Zwifthub gives you the features Zwift really should
While Zwift offers an enjoyable indoor training option with plenty of route and workout variation, for many riders the platform’s gamification is the real attraction. Riders can level up, unlock achievements, tick off a host of routes and earn badges.
While this aspect of Zwift is hugely popular, it is a bit of a pain to track your progress. Currently, Zwift users need to launch the app, pair or skip the sensors pairing page, select a route, click ride to actually place themselves in the game, before finally being able to enter the menu tab and selecting badges to check their progress.
This is a cumbersome and time consuming process which seems like it should be catered for in the companion app.
Route selection and tracking is another feature that is currently less than ideal on Zwift. While you can select routes from any of the three worlds active on Zwift at any time, in-depth route detail is lacking and in-game route tracking is even less informative. Anyone who has pushed themselves all the way up the Epic KOM reverse in pursuit of a personal best time, only to be diverted up to the radio tower within metres of the line can attest to how frustrating this is.
While Zwift may eventually make these process more streamlined, in the meantime there is a solution. It’s called Zwifthub.
Zwifthub is an online app that is the result of a self-taught hobby web developer, frustrated by these aspects of Zwift, and the need for a first-time coding project. Tobias Fenney is said developer and an avid Zwift fan.
“One day I had the idea to combine my passion for cycling with my need to practice coding and create something useful for all the Zwifters out there,” he said.
“I love Zwift. I love the gamification of indoor cycling and how this made me a fitter cyclist. At the same time, there are a few shortcomings with Zwift’s gameplay that sometimes made me want to throw my indoor trainer into the Volcano at Watopia. Well, instead of doing that, I decided to go full gas into programming mode and work on the solution that became ZwiftHub.”
Tobias wanted to create an easy-to-use, quick-to-access app allowing users to choose which routes to ride on any given day, filter by KOMs they wish to tackle and offer an easier way to track your achievement badges.
Fast forward to March 2020 and the launch of Zwifthub. The end result is a web-based app with all the features listed above and more to come. Zwifters can now quickly check which worlds and routes are available today, check for routes you have not completed previously, and filter them by distance and or elevation. With Zwifthub this process takes seconds, compared to the lengthy process required to do the same on Zwift.
Zwifters can also filter to show available routes which include a specific KOM or sprint you want to tick off. Say for example you want to ride 20-50km in Watopia and you want to include the Epic KOM reverse climb. Select these filters on the left hand side menu and Zwifthub instantly displays the three route options that meet these requirements.
For each of these routes, riders get a detailed and expandable route profile with KOM and sprints highlighted, a dropdown map, a link to the Strava segment for that route, and a display of the number of XP points riding this route offers.
Zwifthub also displays the elevation gain for each route and the distance. Very handily, Zwifthub also displays the lead-in distance for each route. This can make a huge difference. While Zwift allows users to sort routes by distance, this does not include the lead-in. For some routes the lead-in is zero km or close to it, while for others the lead in can be anything up to ten kilometres and sometimes almost equal to the route distance itself. If you are hopping on for a quick spin and hoping to tick off a route achievement badge, knowing that 4.1km Volcano Circuit CCW route actually has a 4.9km lead-in to get to it can be a big deal.
Speaking of achievement badges, this is another area Tobias focused on when creating the app. Like many, Tobias is a fan of the achievements feature and the gamification it offers. Achievements also mean XP points and more XP points means quicker leveling up, which in turn unlocks more routes, bikes, and kit.
For anyone who has chased route achievement badges you will know of the frustration of selecting a route you think you haven’t checked off before, only to find out after checking in game that you have already chalked this route off. Que an equally frustrating process of scanning the routes you have not achieved for a route of similar characteristics (from memory if you are not a Zwifthub user), quitting the ride you have started and restarting Zwift again to select the route you now want to tick off.
So Tobias built a filter into Zwifthub for achieved / not achieved routes. Now you simply add the “only not achieved routes” filter to your route selection options and you can instantly see which routes meet your requirements for that day, that have not yet been achieved.
There is one snag though. You do have to update your Zwift achievements manually on the Zwifthub app. As Zwifthub is a third party app with no affiliation to Zwift, currently there are no automatic update capabilities. Why not you ask? Well, blame GDPR. Instead, you must manually update your Zwifthub profile as you check off each route. While initially, I thought this would be off-putting and laborious, it’s actually quite quick and simple.
The key here is to set aside five to ten minutes when you first register with Zwifthub to go through all your achievements in the Zwift menu and tick them off one by one on Zwifthub. After you have done this initial bit of work, keeping your Zwifthub up to date is quick and a natural process.
I have found that I will almost always use Zwifthub prior to opening Zwift, I will filter routes and land on a route I almost always end up riding. As such, the route I tick off the achievements list each day is almost always already open on my Zwifthub. Then it is just a simple tap of the trophy displayed on the route to inform the app this route has now been achieved.
The process for updating badges is very similar. First off, tell Zwifthub which badges you have already achieved, then a quick tap of each badge as you tick them off keeps your data up to date.
Zwifthub has proved quite popular with Zwifters. In the ten months since its launch, Zwifthub has attracted 40,000 users from 161 countries around the world and I am myself a Zwifthub fan. While not currently available as a mobile app, many will be aware of the hack that allows mobile users to add shortcuts to websites to their home screen, effectively access to the app as quick as an app.
Tobias has plans to add new features to Zwifthub, including estimating time for a given route, the ability to save filter settings, and a calendar feature allowing users to plan their training, routes, achievements, etc in advance in keeping with the Zwift worlds available on each day. However, given Zwifthub’s success so far, quite a bit of time goes into keeping the app running and answering emails, eating up time that might otherwise be spent developing new features.
Tobias also receives no support or insight from Zwift, meaning he has no idea what the platform will release next. This means any time spent on developing new features, could be rendered wasted in one single update by Zwift.
I have recently taken up the personal challenge of chalking off as many Zwift badges and achievements as I can. I have found Zwifthub makes this process much simpler. I first set about chalking off achievements when lockdown first hit in March 2020, and as I was unaware of Zwifthub at the time, I found the standard Zwift achievement tracking very limited and somewhat frustrating.
Since refocusing on some badge chasing over the Christmas holidays, Zwifthub has made tracking my progress very simple. The app has given me motivation on days I might otherwise have not bothered. While achievements and badges might not be everyone’s personal motivation, chalking them off can improve your overall Zwift experience.
For more information check out Shane Miller – GPLama’s video on YouTube