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The Ultimate Zwift Starter Guide: How to Get Going on Zwift

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It is easy to set up your indoor bike system at home. First, you choose the device. Smart trainer? Old-Fashioned trainer? Peloton is an integrated, more advanced system. We are certain that you will make the right decision.

Next, choose the app/service you wish to use. You can choose the app or service that you want to use if you have an integrated system such as Peloton. You have more options if you chose a smart trainer. Are you ready to commit to Zwift Try a different app, like Sufferfest and Trainerroad.

If you are a beginner trainer, interactive apps won’t make much sense. You can still do some great, high-quality workouts if that’s the case. However, it is best to use a set DVDs or streaming videos. We love a few of the best.

This is the perfect Zwift setup (or any smart cycling app).

The Bike

This one is simple. You can use your A-list, regular bike. It should be the main attraction of the show. It could be your tricycle or roadbike go-to, no matter how many miles you’re planning to cover next summer.

Do not be tempted by a cheap, special bike that you can just leave on your trainer. Your bike is the best way to get stronger. A trainer can be a great way to increase power and feel the bike, even if it has been recently upgraded or refitted.

Some people ask us if the bike should be allowed to ride on the trainer. Smart trainers of today are very easy on the frame. The tension used to be a problem for us as a generation, especially with old-fashioned trainers.

Aerobars are essential for anyone who thinks they might spend some time on their outside rides in aero position. It is important to get as close as possible to the real thing.

Smart Trainer

We wrote an entire article on smart bicycle trainers so we won’t repeat every word. These are the main points.

You want to make sure you buy the smartest trainer possible that is within your budget. You should consider reducing your spending if you plan to use the trainer frequently, as many people do. This is a bit like buying a mattress. Do you really want $50 to save on something that you will use for 10 years?

A second consideration is to find a trainer that is smart. This is not an issue in today’s age. There are many smart trainers available. There are no workarounds for the ANT+ cables. This article is about the “Perfect Zwift Setup” and we wouldn’t say that any other Zwift setup requires a smart trainer.

We are big fans of the Wahoo KICKR trainer (find it here). It’s easy to set up, quiet, stable, and compatible with Zwift. KICKR is a well-known product that has been around for many years. However, it is continually being improved. It is a great product to have as a backup.

The TACX Nemodel is a good choice if quiet training is your goal. This smart, high-performing trainer will connect with Zwift seamlessly.

Block for Wheels

Your trainer should include the wheel block.

A majority of new trainers come with a wheelblock, also known as a riser block. This allows your front wheel to be set in so that you don’t have too much side-to-side action while you are pushing the maximum wattage. You might consider ordering one if you didn’t get one with your trainer. A smart trainer’s block is much more subtle than older trainers, where the wheel block can be quite large.

The Wahoo product is a good all-purpose wheel block. It is best to find the right match for your smart trainer so that you aren’t at an awkward angle. You can always reduce it if it is not what you want.

If you have the funds, the KICKR climb trainer is an option. You can remove your front wheel and attach it to a separate piece, giving you an unparalleled climbing experience. How do you climb a hill? The entire bike angle will be up. Going down? It will be the opposite.

It adds $600 to your investment, and is totally optional, but then again, if you want the full experience……..
>Find it here.

Mat for Training

It can be used under your bike to help you train. It absorbs sweat. It can dampen some sounds. It might be useful to protect your floor from staining if your chain is clogged with oil or grime. It also gives your bike and trainer a firmer foundation so that you don’t rock side to side when going full-out.

Saris simple trainer mat

Your mat should not be placed in a way that it collects sweat. Otherwise, it could become a stench over time. You can make locker rooms smell better, but it is not impossible.

You might be able to get one from your trainer. We like the high-quality Saris mat if you don’t. The mat isn’t too thick to cause instability, but it provides everything you need in a good-quality mat. It is easy to clean. A whole article was written about bike trainer mats. If you’re interested in more information, the Saris is our top choice.

To rocker plate or not?

For cyclists looking for a more realistic riding experience, rocker plates (or bike trainer platforms) have been very popular in the last 2 years. What is a rockerplate? A rocker plate is a base that moves on the ground, but underneath your bike and trainer. This allows for more motion, and gives you a road-like feeling while you ride. You want to sprint? Sprinting can give you that side-toside feeling that you get while you crank hard on the road. You can feel subtle changes in your bodyweight as you crank. That is what you will experience.

The best thing about rocker plates is the fact that the pressure on your saddle, from your contact point with your rear end, changes throughout indoor riding. You can ride longer and more comfortably indoors, just as you would outdoors. You will feel more comfortable over the long-term if your weight is shifting subtly through your saddle when you’re riding outdoors.

All that being said, no one “needs” rocker plates. Many hardcore cyclists have been riding indoors for many years without one. You should get one if you want to improve your indoor riding experience and be able to take longer indoor rides. Although there are numerous instructions online to make rocker plates yourself, if you’re not very handy or skilled in building things this can be dangerous. You can find a great, innovative platform >at REI if you have the money. It was made by Saris. Although it is not cheap, we know some people will
spend a lot to get the best indoor cycling setup.

Mounted TV

The size of your TV will determine the distance you should be between it and your bike. We recommend a 40-inch TV mounted at 36 to 60 inches from your bike. You can go further, but you may lose some detail depending on how good your eyesight is.

Hitachi’s 40-incher is a great value for money.
Here on Amazon

The next step is to mount it. There are two ways you can do this.

One I use at home is mounted on a mobile mounting bracket that connects to solid studs in my wall. Why not use a fixed bracket instead? If this is a multi-purpose space for training, you might want the TV to be at eye level. Other times, you may prefer it lower. It is nice to have the TV in a tuck or aero position while you cycle. You don’t have to strain your neck to see it. Mount-It makes a bracket that I can lower several inches while riding my bike. But it tucks in flush against the wall when I’m running on the treadmill.

Vivo offers a mobile TV cart that can be used to mount your TV. It’s sturdy and can be moved from one room to another. It can hold a TV up 65 inches.
Check it out on Amazon.

Apple TV

Although there are many options for streaming your Zwift app, I have written that Apple TV is the best. This article is all about the best Zwift setup. I’m recommending it.

An Apple TV is a great choice. Because it’s so easy. Simply navigate to Zwift on your TV screen and you’re good to go. You can use the remote to navigate and avoid the need to stream Zwift to a small screen. You will experience a clearer, more direct experience with less latency for every step of transmission you remove.

I swear by the Apple TV and am surprised that other smart cycling apps makers don’t have an Apple TV app.

The Apple TV is available at Apple.

Fan

A simple floor fan is enough unless you have an air conditioning system or a gym. Indoor riding can be quite toasty if you remove the cool breeze from an outdoor bike and the breeze against your face, which cools you even on hot days.

You can keep the fan you have, or buy a new one. A “headwind fan”, while expensive, is not necessary. You only need a good-quality fan such as the Lasko floor fan (available on Amazon). It can also be used for other purposes, besides cycling.

You can also choose a breathable top or cycling shorts. These will allow the fan to cool you down.

Dehumidifier (optional)

A dehumidifier would be a great addition to many workout areas, especially those that don’t have natural airflow or windows. The relative humidity in small spaces that are not ventilated can be increased by moist perspiration. This can lead to an increase in humidity over time.

A humidifier is a great option if your exercise area is located in a basement with no natural ventilation.

Shelf or table

It is great to be able to ride on a flat surface while riding. It can hold everything, including my water and my extra towel.

You can use whatever arrangement works best for you. You might be able to find a small, high table that fits your space, or you can bring in a stool for use as an end table. You can store your stuff on some bikes by placing them close to shelves. My bike and trainer are set up close to the treadmill, so my cupholders on the treadmill can easily hold all of my items.

You might also need a table to place your tablet or laptop in front of you. But not if we have shown you the “perfect” setup and you mounted a TV.

Headphones

If you live alone, or have no neighbors, then headphones will be a must. You can still listen to Zwift’s sound effects, but you will prefer to hear the music you choose. Headphones are not recommended here as tech sites are better suited for that. Two things to remember: Make sure your headphones are sweat-resistant. You will sweat. You should also be aware that bluetooth headphones can interfere with Zwift signals in certain cases, especially if they are older.

Water and Towel

It’s easy to see why, but plenty of water is necessary and you may need a towel. To prevent sweat from dripping into the headset and screw holes of the stem, we like to place the towel on top of the bike. To keep water in its container, we either place it in the water holder to practice and make it second-nature, or put it on a nearby table.

Gate (Optional – If You Have Young Children)

Some people are concerned about children as young as toddlers and preschoolers. They will quickly move toward the trainer and bike without the rider even realizing. Pets might also be affected, but most animals know to stay away.

As with a treadmill, young children can find the moving parts of a bike or trainer quite captivating. You don’t want them to be caught in a chain or touch a hot, moving flywheel from a trainer. Consider getting a pet fence for the years if this is your situation. It can be thrown away when your children get older.