Zwift-Indoor-Online-Cycling-Game-1

Riding indoors sucks, but a new startup called Zwift is looking to change all that. The company has created a massive multiplayer online game which allows riders from around the world to meet and ride together in an immersive 3D world.

Zwift Indoor Cycling Screenshot

The platform is hardware agnostic. All you need to do to get started is download the application, sign in, and hop on your existing trainer. You will need an ANT+ cadence/speed sensor and ANT+ dongle to push data to the application, but that hardware is available for well under a hundred dollars. Zwift can then convert trainer speeds into watts using its VPC or Virtual Power Curve.

Zwift-Indoor-Online-Cycling-Game-4

More advanced trainers ad an extra dimension to the Zwift experience, like the effects of a head wind, drafting, or road terrain.

Zwift Indoor Online Cycling Game Customization-1

For the data junkies, everything from power, speed, heart rate, and cadence can be monitored.

Zwift-Indoor-Cycling-Game-Iphone-IOS-App

The data can also be relayed to a smartphone.

Zwift Screenshot

The entire experience takes place on Zwift Island. Where riders can track metrics on screen, try to keep pace with friends, or join in a ride with strangers.

Zwift-Indoor-Online-Cycling-Game-Customization-4

Zwift is currently expanding their range of partnerships to give riders more bike and kit options, although the user customization is fairly basic at this point. When signing up, riders are given options for hair styles, kit, and two different Pinarello models – the Dogma and F8.

Zwift Screenshot

For the next few months Zwift will be limiting its beta launch to one thousand users, but as the community grows, so will the amount of kits, bikes, and tracks available. The company plans on making the service available to everyone sometime this winter for a monthly subscription fee of $10.

2014-09-23_11181310

The entire world is beautifully and painstakingly rendered. Music drifts from buildings as riders pass, and the sounds of birds and crickets can also be heard. The game has been in development for three years and started as a solo project for VP of Game Development Jon Mayfield. A long time programmer, he began to work on the project as a way to make his after work indoor training sessions more interesting. When he began posting about the idea on cycling forums, it was discovered by the other Zwift Co-Founders, who have helped develop the project into an immersive social fitness experience.

What makes the idea incredibly interesting is its potential. While at this point users are limited in terms of tracks and physical customization, as the game develops and the community develops, so will the feature set. They’ve already built in virtual rewards like jerseys,  but there is just so much more potential. Talking with Scott Barger, Co-Founder & VP of Business Development, the company has big plans which include voice integration, collaborations with race promoters, and expanding the experience to include other types of riding.

If you’re interested in checking out the beta program, sign up at Zwift.com, and they’ll notify you via email once it’s open.

26 COMMENTS

  1. I note it doesn’t actually mention racing, presumably because speed is pretty meaningless on an uncalibrated trainer. In fact, how can they work out power from just speed and cadence?

  2. “Looks super cool and i will be buying but why no helmets?”

    Perhaps because cycling isn’t a dangerous hobby. Or perhaps because it’s only a game. I presume you’ll be wearing your helmet as you pound away fusriously on your trainer, s you never know right? 🙂

  3. @elliot the same way TrainerRoad does, they have resistance curves for various trainers so by knowing your speed it’s easy to work out the power required to go that speed(±10%?ish).

    This does however mean you can turn off the resistance and freewheel #360noscope #getshreked

  4. @Andy:Tacx and Wahoo have trainers you can control resistance by computer with. I believe they can be tied into profiled routes using Google Earth as well (don’t quote me).

  5. This sounds like it will be similar to the Tacx trainers. I have had a Taxc Fortius for the last few years and while it is not perfect, it is a game changer as far as getting me to ride indoors. It is very motivating and I can see this being very similar. Not sure how they will work out power, but I have a little faith that people who are smart enough to create this thing have thought of that. We will have to be patient and wait for the full launch. As for games on it, the tacx games are not that interesting to me, but the real life video options more than make up for it. Winter is long but between this and a fatbike it may be bearable.

  6. I wonder if they’ll incorporate virtual wind resistance and other factors in. For example, if you select the 80mm discs, you will be able to ride faster on the flats and downs, but slower on the climbs.

  7. I can see this being fun until your ‘buddy’ rides away from you in VR and you’re left with nothing but the realization that you’re cycling by yourself…in a video game…on a trainer…indoors.

  8. I’ve been using Tour de Giro for at least two years now and I will stick with them. It works great on a variety of trainers (I use a Computrainer) and racing against real people makes it more fun and motivating.

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.