Avoid Zwift Dropouts – Tips & Tricks for a definitive solution

Avoid Zwift Dropouts – Tips & Tricks

This article comprehensively looks at how to avoid Zwift dropouts. I’ve indicated the actions you can take within a couple of minutes to have the best chance of success at quickly fixing the problem for good.

If you have a more unusual problem you might have to invest a considerable amount of time to methodically go through every step to eliminate the problem. It’s a PITA, sorry. There might not be a quick fix for some people.

If you use Zwift over your home WiFi and have several other WiFi devices on the same network, likely, you are losing some data when you train on Zwift, maybe it’s to a noticeable level or not. As you read this article I assume you are aware that this is a widespread problem and I’ll give you some practical tips to reduce or stop these dropouts, you’ll end up with cleaner data for your stats and a better, more responsive Zwift experience.

Zwift Dropouts – What is The Problem?

Your Wifi operates at the same frequencies as ANT+ and Bluetooth. That is the cause.

Worse still, WiFi is a higher-power signal that often travels further, interferes with, and overwhelms weaker Bluetooth or ANT+ signals. The operating frequencies are shown here

  • ANT+ – 2.457GHz
  • Bluetooth: 2.402GHz – 2.480GHz
  • wiFi: 2.401GHz – 2.484GHz

The problem is further complicated as at any given moment, signal strength will vary and thus interference/dropouts will be intermittent and the cause difficult to isolate.

As we look at all the solutions assume and remember that the most damaging signals travel in straight lines from transmitter to receiver.

Buy KICKR Core Zwift One
Buy KICKR Core Zwift One


A Broad Solution

The solution that will work is to use a direct cable connection or wired network connection but that is not practical for many people.

This is the broad approach for resolving problems with your WiFi/ANT+/BLE setup

  • Position your electronic devices better.
  • Tweak Wifi and computer configurations
  • Use maximum power and performance settings on your computer

Points highlighted in bold are the ones most likely to easily fix the problem

Step 1: Positioning & Line of sight

Get every bit of tech in its optimal position

  1. Line-of-sight: Imagine lines drawn between your WiFi router, computer and electronic bike gear. Re-position devices to stop these lines from crossing. Signal strength becomes progressively weaker with distance ie the interference by WiFi is quickly reduced if you move it further away
    • Ensure clear lines of sight, repositioning any physical object
    • Normally the easiest is to move your router (WiFi point). Move the router further away, a total of 2-3m away is a reasonable start.
    • or move your bike.
  2. Reflection – although less likely a cause, metal obstructions can reflect signals.
  3. If your Zwift setup uses a USB dongle for Bluetooth or ANT+ it’s probably plugged directly into your computer. Buy a simple USB extender cable of at least 1m to reposition it. Plug the dongle in one end and the other in the computer slot where your dongle originally was.
    • Check other USB slots. You might be able to plug the dongle into a keyboard (yes) or screen to move its position.
  4. You will want your USB/ANT+ dongle relatively close to your bike sensors but if they are too close that can distort the signal. Move it slightly further away.
  5. Consider shielding – this is a desperation measure. Use shielded cables, perhaps even use a metal box or plate to stop WiFi signals travelling in a specific direction.
  6. Remove or disable non-essential devices in the same room (signals can also travel through thin walls). eg put your smartphone in Airplane mode
  7. Use a carefully positioned WiFi range extender. You can buy Wifi range extenders that use the power circuits in your house. This can be handy as the Wifi is then broadcast from a socket and you have lots of sockets in your house so you can easily move from one socket to another.
  8. Your mesh network might use RJ45/LAN cables for some nodes (mine does). Swapping to a very old network cable might ‘dial down’ how a particular mesh node broadcasts 2.4GHz signals and force it to transmit in an older bg WiFi mode. (Just an idea!)

Step 2: Tweak WiFi and Computer Settings

Update every bit of software and ensure it’s working at maximum power (yes, really!)

  1. Update all software and firmware of every part of your setup. I’m not just saying this to add an extra bullet point! Zwift, your bike computer and your computer are all likely updated automatically but your bike sensors and Wifi router may be years out of date.
  2. Consider switching from ANT+ to Bluetooth if your setup allows it. Bluetooth 5,x has Forward Error Correction which might reduce some dropped data. There may be other benefits of Bluetooth linked to the frequency of data packets sent by Garmin (that is the case for HRV data, I’m unsure if it’s the same for other data types)
    • Some bike computers like Hammerhead Karoo and other devices will allow you to entirely disable ANT+ to reduce contention. Do that.
  3. Conversely, try switching from Bluetooth to ANT+, it might exploit differing strengths & weaknesses in your devices’ positions.
  4. Modern WiFi will use both 2.4GHz and 5 GHz WiFi frequency bands. The latter tends to be faster but travels shorter distances.
    • On 2.4GHz WiFi, In this order try these channels 1,6,11,2,3,4,5 and avoid channel 10. The latter interferes with ANT+.
    • Use an old WiFi device or reduce the capability of your current WiFi device to disable and not use the 2.4GHz band. This is the one that conflicts with ANT+and BLE
    • Only use the 5GHz band for Wi-Fi if possible
  5. WiFi
    • To minimize interference, enable Wi-Fi multipath interference avoidance on your router.
    • This might be referred to as a Bluetooth/Wi-Fi coexistence feature and should be on more modern, high-end WiFi devices..
    • If you have a mesh network, using many mesh nodes might cause data congestion and create more potential conflicts. Your Mesh WiFi can handle this, but your Bluetooth/ANT+ devices…less so.
  6. Dongle
    • Use the older, black USB 2 ports, not the blue USB 3. The latter can cause interference and there will be no speed hit for Zwift.
    • Ensure other software is not trying to use the same ANT+/Bluetooth dongle eg disable Garmin Connect.
    • If your computer is using an older version of Bluetooth, a cheap Bluetooth 5.x USB dongle might help. you won’t be able to update the version of Bluetooth on your existing components, you have to switch to a different bit of hardware.
  7. Your laptop needs mains power, not battery power
  8. Replace or fully charge sensor batteries.
  9. Run your computer at maximum power
  10. Other
    • Turn off all unnecessary nearby electrical items especially those with a motor eg a fan (hmmm)
Order Wahoo
Get: Wahoo Direct Connect


Step 3: You Didn’t Want To Hear This

  1. Use Wahoo Direct Connect if you have a Kickr V5 , KICKR ROLLR or higher to hardwire the trainer to your network.
  2. Try WiFi on KICKR V6 or other high-end trainers. this introduces another overwhelming WiFi signal but it’s one that you might want to overwhelm others, so it should work.
  3. Use an ethernet/LAN cable rather than WiFi to eliminate wireless interference.

You can buy LAN Cables (Cat 5 or higher cables) that are 10m or longer and have an RJ45 plug at each end. These can go from your bike trainer to the main modem/router in another room.

Alternatively, you can buy a cheap network ‘switch’ (effectively like what you might call a modem or router but it can’t connect to the internet by itself). You link your trainer AND your computer to that switch with a LAN cable and then link the switch to your main modem/router.


The Future

I would hope for a trainer that has a built-in connection for 5 GHz and 6GHz WiFi (WIFI 7) and one for Gigabit ethernet or higher (LAN/RJ45)

Interestingly both the Tacx NEO 3M and Wahoo KICKR MOVE lack a 5GHz Wifi connection (2.4GHz is supported, 6 GHz is not supported nor widely available). I would have thought that Wahoo and Garmin would want to use 5 GHz to keep their WiFi data away from other devices that you might simultaneously use. Then again, the 5GHz range of 15m in ideal conditions might be considered insufficient (2.4GHz is 45m ) and maybe it’s not important as your WiFi network should reliably manage your workout data traffic alongside whatever else it is doing. That said a cable connection should almost always be more reliable.


Things to buy for the fix


Buy KICKR Core Zwift One
Buy KICKR Core Zwift One

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