Connectivity is crucial no matter what indoor cycling app you are using. So here we look at your options when it comes to getting the best ANT+ dongle for Zwift.
No matter how good your smart trainer is, if you are using a laptop you will need it to talk to your computer.
Here we look at your usb ANT+ dongle options, as well as what ANT+ is and why you might want to choose it ahead of Bluetooth.
What ANT+ is
ANT+ is an acronym for Adaptive Network Topology, a openly available (but closed) technology made available by Garmin.
It is a wireless technology protocol that devices, i.e. your smart trainer and computer, use to talk to one another.
When you’re riding up Alpe du Zwift, the application tells the trainer how hard the gradient is.
And the trainer changes the resistance and tells the application how hard you are training.
What you should be looking for in an ANT+ USB dongle
The best way to think about an ANT+ stick is that it is a bridge. The first thing you need to know is that your trainer links up to it.
Fortunately, most smart turbo trainers and smart watches like Garmin Forerunners have ANT+ these days.
However, if you have one of the older ones it is worth checking they are not relying on some old proprietary software.
Lastly, the dongle itself may need to be fairly robust. Even with a fan, pain cave’s abound with sweat and heat.
Sweat itself is a particular issue. The salt can easily destroy a USB dongle and may cause damage to the computer itself.
Get a USB Hub
The other thing to be aware of is power to the USB. Sometimes, the other programs can take over or divert power away from the USB port.
Consider getting an electrically-powered USB hub. Dodgy connections are a pain, especially when you’re racing.
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Best ANT+ Dongle for Zwift – Top 2
Anself USB ANT+ Sticki
And at an ok price.
This looks like a white label product. There are a number of others that follow the same spec, take example check this one out.
Not a bad thing. Just be careful the same product, under with a different name, is cheaper.
We pulled this one out because it represents the best value.
Yes, it makes a big deal about compatibility with Garmin, Trainerroad, Zwift, and everything else. But so it should, otherwise it wouldn’t be ANT+.
It works fine with Windows and installs the drivers it needs. Even on Windows 7 machines. It is compatible with USB1.1/2.0.
It is ready to go on a Mac.
Additionally, it has eight channels. This is a little technical in terms of the ANT+ spec but effectively you need two channels to form a network.
- Pro – cheap and installs easily
- Con – unknown brand
Garmin ANT+ Dongle for Garmin Fitness Devices
Ok, this is more expensive. But you know it will work.
It effectively does everything the version above does. But you also get peace of mind.
Because it is made by Garmin, you know it will keep on going. This is borne out by many people who have tried it have been using it for years.
It will tie up with any ANT Plus compatible device, including smart trainers, Garmin Forerunners, cadence sensors, etc.
- Pro – trusted brand
- Con – expensive
Atolla 7-Port USB Data Hub Splitter
One issue with USB is power. There are times when the computer will suck in power for processing.
It might not be anything to do with Zwift, Trainerroad, or whatever. The laptop may just be carrying out some background function you don’t even know about.
In addition to having a separate source of power, this one comes with a 60cm cord. This ensures it is halfway between the laptop and the trainer.
Check it out on Amazon