Zwift Wars

In a galaxy far far away there were a race of superhuman athletes all travelling fast enough to complete the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs. Ok so that may be bullshit, topical, but bullshit. What I am talking about is the speed of almost everyone else on Zwift.

Now I’m not unfit, I’m no pro either, but the speed some of the guys chuntering about on Zwift makes me feel like the fat lad at the back.

There’s various different reasons why I reckon and a few are down to my setup. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not going out of my way to be competitive on Zwift, nor do I believe that getting my bike right will make up for my fitness levels, but it seems that certain setups give you an advantage.

I’m using a basic Bluetooth cadence and speed sensor, eBay special, that Zwift essentially uses to mock up power output. Zwift samples the output on both every three seconds and goes from there. This is not the most accurate of Zwift connection methods but beggars can’t be choosers at under a tenner for the sensor! Because there is no direct power measurement my output is all hypothetical and this is where I think Zwift favours the expensive turbo trainers.

So I started to look into this subject on the web and cane up with quite a few other people having the same issue. Relatively healthy and fit guys who can average 18mph over a 20 mile distance in the real world yet struggle to bust a 14mph average over ten on Zwift. So I looked into getting my setup right. Firstly I looked at my turbo trainer, my Elite force mag, it’s was all good but the rear wheel needed to be secured a little. Resistance set on three as suggested by Zwift. They have allegedly mapped the power curve of the trainer meaning that resistance would give best real world comparison. Then I checked my settings on Zwift, now this is where a big difference can be made to the performance of your on screen avatar. My weight was set incorrectly so I corrected it and dropped 5kg having an almost instant effect on ride speed, but it still didn’t seem right. I seemed to be running out of strength in no time at all (like the turbo was wound right up) and smaller gears were my only option. I had completely overlooked one simple setting, tyre size. When normally connecting to Bluetooth I hurriedly accepted the connection to my speed and cadence sensor without checking my tyre size. It was out, I was using a 23c tyre on the bike and Zwift was calculating for a 25c. So my Wheel was spinning faster but Zwift was slowing the output down. I was getting somewhere.

Anyway from my last ride:

A lot better….. too good in fact… then I checked the resistance on the turbo and found I had it set on 1. I was so happy at first! But there were massive improvements from my changes to reflect my real world numbers. So I’m looking forward to my next ride.

What are my tips for getting your Zwift results accurate for a dumb turbo trainer then?

1. Get your bike secured in your turbo trainer correctly, with correct tyre pressure.

2. Set your turbo trainer on the correct resistance.

3. Ensure your speed and cadence sensor is reading correctly from both pickups.

4. Check your Zwift settings, get them right. Especially weight and wheel size.

There you go, that should go a little way to making your cheap Zwift setup more realistic, don’t get me wrong I still believe that using a smart turbo trainer with power output is the best way to connect if you are serious about your numbers. I’m not so as I’m not on a strict training schedule, Zwift just takes the boredom from turbo trainer time.

Suppose I should be back on it now I guess trying to earn my place in a galaxy far far away…….

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