How To Use a ZWIFT on a Spin Bike | Advantages & Disadvantages

How To Use a ZWIFT on a Spin Bike | Advantages & Disadvantages

Hello, my name is Cruise. Today I’m going to talk about using ZWIFT with a spin bike. I also want to talk about the advantages and disadvantages. I’ve been using a spin bike on ZWIFT for about 1 month now. regular riding, training, and racing. I was looking for a good solution to cycle indoors in the winter. it’s important that the solution is quiet since I live in a Japanese apartment. solution that was super quiet and I
didn’t have all the money to invest in all these new awesome smart trainers
that are out there on the market and that’s why I sort of came up with the
idea of using a spin bike because spin bikes are super quiet and they don’t use
any power so those are two great points right there but when I first searched on
this subject there wasn’t much information about spin bikes and Swift
so I was kind of swimming in uncharted territories but I’m happy to report that
this solution has been working perfectly for me and it can work for you too so
let’s go into what’s required what do we need to get this set up to work so of
course the first thing you need is a spin bike and it doesn’t really matter
what spin bike you have most of them are pretty similar and have a lot of the
same parts you can have a low-end one you can have a middle end one or you can
have a high end one it doesn’t really matter the one I have doesn’t have any
electronics on it it just has a simple flywheel but one advantage of my spin
bike is that it has a unique style handlebar so you have regular drop bars
you have the triathlon bars and I chose this one intentionally because I didn’t
want any of those extra gadgets on there I don’t need a speedometer because the
way that we connect this to Swift is with a power meter so when you connect
the Swift you need one of two things a power meter or a speed sensor the speed
sensor of course being the fallback option if you don’t have a power meter
everything on Swift is done based on power so really you don’t want to be
doing Swift with a speed sensor you’re not going to be able to get an accurate
gauge of how you’re doing in the races and so you’re better off using some sort
of power meter and to my knowledge right now there’s two different types of power
meters that you can connect on a spin bike the one that I’m using is a pedal
based power meter so I’ve got the five Aero osteoma
power pedals I made a review video for those
earlier so if you’re interested you can go check those out these are great you
just spin them on and the charge on these is awesome you can use these for
pretty much a full month with the decent amount of riding and I don’t really have
to charge them I just calibrate them every once in a while and you can just
twist them off put them on the other bike so if I want to ride my road bike
outside all right now it’s winter so I’m not writing my road bike much outside
it’s mostly mountain bike so there’s no problems there but switching these over
to other bikes super easy no hassle so I love love love the pedal based power
meter solutions the other one that theoretically can work but I don’t know
anyone who’s done it is you switch over the crank set and you use a crank based
power solution so this of course depends on the spin bike that you have and if
it’s compatible with regular cycling crank options like that but most of them
should be compatible with some of the crank arm solutions out there but just
save yourself the trouble and go with the pedal based solution I recommend the
Fabri osteoma pedals anyway that’s all you need to get going ons whips so yeah
it’s it’s really that simple all you need is the power meter in the bike you
just hook up your computer like normal and for me I just made another big
purchase I was looking for some sort of stand or some sort of table that I could
use to cut down my computer in front of me while I ride I ended up dropping the
300 it’s actually three hundred and fifty dollars here in Japan on the wahoo
standing desk and it was pretty pricey but I’m so glad I made this purchase I
use this thing for everything I use it for standing and working when I’m not
cycling and I can quickly move it over to the bike when I need to use it there
so love-love-love this desk I wish there are some more slightly
cheaper alternatives out there but there doesn’t really seem to be much on the
market right now so yeah going into the advantages of this set up one of the
main advantages of using a spin bike with Swift is just you have a dedicated
bike for your indoor riding for anyone who’s experienced some sort of
mechanical which pretty much every cyclist out there has experienced no
it’s not fun to deal with and if something happens in your bike you break
a chain even if just some part malfunctions in your shifter doesn’t
work and you might not be able to use that until your bike shop gets it
repaired for you so the advantage of a spin bike is these things never break
down it doesn’t matter if your main bike breaks down you always have this bike to
fall back in rely on so to me that’s just huge points right there one of the
big things I’m trying to this year is stay more motivated ride
more consistently and just have less excuses and if I don’t have to worry
about mechanical troubles then that’s just one less excuse right there and I
can be more consistent with my training the other advantage I mentioned earlier
is of course the silence these things are super quiet if you don’t know the
spin bike setup is just a rotating flywheel and you apply a sort of soft
feather cushion to it so there’s pretty much no sound at all there’s no sound
from the drive chain or internal parts it’s just from the contact of the
feather to the flywheel so super quiet another advantage of the spin bike is
there is pretty much no maximum resistance level so some of these smart
traders some of these other trainers out there have a maximum resistance level
that you can put out this doesn’t really matter for most people because most
people can’t put out more than a thousand or 1500 watts but if you can
then a spin bike is pretty great because you’re gonna give up before the spin
bike gives up if that makes sense another big advantage of the spin bike
is the adjustability so I live with my wife my wife also enjoys cycling and if
she wants to use the bike we can easily just adjust the position we just need to
untwist it move the saddle up or down to her position you can’t quite get a
hundred percent exact the same position as your main bike but you can get it
pretty close and to me it’s comfortable enough but if you’re really specific
about this stuff that might be a disadvantage for you because the
adjustment points do have specific spaces between them so you might not be
able to get exactly the position that you’re looking for this is a good point
to go into the disadvantages since we’re already sort of starting talking about
those so a disadvantage of having a dedicated bike inside your house or home
is it takes up space I live in a tiny apartment in Japan and space is pretty
limited and I have no idea how I managed to convince my wife to give me this
dedicated space in our living room for the spin bike but fortunately she ended
up liking it herself and she saw the value in it so but not everyone will be
able to get their wife or partner to follow along with having a dedicated
bike in your living room so this might not work for everyone and the appeal of
having a trainer and putting it in the closet and just pulling out when you
need it and pulling out your bike when you need it that might be better for you
the other disadvantage of the spin bike is it’s really heavy
so it’s hard to move hopefully you’re not gonna have to move that thing I
don’t plan on moving this thing really ever until we move here maybe because I
have no other place I can put it so that’s not a problem once you get it set
up speaking of the setup the setup wasn’t too bad it took us maybe about 30
minutes we made a fun video about getting the package installing it so if
you want to check that out with me and my wife installing the spin bike you can
check it out another advantage I mentioned slightly
earlier was that this thing doesn’t use any power so if you’re worried about
that you have all these outlets that you need to worry about plugging in your
laptop plugging in some other tech devices that you’re using plugging your
fan you might be running out of plugs so the great thing about this thing is it
doesn’t require any power so it doesn’t generate any extra Heat one thing about
cycling and Swift in the summer and in the winter is you overheat like crazy
when you’re cycling indoors so we don’t really want to be generating any more
heat around our surroundings where we’re cycling so the good thing about the spin
bike is these things don’t really generate any Heat it’s just the flywheel
and the cushion so there’s no problems there another disadvantage of the spin
bike is going to the style of resistance so because this is a flywheel when
there’s low resistance your legs keep moving and they don’t really stop so if
you’ve written track before or velodrome before it’s a pretty similar feeling to
that where your pedals are more connected to the wheel itself it’s not
100% the same but it’s pretty similar feeling to that so when you’re spinning
at a low resistance it feels great you can feel like it’s forcing you to
get a good pedal stroke it’s forcing you to move quickly the disadvantage of this
comes when you start putting in high resistance so when I start cranking this
thing down near the end of a sprint in a race and Swift I feel like if I sort of
ease up on the pedal in just a little bit it’s instantly gonna stop the
flywheel and it just really hurts so it’s it doesn’t quite seem like the
exact same feeling that you have when you’re cycling on the road when you stop
cycling on the road if you ease up for a second you can just start pedaling again
and there’s no problem but once you have this brake style resistance if you stop
pedaling for a second it’s gonna stop and you’re gonna have to start over from
scratch on a fully resistant brake pad on that flywheel and let me tell you
you’re not getting back after that so in terms of sprinting workouts like that
it’s really hard you just kind of you’re just kind of one and done once you’re
done with your sprint there’s no coming back from that you got to be a bit
responsive and this is the other disadvantage changing the gears with the
road bike you can change your gears with your shifter with the smart trainers
they have the automatic changing resistance for the terrain that you’re
on and unfortunately with the spin bike you have to do this manually this is
really easy to do though it’s usually just a little spin knob so you just
twist it left or right depending on where you’re going so usually when I’m
riding on Swift if I see I’m climbing a hill I’ll just add more resistance it
just takes a second and you’re done if I’m going downhill
I’ll just reduce the resistance a little bit there of course again this has
advantages and disadvantages if you’re training for more of like time-trial
stuff for flats and you want to get consistent power profile you don’t
really need that mode in these smart trainers and just being able to do a
consistent power not sort of worrying about these virtual climbs and just
focusing more on getting your specific workout if you have a target workout of
trying to maintain 300 watts for 5 10 minutes or whatever it’s much easier to
do with this kind of setup you can get exactly the power that you need block it
in and don’t really worry about those hills of course based on different
positions you use different muscles so when you’re climbing your position
changes the stress on your muscles changes a little bit that’s why there’s
so much popularity with these new like the wahoo what’s it called the kicker
stand up front where you can change your angle on your bike and you can use those
different muscles which trains you better for hill climbing if that’s your
target unfortunately you’re limited I’m doing that with the spin bike unless you
just sort of put blocks in the front of your bike and just ride like an uphill
position for the entire ride but you can’t change it mid ride so yeah this is
pretty new technology though so we don’t really you don’t really need to consider
that too much you’ll see with my spin bike I’ve swapped out some of the parts
so I put on my own rode physique saddle on here so most of these parts are
pretty compatible you can change out your pedals to what you like you can
change out the saddle to what you like and on some setups you can even also
change out the handlebars but that depends on what spin bike that you’re
going into overall I’m very very satisfied with this setup I couldn’t ask
for more it was super cheap the bike itself was about $400 I already had the
power meter pedal so I didn’t really need to spend anything extra for that
and then my regular Swift account so way cheaper than spending over
one of those new smart power meter trainers I am still really excited about
that technology but I want to wait till I have a little bit more money and I
want to wait a little bit until that technology advances a little bit further so here we are spinning without any
resistance you can see if I try and stop pedaling my legs still are moving that’s
because of the heavy flywheel on here so let’s try adding some resistance right
now we’re at about 100 watts 90 rpms the other great thing about these pedal
based power meters is they include a cadence reader so you don’t need
anything extra there let’s move up to hundred watts not really much difference
in sounds 300 watts whoo I didn’t warm up yet here we have 400 watts and even if I
stand up and sprint no real difference in sound but you can see once you’ve
stopped pedaling once this brake is activated it’s really hard to get this
moving again so you got to drop this down to a low resistance and bring your
speed back up so one of the disadvantages if you’re going for a
sprint effort but it’s perfectly fine if you’re just trying to maintain certain
target walks on it or work on improving your FTP all right guys that’s gonna be
it for today’s video I got to get continuing on with today’s ride today’s
workout be sure to follow me over on Swift give me a nice thumbs up or on
strop as well looking forward to some kudos hope you guys found this video
useful we’ll be making more videos about Swift more videos about cycling and of
course life in Japan and of course a big thank you to all of our supporters over
on patreon who helped make this channel possible if you’re interested in helping
support this channel don’t check out the link down below towards our patreon page
and we’ll see you guys in the next video later guys

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. One question: the 'smart' trainers will automatically apply more resistance when the gradient increases (right?), how do you manage this with the trainer and the manual brake? are you prompted to do so?

  2. If you don't already have the power pedals, wouldn't it be a net zero sum to either go this route or a smart trainer?

    With the exception of having a dedicated bike.

  3. 11:39 The Assioma Favero power pedals INCLUDE A CADENCE READER TOO???? Thank you so much for mentioning that, that solves an issue I thought I was going to have this summer. In 2018 I bought a Canyon road bike in September and a Wahoo ELEMNT bundle in October – two big expenses – so I decided to enjoy a period of just HR training for a period before spoiling myself with the next (and final) upgrade, power. You totally sold me with your review of the Assioma Favero pedals a few months ago, so I decided I will purchase them around March/April. The main reason I'm sold on pedal based power over crank-based is, as you've mentioned often, you simply swap the pedals onto different bikes and have power on whatever bike you want. When I go to Japan this summer I'm going to bring my set up – soon to be purchased power pedals, Wahoo ELEMNT and all the Wahoo stuff that comes with it (Tickr HRM, Wahoo Speed Sensor). But not the Wahoo Cadence, because it's stuck (glued) onto the crank arm on my Canyon (my US bike) and I didn't want to mess with taking it off to stick on my Allez (my Japan bike). I was going to buy a separate Wahoo Cadence for the Allez, which admittedly is only $40. But now that I know the Favero pedals do cadence, that's one less expense to achieve my perfect setup for this summer. Thanks Cruise, I'm so glad I watched your video to the end! 😂😂😂

  4. Super thumbs up ‼️ No one but you have covered this topic, and you do it super well.
    Was seriously considering the same setup. I wouldn't mind having to increase the resistance manually (slightly different to the action switching to a lower gear on a climb but comparable I guess). But the coasting part (after sprint / on descents) is almost a deal breaker for me. Together with the impracticality of a heavy spin bike.
    Need to reconsider…

  5. I dunno how exactly the resistance 'switch' or knob works but maybe you can modify the switch using cheap index or friction shifters. It looks like a brake caliper to me.

  6. One more power meter option – not nearly as accurate, but portable and can be taken to your local fitness center is a HRM based power meter like the PowerTap PowerCal. It's what I use at our local fitness center since I can't remove their pedals or cranks.

  7. Just fitted assioma uno to spin bike works on swift but seems like I'm going twice as fast as everyone else just want to train .
    Any ideas

  8. Just bought the US version you suggested and the power meter you suggested. What did you set for your crank arm length. It’s not on the crank arm like a normal bike?

    Ps works great just wanted to make sure it was set up right!

  9. I got a spinbike too. Schwin – has a nice bicycle feel to it. I put my garmin cadence and speed sensors on it, and it works well. Is the on-screen speed accurate, I would say yes. But pedalling harder, for example when going up a hill, won't do anything for your online speed, you have to pedal faster. The spinbike I got doesn't use the felt-brake type resistance, but earth magnets — totally silent – no noise from the friction, as there is none, not to mention no wear, and feels like the resistance on the road (highly recommend the magnet spin bikes). You just have to be honest to yourself and turn up the resistance for the up hills, and down. One thing I found with the spinbike, is when I got back onto the road after indoor winter training, I was able to really spin it out and maintain a much higher speed using a lower gear. The main drawback I'd say would be that you're always in the same gear and thus pretty much stay in the same position for the whole ride. I also changed the seat because the one that came with it just hurt my ass something fierce (wider and softer = pain). I got my spinbike at a local auction — gyms are constantly either going out of business or overturning their equipment, so you can get a gym quality bike for a couple hundred bucks or less, if you're lucky at the auction ($1200 new).

  10. How did you connect the Favero Assioma pedals with the PC? Is it via Ant dongle or Bluetooth? I have connected the pedals with my iPhone through Bluetooth and the result is absolutely rubbish. iPhone gets very erratic signals from the pedals making it impossible to ride.

  11. Cool! I created this exact setup in January 2018 after trying to find a way of using Zwift without a trainer for my road bike or buying an expensive smart trainer.

    I found a spin bike with a broken crank arm on eBay for £20 ($30), easy fix for $10. Bought the Assioma Uno, cheap Ant + dongle and a cheap heart rate monitor and got it all ruining on my iMac in my living room. I use the Zwift companion app on my iPhone mounted on my handlebars so as to control Zwift on my iMac, works a dream.

    The biggest issue I had was getting the pedals calibrated with Zwift but I hooked them up to the Wahoo app and did a calibration ride.

    Glad to see someone else who had the same idea and got it working too 🙂

    Like you I live in a tiny apartment but in London and I also have a very understanding wife!

  12. i have a different spin bike using a cadence sensor and speed sensor and I use zwift. All you need to do is change the settings on Zwift for the wheel size. slightly cheeper way to do the same thing

  13. I’m going to go against the grain here and give a few critiques on this video. He mentions sound and price as two of the main reasons to use a spin bike. Sound I definitely understand, but some of the newer models are getting pretty quiet.

    Price: this rubbed me the wrong way. Let’s start with the 5 bikes I can see in the background. I love my bikes and have quite the stable myself, but if I was really focused on off season training and budget constrained, I think I could part with one bike to buy a smart trainer (or two). How about the set of $650 pedals (more in Japan?) and a $350 desk (no alternatives?!). Those two items alone would by a new high end smart trainer.

  14. I'll be using the e-motion rollers with ant+ resistance trainer (up to 10% ) and the floating front fork (if I hate rollera) a speed and cadence sensor on my fixed gear bike. I hope it's going to all work together once I get everything.

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