Zwift has introduced a Hub One smart trainer where the standard cassette is replaced by the 'Zwift Cog' single sprocket and, instead, you get virtual shifting via a wireless shifter that mounts to your handlebar. Zwift promises you “fast, smooth, and quiet virtual shifting that was previously only available on smart bikes” and says that this is a super-easy route to ride its online 3D world.
Zwift already has a Hub in its range, where you remove the rear wheel from your bike and run the chain around a cassette that’s mounted directly to the trainer. That option remains, although it’s called the Zwift Hub Classic from here on in.
What’s new with the Zwift Hub One is the use of the pre-installed ‘Zwift Cog’. Rather than your chain moving across a cassette, it always runs on the Zwift Cog. You can still shift, but now virtually. The resistance is altered by the Hub One internally when you hit the wireless Zwift Click shifter mounted to your handlebar.
What are the advantages?
The Zwift Cog allows the trainer to work with most 8-12 speed bikes, Zwift says. Although an 11-speed cassette is the most popular option sold on existing Zwift Hub smart trainers – now called Zwift Hub Classic, remember – 54% are currently sold with other cassette options. A single sprocket simplifies things and allows you to use bikes with different setups on the same trainer.
“Thanks to its unique design, riders can put chain drops in the past as sides act as a chain retention device,” says Zwift.
“In addition to its wide compatibility, Zwift Hub One enables cyclists to take advantage of the many benefits of virtual shifting. Virtual shifting, normally only seen on smart bikes, is now available to those who prefer the value and convenience of a trainer.
“With virtual shifting, cyclists will enjoy shifting free of lag and chain skips, even when shifting under load. Modern smart bikes are now so quiet, the loudest noise when riding actually comes from the bike’s physical drivetrain. With virtual shifting, much of this added noise is eliminated, leaving the rest of your house in peace while you sweat it out in the virtual world of Watopia.”
As mentioned, it’s the Zwift Click that controls your virtual shifts, and this mounts to your handlebar – road bar, flat bar, or TT bar – via two rubber O-rings. You just push the plus or minus button to move through the 24 different levels of resistance.
“To ensure consistency between bikes, Zwift Hub One is able to detect the gear ratios on your physical bike which allows it to set the virtual gears accordingly,” says Zwift. “It achieves this through a process called ‘real gear ratio calibration’. The trainer does this within the first few seconds of every ride automatically. Magic.”
In fact, Hub One calculates the real chainring size of the bike mounted on Hub from cadence and flywheel speed, and then auto-calibrates resistance.
Zwift says, “In addition to delivering benefits to those with multiple bikes, real gear ratio calibration offers new benefits to riders using smaller chainrings, like those found on gravel and mountain bikes, preventing those riders from spinning out on flat or downhill terrain in Zwift.”
Your current gear is shown on the Zwift screen as you ride.
If you already own a Zwift Hub, you have two options for switching to virtual shifting. Once updated to Zwift Hub Firmware version 5.2 (or newer), Zwift Play (£99) owners can turn Virtual Shifting on from their settings menu. Side buttons on the Play Controllers allow for virtual shifting.
The alternative is to update an existing Zwift Hub with a Zwift Cog + Zwift Click package, the Zwift Cog pre-installed on a freehub. It’ll be priced at £59.99 for a limited time after launch, and will then increase to £79.99. There’s one on the way for review on road.cc but we’ve yet to try it out.
Anyone wanting to use virtual shifting will need to update to Zwift version 1.50 which will be rolled out at some time between now and Friday.
Zwift Hub One is available now and the Zwift Hub Classic, which comes with a choice of 8-speed to 12-speed cassettes, remains in the range. Each is priced at £549 and includes a year’s Zwift membership.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.