XP (short for “experience points”) are used in Zwift to determine your level, and each time you reach a new level you unlock something fun for your garage (see all the details here).
Because many Zwifters are looking to level up quickly, we’ve published a number of posts with tips explaining how XP is calculated and how to maximize the XP earned for your efforts. Three examples:
- 8 Ways to Earn More XP and Level Up Faster on Zwift
- Level Up Faster On Zwift: GPLama’s XP Farming Alpe Workout
- How Zwift Calculates XP for Cycling Workouts
Soon after the launch of Zwift’s Climb Portal, keen Zwifters noticed that riding portal climbs was earning them large amounts of XP. We noticed the same, and began an investigation into just how much XP riders can grab in the Climb Portal.
Here is what we found.
Climb Portal XP Farming Basics
Portal climbs are automatically broken up into 10 equidistant sections. Each section is tracked individually and displayed in the left-hand panel so you can try to break your PR for each section when you take on a climb more than once.
Here’s the kicker: each section ends in an arch, and riding through that arch awards you with one of three powerups: a feather, a small XP bonus (~10), or a large XP bonus (+250)!
Ever since the Climb Portal launched, some Zwifters have been trying to figure out the advanced algorithm that determines which powerup you receive at each arch. We tried different ideas as well – did powerup probabilities shift based on the difficulty of the segment? Or perhaps they changed based on how hard you went (beat your PR, get an XP bonus)?
But our tests show (and these results are confirmed by Zwift) that powerup probabilities are the same at every Climb Portal arch. They don’t change based on what you do.
So what exactly is the probability of getting the Feather, Small Bonus, and Large Bonus at each arch? We don’t know for sure, but after tracking powerups across 100+ section arches, here are the numbers:
- Feather: 22
- Small Bonus: 62
- Large Bonus: 20
Based on these numbers, we’re going to guess Zwift has assigned the following probabilities to Climb Portal powerups:
- Feather: 20%
- Small Bonus: 60%
- Large Bonus: 20%
Gaming the Portal
In the Climb Portal, just like the rest of the Zwift, the more powerup arches you can ride through, the more XP you can potentially earn. So if we want to “game” the portal to maximize XP, we need to ride through as many section arches as possible using the least amount of work/time.
There are two ways to look at this:
- The shorter, the better. All Portal Climbs are broken into 10 equidistant sections, so a 10km climb will have 10 1km sections, while a 3km climb will have 10 300-meter sections. Clearly, the shorter climb will get you more XP.
- The flatter, the better. So if you have two Portal Climbs of equal length, but one averages 4% while the other averages 6%, the 4% climb will get you more XP for your efforts since you’ll go through each section faster.
Maximizing Climb Portal XP, then, requires riding shorter, flatter climbs. Here are the three shortest:
At 3 W/kg, Cote de Pike takes around 13 minutes to complete. (Domancy and Trebiac each take around 15 minutes at the 3 W/kg). Based on that estimate, we can calculate the average XP earned per hour if you did Cote de Pike repeats at 3 W/kg:
- Average XP per section: (250*.2) + (10*.6)=56XP
- Average time to complete each section: (13 minutes climbing + 2 minutes descending)/10 sections=1.5 minutes per section, or 40 Cote de Pike sections completed each hour
- Bonus XP per hour: (60 minutes/1.5 minutes)*56XP=2240XP
- Distance-Based XP per hour: (2.17km*2)*(60 minutes/15 minutes)*20XP=347XP
- Total XP per hour: 2587XP
Clearly, the shorter climbs in the Portal offer an unprecedented opportunity to earn XP in Zwift.
XP For Other Climbs
Longer Portal climbs don’t offer the same XP farming capabilities as shorter ones, however. If you’re looking at it from purely an XP-earning standpoint, if it takes you more than ~45 minutes to do the climb once, you’re better off riding with a RoboPacer on a flatter route.
Questions or Comments
Have you been farming XP in the Climb Portal? Got any further insight or tips to share? Post below!