Smart trainers allow these apps to control resistance to replicate hills, headwinds and even drafts inside groups. They can also guide you through power-based interval workouts, requiring you to hit the exact wattage prescribed for a particular interval.
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Today’s smart turbo trainers work by communicating with these apps on a smartphone, tablet or computer using either ANT+ or Bluetooth.
While this may sound complicated, setup is surprisingly easy – most trainers and apps will automatically search for, and connect to, each other.
To make your life easier, we’ve compiled a list of all the smart trainers that we’ve reviewed that are fully compatible with the ever-popular online trainer video game Zwift, the training software TrainerRoad, pro cycling training simulator The Sufferfest, virtual riding app RGT Cycling and augmented reality app Rouvy.
Smart trainers can interact with apps in two ways. The best trainers broadcast power to apps and let their resistance be controlled by apps. Others only broadcast power. Those listed here are two-way smart trainers.
Complete lists of trainer compatibility by app
If we haven’t tested your device, Zwift, TrainerRoad, The Sufferfest, RGT Cycling and Rouvy all publish lists of which smart trainers, power meters, indoor bikes and other equipment are compatible with their software.
Zwift goes as far as to split compatibility into different categories for each type of trainer, with direct-drive trainers, wheel-on trainers, indoor bikes and rollers all listed, so there should be no uncertainty.
- Full list of turbo trainers, smart trainers, indoor bikes and rollers compatible with Zwift
- Full list of smart trainers, turbo trainers, speed sensors and power meters compatible with TrainerRoad
- Full list of smart trainers, speed sensors and spin bikes compatible with The Sufferfest
- Full list of smart trainers, turbo trainers and indoor bikes compatible with Rouvy
- Full list of smart trainers, turbo trainers, indoor bikes and rollers compatible with RGT Cycling
But what if I don’t want to buy a smart trainer?
You don’t need a smart trainer to use Zwift or any other indoor training app.
At minimum (and depending on the specific app), you need a speed/cadence sensor, a turbo trainer or a set of rollers, plus a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Power meters, heart rate monitors and other accessories will make for a more immersive and realistic experience, but in most cases aren’t strictly necessary to get started. RGT Cycling, however, does require a power source (either a power meter on your bike or a smart trainer).