Zwift’s February 2022 game update included two interesting additions to the Drop Shop: a pair of gravel wheelsets. There are three things that make these wheels interesting:
- This is the first time Zwift has expanded its non-road wheelsets beyond the basic “Zwift Gravel” and “Zwift Mountain” wheels
- These new gravel wheels have a custom Crr on dirt surfaces (more on that later)
- The wheels aren’t level-locked, and they’re available at a very low price
Let’s look at how these wheels perform, then we’ll dig into the Crr issue and wrap up with thoughts on why Zwift has made these wheels so easily available.
Speed Test Results
Both wheelsets perform (nearly) identically in our tests. In our tests on flat pavement they essentially matched the existing Zwift Gravel wheelset (just 1/2 second faster over 50 minutes). And on the Alpe du Zwift climb test they were just 2-3 seconds faster than the Zwift Gravel wheels. (Interestingly, the ENVEs consistently climbed 1s faster than the Rovals in our tests).
So on pavement, these wheels don’t offer any substantial performance advantage. But on dirt, it’s another story!
We tested the wheels on laps of the Jungle Circuit. Here are their times:
- ENVE G23: 13:57
- Roval Terra CLX: 13:57
- Zwift Gravel: 14:15
So the dirt is where these wheels really shine. Pair them with a faster gravel bike like the Canyon Grail and you’ve got a rig that’s a few seconds faster than any mountain bike in the Jungle.
Perhaps even more interesting are the tests we did up the dirt Temple KOM in Makuri Islands. Whereas the stock Zwift Gravel Wheels make the climb around 25s faster than the Tron bike, these new wheels climb around 36s faster. This will make bike swapping, and even using a gravel bike for your full ride, an even more attractive proposition.
Custom Dirt Crr
Crr (tire rolling resistance) is an important factor to consider in Zwift racing. (If you aren’t familiar with how Crr works in Zwift, read our “Crr and Watt Savings of Zwift Wheel Types” post.)
Until this latest release, all of Zwift’s road tires shared the same Crr settings. Similarly, Zwift’s “Zwift Mountain” wheels had their own set of Crr settings, and the “Zwift Gravel” wheels had their own set.
But Zwift is doing something different with these new gravel wheels. They’ve given these wheels a new Crr value when rolling on dirt – one that hasn’t been seen before in game!
The Zwift Mountain wheels have a Crr of .014 in dirt, while the Zwift Gravel wheels have a dirt Crr of .018. These two new gravel wheelsets have a dirt Crr of .016. And this makes them much faster than the stock Zwift Gravel wheels on dirt.
Based on our calculations, the difference between a Crr of .018 and .016 works out to a watt savings of around 15W if you’re a 75kg rider traveling at 40kph. Heavier riders or higher speeds could increase that power savings to ~25W.
These new gravel wheelsets have no level requirement, and they’re the lowest-priced wheels in game (17,800 Drops) apart from the Buffalo Fahrrad. Zwift is clearly saying, “We want all Zwifters to have access to these wheels.”
Why is that? We’re not entirely sure, but we bet the upcoming Tour of Watopia, which includes some new gravel routes, has something to do with it.
Questions or Comments?
Important note: this post contains speed test results for Zwift frames or wheels. These results may change over time, and a bike’s performance relative to others may also change. We don’t always revise posts when performance rankings change, but we do keep current, master versions of our speed test results which are always available. See the frame charts, wheel charts, and Tron vs Top Performers for current performance data.