10 speed, 11 speed, 12 speed, lock rings, thru axles, ANT+ dongles, Bluetooth, you name it. When it comes to indoor training, it's become a pretty complicated world out there. So complicated, in fact, that it can put people off taking the plunge into the digital land of platforms like Zwift in the first place. This is something that the innovative Californian-based company is on a mission to rectify, and they’ve made the first inroads this week, with the official launch of the Zwift Hub Smart Trainer.
Perhaps the most surprising feature of the Zwift Hub Smart Trainer which will catch the eye of many consumers is its price tag: it retails for US$499 / £449 / €499. Compared to other trainers on the market today (some are priced at over £1000), that sits at the lower end of the price bracket, something many might not have expected from Zwift; a market leader in its field and a company whose meteoric rise in success in recent years has been no secret.
The whole aim of Zwift’s Hub trainer is to make it easier to get set-up on Zwift, and this goes further than just releasing hardware which is at the lower end of the price scale. “It can be hard to know exactly what equipment you need for Zwift, and that equipment can be costly,” explains Eric Min, Zwift CEO and Co-Founder. “Zwift Hub will help us deliver our mission to make more people more active, more often by making it both easier, and more affordable to get set up on Zwift.”
To reach these aims of helping people get Zwifting in the most pain-free way, the Hub Trainer will come with a pre-installed cassette, with customers able to choose their preferred speed when they order the product. This not only lowers the cost of a smart trainer set-up, it also saves the risk of users ordering the wrong cassette, installing it incorrectly or having to purchase the tools needed to fit the cassette themselves.
In the Zwift Hub Trainer box will also be a thru-axle template: a cardboard sheet that can be stuck between the rear dropouts which has an axle size printed onto it. Whatever part of the template fits in between the dropouts is the required axle type.
Easy installation and use is one thing, but Zwift also claims that the Zwift Hub has 1800watt and 16% incline maximums, a +/-2.5% accuracy and both ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity. These numbers are close to those of some of the company’s newly found competitors in the smart trainer industry, yet they come at a lower price point.
The introduction of the American company’s own range of hardware makes sense: most people who buy a smart trainer end up installing Zwift on it anyway, but now the company themselves have a monopoly over the entire customer experience. Perhaps the genius behind Zwift’s new release is that they can afford to sell the Zwift Hub at a low margin because with each purchase, they also sell a subscription to the online training platform.
“There’s no doubt that Zwift Hub is going to disrupt the market, and we think that’s great news for the customer.” says Min. “When we started on our hardware journey, it was important that the hardware served the primary purpose of accessing and elevating the core game experience.”
While the Zwift Hub might be cheap and easy to use, it’s also important that it performs well, especially if it is intended to be used by people who race on the platform: accuracy and reliability is essential here. We’ll be testing out a Zwift Hub Smart Trainer in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for our full review.