Forum home Road cycling forum Indoor training and turbo forum

Zwift on a Budget

onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
After deciding not to sell my road bike I've got my heart set on an indoor set up. I just need help deciding on which components to make this work. I've seen a couple of Zwift videos (Shane Miller on Youtube) and that looks like a good enough program. I just need to make sure that everything is compatible and I have enough gadgets to make it as realistic as possible but on a budget! Meaning as cheap as possible.

Shane uses a cycleops fluid 2 turbo then hooks up a 'typical' Garmin speed and cadence sensor. Presumably because whilst 'supported' the fluid 2 doesn't read cadence or speed. However a fluid 2 is £190, for £220 I can get a Tacx Flow T2240 from Halfords which is listed on Zwift's compatible models and already had ANT+ and I think BLE (but I don't know what that is).

So, if I pick up a Tacx Flow and hook it up to my laptop (or my phone) via bluetooth (?) running the Zwift program (not free I know) I should be up and running without bothering about a separate speed and cadence sensor?

£220 is a little steep but for simplicity it sounds OK to me and the whole set up does too. That's unless getting the experience this way is far too noobish and there's a much better way?
«1

Posts

  • gethincerigethinceri Posts: 1,159
    BLE is Blutooth.
  • onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
    Ah thank you. I definitely have bluetooth on my laptop although what's a little less clear is if I'd need something to pick up the ANT+ signal?

    ALso, I'm not 100% set on Zwift if there's a better option out there for this type of thing.

    Last thing, how realistic are these programs in regards to hills and general terrain? I'd hate it if you just span up hills like it was a flat road...

    I've just seen this in the Tacx description:

    "Simulates a slope realistically up to 6%"

    That's not very steep!! Is this normal for trainers?
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    OK my opinion, go with the Cyclops 2 fluid trainer. I've had a Tacx iFlow smart trainer and a Tacx Bushido Smart, and they were both censored . The resistance is hit and miss and the inertia of the flywheel non-existent meaning your virtual speed will come to an almost instantaneous stop the moment you pause pedalling. Do you really need auto resistance with Zwift? I don't think you do. What ever speed you put out, Zwift will automatically convert it to the gradient on screen. So while you might be doing 28mph on the turbo, if the screen says you're going up a 6% gradient, it will convert your speed down based on your weight etc.

    You haven't mentioned what you're going to use Zwift on. I recommend the Wahoo Tickr for heart rate and if you must have Garmin sensors, the later versions of their speed and cadence sensors which will connect via Bluetooth. Zwift picture quality is best on an iPad, iPhone or either streamed via Apple TV. It's fine on a PC too, but the image quality isn't as good.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,025
    Shane is paid by Zwift... or gets enough freebies to keep him going.
    That said, it is brilliant for very intensive training/racing.
    I think Bkool might be better for you... wanting an immersive experience.

    The only way you get payback from slogging it out indoors is by having a specific goal for the real world.
    You'll never keep it going if you dont.
  • onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
    That BKool isn't much more expensive to be honest and the weather/ wind etc simulation looks super cool. I say not much more expensive because the Smart Go is £269 BUT top gradient is 8% which granted is pretty hard work!

    The thing that's confusing me is if the road on your screen goes to 10%, how does it calculate that? I think the BKool drops your speed so you have to burn harder to keep your speed up which sounds realistic but any information on that would be great. Basically what Philthy was saying that the Zwift does.

    What I want it for is to make indoor riding interesting. I want to simulate trying the Alpine hills which I'll probably never experience any other way. A barometer to further appreciate how easy the pros make it look. If I can use it to raise my fitness levels up enough a cycling holiday in the Alps to do it for real would be the goal - and give me that specific goal that you're talking about JGSI.

    Thanks you two.
  • onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
    I realise 'on a budget' is starting to fade here. Maybe on a relative budget would be better! :P
  • kirkeekirkee Posts: 369
    Im getting a budget set up together to try zwift. I got a 2nd hand standard mag trainer to use with speed sensor and ant dongle cheap from wiggle. Plan to use an Imac computer, also was going to use an old 26er hybrid. I expect the Imac will work ok. Dont know if there are implications to using a 26 wheeled bike on the trainer? No doubt someone will know on here. I hope it makes the indoor grind a bit more tolerable than I remember before it got hi tech!
    Caveat - I buy and ride cheap, however, I reserve the right to advise on expensive kit that I have never actually used and possibly never will
  • onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
    @philthy

    "Do you really need auto resistance with Zwift? I don't think you do. What ever speed you put out, Zwift will automatically convert it to the gradient on screen. So while you might be doing 28mph on the turbo, if the screen says you're going up a 6% gradient, it will convert your speed down based on your weight etc."

    I don't understand this bit. What I want is it to feel like I'm doing 6% if I'm going up 6%. Not spinning away on the flat but getting told I'm doing 4mph?

    This looks amazing:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mynvVS5C4A
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    onedayer wrote:
    @philthy

    "Do you really need auto resistance with Zwift? I don't think you do. What ever speed you put out, Zwift will automatically convert it to the gradient on screen. So while you might be doing 28mph on the turbo, if the screen says you're going up a 6% gradient, it will convert your speed down based on your weight etc."

    I don't understand this bit. What I want is it to feel like I'm doing 6% if I'm going up 6%. Not spinning away on the flat but getting told I'm doing 4mph?

    This looks amazing:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mynvVS5C4A

    Personally, I use an Elite Kura direct drive fluid smart trainer (£400 Athlete Shop). It doesn't have auto resistance and that suits me. Unless you are prepared to go top end with a smart trainer, the realism is non-existent. A wheel on turbo will also suffer with slippage, which gets annoying and buggered my knee up.

    With no auto resistance, I can ride to wattage on a ride. With Zwift I can monitor power, speed, cadence and heart rate while the additional info on screen tells me what gradient I'm on. My speed reduces or increases based on the gradient and the personal information I entered. That suits me as I prefer to ride to power rather than the possible realism of an incline. It means I can follow training programs on Zwift without targeted power being affected by gradients. Due to the how the Kura resistance operates, most of the time is spent in the inner ring its that hard. If I'm supposed to be riding at x cadence and y power, a gradient would censored that up if I had auto resistance. A FTP test for example, I'd never get that 20 minute continuous effort on an even line if the power and heart rate were fluctuating all over the place with auto resistance.

    The device just looks like a fancy heart rate monitor. If you know your own personal heart rate zones and maximum heart rate, I don't see the need to splash out.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
    I'm not sure that I'm explaining myself properly or I'm not quite understanding what you're saying to me - you definitely know what you're talking about.

    What I want is something that changes the resistance without me manually setting anything. That way doing a ride on Zwift (or others) if the road starts to climb I'll feel it. If the road flattens out then it'll get easier.

    First of all, I want something to mimic that. Second, which would be a dream is to have some software that replicates real life roads and the famous cycling races.
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,025
    6% 8% gradients can kill enough people off ... a 15km climb at that average... for 60 plus minutes... after 15 minutes you are already at the top of the cassette block... realising... no more gears .. how many expletives do you know?
  • Okay so you CAN use a standard "dumb" trainer to Zwift. I did for a while (rollers). You won't feel the hills or any resistance changes. You will need to replicate them by changing gears and pushing harder. Zwift simply takes your wattage (or wheel speed for really basic setups) and translates that into virtual speed dependant on virtual gradient.

    I would HIGHLY recommend buying a "smart" turbo though, one that will automatically change the resistance when you hit a virtual hill. This makes a huge difference to your Zwift experience. Trust me, huge. You come to a climb and the resistance ramps up, making you drop a few years or get out of the saddle to push harder. Crest the top and it backs off again giving you a break. Hit the 15% ramp out of the London course subway and it's like hitting a wall!

    There are cheap options and of course very expensive options.

    Zwift has it's virtual world of Watopia which is actually very, very good. Also there is the UCI World Champ Richmond course and Inner London with Box Hill course, all on a rotating schedule. The group rides and races can be awesome training and good fun. Expect expansions and possibly more course choices in the future as the platform grows.


    Also there's a program called FullGaz (?) that replicates real roads and famous climbs, I haven't tried it yet and I think it may be iOS only at this stage.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    onedayer wrote:
    I'm not sure that I'm explaining myself properly or I'm not quite understanding what you're saying to me - you definitely know what you're talking about.

    What I want is something that changes the resistance without me manually setting anything. That way doing a ride on Zwift (or others) if the road starts to climb I'll feel it. If the road flattens out then it'll get easier.

    First of all, I want something to mimic that. Second, which would be a dream is to have some software that replicates real life roads and the famous cycling races.


    No, I get what you're saying; you want the turbo to automatically replicate the gradient on screen. My view is you don't need it. Others believe you do. If you're intent on going down that route, a cheap smart trainer like you're looking at won't do it. You need to read/view some of the reviews of the smart trainers, particularly wheel on ones as the lack of inertia from the flywheel and slippage make a real difference. Check Shane Millers blog for his reviews of turbos. You need to be looking at the higher end turbos if you want a "realistic" auto resistance, but your post is about Zwift on a budget. On a budget, you don't need auto resistance.

    Zwift isn't a film of famous routes or Google Earth roads, but an animated world. If you want real films, you need something other than Zwift. Zwift is a very good training program letting you ride in a virtual world with others. It has terrain and very good training programs to follow.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • wongataawongataa Posts: 922
    philthy3 wrote:
    A FTP test for example, I'd never get that 20 minute continuous effort on an even line if the power and heart rate were fluctuating all over the place with auto resistance.
    If you are doing a FTP test Zwift (or similar systems) should switch to using erg mode on a smart trainer which doesn't vary the resistance - it is like a dumb trainer - so to go harder/softer you change gear or pedal faster/slower.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    wongataa wrote:
    philthy3 wrote:
    A FTP test for example, I'd never get that 20 minute continuous effort on an even line if the power and heart rate were fluctuating all over the place with auto resistance.
    If you are doing a FTP test Zwift (or similar systems) should switch to using erg mode on a smart trainer which doesn't vary the resistance - it is like a dumb trainer - so to go harder/softer you change gear or pedal faster/slower.

    Didn't know that re the FTP, but, I still prefer to ride to my own controlled power output. A standard turbo is still better than a low end smart trainer that cannot deliver a realistic resistance and at the appropriate time.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • philthy3 wrote:
    A standard turbo is still better than a low end smart trainer that cannot deliver a realistic resistance and at the appropriate time.

    Yeah you do get what you pay for. If it want the full Zwift experience then spending extra on a quality trainer (think KICKR Snap level). The difference between a "dumb" setup and a high quality smart turbo is seriously night and day. A mid level smart trainer will do the job very well.

    All comes down to your budget, what it will use it for and how much you value the whole immersive experience.
  • Cheap and wanting the trainer to automatically simulate the hills are incompatible goals at the moment.

    My zwift setup cost about 130 (wahoo bluetooth speed and cadence sensors and a basic elite crono fluid turbo, with existing phone and an old pc).

    Yes, you can choose to maintain a steady cadence / gear up regardless of hills or flats and let zwift work out changing the speed for you, but there's nothing stopping you from changing gears so that your cadence more closely matches your zwift character.

    Also not to be underestimated is the psychological factor that people will 'attack' somewhere, and that tends to be the hills, regardless of whether or not their trainer is simulating increased resistance, they will be working harder - maintaining a steady state throughout is harder than it sounds.
  • onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
    I think I'll definitely be going down the smart turbo route but as you say that takes it out of the budget range. I've spent a couple of days researching, especially listening to what Shane Miller has to say in regards to setups.

    He recommends an Elite QUBO Digital Smart B+ with built in ANT+ and Bluetooth priced at around the £250 mark. It has auto resistance changes which I think is a must for this type of software, I know some disagree but my opinion is that it's needed. This model also has rolling inertia which the tacx models don't have.

    Every review and video I have seen is telling me to get on this because it does look ace! I'll be using the free trials of a few of the more prominent simulators to see which I like best but Zwift is the forerunner so far.

    Let's pretend that you are all with me on the above. Let's now talk accessories. What I know that I need is an ANT+ dongle to connect to the smart trainer. What else do I need? What is this Wahoo Tickr for heart rate? I'd like a heart rate strap too. Is there anything else that I need? Cadence/ power calibrators or anything like that?
  • bigmitch41bigmitch41 Posts: 684
    I took a punt on a Tacx Flow smart T2240 from Halfords in December (£180) to use with Zwift, and on a whole its been better than expected. My only negative was trying to connect using Bluetooth with my 2 or 3 year old Del lap top, I spent ages trying to connect and eventually out of frustration switched to Ant+. I ordered a cheap Ant+ dongle and extension cable from Amazon to sit the dongle as close to the trainer as possible, it works perfectly. Once connected to Zwift and you pair your heart rate monitor, speed/cadence, power & controllable trainer,select a training plan or go ahead to an online race or group ride you are up and running, or should I say pedalling.
    The Tacx Flow is a great entry level trainer, I'd recommend it to anyone, especially during the winter months.
    Paracyclist
    @Bigmitch_racing
    2010 Specialized Tricross (commuter)
    2014 Whyte T129-S
    2016 Specialized Tarmac Ultegra Di2
    Big Mitch - YouTube
  • onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
    BigMitch41 wrote:
    I took a punt on a Tacx Flow smart T2240 from Halfords in December (£180) to use with Zwift, and on a whole its been better than expected. My only negative was trying to connect using Bluetooth with my 2 or 3 year old Del lap top, I spent ages trying to connect and eventually out of frustration switched to Ant+. I ordered a cheap Ant+ dongle and extension cable from Amazon to sit the dongle as close to the trainer as possible, it works perfectly. Once connected to Zwift and you pair your heart rate monitor, speed/cadence, power & controllable trainer,select a training plan or go ahead to an online race or group ride you are up and running, or should I say pedalling.
    The Tacx Flow is a great entry level trainer, I'd recommend it to anyone, especially during the winter months.

    Is the lack of rolling a problem when you stop pedaling? I intend to go on some pretty long rides not just the short, sharp training and races and having to constantly pedal for 2/3 or more hours seems a farce. For that money though it's a good shout.
  • bigmitch41bigmitch41 Posts: 684
    I don't see it as a problem, you stop pedalling and the wheel continues to spin for a short period, if you are descending and stop pedalling your avatar will get into a supertuck Chris Froome style, which gives you a break from pedalling until you begin to level out and need to start pedalling again. Not a problem that I can see.
    Paracyclist
    @Bigmitch_racing
    2010 Specialized Tricross (commuter)
    2014 Whyte T129-S
    2016 Specialized Tarmac Ultegra Di2
    Big Mitch - YouTube
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    onedayer wrote:
    I think I'll definitely be going down the smart turbo route but as you say that takes it out of the budget range. I've spent a couple of days researching, especially listening to what Shane Miller has to say in regards to setups.

    He recommends an Elite QUBO Digital Smart B+ with built in ANT+ and Bluetooth priced at around the £250 mark. It has auto resistance changes which I think is a must for this type of software, I know some disagree but my opinion is that it's needed. This model also has rolling inertia which the tacx models don't have.

    Every review and video I have seen is telling me to get on this because it does look ace! I'll be using the free trials of a few of the more prominent simulators to see which I like best but Zwift is the forerunner so far.

    Let's pretend that you are all with me on the above. Let's now talk accessories. What I know that I need is an ANT+ dongle to connect to the smart trainer. What else do I need? What is this Wahoo Tickr for heart rate? I'd like a heart rate strap too. Is there anything else that I need? Cadence/ power calibrators or anything like that?

    If you've bluetooth connection on your PC, iPad, iMac or whatever, go with bluetooth connection. The Wahoo Tickr is the best heart rate strap, but Garmin's latest speed and cadence sensors are fine. You don't need the ANT+ dongle. I have both but use Bluetooth over Apple TV for the best picture.

    Absolutely right about the inertia of the Elite Qubo. Far better than anything Tacx do. The iFlow and Bushido Smart I had were terrible.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • onedayer wrote:
    Let's pretend that you are all with me on the above. Let's now talk accessories. What I know that I need is an ANT+ dongle to connect to the smart trainer. What else do I need?


    You might need a USB extension to move the dongle closer to the turbo.

    A big censored fan to keep you cool.

    Floor mat to damped vibrations and catch your sweat.

    A nice additions I made was a mini wireless keyboard on the handlebars. I got mine off eBay. It's good for messaging, making turns, using powerups, etc.
  • onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
    The smart turbo that I'm looking at comes with a floor mat so that's good.
    Good shout on the keyboard but agree it isn't essential. I'll make do with my laptop handy for now.
    If I go down the ANT+ route I'll look at an extension, more reliable than wireless.
    Still set on the Wahoo Tickr heart rate set up (pricey though!)
    Getting a cheap phone mount while I'm at it.

    Just a quick one but the features list for the turbo says this:
    Features:Smarter Training: the Resistance unit wirelessly sends speed/power/cadence data via both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart transmission protocols making it easier to connect to smartphones, tablets, cycle computers and apps with one or both protocols.

    That means I don't need a third party cadence sensor right? I think the talk about getting Garmin sensors has confused me there (which I think I initially brought up).

    Can't wait for payday!!
  • onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
    Ordered the Elite Qubo! Coming next week! Tour of Yorkshire to occupy myself with in the meantime :)
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    onedayer wrote:
    Ordered the Elite Qubo! Coming next week! Tour of Yorkshire to occupy myself with in the meantime :)

    Much better choice than the iFlow.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • The key thing on zwift is probably not the trainer but the accurate and reliable measurement of power. So I would look into value power meters. I picked up a powertap wheel in great condition for only $/£200 s/h works great on the trainer with zwift even with a dumb trainer
  • The key thing on zwift is probably not the trainer but the accurate and reliable measurement of power. So I would look into value power meters. I picked up a powertap wheel in great condition for only $/£200 s/h works great on the trainer with zwift even with a dumb trainer

    I was previously using a PowerTap powermeter and dumb trainer (rollers) for Zwift. It gave reliable and repeatable data which is great for consistent training, but it didn't give the full immersive Zwift experience. It was perfectly fine for me, but that added experience is important to some people. Recently I "upgraded" to a proper smart trainer and it has opened up a whole new level of awesomeness to my Zwifting.
  • davidofdavidof Posts: 2,446
    philthy3 wrote:
    So while you might be doing 28mph on the turbo,

    He's probably stationary on the turbo :-)

    If you think about turbo training all you are doing is moving up and down a power curve. Want to output more power - spin faster, want to output more power at a lower cadence - change gear.

    I think the OP has confused riding on the road and riding a turbo.
  • onedayeronedayer Posts: 41
    So with the trainer due to arrive in a couple of days I've started to think about how I'm going to use it. Yes, I know it's not going to fully replicate road riding but I do want it to improve my (road) fitness. One of my first jobs is going to do an FTP test or step test and find my base fitness. I know it's not going to be a perfect score but surely then once I retest, if the numbers go up then I'm getting fitter??

    So FTP first. Then I'm hoping for three days a week on the trainer. At the start I'm going to aim for one group ride (or long solo ride) and two shorter training sessions; then start to feed in some races. If anyone has a better idea of how to make my time on the trainer more beneficial then please tell me!

    A few people have mentioned having that tangible goal or I won't stick at it. First is to raise my numbers (albeit fairly fictional ones). Second is to be fit enough to enjoy a days riding in the Dales - which I am familiar with so I think I'll know when I'm ready - 2/3 month goal for that. I could do it now but I wouldn't enjoy it. I've been looking at some cyclethedales events too but I'll probably just take inspiration and design my own route.

    More ambitious target of a Spring Classics Sportive but I'd die if I tried that now!
Sign In or Register to comment.