Zwift Speed Tests: Frame Ranking Charts

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 >


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.

Percentile Rankings

Trying to choose a frame based on timing data can be a mathematical nightmare! Yes, you’ve got our timings above. But how much of your race is uphill, how much of it is flat, and how long is the race?

Percentile rankings make it easy to compare frames against each other and spot the top performers.

Flat Course Performance (Percentile Rankings)


Climbing Performance (Percentile Rankings)



Frame Percentile Rankings, 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 up Alpe du Zwift, 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 Canyon Aeroad 2021 since it is near the top of the climbing rankings and also offers decent performance on the flats.


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 very fastest wheelsets, can beat the Tron by 1-3 seconds in our ~50 minute flat test.

Here’s a post which charts the Tron bike against top-performing frames and wheelsets, so you can see how well it performs.


Your Feedback

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

About The Author

Eric Schlange

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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Jeremie
Jeremie
1 year ago

Hi Eric there might be some minor errors in the staked ranking, for instance canyon aeroad and cervelo S3D flat percentiles and ranking order in the staked table

Lee Naylor
Lee Naylor
1 year ago

Wondering where the Zwift TT bike fits in … are you able to add?

James Smallridge
James Smallridge
1 year ago

Eric – great analysis. As a time crunched cyclist I am also time crunched when having to analyse the data for particular courses. Would be great if you could do a piece tailored to individual course, such as Tempus Fugit , Bologna and Estonia figure 8 to take the guess/interpretation out for us humble Zwifters. Both road and TT would be great so all race types are catered for. Thanks Eric!

Andy
Andy (@ajparsons87)
1 year ago

Thanks for a great resource. Any chance you could add the Ribble bike to these charts?

Ben Goodfellow
Ben Goodfellow
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy

👍

Eric (Not THE Eric, just a regular Eric)
Eric (Not THE Eric, just a regular Eric)
1 year ago

Great analysis, thanks. For those who worry their bike is the reason they are getting dropped, read on…doing the math on the raw data (thanks for providing links Eric), I looked at the time gaps from fastest to slowest for a balanced ride of two Fuego Flats + AdZ climb. Essentially combining the times. Turns out that at 300 W and 75 kg, all these bikes (with the 3 Zwift outliers removed) are within 44 seconds of each other. The Tarmac Pro and Venge S-works tie, and the Allez shows up 44 seconds later. The Zwift Buffalo, Safety, and Steel… Read more »

B B
B B (@benbliz)
1 year ago

The Specialized Tarmac S-Works, which I think is an unlock for finishing the “Tour De California” mission — is it evaluated here? Am I just missing it or is here under a different name?

Ad Inglis
Ad Inglis (@adinglis)
1 year 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?

Lauri
Lauri
1 year ago

Cervelo P5 is missing in the list.

Chad
Chad
1 year ago

Hi Eric, thanks again for these comparisons! I would still love to see a dedicated Tron comparison chart showing the difference in overall Flat & Rolling segments or Routes with a couple of the top frames and a couple of the top wheelsets… I suppose I’d specifically like to see the Tron pitted against the S5 (808’s / 454’s / 3.7’s), the Canny Evo (808’s / 454’s / 3.7’s), etc. It’s been hard to decipher where the Tron bike is better. I think the Sand & Sequoia’s Route is perfect, solid flat and small KOM. I’m sure you just have… Read more »

Rob
Rob
1 year ago
Reply to  Chad

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

Ben Goodfellow
Ben Goodfellow
1 year ago

Thanks for the article. Could you add the Ribble endurance data?

marc
marc
1 year ago

I’m wondering: For a race on volcano circuit ccw with 7 laps and intermediate sprints and the end of each lap, which setup would be better? Spec. Allez sprint with Zipp 808 tyres, or spec. tarmac with Enve Ses 3.4 tires? It’s a very flat course (so according to that; the first setup), but the intermediate sprint at the end of lap and just before the sprint, its a short incline (so maybe according to that, second setup)?.

Jakub Okupniak
Jakub Okupniak
1 year ago

What is the best setup for 4 horseman race?

Louis
Louis (@louis-champion)
1 year 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!

kbps1024
kbps1024
1 year ago

What does the “Spec. Tarmac” mean in the chart? The frame unlocked after finishing the california challange? Can’t believe a bike takes so much effort to obtain be beaten by a level-11 bike.

Darcy Brown
Darcy Brown
1 year ago

Great comparison, thanks!

Anthony
Anthony
1 year ago

Where does the parlee rz7 fall in these rankings?
Thanks

Anthony
Anthony
1 year 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 :).

unai
unai
1 year ago

Is it there an upload with the Ribble Endurance?

James
James
1 year ago

It looks like the canyon aeroad stats are bugged. In the flat performance section, it’s given a value of 86%, but in the stacked rankings, its flat % is only 70%. Which one is correct?

Charly
Charly
1 year ago

Eric, what is the metric on the X axis. 3second over which distance? because an absolute difference between 3.010 and 3.020 is very little

JOHANNES KOEVOET
JOHANNES KOEVOET
1 year ago

Any idea where the newly added Ridley Noah Fast 2019 fits in the ranking?

Dan Connelly
Dan Connelly
1 year ago

The difference between the Zwift carbon bike (a poor climber) and the Tarmac Pro (the best climber) is 1.3%. This is well within the accuracy of power meters (+/- 2%, as well as differences in where power is measured. One-sided Stages is even worse), and additionally within the measured accuracy of bathroom scales (+/- 2%, per CDC), not to mention people’s weight can vary 5% over a day. So while I may obsess over these charts like anyone else, remember that Zwift is an extremely blunt instrument.

David
David
1 year ago

Comparison of frames on this ‘frames rank’ with those on the TT frames rank suggests that even a Zwift TT frame climbs faster than the best of the non-TT ones; Tarmac Pro. Surely I’m missing something..?

David
David
1 year 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?’.

Pieter
Pieter (@pwaarden)
1 year ago

Hi Eric, Did you also do any test downhill for high speed speedyness? (for better frame/wheels) on hill/mountain courses…)

Jim
Jim
1 year ago

Could you add the level, stars, and drops needed for each bike in the excel?

Alfred Stephen
Alfred Stephen
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim

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
Dan Connelly
11 months 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
11 months 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.

Anthony
Anthony
1 year ago

Do you know where the Tron bike would fall when compared to these set-ups?

Roy M
Roy M
1 year ago

Hi Eric Thanks for the great site and all the info you provide. Top job. Ref. above speed test; As a short oldie 60+ with a lower FTP i find, feel, that wt. has a bigger effect on my performance rather than aero. For example Zwift TT bike I find ponderous and slow never mind hard work. Current fav. is Madone with climbing wheels although Spec.Tarmac Pro was great set up for me too. As you say o
ne size doesn’t fit all. Keep up the good work.

Christie Tracy
Christie Tracy
1 year ago

Hey Eric – thank you so much for this! With the next update, would it be possible to see where the new Factor One falls in? Thank you!

Andrew
1 year ago

I have a Factor One and a Trek Emonda for frames and Enve SES 3.4 wheels for climbing and Zipp 808’s for flats. I have a lot of drops saved up, but it looks like all the other frames and wheels have very, very incremental differences to what I already have. Am I missing anything? Or is it time to just go use by drops on stuff I like?

Alfred Stephen
Alfred Stephen
11 months ago

Hi Eric, thanks for the undoubtedly hard effort doing this. However, I am concerned about the way you stack using percentile because it is based on the number of test participants instead of the pure test performance. For example, Specialized Tarmac Pro is given 50% percentile because it is faster than 50% of total participants. However, when you look at the pure test result, it is 15 seconds slower than the top performer while only 7 seconds faster than the bottom, therefore, it should be placed more towards the bottom than the middle. I have created my own Google Sheets… Read more »

anderfo
anderfo
11 months ago

Just a heads up: The Excel sheet link has stopped working.

Aaron Lipton
Aaron Lipton
8 months ago

Why does the Tarmac Pro have a 98% climbing rating if it’s the fastest climber?

Aaron Lipton
Aaron Lipton
8 months ago
Reply to  Aaron Lipton

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

Phil Banks
Phil Banks
8 months ago

Hi…does anyone know where the Focus Izalco Max 2020 ranks? …I know it has 2020 in the name, but i’m trying not to hold that against it 😉

Phil Banks
Phil Banks
7 months 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
7 months ago

Thoughts on frame selection for TTT on Harrogate Circuit Reverse? FYI I don’t have a Tron, yet.

Chris
Chris
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris

And I’m level 28.

Simon
Simon
7 months ago

In game the Canyon Aeroad 2021 now has 3 stars in Aero and Weight does this affect the current graphics?

Thank you for all the work!

Francois Trout
Francois Trout
6 months ago

Why not put the Tron bike in there with its own wheels. The comparaison is made for all frames with the best wheels available (i.e. fastest setup), well for the Tron bike there is only one setup.

Chris
Chris
6 months ago

Does being a Clydesdale impact these rankings?

Alex
Alex
6 months ago

Hi Eric,

I use these lists frequently – it would be great if we could filter frames and wheels by levels and drops.

Jim in Colorado
5 months ago

I told a friend that my avatar is a really poor pack rider — rides on the outside all the time, seems to deliberately avoid being in the draft, and goes very wide in the corners so I go from well positioned to dangling or dropped. The friend, who is a Zwift addict, said bike choice affects your avatar’s behavior — the climbing bikes act like I described while the aero bikes ride smarter in the pack. Is that the case? I’m on a Parlee RZ7 because I ride one in real life and really enjoy it, but that is… Read more »

Rae Sanders
Rae Sanders
5 months ago

This may be a silly question, but does the rider weight play a role in the game in the same way it does in real life? (Heavier aero bikes in real life are less advantages for people (usually women) who are < 50kg than lighter less aero bikes; obviously the extra weight is a bigger cost for lighter riders.)

Guy Desjardins
Guy Desjardins
4 months ago

Can anyone tell me where the Spec. Tarmac S-works stands compared to the other Tarmacs? I will end ride California soon and wonder If I should use it or spend some drops. I can’t find anything on it…

Seth
Seth
4 months ago
Reply to  Guy Desjardins

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

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