Technology can be frustrating at times and the last thing you want to be dealing with is connectivity issues when you are ready to saddle up and start a workout.
In this post, I will walk you through some of the most common connection issues with Zwift users face with their smart bike trainers. These issues aren’t limited to Zwift and they can apply to other cycling apps as well.
CAN’T FIND MY BIKE TRAINER
If you can’t find your bike trainer in Zwift or any other cycling app, follow these steps:
- Make sure your bike trainer is plugged in and awake. This one is obvious but I have been there. Some mornings one cup of coffee is just not enough. Make sure it is plugged into power and awake. You might need to start pedaling to wake up your trainer. Some bike trainers self-generate power like the Tacx NEO. Pedaling should wake up the trainer.
- If you are using Bluetooth to connect: Make sure your trainer isn’t paired to anything else. This one is very common and the cause of most connection issues. If you paired your bike trainer to any other app, for example, you paired your Wahoo KICKR to the Wahoo Fitness app to calibrate it, make sure to completely disconnect from the app. On an iPhone, open the Wahoo Fitness app and swipe up.
- Turn off Bluetooth on your phone (Settings > Bluetooth). This is assuming you use a different device to run Zwift. For example, you run Zwift on Apple TV, and use your phone to calibrate your bike trainer.
- Unplug your bike trainer, wait few seconds, and before you plug the trainer back in, open the pairing menu in Zwift and let it start searching, then plug your bike trainer back into a power supply.
- Wahoo KICKR/SNAP: Unpair your trainer from the Wahoo Fitness app. On some occasions, I found the app to be stubborn and always try to connect to my KICKR. Disconnecting it from Wahoo Fitness app solved the issue. You can always pair it back easily by going Wahoo Fitness app > Sensors and pair.
TRAINER IS PAIRED BUT RESISTANCE DOESN’T CHANGE IN ZWIFT
Not all trainers can be controlled by Zwift. Some bike trainers can broadcast power and cadence via ANT+ or Bluetooth but can’t be controlled. For example, the Elite Kura Direct drive trainer and LifeFitness IC8 bike. Both are labeled as smart trainers but can’t be controlled by a third-party app.
- Look for ANT+ FE-C or Smart Bluetooth label on your smart bike trainer.
- Make sure your cycling app supports your bike trainer. Some cycling apps only support certain brands. For example, if you use the new Tacx Training Desktop app, you will only be able to use it with Tacx bike trainers.
- Make sure you are using the correct communication protocol. Just because the app says it supports a certain brand of bike trainer, that doesn’t mean it can control it using ANT+ and Bluetooth. For example, the TechnoGym MyCycling trainer is compatible with Zwift via Bluetooth, but not ANT+.
- If you use Bluetooth to connect, make sure your bike trainer is supported. Since there is no industry-wide standard for Bluetooth (this is slowly changing with FTMS) but for now, developers will have to start from scratch to support each trainer with Bluetooth.
- Make sure your bike trainer is paired as Controllable Trainer in Zwift.
TRAINER DOESN’T ADJUST TO GRADIENT CHANGES
On some occasions, you will be able to pair your bike trainer and everything might look ok. However, when riding a course or doing a workout, you might notice the bike trainer isn’t adjusting resistance. This can be caused by having two different applications connecting to your trainer. Make sure the trainer isn’t paired to anything else other than Zwift.
TRAINER DOESN’T ADJUST TO GRADIENT CHANGES WHEN WORKING OUT
If you are in workout mode in Zwift, your trainer will be set to ERG mode or resistance (slope) mode. The idea of a workout is to hit target watts for each block. Zwift will flatten out the course for you and you won’t feel any changes in gradients even if you see your avatar climbing a steep hill.
If you turn ERG mode on in the workout selection menu, you will feel resistance changes only as you enter and exit each block in the workout.