Zwift Speed Tests: Frame Ranking Charts

Your chosen bike frame and wheelset both affect speed in Zwift, so it makes sense for racers to do a little research and choose the best tool for the job.

Frame Tests – Introduction

While Zwift’s 4-star rating system for weight and aero is simple and easy to understand, performance varies even among frames with the same star ratings–because the stars are just an approximation.

So we’ve ranked all the standard road frames (TT frames are ranked here) against each other based on their actual performance on flat roads (2 laps of Tempus Fugit) and a long, steep climb (Alpe du Zwift).

As you will see, some frames perform well in flat tests, while others are nimble climbers. In between we have the all-arounders: frames that perform well on all course types but can’t beat the specialized frames on their own turf.

See the complete list of frames available on Zwift, along with level requirement, star rating, and Drops price >


Charts last updated April 19, 2022


Frame Timings

This chart shows actual timings for flat and climb tests, in seconds. The shorter the bar, the faster the frame.

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Notes:

  • Flat tests run on 2 laps of Tempus Fugit at 300 watts steady with an isolated 75kg rider 183cm tall, using basic Zwift 32mm Carbon wheels. This test data is used for all flat results on this page.
  • Climb tests run on Alpe du Zwift using 300 watts steady with an isolated 75kg rider 183cm tall, using basic Zwift 32mm Carbon wheels. This test data is used for all climbing results on this page.

Frame Percentile Rank, Stacked

This format lets you easily see how frames perform across both flats and climbs, and compare that performance with other frames. This is useful for selecting the best bike frame for your race course.

Example: you want a top-performing frame for a road race that ends on the Innsbruck KOM, so you look at the longest bars. But you know the race will be won or lost on the big climb, so you go with the Scott Addict RC since it is near the top of the climbing rankings and also offers decent performance on the flats.


Frame Time Improvement, Stacked

This format lets you easily see how frames perform across both flats and climbs in terms of actual timing, and compare that performance with other frames. This is useful for selecting the best bike frame for your race course, and may be an improvement over the percentile chart above since it is based on timings and not percentiles.

To be precise, this chart shows how many seconds a particular frame improves on the time of the lowest-ranked frame for both the flat and climb tests. So the Scott Addict RC’s flat improvement of 23.5 means it is 23.5 seconds faster than the Zwift Buffalo on our flat test.

Since there is a bigger swing in climb times (130.5 seconds) than flat times (29 seconds) it could be argued that this chart is overly weighted toward climb performance.


What About the Tron Bike?

The Tron bike (Zwift Concept 1) is not listed above because it’s impossible to test the Tron frame without also testing the Tron wheels, since they are inseparable.

What we do know is the Tron is not a strong climber, but it’s among the fastest setups for flat and rolling courses. Only a handful of frames, coupled with the disc wheelsets, can beat the Tron by 1-3 seconds in our ~50 minute flat test.

Here’s a post comparing the Tron bike against top-performing frames and wheelsets >


Your Feedback

We’d love to know what you think of these charts, including suggestions for improvements. Share your comments below.

Eric Schlange
Eric Schlangehttp://www.zwiftinsider.com
Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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B. Factor
B. Factor
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Your charts have the Spec Aethos as the best climber in the game. And the Cann EVO out-climbs the Spec Tarmac Pro at a lower level and with fewer drops. What am I missing?

Ad Inglis
Ad Inglis(@adinglis)
3 years ago

Hey Eric,
I downloaded the excel sheet (Frame Timings) and just wondering what format those times are in?
Ie. the S-Works Venge has a flat time of “3078” and a climb time of “2948”
Are those numbers just total seconds?

Ben Goodfellow
Ben Goodfellow
3 years ago

👍

Louis
Louis(@louis-champion)
3 years ago

Hello, great analysis, thanks for the info. I was wondering how a climbing bike with aero wheels compares to an aero bike with climbing wheels. This is for rolling terrain. Which has the larger impact, frame or wheels? Thanks for all the hard work you put in!

Jim D
Jim D
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I really lucked out. Won the Milinsteins on my very first time up the AdZ! Always put them on for any route with lumps in it.

Anthony
Anthony
3 years ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Thank you for the reply. So not much different than the Parlee ESX. Thank you for taking the time to do this. This information is super useful. Too bad there is not data like for real life cycling :).

Rob
Rob
3 years ago

Chad, I think everyone would.
I have a feeling Eric is sworn to secrecy on the Tron bike though 😛

David
David
3 years ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Thank-you. I thought I must have something wrong. Working on a question and can’t conclude. Thoughts welcome – I have just under 540k drops and I’ve just turned L12. That leaves me two or three rides short of a Cannondale Evo plus a Zwift Aero OR do I just go for the Spec. Tarmac Pro. I currently have a Zwift Carbon and, from prizes (I think it was) Zipp 808 and 202 wheels so nothing to save for there. I think it comes down to ‘does the Zwift Aero give a worthwhile sprinting advantage?’.

Alfred Stephen
Alfred Stephen
3 years ago

Don’t know if you’ve got the data that you needed but I’ve re-compiled the data in Google Sheets with Level and Drops needed. I didn’t add stars though because I think it’s less useful than actual test data that Eric has collected. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1baYiRNVstt-VYNSBazf2hxwf2MUXuT08M1m9eq3G4Hg/edit?usp=sharing

Dan Connelly
3 years ago
Reply to  Alfred Stephen

Great work! I like the way you calculated the combined rating. I think that’s fair: 50% of crunch time on the flats, 50% of crunch time on climbs. I’m very interested in how the new Specialized SL7 scores. Cannondale Evo and Trek Emonda are under-rated, generally.

Alfred Stephen
Alfred Stephen
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan Connelly

Well, I guess that’s the intention of the author too since the course selection is takes roughly the same time to complete. If you look at the distance traveled though, it becomes clear that the combined ranking is only usable when a course is around 25% steep climb (around 8.5% like alpe) and 75% flat. Personally I would aim to get the best-ranked climber and sprinter frames and wheels and switch them depending on the course.

Aaron Lipton
Aaron Lipton
3 years ago

Venge S-Works (fastest on the flats) has the same issue

Phil Banks
Phil Banks
3 years ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

oh! haha! Sorry Eric, i didn’t realise…got the email through advertising a ride with that bike, and looked. Didn’t realise it was so new! Apologies 🙂

Chris
Chris
2 years ago

And I’m level 28.

Seth
Seth
2 years ago

About a year ago, Eric said the Tarmac Pro is the one you want. It is further up the page.

Thomas Christiansen
Thomas Christiansen
2 years ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Awesome! Much appreciated!

Bruce
Bruce
1 year ago

Similar to the Pinarellos … see my comment below. This way Zwift are not making friends with the manufacturers.

Thorsten
Thorsten
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Thanks for that information!

For the second issue, did you update the climb timings? For the Cervelo S5 2020 it is still 2948, which should be the pre-groupset-change number, if i am not mistaken…

Thorsten
Thorsten
1 year ago
Reply to  Thorsten

I am refering to the csv file..

Bart de Groot
Bart de Groot
1 year ago

Not since an update last autumn

Matt T
Matt T
1 year ago

Yeah, I worked for and got that frame two months ago thinking the same thing, as I had researched the crap out of how to best spend my drops. And just a couple days after that, I read for the first time about the Dura-Ace crankset nerf (since who knows if it’s a bug Zwift intends to fix?). To see how severely it affects its climbing performance is disappointing. As I’m only lvl. 12, I’m not sure what the next best all-rounder would be… Good thing I’m 25% along toward the Tron bike, as all this is essentially moot once… Read more »

Ianscot
Ianscot
1 year ago

The raw data provided here made for such a treat. Good fun. One thing that strikes me is how wide the spread of values is for climbing, as opposed to flat, times. Without the 3 Zwift outlier frames, Tempus Fugit times have a median around 3092.5 seconds. The very best sprint bike trimmed 14 seconds off that measure of center, in two full laps. The very worst bikes — again, no Buffalo-levels included — are not more than 5 seconds above the median time. There’s a “middle class” over half the distribution, but no real poverty when it comes to… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Ianscot
Ryan
Ryan
1 year ago

The S5 2020 got nerfed by the Dura Ace “weight” bug where it loses a ton of time on the climb (Along with some other favorites, specifically the Canyon Aeroad ’21 and Dogma F). https://zwiftinsider.com/groupset-upgrade-cervelo/

Some rumors and winks that this has been fixed in the recent update, anxiously awaiting updated tests to see.

Ryan
Ryan
1 year ago
Reply to  Ryan

meant to say “drive-train weight bug”… not DA specifically, given the S5’s on eTap, lol

Thomas Christiansen
Thomas Christiansen
1 year ago

So then. Top 5 Aero frames: 1. Venge S-Works (lvl 33) 2. Felt AR (lvl 34) 3. (tie) Uranium (lvl 19) 3. (tie) Cervelo S5 2020 (lvl 27) 5. Aeroad 2021 (lvl 10) Top 5 Climbing frames: 1. Aethos (lvl 34) 2. Chapter2 TOA (lvl 18) 3. Can. Evo (lvl 9) 4. Addict RC (lvl 33) 5. Cuba C:68X (lvl 32) Top 5 Allrounders: 1. Chapter2 TOA (lvl 18) 2. Addict RC (lvl 33) 3. Dogma F (lvl 32) 4. Aeroad 2021 (lvl 10) 5. Venge S-Works (lvl 33) It worth noting that the Aeroad 2021 is the best Allrounder… Read more »

Thorsten
Thorsten
1 year ago

If I got Erics recent post right, the Chapter2 has already lost its crown of the allrounder and the Aeroad is back on the top. Eric, can you shortly update the new TOA numbers, please? 🙂

Jody
Jody
1 year ago

Oof.

BAA
BAA
1 year ago

Do you know if these charts are up to date as of 3/21/2022 (when Erik updated the post that brought up this issue, to say that it was a testing error and not an actual update to the frames)? In other words, is the “old” data from earlier this month still accurate?

Last edited 1 year ago by BAA
BAA
BAA
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Thank you!

Matt T
Matt T
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

So does that mean that the TOA is still top dog in spite of previous reports that it had been knocked down a peg or two?

Matt T
Matt T
1 year ago

I don’t think they are. This chart is updated, however, as far as I know:
https://zwiftinsider.com/tron-vs-top-performers/

Eddie Humphreys
Eddie Humphreys(@ed_hump)
1 year ago

Hi Eric. Lovely stuff, as always. I can’t help but think, however, that these comparisons miss the point slightly. It’s interesting how well frames and wheels perform on their own, but the key to Zwift racing is how they perform in the draft of a pack of riders. i feel the most useful data would be “how many extra watts, (compared to a baseline of, say, the steel bike) does each bike need to stay in a pack of, say, 15 riders.” For a lot of bikes, I would guess that actually the difference would only be 1-5 watts. (Which… Read more »

Tim
Tim
1 year ago

You are correct. If the flat times without drafting roughtly correspond to the performance when you are drafting on a percentage basis then comparing the most aero frame (Venge at 3077 flat time) to the best climber (Aethos at 3093 flat time), at 250 w you’d require 3093/3077*250 = 251.3 w to go the same speed as the Venge if you were riding the Aethos.

B. Factor
B. Factor
1 year ago

Eric’s frame timings spreadsheet has the Spec Aethos climb time at 2930 and the Spec Tarmac Pro at 2936. Wouldn’t that make the Spec Aethos a better climber than the Tarmac Pro?

Dan R
Dan R
1 year ago
Reply to  B. Factor

The Aethos is probably a better climber irl so that makes sense. No?

Rusty
Rusty
1 year ago

This page takes FOREVER to load. Maybe because there are heaps of comments, oh dang, I’m just making it worse

Roy
Roy
1 year ago
Reply to  Rusty

You have to force stop load on the page. Something is hanging up the page. Once you do that, the charts show up. At least it does for me

Mike
Mike
1 year ago

Charts aren’t showing?

Karim
Karim
1 year ago

Hi , first of all thank you for the stats and the time you put in all this . I have a little request , I like the Scott foil 23 but I don’t see it in your stats list . I don’t know if Zwift added that bike but will by cool to see we’re he end on that list .

daniel
daniel
1 year ago

Hi, I believe the charts have some hickups. While the trek madone shows 2398 seconds climb (faster than Canon Aeroad 2021) in the excel table, in the bar chart it’s 2952 seconds (slower than Canon Aeroad 2021)…

daniel
daniel
1 year ago
Reply to  daniel
Maturin
Maturin
1 year ago

Hi Eric! Not that it is a huge difference, but the frame performance scatter plot puts the TOA at 2934 secs climb, while the frame timings list in this page has it at 2943. One of the numbers seem to be a typo, could you clarify that?

Jay Crume
Jay Crume
1 year ago

What happened to the Chapter2 KoKo? Where does it fit?

Mike Weeks
Mike Weeks
1 year ago

HI there,

Really sorry to be an idiot, I can’t get the CSV or Excel download link to work? I’d love to be able to rank the frames in Excel. Are the links working ok or is it me?

Many thanks,

Mike

Paul
Paul
10 months ago

My reading is s5 2020 is fastest flat performer?? I thought it was venge. Am researching for wtrl round 4 sprints stage on new flats. Am level 41 so was thinking venge and 858s but this looks like S52020….confused now.

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