Updated: Oct 11
New trainer expands compatibility through Zwift Cog and introduces virtual shifting
"Zwift, the global online fitness platform, is excited to launch Hub One, a new version of the original Zwift Hub Smart Trainer. The new Zwift Hub One is on sale today and makes it even easier to get on Zwift, works with almost any bike, and offers riders fast, smooth, and quiet virtual shifting that was previously only available on smart bikes." -Zwift Press Release
Today Zwift releases the new Zwift Hub One, an upgrade to their original Hub now called the Hub Classic. The new Hub One includes never before seen hardware goodies, some pretty cool software "magic", and a year subscription to boot with its purchase. Lets dive into what this new Hub One is all about.
At a glance the most noticeable thing about the Hub One will be how it connects your drivetrain. The Hub One can replace your cassette with the Zwift Cog. The Zwift Cog is a single cog component that comes with a Hub One or can be purchased as a upgrade to your current Hub trainer. This new component can be used with almost any 8-12 speed bike, keeping wear and tear down on cassettes and making bike swaps IRL easier & probably faster than any ZRL Tuesday segment bike swap attempt! This becomes extremely handy when swapping between many bikes in house that may run multiple drivetrain configurations and brands. From 12 speed Eagle MTB to a Road AXS to 11 Speed Shimano, in our experience all swaps were about as simple as removing and reinstalling a rear wheel. No more greasy cassette removers torqueing in odd positions on the pain cave floor!
So how does the Hub One get rid of cassettes and not just act like a single speed?
Virtual shifting enters Zwift hardware market. All the hints we saw over the Spring and Summer of gear ratio images from Zwift garage with some hidden files dug up by digital sleuths ended up actually being sneak peeks into the Watopia "Chocolate Factory". Are they Good or Bad eggs with this Golden ticket, well all accounts here in house say "good", with no trip to the incinerator & or a threshing out of blueberry juice. It just works exactly as intended.
Here is what Zwift had to say.
"In addition to its wide compatibility, Zwift Hub One enables cyclists to take advantage of the many benefits of virtual shifting. Virtual shifting, normally only seen on smart bikes, is now available to those who prefer the value and convenience of a trainer. With virtual shifting, cyclists will enjoy shifting free of lag and chain skips, even when shifting under load. Modern smart bikes are now so quiet, the loudest noise when riding actually comes from the bike's physical drivetrain. With virtual shifting, much of this added noise is eliminated, leaving the rest of your house in peace while you sweat it out in the virtual world of Watopia." -Zwift
We found a significant bonus to this expanded compatibility with our12 speed MTB's. In a smaller single ring upfront we never spun out. The gears held steady and made sense for all the terrains we took on in Zwift, where in the past with a giant Eagle 10-52 in the back paired to a 32 ring up front, we were always begging for gears when things picked up on the flats or sprints around the digital worlds. Of course the virtual shifting eliminates the physical limitations of a small front ring to whatever cassettes is in the rear, but what actually causes my bike then to "get a grip" on the gears I "need for speed" in Zwift? Well, Zwift Hub One's software upgrade also comes with a sneaky little smart feature in the backend, which auto detects your gear ratios.
According to Zwift:
"Zwift's Hub One trainer is ideally suited to a variety of different bikes, offering the same riding experience regardless of the bike you choose to install on it. To ensure consistency between bikes, Zwift Hub One is able to detect the gear ratios on your physical bike which allows it to set the virtual gears accordingly. It achieves this through a process called 'real gear ratio calibration.' The trainer does this within the first few seconds of of every ride automatically. Magic. In addition to delivering benefits to those with multiple bikes, real gear ratio calibration offers new benefits to riders using smaller chainrings, like those found on gravel and mountain bikes, preventing those riders from spinning out on flat or downhill terrain in Zwift."
This was great on a MTB when looking for all the training advantages of position and pedal stroke on a preferred bike of choice. Previously riding a MTB had huge run arounds of extra work, with Hub One that all just disappears. Pair this with an easy swap back to a roadie position and its just a no brainer!
There are a few options to get virtual shifting working. First of all there is the "Click". It's a fairly small little add on for your handles bars that reminds me of a tiny light weight electronic MTB shifter, but in use feels even more simple and seamless. The two buttons are a soft rubber with a depth of press that leaves no question as to whether you have made a shift & are very easy on the hand and fingers for longer days in saddle. Bonus is placement is so easy with how small, light weight, and bike mounting built into the component, the Click can be put just about anywhere desired for optimal positioning to your personal setup.
"Zwifters will control virtual shifts with the included wireless Zwift Click which easily mounts to any type of handlebar (road, flat, and TT) via two rubber O-Rings. Shifting is as straightforward as you would expect, with plus and minus buttons to shift the gear up or down. From launch, Zwift Hub One comes with 24 gears, offering a range wide enough to tackle any Zwift terrain with minimal jumps between gears."
The click is one way to get shifting virtually. Another is by using the Zwift Plays nifty little side buttons located next to the brakes. Previously it was thought these would only be used for adjusting workout mode intensity percentage slider up or down. Now in all other modes those buttons placed right where most road bikes shifters are double as the "real thing" for your virtual shifting.
If you already own a Hub you can find more information below from Zwift about how to get into virtual shifting & upgrade your Hub setup with a Zwift Cog & Click.
ALREADY OWN A HUB?
Zwifters who already own a Hub will have two options that will allow them to unlock the benefits of virtual shifting. Once updated to Zwift Hub Firmware version 5.2, or newer, Zwifters who own Zwift Play can turn Virtual Shifting on from their setting menu. Side buttons on the Play Controllers allow for virtual shifting and also bring added benefits of improved game navigation plus steering and braking controls. Zwift Play is compatible with drop handlebars only and is available to purchase separately for $99/€99/£99 via this link.
For those wishing to upgrade their existing Zwift Hub units, a Zwift Cog + Zwift Click upgrade package is available for purchase. Zwift Cog comes pre-installed on a freehub and installs easily with the tools included with Zwift Hub. The upgrade bundle will be available for $59.99/£59.99/€59.99 for a limited time after launch, to allow existing Zwift Hub owners to upgrade, down from the full MSRP of $79.99/£79.99/€79.99. The Zwift Play and Click can both be paired with Zwift at the same time, giving riders the option to shift from multiple locations on the handlebar.
In order to use Virtual Shifting, Zwifters will also need to make sure Zwift is updated to version 1.50, which will be rolling out between Wednesday October 11 and Friday October 13, 2023.
Zwift Hub One is available for purchase today. Zwift Hub, with a choice of traditional 8-12 speed cassette, will continue to be sold under the new name, Zwift Hub Classic. Both trainers are priced at $599/€599/£549 and include one year of Zwift membership.