Zwift has been one of the biggest revolutions in cycling in the past few years and given rise to indoor cycling being a popular past time for amateur and professional cyclists. And now it looks like the software company is aiming to develop its own hardware, so could a smart trainer or smart bike be on the horizon soon?
Ray over at DCRainmaker has been browsing the jobs page on the Zwift website, where seven jobs are currently being advertised under the heading of Fitness Tech. The jobs, all in Surrey by the way, are for electronics, mechanical and software engineering, and by digging into the job descriptions Ray, in quite an impressive exercise of joining the dots, makes it quite clear the company has ambitions to make its own hardware.
Zwift isn’t exactly denying it, but neither is it confirming there are new products in the pipeline. We’ve chatted to the company this morning and a spokesperson gave us the following statement which treads a careful line that clearly is aimed at not upsetting the many hardware manufacturers that have benefited from Zwift’s popularity.
“While Zwift’s Fitness Technology division is a new addition to the business, this news will come as a surprise to few in the industry and the picture has more depth than manufacturing our own hardware.
First up, as we have always sought to do, we will continue to work closely with hardware partners to deliver business growth, new innovations for cyclists, runners and triathletes, and create a more immersive and better value consumer experience. As the industry leader in indoor training, Zwift remains fully committed to growing the market for industry hardware sales.
This vision of better integration between partner hardware and Zwift software aligns with our ambition for Esports. With the first UCI Cycling Esports World Championships taking place next year, we at Zwift need to ensure we take on the responsibility of certifying trainers for esports competition at the highest level - where world titles and prize money is on the line. This certification process will be a key responsibility for the department.
We know it is no easy task to create hardware. Our industry partners have years of trusted experience and our priorities as a business will continue to centre around our core business as a software platform.
It’s too early for us to disclose any more detail, or to provide any indications on timings at this point but, as ever, we look forward to what the future holds.”
If Zwift turned around tomorrow and launched its own smart trainer, I doubt few people would be surprised. A yearly Zwift subscription is £155 while a top of the range smart trainer can cost £1,000, so it would be a good revenue generator. It could sell a package that could make it easier for people to navigate the current maze of trainers, dongles and adapters.
It would also give Zwift greater control over the integration of the trainer and software. The press release points to “the responsibility of certifying trainers for esports competition” so what better way to solve this than develop its own trainer for all UCI sanctioned esport events?
If this does happen, what does it mean for the current manufacturers selling trainers that all have benefited from the huge growth of Zwift. Well, there are many other indoor training services for a start, but Zwift is arguably the biggest and most popular.
Companies like Tacx, Elite, Wahoo etc have a lot more experience making hardware so any Zwift trainer would have to be at least as good, if not better, to be a more compelling choice than an established trainer brand.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.