zwifting on Apple TV, this was a bummer. I’d like to see Zwift (or Wahoo) make an effort to get heart rate bridging into their handlebars (or trainers) to sidestep this issue. While Zwift did troubleshoot my issues some, they noted there are a number of cases where this configuration isn’t as reliable as they’d like. I’ll note that I had ZERO issues using my iPhone, iPad, and Mac, to do sessions. This is purely a connectivity reliability issue related to the Zwift Companion App, which, probably won’t come as a great surprise to many (as it has quite the reputation for this sort of thing).

But again, hopefully, that’s something Zwift can invest a bit of time into, to continue making the indoor experience easier.

App Compatibility:

It might seem odd that I include an app compatibility section in a product that’s made by Zwift, for Zwift. But at the end of the day, many consumers use smart trainers with various apps. And at its core, the Zwift Ride is…well…a CORE. Sorta.

This section is nearly identical to that of my Zwift Wahoo KICKR CORE COG review, because, it’s the exact same trainer. The only difference is the controller is a fullest of handlebars, versus a tiny little click of the CORE COG review. But the trainer, and its compatibility (or lack thereof) isn’t any different.

When I first started writing this section on trainers more than a decade ago, the landscape was a minefield of compatibility hell – both on the app and protocols standpoint. However, over the past decade, things have entirely standardized, and I can usually copy/paste most of the specs in this section and tweak slightly as appropriate to the nuances of each unit. At the end of the day, minor capability differences aside, everything worked with everything…until the Zwift Hub One, and now the Zwift Ride. With these units, we’re starting to turn back that clock a bit. Though, there might be some light at the end of the tunnel, more on that in a second.

That’s because while these two trainers are fully compatible from a protocol standpoint with all the ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart standards, the ability for you to shift is very much not. You see, the Zwift Ride will happily broadcast your power/cadence/etc to any app on the planet. And likewise, any app on the planet can also control the Zwift Ride, just like you could do with the previous KICKR Core Hub One. That’s because they properly adhered to all the trainer industry standards. And technically, that’s still true now.

Except, with the Zwift Ride, sending their data *ONLY* to the Zwift app, you can’t shift without the Zwift app involved. And thus, for any indoor trainer app where you want to shift (simulation mode), you’re out of luck with the Zwift Ride. Whereas, for any indoor trainer app in ERG mode (structured workout mode), you’re perfectly fine because you don’t need to shift. Those apps will control the Zwift Ride, just as they always did.

In an ideal world, the Zwift Ride controllers would actually talk directly to the trainer instead. In fact, that’s why we saw Wahoo years ago have the KICKR CLIMB talk instead to the trainer, rather than apps. It ensures compatibility no matter the app. But there are good reasons why it doesn’t, namely because Zwift handles all of the virtual gearing simulation components, rather than offloading that to each trainer company.

When I asked about this, Zwift and Wahoo said they’re working to release API documentation that lets 3rd party apps add support for Zwift Play/Click/Ride into their apps. This means that apps like Rouvy or FulGaz or Indievelo could make their apps compatible with the KICKR CORE Cog. However, each time over the last nearly-year I’ve asked for clarification on the date of this, the can gets kicked down the road further – at least for apps. Whereas for indoor trainers, Zwift has actually made progress. You’re going to see other indoor trainer brands in the very near future supporting Zwift Cog, and thus, the Zwift Frame.

With all that said, here’s the complete list of protocol transmission standards/types the Zwift Ride supports, via its Wahoo KICKR CORE:

ANT+ FE-C Control: This is for controlling the trainer via ANT+ from apps and head units, and includes power & cadence data. Read tons about it here.

ANT+ Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard ANT+ power meter, with cadence and speed data baked in.

Bluetooth Smart FTMS: This is the industry standard for apps controlling the trainer via Bluetooth Smart, and includes ANT+ power and cadence baked in.

Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard BLE power meter with cadence and speed data.

It DOES NOT, however, support these protocols/transmissions (which trainers from Tacx and Elite do support):

ANT+ Speed/Cadence Profile: This broadcasts just your speed and cadence as a standard ANT+ Speed/Cadence combo sensor.

Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Profile: This broadcasts just your speed and cadence as a standard BLE combo Speed/Cadence sensor.

The above two are mostly just useful when pairing to more basic smartwatches that might not support power meters/cadence, but I don’t expect it matters to too many people.

Note that for my testing, I tested within Zwift itself of course, but also did test connectivity to TrainerRoad with an ERG workout without issue, as well as broadcasting to multiple Garmin watches, an Apple Watch, and Garmin bike computer. All recorded the data without issue.

Power Accuracy:

The Zwift Ride is of course actually the KICKR CORE Hub One, the exact same trainer I reviewed just a few months ago. And in my case, literally the exact same unit. Thus, here’s that at a from then, showing everything is perfectly accurate (as it’s frankly been for years). All of my recent rides have also matched that.

You can check out that entire accuracy section, for the exact same trainer I used in this review, here.

Indoor Bike Comparison:

On one hand, it’s not entirely a direct comparison looking at Zwift Ride versus something like a Wahoo KICKR Bike Shift. Yet on the other hand, that’s precisely what most consumers will be looking to do. Thus, I’m going to do it too. Below is a simple table, first comparing the core specs:

Function/FeatureZwift RideWahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFTTacx NEO Bike PlusWattbike ATOM 2020
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 12th, 2024 @ 8:07 pm New Window
Price for trainer$1,299$2,999$3,999$2,599
Trainer TypeIndoor Bike FramesetIndoor BikeIndoor BikeIndoor Bike
Available today (for sale)YesYesYesYes
Availability regionsUS/EUR/CAN/AUS/JPNLimited InitiallyGlobalUK/South Africa/Australia/Scandinavia/USA
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYesYesNoYes
Flywheel weight5.4kgSimulated/Virtual 125KG9.28KG/20.4lbs
Includes cassetteYesN/AN/A
ResistanceZwift RideWahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFTTacx NEO Bike PlusWattbike ATOM 2020
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoNoYesNo
Maximum wattage capability1,800w @ 40KPH2,200w @ 40KPH2,200w @ 40KPH2,500w
Maximum simulated hill incline16%20% (and -15% downhill)25%25%
FeaturesZwift RideWahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFTTacx NEO Bike PlusWattbike ATOM 2020
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerNoNoYesYes
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)YesYes (with compatible apps)YES (WITH COMPATIBLE APPS)Yes (with compatible apps)
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoNoYesNo
MotionZwift RideWahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFTTacx NEO Bike PlusWattbike ATOM 2020
Whole-bike physical gradient simulationNoNoNoNo
Can slide forward/back with movementNoNoNoNo
Can rock/tilt side to side (significantly)NoNoNoNo
AccuracyZwift RideWahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFTTacx NEO Bike PlusWattbike ATOM 2020
Includes temperature compensationYesYesN/AYes
Supported accuracy level+/- 2%+/- 1%+/- 1%+/- 2%
Trainer ControlZwift RideWahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFTTacx NEO Bike PlusWattbike ATOM 2020
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYes (but limited to Zwift for shifting)YesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)Yes (but limited to Zwift for shifting)YesYesYes
Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)Yes (but limited to Zwift for shifting)YesYesYes
WiFi or EthernetNoWiFi (Ethernet with accessory)NoNo
Data BroadcastZwift RideWahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFTTacx NEO Bike PlusWattbike ATOM 2020
Transmits power via ANT+YesYesYesYes
Transmits power via Bluetooth SmartYesYesYesYes
Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connectionsYes, 3 ConcurrentYes, 3 ConcurrentNo, just oneYes
Transmits cadence dataYesYesYesYes
Bridging or re-transmissionNoNoNoNo
Race Mode (High Speed Data)NoNoNo
Indoor Bike FeaturesZwift RideWahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFTTacx NEO Bike PlusWattbike ATOM 2020
Shifting typeButton-based controlsNormal bike leversNormal Bike LeversButtons
Can customize shifting (Shimano/SRAM/Campagnolo)Yes (Shimano/SRAM/Sequential)Yes (Shimano/SRAM/Campagnolo)YesNo
Can customize gearingVery lightlyYes (both cassette and chainrings)YesYes
Supported Crank Lengths170mm165/167.5/170/172.5/175mm170/172.5/175mm170mm
DisplayNoNoYesNo
USB PortsNoNo2 USB Ports (2AMP)No
PurchaseZwift RideWahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFTTacx NEO Bike PlusWattbike ATOM 2020
AmazonLink
Backcountry.comLink
Competitive CyclistLinkLink
DCRainmakerZwift RideWahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFTTacx NEO Bike PlusWattbike ATOM 2020
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Of course, the bigger question is how to compare these from a ride feel/etc standpoint. I think if you’re comparing something like the Zwift Ride to a larger Wahoo KICKR Bike V1/V2, there are obviously more differences with included up/down simulation of the entire bike going up/down, high-speed race mode, as well as more flexibility in stand-over height, downhill drive, and more.

However, when you compare it to the Wahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFT, which lacks the up/down piece, things get a bit harder to separate out. Really hard. Still, I’ll make a go of it in an upcoming post, but it’s going to be tough for most people to justify the $3,000 for the KICKR BIKE SHIFT, when this is half the price and does almost the exact same thing.

Wrap-Up:

Every once in a while there’s a product that’s going to significantly change the direction of an industry. Zwift Ride is one of those. At first glance, one might be tempted to write it off as a half-priced smart bike. And sure, that’s true. It does just about everything a smart bike double its price does. In that respect, Zwift has overnight massively slashed the barrier to entry there. But that’s actually not what’s going to change the industry.

What’ll change the industry is the idea of pairing a purpose-built trainer frame, with various trainers. And I say ‘various’, because the reality is that Zwift isn’t just working with Wahoo here. They’re working and nudging/pushing everyone to develop Zwift Frame compatible trainers, via the existing Zwift Cog. By the end of the year, the hardware landscape will be vastly different than it stands today. Heck, even by the end of the summer it’ll be substantially different. By then, you’ll be able to use it with the other Wahoo KICKR trainers, enabling things like higher-speed data rate Race Mode (which isn’t on the KICKR CORE).

Stepping back though, as always, just because something is initially good for consumers doesn’t mean it’s going to be good long-term for consumers. While Zwift is already working with other hardware companies to develop not just Zwift-compatible trainers, but also Zwift Play-like integrated smart bikes, one substantial question here is how and when Zwift will open up this connectivity to other trainer apps. Without that, consumers will be hesitant to buy into a piece of trainer hardware that effectively forever locks them into the Zwift ecosystem. After all, with so many consumers threatening to jump ship to other apps after the recent Zwift price increases, in a Zwift Ride world, you couldn’t do that. You literally couldn’t shift – both on the bike with other apps, and with your wallet to other platforms.

While Zwift has said (repeatedly) they’re open to letting other apps take advantage of this, even making it more of an industry standard, they’ve also sent mixed messages on this too. Until something is actually published that allows other apps to tap into the Cog-based system, you’ll need to consider whether you ever plan to leave the Zwift ecosystem.

Which isn’t to take away from what Zwift has done here. The Zwift Ride is legit very good, and legit very much competes (very strongly) with all the sub-$3,000 smart bikes in the market, and frankly, with some of the $4,000 ones too. Zwift took the time to take their learnings from the so-called never-released Zwift Tron bike, into something that’s much better for consumers and Zwift alike. Those years of development are ultimately what gets you this rather polished product, rather than something rushed to market. At this point, the Zwift Ride becomes the defacto smart bike recommendation for almost all riders.

With that, thanks for reading!

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182 Comments

  1. DaveH

    Dammit. Having just bought a H3 this would have been a way better proposition replacing my aging and quite rusty aluminium frame that’s been attached to a trainer for about 10 years. I can’t see Saris doing anything with the Zwift cog :(

  2. Rob

    Awesome. Would be cool if they just sold the handlebars and such so you can retrofit an old frame. Secondly, what is the difference between your old/new cog? Did they reprofile the teeth to make it quieter than the gen1 cog? Thanks!

  3. Bruce Burkhalter

    “As usual, this ***watch*** is a media loaner, and it’ll go back to Zwift.”

    🙂

  4. CaryJM

    If I were coming in cold this is 100% what I would do. At this point however as I’m already invested, including in the InRide Eflex Plus, I’m not going back to a system which cannot accommodate (or has already included) motion capability.

  5. David

    Does it have a standard bottom bracket?

    • I’m told it’s a square-taper crankset, but seeing slightly mixed signals on the ability to swap that out, getting clarification.

    • Ok, clarification is that while the cranks are square-taper, the bottom bracket isn’t standard. Thus while technically possible to swap things out, they don’t recommend it.

    • Kris K

      That is slightly concerning from a wear prospective, isn’t it? A bottom bracket is a wear item, regardless of it being an indoor or outdoor bike. Not having a replacement easily accessible because it’s a non-standard size could be a headache down the line.

  6. Tim Churchill

    What about crankset compatibility?

    Can I fit a 155mm crankset for my Wife so she would be able to use one or has Wahoo come up with a non standard bottom bracket spec to make this impossible?

  7. Alex

    Before my KICKR Bike, I used a junk Craigslist bike with my KICKR so as not to put so much wear on my actual bike. I think this is a brilliant move by Zwift and Wahoo. And the price is fantastic. It looks like you could add some clip-on aero bars as well to practice riding in aero as well.

    Definitely what I’d recommend to folks wanting to start riding indoors.

  8. Derek Chan

    “That said, for those with enough bike wrench geekery in them, you can technically swap out the crank arms.”

    That drive side crank looks proprietary. You might have to change out the chainring as well.

    So the frameset comes out to around $400. Des’ Rivet friend might have some serious pricing competition for a frame with shifting hardware.

  9. Chris Winterhack

    I was thinking I’d buy this when frame only is an option until I saw that it was 170mm cranks only. Crank length is a major factor in your overall fit.

  10. Joe Bond

    Is it possible to use a chain tool and shorten/lengthen the chain to bypass the tensioner for quieter running?

    • Derek Chan

      Its not like a fixie with horizontal dropouts. You could get it close but probably sub optimal, and taking the frame off to swap a regular bike will be a pain.

  11. BJimmy

    Australia and Canadian pricing don’t match the Zwift FAQ. they have it is as AUD $2549.95 and CAD $2249.99.

  12. Brent N

    The price point and idea are what I’ve been wanting someone in the industry to do forever ($4k for a smart bike is bananas). That said, the fact that it would just be a useless brick for indieVelo (or anywhere else I eventually love racing)? Have to pass until that’s resolved.

  13. Xabbar

    No wonder the simulation is getting worse and worse when they invest time in such superfluous projects.
    (e.g. downhill speed 80 km/h in a hairpin bend)

  14. dan

    Having a dedicated ebay frame built up with leftover parts for a decade now, the NEXT step is a ZWIFT controller package (levers etc) for half or less of this price. So any generic do everything controller package that does all zwift does that I can just mount on a preexisting frame

  15. Francesco

    Hallo would It be possible to put thé Nike vertically After use or thie about stay in horizontal position

    • Chad McNeese

      Yes, the Core has the rotatable axle (compatible with the Wahoo Climb), so this can be rotated upwards if desired.

  16. Matc21

    Do you have any news if they will offer upgrade packages for standard Kickr Core owners?
    I still own a perfectly functioning Gen1 Kickr Core which I’d love to be able to upgrade to that setup (essentially the frame + the other smaller items).

  17. MinimaL

    interesting to see if fitness clubs will integrate them for their classes as well.
    Imagine a room full of Zwift Rides instead of spinning bikes. They can use them for races / group work-outs with rubber banding / … Seems like more fun to me.

  18. James

    Do we know an estimated US price of the frame only option?

    • In a discussion yesterday with Eric Min (CEO), I asked. He said while pricing isn’t yet finalized, I asked if one could do basic math on the total price ($1,299) minus the KICKR CORE price ($500-$650 depending on how you slice it), to get the estimated frame price. He said that’d be in the ballpark.

  19. interesting, ty

    I wonder if your Garmin argument applies here? ie the reason people buy Garmin is that it is guaranteed to have all those niche features and hook-ups. This doesn’t.

    The Zwift Indoor ride bike looks great and the effective frame price was way lower than I anticipated. however, as you point out, it lacks multiple crank lengths, (the frame) might not be compatible with my existing trainer, it is not compatible with all platforms, and there’s no CLIMB type facility or rumble strap a la Tacx, and so on.

    for a household that just happens to be getting into indoor riding for the first time, it’s probably a no-brainer. BUT there aren’t many of those households at all.

    I would consider this sort of product for me but only the frame, I would want to avoid the risk of damaging my real bike frame. I don’t want 170mm cranks and I would want to use my kickr not their kicker core. (I also love CLIMB but that’s an ask too far)

    standards and openness are the way to go. I suspect Zwift will be reticent when push comes to shove. Creating a pseudo-monopoly is too tantalising a prospect for many companies.

  20. thrawed

    So since both you and des were given loaner units before launch of his zwift bike I’m guessing that mention of his friend’s product that is essentially the same thing in the last podcast episode was some way of putting proof out there that his product wasn’t a clone of zwift’s frame even though it’s not first to market? Bit odd.

    • There’s actually been a few different ride frames out there now, Mouv being probably the most well known. There’s also another very small builder someone mentioned recently to me – seemed like local shipment stuff.

      As Des noted, he’d seen the other frame about a year ago, and then the guy reached back out again last week saying he was launching it immediately. I suspect that’s due to the various Zwift Ride leaks that happened over the last week. Of course, I suspect his biggest will be pricing. Doing something at large scale (as Zwift is), gives this massive advantages when it comes to bringing those costs down.

    • Niels

      What about Garmin Tacx, something in the pipeline?
      They are losing their marketshare if they dont come with an alternative.

    • chris benten

      The ability to adjust or easily change cranks and fit a wider height range of user and Dez’s friend should be able to smoke the standalone Ride frame… assuming he can manufacture the volume.

    • I wouldn’t expect Garmin/Tacx to reinvent the wheel here. I’d expect to see virtually all the trainer companies offer the Zwift Cog combo (which in turn opens up Zwift Frame compatibility). You’ll see more on this from various companies at Eurobike.

  21. Derek

    Thanks Ray! If I bought this can I also install a regular 12-speed cassette as I could with a standard Zwift Core. Did they confirm that the Zwift Core they will provide is identical? I ask because I may want to travel with bike and trainer sometimes and leave the Tron bike at home.

    • giorgitd

      The frame has no derailleur and no way to physically shift the chain position, so using it with a standard cassette seems like a no-go (unless you just keep it in one gear, I guess).

  22. I wonder how this impacts DesFit’s friend’s idea of an “indoor” frame, as reported in the last podcast? Also, there’s a typo in the comparison table — should be “sequential”…

    • I don’t know what his idea of pricing is. I’d say on one hand, if his pricing is anything more than $600-$700, it’s going to be an incredibly hard sell. Inversely, if he’s under that pricing, it could drive interest. I would suspect that hitting pricing to match Zwift’s mass-volume pricing will be tough.

      Of course, there’s also pros to a frame that’s not specifically tied to Zwift, such as still being able to shift, all-app compatibility, etc… However, if Zwift manages to get Cog support rolled out to other apps (and not just other trainers, which is already coming), that’s somewhat end-game.

  23. Andrew

    Hi,

    Proprietary BB makes no sense. Zwift controllers also proprietary. It would be much better with standard BB. Zwift controllers are a different story,although if they would open it up, they would generate extra revenue.

  24. madmalkav

    Wish there was something like that front leg I could use in my current bike, for some sweet space saving on my small apartment

  25. Blu

    The unfortunate reality is that we don’t have just one company pushing back on common standards and protocols.
    We actually have two.
    This product wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as a standalone. It’s only interesting when packaged and bundled with a compatible smart trainer like the Wahoo.
    I would have expected better from Wahoo.

    • Except, it’s not just Wahoo. As noted in the post, it’s basically going to be every company in the space offering compatibility from a hardware standpoint. You’ll see that very shortly starting at Eurobike.

      Now, as noted in the piece, where I quibble is whether or not Zwift ends up letting 3rd party apps tap into it. In some ways, if I was an Elite/Garmin/Tacx/Jetblack, I’d actually push for that as a condition to signing on, as from a competitive standpoint, it’ll ensure a healthy diversified ecosystem.

  26. Johnny English

    It would be nice if Zwift had a switch profile type setup (think Netflix) whereby the same hardware could be used for different people for a product like this, without messing up rider stats or forcing your other half into a A cat race! Two separate Zwift subscriptions would definitely be getting pricy, so a ‘family’ kind of membership would be nice (linked to the same hardware, so cannot be abused).
    As for this product – I like it. I like the idea of reserving my ‘real’ bike for outdoors and not putting it through frequent punishing sprints and efforts (all relative of course – I’m hardly Mathieu van der Poel).

    • Stay tuned on Family Subscription… we had a good discussion yesterday with the Fit File podcast recorded at Zwift’s HQ on that topic.

    • Paul Le Fevre

      Fulgaz has an extra family member option when you pay annually. I was going to subscribe anyway and now my son gets to use it too, with his own account/data for nothing.

  27. AK

    Honestly scratching my head. They should be solely focused on improving their core product.

    Moreover: anyone working on indoor bikes should be focused on incorporating movement. I’d happily buy something like this or the Kickr Bike, etc.–but it has to have movement built in.

    • Adding movement adds cost, substantial cost. Which in turn reduces affordability, and decreases catchment area for bringing in new users to in turn increase subscription revenue.

      We all want movement, but the KICKR Bike with movement is $4,000. This is $1,300.

  28. Jason Richardson

    So when can I buy a frame/cog/slider for my Tacx neo2T with motion plates? Hoping Garmin is one of the vendors working on compatibility. Hell if this had motion out the gate I’d consider switching. Also 170mm is ideal crank length for me. I find it frustrating that bikes default to 175 and I need to change during ordering or after. Shorter cranks put a lot less strain on knees-which becomes much more important on a trainer if that’s the bulk of your revolutions. When you hit your 50’s you’ll understand.

  29. Jon

    Thanks so much for the great review!!!

    Question: is there any way to get more cm for saddle height? I need another few cm to reach 90-91 cm, and I Think the Tacx NEO is currently my only smart bike option :-(

  30. Rob Christie

    Just a FYI – Wattbike Atom 2020 supports dual Bluetooth connection as of Hub release v 6.2.0

  31. Matt

    Apple TV trying to connect multiple Bluetooth I use a npe cord, plug in to a usb pair the app and use that to connect on zwift

  32. Alex

    Quick question about the flat area for donuts: does that totally block airflow from the front for people who like to put their fan in that area?

    (When using the tri bike on the trainer I have to remove the bottle between the bars because that one already blocks airflow significantly)

  33. Martin Devine

    It seems to me that the simplicity of the single front leg should make it straightforward for Zwift (or another manufacturer) to come up with an equivalent to the Climb or Elite Rizer that’s compatible with the Ride – could even be a simpler design than the existing incline/decline simulators, so potentially a cheaper option than the Climb or Rizer.

    (That said, this seems a bit on the expensive side for what it is – yes, the Ride has the advantages of having everything that’s needed to get started on Zwift in an easy to set up package (so great for newbies) and being easily adjustable for multiple users of different sizes, but the basic fuctionality of the Frame could be replicated at a much lower cost for many Zwifters by a cheap second-hand bike and a set of Zwift Play controllers.)

  34. Kemal

    There’s no finickiness with the Companion app BT forwarding for me, been using it like that (since Kickr V5 still didn’t get any of the new niceties) on ATV for quite some time. Whoop for HR, 2x Play, Kickr. It could be you.

    • Jason Richardson

      Same here. Forced to use companion with ATV setup. If I use my polar chest strap for HR monitor it is very reliable with no drops. If I try to use my A Watch Ultra, then probably 70% of the time I can get it to connect, and then I see 1-3 drops through @ 1 hr ride. But that’s just HR. Maybe the DCR pain cave is just flooded with bt though? Maybe setup a faraday cage in a corner big enough for a full trainer setup, and put a wifi AP in the cage. Then you could isolate and test in more real world conditions.

    • Totally plausible it’s me, but given my discussion with Zwift yesterday indicates this is something they’re aware of, as it relates to the companion app and dropping conditions in certain scenarios.

      One only needs to check out reddit or the Zwift forums to see the Companion App can be finicky for handling connections. And ultimately, there’s just not reason for it here. Zwift can easily support riding via the handlebars, or Wahoo could do the same via trainer. After all, it’s explicitly why on the Zwift Hub they had pass-through.

  35. nave

    I’m surprised there is no discussion of maintenance. One of the biggest benefits for me from having a smart bike, even compared to a dedicated trainer bike, is not having to maintain the chain. It seems like this setup still requires lubing the chain regularly and periodic chain replacements, but with a somewhat esoteric chain type and sizing? Have Zwift/Wahoo communicated the expected service life or user experience here?

    • Jason Richardson

      I was surprised at lack of a belt drive. It seems like Dutch an obvious thing to use a belt instead of a chain considering there is no need to shift. A belt is quiet, doesn’t require lube, and may even last longer. Also the frame does not need to be light, so seems pretty easy to put a detachable section in chain stay. Could even still use tensioner pulley instead of sliding stays. Odd. Wonder what the reasoning is to use a chain?

    • ChrisK

      Actually “is that a chain back there and not a belt?” was the first thing I thought when I saw this thing. Well I also thought it a little odd that an indoor bike would have an exposed chain too.
      My SC3, my SB20 and a cheapo Sunny Fitness I bought to throw in the work gym all have belts.
      Well, that way they don’t have to make a different variant of the Zwift Cog I guess and that way if you wanted to stick it on another smart trainer you could.

      For the price it is worth thinking about swapping my SB20 out.

    • So they noted some sort of coating that means they don’t see any reason for a user to mess with it. And indeed, when I managed to mess with it (moving it), the stuff that got on my hands wasn’t like typical grease from my outdoor bike.

      I too wondered why not a belt? After all, seemed logical to me and takes care of both chain maintenance as well as chain noise. They said for Ride V1, they weren’t getting the realism feel they wanted with a belt compared to a chain. I presume they were talking around sprints and such. I suspect another piece is that by sticking with chain for V1, it means not having to redesign the entire Cog system with it, and ensuring backwards compatibility for existing Hub/KICKR owners with Cog.

    • David Rowe

      Ray, I knew I’d seen or read a review that mentioned “special coating” on the chain. I talked with David Young at the Zwift stand at the National Cycling Show and he and another Zwift rep both said the same thing – there is no special coating, it’s just a KMC chain wth factory grease …

    • Good to know. I had chatted with some people pretty familiar with the product, but perhaps in the game of telephone to them, things got confused.

  36. David

    Don’t get it. In theory there’s no reason you should need a Zwift Cog to do any virtual shifting – all you’d need to do is vary the “trainer difficulty” setting based on an imaginary gear position. Thus every trainer is compatible out of the box with no special requirements.

    This, in my opinion, is once again Zwift being Zwift, and like *checks notes* every other piece of Zwift hardware it’ll just get abandoned by the team in about 18 months when they get bored of the idea.

    • Brent N

      I mentioned this exact issue when the Cog was first released. Virtual shifting is just the app communicating to/from the trainer, just like it does for slope or ERG or any other mode to control resistance. There’s no reason for this to only work on Zwift and not every other software platform out of the gate, even if it doesn’t yet work with other trainers. And the fact that Zwift only lets Wahoo do the virtual shifting? Maybe that’s an undisclosed part of their settlement or something. Either way, I am never spending any amount of money on bike, trainer, or smart bike that only works with a singular software platform.

    • I think the only piece of hardware they’ve ditched at this point is the JetBlack OEM’d trainer (Zwift Hub), in favor of the Wahoo KICKR CORE one. The Zwift part of that (Cog) remains the same.

      “And the fact that Zwift only lets Wahoo do the virtual shifting?”

      As noted above, this isn’t true. The entire premise of Zwift ride beyond this launch is that they want to get every trainer company offering a Cog version. You’ll start seeing that at Eurobike.

      Where it breaks down, as noted above, is allowing/getting 3rd party apps to support it.

      Cog does solve a lot of issues for people with older bikes, or mismatched cassette speeds. It doesn’t solve every problem though.

  37. Jeremy

    Nothing to do with the review, but: what fan model is that on the first pics?

  38. James Eastwood

    Whether you are zwift exclusive or not, the main problem with it being locked down to a single ecosystem, is that in effect it’s a white elephant if you don’t have an active zwift subscription. That means if zwift put their prices up again, you have to pay it. It means no switching to a free or cheaper alternative during the summer. Worst case – zwift goes under and it’s completely useless.

    • Yup, it’s why I want to see them open up it up to the rest of the app industry, in a way that doesn’t require any server dependency on Zwift.

      App developers will implement this stuff basically overnight.

    • Mike Richie

      There must be something going on, as this should be relatively simple to even reverse engineer. It’s just sending a signal that a shift is being made up or down on a BT channel. Unless they are specifically withholding some sort of key why would it be difficult to make this available.

  39. giorgitd

    This seems expensive to gain the adjustability of the frame (and the built in Zwift controls, good for Zwift, but not for other apps). Since you can get a standalone KICKR CORE for on the order of $650, the frame is on the order of $600. Pretty spendy. I can buy used bikes all day and all night on Craigslist for $300. Be sure to add in shipping for the complete set (presuming that the KICKR CORE – alone – ships free… So, if you are a solo rider or others in your household are the same size this..makes no sense.

    • Fiatlux

      > So, if you are a solo rider or others in your household are the same size this..makes no sense

      You could say that of any smart bike.

  40. Logan Jackson

    I wonder how much modification it would take to ride one of these outside. I don’t care how impractical it might be or heavy the frame might be.

    • Chad McNeese

      Easy, just cut the headtube & monopod off, weld on a normal round headtube, install a proper headset, fork & wheel (so you can actually balance & steer). Then mount a fixie rear wheel and redo the chain for fixie “braking” (since there are no brakes or functional controls on the stock hoods) and you are on your way… /s

    • Fiatlux

      That would be quite a project 😉.
      Since I already have a wheel-on smart trainer, I wondered if it would be possible to add a rear wheel to the Zwift frame. I guess that’d be easier even if probably still impractical (the shifts would not work?) and not particularly cost efficient.

  41. Mat

    I just bought Saris H3 half a year ago. Do you maybe know will it be compatible if i buy a frame and possibli a cog?

    Secondly, will it be possible to use it with TrainerRoad in ERG mode?

    • You can use TrainerRoad, no problems there. Plus, assuming TrainerRoad is part of the three initial big players they mentioned coming to integrated workouts via Zwift (but either way, it works natively for TrainerRoad).

      As for Saris being part of it, I’d doubt it. Best I can tell, there’s nobody actually left at Saris from a trainer engineering standpoint.

    • Mat

      Even if i buy zwift cog it wont be compatible?

    • Chad McNeese

      No. The COG is not the problem. It’s possible to put this Zwift Ride on a trainer with a normal 11-speed cassette. It’s just a matter of finding the gear that lines up best (around middle of the range) and it would work similar to the single COG.

      The real issue is the need to have Virtual Shifting for proper use with the single-speed gearing. Right now, Zwift only works with Wahoo on the latest Kickr and Core models. Sounds like that will change down the line, but Ray is skeptical that Saris will be in that group. I would guess that Garmin/Tacx are likely as the next one considering their market reach with the Neo in particular.

    • Correct, Zwift has to work to create the virtual shifting responsiveness/profile for each trainer. It’s actually a bit more than I thought. I sat down with the folks that do it, back a few months ago in London.

      They noted the biggest difference between what they do, versus what Indievelo does, is that it’ll feel more realistic because it’s not generically applied across all trainers. Especially around responsiveness.

      Either way – setting all that aside, as noted, it has to be done with the various companies supporting it. And in the case of Saris, I’m not convinced there’s actually any engineers left at the company. I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way, but in a very factual “I haven’t heard from anyone *at* Saris in two years”, since the sell-off. I got an e-mail last fall, from a 3rd party PR firm, letting me know of a sale, but otherwise it’s just the weekly generic marketing e-mails everyone gets.

      And all the engineers I know there are long gone. Comparing now to back then, when I’d hear from engineers probably monthly there.

    • Mat

      I’m sorry if my question was a bit silly. 🙈
      And thank you very much for all your answers. 😃😊

      P.s. great review as always!

  42. Fiatlux

    1299€, that’s the price of Decathlon’s Domyos Challenge Bike. I am glad I did not yet buy the latter as this Zwift offer is even more tempting, but I would be very interested in a review of the former to make an educated choice.

    Only concern is that demand may exceed offer and that this new smart bike may be difficult to get (the Decathlon one was on back order for several months).

    • charlie

      the decathlon domyos smart bike is definitely on my ‘ray’dar too ;) for a two-user household having an adjustable bike is very useful, so I am looking at the zwift frame as an add-on to my neo 2t OR get the decathlon… come on Ray, put us out of our misery, is the domyos a crock or a cracker?

    • Yeah, I’ve got to poke them again to see what’s up.

  43. Paul Le Fevre

    Very interesting Ray. I already have a kickr core so I’m good there but my bike is an old roadie that I can’t adjust for other family members. Of course, I’ve seriously considered a dedicated ‘bike’ set up but that makes my kickr core redundant and those things are very expensive. I really just want to swap out my bike with one that is easily adjustable. I also only use ERG mode ie. I just do workouts on it so from the looks of this, it would work fine for me. I just dumped Zwift after their recent price hike and am using Fulgaz and MyWhoosh. That said, it looks like there’s quite a lot of ‘Zwift-only’ tech built in there so the value is really just in the mechanical structure ie. adjustable frame and whether that alone is worth the money. I guess I won’t know until they announce the frame-only pricing.

  44. Bernie

    lol “a vertically challenged rider (her)”

  45. Patrick

    Wow, such great potential but then they only make it compatible with the small percentage of the population who’s bike fit requires 170mm cranks. I really don’t understand why, on a bike where you don’t need to worry about weight (within reason, you still need to ship it), you wouldn’t make a crank arm with pedal holes from 140mm to 180mm.

    Along the same lines, if you don’t need to design for aerodynamics why is there any fewer than four bottle cages on all of these indoor bikes? Seems like there is too much consideration for making it look and feel like a regular bike rather than making it more functional for its intended purpose.

    • Chad McNeese

      4 bottles… how do you do that on a normal bike?

      Considering that Zwift says the vast majority of riders are on for an hour or less, 2 bottles seems like plenty. For thirstier or longer rides, I’d suggest a table or shelf within reach for drinks and snacks. Worst case, stepping off the bike for a trip to the sink or fridge when needed.

    • Marco

      If you compare it with a spinning bike, such as a peloton, nobody in that audience cares about crank lengths. So that must be their reasoning. They’re clearly not going for the triathlete AG.

    • Additionally, even Wattbike has had 170mm crank arms without it being a big blocker for most.

      That said, the lack of at least the common bear-claw design is a miss. On the bright side, it’s also the easiest thing for them to add down the road (either as a Ride V1.1, or offering it separately), since that’s just a different crank arm.

    • Patrick

      But it’s not a normal bike. That my point is that there’s no real reason to put arbitrary constraints on the design just so that it looks like a normal double triangle bike frame. Get rid of the top tube and you’d have room for a third bottle cage near the downtube/headtube junction. And then maybe a fourth bottle cage in front of the headtube.

      You’re right that most people won’t need more than two bottles most of the time, but from an engineering perspective there’s no reason not to have them when rivnuts are ¢10 a pop.

    • Patrick

      I guess I don’t have anything more than anecdata but I always assumed that the fixed crank length was the main reason why Wattbike never was that popular. Peloton found success despite a lack of fit range because they targeted a different type of customer. But Wattbike was targeting people who were already cyclists and wanted an indoor bike but didn’t make a product that fit most most of them and I figured that’s why they never found large scale success.

      It’s like trying to sell T-shirts but only manufacturing them in a medium. Yes a medium might fit a plurality of the population, and some people who normally wear a small or large might tolerate a medium. But most of the population just can’t fit in a medium shirt.

    • Where else are you putting water bottles though, besides inside the two spots in the frame, without an additional cage setup (akin to triathlon cages)?

      I’d assume (probably pretty rightly) that if you’re riding on an indoor trainer for a time duration that requires more than two water bottles, you’ve probably got a small table/tray/desk/etc next to you for other nutrition/remotes/etc…

  46. Daren Austin

    Monofork, game shifters and cog in a simple package please? Happy with my Ti donor bike already, but sadly my Kickr v2 won’t support virtual shifting. I’m sure there us a market for converting frames to static bikes though.

  47. Was anyone else’s mind blown by the crazy hovering illusion of the front support leg in the first photo (and video)? I actually thought Ray was going to show it tended to “hop” off the floor during sprints lol, then I kept replaying the video to prove to myself it’s just an illusion 😂

    Ray, I thought Zwift shut down their hardware division a couple years ago. Obviously they didn’t so am I misremembering that the announcements were a complete shutdown? Or was this a covert secret basement project? Just curious.

    Kudos to Zwift for matching the colour scheme to my bike 🥲

    • It’s was more of a gutting than a shutdown, which occurred when they went from Tron Bike to a focus on other hardware pieces (Zwift Play, etc…), but a chunk of the team remained, including the chunk that ultimately made Ride.

      That team is mostly London-area based. I’ve got plenty more coming up with them, soon (already shot).

  48. Roy

    Where’s Des? I was expecting him to pop up at some point. Others have a habit of doing that in his videos. My Direto XR just packed up, so I might just buy this. I’ve two teenagers, and this would suit us not having to swap out bikes etc. Nearly all my indoor rides are ERG anyway, so yeah, I’m sold.

  49. Gary Crays

    First thing I thought of was “rust”. I see that it’s powder coated but for those of us that pour sweat it seems inevitable that rust would start appearing eventually. Aluminum would have been a better choice but I guess that would have exceeded their price point plus lighter weight might mean less platform stability. Personally I’d be worried about longevity adding to what others have said about BB replacement etc.

    • Virtually all indoor bikes are made of steel. Rust doesn’t tend to be an issue when properly done.

    • Boone

      What about sweating on the controllers/shift levers? Is it designed to be resistant against sweat getting into the controllers and ruining these electrical components?

    • Chad McNeese

      Check out 14:30 in the video above, which shows the intensive testing by Zwift. One was constant showering with water that would dwarf any sweating I have ever seen. They also did similar testing with the original Play controllers. So I think they have moisture invasion covered.

    • And not just water spraying at it, but literally sweat. Apparently, you can buy bottled sweat (or some proxy that’s identical to it), and they use that in that machine. That’s just one of dozens upon dozens of machines they made. Eventually, I’ll publish the whole piece on their testing labs there. Super cool stuff.

  50. Dush

    I’ve been wanting to get into indoor riding for so long. I purchased a Kesier m3 used, great spin bike but they didn’t add a fore/aft handle bar adjustment until the m3i series, I just can’t get comfortable on it for rides over 70 mins or so.

    THen I looked into indoor trainers and was overwhelmed as all the options & then having to figure out casettes, bikes etc. Honestly it’ been pretty frustrating. I simply have 2 cheap decathlon mtb’s that I enjoy riding outside for hours. I use a local bike shop to do most of my mechanics.

    This seems to be the answer I’ve been looking for. A lot of hte benefits of a Keiser – easy adjustability etc. and no faffing with bike config. Just looking to send erg mode work outs to it so glad it’s compatible with my Forerunner/Edge units.

    I’ll wait for Black Friday since it’s summer out, sure they’ll start subsidising these to drive subscription revenue even more!

  51. Jason

    concerned about the compatibility with other apps with that zwift hub one.

  52. Ed Felkerino

    Is there a real demand for this? It has a kind of hack/bodge vibe to it.

    • Plenty of demand. Honestly, this is pretty darn polished in actually using it. Plus, less moving parts means less broken things requiring repair…something that many other indoor smart bike owners can attest to.

      There’s a lot more nuance than people realize. Certainly, there’s some gaps – like crank arm length. But inversely, I don’t think the lack of belt is actually the mistake some people think it is. If they went belt, they’d have basically broken compatibility with all the existing Cog units out there, as well as any forward-going “belt-Cog” trainers if people wanted to put their bikes on it.

      Either way, seems to be plenty of demand, and I suspect quite a bit more once they offer just the frame solo.

  53. Garrett

    The only reason I want a smart bike is to not destroy my road bike with sweat. This could possible solve that, for a lot less. Unless anyone has some tips to keep sweat off the important bits… Really expected someone to come up with something 3D printed by now.

    • Chad McNeese

      1) Consider your fan situation. If you don’t have 1, 2 or even 3 high-flow blower fans, you likely have room to improve on the cooling front.

      2) There are a number of those trainer bike sweat guards / protectors that can help catch sweat that drips (even if you have a dialed fan setup).

      3) Consider sweat bands for head & hands to catch and wipe sweat that builds up.

    • Alex

      Which important parts are you talking about specifically? Assuming your bike frame is carbon, the #1 worry should be about non-carbon parts around the cockpit that you can protect with a towel and the drive train.

      If you keep the latter maintained there shouldn’t be an issue with corrosion. Personally, after >1000 hours on the current setup the only pieces that got kinda rusty are some screws in the cockpit area. Reason for that is my refusal to use a towel there.

  54. Daniel

    Right, I have been using one of my track bikes as dedicated trainer bike on a wahoo kickr for years. Much cheaper than this and all the freedom I want in choosing chain size, chainring sprocket etc.

  55. Paul Himes

    In general, I like the idea (and pricepoint). Given that they’ve never allowed other apps to use the Elite steering protocol (claiming lifetime exclusivity) and they way that Wahoo first promised to open the Climb up to communicating with other trainers and then backed away (after Tacx made a small run of Neos that were able to freely rotate in anticipation of getting that access), I doubt we’ll ever see Zwift open up those communication protocols. When someone “broke” the Click encryption, they changed it to make it more difficult.

    Buying the Zwift Ride locks you into the Zwift ecosystem. If they raise prices again. You’re stuck. If they go under, you’ve got a big drying rack. At least people can still ride their SB20 until it breaks.

  56. Robert Tyszko

    Will clip on aero bars fit on the handle bars?

    • Yes, it uses standard bars.

    • Marco

      Doesn’t the phone/tablet tray get in the way?
      How narrow can the aerobars go?

    • I’ll detach them from my KICKR Bike when I get back this weekend and try it out.

      I’ve got a pair of RedShift ones*, and they actually had a bit of height that tends to clear most trays in the way. I had no issues with any other indoor smart bike, including the Stages Bike, which has a similar (even higher) tray.

      Many clip-on aerobars also tend to have adjustability left/right too.

      * link to dcrainmaker.com

  57. Mike

    Big nope for me. Handlebars are ugly. Should have ditched the buttons. Should have included USB charging. Should have included elevation changing / tilting. Should have made it compatible with other systems. It is less functional and less appealing than the Kickr bike. It’s surprising Zwift made such bad design decisions. I think they did do two things right: wrench storage is cool and the way the handlebars adjust is also very cool – but that isn’t worth the price.

    • “It is less functional and less appealing than the Kickr bike.”

      And it’s 1/3rd the cost. All those things, especially elevation changing/tilting, increase the price. There’s plenty of other bike options at $4,000. There’s almost none at $1,200-$1,300.

  58. daniel schneider

    super great review, very clear and detailed

  59. Matthew

    Ray,

    How does seat fore-aft adjustment work? Is there a “slider” type mechanism like most smart bikes have? Will you add a picture that shows this?

    • You’d adjust the within saddle rails.

    • Matthew

      Ugh.

      How does this work if you are sharing? Every time a different person gets on the bike they have to move the saddle position via the rails, also affecting saddle tilt? So fore-aft adjustment is limited to the saddle rail length?

      If the above is correct, this is a big miss for general fit + being able to easily share across multiple people. Or do you just buy multiple seatposts?

  60. DFaulk

    Is the black portion of the fork removable? If so, I would think that they would be able to make another fork that could be used to connect to a Kick’r climb.

    Do they plan on selling the new handlebar controllers separately?

    Any update on when the older Kick’rs are going to receive the virtual shifting firmware update?

    • ArT

      “Any update on when the older Kick’rs are going to receive the virtual shifting firmware update?”

      I’m waiting for this news too. I thought the update to V5 would take a maximum of a month. And soon it will be half a year :(

    • At the moment they’ve run into unexpected challenges with the V5 and size of the firmware. It’s unclear if, or when, it’ll now get it.

    • Creepfish

      I don’t understand how I can have virtual shifting on my 2018 kickr core through a firmware update, but they’re having challenges updating the firmware on my 2020 kickr v5. Does the core have more memory space than the v5? Or is the firmware larger on the v5? It doesn’t make sense either way. I want to be able to use my kickr v5 with virtual shifting because it feels more stable than the kickr core under all out efforts.

    • Creepfish

      Also, thanks for the update on progress on the v5. It’s the first news I’ve heard about it since they announced it months ago.

  61. Bernard Shaw

    Will it be able to use a Tacx trainer unit???????????????

  62. Tony West

    “As one who does almost all their Zwifting on Apple TV”. After getting the hump with the bluetooth issues on Apple TV, bought a refurb’d Mac Mini. Now I get Zwift in the best quality, and the Apple TV is back doing what it does best. Playing TV shows and movies.

  63. MyMainManSteve

    I own a Kickr v5, which is bulletproof, will the zwift cog and frame be sold seperately ?

    • The Cog and Frame will be sold separately, later this summer. However whether Wahoo ends up releasing virtual shifting for the V5…that’s still up in the air. They’re working through some issues that are proving to be more challenging than they expected, firmware-space-wise.

  64. MarkC

    I’ve started looking at getting my first turbo trainer or indoor bike this looks like it could well be well towards the top of the list if not the top and if my understanding of the kickr core is correct if I found I didn’t want to stay in the zwift ecosystem I could swap to a normal cassette on the core and just put my normal bike on it.

  65. Charles

    What is the width of the top tube? I remember in a previous posting you had on smart bikes, that you had a problem with your knees hitting the top tube of the Kicker trainer when you were pedaling.

  66. jonlynch

    what are the differences in this “slightly updated” version of the zwift cog? Are these updates due to interface with the wahoo kickr core or are these updates specific to the zwift ride frame only? differences to interface with the chain/tension knob ?

    I am looking to buy one for the kickr core – the one compatible for the zwift hub would do, as gplama showed in his quick hack video. but should we expect an official one after eurobike?

    • Neither is specific to the frame, just better suited for the chain there, to be a bit quieter.

      My understanding is that they’re going to ship it with some/all (?) combos of the frame later this summer.

  67. Hendrik DJ

    Geachte , zou je een zwift-ride kunnen combineren met een rocker plank ?

    • David Rowe

      Ja, dat kan volgens verschillende beoordelingen.

      (English translated using Google Translate – but “Yes” is the answer, you can use on a rocker plate)

  68. Curtis Jay

    The tray on the front appears to be designed to only be compatible with Turkish pizzas or rectangular flatbreads. Maybe they can update that in V2 or sell an American Pizza attachment to make it compatible.

  69. Steve

    Huge miss on the shifters. Nobody wants unrealistic buttons.

  70. Alex

    Just to clarify, if I only do erg workouts I can buy this and use MyWhoosh/TrainerRoad/ to do those workouts?

    Does any of the play buttons work on those apps? For instance, to change the power bias?

    Thanks

    • Those will work just fine, in terms of ERG mode workouts (e.g. it controlling the trainer to the power values in the workout).

      However, none of the controller buttons will work including for things like changing power bias/etc…

    • Alex

      I’m guessing you can change the power bias within zwift using the buttons right? So it could just be as “simple” as zwift allowing other companies to access the controllers and map the buttons.

      Still, it seems a great product for someone that wants an always ready indoor setup. I sure want one, it’s always a hassle to keep taking the bike from the trainer to the garage and back again.

  71. Byron

    Great, thorough and timely information on new fitness products,

  72. Wojciech Iskra

    Can you say something about the saddle fore/aft adjustment?
    Seatpost seems to have quite a bit of setback, is the saddle mount reversible to reduce that?

  73. Tate

    Very very interesting. Right now I am using my gravel bike and hopping it on and off the borrowed wahoo kicker trainer I use.

    I was literally looking for exactly this type of thing to solve my #1 annoying to swap my bike off #2 wanting an option to give back my borrowed trainer. I also already run 170 cranks!

    I think I’ll buy one honestly

  74. Paul Reynolds

    Great review – many thanks.

    I have been thinking off upgrading my Kettler Racer but just have one simple question.

    How easy is it to put the frame and Kickr Trainer together? My current trainer is set up in our storeroom and if I need to get to anything I move the whole thing. I suspect (as this is 2 separate items) you wouldn’t want to move it around too much so better to take the frame off. If you say this is straightforward then I will buy one!

  75. ChrisK

    Any idea how far from bottom bracket horizontally to the back of the trainer leg is? I’m on a front flywheel based SB20 and trying to figure out how much things will shift. For that matter I don’t think I saw an overall length on the assembled bike plus trainer.

  76. Legstrong

    Does it need Zwift subscription to use the Zwift app for shifting?

    • Chad McNeese

      Yes. Virtual Shifting only works with Zwift.
      You have to be in Zwift with an active account (or in the free trial… or in your free km’s per month) in order to use Virtual Shifting.

  77. Martino

    can I change gears connecting the Zwift app but without subscription? My partner is not interested in any Zwift feature but would use it as a “dumb trainer”

    • Chad McNeese

      No, the Virtual Shifting only works IN ZWIFT, so even if you try the sidestep you mention, no other app will have the results of the Virtual Shifting. That single speed aspect is a notable limiter for using this setup with other apps. The only real use outside of Zwift is with ERG mode and an associated workout via some other app.

  78. DAVID

    Can we use separately the Kickr Core of the Zwift Ride, If we don´t want to use Zwift? For example, using free MyWhoosh with Kickr Core and my own bike?

    • Chad McNeese

      Yes, the Core itself will work fine with any other compatible app.
      – However, the sticky point is the fact that you’d have the single speed Cog installed, which means using your regular bike would still require use in ERG mode to follow a workout, or you’d have to swap the Cog for a regular cassette if you want to shift in MyWhoosh as you mention.

    • DAVID

      Thank you for your answer¡ I´ll give it a try.

  79. plimlico24

    This sounds great, how well does is it pack up for short term storage, when you need the extra space in a spare room for example.

    Can you put the frame part in the shed with the rear part sat on the floor?

    Does the kickr part fold up at all?

    Is it easy to move as a built unit, 50cm right or left to position it in a room for use.

    • David Rowe

      The Kickr Core does “fold” … but only “sort of”. One leg moves back towards the other leg, but that’s it. It also doesn’t have a handle so is pretty awkward to move it from one place to a storage place.

  80. Lars H

    I use Zwift, my wife uses Rouvy, but ONLY workouts.

    Given that Rouvy workouts are all in ERG mode, would the Zwift Ride work here?

  81. SG

    Does the frame work with a trainer that has a cassette on it (possibly with a change of chain)? I already have Kickr Core with a cassette, so can I just put the chain on the correct/equivalent sprocket (assuming a reasonable straight chain run) and use virtual shifting in Zwift (and ERG in anything else)?
    Related question: What is the tooth count for the Zwift Cog)

  82. Luis

    Amazing that Zwift produces the Zwift Ride which can be adjusted for use of multiple users based on height yet you can only use zwift account for one rider. Is this a problem ploy by Zwift to get more subscribers in same household or will they wisen up and creat family subscriptions like Spotify?

    • Chad McNeese

      Take off the tin foil hat and table your conspiracy theory. Per your “theory”, who the heck would share an single account considering the basic desire to build a Zwift rider career (XP, gear, etc.) not to mention pushing to Strava or Garmin?

      It would be great if they offered some sort of family option for discount, but I still think individual tracking would be best. And with that separate account & tracking, the same demand on the Zwift side exists relative to their resources.

      But the idea that the adjustment aspect of the ride is a sneaky way to pull more accounts it laughable. You might as well add in all other smart bike makers (with their adjustments) into that mess as the “big bike cabal” all working together to steal your $$$.

    • Luis

      Chad, tin hat off to you…So my understanding, correct me if I’m wrong, is that the Zwift ride is the only usable with Zwift. The adjustability is great and very useful especially for multiple rider households, for example my son and daughter want to use it but as it is only for zwift platform they would need to create their own accounts (and pay for same) to use it.

    • SG

      Your understanding is not correct. The Zwift Ride works with all apps – in ERG mode. Just the virtual shifting only works in Zwift.

    • Chad McNeese

      The Zwift Ride + Kickr Core + Virtual Shifting only work with Zwift at present. It is possible to use this combo in ERG mode for structured with other apps like TrainerRoad or even a basic head unit that offers ERG use for workouts. So it can extend beyond Zwift in those narrow cases currently.

      But if Virtual Shifting and riding something other than that workout exception above is the goal, each user needs a separate, paid account in Zwift. That much is well established and should not come as a surprise.

  83. Cristian

    Would the zwift ride bike fit under a 70cm desk?

  84. Ross Hetherington

    Well this article suggests Kickr v5 owners are going to be left out in the cold when it comes to virtual shifting, and therefore Zwift ride too I assume:
    link to zwiftinsider.com