Quick Tips

Zwift Connectivity Issues? How To Troubleshoot Connection Issues With Your Smart Bike Trainer

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 you might face when trying to connect your smart bike trainer to Zwift. These issues aren’t limited to Zwift and they can apply to other cycling apps as well.

ISSUE: ZWIFT 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 with 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 for 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.

ISSUE: 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 bike trainer is paired as Controllable Trainer in Zwift.
  • Make sure your trainer is connected to one device as a controllable trainer. For example, if you connect your trainer to your Garmin device and Zwift, both will try to compete to take control of your trainer. Make sure to connect your smart trainer to Zwift as a controllable trainer and if you want to connect to other devices, connect your trainer as a power meter only.

ISSUE: TRAINER DOESN’T ADJUST TO GRADIENT CHANGES

You might notice your trainer isn’t adjusting resistance. Few things can cause this issue:

  • Make sure the resistance slider is not set all the way to OFF. You can check the resistance slider in Menu > Settings
  • Try unpairing and pairing your trainer back as a controllable trainer.
  • Unplug your trainer from power and plug it back in and try pairing it again as a controllable trainer.

ISSUE: TRAINER DOESN’T ADJUST TO GRADIENT CHANGES WHEN WORKING OUT

ZWIFT has two different riding modes: Free Ride (Slope Mode), and Workout Mode. 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 not simulating a course profile. 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.

Hope these tips help you diagnose any connection issues. Feel free to comment below if you have any question.

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18 Comments

  • I struggled for days trying to connect to Zwift. It turns out that you need your cell phone to have location services enabled and high accuracy – most people would have this but I was using an older phone to connect and I had somehow turned it off. I was tipped to this by the Tacx app, but Zwift should add it to their instructions too.

  • It still isn’t working. I’ve tried everything on the list. I have a elite direto direct drive trainer and I have it connected via Bluetooth. Anybody any ideas?

  • Nice support website! After months, suddenly Zwift has error ! on Ant and Bluetooth in upper corner and won’t find Wahoo kickr or HR strap. I spent several hours including reinstalling Zwift but cannot correct. Do I buy a new Ant? Thank you Jennifer

  • My new wahoo kicker Core won’t give any power reading at all to either zwift or to the wahoo app. It was working fine and then just stop sending power readings I have no idea what the problem is. Though I want to love wahoo products I have had to send five kickers back in 12 months. I am on my second kicke core that is going back ( I went through three kicker snaps before finally giving up and asking to be upgraded). Should I bail on wahoo all together? Their customer service has been amazing and they never give me a hard time about replacements. Maybe I am just cursed?

    • Man, sorry to hear about all your problems with Wahoo. I’ve personally didn’t have any issues with any of their trainers and I’ve had a lot of them. It’s good to hear that they’ve been able to help you out so far. Is it possible your KICKR is paired to something else? Do you use Bluetooth or ANT+ to connect to Zwift?

      • I am a newbie to Zwift and have successfully paired my Elite Smart Muin B+ with power and cadence. However can’t pair the controllable icon? is this because of the limitations of my trainer? Also is it better to connect via blue tooth or ANT+ when given the option on the power connection? Thank you

        • Mike, The Elite Muin Smart isn’t interactive and only transmits power. So there is no controllable option for the Muin and that’s why you aren’t given that option in Zwift. I personally prefer Bluetooth over ANT+ but all depends on the hardware you have and the connection you are trying to make. Generally, Bluetooth suffers less signal interference and has a longer range.

  • I am new to zwift. Got a giant fluid ST trainer with a wahoo speed metre attached to wheel. Always having issues connecting the wahoo to zwift on my Mac laptop (via blue tooth). Turned my iPhone Bluetooth off to help but it still takes me around 15 minuates to get it connected.

    I’ll be looking to get a cadence sensor too but now just holding off as having issues with generally connecting.

    Should I be doing soemthing else?

    • Hmm… 15 minutes is way too long. Should only take you seconds to connect. Have you tried changing the batteries in your speed sensor?