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.
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.