Zwift is a hugely popular app that gamifies indoor training and racing, in a very engaging way. It’s real physical exercise in a virtual world, measuring a rider’s power output (Watts/kg) to propel your avatar onscreen, and is used by pro cycling teams and amateurs alike.
At any time of the day there are 5,000 – 15,000 riders from across the globe simultaneously using the app; riding at their own pace, riding in pre-organised group rides (Meetups in Zwift speak), or racing.
Each day, riders are offered the choice of two virtual worlds to ride in – Watopia (always available) and a ‘guest’ world (changes daily), so there’s plenty of options in the courses and type of riding you want to do.
Zwift is free for U/16s – apply now
Before you do anything else, apply for your free Juniors account(s) today. Due to the huge COVID-19 inspired uptake in Zwift users, Zwift is taking ~7 days to manually approve free Juniors accounts.
You don’t need an adult Zwift account in order to apply. All accounts are separate.
Getting setup on Zwift involves a few steps, but isn’t as hard as it might sound.
There are four steps to Zwifting with Neo, with detailed info below:
Getting the Zwift & Zwift Companion apps installed on your phone / tablet / PC / Mac
Create a Zwift account – free for U/16s
Getting your indoor trainer, bike and display(s) setup
Joining our group rides or other groups
Quick start – Tips
1 If you already know your way around indoor trainers and have an awareness of Zwift, you might want to skip ahead to the Quick and Easy Solution
2 Don’t wait until you have the ideal solution. You can chop and change quite easily and improve your setup as you go. If you have the minimum requirements, you should start using Zwift now and acquire any additional gear you may want over time.
3 Zwift online resources will be best to help you set up. The purpose of this guide is to cover acquiring the right trainer for junior riders. Particularly where the adults in the family don’t already have an existing trainer set-up. – If you already have a trainer, use the one you have where possible.
If you already have a Zwift setup, skip ahead to Step 4 – Meetup & Join Neo Group Rides.
Step 1 – Install both Zwift apps
The Zwift app needs to be installed on the device(s) you want to use to view your virtual rider in action. You can also share /mirror your device’s screen with a TV, as is being done in the picture above.
The Zwift Companion App is a supplementary app where you can find your friends, arrange Meetups, accept Meetup invitations (necessary to join our group rides), and look at your stats on your mobile or tablet.
It is available in the App Store (iOS) or Play Store (Android) for your mobile or tablet device.
WARNING #2 – You will need to have a cadence and speed sensor for your bike. If you don’t already have these, it might be more cost effective to simply jump up to a Semi-Smart Trainer.
Smart Trainer ~$300-$500
It will look similar to a dumb trainer as the electronics are hardly noticeable.
A smart trainer is basically a dumb trainer with sufficient electronics to measure and share the power (watts) exerted by the rider, with a paired device.
it is reasonably affordable at $300-$500.
it provides reasonable functionality.
Lacks the resistance applied as the rider climbs a hill.
The rider has a less realistic experience.
Smart Interactive Trainer ~$680 – $1,900
A true smart trainer provides the most immersive experience.
Like a smart trainer, a smart interactive trainer will output the power exerted by the rider, however the main difference is that the trainer will vary the resistance applied to the bike depending on;
Hill gradient. – When a rider is climbing a hill in Zwift, the trainer will apply more resistance load to the rider.
Drafting. – When a rider is drafting in Zwift, the trainer will lessen the resistance load to the rider.
Physically, they typically look like a dumb trainer with a larger unit where the wheel makes contact with the roller. Alternatively, they might be a wheel-off version where the whole bicycle wheel has to be removed before using it.
Near real world experience
Bulky and heavy
Less useful warming up on tour (post-corona)
Most need a power outlet.
Non-Interactive Vs Interactive trainers
Non-Interactive have a different ride style Vs Smart Interactive ride styles differ.
Interactive trainer (smart interactive) – The rider on an interactive trainer will have a more realistic hill stance. The rider can dance on the pedals in a middle gear or sit and spin a lower gear.
Non-Interactive trainer (dumb & smart) – The rider on a non-interactive trainer still need to produce the same amount a power, but will take more of a sprinters stance to produce the power on the same hill.
Range of Bikes
If you plan to share your trainer between juniors and/or parents on different sized bikes, you should consider the following:
Wheel-off – Wheel off models may not be compatible with the gearing on other bikes. Eg 7 speed cassette Vs 11 speed cassette.
Wheel-on A-Frame – These are the most common style. Their ability to switch between different wheel sizes, ranges from fiddly to very fiddly. Some require tools and replacement parts.
Wheel-on clam-shell – These are the most flexible trainers and will typically accept 20″, 24″, 650, and 700 wheels without modification. Some might need a once-off modification to accept the smallest of wheels.
Step 3(b) – Setup Bike
Most “wheel-on” classic trainers come with a skewer to give the rear wheel a better fit to the trainer. If you are switching bikes for multiple riders in your family, you should consider buying additional ‘trainer friendly’ skewers for each bike.
Big is beautiful. Try and use the biggest screen you can.
For an even better experience, consider casting to your TV via Chromecast or Airplay.
A tablet is better than a phone.
A laptop screen is better than a tablet screen.
A TV screen is better than everything.
You can connect to a TV in many ways, including Chromecast, Airplay or physical cable. – Any geeky friend or relative can help you with this. – It’s not Zwift specific so I’ll leave it there.
All that said, don’t give up because you’re on the smallest screen. – I train from my phone because my tablets are too old to run Zwift, I don’t have a Windows or Mac laptop and my bike is not allowed in the house to use a TV.
Step 4 – Meetup & Join Neo Group Rides
Zwift has recently suspended the ability to create new events, however they encourage us to use their “Meetup” functionality.
Neo is creating a number of ‘meetups’ on Tuesday and Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons.
How to Meetup
1. Make friends with the ride organisers
The organisers may vary weekly. They can’t invite you to the Meetup if you are not following them in teh Zwift Companion app.
1.1 “Follow” all the ride organisers in the Zwift Companion app.
To follow ride organisers, take the step below. – Repeat for each organiser:
Zwift Companion app > Find Zwifters (‘More’ tab, bottom right) > Enter their name in search bar > Press the orange “follow Zwifter” icon on the right.
Lucas Mahon (managed by Tom, with Lucas on the trainer)
Zubin Thukral (managed by Neeraj, with Zubin on the trainer)
1.2 Ride organisers will follow you back. You will need to accept their request.
Zwift Companion app > Notifications (bell icon, top right) > Press the orange “follow Zwifter” icon on the right.
Organisers will invite you to all the training sessions they lead, except the tech sessions which are by appointment.
2. Accept Meetup Invite
Zwift only permits ride organisers to create invites up to seven days in advance.
You should see an invitation from the ride organisers within a few hours of the last event.
2.1 Check your invitations
Zwift Companion app > Events > Press the group-of-people icon
2.2 Accept invitations that you plan to join by tapping on RSVP for the event you are interested and select “Going”
3.1. Click on the big orange “Ride” button as soon as you’re ready to go. Don’t sit there waiting without hitting the “Ride” button. (1:50 in video)
3.2. After pressing the “Ride” button, you will find yourself riding in some random place (2:40)-Just start riding to warm up.
3.3. Three minutes before the meeting time, you will see a prompt asking you to “Join Meetup” in the bottom left corner (2:47). Sometimes it will appear as a white notification in the bottom middle area of the screen.
3.4. If you’re the first one there, you should find yourself warming up on a wind trainer by the side of the road. (3:06)
3.5. Just warm up until others arrive (3:10). When the countdown timer (top right) reaches zero the ride will start straight away.
If you are doing this for the first time, we suggest you attend a tech session. – It’s just a practice run, where you can join and test functionality before doing the real thing.
It’s not about the ride effort. It’s about testing your ability to join us, and practice interacting with others. -We wont have time for you in a real training session, sorry.
To join a tech session, you need to:
Follow Stelio Pappas in Zwift.
Send Stelio a text message (0431 814 917) with your Zwift name requesting to meetup for a tech session.
The communication protocol between your smart trainer / speed and cadence sensors on your bike and your device (phone / tablet / laptop / desktop), can be thought of as the language that a device speaks. It will either be ANT+, Bluetooth, or both.
Used on most sport tech equipment such as bike computers, power meters etc. This was the first widely used protocol which most older and modern devices support.
If you have an older style cadence/speed sensor it will most likely be ANT+ only. You’re laptop will most likely be Bluetooth only. To make your laptop work with an older sensor, you’ll need a USB ANT+ dongle. A genuine Garmin one will set you back $40-$60, a generic one is around $11 on ebay.
The ANT+ signal is known to not always reach the device you’re connecting to, so it is best to pick up a USB extension lead to allow you to place the dongle closer to the sensor.
Bluetooth is more common on non sporting devices such as phones and laptops. More modern sport tech will typically support ANT+ for backward compatibility as well as Bluetooth.
A modern cadence/speed sensor is more likely to have ANT+ & Bluetooth which means it would work on your phone/tablet or laptop without the need to purchase an ANT+ dongle.
Make sure you’re on the correct invite list. Contact the ride organiser if you need to make changes.
Zwift Invitation List -Best viewed from your laptop / PC browser. Alternatively, your mobile / tablet needs the free Google Sheets app installed.
Meetups are configured with the “Keep everyone together” feature, ie Zwift assists riders on the back to make it a true no-drop-ride.
Follow all the organisers (via the Zwift Companion app) below and send a text message with a request to be added to the invitation list.
0431 814 917
0418 273 884
Lucas Mahon (Managed by Tom)
0418 273 884
0403 147 166
Tuesday & Thursday Evening
S (30 minutes) – 5pm
M (45 minutes) – 6pm
L (60 minutes) – 7:15pm
XL (75 minutes) – 7am
S (30 minute Partners Ride*) – 9am
* Encourage your partner to ride! -Think how easy it will be to justify a 65″ TV in your pain cave if (s)he is riding too.
You and/or your kids may also join in to support your partner.
Be sure to download the main Zwift app to your device (mobile, tablet or PC / laptop)…
… AND …
…the Zwift Companion app to your mobile. – Even if you plan to use a PC/laptop.
For a better experience a large screen is preferred. For many people that means Apple Air Play or Google Chromecast mobile/tablet to their TV. – Its not absolutely essential, so I’ll leave this for one of your techy friends to help you with.
Another good option is running the app on your Apple or Windows laptop to utilise its screen. See display/device link above for suitable laptops.