How to Fix ANT+ Dropouts in Zwift

How to Fix ANT+ Dropouts in Zwift

Zwift connects to your sensors (smart trainer, power meter, heart rate monitor, cadence, speed) wirelessly using Bluetooth or ANT+. Usually this works wonderfully well, but occasionally Zwifters encounter the dreaded ANT+ dropout: that frustrating event when Zwift stops receiving data from your sensors. What causes dropouts, and how can you avoid them?


#1 Culprit: Weak Signal or Interference

This is by far the most common reason for ANT+ drops, and it’s due to the inherent weaknesses of ANT+ as a wireless protocol. Fortunately, if your problem is weak signal or interference it is usually fixed quite easily. Here are common causes and solutions.

Too Far Apart

If your ANT+ dongle is more than a few feet away from your bottom bracket, it’s possible the signal from your sensor(s) is not reaching the dongle. Fortunately, this, is easy to fix!  Simply buy a USB extension cable (here is one we recommend from Amazon) then install it with one end plugged into your computer and one end into the ANT+ dongle. Now you can place the dongle wherever you’d like.

If you need a cable more than about 3 meters in length you should purchase an active USB extension cable to ensure a strong signal. Here is one which comes highly recommended on Amazon.

Home Wifi Channels 9-12

Most people set up their wifi routers with default settings, which means the router chooses which channel to use when it boots up. If your router uses 2.4Ghz (which most do) and chooses any channel from 9-12 it could very well cause interference with ANT+. The image below shows the spectrums used by each router channel, with ANT+ labeled in blue.

Logging into your router and forcing it to use a particular channel far away from the ANT+ signal will ensure wifi interference is not an issue.

Here’s a video showing how to change your wifi channel >

On a related note: you might consider upgrading your wifi to mesh for faster Internet >

Interference from Other Electronics

Other devices operating nearby may cause interference leading to dropouts. I’ve heard from than one Zwifter who only experience dropouts when their housemates use the microwave!

Fans are another common cause, but any electrical device has the potential to interfere with your ANT+ signals, especially devices which are poorly built. If you are experiencing issues you may need to just unplug items one at a time to see what solves the problem. This includes other wireless devices (such as a mouse or keyboard) on your computer. If you are plugging your ANT+ dongle straight into your computer, using a USB extension cable to get it away from the computer’s electronics is a good idea.

Weak Batteries

While smart trainers are plugged in for power, everything else (including your power meter) uses batteries. As these batteries weaken, the signal strength is reduced.

Installing fresh batteries may just solve your problem, which is why I always keep a pile of 2032 batteries on hand. Buying these in bulk from Amazon is much cheaper than paying a few bucks apiece at your local store.

Kinetic’s Extended Range Dongle

Kinetic’s Extended Range ANT+ dongle has been tested and proven to work better than a standard ANT+ dongle in nearly every possible setup situation. If your ANT+ drops are caused by weak signals or interference, the Kinetic dongle should improve things.

Read more here >


More Causes of ANT+ Dropouts

Other Computer Programs

Only one program on your computer can “own” your ANT+ dongle at any given time, so make sure you aren’t running any programs that use ANT+ dongles. The most common culprit here is Garmin’s software, “Garmin Express”.

USB Port Settings

The vast majority of USB ports will work just fine for your ANT+ dongle, but there are potential issues here:

  • Power saving: especially prevalent on laptops, this turns off or reduces power to your USB ports and can cause problems.
  • USB version: make sure your ports are version 2.0 or higher, as USB version 1 will not work with Zwift. If possible use a USB 3.0 port.
  • Adequate power: some computers only send 100mA of current to certain USB ports, and you need at least 500mA. Purchasing a powered USB hub or switching to a higher-powered port on the computer can fix this. I use and recommend this Sabrent 4-port hub, but any powered USB hub will do!

Sweat Damage

If you’re dripping sweat, water, etc on your USB dongle then it will stop working sooner or later. Simple solution: put the dongle into a small plastic bag so it is sheltered from sweat.

A Special Note about Wahoo KICKR ANT+ Dropouts

I’ve seen more than a few Zwifters who have had ANT+ dropout problems with their KICKR smart trainers because they paired the wrong profile in the “Power Source” and “Controllable” windows of the pairing screen. If you’re having KICKR power dropouts, pair the profile that has “FE-C” in the name. (The other profile does not use FE-C, and seems to have some problems. Word is Zwift may be removing it from the game in the future.)  Note: this fix may apply to other trainer models as well.


More Resources

Want a detailed look at your ANT+ drops on a Zwift ride? Check out Zwiftalizer >

Need an ANT+ stick? See our list of recommended ANT+ dongles >

Read Zwift’s official support document on ANT+ dropouts >


What about you?

Have you had ANT+ dropouts that you fixed? Share your solutions below!

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Mike Ubezzi
Mike Ubezzi (@mjubezzi)
1 year ago

Hi, @misc. I want to clarify the requirement for USB version. By version do you mean gen 1 or gen 2? Or is the 3.1 the version in the following specification: USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen1) ? I am trying to solve an ANT+ dropout issue and looking at weeding out the culprits. I have a 5G/2.4G wireless router but all devices are connected via 5Ghz so I am unsure if 2.4Ghz interference is at play here. I may have the wrong power profile paired, so will look at that next but wanted to double check the USB version. I believe… Read more »

Mike Ubezzi
Mike Ubezzi (@mjubezzi)
1 year ago

In looking at the profiles I was paired with the following was the case, “I’ve seen more than a few Zwifters who have had ANT+ dropout problems with their KICKR smart trainers because they paired the wrong profile in the “Power Source” and “Controllable” windows of the pairing screen.”
I have addressed this. Will try connecting the USB extension cable to the USB port on the power supply versus the USB ports on the laptop, to ensure I am not having a power issue.

Jan Van Mieghem
1 year ago

Eric: thanks so much!! The “pair the profile that has “FE-C” in the name” solved my problem. I don’t understand why Wahoo wouldn’t fix this, or at least tell us…

Jan Van Mieghem
1 year ago

THANK you Eric! “pair the profile that has “FE-C” in the name” solved my problem of power dropouts. [Weird: I never had power dropouts with my 2014 Kickr, but it came up with the new 2018 Kickr that is in exactly same position. So I knew it wasn’t a problem due to my physical setup. Seems like Wahoo would be wise to alert people and advise the FE-C connection.

Martin
Martin
1 year ago

My experience is that also a USB Hub in between PC and ANT+ Dongle can help. With direct connection to my PC I always had these dropout issues. Since I use a USB hub in between the problems are gone. Seems that some intereference came directly from the PC.

Alex
Alex
1 year ago

I have 2 identical hrm from Garmin; yesterday, the first one could not connect to the ant+ dongle at all, while, today, the second one connected easily but, around the end of the training, experienced continuous dropouts. Since the laptop with the dongle is behind the TV (1 meter away from me) , I tried to move the bike in a position where the hrm had direct view to the dongle a d this seemed to work.

Erik Midtskogen
Member
Erik Midtskogen (@erik_midtskogen)
1 year ago

I use both Zwift (for indoor base riding) and The Sufferfest (for race-specific training). I had been having lots of weirdness in both Zwift and The Sufferfest with my Kickr in terms of power not being reported correctly or dropping out entirely and resistance being controlled improperly. I discovered that if I simply disconnected my ANT+ bluetooth dongle, waited a few seconds, and then reconnected it after (or before) each workout. The problems I had went away completely. I’m on a Wahoo Kickr and Windows 10. Hope this helps.

Magal
Magal
1 year ago

Thank you very much; very comprehensive tutorial.

MARCOS MAGALHAES
MARCOS MAGALHAES
1 year ago

Thank very much; I changed the wifi channel and my problems capturing the numbers from the trainers were gone. Cheers!

Paul.c
Paul.c
1 year ago

Hi, I’ve had same problem today few seconds power drop enough to see you out the back of bunch, even happened on climbs! the trouble his I have two controlables fec 2524 ones a kicker climb other main unit fec 2524!.i have paired them both and the ant stick the fec one. his the one with the spanner the main unit? ile try the usb hub if persits.Yours paul.

Neil Payton
Neil Payton
1 year ago

I have a window 10 laptop and use an ANT doungle with an extension to get the laptop within 40cm of my tacx vortex .I have been on Zwift for 3 years and this year is the worst for drop out. I rode alp du Zwift yesterday and got 16 drop out in 1 hour these range from 5 seconds to a full minute. I have Zwift on my phone samsung 10 and again I get drop out it not worth entry races or doing a ramp set at present

leighton james
leighton james
10 months ago

Hi, any advice for heart rate glitches? Does not show consistently on rides

ian pidgeon
ian pidgeon
10 months ago

This issue is driving me MAD! VERY frequently I get my ANT+ devices connected (via USB dongle, on 3m extension, only 30cm from the power meter/trainer), then either straight away or a portion of time into a ride, they ALL (PM, Turbo, HR monitor) drop out/”no signal”… The annoying thing is, my Garmin head unit still shows ALL the data from the devices.. Therefore it CAN’T be poor signal, but the way Zwift [processes the data, no? I mean.. teh ANT+ devices are working fine, and there can’t be interferrence as the garmin head unit still runs teh data perfectly..… Read more »

Roy
Roy
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I have exactly the issue last weeks. Zwiftaliser doesnt show any issues related to connectivity, which makes sense since my setup hasnt changed last 2 years. The sensors are also not coming back in the “find” screen.

All ANT+ signals suddenly drop “no signal” and only way to fix is by unplug/replug the dongle and reconnect. Sometimes I need to repeat these steps a couple of times.
It usually only happes at startup but I also encoutered it mid-race after 30 minutes, which is extremely annoying.

Dan Seagle
Dan Seagle
10 months ago

After wrestling with connectivity issues with my kickr, I finally called support. I was told that there is an issue with 2 units causing interference with each other. This is a known issue that is not in their FAQs and I don’t think for a second it was accidentally missed as they tell you to do everything but not have another Kickr near by. This appears to simply be a case of don’t tell our customers not to buy more than one unit. I returned the one I bought for my wife, but I have a neighbor that has one,… Read more »

Darren
Darren
8 months ago

I get wattage dropouts, but not cadence dropouts. I’ve had this problem years ago, but seems to have come back after the last update last week. It doesn’t make sense that the algorithm doesn’t check for cadence when there is a sudden wattage drop out. If there is a sudden wattage drop, but my cadence is still high, the algorithm should keep me at the last known average wattage and keep me moving in game.

MKD
MKD (@ridefree_77)
4 months ago

Lately I seem to get watt dropouts when I make an attack/sprint. It lasts a few seconds, sometimes it sticks at certain watts, (e.g. it will stick on say 250w for a few seconds when I’m going max effort) or just drops out entirely. HR/Cadence sensors are unaffected. Seems to suggest that its a hardware/software problem rather than signal strength.

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