Recently I asked one of our Clubmates about their thoughts on the new online/virtual trainer product ZWIFT.
It is certainly appearing to be gaining some traction. I haven't used the program so I thought I would post our "masked reviewer" or better yet "The Secret Pro's" take on Zwift.
I have had a look at Zwift and have the following comments:
• it is a video game with very good graphics (but I am not a video game fan); I prefer the real race footage of Sufferfest and even more just the plain screen info layout of Trainer Road. A proper trainer session requires clear instructions, good feedback and should aim at concentration rather than distraction.
• it requires entering info by keyboard or tablet as you ride to control your effort and partake in the “rewards” offered. SF and TR basically just provide effort and cadence requirements with some very useful instructions on style, breathing and technique. TR does provide for changing effort levels by changing your FTP during the ride if required.
• it only has one course format that includes sprinting, climbing, drafting etc enabling you to measure and compare your performance over time and with other participants. SF and TR offer many different workout formats based on different durations, intensities, and activities such as sprinting, climbing, time trailing etc. SF and TR also offer a variety of training plans based on different goals and riding types.
• Zwift and SF current show heart rate. TR plots heart rate on screen so you can see the cardiac arrest approaching!
• it requires your FTP but this appears to require using a separate app. TR and SF have formats for determining your FTP in a stable repeatable manner.
• it can control a smart trainer (I have a Wahoo Kickr - expensive but brilliant) with effort changes that sync with the course. TR also structures its workouts around your FTP and controls a smart trainer accordingly, meaning you just ride, suffer and change gears in hope (usually false) of easing the suffering. SF relies on subjective interpretation of effort levels, i.e. your own honesty.
I am impressed with the simplicity of TR (it hides a lot of sophisticated planning in the workouts) and with its ability to sync with the SF videos. The SF effort levels take on a new sense of suffering when directly linked to your FTP!
Zwift provides more of a game environment but could becoming boring with repetition of the same format. The racing against others obviously is meant to avoid this.
Hope this makes sense. Let me know if you want more info or to discuss. Obviously these programs are not really aimed at rollers and rely on power measuring for best outcomes. Quite a few non-smart trainers have virtual power calculations that can be used with these programs.
All the best
The Masked Reviewer