Troubleshoot Zwift Smart Bike Trainer Connectivity Issues

Are you having trouble getting your smart bike trainer to connect to Zwift? Whether it’s the initial connection or something smaller, this is what you should do when Zwift Bluetooth troubleshooting.

When troubleshooting the Bluetooth connection to Zwift, make sure that Bluetooth is enabled both on the device and the trainer. In Windows, ANT+ may work better than Bluetooth. The cadence sensor won’t work properly when its battery is low. Smart trainers may not let Zwift control resistance.

Here is how to make sure you connect your trainer, whether through Bluetooth or ANT+. We will also look at issues with the cadence sensor, problems with the Tacx Neo 2t, and resistance issues.

Connection Method Functionality

First, check to see which connection method you are using to connect your trainer with Zwift. The most common connection issues come from trying to use the wrong method to connect your device to your trainer.

There are two possible methods: ANT+ and Bluetooth. ANT+ only works with Macs and PCs: devices such as phones and tablets require a Bluetooth connection unless you have an ANT+ key or a device that converts ANT+ to Bluetooth. Mac and IOS devices work best with Bluetooth. ANT+ may be preferable for Windows PCs.

Some trainers can only use one or the other. Make sure that you know which methods are compatible with both your trainer and the device that you use for Zwift.

Make sure that your Zswift trainer is awake. If it isn’t plugged in or turned on, it won’t connect to anything. It’s an easy issue to overlook, but it’s really easy to fix. Just make sure it’s plugged in and turned on, and move the pedals to wake it up.

On the top left of Zwift’s pairing menu, it will show you which pairing methods are active. For example, you might see that the ANT+ symbol is pulsing, and the Bluetooth symbol is faded and has a caution triangle. The first means that ANT+ is enabled, and the second means that Bluetooth is either disabled or not working.

Bluetooth

If Bluetooth is disabled, and you’re trying to connect using Bluetooth, then all you have to do is enable Bluetooth on your device.

On Mac or IOS, this is a simple process of just going to the menu and turning on Bluetooth.

On Windows, this will take a few extra steps, because you will have to go into settings and find the Bluetooth page before turning it on. For Windows 10, open the Settings gear, select Devices, and enable Bluetooth. Make sure that the PC recognizes your training device. If necessary, disconnect or remove the device, and then add the device again.

Windows 10 is notorious for Bluetooth connectivity issues, especially with older PCs. My own Windows laptop is picky with Bluetooth pretty often, and it’s only about four years old. After you make sure Bluetooth is turned on, if it’s still not working, follow these steps to get it working again:

  • Turn Bluetooth off and back on to reset the connection. This forces your device to search for Bluetooth devices to connect to.
  • Bring the devices closer together. Close proximity may help the initial connection.

ANT+

If ANT+ is disabled, and you’re trying to use ANT+ to connect, you’ll need to check your ANT+ dongle. If you can’t see any obvious problems, there are a few ways to try to get it working again:

  • Unplug the trainer and plug it back in. This resets the connection and may fix the issue. Try it a few times, and if it doesn’t work, try using different ports on the device. If you’re using an extension or adapter, try plugging the ANT+ dongle directly into the device instead, or using a different extension. (Source)
  • Make sure there are no other programs on your device that might be taking up the ANT+ signal. This means closing any other program that has the capability of using it, including TrainerRoad, Garmin Express, or any other training app. Close these programs completely rather than just minimizing them.
  • Make sure the ANT+ driver is up to date. Driver updates usually update automatically, but sometimes they don’t. To find the driver, go into the Device Manager, select the USB device in question by right-clicking it, and select update. If it’s already up to date, try uninstalling it and reinstalling it.
  • If none of this works, the ANT+ dongle may be faulty. Test it out by opening up a different program that uses the ANT+ dongle. If it doesn’t work for that program, then the dongle may be faulty. If it does work in the other program, then the issue is with your Zwift program rather than the ANT+ dongle.

If you’re using Mac or IOS, try switching from ANT+ to Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a lot more reliable than ANT+, especially on these devices. Bluetooth also works better for Android, because Android doesn’t support ANT+ for Zwift.

Interference

If you’re still having trouble with Bluetooth or ANT+, make sure that no other devices are interfering with the signal. This can mean that something is either interrupting the signal or trying to take it over.

For example, some devices can handle more than one Bluetooth connection at a time. That’s all well and good, but sometimes these get finicky and decide, ‘No, I don’t want to handle two devices today. You can have your earbuds connected, but that trainer had better find some other device to connect to.’

To combat this, make sure that the trainer is the only device that’s trying to connect to your Zwift device. It may be inconvenient, but it’s a simple fix.

Alternatively, your trainer might be trying to pair to a different device. Say you want it to connect with your laptop, but you had previously connected it to your phone, even if briefly. The trainer will try to connect to the phone, and it may even be successful, in which case it will stop looking for other things that it can pair with.

To fix that, disconnect any device that may want to pair with the trainer. Even try deleting the trainer from the device’s pairing memory. This will make it so that there is only one device that it knows to pair to, and that device is the one you want.

Finally, eliminate any other signals that might interrupt the Bluetooth signal. This could come from microwaves, radios, baby monitors, or even fans. Any device that sends out signals or that creates an electromagnetic field can create connectivity issues. Disable these or shut them off to eliminate the problem.

Cadence Sensor Issues

If your cadence sensor isn’t connecting, or the readings are erratic, you could either have a problem with the firmware or the battery. There may also be something interfering with the signal.

Firmware

First, make sure that the cadence sensor is installed correctly and that the firmware is up to date. Make sure the firmware is updated, as that could cause some issues with the sensor. It could even make it seem like the battery is bad.

Updating the firmware might mean looking for updates for the app on the App Store on IOS or Google Play on Android. You’ll need to be logged into your account. When the sensor is set up and powered on, go into the Setup Wizard, which will let you know whether a firmware update is available. (Source)

Alternatively, if your sensor is already paired, you will need to go to the workout page. A red dot will indicate when a sensor needs to be updated. Select the blue box to open the sensor details page, and then choose the Update Firmware button. After it’s done updating, it will ask you to turn Bluetooth off and on again. Once you have done that Bluetooth reset, it’s done.

This is the quickest way to fix the problem, and it’s also the cheapest: if the firmware proves to be the issue, you won’t have to waste time or money getting a new battery.

Battery

However, if you’re still having problems when the firmware is up to date, check the cadence sensor’s battery. This is a big thing that causes problems for cadence sensors.

Make sure the new battery is fully charged. The battery should come from a reputable source. A lot of batteries sold cheap on Amazon are old or depleted and won’t do you any good. A good battery should work for at least 2000 to 3000 miles.

Panasonic coin-cell batteries are recommended by Wahoo for the best performance and tracking. Wahoo discourages the use of batteries with bitter or child-deterrent coatings, especially from Duracell, because these coatings can degrade both the performance and the functionality of the sensor.

If you have a full battery, and it’s still having problems, you could try restarting the device that’s running the app, reset the sensor, and/or make sure the battery is connected properly. (Source)

Interference

Make sure there isn’t anything going on around you that could interfere with the signal that the sensor is sending out. Interference could come from other apps or devices that have been paired with the sensor previously. Or, the device could be too far away: try keeping it within 5 feet of the sensor.

Physical barriers can also block the signal. My Bluetooth device says it has a range of 35 feet, but if I take it to a place where a thick wall gets in the way of the signal, it messes with the signal and even disconnects it.

Other wireless signals can also interfere with the sensor’s signal. Things that generate electromagnetic fields will also interfere. These things include Bluetooth headphones or speakers, wireless mice, video recording devices, cordless home phones, microwaves, radios, baby monitors, and fans.

Any of those devices can interrupt the sensor’s signal. To combat this, you can try either disabling or shutting off these devices, or moving the sensor to a place where these things won’t affect it. (Source)

Other devices that could interfere are wireless home phones, routers, or mice, as well as power sources and Smart TVs.

Problems with Tacx Neo 2t

Lots of people have had trouble with connecting the Tacx Neo 2t with Zwift, whether it’s ANT+ dropouts or it just plain won’t connect.

The ANT+ dropouts are a known issue to the manufacturers and have been resolved as of the firmware version .32. The cause of the issue had to do with the reset chip. Bluetooth dropouts have been observed as well, though it’s unclear whether the firmware fixed those issues as well.

So, if your ANT+ drops out while using the Tacx Neo 2t, update the firmware and hope that it doesn’t happen again. (Source)

If you’re having trouble connecting to the trainer in the first place, it could be that the connection is picky. Make sure that you always disconnect the Tacx utility from the Neo 2t before you close it. This will reset the Neo 2t’s connection and make it realize that it can take a break from being connected and give you a fresh start when you want to use it again. (Source)

Resistance Problems

If you’re using a smart trainer, it may not want to follow what Zwift tells it to do. If this is the case, then you may find that changing the resistance on Zwift doesn’t change the trainer’s resistance and vice versa.

This problem is a result of the connection, but it’s an easy fix. When selecting the device to pair with your Zwift, make sure to connect your trainer as a controllable device. Then, Zwift will take control of the device and it should follow what Zwift tells it to do, and Zwift should respond to it as well.

To see whether this issue applies to your trainer, look for the ANT+ FE-C or Smart Bluetooth label. These labels indicate that it’s a smart trainer, and in order for Zwift to control it, you will need to connect it as a controllable device.

Adam Johnson

As a middle-aged, 40 something cyclist, my riding goals have changed over the years. A lover of all things retro, and an avid flat bar cyclist, I continue to live in the glory days of past triathlon glories.

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