If you want to see your power both on Zwift and outside, a power meter is the way to go. These devices measure the force you’re putting on the pedals, cranks, crank spider, or other parts of your bicycle’s drivetrain.
Here’s a guide for anyone looking to get up and riding on Zwift with a power meter.
Choosing a Power Meter
Need help choosing a power meter? Check out this article to help figure out what power meter is right for you.
Most power meters these days transmit both ANT+ and Bluetooth, which are both signals Zwift can work with. Some may only communicate in either ANT+ or Bluetooth, but not both. Make sure to check whether your power meter’s signal is compatible with the device you use to run Zwift. Here are Zwift’s current device requirements >
If you use separate bikes for indoor training and outdoor riding, you might consider a pedal-based power meter, if they match the type of pedals you currently use. These are easier to switch between bikes than other types of power meters.
What Else Do I Need?
In addition to your power meter, there are three things you must have in order to ride on Zwift:
- A bike (obviously)
- A device to run Zwift (with Internet connection)
- A classic or smart trainer
Which Type of Trainer Should I Use?
For an immersive experience: Many smart trainers do more than just broadcast power. With a controllable smart trainer, you’ll be able to feel the resistance change when you hit the hills. This makes it feel more like you’re really climbing and riding the course. You can also use ERG mode, which helps you to hold your target wattage during structured workouts. Zwift’s power-matching feature lets it control ERG mode with the data from your power meter. All you have to do is connect both your power meter and a controllable smart trainer that’s compatible with Zwift.
Smart trainers can be “direct drive” (which take the place of your rear wheel) or “wheel on” (which have a roller that goes beneath your rear wheel). If you use the same bike for indoor training and outdoor riding, it may be easier to mount and unmount the bike with a wheel-on trainer. Direct-drive trainers tend to be more accurate, though.
Looking for a smart trainer recommendation? Check out Smart Trainer Recommendations.
For Zwifting on a budget: Of course, if you’ve bought a power meter you may not want to spend more money on a smart trainer. In that case, a classic or “dumb” trainer will do just fine. With a lower-end magnetic or “mag” trainer, you might start spinning out if you can put out a lot of power. In that case, seek out a fluid trainer, which gives increasing resistance as you pedal harder.
Learning the Basics
Once you’ve chosen the type of trainer you’ll use, take a look at one of these step-by-step beginner’s guides for getting started on Zwift:
Note: You do not need a speed sensor when using Zwift with a power meter, even with a classic trainer! Zwift will use your power to calculate your speed.
Are you using rollers? Most of the time they should be set up like a classic trainer. Some newer rollers will transmit power to Zwift and even change resistance, though. If you have rollers that transmit ANT+ and/or Bluetooth signals, follow the steps for a smart trainer.
Creating a Zwift Account
Every Zwifter has their own account which tracks mileage and other achievements. Signing up easy–just visit zwift.com/create_account.
You will be given free trial access to Zwift so you can test it out before choosing to subscribe. Subscription cost in the US is currently $14.99/month.
Connecting Your Power Meter to Zwift
So you’ve got your bike mounted on a trainer, plus a device with Zwift installed and a power meter to connect to it. What next?
Zwift’s software communicates wirelessly with your power meter, allowing your in-game avatar to ride in a virtual world in a way that realistically reflects your effort.
Note: if you’re running Zwift on a computer and want to use ANT+ for your wireless connection, you’ll need an ANT+ USB dongle plugged into that computer so it can talk to your smart trainer. See Recommended ANT+ Sticks (Dongles) for Zwift >
For Zwift and your power meter to “talk” to each other, you must pair them from within the Zwift software. Connecting your power meter to Zwift is quite easy once you’ve installed Zwift on your device:
- Make sure your power meter has fresh batteries.
- Open up Zwift on your device and log in.
- At the pairing screen, click “Search” under “Power Source.” If your power meter doesn’t appear, try turning the cranks a few times.
- Select your power meter, then hit “OK.”
- If you’re using a smart trainer, pair it under “Controllable Trainer” so that Zwift can tell it to change resistance. Note: It’s a good idea to pair your power meter first, so that Zwift doesn’t pair with your trainer as the Power Source.
- Do not pair a speed sensor while using a power meter, even when you’re on a classic trainer. Once you pair one of these, the other option will be disabled.
Once you click “OK” on the pairing screen, you’ll be greeted with the “Startup Screen” which lets you choose which route to ride, as well as a workout if you’re so inclined.
Just click the big orange “Ride” button to get going right away, or click “Routes” to browse the available routes. Keep in mind there are always two worlds available on a given day: Watopia and a “guest world”. Each world has its own unique set of routes, and the guest world rotates based on a monthly schedule.
We recommend joining a group ride once you’ve done a few “free rides” on Zwift. The Zwift community rocks!
Additionally, Zwift Companion allows you to see upcoming events, control the game, and interact with other Zwifters from your smartphone. Install it on your iOS or Android device and see how it works.
We’ll see you out there. Ride on!
Trying to figure out how to connect my Garmin to Zwift. Do I need to download the app on my phone?
It’s there a benefit to pairing with your power metre instead of your smart trainer? It’s one better for racing?
Waiting for my 4iiii crank to arrive but I got it because I understand it will greatly reduce the annoying lag I have with my Tacx Vortex between the time I apply (or reduce) power and it appears in Zwift. Makes it problematic to ride comfortable in a bunch during a long race.
Probably the biggest benefit is consistency.. If you are using the same Power source on the road and on the trainer then you will know how much power you can hold both indoor and outdoor.. If you are using Power Meter Pedals outdoor and a Trainer indoor then there will be differences in the power they report as one measures the power at the pedals and the other at the wheel. I guess for racing, select the one that is over-reporting your power where you have a difference between the two 😀
Please can you tell me if and how I can pair my Garmin vector 3s pedals as the power source whilst enabling my Tacx Neo 3T as the controllable trainer. I want Smart responsive resistance however I need the power to be consistent with the pedals I use on the the road. I tried and failed today
The instructions above should work, this is what I do for my Assiomas and Tacx Flux. The only thing to watch out for is how Zwift is talking to the devices… Ant+ or Bluetooth. With Bluetooth there is a limit on the number of devices that can be connected so it is generally better to use Ant+.
Hi, I just wonder if there is difference between speed by speed sensor and power meter? I’m currently studying about the virtual speed, I mean like do I need to use power meter calculation if I can just obtain speed data directly from a speed sensor? Unless if there is difference between them, and which one actually represent the speed?
Yes, Syafiq, to get accurate power data, you should use a power meter if you have one. Zwift’s power estimation from a speed sensor is a great way to use Zwift on a budget, but it is only an estimate. It might seem strange, but speed is NOT a direct measurement – power is. Zwift does not use your speed sensor to determine your speed. Instead, it uses your speed sensor to estimate your power. It then uses that power number combined with things like your weight and height, your bike and wheel choice, the terrain, the type of road… Read more »
Hi I’ve used Zwift a year ago and no problems. I’ve just bought a wahoo sensor set it up like before and it registers on the main screen by shaking it but no bike movement getting really annoyed I’m using my iPhone 13 to run Zwift can anyone help!!