Zwift “overwhelmed” by response to turbo trainer game

Multiplayer turbo trainer game oversubscribed for beta programme

New online training platform Zwift has been “overwhelmed” by response to its launch last week.

So far, 10,000 people have applied to join its beta programme. There are spaces for just 1,000.

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Zwift is promising to revolutionise indoor cycling with its blend of game-like, hyper-realistic environments and competitive challenges. The platform combines with turbo trainers to allow riders to meet and race in virtual reality.

The idea isn’t new. Trainer company Tacx has been running multi-player races and events for the past few winter indoor seasons. Early pioneers Netathlon, an American company, also tried their hand at uniting riders in garages and spare rooms all over the world.

But Zwift looks different – and the early response suggests it may have more success than other companies, which have struggled to attract enough players.

Multi-player options and online racing are appealing methods of increasing motivation for indoor cyclists. But early attempts have not reached critical mass, with either a shortage of other riders to provide the competition or the need for expensive, sophisticated trainers and software tied to an individual provider.

Zwift has developed a platform that will work with high-end trainers or cheaper machines. Owners of sophisticated turbos like the Wahoo KICKR, will get the most accurate representation of their efforts in the online world.

But cheaper trainers can hook into the platform using speed/cadence sensors and an ANT+ dongle.

In just a few days, 10,000 riders have signed up for the new platform. And that’s despite an “embarrassing” glitch when Zwift realized that “in our excitement our new website didn’t go live until some hours after launch”.

Keen indoor riders trying to get access to Zwift’s beta programme filled in a survey but weren’t able to submit their details. That’s now been fixed.

Zwift is due to let potential beta testers know if they’ve got a place shortly. The platform should be open to all-comers in January.

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