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Zwift Play on the Wahoo Kickr Bike v2 – first impressions

Zwift Play controllersZwift Play controllers

If you’ve reached this page through your favourite search engine, you’ve probably got a Wahoo Kickr Bike and wondering how well the Zwift Play, er, plays with it. So I’m going to assume a good amount of upfront knowledge about Zwift, Zwift Play and the Wahoo Kickr Bike, and skip to the interesting bits. 1

Here are the specifics for people, like me, using Zwift Play on a Kickr Bike v2:

  • You can pair both the Kickr Bike and Zwift Play controllers to control steering. This means you can still use the Kickr Bike buttons to steer, u-turn, or use a power-up, if you prefer. It’s nice to have the options.
  • Braking using Zwift Play only brakes in Zwift. You can tell when you’ve done it because a red rear light comes on. It doesn’t slow the Kickr Bike’s flywheel.
  • Braking on the Kickr Bike doesn’t make you brake in Zwift – it just slows the flywheel down. So that means no change there.
  • I found the Zwift Play somewhat tight to get onto the handlebars, I guess at least partly because I have relatively thick (2.5mm) handlebar tape installed instead of the Wahoo-supplied tape. The flipside of that coin is the controllers are incredibly stable once on.
  • The Zwift Play controllers didn’t interfere physically with the gear buttons. I had to make more of a mental adjustment to remember to move my fingers between the gear buttons and the Zwift Play steering/braking levers.

General first impressions of Zwift Play:

  • It’s liberating to be able to control Zwift with on-bike controllers. Surprisingly so. Once I got Zwift started up, it was nice to be able to keep my hands on the handlebars while navigating the Zwift menus and in-game. I usually have a keyboard and trackpad next to me to control Zwift but I don’t think I’ll need those any more.
  • Giving Ride Ons is so much easier with Zwift Play, especially returning them. When I’ve wanted to return a Ride On from someone near me, it’s previously been a hurried faff to reach my hand to my trackpad, hastily find out where the cursor is, and then manoeuvre it to hit the little thumbs-up icon. It’s not uncommon for me to miss. Even if I’m Zwifting on my iPad, it’s still somewhat a faff to try and hit that thumbs-up icon accurately. With Zwift Play, I get a prompt when someone gives me a Ride On to hit the Z button to return it. So without taking my hand off the handlebar, and without needing to look, I just hit the Z button. And that’s it.
  • Similarly, Ride On bombs are easy to give, simply by holding down the Z button for a few second.
  • I no longer feel like I have to have my iPad attached to the front of my bike to control anything once I’ve started. This means I get the full benefit of my fan, which is on the floor (it’s a Kickr headwind), on my body without the iPad blocking some of the flow.
  • Navigation is pretty intuitive and it’s a shallow learning curve.
  • The Zwift Play LEDs are meant to stay a constant blue when connected, but they kept flashing when I was using them. It was more annoying than I expected.
  • As a Kickr Bike owner, I’m not sure I’d buy these at the proposed RRP of £149, because I mainly care about easy access to power-ups and steering, which I get with the Kickr Bike anyway. But the current ‘beta’ pricing of £99 is decent and I’m pleased with my purchase.

  1. If you want to know more about Zwift Play, DC Rainmaker does his usual wonderful job over at Zwift Play Controller Review: Surprisingly Useful!↩︎

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