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Zwift's first smart trainer available exclusively online, at least at launch

Published September 6, 2022
The direct-drive Hub retails for $499 and will be available only through for now.

CORRECTS that the JetBlack Volt trainer was priced at $899 in U.S. dollars (AU$1,200). JetBlack later lowered the Volt price to $499 to match Zwift.

(BRAIN) — Zwift released details Tuesday about its $499 direct-drive smart trainer that will be available exclusively online, with other future sales channel options also being considered.

"We are actively looking at ways to support the bicycle retail network, particularly in helping them to sell smart trainers," said Chris Snook, Zwift's public relations director. ... "The focus of Zwift Hub is on making Zwift more accessible — cost — and easier to use — user experience."

Because of the price point, the Zwift Hub Smart Trainer that will be available Oct. 3 is targeted to appeal to the beginner indoor cyclist, and comes with the choice of an eight-, nine-, 10-, 11-, or 12-speed pre-installed cassette. The Hub also will work with other virtual cycling and training platforms.

"Zwift Hub is solely aimed at helping unlock the Zwift experience for a broader market," Snook said. "The cost of hardware, and the complexity of equipment choice, have been the two biggest barriers to entry for people wanting to Zwift. Zwift Hub aims to address both of those. Zwift Hub uses open-source protocols, ANT+ and BLE, so will also work with other third-party applications."

The Hub is less expensive than its direct-drive competition, including the Wahoo KICKR ($1,200) and CORE ($900), and Saris H3 ($800). And Snook added that set-up will be less complicated.

"There has been a lot of attention on the setup process, helping reassure customers that not only will they have a great Zwift experience once set up, but that they will also be able to set up with little to no technical knowledge required," he said.

Despite interest in indoor cycling waning since the pandemic — with trainer sales down and Peloton's decline well documented — Snook said Zwift is confident.

"We remain positive about growth in the industry," Snook said. "In the last two years, we've seen the majority of new Zwifters (53%) self-identifying as beginner or leisure cyclists. Zwift Hub will help to create a new segment of the smart trainer market that doesn't currently exist today, and one that will support this growing new segment."

Marketing will focus on the user experience.

"Our new advertising campaign will go live in October when the trainer is available for purchase and will also lean into this customer experience," Snook said. "We want to help people understand what it is they are buying into."

Zwift contracted with JetBlack to build the trainers, with the Hub sharing similarities to the JetBlack Volt AU$1,200 ($900) smart trainer. The Hub weighs 33 pounds, including a 10.3-pound flywheel, and it can handle up to a 254-pound rider. It claims +/- 2.5% accuracy and max power of 1,800 watts. It can simulate up to 16% gradients.

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