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zwift trainer difficult setting

Old 01-30-24, 02:19 PM
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zwift trainer difficult setting

i started a "Please come back" free 30 trial last night. wanted to go up the tower. got to the first climb just after that Howard Hughes spruce goose looking thing. 10% grade, man was i spinning fast. then realized that damn setting. i could not find it. where have they put it? but now wondering if i connected to my trainer incorrectly. i connected as an FEC trainer. "C" as in controllable. but i recall seeing a resistance option too. do i need to connect with that? i'll give it a go tonight again.
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Old 01-30-24, 02:33 PM
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go to Menu on the early Pairing screen, find Settings, then Trainer Difficulty.
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Old 01-30-24, 03:46 PM
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If your trainer is up to it, the Radio Tower is a nasty piece of work in itís 100% full glory. I was grinding up it in a near 1:1 gear at a cadence in the low 40s at around 250W the other day. Some other riders were spinning at 80+ alongside. I guess they have the difficulty set at the default 50% or less.

The setting is now on one of 2 tabs on the settings screen. I think you might have to scroll down the page too, but itís not too hard to find.
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Old 01-30-24, 04:02 PM
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ok. i'll check out those menu locations. i know the tower is tough at 100% but wouldn't have it any other way. my last season with zwift (2021) i used to do the tower 2 or 3 times once zwift put in that shortcut to get back. it was my more interesting training session.
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Old 01-30-24, 04:34 PM
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The Zwift Climb Portal is pretty cool too.
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Old 01-30-24, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger
ok. i'll check out those menu locations. i know the tower is tough at 100% but wouldn't have it any other way. my last season with zwift (2021) i used to do the tower 2 or 3 times once zwift put in that shortcut to get back. it was my more interesting training session.
Yeah I like it too. It is actually a good sim for our more brutal local climbs, some of which are well over 20% and many are in the same range as the Radio Tower.

Going full gas up the Epic KOM and then hitting the Tower climb is a tough challenge. Iíve been well into the red a few times when starting the RT climb and then it becomes a survival challenge!

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Old 01-30-24, 08:17 PM
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found the setting. for some reason zwift automatically connectged to my trainer as both a power source and resistance. i don't recall that from a couple of years ago.

got to do the tower twice again. i am impressed with myself. back in'21 i always had to do that OOS. this time i was able to stay seated the entire way up and for me pushed some pretty big numbers. second time was more relaxed and definitely OOS just before the altitude sign.

speaking of altitude sign, i just figured out what those signs mean. i always thought they meant an alternate route x meters away
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Old 01-31-24, 09:28 AM
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I keep that setting at 50% and my trainer can only simulate 12% grades or something like that? and I still struggle going up those damn KOMs. More power to someone who kicks that up to 100% and enjoys it. I try and choose the flatter routes when I have the option.
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Old 01-31-24, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger
found the setting. for some reason zwift automatically connectged to my trainer as both a power source and resistance. i don't recall that from a couple of years ago.

got to do the tower twice again. i am impressed with myself. back in'21 i always had to do that OOS. this time i was able to stay seated the entire way up and for me pushed some pretty big numbers. second time was more relaxed and definitely OOS just before the altitude sign.

speaking of altitude sign, i just figured out what those signs mean. i always thought they meant an alternate route x meters away
Good effort!

Iím OOS for nearly all of the Tower climb in my lowest gear (35/33). Cadence is just too low to stay seated for long unless Iím hitting well over 300W. But Iím not really a fast climber at 82kg. If I take it easy on the Epic KOM I can average 300W on the Radio Tower, but not when I ride hard on the KOM.
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Old 01-31-24, 02:10 PM
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thanks. i consider it an achievement for myself. today will be an easy slow day. not sure if i'll do a slow group in zwift or in rouvy. thinking zwift since the ride just goes on and on and on.
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Old 01-31-24, 03:45 PM
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wow, 100% setting. I would just bog down until my cadence got so low that the Kickr would boost the resistance so high for that cadence that I couldn't turn the pedals, even while standing up.

I do lots of 8%, 10%, 12% local climbs outdoors with no problems, mostly staying seated. The equivalent in Zwift seems a lot harder. Maybe because even a slight pause or hesitation in my pedal stroke will drop the cadence down.

35-45% approx is what I use, perfect for my "old guy" watts, 80 to 95 rpm even on the steepest bits.
I really like the Zwift climbs at these settings. The Climb Portals are a lot of fun and a challenge. I see some riders doing 30-40 rpm on them -- I don't think they know about the adjustment.

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Old 02-01-24, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf
wow, 100% setting. I would just bog down until my cadence got so low that the Kickr would boost the resistance so high for that cadence that I couldn't turn the pedals, even while standing up.

I do lots of 8%, 10%, 12% local climbs outdoors with no problems, mostly staying seated. The equivalent in Zwift seems a lot harder. Maybe because even a slight pause or hesitation in my pedal stroke will drop the cadence down.

35-45% approx is what I use, perfect for my "old guy" watts, 80 to 95 rpm even on the steepest bits.
I really like the Zwift climbs at these settings. The Climb Portals are a lot of fun and a challenge. I see some riders doing 30-40 rpm on them -- I don't think they know about the adjustment.
Not to hijack the thread but IRL I climb a local grade that I think averages 6% but has plenty of 8-10% parts at a rather low cadence, 30-40 rpm. In Zwift i have my difficulty set at 50%. Are you saying that if I dropped that down I could for the same effort spin faster on climbs? Would that also slow my pace? I try to run a balance of time and distance. I have goals for both. Strava goals are distance based to take in multiple apps and outdoor. Zwift weekly goal is time based and a bit lower than Strava to allow for completion if I choose to do other apps. My understanding is that if you decrease difficulty you will go slower. Zwift requires a set amount of work (watts) to gain altitude and there is no changing that other than switching to workout mode.
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Old 02-01-24, 11:12 AM
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i like the trainer because it can mimic reality so i keep it at 100% on those apps that allow it to be changed. that said, i would assume your pace would be the same assuming your power is the same regardless of the difficulty setting. but then i have not experimented with this.
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Old 02-01-24, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Black wallnut
Not to hijack the thread but IRL I climb a local grade that I think averages 6% but has plenty of 8-10% parts at a rather low cadence, 30-40 rpm. In Zwift i have my difficulty set at 50%. Are you saying that if I dropped that down I could for the same effort spin faster on climbs? Would that also slow my pace? I try to run a balance of time and distance. I have goals for both. Strava goals are distance based to take in multiple apps and outdoor. Zwift weekly goal is time based and a bit lower than Strava to allow for completion if I choose to do other apps. My understanding is that if you decrease difficulty you will go slower. Zwift requires a set amount of work (watts) to gain altitude and there is no changing that other than switching to workout mode.
It's possible to make the same watts at 100 rpm as at 60 rpm. Same watts, same climbing speed. But it's likely that a lot of riders like me at low Trainer Difficulty are going slower up these long climbs.

(Even in ERG mode in a workout, Zwift still has accurate climbing speeds. I was just doing a cooldown at the end of an interval workout. 70 watts at 12% grade is just 1 or 2 mph, as indicated! My avatar was crawling up the hill, but it's legs were spinning away. I do like ERG mode workouts, since the terrain doesn't affect the scheduled workout at all.)
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Old 02-01-24, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Black wallnut
Not to hijack the thread but IRL I climb a local grade that I think averages 6% but has plenty of 8-10% parts at a rather low cadence, 30-40 rpm. In Zwift i have my difficulty set at 50%. Are you saying that if I dropped that down I could for the same effort spin faster on climbs? Would that also slow my pace? I try to run a balance of time and distance. I have goals for both. Strava goals are distance based to take in multiple apps and outdoor. Zwift weekly goal is time based and a bit lower than Strava to allow for completion if I choose to do other apps. My understanding is that if you decrease difficulty you will go slower. Zwift requires a set amount of work (watts) to gain altitude and there is no changing that other than switching to workout mode.
No it wouldn't slow you down. Half the torque, double the cadence, same power, same speed. Basically simulates big old cogs on the back

Did the AdZ tonight on that Tour stage 6, got a PR having not done it for over a year, and suffered greatly.
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Old 02-02-24, 09:19 AM
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Since we drifted to the other end of the scale from the OP, I dropped my trainer difficulty to 25%, and I like it a lot better. Still enough that you can pedal downhill, but the climbs aren't as bad. You can always shift up. I should try zero trainer difficulty, but I suspect that would feel weird.
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Old 02-05-24, 08:12 PM
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I did the climb today and about halfway up the KOM I set the difficulty to around 25% to give myself more gears. But that's all it really does. It doesn't make the climb any easier. It just lets you spin more easily but you then go slower, just like shifting to a lower gear would. I left it there through the end of the ride even on the big downhill.
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Old 02-06-24, 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
Since we drifted to the other end of the scale from the OP, I dropped my trainer difficulty to 25%, and I like it a lot better. Still enough that you can pedal downhill, but the climbs aren't as bad. You can always shift up. I should try zero trainer difficulty, but I suspect that would feel weird.
Just like a dumb trainer then. Not good.
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Old 02-06-24, 06:26 AM
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I started using my kickr with trainerroad, and I liked that I never had to shift. In fact, my front shift lever is on my downtube because I never had to use it. Zwift is going to make me change that. One thing that always annoyed me about zwift was that I had to shift. I'm pretty sure there is less shifting with lower trainer difficulty, but I'll admit it confuses me. I changed after I rode the climbing portal and I didn't have low enough gears for the hill I was on. I live in an area with plenty of 20% grades, and zwift's 20% grades are ridiculously difficult in comparison.
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Old 02-06-24, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster
I did the climb today and about halfway up the KOM I set the difficulty to around 25% to give myself more gears. But that's all it really does. It doesn't make the climb any easier. It just lets you spin more easily but you then go slower, just like shifting to a lower gear would. I left it there through the end of the ride even on the big downhill.
What it doesn't do at low settings - match real life climbing situations. You may as well not even climb...

I'm finishing up a few months of zone 2 training. The harder climbs with the trainer set at 100% didn't really allow for zone 2 work - I'm not climbing ADZ in zone 2 at real power levels. I'm really not climbing the radio tower or the raised roads in NYC at Z2 levels. For me 17% grade in real life = above threshold.

Even if I did ADZ at a higher level of power, the cadence won't match real life conditions. 250w at 85 RMP is a whole different animal than 250W at 65-70 RPM.

And my trainer gets wonky at high grades and low power output, even with some cadence in the mix.

My Z2 phase is over, and my training goals are for upcoming rides in the Alps - with the trainer now at 100%, the climbs are different animals.
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Old 02-06-24, 08:25 AM
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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 02-06-24, 08:55 AM
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I agree that it doesn't simulate real climbing because of the cadence mismatch but I detest real climbing anyway. I'd rather put my own eye out with a stick.

I like real descending though so I put up with it.
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Old 02-06-24, 09:14 AM
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The difficulty setting does NOT make the hills easier, it gives you a lower range of shifting. 15% is 15%. If you lower the setting like I did I could spin on a 15% grade in my lowest actual gears. In real life though you may be going so slow as to stall, but you never stall in Zwift because you are on a trainer. At one point I was doing 2mph. So, is that realistic? Maybe not. But from an effort standpoint it is still the same. When my butt started to hurt I stood and had to go to my big ring so I had enough resistance to stand. At that point I was around 250 watts, which I couldn't maintain anyway. I'm 69 years old and there's only so much I can do. That I do it at all surprises me sometimes. I had the setting at 25%. If I had it at 50% I'd have put it in a lower gear to get the same overall resistance/watts while standing. If at 100% lower gear still. But at 100% I'd have run out of low gears to spin and that would make it impossible for me.

10 years ago I attempted to climb Mt Haleakala in Maui, 10,000' of climbing over 36 miles. I had to stop at around 5800' not because I was too tired, although I was, I had just run out of gears. My low gear was a 34/28, which was lower than my own bike, but still not low enough. I'd have liked to have had a 34/34 so I could spin out where the grade had lessened enough to do that as a recovery point. 36 miles of continuous uphill is very hard even if it only goes to around 8% at points. When I attempted Haleakala in Rouvy I couldn't even make it up the first section. Something about Rouvy always seemed off, but that was years ago since I tried it.

The choice with Zwift is to have a bike with the gearing you ride with outside, or the gearing you might have if you are regularly doing 15% grades over a long distance. I would never even attempt a 15% grade to the radio tower, especially after already having climbed the KOM. I'd take one look and say fuhgeddaboudit. I was already close to the bottom of the list for the KOM.

Anyway, it is what it is. You have a choice.
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Old 02-06-24, 10:12 AM
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It does let you use imaginary gears that you don't really have though. I think physiologically as well as psychologically it makes it easier for most people. A cadence of 50-60 is very challenging for any length of time.
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Old 02-06-24, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster
The difficulty setting does NOT make the hills easier, it gives you a lower range of shifting. 15% is 15%. If you lower the setting like I did I could spin on a 15% grade in my lowest actual gears. In real life though you may be going so slow as to stall, but you never stall in Zwift because you are on a trainer. At one point I was doing 2mph. So, is that realistic? Maybe not. But from an effort standpoint it is still the same. When my butt started to hurt I stood and had to go to my big ring so I had enough resistance to stand. At that point I was around 250 watts, which I couldn't maintain anyway. I'm 69 years old and there's only so much I can do. That I do it at all surprises me sometimes. I had the setting at 25%. If I had it at 50% I'd have put it in a lower gear to get the same overall resistance/watts while standing. If at 100% lower gear still. But at 100% I'd have run out of low gears to spin and that would make it impossible for me.

10 years ago I attempted to climb Mt Haleakala in Maui, 10,000' of climbing over 36 miles. I had to stop at around 5800' not because I was too tired, although I was, I had just run out of gears. My low gear was a 34/28, which was lower than my own bike, but still not low enough. I'd have liked to have had a 34/34 so I could spin out where the grade had lessened enough to do that as a recovery point. 36 miles of continuous uphill is very hard even if it only goes to around 8% at points. When I attempted Haleakala in Rouvy I couldn't even make it up the first section. Something about Rouvy always seemed off, but that was years ago since I tried it.

The choice with Zwift is to have a bike with the gearing you ride with outside, or the gearing you might have if you are regularly doing 15% grades over a long distance. I would never even attempt a 15% grade to the radio tower, especially after already having climbed the KOM. I'd take one look and say fuhgeddaboudit. I was already close to the bottom of the list for the KOM.

Anyway, it is what it is. You have a choice.
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.
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