Zwift Adds MTB/CX Specific Training Plans and a Range of Off Road Bikes

Dec 6, 2019
by Daniel Sapp  
Zwift
Is that Ned? It just may be...you can race with riders from all over the world, online, with Zwift.

We first saw a glimpse of Zwift's updated system at Eurobike and now, aspects of it are available. If you're not familiar with Zwift, it's a program that operates on your computer or phone via a link to a smart trainer. The trainer communicates the power output of the rider back to the application and allows users to ride against others in a virtual arena in real-time. You pedal faster on the trainer, you go faster on the screen. You can compete with others and it's meant to make riding the trainer a little less boring and more engaging. It's not a substitute for riding outside.

The game now contains two new training plans designed to meet the needs of off-road cycling where the specific demands of power output and pedaling are different than riding on the road. There's a 'Pebble Pounder' plan, designed as an entry-level plan for those looking to get into gravel events and then a more intermediate level plan called the 'Dirt Destroyer' for riders who have a developed endurance base but are aiming to improve mountain bike specific strengths. It uses repeated surges over threshold to up anaerobic capacity and peak pedal-torque which, in theory, will transfer to helping out on steep climbs.

According to Eric Min, CEO, and Co-Founder of Zwift, "We already have a strong user base of riders who spend most of their outdoor riding off-road. This may not be a total surprise - indoor training isn't just an effective training tool for road cyclists. However, this first coordinated move to cater for the (trail) audience is a significant step. For the first time, we will have dedicated training plans and bikes that suit the needs of off-road cyclists."

There is an additional, more advanced training plan for XC riders that will roll-out in early 2020.

Zwift

On top of the new training plans, Zwift has also added in a new crop of what I'll call vBikes (short for 'Virtual Bike' - to keep things simple) to the game. The vBikes can be purchased in Zwift's Drop Shop where VR training and exercise enthusiasts can use Zwift's 'Drops' virtual currency earned by riding in the game to purchase the Canyon Grail, Inflite, and Cervelo's Aspero gravel bikes. Mountain bikers can choose from the Canyon Lux, Scott Spark, and Specialized Epic.

The vBikes are said to not only look like their real-world counterparts but they share a few ride characteristics - gravel bikes are fastest on gravel, moderate on the road, and slower off-road. Mountain bikes are fastest off-road, slower on gravel, and slowest on the road.

The announcement doesn't mention anything about the steering component that we saw at Eurobike however, Zwift did say that there will be further updates announced in the following months.


100 Comments

  • 112 2
 When is the E-Bike coming to Zwift?? /s
  • 81 1
 Remote controlled Ebikes are the future. Literally sit on the couch drinking Rynopower lemon citrus while you control your bike remotely, brilliant.
  • 3 0
 Came here to ask that... ahahah
  • 16 2
 @Tmackstab: Be careful. Don't drink from your couch teammate's bottle...
  • 16 0
 There's nothing keeping you from putting you E-Bike on the smart trainer now and smoking random strangers on that killer climb.
  • 6 0
 @UtahBrent: finally a reason to buy an ebike!
  • 2 0
 @UtahBrent: It’s actually harder to cheat with an eBike on Zwift than Strava in the real world.
  • 2 0
 Ebikes mode on Zwift should charge your bikes battery. You can charge bikes battery for weekend epic Ebike ride at home after work. A trainer could be used as generator for charging an external ebike battery.
  • 4 0
 If you used a trainer to charge an ebike battery would it really still be cheating??

Id call it earning your hills ahead.
  • 1 0
 @UtahBrent: thats funny AF
  • 84 0
 Interesting hand position in the top photo. I'll have to try that.
  • 16 0
 good catch. i also want to see how lightly pressing the back of my hand against the bar improves my riding.
  • 22 0
 Brake levers as handles. More aero. Brilliant. Lol.
  • 8 0
 Sometimes your cro magnon hand fur gets itchy, brah...
  • 9 0
 Bars are too wide. OOPS wrong forum
  • 3 8
flag taprider (Dec 6, 2019 at 9:09) (Below Threshold)
 No I meant to say it looks like a Trek Session
  • 4 0
 @tacklingdummy: that roadie life lol
  • 4 0
 Take a look at the foot too. Half way up the crank? Made skills bro
  • 4 0
 GhostGrips™
  • 2 0
 @taprider: it's the upcoming Downcountry NWO Agenda: 90cm wide bars
  • 3 0
 @CentralVTMTB: Missing pedal as well ... Ain't nobody got time pho dat !
  • 5 0
 @CentralVTMTB: his pedal has clearly just snapped off from pedalling so hard and his hand has blown off the bars as a result.

The new zwift brings another level of realism to virtual riding. For the bargain price of $200 a year, the zwift injury application team will even come around your house and replicate in the real world any injuries you sustain virtually.
  • 1 0
 Rider is going SO fast that the amount of downforce created requires a slight upward pressure on the bars. Dude is quick...
  • 1 0
 Bike Industry goals:
Get paid to shittalk on Pinkbike
  • 2 0
 @ctd07: Sign me up!
  • 1 0
 haha, no pedal either
  • 62 6
 Everyone is quick to rag on Zwift but let me tell you: when it's been raining uninterrupted for three weeks and you just can't bring yourself to put your soggy shoes on even one more time Zwift is a life saver. Both my mental and physical health have improved because of it.

While I'm at it with the unpopular opinions, buying and riding the shit out of a road bike (both inside and outside) was the best thing I ever did for my mountain biking. Being fitter not only means you can pedal faster, it also means you're fresher at the top of big climbs and really extended technical sections so you can focus on your technique. That's right folks, doing Zwift and riding a road bike will improve your handling.
  • 8 0
 Totally! I'm in New England so have always come into spring on the slow side. Worse, if I did an early season trip to CA my friends out there would smoke me bad. Never have been able to stomach indoor training. Tried everything, even full rollers. Then I found Zwift last year. Was perfect for my general video game bug, had some Fortnite silliness aspects, and my old dusty road bike found new life. Got a Tacx Neo 2, love the silly RoadFeel, and now I can't get enough. This past spring I came in with almost peak season fitness because of it, and plan on the same for next spring. Screw fat bikes, they're stupid and I'll never be caught dead on one unless I'm wearing a clown costume. (kidding) (sort of).
  • 13 0
 This^^^
Mountain biking is so much more enjoyable when you're fit for it. If you're not getting up via lift or shuttle, the climbing is way more tolerable and less time consuming, leaving more time for the fun bits . The only down side is waiting at the top of the climbs for your out of shape buddies.
  • 5 0
 Yep. I love riding road, almost as much as I love riding MTB. Well... not almost but I do enjoy it. Why I like road bikes the most? They make the time spent on the MTB that much better. better fitness = more fun.
  • 13 0
 @plume: My fear of road riding these days is the insane level of distracted driving. The S^it I see drivers do, especially on back roads, makes me terrified for the hapless cyclist that is just around the bend.
  • 3 0
 For me it's about convenience. I'm a recent convert and whereas I used to get out maybe once a week at best, I'm now riding 4 or 5 days a week. Yes If rather be put for real, but a trip to the local trails is around 5hrs in total, and full time work, a wife and 3 kids makes that difficult at the best of times... It won't blow you away with how fun or exciting it is as there's no comparison, but it will get you fit by always being there for a moderately engaging quick spin...
  • 2 0
 @Chuckolicious: Yeah we all make a decision about risk/reward. the reward I get from hitting a road bike ride from my house is higher than my perceived risk. I'm careful about when and where I ride, I live in a rural setting with many quiet roads, so for me, it's a way of keeping ride time at a level so that fitness doesn't drop. I stopped trying to convince other people road is safe, it's not, but either is riding trail. I understand the distinct difference of the risks of both, so respectfully, I get it but I'm going to keep doing it as long as I can. This winter I'm only riding inside on the road bike and get outside almost exclusively on the MTB. Stay safe!
  • 2 0
 @slimboyjim: I had the same feeling about road, now I actually enjoy it. I like the zoned out nature of an easy road ride, I can let my mind slip and problem solve on quiet back roads. Got me through some rough times. It's not the same as trail, no way, but I do enjoy it for what it brings. Put it this way, I find my flow zone on the mountain bike a lot easier, I find my zone out time on the road bike. Plus my partner doesn't mountain bike but she will go out for a road ride with me. Keep safe.
  • 6 0
 @plume: I used to enjoy my commute to work by bike - saved money and free fitness. Unfortunately I live in a city and got taken out by a car. I'm not such a fan now...

I found that if you went out expecting a road ride to be fun like mountain biking you'd be disappointed. However, once you got over that and took it for what it is - a pleasant cruise around outside your house - it was nice.

Zwift does hit that spot for me though in that the easiest time for me to ride is after 8pm. I can put the kids to bed and get an hour in with maximum convenience and without abandoning my kids alone in the house (as much as sometimes it would be nice to!)... It works for me and my circumstances.
  • 4 1
 Injury too. I did a friday fails video style landing last year and I cracked my rotator cuff. I couldn't ride for 3 months. Zwift with a road bike on a smart trainer kept me sane and fit enough to trail ride while I healed.
  • 4 0
 @ExShopRat: ...your rotator cuff is muscles..can't crack that
  • 1 0
 Another great training option is to get an old "spin" bike, I found a great one for a flat $80 that a dude was getting rid of to make room for his peloton. It's a great investment for inclement weather, coming off injury, training, etc. especially when the trails are snow covered and/or muddy. Combined with my Garmin Fenix5 it works really well for intervals, hanging out in that "sweet spot" ~140bpm (although I really don't know that much about training specifics). Put the bike in the same room as my computer so I can watch videos, Netflix, etc. while I pedal. Granted it's not like playing a video game while pedaling and I've never done Zwift (Like does it control the resistance based on incline/decline?)
  • 2 0
 @Chuckolicious: Likewise, I used to bike around the city all the time, fixie, yeah I know... But these days riding roads is way too scary for me, even more so now that we live in the mountains and people drive fast around blind corners while replying to Pinkbike comments Wink I stick to off road cycling
  • 1 0
 @slimboyjim: This! It wasn't long after I got doored coming home one evening that bike commuting and doing longer rides around Denver quickly lost their enjoyment, it became so stressful, I found that I was hyper aware of my surroundings and trying to always anticipate what vehicles were planning on doing.
  • 1 0
 I hear ya. But also, taking the soles out of your shoes and stuffing them with towels dries them really quickly (inside preferably) and riding a cheap hardtail that's easy to clean is pretty damn fun when it's sloppy and wet out. But yeah...too many rain rides can get old.
  • 2 0
 Owned a "Dumb Trainer" for 15 years rode maybe 5hrs total, I've owned a smart trainer and Zwift has been a huge help with injury recovery, and has helped prevent the big fall off of fitness through winter.
  • 1 0
 This. All day long.
  • 1 0
 Or, if you don’t mind looking like and old man, you can get an ebike.
  • 2 0
 Or... you can switch it up and do a bit of cross training. Yoga, running and rock climbing have definitely complimented my riding nicely. A bit of work on some other muscle groups is a great way to prevent injury from lack of strength in these areas. My hips, knees, hands..really my entire body is significantly stronger and more flexible because I have engaged in these activities.
  • 1 0
 @slimboyjim: this is why I'll be shopping for out a good(ish) trainer post Christmas: I enjoy trails the most, but I've ridden more road the past four years because it's more convenient before work. Now I'm back in the UK after seven years away, so dealing with darker nights, a job with a later finish, getting buzzed by lorries in the dark, and may soon have my first kid on the way: I see a trainer/zwift as my best shot at getting *some* riding in every day or two.
  • 2 0
 @Chuckolicious: This is why I gave up road cycling and now just MTB. Riders are dying and the general public does not seem to care. Sad.
  • 29 2
 This is stupid. Being stronger when you're mountain biking sucks. You have to go so much further and faster just to get tired.
  • 9 0
 No kidding. And you spend all this extra money on tires and chains and stuff 'cause they wear out.
  • 22 1
 Up, Down, Up, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, A, B, A, B, Select then Start to get unlimited lives
  • 2 0
 IDSPISPOPD No Clipping, FTW!
  • 1 0
 ebike unlocked
  • 16 0
 This is amazing news. All Summer I've been riding my bike outside to prepare for this new Zwift season.
  • 18 3
 Fantastic. Outside is Bullshit.
  • 11 5
 Gumby dear boy you have missed the point entirely.
  • 1 0
 When are we getting some indoor downhill tracks! Look at the ski dome in Dubai as a model, killing it, making billions and bringing skiing and all winter attire sales to those people who would otherwise never now the enjoyment of winter sports! Wink
  • 1 0
 @enis: Yeah I saw that as well, while I find it extremely dumb, it's at least not something built in the middle of a desert near the equator. Also, WTF does this even mean? "The year-round resort can make 5,500 tons of real snow per day" Pretty sure man-made snow is called fake snow, real snow is made by weather events.
  • 2 0
 @chacou: Yeah, Im lucky enough to call the mtns in CO home. Definately see my fair share of "Fake" snow this time of year.
While real snow has the same chemical composition of fake snow...frozen H2O, it definately has a different feel and sound when on it. But, it's all still fun. Id much rather ski/board on fake snow than not at all. That being said I'm sure I'd rather ride year 'round for a year or two. But maybe that'd get old as well. I really enjoy the change of seasons and activities. Prevents burn out?
  • 1 0
 @enis: Likewise regarding CO mtns being home. I more just think it's ridiculous to build these giant refrigerators so people can partake in outdoor activities indoors, granted I totally understand why the industry does it having formerly been involved in the industry, but it's just silly to me to build these things and then also put support behind POW, it's clearly about marketing an image instead of actually aligning values.
  • 1 0
 @chacou: I think it just comes down to supply and demand really. Surely there are numerous industries that are similar that would provide no benefit to those outside of said industry. Arcades? (Yeah they appeal to the masses, I get it) There are some ski areas in Jersey that would surely be as good as this "arcade".

But, does the CO2 output of this venue match the output of those driving to those mountains....I have no idea.

I have no issue with a venue that provides a health or activity benefit to those that cant necessarily reach it easily. I have no issue with gyms. Regardless of activity, surely any venue that provides a space to work out (in any form) is better than a venue that promotes stagnation.

For the record I love beer and bars.
  • 1 0
 @enis: that thing was built more than a decade ago along with the mall. the market crash of 2009 stopped everything. I have been driving by it for years on NJ turnpike. the mall still is not open.

Governments have to realize we can't borrow and spend our way to prosperity.
  • 14 1
 It's the MTB version of a blow up doll
  • 6 1
 So did you buy two?
  • 8 0
 I wonder if Zoe was involved in the development of the XC portion. Those bars in the top pic are looking pretty wide.
  • 6 0
 Get Zwifty!
  • 3 0
 Riding indoors is so much tougher, even though the workouts are way easier. I can ride all day outdoors, but on a trainer I can hardly do an hour.
  • 1 0
 I think the construction of indoor skateparks is the key to keeping the skills going in the winter, and I think city velodromes are the key to keeping ones legs yoked in the off season. In the event of not having enough collective interest, you can just lift and ride in the snow
  • 10 7
 why would anyone ride outdoors for free when they can pay money to do this?
  • 18 1
 I live in a city and have a young family. It's hard to get out properly (it's a 5hr round trip for me) so, as much as I'd like to get out more, I struggle to get out.
I can easily jump on the turbo when the kids are in bed and keep my fitness up.
Is it as good as the real thing - no.
Is it more engaging than staring at a wall whilst turbo training - yes!
It's a mildly engaging means to an end. It's kind of fun, but not mountain biking fun...
  • 4 2
 I wonder how closely the Zwift love/hate divide corresponds with commenter age, familial status, and the resulting responsibilities stack.
  • 4 1
 Or if they've just ever used it. Or if they race (besides in the comments.)
  • 2 0
 I can only imagine Wahoo is designing a bike bouncer (Wahoo Bouncr?) to simulate trail riding to compliment this new Zwift feature ;-)
  • 2 0
 I will get excited about Zwift when they add a Lonely Mountains integration
  • 8 9
 Now indoor cyclists can start taking mountain bike Strava segments in addition to all the road segments! Oh boy!

For those who haven't noticed this, some of these platforms (I think Zwift is one fo them) allow people to virtually ride in real places. That's all fine and dandy, but the problem is some of the apps spit out real GPS data that people can then upload to Strava. People then upload those files as actual rides, and given their inflated power numbers and lack of real world conditions, take all of the KoMs. I don't compete very much on Strava anymore, but occasionally it's fun to try to set a PR or go for broke. This fake data makes it impossible to compete in that way.
  • 15 1
 Just go for that PR anyways. Who cares about some random fake internet flex?
  • 15 1
 You can open any gpx file and edit timestamps. It's just a text file. If you really want to fake strava rides It's not hard.
  • 13 2
 Guess it's time to not put any weight into strava results, and just ditch that crap all together. After all, there was still great times to be had on a mountain bike before strava made it a d*ck swinging contest.
  • 6 2
 That's not how Zwift or Strava work.
  • 3 0
 That's not Zwift. It's all fake courses, even if they resemble real places like London.
  • 2 0
 I use Zwift and I know that all my rides upload as a 'Virtual Ride' on Strava (I upload to track general distance / times info rather than to get new 'high scores') to seperate them from real data to prevent this. I don't think it's an issue any more, unless someone is purposely being a d*ck...?
  • 10 0
 @slimboyjim: Maybe the guy actually lives on Watopia. If so, oops Big Grin
  • 2 0
 If it wasnt recorded on Strava, was fun ever really had? What did we ever do before we had this nonsense to validate our own sense of achievement
  • 1 0
 For the nerds out there, here's a very recent Def Con presentation on hacking and cheating Zwift, or any other virtual trainer. youtu.be/pq9t0VEIMio
  • 4 1
 I'm not riding a Specialized, even virtually.
  • 1 0
 Hopefully this zwift thing gains traction that way there will be less people on the trails and less needing for trails to get dumbed down
  • 2 0
 As long as the mud spray stays virtual it's all good.
  • 3 1
 Damn I'm lucky to live where winter IS the riding season.
  • 1 0
 Used to ride inside on some shit called a turbo trainer in the 80's and after about 2 days of that decided to move out west!
  • 3 2
 That’s like saying you won’t go to whistler because you rode in a parking lot once and didn’t have fun.
  • 2 0
 Had to read the comments to figure out what this was
  • 1 0
 Digital double decker bar!
  • 4 7
 I have tried Zwift and don't understand why anyone would use it. It seems to me that if you have ever played an actual video game, it just seems like a joke. I much prefer using a numbers-focused app like TrainerRoad or similar, and watching TV or a movie at the same time.
  • 9 1
 Some people love Call of Duty, other's are die hard BattleField fans. People enjoy different styles of gameplay.

Same for training. I enjoy the almost ridiculous virtual worlds and interactions I can get in zwift, others would rather avoid that and just focus on stats or supplement other entertainment.

Neither is a wrong way to get/stay in shape over the winter.
  • 3 0
 Dunno why you're getting down voted Micah - each to their own!

I tried TrainerRoad and liked it a lot. I think Zwift shades it for me though given the variety of rides you can do (they have TrainerRoad style plans, organised races and free roaming) and it is a little cheaper!
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