Zwift visited Australia to showcase their new cycle training ‘game’ which promises to make indoor training fun. Zwift is a multi-player cycling game, as you train on your indoor trainer, you can virtually compete against other cyclists worldwide. While the gamification may appear to be something for teens to 25 year olds, Zwift co-founder and CEO Eric Min says that most of the interest is from 35 – 50 year olds.
To take part, you need an indoor trainer, ANT+ cadence / speed sensor, an ANT+ dongle for your computer to receive data and an internet connection on your mac or PC. Currently Zwift is free to download and later a subscription fee will be introduced which has been suggested to be around $10 / month.
The potential of Zwift is reflected in the brand connections and partnerships. Legendary cyclist, Jens Voigt recently did a virtual ride on Zwift with fans during the AMGEN Tour of California and Zwift have partnered with Trek, Canyon and Specialized and will allow riders to ‘unlock’ better performing virtual bikes inside the game. In Australia, Zwift ran a Melbourne event at Bike Gallery and a Sydney event at the Rapha shop to launch the concept to Australian cyclists and they attracted well known personalities from all sectors of cycling such as Matt Keenan who moderated the Sydney event (before dashing off to commentate on the Giro d’Italia).
Zwift CEO Eric Min with Hairy Dude “Paul Craft” and Matt Keenan.
Rapha Club Riders rose to the challenge to win prize money for the fastest lap
The Cycling Game
Indoor cycle trainer can be boring. You can zone-out to music, watch and follow training videos or watch movies or your favourite television series. Zwift is an innovative idea with potential, while they are not claiming to replace outdoor cycling, co-founder Eric Min is hooked and says that he demands perfect conditions before he will venture outdoors on his bike.
Fun and games with 241 watts in a collared shirt
While the computer graphics are not photo-realistic, Eric confirms that it is early days. Zwift launched in October last year and this month have announced the Open-Beta, invites are no longer required and anyone can now download and use it (currently) for free. The game play is straight forward, all game-play takes place on a ‘mythical’ island and the visuals are bright and colourful but remain relatively close to reality without hyperactive features – the current in-game ‘achievements’ are upgraded jerseys and bikes. Zwift also lends itself to a vast array of development within the game (such as training goals and in-game advertising) as well as externally, such as bundling Zwift subscription with a cycle trainer purchase and creating Zwift based cyclist events.
During the Sydney launch event, as various cyclists took to the Pinarello’s on Cycle-ops trainers at the Rapha store to compete for prize money for the fastest lap, it was curious to see the energy and sweat of these cyclists compared with their relaxed and smooth avatars on screen. As the riders sprinted toward the finish, their virtual avatars seemed oblivious to the real world exertion as they gracefully rode over the digital finish line.
Zwift introduces more entertainment and competition compared with Trainer Road software and cycling data such as watts, cadence, heart rate as well as in-game data such as kph, distance and time are complemented by the onscreen 3D graphics display.
You can find out more about Zwift and download from: www.zwift.com