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Zwift now catering for mountain bikers

Mountain biking has forced Zwift to upgrade its interactivity
Zwift incentivises correct technical line choice, with its mountain bike offering
(Image credit: Zwift)

Mountain bikers who embrace all things digital will be thrilled with the latest developments at Zwift - a technical course located in the mountainous virtual world of Watopia.

The popular virtual cycling brand has revolutionised training for many riders, allowing for high-intensity indoor workouts that aren’t monotonous.

Mountain bikers have unique requirements of any virtual indoor training system. The desire for more gradient training and a simulation of technical terrain riding meant that what worked in the road cycling Zwift world, was not completely suitable off-road.

Zwift’s product developers have responded with a considered evolution of their digital training product. Although most of the fundamental features and aspects of Zwift are present, there are some unique mountain bike specific bits. 

Respecting the history 

Launched earlier this year at EuroBike, Zwift's debut off-road stage offers an authentic digitisation of the mountain bike trail experience. Operational under its FutureWorks moniker, the Zwift mountain bike experience is unlocked by riding its new Repack Ridge stage.

Mountain bike historians will be heartened that Zwift has chosen the Repack name for its digital qualifying stage, as this was the first official mountain bike race, incubating the sport back in the 1970s.

Zwift has been deeply mindful of attempting to recreate contextually relevant virtual cycling experiences. Its collaboration with this year’s Giro d'Italia was an example and by using Repack to launch its mountain bike offering, Zwift is showing great awareness and authenticity in its virtual cycling growth.

To replicate the more active steering requirements of mountain biking, Zwift’s software engineers have integrated the accelerometer in your Smartphone as a reference sensor.

Aware of mountain bikers desiring a more immersive steering and technical riding experience, the Zwift off-road stage also rewards you for superior line choice over terrain.

An interesting aspect of Zwift’s rapid growth is that it might be looking at expansion beyond software, into hardware. Zwift has enlivened the digital cycling experience and created a demand for superior indoor trainers.

In response, many trainer bands, such as Wahoo, are now producing superior products. There are also adaptors which cater to all the axle standards and mechanical features of a contemporary mountain bike, such as 1x12 gearing.

Although its primary business in the cycling realm has been software development, Zwift realises hardware would complete its offering.

The company’s jobs page currently lists an array of positions under the Fitness Tech division. These jobs include mechanical engineering and industrial design posts. This would signal that the world’s most popular virtual cycling brand might soon be rolling out advanced hardware of its own.

Lance Branquinho is a Namibian-born media professional who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his fascination with trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. Rides: Morewood Kwela Cotic Simple 26 Pyga 160mm aluminium prototype