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There're many indoor cycling app options, but there aren't many that come as fully loaded as Zwift. That's why I've collated some of the best bikes for Zwift.
Despite the deluge of endorphins, staring at the wall can quickly become dull when you run your bike indoors. That's why Zwift has become one of the most popular e-cycling platforms.
Zwift isn't too picky with qualifying equipment, but investing in a reliable bike doesn't hurt.
- Cannondale Synapse 3L
- Trek FX 3 Disc 2022
- Boardman HYB 8.8 2022
- Vitus Razor
- Tacx Neo Bike
- Wahoo Kickr Smart Bike
- Wattbike Atom (Next Generation)
- Peloton Bike Plus
The many enrapturing maps of Zwift require equally captivating bikes. Even though you can't be misled by any of the bikes on the list above, it is beneficial to peruse my heavily researched but condensed literature below. Each bike has its draws for your training, leisure rides, cutthroat competitions, and prickly drawbacks to watch out for.
I'm no expert in any regard, but I am a cycling enthusiast that takes an almost religious devotion to researching my topics of interest. I've scoured bike forums and taken customer feedback, expert suggestions, and reviews from places like the road.cc, Cyclingweekly, and BikeRadar.
Best Bikes For Zwift
Zwift has many amazing features that deserve a training companion tool that'll help you properly utilize them. A few bikes in this section don't require any other equipment besides a good set of bike rollers. They already have ANT+ or Bluetooth capability, so you probably have an integrated speed/ cadence sensor or power meter to feed to Zwift.
However, if you fear for your bike's tires, want the whole experience from Zwift, and can manage to spend a bit more, then also buy a smart trainer or turbo trainer to mount your bike on will give you the simulated headwind your heart's been desiring.
1. Cannondale Synapse 2 RL
The Synapse 2 RL might not be the cheapest bike you can get, but it is one of the best indoor and outdoor riding options. The bike has indoor trainer adaptors, which can easily fasten into its thru-axle. It's not anything significant, but it is something that'll save you a couple of tens of dollars. The 2 RL is an all-year companion for when you decide to disconnect and ride outside.
The 700x30c Vittoria Rubino Pro Bright Black tires are some solid middle-range tires; they don't offer the best rolling speed, but the 30mm width offers more padding than 28mm or 25mm tires on a bike that's well over four grand.
I would have most likely complained about the 19.84 pounds of mass with any other brand, but 2 RL seems to carry its lot in life with impressive poise. It doesn't let its baggage steal away from the power you put into the paddles, and transfers take all the wattage exactly where you want it to go.
You know that you won't be disappointed with the Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes on this machine, and you won't have to be reminded of the lines and hoses because they are enclosed into the frame. There's some cable spillage in front of the headset for people who like to view what's happening inside the heart of their flirtatious frames.
That's all fine and dandy, but you want to know why you should consider this bike for your Zwift adventures, you say? Well, on top of the Shimano Ultegra groupset with its alluring 11-34t cassette paired with the 50/34t chainset, you get a road bike that's got its base squarely in the endurance camp.
The non-aggressive front end helps you keep your posture and chin up for longer Zwift sessions that won't have you booking weekly Chiro sessions. The bike is also made for indoor cycling, with its trainer-compatible thru-axle, and Cannondale's wheel sensor will send all the metrics to your Zwift if you opt not to go for a smart trainer.
Synapse 2 RL Specifications
2. Trek FX 3 Disc 2022
If it's not apparent from my other articles, I'm a big fan of Trek. Their touring bikes have been good to the hundreds of thousands of other happy customers and me.
Trek FX 3 Disc is by no means a detraction from the company's keen sense of quality and value. For $999.99, you get a bike that's comparable, if not better, than its competitors like the Giant ToughRoad SLR 2.
When buying a regular road bike that you want to quickly hook up to a smart trainer at home and Zwift away, you need one that you can unplug and have it effortlessly connect with the road.
You'll find that the 700x32c Bontrager H2 Comp tires will make you with the earth without tying you down. And because of their hybrid design, they can hold their own on and off the paved road.
There's also a 38mm tire clearance to make the bike feel more like a grave ride, but if you are riding it even during the wet season, you might want to outfit it with 35mm tires to have space for fenders.
However, what makes FX 3 Disc one of my favorite picks on this list is its DuoTrap S compatibility. This feature means that the bike can take an ANT+ or Bluetooth sensor into the frame, precisely what you want for Zwift. It's still not as great as a bike that comes equipped, but it is a step in the right direction.
If you can spend more instilling a power meter on this cordial Trek offering, you'll be fully in the business of fun and fitness.
FX 3 Disc Specifications
3. Boardman HYB 8.8 2022
Boardman has managed to bring their stellar design that you often find baked into their higher-end bikes. The Hyb 8.8 doesn't disappoint with its attractive 6061 X7 aluminum frames that flaunt welds that are entirely out of sight. This minimalist design, forgiving riding posture, ergonomic Soft-Touch grips, and inviting saddle puts this entry among the best.
Yes, it may lack sensors and other accessories that allow for affordable and effortless connective with Zwift, but its versatility was too much for me not to include it.
Hovering around the thousand-dollar mark, I know it's not a cheap bike because it doesn't come with integrated compatibility of any helpful kind for indoor riding. However, you can trust that 700x35c Schwalbe Citizen won't fail your fun bone when you want to take things off the screen.
The finishing kit is comfortable, well thought out, and understated. There isn't cable integration, so the bike's guys are out for everyone to see, which means this bike should be cheaper to maintain in the long run.
Hooking the quick-release frame onto a trainer will be one of the most straightforward and affordable setups you can play with. The Hyb 8.8 is here for over a $300 bike because Boardman has been a reliable company for many of us bike enthusiasts, and I can recommend it.
Hyb 8.8 Specifications
4. Vitus Razor
I know that when you see a 6061-T6 double-butted aluminum frame on a bike that sits boldly under $700, you start to get worried. Well, I'm here to tell you that's not typical firstly.
That money is a lot for the unfortunate who haven't been baptized into the cycling world. Secondly, this frame is surprisingly vibrant for being double-butted aluminum. You instinctively know that you'll be able to milk many moons out of the Vitus Razor during your Zwift tours and swift outdoor runs.
You might not enjoy the same level of connectives or connectivity, but the Razor's calm geometry and in-brand finishing kit help ease the blow. For the price that you're picking up the Razor, you can double it and get yourself a secondhand, high-end smart trainer or an entry to mid-level-ish one.
The cluster-mix of groupset components does shame the Razor's credibility. A SunRace M66, 11/32t cassette mates with 50/34t Prowheel Ounce, doesn't do much in terms of gear spectrum to save the humble offering. However, as a complete package, the Razor does manage to cut through the competition and rice to the top of its price range.
Best Smart Bikes For Zwift
Smart bikes are the logical step from transitioning away from simply hooking up your road bike to a turbo trainer. Paired with a worthy screen, these high-accuracy and highly adjustable stationary bikes can create an immersive virtual cycling experience.
If you have no contesters, you can even use Zwift through Apple TV if you have no contesters and have a jolly ol' time in the lounge.
5. Tacx Neo Smart
Tacx Neo Bike is an exercise bike that comes as full-featured as the Zwift app. Unlike the Wahoo Kickr, the Tacx Neo has two fans mounting on either side of the iPad stand that sits center where the money is. There's also a tray for your phone not far from the action and two USB charging ports. Of course, these basic features could not justify the $3,199.99 sticker price.
That's why the Neo also comes with some of the smoothest feeling rides on a stationary bike you'll find on the market. Your rides won't only be a fluid ordeal but also nearly silent. You won't hear any popping, clicking, or noise as you put the virtual flywheel to paces.
The gearing on the Neo is exceptional and realistic, but the physical setup isn't clear enough, and the Shimano Di2-reminiscent default setup can't be changed or reassigned. The connectivity is everything you'd expect from a bike of this price and caliber; ANT+ FE-C capability ensures you have an immersive and fun ride using Zwift.
This feature lets the app control some aspects of the bike during your ride. I also mention this feature on the Kickr, but it's fun to tease it here on a bike that's around a grand cheaper.
The power here is excellent, and one of the few things you can rightly quibble about is the lackluster fans. They are awkward, side-view mirror-like gadgets that seem like they'd fall right off when knocked.
There's the option not to use them since even if you enjoy the feature of having them go up and down depending on your heart or speed, they aren't super effective. If you take Zwifting seriously, you might need a bigger fan to keep you cool.
Neo Smart Specifications
6. Wahoo Kickr
Wahoo Kickr smart trainer is already a fantastic system, but Wahoo turned it up with the Kickr Bike. There's so much to look at and marvel at with the Kickr, but the monumental price tag of around $3,500 proves a significant deterrent for most of us.
Even when the bike is on a 20% sale, like it is on as I write this review, it still stings considerably bad. However, if you can stomach that punch, I guarantee you'll find everything you want in an indoor bike for Zwift and much more.
The excellent connectivity of the bike alone is an aspect that'll make everyone in the house quite satisfied as it allows three Bluetooth connections and ANT+, which includes ANT+ FE-C that allows Zwift to control things like resistance and the bike's elevation to simulate drafting, road gradation, and other riding conditions.
Despite the Kickr testing not being as smooth as the Tacx Neo, it provides a natural feeling of gear shifting. The flywheel allows you to pedal and rest your calves when you are "going downhill" without feeling awkward when you pick up the RPMs again.
The shifters also have a certain amount of movement to make them feel closer to reality as possible without having you endure any chain slippage (I wouldn't expect any on an outdoor bike at this price range) or clunky up and downshifting.
Setting up a custom fit on the bike is as effortless as setting the heavy bike out of the box. You can manually adjust each not-so-plush contact point on the bike, use the Kickr's app to input your body measurements or take pictures to use your outdoor bike's fit.
The Kickr is also the perfect bike to try out Zwift's connection to Apple TV. That's not because of the lack of phone or iPad mounts but because doing so on a big screen will give you an immersive experience.
Kickr Bike Specifications
7. Wattbike Atom (Next Generation)
The Wattbike Atom may be two-thirds the price of its elder sibling, Wattbike Icon, but it delivers comparable performance. At just around the $2,500 price range, Atom is on the "cheaper" side of noteworthy contributions.
The Atom Next Generation is a leg up from its previous iteration, with its electromagnetic resistance being one of the noticeable improvements. This type of resistance is more responsive than its past frigid, mechanically driven resistance unit.
The Atom is such a great entry that its noiseless transitioning is one of the only things that get its points docked. Unlike the Tacx Neo or Wahoo Kickr, the Atom doesn't have that clicking, almost tactile, the sound you've maybe become accustomed to when you shift gears.
The Atom gives smooth riding, real-time response, and reliable and repeatable performance that you might find yourself being completely transported. Even though the Atom wears the same DNA and outfit as its predecessor, apparent from its 99.21 pounds which you shouldn't be an issue once it's setup, the proprietary resistance unit sets it chasms apart.
Don't laugh, but if you put aside the limited adjustability and square-footage that the bike demands, you'll honestly be as happy with the Atom as you might be with the Icon or any of the other, more expensive entries here.
Atom Next Gen Specifications
8. Peloton Bike +
Before I even go into the Peloton Plus, I must address my reproachers. Starting at $2,495, the Peloton is another entry that's not affordable for blue-collar enthusiasts.
Why didn't I swap it out for the $1,439 Concept 2 BikeErg, $1,399 Schwinn Fitness 800IC, or some other sub-grand smart exercise bike? Well, Mike, if you have to know: I like to dream past testing units.
I had a look at all those other bikes that fill the immediate surrounding of the price range to these winners, like the Stages SB20, but none of them had the consistency or as high praise as these Zwift-machines.
You can basket something from Amazon for around $400, but you'll have to jump through hoops connecting third-party apps and still end up with data and riding experience that's not even in the neighborhood of the Peloton Plus.
Once you take the plunge, the 23.8-inch 1080p touchscreen will make you forget that you were probably roped into the $40 All Access Membership on which you're currently taking a live cycling class. There are also $125 clip-in shoes that you'll probably have to get along with the Peloton Plus.
However, once you address the bitcoin bleeding out of you, you'll be too busy engrossed in the undulating Douce France map even to remember the mar.