Spin® Life Blog

Where the Rubber Meets the Virtual Road – Spinning® with Zwift

Where the Rubber Meets the Virtual Road – Spinning® with Zwift

Posted by Spinning® on Sep 22nd 2021

You might have heard us say that Spinning® was born from the road, raised in the studio, and ready for your home. And now it’s come full circle. Pairing your Spinner® bike at home with the Zwift app is the ticket to training like a road cyclist, even if you don’t have an outdoor bike.

This is just one of the ways in which Spinning® bikes offer more versatility than you might have imagined. With easy-to-attach media mounts, you can use your mobile phone or tablet to connect to Spinning® Digital as well as any content you choose. If a virtual, gamified simulation of real-world cycling is your jam, take it from these three Spinning® ambassadors -- pairing your Spinner® bike with the Zwift app can completely next level your ride. Read on…

What is Zwift?

In laymen’s terms, Zwift is a video game that takes you into the heart of the virtual cycling world. If you have devices that read metrics like a cadence sensor, power crank, and/or a heart rate monitor, you can sync up your bike to ride in the Zwift world (actually six of them), which simulates 100% real-world cycling.

Let us set the stage -- say you have a Spinner® bike and you add a SPINPower® crank. (It’s also fine if you ride with just a cadence sensor or heart rate monitor.) In your Zwift profile, you add your sex and age…and then weight, which is crucial. Zwift will calculate your power-to-weight ratio as you ride at different power outputs. This actually equates to your precise speed through a given terrain, enabling you enjoy a real-world experience through Zwift.

So perhaps you’ve enjoyed Spinning® classes with an instructor. You’ve learned a lot about cycling technique, intensities and how to use resistance to simulate different terrain… Now you can apply your hard-earned skills in the Zwift world as the app does all the algorithmic calculations to make it as close to reality as possible.

Real People in a Fantastical Reality

Zwift rides get even better in the context of a community. You can actually ride virtually with other people – friends, family, coworkers, even strangers in far-off locales — to challenge you or just give you that feeling of riding with a pack — from the comfort and safety of your Spinner® bike at home.

Along those lines, we’ve talked to three members of our inner Spinning® circle – all with different cycling backgrounds – who are amped to share their individual Zwift experiences with you, specifically how and why they use Zwift.

JOSH TAYLOR, Spinning® Global Brand Ambassador, Senior Adviser and Master Instructor, and former professional cyclist, reveals his top five highlights of riding and racing with Zwift.

Zwift is a motivator.

Zwift keeps me really motivated. I will actually plan my day around the Zwift racing schedule. As a former pro, it’s allows me to race on my own terms. I can go down into my basement, jump on Zwift in premier cycling leagues and then race with guys with huge ability and huge talent. The races are always changing and dynamic with different terrain in the different Zwift worlds.

What I also love is that I can crank up my own music. I throttle up Volbeat, Metallica, ACDC…turn on Zwift and get after it. I play what I want. You can too.

Zwift simulates real-world cycling.

For example, in the real world, you contend with wind resistance…so whatever rider is in front takes the heat. If you sit behind that rider, you can enjoy 30-40% less effort to go the same speed. In Zwift, when you hit the wind, the algorithm makes it harder for the front rider. Along those lines, you can also enjoy riding in a pack, attacking off the front, drilling it up the hill…all the nuances of accelerating, coming out of corners – they’re all there in Zwift.

You can up-level your cycling with real-world coach workouts, group rides, and races.

You can choose from different workouts designed by real-world cycling athletes or you can join a group ride. There are group categories (A, B, C and so on), which allow you to ride with a group that you’re going to be challenged by or competitive in.

When I jump in an A race, it’s full gas, and I might be up against someone from the Tour de France. You can go up and down categories to fulfill your training needs or abilities. If you use the Zwift Companion app, you can also join a race any day of the week.

Zwift is a modest investment.

The nice thing about Zwift Racing is that it doesn’t require a huge amount of money or financial investment to do some racing. If you don’t have the budget to travel to do the big races, Zwift has all kinds of special events that allow riders with limited budget and time to really be competitive.

It’s great to see how Zwift races are benefiting the cycling world. Young riders are coming out of the woodwork every day who might have missed out in the traditional racing circuit due to finances. Zwift is far more accessible and now garners world-class talent that never would have been found otherwise. The virtual world is really something special.

It’s easy to get started with Zwift.

The first thing you’ll want to do is learn how to navigate Zwift. For instance, it’s important on a Spinner® bike to pay attention to the terrain (“percentage of grade” that is shown on screen), so you know to add or subtract resistance. You will also learn how drafting works – while riding in a group or behind riders as mentioned above. You should get accustomed to controlling your power output through resistance changes and RPM. It does take a little practice, but it’s pretty simple and easy to use over time, and you can apply what you learn through a variety of training rides.

Zwift will also allow you to do FTP fitness testing, which is cool because it allows you to truly benchmark progress through the program. It’s actually through the testing protocols that you know what category to enter into with Zwift racing, which can come when you’re ready.

Josh’s Spinning® + Zwift Setup

Josh rides a Spinner® commercial-grade bike with a SPINPower® Studio Crank, which sends his power and cadence data to the Zwift app. His heart rate monitor also syncs to Zwift.

He runs the Zwift app on his MacBook Pro and connects the computer to a large flat screen TV via an HDMI cable.

He also runs the Zwift Companion App on his iPhone, which sits securely on the handlebars.

ARIN SHIVARJOO, Director of Program Operations at Mad Dogg Athletics®, has also found the challenge of Zwift to be immensely rewarding in three major ways.

There’s no better way that I’ve found to get in shape.

When my father passed away in July 2020, I really lost myself. I quickly gained 20 pounds, and it came to a point where my resting heart rate was above 80 BPM. I heard about Zwift from the cycling community and decided to see what the fuss was about. Once I synced my Spinner® bike with a SPINPower® crank and heart rate monitor to the app the rest was history. I was addicted, hooked and couldn’t get enough of it.

From using Zwift almost daily, I’ve lost over 50 pounds and kept off the weight for almost over a year. This October will be my 1-year anniversary with Zwift.

I’m training like a cyclist with measurable performance gains.

Currently, I am 1/3 of the way through the Zwift Academy Program – just one of many ways to take advantage of the Zwift platform. The goal of the program is to measure progress, and help you boost your endurance and deliver quick surges in power. The program consists of a Baseline/Finish Line Ride, two blocks of three workouts, and two recovery rides. My current FTP is 170 – at 1.8 w/kg, and I have four more workouts and three more group rides through which I hope to improve even more.

There are sky-high “benefits” in a virtual world.

It’s a virtual world – or several different worlds, according to Zwift. There’s a limitlessness to Zwift, and you can take yourself to any height, any city, any landscape. You can unlock digital gear, level up, and meet some really cool people on the platform. It’s a never-ending challenge and fun.


Arin’s Spinning® + Zwift Setup

Arin rides a Spinner® home bike with a Spinning® Premium Gel Seat Cover.

He runs the Zwift app on iPad Pro, using the Spinning® Premier Tablet Mount, and the app gets his real-time heart rate, power and cadence data from his Spinning® Connect ™ Heart Rate Monitor and SPINPower® Performance Crank.

His iPhone on the handlebars runs the Zwift Companion App.

CESAR VALERA, a Spinning® Master Instructor who is also an endurance sports coach and former professional long distance triathlete, has been on Zwift since its earlier days in 2015. Cesar uses the app to race – uh hmm, with Josh! – and to train his clients. Cesar has discovered four more boons to pairing your Spinning® ride with Zwift.

Zwift dovetails with other training software.

Zwift’s platform pairs seamlessly with Today’s Plan and Training Peaks, two programs I use to provide workouts and training schedules to my clients. It’s easy to import these workouts (like any Spinning® profile, for instance) into Zwift. After the rides, I can see exactly how they did and analyze it. I can then use this data to streamline training for the future. It’s important to look at the bigger picture and the amount of work my clients get done throughout the month (or seasons), and Zwift captures that big picture.

People of all levels can ride together—just like in Spinning®

What’s really cool is that when I create a group ride through Meet Up, everyone can see all of the other avatars sitting on side of road as the time counts down. And then when the ride starts, you have all of these different people with diverse training goals and abilities riding together. It’s actually like a Spinning® class in that sense -- I get to ride with all of these people at the same time, regardless of their level.

There’s nothing better than competing with friends.

During the pandemic, I invited 200 athletes to join a triathlon team via Zwift. We were all craving community and competed through the pandemic together racing every single week for about an hour. By the end of 2020, everyone was really grateful and happy to have the opportunity to race with friends.

Are you ready to see what “Spinning® + Zwift” equates to for you?

Shop Spin® Bikes and Power Cranks today!