Recommended soundtrack: You Spin Me Round by Dead or Alive
This post is co-written with my beloved. These facts may help you either: win the argument to invest in zwifting or defend your budget against lifestyle creep.
What is zwift?
It’s an online virtual cycling game with different worlds, group rides and races. Sam has written a lot about her adventures. If you click on Zwift at the top of the post you can see all the great posts.
Why would I want to do this?
Its a great way to train on your bicycle, regardless of weather, daylight, traffic or other safety concerns. With additional concerns around COVID 19 calling a friend to be your sag wagon or riding alone may not be appealing options.
So how much is this going to cost me?
Well. That depends. One fixed cost, regardless of setup, is the monthly subscription fee of $15 USD. You’ll need a smart phone, TV, tablet or laptop to run the software. You will need clip-less pedals & shoes and I highly recommend a fan. So let’s look at the options to make a set up.
The Ultimate Zwift Setup
If money is no object, a top of the range direct drive trainer or dedicated smart indoor training bike is the ultimate Zwift set up. Easy to set up, provides accurate power, speed and cadence metrics with simulated climbing, descent and terrain.
A fully kitted out smart indoor training bike blurs the line between indoor and outdoor experiences. You can even get variable fans that give you wind and the sights and sounds of an awesome trip.
These set ups cost anywhere from $3,000-5,000 USD. At first glance this is shockingly high. However, if you don’t have a road bike and you miss your regular spin classes, this may be a frugal option. All the other set-ups assume you have an existing ride. Both mine and my partner’s bikes were in the $2,000 USD range. So it’s more like spread out cost than truly being cheaper. One benefit is these high price point options are readily available since not many folks new to indoor cycling will go with this option first.
The full bike:
Smart trainers: https://www.bikeradar.com/brand/wahoo/
Middle of the Road
Instead of a direct drive trainer you are looking for a wheel on smart trainer for $500-750 USD. This uses your existing bike and a trainer tire. The tire can run you $60-120 USD. You will need a front wheel riser block for better stability. Those are fairly cheap, around $20 USD.
The challenge for this option is finding one. With COVID 19 supply chain interruptions it can be difficult to get your hands on this range of equipment.
Bargain Basement Set-up
The most basic setup can be cobbled together from kit many cyclists already own. A bike, a wheel on dumb trainer/rollers ($80-120 USD), trainer tire ($60-120), cadence/speed sensor $100 USD, and an ANT+ Bluetooth measurement tool $20 USD. These supplies are mostly available when you need them.
If you aren’t sure indoor spinning is for you skip the trainer tire. It’s optional if you, like me, spin for 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week.
Depending on your existing resources it is not cheap to get into Zwift. It could offer variety, interest and social connection if you are missing those this year.
I decided I can happily spin without Zwift on my dumb trainer. I’m not performance driven for my spinning. It’s simply my high intensity cardio in my fitness plan . My beloved has a more structured approach and targets he wants to hit next spring. We were able to get him set up with sensors, trainer tire and our existing dumb trainer.
If you are using Zwift what set-up are you using? Was cost a consideration? Please share your gear in the comments below and any winning arguments to either invest or be frugal. Have I captured the range? Is there a must have folks should know about?