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zwift trainer difficult setting

Old 02-06-24, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
However you dress it up, reducing the Trainer Difficulty reduces the trainer slope resistance and makes it easier to pedal. Your avatar speed is realistic (based on virtual slope and power) but your trainer resistance is not realistic for the slope. How you use this setting depends on what you are trying to simulate. For some it's a way of compensating for a higher gearing on their trainer bike. For others it's simply a way of allowing them to ride a hilly course beyond their normal capability.
was going to say something similar. physically adding more lower gear range or lowering the virtual difficult does make climbing easier. they are the same thing essentially.
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Old 02-06-24, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger
was going to say something similar. physically adding more lower gear range or lowering the virtual difficult does make climbing easier. they are the same thing essentially.
What all this highlights for me is that even modern compact road gearing (typically a 1:1 lowest gear) is not ideally low enough for tackling long 15% climbs efficiently. Grinding away up the Zwift Radio Tower at 50 rpm and 250W is a lot harder than spinning at a comfortable 85 rpm with the same power. The pros are starting to think this way too. For example Roglic using a 1x with a 42T cassette on the Giro mountain TT vs Thomas with a more typical 2x setup. Their difference in cadence was obvious.
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Old 02-06-24, 02:10 PM
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i'm not really sure what my gearing is on my trainer setup but i had a look at the strava results and my average cadence was 75 with an average power of 252. its six minutes of pain. it was bad but not 15% the whole way. i recall some 12s and 13s in there, maybe even a few 11s. the fact that i got through 17% seated at that cadence/power still amazes me. the trainer is such a big help during winter.
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Old 02-06-24, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger
i'm not really sure what my gearing is on my trainer setup but i had a look at the strava results and my average cadence was 75 with an average power of 252. its six minutes of pain. it was bad but not 15% the whole way. i recall some 12s and 13s in there, maybe even a few 11s. the fact that i got through 17% seated at that cadence/power still amazes me. the trainer is such a big help during winter.
Sounds like your trainer is not simulating those steeper grades properly. With a 1:1 gear ratio, there is no way I can average 75 rpm on a 15% slope. I think I was bogging down in the low 50s standing at around 250W on the Radio Tower climb. For me 75 rpm is more typical of a 7% slope at that sort of power. Are you sure that your Zwift App is not set to the default 50% setting? Seated at a genuine 17% at 75 rpm cadence with normal road gearing would be seriously hauling close to 400W.
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Old 02-06-24, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Sounds like your trainer is not simulating those steeper grades properly. With a 1:1 gear ratio, there is no way I can average 75 rpm on a 15% slope. I think I was bogging down in the low 50s standing at around 250W on the Radio Tower climb. For me 75 rpm is more typical of a 7% slope at that sort of power. Are you sure that your Zwift App is not set to the default 50% setting? Seated at a genuine 17% at 75 rpm cadence with normal road gearing would be seriously hauling close to 400W.
well thanks for taking the wind out of my sail. guess i'll have to go check teh setting again next time i use zwift. or perhaps like you say the trainer is not up to the task. i weigh all of 68kg. the Direto i have claims 20 or 25% max grade, can't recall exactly.
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Old 02-07-24, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger
well thanks for taking the wind out of my sail. guess i'll have to go check teh setting again next time i use zwift. or perhaps like you say the trainer is not up to the task. i weigh all of 68kg. the Direto i have claims 20 or 25% max grade, can't recall exactly.
I happen to have a Direto X and it is certainly capable of simulating 15% gradients, especially at your weight. Iím about 10kg heavier than you. Iím betting your Zwift setting is at 50% or you have extremely low gearing on your bike.

I used my Direto a lot on the Radio Tower climb and it felt much the same as it does with my Kickr Bike ie a proper grind fest!

Just checked and I was actually down to 44 rpm at 260W on the steepest part of the Radio Tower climb in a 35/33 gear. At 60 rpm I was pulling around 300W. Averaging 75 rpm would be totally unrealistic unless I could sustain 375W, which I canít!
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Old 02-16-24, 07:56 AM
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More oddities with my Zwift trainer set at 100% -

FTP intervals on the flats are 30-40 watts higher than FTP intervals when climbing Ventoux. Same heart rate, reading 40 watts less. And typically I'm more efficient at putting out power at lower cadence.

Like I said before, my trainer at 100% on Ventoux puts my HR and perceived level of effort over the top.
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Old 02-16-24, 09:09 AM
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I did the radio tower again yesterday, but again had to lower the difficulty setting otherwise I wouldn't have made it. I look at my current results at 25% difficulty doing it vs. what I did 4-5 years ago at 50% though and it is still the same number of calories and calories are a fixed factor back to joules, which is watts x seconds. I may average fewer watts now, and it takes more time, but it is still the same amount of work. Somewhere in there though is a human efficiency factor, and is it more efficient to stand and grind or to spin? All the formulas just use 25% for that. As a spinner do I make better use of my output since I don't lose momentum with each chomp on the pedal at the bottom of the stroke? Ah, maybe. But if you want to spin you just get a smaller front ring or larger rear cog or both in real life.
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Old 02-16-24, 02:28 PM
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i keep forgetting to look at my indoor bike gearing. zwift is/was set for 100% difficulty. but if i recall the gearing i have is something like 1:0.9x. i recall getting this gearing when i replace the drive train at the end of 2022.

did Ventoux last night in Rouvy with 100% difficulty. it was not bad. numbers not as bad as the radio tower but also not as steep. got to the top in a respectable 1 hour 46 mins. more than a minute better than 2 years ago.
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Old 02-17-24, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster
Somewhere in there though is a human efficiency factor, and is it more efficient to stand and grind or to spin?
"Efficiency" is possibly not the right word. One thing I learned riding long distance is that if I stand, it means I have to eat sooner. So it uses more energy. I tend to stand a lot, so I just have to remember to eat. As far as zwift climbs, they probably don't last long enough to make this a factor. One year I did a lot of trainer work on TrainerRoad where I usually stood up to do the longer intervals. Then I found out IRL I had to stand more than I wanted to climb well. So there is a big factor about how you train and what muscles you use the most. That year at least, I was better off standing during climbs. Since I ride a lot of gravel, where climbing out of the saddle isn't really possible most of the time, I have gotten better at climbing while seated. At one time I just couldn't make myself do it.
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Old 02-22-24, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger
the only reason why i wanted to set the difficultly level to 100 is simply because i have no choice outdoors. and the reason why i have a trainer in the first place is to maintain my ability for when outdoor riding becomes feasible for me. before the trainer i always felt like it was nearly starting over again. not any more.

while poking around Rouvy's settings i found a difficulty setting too. did not know they had one. it goes up to 150% (IIRC). thank you, but, no.
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Old 02-22-24, 06:18 PM
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I have thought about replacing my Kick'r Snap wheel-on trainer with a direct drive, esp. since BikeCloset has Elite smart trainers for under $500, but the Snap, at my weight, can't simulate anything higher than about 8-10%. No matter the virtual gradient, in 36x32 I can't go much higher than about 260w. I'm not sure I want to really emulate the Radio Tower gradients!
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Old 02-23-24, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
I have thought about replacing my Kick'r Snap wheel-on trainer with a direct drive, esp. since BikeCloset has Elite smart trainers for under $500, but the Snap, at my weight, can't simulate anything higher than about 8-10%. No matter the virtual gradient, in 36x32 I can't go much higher than about 260w. I'm not sure I want to really emulate the Radio Tower gradients!
Go for it. I'm not sure I know which is more of an achievement, the Radio Tower or Alpe du Zwift. Alpe is definitely longer and a real slog unless you ride the TdF, but the Radio Tower is steeper for a long stretch. It is torture either way and should be banned by the Geneva Convention. I've done both in the last week and I feel it.
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Old 02-23-24, 08:05 AM
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try the "four horsemen" route. you will love it!
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Old 02-23-24, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster
Go for it. I'm not sure I know which is more of an achievement, the Radio Tower or Alpe du Zwift. Alpe is definitely longer and a real slog unless you ride the TdF, but the Radio Tower is steeper for a long stretch. It is torture either way and should be banned by the Geneva Convention. I've done both in the last week and I feel it.
I rode AdZ in its full 100% glory yesterday. I find it an interesting climb with its numerous gradient changes and spots where you can recover a little. The Radio Tower is more of a constant gradient grindfest with nowhere to hide! A nasty brut of a climb, but at least itís fairly short.

I noticed that most of the other guys in the group ride were not riding AdZ at 100%. Their cadence was far too high for any normal road gearing. Even though power required is the same, it is far easier at 80 rpm than slugging away at 60 rpm or less at times.
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Old 02-23-24, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
I have thought about replacing my Kick'r Snap wheel-on trainer with a direct drive, esp. since BikeCloset has Elite smart trainers for under $500, but the Snap, at my weight, can't simulate anything higher than about 8-10%. No matter the virtual gradient, in 36x32 I can't go much higher than about 260w. I'm not sure I want to really emulate the Radio Tower gradients!
Go for it. I went from a bkool wheel-on to a kickr core direct drive. it is a completely different, much enhanced, experience.
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Old 02-23-24, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger
try the "four horsemen" route. you will love it!
60 miles and BOTH climbs? No thanks.
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Old 02-23-24, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster
60 miles and BOTH climbs? No thanks.
did it once. would not do it again. just too long for a single trainer ride. IIRC it took me about 2 hours or more. that is a lot of saddle time with no red lights.
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Old 02-23-24, 12:43 PM
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2 hours? It took me 2 hours just to do AdZ! At 60 miles that would be 30mph going uphill. No offense but I just don't think so. In the end it wasn't my legs that hurt so much it was my butt. I did make it a point to stop at 1000', 2000', 2500' and the one hour mark, usually at the route markers.

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Old 02-23-24, 01:31 PM
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4 Horsemen took me 3 hrs 35 mins at an average 25 kph. Non-stop, no breaks.
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Old 02-23-24, 02:03 PM
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ok, now i'm goign to have to look at what i did. i probably overestimated my greatness...

ok, not so great...3 hours 26 minutes. by butt hurts thinking about 3.5 hrs in the saddle. in my defense it was a long time ago.

https://www.strava.com/activities/4670594490

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Old 02-23-24, 02:52 PM
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OK then. 3.5 hours in the saddle is OK outside, but definitely not indoors, and that's definitely faster than I could do it. I wouldn't last on the saddle that long. Outdoors I can go all day and may be a little uncomfortable at the end, but indoors is just too constant.
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Old 02-23-24, 04:32 PM
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Climbing that long is definitely no fun, my knees can't take it and I feel like climbing on a trainer is much worse than outside.
But getting off the bike and letting it coast back down is definitely better done inside. Outside it wouldn't be prudent.
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Old 02-23-24, 07:36 PM
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I got off the bike and let it coast down AdZ but then realized it's pointless and just ended the ride. I checked afterwards in RidewithGPS and it didn't count the time against my watts anyway so my average was the same.
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Old 02-24-24, 09:21 AM
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Strava shows that distance, never looked at RWGPS. I'm always surprised to see that some of my friends use RWGPS like most people use strava. I should probably set that up now that strava hates free users so much.

Looking for routes on rwgps, it would be really nice if they didn't show indoor rides where people used their gps to record the ride but the ride is just a squiggle around their house.
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