But what about climbing? Any cyclist worth their chamois knows the fastest bike on the flats isn’t the fastest bike on the climbs. It’s just physics: when the road is flat, most of your resistance comes from wind, so aero is everything. But when the road turns up, gravity kicks in and weight matters.
The massive Alpe du Zwift provides a perfect testing ground for us, and the prize spinner at the top even gives you a set of Lightweight Meilenstein wheels if you’re lucky.
Zwift’s Drop Shop now gives us access to 26 different wheelsets and 50 different bike frames. So we had to run some tests to find out: what is the fastest bike+wheelset combination up Alpe du Zwift?
Wheels: Lightweight Meilensteins Still King
The Lightweight Meilenstein set is still the fastest up the Alpe, beating the closest competition by 5 seconds with (75kg rider at 300 watts). These wheels can be tough to obtain: you only get them when the spinner at the top of the Alpe lands on the wheels, and that can take a while! (It took me 13 trips up the Alpe, which seems about average.)
Frame: A New King
The fastest frameset up the Alpe is the new Canyon Aeroad 2021, edging out the closest competition by 2 seconds in our speed tests.
Made available in the September 28, 2020 release, the new Aeroad is priced at 532,500 and level-locked at 23, making it fairly easy to get. This is happy news for newer Zwifters wanting a fast climbing rig.
The Aeroad 2021 frameset coupled with the Meilenstein Lightweight wheels beats all other combinations, whether you ride up the Alpe at 1 w/kg or 5 w/kg.
Other Wheel Options
If you don’t yet have the Lightweight wheels, the ENVE SES 3.4’s are the next best. You’ll lose around 5 seconds compared to the Meilensteins, but maybe you’ll finally unlock your own set of Lightweights when you get to the top!
See Fastest* Wheels for Climbing for a list of the best climbing wheels.
Other Frame Options
If you don’t yet have the Aeroad 2021, here are your 6 next best options:
- Specialized Tarmac Pro (2 seconds behind Aeroad 2021)
- Cannondale Evo (2 seconds behind Aeroad 2021)
- Trek Emonda (5 seconds behind Aeroad 2021)
- Specialized Tarmac SL7 (7 seconds behind Aeroad 2021)
- Cannondale SuperSix EVO (7 seconds behind Aeroad 2021)
- Specialized Amira S-Works (7 seconds behind Aeroad 2021)
See Fastest* Frames for Climbing for a list of the best climbing frames.
I hope this information helps you earn a PR next time you hit the Alpe. Of course, equipment changes help a bit, but it’s our fitness and willingness to suffer that really make the difference. So climb on!