Indoor Cycling — What is Bluetooth and ANT+

Indoor cycling can quickly overwhelm even the most tech-savvy minds. There are gobs of fancy terms and acronyms that you’ve never heard anywhere else: ERG mode, FTP, ANT+, and smart technology are just a few of the confusing words that can turn people off of indoor training. But no need to fear, we’re explaining all of these terms and more in your Indoor Cycling for Beginners series, and today we are going to tackle the world of wireless technology in Bluetooth and ANT+.


Without diving too deep into technological mumbo-jumbo, Bluetooth and ANT+ are two different wireless protocols used to connect electronic devices, and are the main two networks used for connecting fitness equipment such as heart rate monitors, head units, power meters, smart trainers, and smart watches.


ANT+, specifically, is a new generation of ANT wireless technology which is designed to be lower power (helping the battery last longer) and used for portable fitness devices.

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Bluetooth, on the other hand, is a higher-power wireless connectivity protocol used for more than just cycling devices. Bluetooth (BT) can be used for streaming audio and visuals because it operates at a much higher bit-rate and consumes significantly more battery than ANT+. However, BT can only connect devices one-to-one, which means that you can’t connect your power meter to both your head unit and your smart watch using BT simultaneously. In contrast, ANT+ allows for multiple simultaneous connections, which means that you could record power data on both your head unit and your smart watch simultaneously using ANT+.

This all goes to say that both BT (specifically, Bluetooth FE-C, or Fitness Equipment-Control) and ANT+ can be used for indoor cycling, with both protocols being supported on all current indoor cycling equipment. Bluetooth FE-C or ANT+ is what allows you to connect your smart trainer to your tablet, or your heart rate monitor with Zwift, or your power meter with your head unit.

The biggest differences between Bluetooth FE-C and ANT+. Bluetooth FE-C is the relatively stronger and more stable connection as long as the two devices are in close proximity. ANT+ can connect multiple devices which are also further from each other, although the connection is not quite as stable, and if ANT+ is not native to your device, you will need an ANT+ dongle to enable the connection.

For beginners, start with enabling Bluetooth on the two device you wish to pair. Bluetooth is the most common wireless protocol, and the most stable for an indoor cycling setup.

Written by Zach Nehr

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