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Virtual Cycling

Old 12-17-19, 05:38 PM
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abxnightpilot
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Virtual Cycling

I am interested in virtual cycling apps like Zwift and RGT. RGT appeals to me because it's free and they have an AppleTV/iPhone interface. I was interested in using a traditional type stationary bike with RGT but I am unfamiliar with what I need to purchase to allow RGT the see my pedal strokes, I don't need the RGT app to control the resistance, I just want to pedal through the courses. RGT's Q&A section states that you need "A smart trainer or power meter ANT+ FE-C or BLE FTMS compatible".


Is there hardware that I can buy that I can attach to my stationary bike or do I need to purchase a new smart stationary bike?


THANKS
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Old 12-17-19, 07:03 PM
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Depends on what stationary bike you have, but your best bet might be power meter pedals like Favero Assioma, PowerTap P2, or Garmin Vector 3. Note that they're all clipless pedals, so you'd need to wear bike shoes that clip into them with cleats that are included with the pedals. That's assuming your bike has standard threaded pedals that can be swapped.
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Old 12-17-19, 08:45 PM
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Thank you Surak
That's more than I want to invest on an older stationary bike. I saw this on Amazon ---Wahoo RPM Cycling Speed and Cadence Sensor, Bluetooth / ANT+--- Would this work?
I am new to the "smart" side of fitness.

If not, Is there a smart stationary bike that you recommend under $1500? I can no longer ride a traditional bike. I was
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Old 12-17-19, 09:03 PM
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I just bought an Echelon EX3, for about $1,000.00 Standard pedals, links to your Ipad or Android device.
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Old 12-17-19, 09:51 PM
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I looked over RGTs website and to be honest I cannot understand how it works.

My experience is with Zwift. I think you can use a turbo wind trainer or magnetic trainer but not sure how satisfying it is. With a fluid trainer, the Zwift program simulates up hill/down hill riding with just a cadence and speed sensor by calculating power in watts/kg body weight and adjusting the reported speed accordingly. A fluid trainer offers more resistance the harder you peddle which in real life is what you do. Put the display on a large screen tv and you get the feeling of actually riding outside. If I ride a long steep hill, it really requires a lot of effort.

So depending on the design, a stationary bike may or may not offer a satisfactory experience even if you get it to talk to the program.

I know you said that you can only use a stationary bike but I don't understand the reason. I'm in my second month as a Zwift subscriber and I struggled with gaining an understanding of what I needed and how it all works. Last summer I picked up a used fluid trainer craigs list $50 Mine is a Kinetic Road Machine, I use the Kinetic InRide sensor and a Wahoo heart rate monitor. If I were doing it again I would skip the InRide and get a Wahoo (or other) cadence and speed sensor. The bike mounts very solid in the Road Machine, it does not move at all. I use an ANT+ dongle and both my Iphone and a PC laptop connected to a large screen TV via HDMI cord. Both the phone and laptop work together while on a ride, they just have to be on the same wireless wi-fi network. I use headphones and a mic via discord to communicate with others in a group ride.

The end result is fairly realistic ride and workout that can be both physically challenging and somewhat interesting as long as you understand that the video is artificially generated. In my opinion, and I'm not trying to sell anyone anything, is you get a lot for the $15 per month it costs for Zwift. My entire set up using a bike I already owned and my PC laptop and I-phone and a fan is about $200 I use it almost every day and I can tell you in the last 5 weeks my riding performance has greatly improved. There are tons of youtubes showing how to do Zwift on a budget. I think that without any kind of feedback or resistance from the trainer it would become boring quite fast you probably would be better off watching a movie while you spin the bike peddles. Any this is just my opinion take it as you will.
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Old 12-18-19, 02:08 AM
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Originally Posted by abxnightpilot View Post
Thank you Surak
That's more than I want to invest on an older stationary bike. I saw this on Amazon ---Wahoo RPM Cycling Speed and Cadence Sensor, Bluetooth / ANT+--- Would this work?
I am new to the "smart" side of fitness.

If not, Is there a smart stationary bike that you recommend under $1500? I can no longer ride a traditional bike. I was
Some other platforms (like Zwift) work with the RPM sensors (usually having speed is the bare minimum for any), but RGT explicitly says it requires power or a smart trainer so they woukd be insufficient. I'm not sure how easy it would be to attach that speed sensor to a stationary bike since it's meant to measure rotation while attached around a wheel hub.

I don't know much about the stationary bike market other than the hype around the brand new wave of expensive ones geared to the burgeoning virtual ride enthusiast segment hitting the market. However, within your budget, there are a variety of trainers that attach to an actual bike, ranging from very cheap (~$50) used trainers if you live in a large metro, to top of the line smart trainers from Tacx, Wahoo, Elite, and Saris to name some of the significant brands. If you already have a bike that you aren't using much outdoors, it would make a good indoor training bike.
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Old 12-18-19, 05:27 AM
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With a low cost wheel-on trainer you can use just about any old bike you have on Zwift or other online/virtual biking options. That will run you $400 - 500, usually sales happening now or after the holidays. That would give you a much better experience than on on old style (dumb) indoor trainer.

Can't help you with RGT - to me it looks like you will see videos of bike courses vs. any true type of online/virtual biking. You could go on eBay and buy used biking videos and put the stationary bike in front of a TV/DVR (VCR if you have old equipment, like that stationary trainer!)

If you do want to stick with the stationary bike, you can ride on Zwift without power measurement, but you do need speed input as a minimum. If you can get a magnet on the spinning part of the stationary bike, and mount a sensor (like the Wahoo speed sensor you mentioned), you can use that on Zwift. You could also put a cadence sensor like the RPM cadence, if you wanted to track cadence (and see your feet move on the bike on the screen!). You could also add a heart rate monitor if you want to track that. The minimum is the speed sensor and it may not be easy to mount on the stationary trainer..

Spending the money on the wheel-on trainer will mean you don't need to buy a speed sensor, so that offsets that cost a bit. You could save some money if you found a used wheel-on smart trainer. As far as the cost of Zwift, you can suspend your membership for any months you don't plan on using it. But, virtual biking is definitely a "you get what you pay for" experience - so it all depends on how much you really want to get out of it.
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Old 12-18-19, 07:10 AM
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Without a smart trainer that can communicate with Zwift et.al. and vary the resistance according to what's on the screen, you won't get the interactive experience; so you may as well just pedal in front of a video.
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Old 12-18-19, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Without a smart trainer that can communicate with Zwift et.al. and vary the resistance according to what's on the screen, you won't get the interactive experience; so you may as well just pedal in front of a video.
This... without smart control, you will be relegated to setting your own resistance which will not reflect reality, and as mentioned above you might as well pedal in front of a video.

As a side note, I thought RGT tanked?
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Old 01-01-20, 01:15 AM
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I'm pretty sure Trainer Road will take your cadence data and do some math to estimate your power based on the resistance curve of your trainer adn the gear you are using. But TR is not Zwift.

For the best experience you will need a trainer that communicated to Zwift or a Trainer that communicate and provides controlled feedback, aka a Kickr
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Old 01-09-20, 11:54 AM
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Stationary bike under $200

I use Ancheer stationary bike exactly like Slim Cycle excep 10 gear choice instead of 9. I watch lots of cycle japan and travel shows etc. on OTA NHK World tv. As they ride/walk through their travels I ride with them by watching the free tv. Data gets expensive otherwise. I also will mount a cateye bike speedometer (cadence etc) . I also use a tablet with virtual cycling on YouTube.
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Old 01-09-20, 08:03 PM
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With a $1500 budget, you can get a Wahoo trainer and ride on Zwift. Zwift membership is $15/mo. A standard trainer won't work with Zwift because it requires bluetooth to transmit what you're doing. Without it, your character on the screen will just sit there. Your alternative is the old-fashioned one: get a standard mag-type trainer and watch a video while your 'riding.' If you can't ride a regular bike, what are you going to ride on the trainer?
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Old 01-09-20, 09:55 PM
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I used a dumb trainer with sensors to zwift and yeah, its just not the same. Its not really very interactive. I saved and got a smart trainer and that is bees knees IMO. Zwift is great with a smart trainer. I love to Zwift 4 months a year..then its time to go back outside. 4 months is about all I can take.
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Old 01-10-20, 08:12 AM
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Iím riding a power meter capable trainer in front of Fulgaz didplayed on TV.
The 4K video plays faster the harder I work. The road resistance I feel increases as the video goes up hill.
im really enjoying cruising the 4K video scenery. Most have been filmed on beautiful sunny days, all over the world.

Im interested in Bkool as I believe it is using real video augmented with computer created riders, but no Apple TV option and thatís what is connected to the TV I use.

Barry
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Old 01-10-20, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
With a $1500 budget, you can get a Wahoo trainer and ride on Zwift. Zwift membership is $15/mo. A standard trainer won't work with Zwift because it requires bluetooth to transmit what you're doing. Without it, your character on the screen will just sit there. Your alternative is the old-fashioned one: get a standard mag-type trainer and watch a video while your 'riding.' If you can't ride a regular bike, what are you going to ride on the trainer?
This is what I've been looking at. My question is TV connectivity. I obviously have wifi, but how does the Zwift control the TV?
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Old 01-10-20, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Razorrock View Post
This is what I've been looking at. My question is TV connectivity. I obviously have wifi, but how does the Zwift control the TV?
Zwift doesn't control the TV. Zwift is an application that either runs on your computer, Android device, iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV. The application then controls your smart trainer via Bluetooth or ANT+. This means that whatever is running zwift must have the capability to transmit and receive either Bluetooth or ANT+ signals (one or the other you don't need both). Typically you need an ANT dongle as middleware if you plan on connecting to the application that way. Usually people who go this route do so because their smart trainer does not have Bluetooth capability (ie older smart trainers). Your computer, phone, iPad, and Apple TV and pretty much all recent smart trainers all have Bluetooth capability, so no need for any ANT dongle.

Ok...so the next question is how do you get zwift on the TV. Apple TV makes it simple because it is already connected to your TV and all you have to do is download the zwift application for free. If you are running zwift on a computer all you have to do is connect the computer to your TV. If running on iPhone, iPad, just get a lightning/HDMI cable and hook it up to your TV. When connecting devices to your TV running zwift, you will be limited to the resolution of that device. For example, if you have a 4K TV and you connect your phone....you will not have a 4K picture displayed, you will be limited to your phones resolution. The best way to do it is get the new 4K Apple TV which enables you to download apps. Older Apple TVs do not allow downloading of apps. You can pick it up at Costco for like $169 or something.

Last edited by jadocs; 01-10-20 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 01-10-20, 10:34 AM
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If you are looking to connect a "non-smart" trainer, then you still have to do all of the above, but instead of connecting your trainer (because you can't), you connect your heart rate monitor, cadence sensor, and speed sensor.
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Old 01-10-20, 12:31 PM
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Apple TV 4K 32gb vs 64gb versions

In my case I'm running Fulgaz on the Apple TV 4K.
The 4K videos displayed by this software are huge in size (many gigs) and by default they are stored ON the Apple TV 4K itself.

Consider buying the Apple TV 4K with the larger storage (64Gb and not 32Gb version) if you plan on using this kind of application.

Barry


BTW
Although "cheap" and convenient the Apple TV is not a highly compatible platform choice.
I know of no way for the Apple TV to support ANT, so any software you choose will need to utilize Bluetooth as will your trainer.
Some software choices do not have an Apple TV version.
$270 will only get you 64Gb of storage, limited for some applications.

This didn't stop me buying the Apple TV, but I knew the limitations going in.

Last edited by Barry2; 01-10-20 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 01-10-20, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
In my case I'm running Fulgaz on the Apple TV 4K.
BTW
Although "cheap" and convenient the Apple TV is not a highly compatible platform choice.
I know of no way for the Apple TV to support ANT, so any software you choose will need to utilize Bluetooth as will your trainer.
Some software choices do not have an Apple TV version.
$270 will only get you 64Gb of storage, limited for some applications.

This didn't stop me buying the Apple TV, but I knew the limitations going in.
This is what I am not understanding. Say I have a smart tv or Apple TV puck, Firestick, etc. And I have a Kickr Core smart trainer. How do I get this all communicating so I can ride with the tv displaying what i'm doing. Does it all link on a wireless network? Bluetooth is not going to communicate with the TV?
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Old 01-10-20, 04:08 PM
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YOU
You ride the trainer.

TRAINER
Trainer sends via ANT or Bluetooth what you are currently doing to the Software Application.
Trainer receives by ANT or Bluetooth what the Software Application would like to be inflicted upon you. Amount of resistance and maybe angle of bike (climb).

SOFTWARE APPLICATON
It is going to control the trainer using ANT or Bluetooth.
The Software is going to also display your ride via the Platform it is running on.

THE PLATFORM
This could be a PC, MAC, iPhone, iPad, Andrios, Apple TV.... well you get the idea.
This is the actual COMPUTER PROCESSOR the Software Application is being run upon.
The Platform connects to the Monitor.
This connection can be direct or Cast/Mirrored.
A direct connection is like plugging a monitor into a PC.
A Cast connection is where you can have an App on your iPhone, but send the iPhone screen to your Apple TV and on to the flatscreen TV.
Casting is also referred to as Screen Mirroring.

THE MONITOR/TV
This could be hard wired to the Platform via HDMI, DVI, VGA, you know... a cable.
Or, the picture may be "Cast" from the platform. Sometimes the TV requires a received for the Casting (Apple TV is an example).
Sometimes the TV is a Casting receiver itself.

Long post - But I've tried to follow the process from end to end.

Barry

In reading the above I notice the Apple TV appears twice.
The Apple TV can be used as the PLATFORM and connected to the MONITOR/TV via a HDMI cable.
OR...
The Apple TV can be used as a Casting/Mirroring receiver, still connected to the MONITOR/TV via HDMI cable.

Last edited by Barry2; 01-10-20 at 04:12 PM.
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Old 01-10-20, 09:45 PM
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Maybe there should be a Virtual Cycling forum on BF?
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Old 01-11-20, 07:11 AM
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I too run off an apple product and run a HDMI off to an older flat screen tv that is not "smart" I really like that set up....having your Zwift screen on a 50" TV is really awesome.
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Old 01-11-20, 07:31 AM
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