Zwift makes indoor training more accessible with new Hub One turbo trainer
Virtual gears allows almost any bike with a chain to be fitted to the new smart trainer from the indoor training giant
Junior Tech Writer
Zwift announced its arrival into the hardware world of indoor training last year with the Zwift Hub, a direct-drive smart trainer that came with a choice of cassette to match your bike. A year on and the brand is at it again, this time releasing the Zwift Hub One which features virtual shifting and a one-cog set-up called Zwift Cog. This means there's far greater compatibility for bikes with 8-12 speed shifting.
The Zwift Hub One also includes a virtual shifting remote called the Zwift Click that allows you to simulate changing gears on the trainer. Both the Zwift Cog and Click are backwards compatible with the existing Zwift Hub allowing owners of the original Hub to upgrade to this new platform.
- Read More: Getting started with Zwift indoor training
Zwift Cog and virtual shifting
The most obvious benefit of the Zwift Cog is that there's no longer a need for a selection of cassettes that would connect your bike to the trainer - it's now taken care of by this single covered cog.
Instead of the trainer operating similarly to a traditional bike, where you vary the required output with your gears, the Zwift Hub One uses a technology more commonly found on indoor bikes. Virtual Shifting uses calibrated software within the trainer to mimic a full complement of gears by varying the experienced resistance to the rider.
The Zwift Cog replaces the need to change gear physically, reducing noise and potential for dropped chains
Virtual shifting mitigates some of the issues of using a traditional set-up on a trainer such as chain drops and slow, sticky shifting. The housing around the Zwift Cog acts as a chain retention device to further prevent any chain drops.
A quieter system
Zwift is claiming that, not only does the Zwift Cog boost compatibility, but it also creates a quieter overall system.
"Modern smart bikes are now so quiet, the loudest noise when riding actually comes from the bike's physical drivetrain. With Virtual Shifting, much of this added noise is eliminated, leaving the rest of your house in peace while you sweat it out in the virtual world of Watopia."
As the gears are no longer controlled by the bike, the Zwift Hub One comes with a small bar-mounted device called the Zwift Click that acts as a digital shifter. Shifting is as straightforward as you would expect, with plus and minus buttons to shift the gear up or down. From launch, Zwift Hub One comes with 24 gears, offering a range wide enough to tackle any Zwift terrain with minimal jumps between gears.
The Zwift Click can be mounted to road, mountain, or time trial bike with a simple O-ring fitting
No longer is the gear ratio of your bike or the jumps in your cassette a necessary consideration as all gears are virtual, so you can be on a nine-speed bike but have use of 24 gears whilst on the trainer.
One of the interesting things that the Zwift Hub One allows for is an identical riding experience across different bikes. Using its integrated software, the Hub One is able to detect the bike's native gearing and compensate the virtual gears accordingly. This is particularly beneficial for gravel or mountain bike riders that don’t typically have gearing that is conducive to riding in Watopia.
Zwift says that: "In addition to delivering benefits to those with multiple bikes, real gear ratio calibration offers new benefits to riders using smaller chainrings, like those found on gravel and mountain bikes, preventing those riders from spinning out on flat or downhill terrain in Zwift."
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Price and availability
Zwift will continue to offer the Zwift Hub under a new name, the Zwift Hub Classic, along side the new Zwift Hub One, with both trainers available immediately for £549 / $599 / €599.
A Zwift Cog plus Zwift Click upgrade package will be available for purchase to update existing Zwift Hub trainers to the new system. The Zwift Cog comes pre-installed on a freehub that can be installed easily with the tools included with Zwift Hub. The upgraded bundle will be available for $59.99/£59.99/€59.99 for a limited time after launch, to allow existing Zwift Hub owners to upgrade, down from the full MSRP of $79.99/£79.99/€79.99.
It is noteworthy for Zwift users, looking to start using virtual shifting for their indoor training, that they will need to ensure that Zwift is updated to version 1.50, which will be rolling out between Wednesday October 11 and Friday October 13.
Junior Tech Writer
Alex writes for the GCN editorial tech with a passion for all things bike tech.