Connecting Zwift + Sufferfest App + TrainerRoad + Garmin

Hello everyone,

Why would you want to do this?  I don’t know, but you can.

Working as a customer service rep for a company that makes an indoor training app, I get asked all manner of questions.  One problem I deal with, or question I get, is connecting your indoor training equipment to multiple Apps.  I developed my three rules to connecting your devices to indoor training Apps to help people understand what they can and cannot do with their equipment.  I will talk about those rules below. I wondered though, could you connect your indoor training equipment to three Apps and a Garmin 520?  Yes, yes you can.  As long as you follow my three rules, you can make it happen.  With that said, let’s get to connecting Zwift, The Sufferfest Training Centre, Trainer Road, and my Garmin 520.  If you want to skip all of the reading, I summarize everything in my Video Below.  

Alright folks, let the madness begin!  Here are your rules of engagement.  If at any point you get confused, you can take a look at my article about Indoor cycling Training on a Budget.

screenshot-2016-10-11-15-00-01Rule #1:  Only one app can have custody of one device over bluetooth.

This means that once you connect your device over bluetooth to one of these three training Apps, no other App can use it over bluetooth.  I don’t know the specifics on this, but bluetooth can only communicate with one device at a time.  If your device also dual broadcasts an ANT+ signal, it can still connect to other Apps.  The bluetooth connection will not stop the ANT+ signal.

screenshot-2016-10-11-15-00-20Rule #2:  Each App needs it’s own ANT+ USB Connector.  

Even though USB2 has the ability to recieve up to 8 sensors at a time, once the App grabs it, it owns it.  USB1 only had the ability to run up to 4 sensors and most Apps these days will not work with USB1 devices.

screenshot-2016-10-11-15-00-41Rule #3: Fitness Equipment Control (FE-C) can only be run on one App.

This is something I was messing around with when I was using my Wahoo KICKR 1st Gen.  I tried to connect over FE-C with the Sufferfest App and then connect to ANT+ (no FE-C) with Zwift. The KICKR hated that and would lose resistance and then bring it back on in 1 minute intervals.  There was a fight going on for smart trainer ownership, and the KICKR did not like it.  Maybe other smart trainers can do this? Maybe there is a work around?

Is there a work around for this FE-C problem?  

screenshot-2016-10-11-15-02-41Yes, there is a workaround with Trainer Road.  Trainer Road has something called trainer relay.  You can connect your KICKR in ERG mode and with a second ANT+ dongle, transmit your power readings to other Apps.  This means, you are dedicated to the Trainer Road workout since Trainer Road will be controlling the KICKR.  Or, you can just put your smart trainer on Standard Mode and shift gear to change resistance.  The other Apps will receive that power reading via an ANT+ signal, including your Garmin device.  It’s pretty cool.

So what was your setup then?

-Sufferfest App:  Controlled the KICKR through ANT+ FE-C, Stages over ANT+ for cadence, TICKR over BLE for Heart rate.

-Zwift: Stages power and cadence over ANT+, TICKR over ANT+

-Trainer Road: Stages power and cadence over ANT+, TICKR over ANT+

-GARMIN 520: Stages power and cadence over ANT+, TICKR over ANT+

What about virtual power?

I connected all three Apps and the Garmin 520 through my GARMIN GSC-10 speed and cadence sensor using ANT+ with no issues.

Like I said in my video, virtual power connections through an ANT+ speed and cadence sensor is super easy.  If there is an ANT+ dongle, the Apps will pick up the broadcasted signal.  However, virtual power curves may differ from App to App.  Not only that, some trainers drift away from their original virtual power curves as they get older.  With the exception of a few companies, it is not uncommon to see trainers losing their original power curves over time.

So, what’s up next.  I don’t know really.  I was curious about the changes in Zwift over the last 6 months, and might fool around with Zwift for a while.  I want to quickly review these three training apps and who I think would be better suited for each one.  All three offer very unique training opportunities for all cyclists in the winter.  Until then, enjoy the weather while you still have it!






Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson

Aaron served in the military for 20 years. Multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired from the military after 20 years of service to take care of our three small children in 2013 as a Stay At Home Dad.

athletictechreview has 60 posts and counting.See all posts by athletictechreview

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