Your Zwift avatar is a virtual representation of yourself, and some people take that very seriously. Think of everything that goes into your avatar’s “look”–your jersey and shorts, headwear, head type, hairstyle and color, skin color, sock style and length, shoes, gloves, sunglasses, facial hair… it’s a lot!
Zwift has a challenging task on their hands in building tools to create avatars people can feel good about.
What about the avatar’s actual body? Sure, your avatar is “decorated” with all the clothing and accessories listed above, but have you ever wondered how Zwift sizes avatars?
We did a little research to figure it out.
3 For Men, 2 for Women
Zwift’s avatar sizing is actually quite simple. There are only three avatar body types for men, and two for women. Here’s what they look like:
What determines which body size you see? It’s the rider’s weight and height. It appears body types change at a particular BMI.
Men’s Avatar Sizing:
- Small: BMI <21
- Medium: BMI 21-26
- Large: BMI >26
Women’s Avatar Sizing
- Small: BMI <22
- Medium: BMI >22
That’s it. Your body doesn’t slowly grow larger or smaller as you change weight or height–you are given one of three (or two if you’re female) body sizes based on your BMI.
Example: men with a BMI of 26 or more will all have the same avatar body. Even if your BMI is 40 it will look the same as someone with a BMI of 26.
Sometimes this helps: if you’re very overweight, you might be happy with how your “gorilla” avatar makes you look. But BMI can be a bit of a silly measurement: I have two real-life friends who sport the “large” men’s avatar on Zwift, but neither would ever be confused for being big or overweight guys. One is a very lean guy, all muscle, and the other is a very tall guy with a bit of belly fat.
So it’s not a perfect system, but it works.
Want to calculate your BMI? Go here >
Your height affects your speed in Zwift and helps determine (along with weight) which avatar body type you get. But it does NOT change the visual height of your rider in game.
All avatars are the same height, regardless of your setting. This was probably done so kits and bike frames wouldn’t need to be scaled for each rider, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could see people’s actual size? It would add some nice variety to the visuals.
Any questions about avatar sizing, or thoughts on why Zwift does it this way? Comment below!
Thanks for clarifying this. If a waist measurement was used it may help with rendering the Avatar’s true proportions. I would like to see Zwift ‘embrace‘ all body types to ensure it’s not a dystopian world.
does hairstyle affect speed/aero?
I want to know why I can’t have a braid or ponytail, all the female avatars have really short hair!
Thanks for the explanation, makes sense now. Actually a little disappointing as it would be great to see the kind of rider you are actually competing against. Are they little climbing goats or muscle bound sprinters? It would add a nice dimension to the sim if avatars were more diverse in body type.
Hooray! I’ve finally become a medium Zwift avatar!
Why is my avatar ‘medium’ on my road bike but ‘large’ on my TT bike?
I want to know why men get defined muscles on calves etc but women don’t. Its annoying.
Me too! I have very muscular calves in real life, but my avatar has cankles.
I am an overweight individual and while my goal is to look like my current avatar, it is disheartening to me to see my avatar so skinny right now. I want to be able to have my avatar look like me. When people coming up behind me can see me struggling at 2 mph on a nasty hill, I want them to be able to see it is not because I am lazy, it is because I am fat, and that I am actually working REALLY HARD to push out those 2 mph. When I can’t cut it on a… Read more »
New to Zwift and this is good to know, it explains how a pack of riders can quickly look a confusing mess, there isn’t enough variation. The peloton / blobs are not all pro riders in real life of course so a bit of a dad bod or even obesity if the user can handle displaying it wouldn’t be a bad thing would it? Same goes for body type variation and height, it sort of spoils the illusion that we are individuals. Maybe a user option to allow more realistic bmi scaling? not everybody wants to see themselves squeezed into… Read more »
BMI is a pathetic, old school metric that any good athlete knows is not accurate or at least accurate for an athlete. Given all the bugs on Z, this could be the least of the issues the IT Gurus fix. Although, I think the Avatar for a shaved head dude could be easily made more realistic than what shows now which is like a head of short hair covered in a clear hair net. 😂🤣
It drives me absolutely bonkers that the heavy male avatar looks like a jacked bodybuilder, and the female avatar only goes to “medium” which is objectively skinny. Cmon Zwift, it’s 2022 – let’s get some body diversity up in here! At a minimum, women should have the option to have a muscular avatar – not just skinny or skinnier. I worked hard for my muscles!
My avatar always is sitting up on rides rather than down in aero like everyone else … why? What do I need to do differently?
Because you’re in the draft. See “Drafting Cues” under https://zwiftinsider.com/zwift-drafting/