How to turn your basic indoor cycling trainer into a Virtual Training Machine

Smart trainers are a great training tool, they provide a realistic riding experience through controlled resistance via Virtual Training applications (VT Apps) like Zwift or Rouvy. Besides the ability to automatically change the resistance based on a designated ride profile, the best thing about using a VT Apps is the visual experience and motivation it offers, making riding on a trainer much more engaging and challenging. When you enjoy it, you ride longer and more consistently.  But you don’t need a Smart trainer to use the VT App.  Most bike computers like Garmin and Wahoo use ANT+ or Bluetooth speed, cadence and heart rate sensors to communicate with the computer. You can pair these same sensors up to a VT Application. Depending on the type of communication stream your sensors use, you will need to have a computer that support ANT+ and/or Bluetooth or have an ANT+ or Bluetooth dongle that plugs into a USB port on your computer.  Some newer laptops are Bluetooth enabled, but you will need to make sure the versions are compatible.  For my basic trainer setup I use a CycleOps Fluid, Garmin speed and cadence sensors and an ANT+ dongle for my laptop. I like the Garmin sensors because the speed sensor easily connects to any wheel directly on the hub. For an indoor cycling set up I place this sensor on the rear wheel. Once these devices are installed and the ANT+ or Bluetooth enabled on your computer you can now sync up to a VT application such as Rouvy or Zwift to track your speed, cadence and heart rate while you ride.

Speed Sensor

Cadence Sensor

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