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Sat 29th Jan 2022
Review: Zwift - Cycling is Social
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Thursday 22nd October 2015

Tags  Richard Melik  |  Zwift

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Have you heard about Zwift ( yet? The Zwift Effect has been taking the indoor cycling world by storm over recent months, but how does it work, what does it offer and how might it help your cycling and triathlon performance?

Richard Melik ( has been using Zwift for several months now, and provides his review here of what Zwift offers now, but also highlights an interesting new addition that is being added next week which should make it, in his words, a game changer as a training resource.

We also got to chat in person to the development team at Zwift in Kona, and you can see that video below too.

Zwift to launch Workout Mode: October 29th, 2015

For most of us the race season is drawing to a close along with the arrival of long, dark nights and the inevitable wind, rain and ice. Time to lock the TT bike on to the turbo for six months of hard graft, boredom and staring at the wall.

Or, there is another option.

Zwift have been quietly changing the face of turbo training over the last 12 months, engaging a sizeable global community of cyclists for whom indoor training has become a preference rather than a reluctant necessity.

In its simplest form, Zwift is an online virtual reality experience that transmits the power output from your turbo or power meter to an on-screen cyclist and you are able to race against other riders in real time.


Each of the riders that you pass or are passed by are actual cyclists on a turbo in their living room or garage somewhere around the world. This very quickly becomes addictive.

You notice the name and country flag of the guy or girl that passes you up a hill and decide that you are not letting them go, dig in, get close enough to enjoy a drafting effect and sprint past over the brow of the hill. The resulting increase in fitness and ability through this increased motivation has been coined “The Zwift Effect” by the community.

All of this takes place on Watopia, a 9km loop around a virtual island that even uploads a map of your ride to Strava located on a tiny island in the Pacific. They are currently alternating this course with a digitised version of the 16km World Championship road race course in Richmond, Virginia so you can pretend to be Peter Sagan for an evening. More routes and courses are in plans for the future.


Ride more and ‘level up’ and get access to better bikes, better wheels and, most importantly, better kit designs. There are special rewards for riding a metric or imperial century and plenty of group rides and races organised on a daily basis to enhance the social aspects of the training.

The best experience is to pair your laptop to the new breed of ‘smart’ trainers such as the Wahoo Kickr or the Tacx Neo via an Ant+ connection. This allows the software to drive the resistance. Go uphill and pedalling becomes harder, downhill and the resistance drops. However, the minimum requirement means you can also enjoy the software with just a 'dumb' trainer and a speed sensor.


One of the advantages of Zwift - that it is very hard to ride a lap or two without getting drawn in to a virtual race and working harder than planned - is also the main criticism from a triathlon perspective.

Some days you want a structured session with specific power targets and getting drawn in to an 800 watt 10 second sprint may not have been what your coach had in mind for that particular evening.

As of the 29th October, Zwift are introducing Workout Mode to the software which will launch with a selection of power based sessions and in time there will be the ability to design and set up your own interval sessions with target power goals.


This is a game changer for the usefulness of Zwift as a training resource rather than simply a fun diversion from the boredom of turbo training.

With over 4.5 million miles having been logged on the platform to date it is clear that the company are doing a lot right and my experience during the year long beta phase is that they have been very regular in their updates of the software and every update has been incrementally better than the previous one. There remains huge scope for improving the product which is scary, as it is already extremely good.

At the same time as launching the new Workout Mode they are introducing a monthly subscription fee of £8 for UK users ($10 worldwide). There is no minimum monthly commitment and the subscription can be cancelled at any time. There is also a free trial period available for anyone wanting to try out the software before buying.


Zwift Co-Founder - Scott Barger in Kona

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