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Talk me into a smart trainer?

Old 09-22-23, 11:26 AM
  #26  
kcjc
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If I am paying a monthly fee for Zwift, I want the most out of it which for me is to simulate riding outdoors (aka, Sim mode). Without a smart trainer, I would need to adjust base on the visual cues. The smart trainer does that for me with a more realistic feel. Other would add the workout aspect and holding to a target power. Meeh, I prefer riding over simulated terrain replicating the outdoors. I use Rouvy (paid, actual video of routes) and MyWhoosh (free and Zwift like).

Erg, mrc, & crs are just the file extension name of the ASCII text file providing instructions to the trainer on maintaining a specified resistance. Erg specify the duration & wattage; mrc uses duration, FTP, & % of FTP; and crs uses distance, grade, & wind speed. (Created by RaceMate?) Erg is now used universally because it easier on the tongue not necessary the best file format. In fact most software default to mrc convention for workouts since the intervals are based on a percentage of your FTP. Zwift uses it's own xml based instructions for workouts that is based on mrc and/or Sim.

Most cycling workout software will allows for adjustment of the target wattage during the workout (+/- 10% seems to be the consensus). All of smart trainers allow for some fluctuation in your output wattage before it will adjust the resistance to match the target wattage. (As a side, don't let Wahoo fool you with their power graph. No one is that smooth. Turn off the power smoothing to see how you actually produce power.) Manufacturer differs on how quickly and forcefully the trainer adjusts the resistance. Elite is probably the sloppiest. Saris H2 the most responsive based on reviews but Wahoo Kickr & Neo Tacx are also up there (assuming the same for H3). If you cannot keep up with the target output, the trainer will keep on increasing the resistance until it becomes so great you cannot pedal anymore before the trainer cuts off. The way there is sometime refereed as the death spiral. You can resume after a short pause for the trainer to reset. Most applications now also allow you to skip interval instead of the whole workout.
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Old 09-25-23, 05:48 AM
  #27  
Ella Per
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Smart trainer is a good option

Hi there,

I definitely recommend to ride with a smart trainer if you have some extra money to spend. It is much better experience with the automated functions.
Regarding the question on Zwift and resistence during interval workouts, so it works like this - during the workout you can select any route and the trainer does the resistance according to your current interval, not the route itself. So if there is a high climb and you should be riding easy, it would not force you to go hard, it will always make you maintain the watts you should be riding at the current interval.
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Old 09-25-23, 09:34 PM
  #28  
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If you fail to hold the required power during a Zwift Erg interval, your cadence will slow, resistance from the trainer increases, your cadence slows more, and so on. This is called the death spiral. After a short time of no pedalling, the software recognizes that you are not meeting the target wattage and the resistance goes to a a low level so you can start pedalling again. After a few seconds, the resistance will gradually increase and you attempt to hold the required wattage at your preferred cadence to finish the interval. When I am struggling on an interval and power is dropping, I stand to increase power at the slower cadence and that will naturally allow me to start spinning again.

You can do workouts in non-erg mode in Zwift, the screen provides prompts of what is coming (glowing arches on the roadway with countdown) and where you are relative to the target power. Naturally you have to shift and change your cadence to match the target power. There is a scoring system during the workout that gives your stars and points for hitting power targets if that motivates you.
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Old 09-27-23, 06:38 AM
  #29  
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  1. Year-Round Cycling: With a smart trainer, you can cycle indoors regardless of weather conditions, seasons, or time of day. This ensures consistent training year-round without interruptions due to adverse weather.
  2. Tailored Workouts: Smart trainers often come with built-in training plans and software that can personalize workouts based on your fitness level, goals, and preferences. This tailored approach optimizes your training regimen for improved results.
  3. Realistic Simulation: Advanced smart trainers can replicate outdoor cycling experiences by adjusting resistance based on virtual terrain. This provides a realistic cycling feel, making your indoor rides more engaging and effective.
  4. Efficient Time Management: Smart trainers allow you to maximize your training time by offering focused and efficient workouts. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and structured workouts can help you achieve fitness gains in a shorter amount of time.
  5. Data Monitoring and Analysis: Smart trainers collect a wide range of data during your workouts, including power output, cadence, speed, and heart rate. This data can be analyzed to track progress, identify weaknesses, and optimize your training approach.
  6. Interactive and Engaging Training: Many smart trainers integrate with cycling apps and virtual platforms, offering interactive group rides, races, and challenges. This gamified experience keeps you motivated and engaged during your indoor cycling sessions. I am riding ROUVY and itīs a hell of fun.
  7. Remote Coaching and Support: Smart trainers can connect to coaching platforms, allowing trainers and coaches to guide and monitor your workouts remotely. They can provide real-time feedback and make adjustments to your training plan based on your performance.
  8. Power-based Training: Smart trainers provide accurate power measurements, enabling power-based training. Training based on power zones helps in precisely targeting different intensities for specific training objectives, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness.
  9. Reduced Wear and Tear on Equipment: Utilizing a smart trainer for indoor cycling helps minimize wear and tear on your outdoor bike, saving it from exposure to harsh weather conditions, debris, and potential accidents.
  10. Multi-Device Compatibility: Smart trainers can often connect to various devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers via Bluetooth or ANT+ technology. This allows you to use your preferred device and cycling app for an integrated training experience.
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Old 09-27-23, 07:13 PM
  #30  
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I started Zwift with the KK dumb trainer. Eventually bought the Kickr and I could never go back. It makes the experience much more enjoyable.
A new Kickr for $600 is a great price compared to dropping $900-1200 a year ago.
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Old 09-28-23, 11:29 AM
  #31  
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I didn't have the stamina to read every post, so here's my perspective - you CAN do Zwift on a dumb trainer, shifting into a bigger gear when the gradient goes up to simulate the hills, etc. If you have a power meter, you don't even have to rely on Zwift's rather optimistic 'Zpower' estimate of power output from rear wheel speed and trainer make and model. For workouts, if you're comfortable hitting the specified power and cadence and maintaining it, you don't need Erg Mode.

But, having done Zwift on a dumb trainer, and on a smart trainer, I can tell you that the smart trainer is much more engaging and "life-like". You can just ride, without having to do counterintuitive things like shifting to a higher gear on hills. You get to a hill, it becomes harder to pedal, so you shift to a lower gear, just like you would on the road. Reach the top it becomes easier so you click up a couple gears and softpedal for a bit, rather than clicking DOWN a couple gears to mimic the downhill. It just feels more like riding and you can let your mind wander as it might on the road.

In workouts, you can just spin the pedals, make your legs turn them no matter what power you have to put out. All YOU have to think about is keeping them going, not "Oops! I overshot, now I have to lighten up. Oh, damn! Not that much, now I need more power. Aw crap! Not that much!!" Well, that's MY experience doing workouts without Erg Mode. And if you like, you can turn off Erg Mode and just run Level Mode and do it just like a dumb trainer.

BTW, in case it hasn't been made clear, there are essentially 3 modes:
Sim Mode: The trainer adjusts resistance based on your input weight and the virtual terrain to mimic the gradient you're on. You can change the extent to which it mimics the gradient from 100% down to 0%, but your "speed" in-game is strictly determined by your power output. All that changes is how often you need to change gears.

Level Mode: The trainer runs at a fixed resistance no matter the gradient. This is one of two choices in Workout Mode, generally. You have to hit and maintain the power levels yourself. The other mode is...

Erg Mode: The trainer adjusts the resistance to so that you have to push the specified power to spin at the current cadence. And yeah - if your cadence slows, the resistance increases, and if you keep slowing you WILL go into "Death Spiral", where the resistance keeps chasing the cadence till you can't turn the pedals anymore. But as mentioned above, Zwift will realize you've stopped and turn down the resistance while you spin back up and then when you're stable at the specified power it will turn Erg Mode back on.

So, no, you don't NEED a smart trainer. But it's more fun.
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Old 10-09-23, 03:45 PM
  #32  
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Well, I was mulling, window shopping, going back and forth...

and then today I saw Sy Reenes PSA about the Elite Direto XRT selling for $399 (plus shipping)
Alternative the Zwift Hub - PSA

And I went for it.

Delivery expected soon.

Thanks all.
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Old 10-11-23, 02:15 PM
  #33  
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Follow up question about smart trainers. Iím slowly becoming convinced I should get one.

Is a 5 year old model still good? I see lots of used ones, the wheel off version, for between $200-$300. Is that a good deal or would it be better to spend $600 on a brand new one?

Looking them up, they all cost between $700 and $1200 new. Technology steadily improves, Iím sure the newest models are better, even at lower new prices. Are these good or just someone elseís junk?

I could see that a lot of exercise equipment gathers dust and gets very little use. So some would be almost brand new, just old, with dated technology.

On the other hand, these are indoor trainers, so they could look brand new and have 5000 hours. I donít know how Iíd tell the difference.
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Old 10-11-23, 07:33 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by rosefarts
Follow up question about smart trainers. Iím slowly becoming convinced I should get one.

Is a 5 year old model still good? I see lots of used ones, the wheel off version, for between $200-$300. Is that a good deal or would it be better to spend $600 on a brand new one?

Looking them up, they all cost between $700 and $1200 new. Technology steadily improves, Iím sure the newest models are better, even at lower new prices. Are these good or just someone elseís junk?

I could see that a lot of exercise equipment gathers dust and gets very little use. So some would be almost brand new, just old, with dated technology.

On the other hand, these are indoor trainers, so they could look brand new and have 5000 hours. I donít know how Iíd tell the difference.
Not anymore. See Alternative the Zwift Hub - PSA

Or the Garmin Tacx is $500.
https://www.performancebike.com/garm...0s.60/p1011800

so the difference between new and used is narrower than you might think.

That said, I have no opinion on the pluses and minuses of buying a used older model.
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Old 10-11-23, 08:07 PM
  #35  
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ERG mode on Zwift:
I created a custom training workout for Zone 2 rides:
A short warmup, then repeats of:
8 minutes Zone 2 watts, then 30 seconds free ride. I copied and pasted this set to make a session take about an hour.
I originally did just a very long Zone 2 block, but I need to stand up or stretch my legs -- I can't spin for 45 or 60 minutes with no change.

Since the workout keeps the resistance within a narrow wattage range, I can use any gear--picking a middle cassette cog for a quiet, smooth chainline. If I briefly pedal harder, the watts temporarily go up a lot, and my cadence increases. Then the resistance settles back to the correct range if I just pedal normally. Nice!

I can ride this in any Zwift map, and my speed is based on the current Zone 2 watts... If the hill is very steep, I'm riding very slow there, but can't fall over, unlike the real world.

Zwift riding has been good for my pedal stroke efficiency outdoors: It's much harder for me to maintain the same indoor watts that I can do comfortably outdoors, since there's no micro coasting within a pedal revolution--is there a term for this effect? The Kickr trainer seemed unexpectedly difficult on the first few rides, but then I adapted, and that carries over to riding in the real world for me.

~~~
What I do on Zwift:
Winter group rides! We are on Discord for voice chats, and use the "keep together" option: a rider a few seconds off the back will be "rubber banded" to stay close, as long as they keep pedaling. It's usually one lap of one of the courses, or else a timed ride.
Zone 2 rides as mentioned above, and occasional other workouts.
Pacer group rides, with a bot setting a watts per kilogram pace as advertized. The bot is looping the route 24 hours a day, with riders teleporting in whenever they want. Now its a lot nicer, since there's pacer teleport button, to switch to faster or slower speed groups within the ride, or catch back on if the rider gets dropped. I like these.

Event rides, often with huge groups on a fun course.
Climb portals: Real life famous climbs with the actual gradients. No real scenery, just real climbing.
Free rlding on the maps -- I like this a lot.

Last edited by rm -rf; 10-11-23 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 10-12-23, 05:08 AM
  #36  
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I'm using a 7 year old Wahoo KICKR wheel on trainer that Zwift says has about 700 hours on it. Still going strong - the old bike I use on it only has a 7 speed rear cluster and I don't want to mess with spacers.

But, personally, if I was starting today and had a more modern bike to sit on the trainer, I'd go for one of the new low-end wheel-off models. Check out DC Rainmaker's reviews here.

One risk of used with lots of Zwift mileage:

Zwift has a "Trainer Difficulty" setting that is at 50% by default. It does not make it easier to ride fast or uphill, it basically means you have to shift less as terrain varies. You can set it to 100 and be closer to real life or you can set it to 0 and never feel gradient changes at all.

Lot of controversy on that but what it means at 50% or lower is that the rider may just sit in the same gear across all/most hours of use, and wear out that cog or just a few cogs on the cassette.

Before I understood that setting, I did just that on the rear cassette of the old Trek 520 that now is dedicated to Zwift.

So, if you do buy a wheel-off one used, make sure you at least inspect that cassette!

Originally Posted by rosefarts
Follow up question about smart trainers. Iím slowly becoming convinced I should get one.

Is a 5 year old model still good? I see lots of used ones, the wheel off version, for between $200-$300. Is that a good deal or would it be better to spend $600 on a brand new one?

Looking them up, they all cost between $700 and $1200 new. Technology steadily improves, Iím sure the newest models are better, even at lower new prices. Are these good or just someone elseís junk?

I could see that a lot of exercise equipment gathers dust and gets very little use. So some would be almost brand new, just old, with dated technology.

On the other hand, these are indoor trainers, so they could look brand new and have 5000 hours. I donít know how Iíd tell the difference.
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