Rowing With Zwift - The Basics

You've decide that you want to try rowing in a virtual social fitness gaming world like  Zwift or Rouvy. Or, you'd like to do structured training with platforms like The Sufferfest or TrainerRoad. Here's how to get started.

How Does It Work?

The RowedBiker app, and it's older sibling PainSled, are able to emulate Bluetooth cycling trainers, like a Wahoo KICKR or Tacx NEO. Fitness apps like Zwift then pair with the apps as if they were smart cycling trainers. The apps then convert your rowing wattage into cycling wattage and off you go. 

RowedBiker Android is also able to emulate a smart treadmill so you can work out with running apps as well. In particular, this is useful if you want to dip your toe in the water with the free Zwift running subscription.

Important: You MUST run the PainSled or RowedBiker apps on a different device than the device that is running the Zwift or other fitness app. This is because iOS and Android do not allow apps on the same device to "see" each other over a Bluetooth connection.

Let's get started!

tl;dr, aka "The Fire7 Solution"

You want to cut to the chase and grab something cheap that just works? Check out TURbA: The Universal RowedBiker Adapter. 

Detailed Instructions

If you would prefer to use your own iOS or Android device to connect your rower to Zwift, the steps will be similar. If you have a Concept2 rower, see the Use Your Concept2 Rower with Running and Cycling Fitness Apps post for detailed instructions. If you have a WaterRower, see the Use Your WaterRower with Running and Cycling Fitness Apps post.

Question: Why would I use PainSled instead of RowedBiker?

RowedBiker has several features tailored specifically to rowing online and should be your first choice when rowing with Zwift. However, PainSled iOS does have one major feature that sets it apart: the ability to sync your rowing workout data directly to Strava, the Concept2 Logbook, and other destinations. If you are into doing analytics on a Concept2 rower with a PM5 monitor, PainSled may be the better choice. 

There is also a PainSled Android version in the works that will incorporate all RowedBiker rower support and will add workout sync. You can find the "early access" open beta in the Google Play Store

Question: When would I choose to use Bluetooth to connect to my rower instead of USB?

USB is always the preferred rower connection as it is not subject to interference from WiFi and other Bluetooth devices. However, if you want to connect to a Concept2 PM5 monitor without buying a USB adapter, this will be your only option.

All The Connections

This diagram shows all of the currently possible connections between Zwift, RowedBiker, PainSled, Concept2, and WaterRower. The preferred USB-only solutions are highlighted.