A bicycle trainer is a piece of equipment that makes it possible to ride a bicycle while it remains stationary. A popular choice among cyclists these are commonly used to warm up before races, or when riding conditions outside are not favorable. Almost all bicycles can easily be used by most trainers.

Read our blog post – BEGINNERS GUIDE TO ZWIFT – to understand the Zwift Platform in detail

We will now help you set up Zwift with your trainer and kick off your first ride!


There are three basic things you need to kick off your first ride

  1. An Indoor Trainer
  2. Your Bike
  3. A Device to run Zwift on

The geek in you wanting to take your Zwift setup to the next level, well you can easily slap on these too

  1. A Heart Rate Monitor
  2. Speed Sensor
  3. Cadence Sensor
  4. Power Meter

Whew! That’s getting ahead of ourselves. Lets set back and enjoy our basic Zwift setup.


Zwift is a piece of software (an app) that engages with your trainer and opens up the virtual world where you can connect with cyclists across the globe. So, apart from an Indoor Trainer and a bike, you’re going to be needing a device to run Zwift on.

Computers: the Zwift app can be downloaded from the website and can be used on both Windows and MacOS.

  • Windows 7 (64 bit): ANT+ supported if you plug in an ANT+ dongle, Bluetooth supported on Windows 10 with Bluetooth 4.0. We recommend using ANT+ on Windows since Windows Bluetooth is still in beta on Zwift.
  • MacOS 10.9 or higher: ANT+ supported if you plug in an ANT+ dongle, Bluetooth also supported.

Smartphones/Tablets: You can run the Zwift app on a slew of mobile devices, but they need to be Bluetooth enabled to connect and engage with your trainer. The current list of approved devices are.

  • iOS Platform – iPhone/iPads/iPods
  • Android Platform – phones/tablets
  • AppleTV

You can also use your Smartphone/Tablet alongside your main Computer as a companion app to enhance the whole Zwifting experience. More on this later!


Head over to Zwift.com and create an account for yourself.

They have a free trial period (7 days at the time of writing this article) and it’s a great way to check out the platform.


At this point, you will need to pair your trainer and/or any additional sensors (heart rate, cadence/speed sensors & power meters).

Device pairing on Zwift
The blue tiles indicate a successful pairing

After pairing a power source (for smart trainers) or a speed sensor (for classic trainers) you can pair all additional sensors (Heart Rate & Cadence) and you’re ready to ride.


Trainer calibration is critical to ensure your trainer readings in Zwift are accurate and consistent. This allows you to make the most out of all your Zwift workouts.

Zwift recommends that you recalibrate your trainer on a weekly basis or if you change its location.

  • Classic trainer and a speed sensor: When setting up your bike on a classic trainer, make sure your rear tire is properly inflated and that you set the trainer tension according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Zwift uses the reading from your speed sensor and the stored power curve of your trainer to calculate virtual power or zPower.
  • Smart trainer: It’s a good idea to calibrate a smart trainer regularly following the manufacturer’s instructions (usually after a good warm-up). If you’re using a wheel-on smart trainer instead of direct drive, also make sure your rear tire is properly inflated. With a controllable smart trainer, you can set the trainer difficulty to change how it simulates gradients on the virtual roads, or use ERG mode to help hit your targets in structured workouts.
  • Rollers: To use Zwift with rollers, it’s best to have either a power meter or a set of smart rollers that will transmit power to Zwift. Follow the instructions for getting started with a smart trainer or power meter above. You can use Zwift with a speed sensor and a normal set of rollers, but your estimated power probably won’t be accurate. In that case, set it up as a classic trainer.

And you’re mostly done.

The Startup screen has a few options – the “Ride” button to get going right away, “Training” for a structured workout, and “Routes” to browse the available routes.


Join a group ride in 2 simple steps –

  1. From the game screen, click on which category you are signing up for (most rides only have one category, labeled “A”) and you’re done. Events show up in-game a few hours before they start. The calendar is being constantly updated by Zwift, so if you don’t see an event listed that is only a day or two away, you should check back later.
  1. After registering you may begin your ride on whatever route you’d like. While riding, click the “Join Event” button at the bottom-left to be transported to the staging area for your event. If you do not click “Join Event” but continue riding, the game will pop up a warning that your event is starting soon, and will automatically take you to the start area if you click nothing and continue to ride.


Race from home

Start races on Zwift in 2 simple steps –

  1. Head over to the Zwift calendar or use the Zwift Companion app to see a list of upcoming races.
  2. Once you’ve chosen a race, read the race description. It should contain everything you need to know about that race’s rules, route, etc. Different races have different rules and routes. Reading the race details completely will help you perform well.

Just like real-life racing, most Zwift races organize riders into categories based on fitness level. Different races use different categorization schemes, but most use Functional Threshold Power (FTP)

Not aware of your FTP? Well, you can easily calculate it using Zwift! How cool is that

There you go! We hope this has made your first Zwift ride easier. There is plenty you can do in the Zwift universe once you know your way around.

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About the Author

Shaun George

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING I'm an avid mountain biker and I like riding fast and flowy singletrack. As I keep riding, I continuously work on honing my riding skills. I like to ride whenever possible, especially with friends. I also like to influence folk into getting to ride more often. Working on bicycles has also been a keen interest of mine for quite some time. DISCIPLINE: Mountain biking and Road biking CURRENT BIKE: Merida One Twenty 9.600 & Specialized Allez Elite DSW DREAM BIKE: Santa Cruz 5010

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