Zwift enters the hardware market with the very attractive $499 Zwift Hub direct-drive trainer

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Getting started on Zwift is about to get easier and cheaper.

Known for its popular immersive virtual training software, Zwift is now entering the hardware space with an extremely enticing first offering: a $499 direct-drive trainer called Zwift Hub.

At this point, Zwift is so well known to core cyclists and triathletes that it’s used as a verb. However, increasingly, according to the company, people are coming to the platform who identify themselves as beginners, or are even starting to cycle through Zwift. And that means less familiarity with the equipment needed just to get started, as well as more hesitation in purchasing this often expensive equipment.

“We wanted to eliminate friction to make [the Hub trainer] the easiest and most accessible way to access Zwift,” said Mark Cote, vice president of content for Zwift.

Read also : Change is on the horizon in Watopia: Zwift announces a batch of updates until 2022

To that end, Zwift Hub is essentially Zwift in a box. It comes with everything a potential Zwift user needs to get started, minus the bike – and with its $499 price tag, it’s something that will grab the attention of newcomers and seasoned riders alike.

Zwift has color and pattern coded each piece for easy assembly.

For comparison, a Wahoo KICKR is $1,200, while the cheaper KICKR CORE is still $900, and a Saris H3 is $800.

Zwift Hub comes with a pre-installed cassette and now fits eight to 12-speed cassettes. Customers can choose the size they want at checkout (8-11 speed options have an 11-28T range while the 12 speed is 11-30T).

There are only a few steps involved in assembling the trainer. Attach the basic color-coded parts (which are also graphically differentiated for color blind people) to the trainer, plug it in and you’re on your way.

The hardest part of assembly can be choosing the right end caps to fit a given bike’s dropout length. But Zwift has made this process a little less complicated (but probably not foolproof) by including maps with pre-measured stall distances.

Zwift includes an adapter card to find the right end caps for a bike’s dropouts.

The coach

If the Zwift Hub sounds familiar, that’s probably because it is. Zwift contracted with JetBlack to build the trainers, and both in terms of functionality and appearance, Zwift’s model shares many similarities with that brand’s Volt smart trainer.

The Hub is not a carbon copy of this trainer, however. Zwift notes a few changes between them, including a change in the location of the Bluetooth cap, and that the Hub is only sold in the EU, UK, and US.

Read also: You can now race on Zwift with Holographic Replay

The specifications

By now you’re probably wondering where the catch is with that $499 price tag. It must be hidden in the datasheet, right?

From what I can tell, there doesn’t seem to have been a lot of compromise to make the Hub. It offers +/- 2.5% accuracy (a little less than other top-tier trainers but not enough for most cyclists to care), a maximum power of 1,800 watts, and the ability to simulate slopes up to 16%. These are also the same specs as the JetBlack Volt, a trainer with a suggested price of $1,200.

The hub weighs 15 kg, including a 4.7 kg flywheel, and it can support up to 130 kg (254 lb) of rider.

And when it comes to device compatibility, it has both Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity. There is no form of hardware lock on Zwift either. The trainer is free to use on any other platform or service – or on its own without any accompanying software.

Zwift also said the trainer was not a loss leader – something to entice customers and settle on the platform at a loss, with hardware losses ultimately recouped through the $15 monthly software subscription. $. The brand claims that it is actually making a profit even with that $499 price tag.

Also read: From Zwift Academy to Vuelta a España glory: Jay Vine’s incredible WorldTour journey

go the distance

Zwift has tested the Hub to make sure it stands up to years of heavy use.

There are currently four trainers connected to test machines that are constantly running to test durability. The machines are approaching two years of simulated heavy use based on a real Zwift rider’s 250 annual riding hours and each trainer is holding up well so far.

Zwift tested the trainers over a two-year simulation of use.

Zwift also created a dream job for this project. To make sure the Hub stands up to anything a real Zwift user might try, Zwift has hired QA riders whose job it is to drive the trainer through the day on a variety of training plans. Testers have covered over 10,000 miles so far. Getting paid at Zwift doesn’t sound so bad.

Also read: Zwift CEO: Tour de France Women ‘exceeded everyone’s expectations’

Compatibility

Zwift has also been busy testing the Hub trainer with a variety of bike models, and especially on a variety of frame sizes from 45cm to 64cm as well as drivetrains including 8 to 12 speed groups. The company has tested 500 of them so far, and the vast majority have adapted very well. Zwift will share this ever-growing list of compatible frameworks on its website.

Zwift has tested over 500 bikes with the Hub trainer.

Availablity

The Trainer Hub will be available on October 3 exclusively on zwift.com.

Zwift enters the hardware market with the very attractive $499 Zwift Hub direct-drive trainer

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