Since launching back in 2014, Zwift has taken cycling by storm, transforming people’s indoor training and letting them ride with other cyclists around the world in a choice of virtual worlds.
Unfortunately, despite being free for the first year of its life, in October 2015 Zwift introduced a monthly membership fee so members now have to pay £8 or $10 per month for the privilege of riding around Zwift Island and Watopia.
Then in November 2017 it announced a price increase – the new figure being £12.99 or $14.99 – though existing users will stay on the previous rate until November 2018.
However, if you’re not sure whether you want to commit to the cost, then Zwift offers a free trial of either 50km or two weeks (whichever is shorter).
Of course, if you want to use Zwift then you will need to spend money on a few things other than the Zwift membership. The most obvious thing you’ll need is a turbo trainer. Zwift will work perfectly well with a standard turbo trainer as long as you’ve also got a Bluetooth or ANT+ speed sensor or power meter on your bike. At its most basic (with a bottom of the range turbo trainer and speed sensor) this setup will cost not much more than £100.
Watch: buyer’s guide to turbo trainers
However if you want to get the most out of Zwift, then it might be worth thinking about buying a smart turbo trainer such as the Wahoo Kickr or Tacx Neo Smart. These will adjust their resistance based on the on-screen action; so if your on-screen avatar is climbing then it will feel harder, and if he or she is descending then it will feel easier. Unfortunately this sort of technology doesn’t come cheap, and you can be looking at a price range of £500-£1,000 depending on the sophistication of the turbo trainer.
Most users will also need an ANT+ dongle that plugs in to the USB port on your computer, allowing it to communicate with your speed, cadence, and power sensors. These can be bought for around £30. The only reason you wouldn’t need this is if you are a Mac user using Bluetooth sensors, in which case your computer will be able to connect to the sensors without a dongle.
Finally there are a number of other things you could do with to make your Zwift miles a bit more pleasant. The first thing is a towel with which to mop your brow if you’re workig hard (although we assume you already have one of these), but another good idea is to have a desk fan to cool you down. Finally, especially if you live in a flat with neighbours below, it can be a good idea to invest in a turbo trainer mat, which you position underneath your bike and turbo trainer in order to stop sweat from getting on the floor, and to reduce noise and vibration.