Zwift has (kind of) announced plans to move into cycling indoor trainer hardware if its latest recruitment ads are anything to go by.
The company has advertised a number of positions in its newly-launched hardware division, dubbed Fitness Tech, with a view to creating a Zwift indoor bike trainer.
The company also confirmed it was looking into developing a turbo trainer, but gave little away beyond saying its focus would be on software.
Go here for our look at the top direct drive trainers.
However, a look at the ads reveals a little more. The roles, which are based in the UK (London, and just outside), are primarily based around technologists, product managers, and electronics developers.
What Zwift’s move means for Tacx, Wahoo, Elite etc
One thing, it means some of these manufacturers’ machines are going to be taken apart and reverse-engineered. The requirement to do a ‘tear down’ is stipulated.
Beyond this, the job specs look like Zwift is focused on creating a product that is unique in the market. That could be a high-end trainer or even a bike.
It has been estimated the process for even an experience indoor cycling trainer manufacturer is two-years. So let’s assume Zwift has a product out by then, the question is what position will Zwift be in at that time? And, what will the indoor training market look like?
Fewer indoor cycling training applications?
We wrote about two training applications that announced they were ceasing production. One of them was VirtuGo – led by former world time trial champion Michael Rodgers.
There are others out there that look strong, but Zwift is the only one that has truly nailed the social aspect.
As an indication of the future direction, Zwift CEO Eric Min has gone on the record to say he wants Zwift to be an actual Olympic sport.
Another better target could be Peloton, which seems to target keep-fitters who don’t want to fit a trainer to a bike. Lets face it unless you’re used to messing around with bikes even fitting a cassette requires a trip to the local LBS.
Having said that…
My own view? I would love to see Zwift kill Peloton. Why anyone would want to sit on one of those things is totally beyond me. Whatever Zwift does, it needs to be a bike. In the way, Peloton is not.
Hopefully, with Zwift piling on new users (currently around 500,000) one hopes the momentum is coming its way. You just have to compare the two in Google Trends to see how Zwift and Peloton are competing in search.
Looking at new additions to Zwift, it seems like it is in sore need of some additional functionality. Or at least it will be in the next few years.
What we would like the bike to look like
Now, Zwift can be hard but speaking simply it doesn’t require much else than pedalling hard.
However, if you introduced a great physicality and skill in controlling the bike, then that would take things forward. If it didn’t get Olympic recognition (unlikely anyway) it would future-proof Zwift.
Any application is dependent on the hardware people use. You’ve only got to look back to the days of Internet Explorer to see how software development can be held up by poor products.
Zwift is dependent on the trainers at the end of the day. By taking control of this it will be in control of its own destiny.
Maybe, just maybe, the trainer/ bike it is building will make our current smart trainers the dumb trainers of tomorrow. An interesting thought, I’m just not sure on the impact on our pockets.