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Virtual Shifting? The New Zwift Hub One Trainer Drops The Cassette for Just One Cog!

If you're familiar with Zwift, you're familiar with virtual riding. But virtual shifting? That's new.
Zwift hub one trainer with cog virtual shifting
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Zwift is rethinking the drivetrain for trainer use in an effort to fit more bikes, offer a quieter experience, and make it easier than ever to hop on and ride. The whole premise revolves (literally) around the Zwift Cog which is available as an update for existing Hub trainers, or comes complete with the new Zwift Hub One.

Where the original Zwift Hub would run a standard cassette for the gears, the Cog replaces that with a single gear. Then through the magic of Zwift, that cog is able to virtually provide 24 different speeds, which are optimized for your front chainring(s) to provide a consistent feel from bike to bike.

Why Virtual Shifting?

At this point, you’re probably wondering why you would want virtual shifting. We certainly were. But as you break it down, it starts to make a lot of sense.

One of the biggest benefits to the Cog, is that on a direct-drive trainer like the Hub, you don’t have to change out the cassette if you have multiple bikes you want to use on the trainer with different drivetrains. Zwift says the Cog is compatible with most bikes with 8-12 speed drivetrains (sorry Ekar fans, 13-speed is not supported at this time), which means you can just pop your bike on the trainer and ride without having to swap cassettes. Zwift states that while 11-speed cassettes have been the most popular option for the HUB, 54% of Hubs were sold with other speed cassettes highlighting the need to cover multiple drivetrains.

1 x 24 Speed Virtual Drivetrain

Obviously, you still want gears for virtual riding programs like Zwift, so the Cog provides 24 different ‘gears’, which are shifted with either the Zwift Click, the Zwift Play controllers (for dropbars), or a combination of both. While using Zwift, the current gear will be displayed on the screen so you know where you are in the 24-speed ‘cassette’. We’re told that this replicates the range of a 2 x 12 drivetrain, while eliminating some of the overlap you’d typically find on a double and replacing that with additional lower gears. If you’re riding a 2x front chainring setup, it’s recommended that you ride in the smaller ring.

Since there aren’t any physical gears to shift back and forth between, Zwift claims that the virtual shifting is also a lot quieter. Modern trainers have gotten pretty quiet, so at this point the drivetrain noise from a full-gas effort can be one of the loudest parts of the experience. Hub One and trainers with the Cog should be quieter.

There’s also no chance of dropping a shift or dealing with slow shifting with the Cog. Shifts are nearly instantaneous (even under full load), and there are bumpers on either side of the cog to prevent chain derailments.

According to Zwift, the Hub will automatically calculate the real gear ratio of the bike mounted to it at the start of every ride using cadence and flywheel speed. That means that even bikes with small chainrings will have the proper in-game gearing that will prevent spinning out on flats or descents. This setting will only take place at the start of every ride, and it’s what allows all of the different bikes to feel the same on the trainer.

How to Get Virtual Shifting on Zwift

Zwift virtual shifting settings menu

To start, you’ll need to make sure you’re running the latest Hub firmware – version 5.2.0 or later (With the Zwift game off, launch the Zwift Companion App and go to more > hardware. Select your Hub and update firmware). You’ll also need to be on the latest Zwift game build – version 1.49 or later. Virtual shifting will turn on by default if you have the Zwift Hub paired with the right firmware and a shifting device connected. If it isn’t working or you want to turn it off, you can find a toggle in the settings menu.

How to Shift in Zwift

The shifting is virtual, so you won’t be using your bike’s shifters. Instead, you’ll have a choice of the Zwift Click, the Zwift Play controllers, or both. Zwift Click is a small, simple button pod that you can attach almost anywhere. It can be used on aerobar extensions, dropbars, flat bars, and more.

If you’re running a dropbar bike, you can take advantage of the Zwift Play controllers which have buttons that can be used for shifting complete with haptic feedback.

Want more shift options? Use the Play controllers on the dropbar, and add the Click somewhere else – like the top of the bars. Both the Play controllers and the Click can be paired at the same time.

Pricing & Availability

Starting today, you can buy a Zwift Hub One trainer with the Zwift Cog pre-installed and a Zwift Click shifter for $599. Not into the virtual shifting ideal? You can also purchase the Zwift Hub Classic with a cassette of your choice (8, 9, 10, 11, or 12sp) for $599. Both versions of the trainer also include a 1-year subscription to Zwift making it even more appealing.

Already have a Zwift Hub Trainer but want Virtual Shifting? For you, Zwift will offer the Zwift Cog and Click upgrade kit which will sell for $79.99. This kit is only compatible with the Zwift Hub, and installs without special tools.

Ride on.

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8 Comments
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Andreas
Andreas
8 months ago

zwift chat will be full of comments regarding wrong shifting method, e.g. you mess up a sprint finish because you shifted with your shifters and not with the virtual shifters. All for new tech though! =))

Bret
Bret
8 months ago

Be nice to see it intergrate with Di2/AXS

kevin
kevin
8 months ago

excited to read some revies.

VazzedUp
VazzedUp
8 months ago

How is this NOT compatible with other trainers? They all use the same cassette attachment? Waiting to hear them being hacked onto a wahoo trainer.
Should make chains last longer and the added quiet will be nice.

Brian
Brian
8 months ago

Similar to the Stages smart bikes. I can pick and choose gearing on the fly and test out scenarios as I ride. So if I want to run 11 speed one day I can, 12 on another can do that, or a mix and match, 12 up front, 11 tooth in the back or vice versa and just adjust contact points for different riders all on the same bike format. This is an interesting idea, will be interesting to see how it holds up mechanically.

Garrett
Garrett
8 months ago

Fixies slides in Zwift anyone?

Although in all seriousness this would be handy if was adaptable to track bikes as well.

Ilya
Ilya
8 months ago
Reply to  Garrett

Any info if it does work with 1/8” track chains?

Last edited 8 months ago by Ilya
Andrew
Andrew
8 months ago

I feel like this is awesome, although as an occasional Trainerroad user I hate the idea of being forced to used Zwift 100% of the time….

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