Today Zwift announced via a forum post the long-anticipated release of in-game support for Wahoo’s Direct Connect accessory. Launched in January 2021, Direct Connect allows you to plug a KICKR 5 smart trainer into your ethernet switch or directly into your computer’s ethernet jack for a “hard-wired” connection.
The hope is that this can provide a rock-solid experience free of pesky ANT+ drops and other connection issues some Zwifters have had to fuss with intermittently since early days.
Zwift’s forum post says that all platforms except PC are currently supported, as long as you’re using the latest version (game version 1.23.3). Zwift says PCs will be “will be supported in an upcoming release.”
So far we’ve tested it on iOS and AppleTV, where it worked great. If you’ve tried it on other platforms, comment below and share your experience.
Direct Connect allows you to plug your KICKR into your local ethernet switch via a standard ethernet cable (which you will need to supply). If you’re using WiFi for your Internet connection and have an ethernet port open on your Mac (or soon, PC) you can also just plug the ethernet cable straight into your computer.
Here’s a quick and (literally) dirty video showing how the connections to a switch work:
Once PC support rolls out, direct connections to your PC will probably result in a Windows Defender firewall popup in the pairing screen the first time you try it. This is because the Zwift app is trying to connect to your trainer. Simply check both boxes and click “Allow access” and you’ll be all set.
If you use another firewall on your PC, you may have to configure access via that software. Wahoo says:
3rd party firewalls may block traffic to the adapter including, Norton, McAfee, and Avast. Be sure to disable your 3rd party firewall or allow traffic on port 36866. Follow the instructions for your firewall to allow traffic on this port for the adapter to work properly.
Pairing in Game
Pairing in game is dead simple – your Wahoo KICKR simply shows up with a different connection type icon next to it.
Here’s a quick video showing how it works on iOS:
Bluetooth Still Required
It’s worth noting that Direct Connect requires Bluetooth on your Mac (and eventually PC) to function, since it uses the Bluetooth protocol over TCP/IP.
This shouldn’t be an issue for most people, as most computers (especially Macs) sold in the past 7 years have Bluetooth out of the box. If not, installation of a Bluetooth adapter may be required, as your PC/MAC must have Bluetooth drivers installed in order to use Direct Connect.
Purchase Direct Connect
Many Zwifters have been waiting to buy KICKR Direct Connect until Zwift supports it. That day has finally arrived! Purchase Direct Connect here and you’ll be supporting Zwift Insider, as we have an affiliate agreement set up with Wahoo.
For more support, see Wahoo’s Using KICKR Direct Connect page and Zwift’s KICKR Direct Connect support hub.
Questions or Comments?
It’s still hard for me to believe that they are charging $100 for an adapter because they didn’t want to wait to get the certification to include the RJ-45 connector on the KICKR.
I guess the KICKR V6 is going to include Direct Connect via wifi, which is the obvious evolution (for reasons aside from just Direct Connect).
At the moment I have my laptop connected to the cable modem via Ethernet, and am using the ANT+ dongle. If I purchased the Direct Connect from Wahoo would I then need to run a second Ethernet line down to the Kickr, or would simply unplug the line to the laptop and plug instead into the Direct Connect? Forgive me, but technology confuses me.
You would need to plug the KICKR into your cable modem (if it has another open port), so your computer can see it on the network.
OR just connect your laptop via WiFi, and plug the KICKR into your laptop’s ethernet port.
OR buy a small 4-port switch like this https://amzn.to/3tMTd1M, plug that into your modem, then plug both your laptop and KICKR into that switch.
Technically, into his router. Some people have separate modems and routers. For those people it would need to plug in to the router to be seen by the laptop. Most have the modem and router combined on a single device from their ISP, but there are a lot of people with separate devices.
Thanks, Eric! I don’t trust my WiFi signal in the basement, so I’ll definitely go the second Ethernet line route. Thankfully, we already have a multiport switch I can plug it into.
I have an ethernet port on my Kickr. And can’t use it for PC. Because this connection is used for wireless connections.
I don’t understand this comment.
What about trainers like Tacx Neo 2T?
It’s up to the trainer companies to implement a hardwired solution. So far, Tacx has not.
What’s the first dongle you plugged directly into the Kickr? Is that available for purchase too?
That dongle comes with the Direct Connect box. It’s the “quick disconnect” cable, so if someone trips on your cord it can come apart there without breaking something.
That cable plugs into an RJ11 port on the KICKR. Then the other end plugs into the Direct Connect brain, which plugs into the ethernet cable.
Super! I thought it might have come in the Kickr box that I tossed away a year ago!
Is this supported for the Kickr Bike too, or only the Kickr Trainer?
If so, do the steering controls etc all then work without the need for bluetooth – it states bluetooth is still needed, surely if needed for things like that it’s really not adding much.
The KICKR bike doesn’t have a direct connect port.
Well that’s made me feel stupid – I thought the spare port socket where the shifters plug in could be used for this. Lucky I never went out and bought one.
There are actually TWO open ports on the KICKR bike… it’s just that Wahoo doesn’t have a Direct Connect device that plugs into either of them. *shrugs*
Is this supported for a kickr snap?
The KICKR snap doesn’t have a direct connect port.
I must have the only ant+ environment that isn’t ruining my experience 🤷♂️ I might get a one second drop out once a week. More than acceptable to me. It picks up my second trainer across the room just as well.
-Gaming PC connected to ethernet
-ant+ dongle with a 6’ extension next to the bike
Nice, guess I can finally open that box! Thanks for the heads up.
Has anyone asked the question as to whether Zwift have thought of creating a plug in box like now TV Purley for Zwift with everything included built in for a smooth dropout free session.
HELLO SIR. I USE APPLE TV, CAN I CONNECT DIRECTLY TO IT?
Yes. You would plug your KICKR Direct Connect into your ethernet switch, so the KICKR is on the same local network as your AppleTV. Then AppleTV will see it on the pairing screen.
I think Cristiano meant “can I plug the cable from the kickr directly into the ethernet port of my apple TV”. If I’ve read the zwift post correctly, that isn’t possible. The kicker must be connected directly to a router. I’m still curious if this frees up a bluetooth slot on an apple TV, though.
Wouldn’t it have been great if they just had a USB port from the get go?
Does this mean it will work with the Chromebook o/s now?
Ummm… no? This is totally unrelated to rolling out Zwift on Chromebooks…
Not available on the Kickr Core. Bummer!
This sounds great! So if i understand, i can now avoid the power/connection drops that happen several times a week and cause me to drop off the back of fun riding groups while on group rides? If so, I’ll take a dozen (OK, an exaggeration). However, i don’t see an ethernet connection on the back of my Wahoo Smart Trainer. It is two years old. Am i out of luck or is there still a way to make this work short of buying a new one? Thanks.