Zwift: do you need an ANT+ dongle or Bluetooth?


Connecting your turbo trainer and sensors to Zwift can be a bit of a hassle at first. Trainers and sensors can pair via ANT+ and/or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to your device. So what do you need? ANT+ or Bluetooth to connect to Zwift?

To connect to Zwift, you can use ANT+ and/or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). You should use the connectivity option that meets the requirements of your devices. Sensors do not always have dual connectivity and not all laptops can receive BLE.

Below you will find a full guide to help you connect your devices to Zwift.

How can you connect to Zwift?

You can connect your turbo trainer (and external sensors) to Zwift via Bluetooth Low Energy and/or ANT+.

Do you need Bluetooth to run Zwift?

You don’t need to use a Bluetooth connection to run Zwift. You can also pair your devices via ANT+.

Do you need ANT+ to run Zwift?

You don’t need to use an ANT+ connection to run Zwift. You can also pair your devices via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

Should you use ANT+ or Bluetooth?

Bluetooth BLE and ANT+ both work very well to connect your devices to Zwift. You should select the option that is compatible with your setup and devices to connect. You can have a device in BLE and another in ANT+ and still connect them both to Zwift at the same time.

Why is Zwift not connecting to Bluetooth?

Zwift only connects to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). It is not the same Bluetooth as what we generally refer to as ‘Bluetooth’. It is commonly used on phones but not on laptops. You might want to check first if your equipment is compatible (see how to in the questions below).

If your equipment is compatible with BLE Bluetooth, please check your settings in Zwift in the pairing menu. You should select “Use Built-in Bluetooth” for your equipment to work.

Zwift pairing menu

What is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)?

Bluetooth Low Energy is different from Bluetooth Classic. It is designed for very low power operations and is widely used for IoT thanks to its high accuracy indoor location services.

How to check if your device supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)?

Phone

BLE is supported on all recent phones (Android and Apple)

iPad

BLE is supported on all recent iPads including:

  • iPad 4th Generation and newer
  • iPad Mini 2 and newer
  • iPad Air 2 and newer
  • iPad Pro and newer

PC (Windows 10)

To check if the Bluetooth available on your PC is BLE compliant, please follow the steps below:

1. Turn on the Bluetooth on your PC
2. Click on the ‘Windows” icon (start menu)
3. In the search bar, type ‘Device Manager’

4. Select Bluetooth from the sidebar on the left. This will expand to show Bluetooth drivers.

5. If there is a driver named Microsoft Bluetooth LE Enumerator then your PC supports BLE and can pair your devices to Zwift.

Mac

To check if the Bluetooth available on your Mac is BLE compliant, please follow the steps below:

1. Click on the Finder
2. Click on the ‘Apple’ logo on the top left menu of your Mac
3. Select ‘About This Mac’

4. Click on ‘System Report…’
5. In the sidebar, select ‘Bluetooth’ in the Hardware section
6. Read the ‘Bluetooth Low Energy Supported:‘ line: if it says ‘Yes‘ then your Mac supports BLE, else it is not compatible with BLE.

What to do if your device doesn’t support Bluetooth BLE?

You can either:

  • Buy a USB ANT+ dongle for your laptop to pair your devices via ANT+ if they support it (this is not a solution if you only have bluetooth connectivity on your sensors)
  • Run Zwift Companion app on your phone to connect your Bluetooth sensors to Zwift. Zwift companion app acts like a bridge to translate the BLE signals to Zwift using the BLE receiver on your phone.
  • Buy a USB BLE dongle for your laptop

Do you need an ANT+ dongle?

If you are running Zwift on a laptop that does not support Bluetooth Low Energy, you will need to buy an ANT+ dongle or use Zwift companion on your phone to make the link for the Bluetooth. If your sensors can only pair via ANT+, then you will need an ANT+ dongle.

I have been connecting my trainer to Zwift using an ANT+ dongle for the past years without any issue. This is why I recommend buying this model if you need one.

Is it best to buy an ANT+ dongle or a BLE dongle?

If you need to buy a dongle for your laptop to connect your sensors to Zwift, you should buy an ANT+ dongle. A BLE dongle is supposed to have a stronger signal but you will find many testimonies online stating it is sometimes unreliable. It’s not a surprise, many devices use Bluetooth, and therefore this protocol is more prone to interference. ANT+ is less used and its frequencies less crowded.

Moreover, you can still use the Zwift Companion App to connect via BLE. Having an ANT+ dongle can serve up as a backup plan when the Companion App struggles and vice-versa (considering all your devices connect to both protocols of course).

Summary of connectivity options to Zwift per device

Single-device options

Phone

If you have an iPhone or an Android phone, you can connect to Zwift via Bluetooth BLE directly.
If you own an Android phone, there are several models compatible with ANT+ technology. So you can choose to connect either via Bluetooth or ANT+.

Laptop

Bluetooth BLE is not commonly integrated with laptops (for both PC and Mac). Recent models can have it but you will have to check. Please follow the guidelines above to find out.

If your laptop has Bluetooth BLE, then use it to connect to Zwift. Else you can either buy an ANT+ dongle or use Zwift companion on your phone to share the Bluetooth.

AppleTV

You can only connect to Zwift via Bluetooth on the AppleTV. It does not recognize ANT+. Attention: you will be limited to 2 devices connected at a time. If you need more devices, use Zwift companion on your phone to do the bridge to your AppleTV.

iPad

You can only connect to Zwift via Bluetooth on the iPad. It does not recognize ANT+.

Android Tablet

There is lots of device variation across Android tablets with regards to Bluetooth Low Energy support. You will need to check if your tablet is compatible.

Two-device options (Zwift Companion + Zwift)

Using both Zwift Companion and Zwift app is very useful for extra features in the game. But for connectivity, it is also a plus. How does it work?

  1. Download Zwift Companion app on your phone and keep near by when riding. It is your “remote” for the game
  2. Launch Zwift app on another device such as a PC, a Mac, an AppleTV, an iPad or an Android tablet.

Now, how do you connect your trainer and sensors with this configuration?

Configuration 1: all your sensors can pair via ANT+

In this case you should connect directly via ANT+ to your laptop. If not possible, or if you use another device than a laptop which cannot receive ANT+ then check that your sensors can connect via Bluetooth and follow configuration 2.

Configuration 2: all your sensors can pair via Bluetooth BLE

In this case you have two options:

Option 1: your device supports Bluetooth BLE. Then you should pair your sensors and trainers directly to it.

Option 2: your device does not support Bluetooth BLE. Then use Zwift companion to connect your sensors and trainer and make the bridge with Zwift app.

Configuration 3: you have at least one sensor which cannot pair in the same system as the other ones

Generally this case consists of having an heart rate sensor that cannot connect via ANT+, only Bluetooth. Or if you wish to use a cadence sensor that’s only ANT+ compatible. For you trainer it is not a problem: most trainers have dual connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+.

In this configuration, you can combine Bluetooth and ANT+ connection. You can either receive everything on your laptop (ant+ dongle and native BLE receiver) or you can do ANT+ on your laptop and use Zwift companion for the Bluetooth.

Related questions

Does Zwift work with Bluetooth?

Zwift works with Bluetooth but the hosting device needs to be compatible with Bluetooth Low Energy. That’s the case with most smartphones but not all computers.

Does my PC need Bluetooth for Zwift?

Zwift only works with wireless devices using either Bluetooth or ANT+. As ANT+ native PCs do not exist, you would need a PC with Bluetooth Low Energy to run Zwift. If your PC does not have Bluetooth, then you can buy an ANT+ or BLE dongle.

Things you need with your smart tra...
Things you need with your smart trainer

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