Your bike frame and wheelset choice both affect speed in Zwift, but your wheels affect it the most at higher speeds like you’ll find in flat or rolling races. While frame choice may change your 1-hour time by ~20 seconds, wheel choice can change your time in these events by ~60 seconds!
Wheel Tests – Introduction
Zwift’s 4-star rating system for weight and aero is simple and easy to understand, but performance varies even among wheelsets with the same star ratings because the stars are just an approximation.
So we’ve ranked all the wheels against each other based on their actual performance on flat roads (2 laps of Tempus Fugit) and a long, steep climb (Alpe du Zwift).
Charts last updated July 13, 2023
This chart shows actual timings for flat and climb tests, in seconds. The shorter the bar, the faster the wheels.
- Flat tests run on 2 laps of Tempus Fugit at 300 watts steady with an isolated 75kg rider 183cm tall, using the Zwift Aero bike frame. 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 the Zwift Aero bike frame. This test data is used for all climbing results on this page.
Wheel Percentile Rankings, Stacked
This format lets you easily see how wheelsets perform across both flats and climbs, and compare that performance with other wheelsets. This is useful for planning your race strategy.
Example: you want a top-performing wheelset 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 Zipp 353 NSW wheels since they are near the top of the climbing rankings and also offer solid performance on the flats.
Wheel Time Improvement, Stacked
This format lets you easily see how wheelsets perform across both flats and climbs in terms of actual timing, and compare that performance with other wheelsets. This is useful for selecting the best wheels 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 wheelset improves on the time of the lowest-ranked wheelsets in the flat and climb tests. So the DT Swiss ARC 62 Dicut Disc’s flat improvement of 66 means it is 66 seconds faster than the Zwift Buffalo Fahrrad wheels, which are the slowest on our flat test.
Since there is a bigger swing in flat times (66 seconds) than climb times (25 seconds) it could be argued that this chart is overly weighted toward flat performance.
We’d love to know what you think of these charts, including suggestions for improvements. Share your comments below.