This post lists the equipment you will need to set up Zwift, the virtual reality training game for cyclists. You can learn more about riding on Zwift here.
To ride on Zwift, you will need:
- An outdoor or an indoor bike
- An indoor trainer such as smart trainers, classic trainers, or rollers (if you are not using an indoor bike)
- A computer or an iPhone, iPad or iPod
- USB ANT+ stick
If you use your outdoor bike, you will need a “smart” or “classic” indoor trainer. “Smart” trainers are more sophisticated and communicate the power (watts) you produce on the bike to Zwift and automatically vary the resistance to match changing terrain and conditions of the virtual course. This means that if you are climbing a hill on Zwift, the smart trainer will simulate the difficulty of that hill to make it harder for you to pedal.
This real time communication between Zwift and the smart trainer provides the most immersive (i.e., fun and “just like in real life”) Zwift experience. Most smart trainers connect to Zwift wirelessly via ANT+ using a USB ANT+ stick, or through the Zwift Mobile Link app via Bluetooth Smart (BLE).
Smart trainers you can use with Zwift (for model details, click here):
Classic trainers typically don’t have any electronics, so you’ll need a separate speed and cadence sensor or a power meter to connect to Zwift. Some manufacturers offer an optional sensor that broadcasts power (watts) directly to Zwift. Classic trainers you can use with Zwift are (for model details, click here):
1UPUSA, Ascent, Blackburn, Casacade, Cycleops, Elite, Feedback,Sports, Giant, Growtac, Jet Black, Kinetic, Lemond, Minoura, Nashbar, Revbox, Tacx, Traveltrack
Compatible indoor bikes are Body Bike, Cycleops, Realryder, Schwinn, Stages, Wattbike.
Connecting your trainer or bike to the computer
Zwift uses industry standard wireless protocols to connect to your devices. You will need a USB ANT+ stick to wirelessly connect your devices to Zwift. Using a USB extension cable to place the ANT+ stick close to your devices prevent signal drops.
In addition, Zwift connects to your Bluetooth enabled devices through the Zwift Mobile Link companion app on your phone (power meters, cadence sensors, and heart rate monitors). Make sure that your phone is on the same Wifi network as your computer.
For the companion app, you will need the iPhone SE, 5S or higher, iPad Air or higher, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 2 or higher, or iPod 6.
You can use Apple and Windows computers, and it is recommended that you use a good graphics card or GPU for better resolution and smoother graphics. Here are the specs Zwift recommends:
- Operating System: Windows 7 64bit or higher, or macOS 10.8 or higher
- Processor: Dual Core Intel® Core i5 or AMD
- Memory: 8 GB
- Graphics: 2GB Radeon R9 200 series, or NVIDIA GTX 650
- Hard drive: 4 GB of free space
Other Helpful Information
I have included several helpful videos on how to assemble your Zwift station below. There is also a link to the Zwift unofficial (but very helpful) user manual.