How I Got on Zwift with a Non-Smart Trainer

When the world went on lockdown I quickly realized I needed to find ways to motivate myself to exercise. Enter Zwift — but can you Zwift without a smart trainer? Here’s how I got connected using equipment I already had on hand.

I’ve had a Minoura B60 (non-remote version) trainer since 2013 when I started training for my first long-distance triathlons. To track my speed and distance even during indoor workouts, I have a Garmin speed sensor installed on my rear wheel hub. (It has a partner cadence sensor, but I think it’s gone dead even with a change of battery.) To track my heart rate, my Garmin Forerunner 945 has a wrist-based optical heart rate sensor — but I also have a Wahoo Tickr chest strap heart rate monitor.

Now, for Zwift to read all the data these devices spit out, you need to pick up their signals. While a laptop and many mobile devices have Bluetooth capability, only my Wahoo HR strap transmits in both ANT+ and Bluetooth. My Garmin speed sensor transmits via ANT+ — and obviously the Minoura doesn’t churn out any data at all.

That’s where having an Android smartphone comes in so handy. Ever since a software upgrade, most Android smartphones can use their Bluetooth antennas to pick up ANT+ signals. While I’ve upgraded my personal smartphone to a Samsung Galaxy S10, I still have my old Galaxy S7. I installed the Zwift mobile app from the Google Play store, turned on the phone’s Bluetooth, and was able to connect with all my tracking devices and ride on Zwift!

Watch how I did it in my vlog below:

Of course, the Minoura non-smart trainer can’t simulate the terrain changes on Zwift like smart trainers can (especially ones that have an erg mode), but it beats mindlessly pedaling while watching a K-drama. And since I’m not on any training plan that requires intervals and other similar efforts, exploring Zwift routes while giving Ride Ons to Zwifters nearby helps keep me pedaling on the bike for an hour or more.

One of the other reasons I’ve signed up for Zwift is that MX Endurance is launching its Watopia Challenge in May! MX Endurance members have the chance to tackle one of four challenges to win a whole series of prizes, including cycling apparel from Xceed Sport, a PRfive Frameset from Quintana Roo Bikes, and FORM Swim Goggles. Check out the details here, and sign up for MX Endurance free for the first two months using the promo code MX2FREE.

About Noelle De Guzman

Noelle De Guzman is a freelance writer and recreational athlete with over 12 years of experience in fitness and endurance sport. She believes sport and an active healthy lifestyle changes lives.

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