By Rick Schultz
New ZWIFT Direct Drive Trainer
I’m running this on ROUVY
- Easy 5-minute assembly
- Solid trainer for the price
- Zwift tries to force you into creating a paid membership. After three days of prodding, Zwift finally said that you can calibrate without a subscription.
- After firmware update, Zwift Hub no longer communicates with the Zwift companion app (used to control the trainer) so you will need to unplug then plug the trainer back in.
Part 2: Installing, Updating and Riding
Preamble: I want to use the Zwift Hub trainer with ROUVY, not with Zwift. At first it seemed that Zwift forces the user into creating a paid membership. You get 30 days free then charges will appear on your card. You need to physically cancel your subscription otherwise you will be charged their monthly rate. If you accidentally subscribe and want to cancel the subscription, click here – https://support.zwift.com/en_us/canceling-your-membership-Sky82qONr
Before we get started: You will first need to download and install the Zwift Companion app onto your cell phone or tablet. Go to your app store of choice (Apple or Android) to get the app. Zwift will also take you there. This companion app will allow you to update the trainer’s firmware.
My Platform Experience: Yours Might Vary
I use ROUVY, which is probably different than most people who will buy this trainer to ride on Zwift. ROUVY is the best platform for what I wanted out of indoor cycling, but your choice might be different. As with every cycling app, there are some issues. So far, most issues have a workaround, and you can find a solution by looking through the three ROUVY groups on Facebook. Three of the biggest issues are,
- The platform seems to work best if you connect via Bluetooth, not ANT+. If you connect via ANT+, your trainer seems to randomly disconnect, then reconnect 5-30 seconds later. With BLU, there is usually no issue. For the best user experience, it also helps if you download the route first instead of running the route off their server.
- Elite trainers don’t work well with ROUVY. I have had major issues before as well as others currently still having issues trainer-related issues. Here is an example of how 2 different trainers handle the same route. Most of User X spikes are due to a trainer issue/incompatibility, my spikes are due to shifting.
- ROUVY offers no spindown test to calibrate the trainer. My other trainer, a Wahoo KICKR doesn’t need to do this calibration, but Zwift recommends performing this calibration on the Zwift Hub trainer at least once a week. Currently, there is no option in ROUVY to perform a spindown calibration test. A spindown calibration should only take a few seconds but needs to be performed when the trainer is at operating temperature, i.e., after about 10 minutes of riding. So, how to do a calibration test? Contact Zwift of course.
NOTE: Most manufacturers require that their power meters be calibrated before each ride. Most are susceptible to temperature variations so if you want the most accurate readings from your power meter(s), you should calibrate them at the same temperature that you will be riding/training at.
So, instead of spending time trying to figure out how to calibrate the trainer, I decided to just give it a spin. The results with the Zwift Hub trainer were pretty smooth. Today’s course (see above) was 9.2 miles (14.8km) and 1900 feet (579m) of climbing (all under 10% grade). Although I did not perform a spin down calibration, the effort seemed on-par with the Wahoo KICKR.
One thing I forgot to do was to reset my rear derailleur, so it was slightly positioned to the right of the gear it should be in meaning that I had to really ease up on the pedals when shifting – hence the dozen low-power dropouts in the chart above. After the ride, I put the Di2 into program mode and clicked the lever 5x to get it to shift better – something you might also have to do with a new trainer.
The other thing you might need to do is replace the cassette that comes with the trainer. The Wahoo has an 11-32, the Hub came with an 11-28.
So, contacting Zwift Support, they said you need to sign up for a free seven day trial then physically go to https://zwift.com/cancellation and cancel each time you want to do a spindown test. WHAT?!?
The next day I received another email from Zwift saying that I can now log in to do the spindown calibration without having to enter the app. Basically one group says yes, the other no, guess we will have to wait until the seven days expires then see what actually happens.
Lastly, I logged into ROUVY (running on windows 11) and clicked on Connecting Devices. I removed Wahoo but ROUVY had trouble finding the trainer. It was then I remembered that for most devices, if you upgrade the firmware, you also need to reboot the device. A quick unplug from the wall, wait 30 seconds, and plug back in – Rouvy found and connected to it right away.
But that was only the beginning of the next big issue. Zwift recommends at least once-a-month you perform a spindown calibration. The issue is that Zwift assumes that if you use their trainer, that you are also using their app via paid monthly subscription. All I want to do is use their app to perform their recommended spindown calibration.
Contacting chat support, we walked through four different scenarios, all of which asked for your credit card. Of course, you will need to create a paid subscription account, perform the spindown calibration then cancel the membership right after re-calibration. Doesn’t sound very efficient. She said she would get back to me in a day or so.
In the meantime, I contacted several friends and they both said to use another app that uses power, connect to the trainer, then run the calibration.
- 4iiii app – couldn’t find the Zwift Hub
- Kinetic – Found the Zwift Hub so I could see power and cadence, but couldn’t ‘manage’ the trainer
- ROTOR inPower – couldn’t find the Zwift Hub
- JetBlack – even tried this app, same trainer, but again couldn’t find the Zwift Hub
- I tried 2 other apps, and none could find the Zwift Hub
I then reached out to another friend, and he said it looks like Zwift has locked it down forcing you to use their platform in some manner. He recommended returning it.
Just then, I received an email from Zwift support telling me that they researched the issue and that there is a way. They recommended removing the Zwift companion app and installing the full app. If you don’t ride, you do not need a paid membership. Here is their reply (which I will try next). Please refer to included links in the email below.
Thank you for getting back to us. This is Zwift Support.
I’m sorry for any confusion about calibrating your Zwift Hub, I’m happy to explain.
Please know that you don’t need an active subscription on Zwift to be able to calibrate the Zwift Hub.
If you haven’t already, please download the Zwift app (not Zwift Companion) on your device. To see the device requirements to run the Zwift app, check out this article.
Once you have the Zwift app installed, you can perform a calibration spindown by following these steps:
1. Open Zwift.
2. Sign into your Zwift account.
3. Pair your devices and complete a quick ride—at least 10 minutes—to warm up your trainer.
4. After ending your ride, return to the PAIRED DEVICES screen.
5. Pair your devices and then select the wrench icon underneath POWER SOURCE.
6. When the CALIBRATE SPINDOWN window opens, select NEXT.
7. Follow the on-screen prompts to perform the calibration spindown.
8. When complete, the CALIBRATE SPINDOWN window will display SUCCESS!
9. Select OK or wait for the window to automatically close.
10. For the best experience, we recommend performing a calibration spindown weekly.
For more info on performing a calibration spindown in Zwift, please check out our article with screenshots included that you may find helpful.
Please give these steps a try and let us know how it goes.
We’re looking forward to hearing back from you.
Member Experience Agent
So Here Goes
1) I downloaded the app on my phone – wouldn’t connect to the trainer, tried my iPad, no good. Lastly, I tried the PC and WOW, success. After 20 minutes of download and upgrading the app, here is the screen I now see.
And clicking the WRENCH…
So that works under the seven day trial, let’s wait until the free trial expires to see what actually happens.
2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th RIDES
I did a combination of long flat routes and very hilly routes (6% to 16% grade).
The trainer performed very smoothly on the flat routes, in fact up to about 8% grade. Between 8-9% it felt as if the trainer was not applying resistance as smooth as under 8%, i.e., felt kind of choppy. At 10% there is a noticeable change and after 12% it feels like the trainer is forcing me to pedal in squares, i.e., very choppy resistances. In comparison, the Wahoo KIKR is smooth all the way to 18% grade (i.e., Motirolo Pass).
Several of the higher climbs, I was in the 28. Going forward, I just replaced the 11-28 with a new 11-32. Let’s see if that helps.
1) The Zwift Hub is a brand-new offering from Zwift and the Zwift support infrastructure has not yet caught up to be able to offer definitive answers to questions. I am sure that this will get better as customer service receives more questions from new customers of the Hub. Reference the spindown calibration misdirection.
2) PRICING: MSRP
- Zwift Hub = $500,
- Jetblack Volt V2 = $500,
- Wahoo KICKR Core = $900,
- Wahoo KICKR = $1,300
I tested the Zwift Hub against the Wahoo KICKR, not a direct comparison (the KICKR core would have been a closer match, but this should be close enough).
The KICKR is smoother and more stable on the ground. It seems to be one step higher quality all the way around. On the downside, the Wahoo KICKR is 2.4x the price of the Zwift Hub. Is it worth it? The KICKR delivers more realism, especially when the grade goes over 10%. Depending on how long the Zwift Hub lasts, only time will tell. Is it worth buying? For $500, it is a solid competitor for anything else out there at the same price range.
4.5/5 stars for the trainer
5/5 stars for tech support for sticking with the task of figuring things out and the fact that they kept to their word and contacted me numerous times with any new news that could help answer my questions.
1/5 stars for sales / marketing for trying to convince the customer into thinking that they need to purchase a monthly subscription for the simple task of performing a weekly spindown calibration. (Granted, this should never affect anyone who buys the Zwift Hub to ride on Zwift.)
To be fair, customer service did a fantastic job. Here is the email I followed up with …
Please send this note to MANAGEMENT so they can give you a well-deserved pat on the back for doing an OUTSTANDING job!
There have been 3-4 customer support (CS) people helping with this issue and ZWIFT CS has stood behind everything they said they would do.
Most other companies CS people would promise to ‘call’ you back and never do. When ZWIFT CS said they didn’t know the answer and that they would find out, they actually did!
This CS support team has been the best group of people I have worked with this entire year.
They stuck by the customer and helped solve the problem through to completion.
I am 100% satisfied … JOB WELL DONE!!!
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.
David L says
This is my second year on a Whoo Kickr Core. I have not ridden it using any apps other than Zwift. I have not had any problems what so ever with it from the get go. Took out of the box, set it up and connected to Zwift using Apple TV no problems. Previously I had two wheel on trainers and the Core is far better hands down. It is smooth on all the different terrain Zwift offers regardless of the changing inclines. I use the Companion app and have used Garmin, Wahoo and 4iiii heart rate monitors with no issues. The Core cost a little more money but its proven to be a quality built and dependable product. Time will tell and I’m sure Zwift will get the bugs figured out but cheaper is not always better.
Hi! Thanks for this detailed review.
I found it because I received my zwift hub yesterday and was a little confused with how to calibrate it.
Indeed I’m not sure which app I will use but I’ve tried zwift before and I don’t think it’s for me.
I found it a little confusing that the calibration is in the main zwift app meaning that if you use the device with any app other than zwift you need 3 apps (companion, zwift and your app of choice)…
I also find the marketing around the preinstalled cassettes a little deceptive. “Pick the right number of speeds and you’re good to go!” Then once you get it and things are not smooth you do some searching and find in a nested support page “If the teeth number for your cassette doesn’t align with the teeth number of the pre-installed cassettes on Zwift Hub, you might want to purchase your cassette separately.” Thanks for the notice!
The power trainer resistance also seems very irregular, which is very noticeable at low speeds.
Hopefully they correct those issues soon!
Great article, so what happened after the trial expired? Can you still do (just) the spindown calibration with zwift app? Im in the same scenario, with my trial to expire in a few days and no plans to subscribe, so not sure how to calibrate will work.