Speed Test: Fastest Frame and Wheelset for Climbing Alpe du Zwift

Speed Test: Fastest Frame and Wheelset for Climbing Alpe du Zwift

We know your speed in Zwift is affected by the frame and wheelset you use. In fact, we’ve done lot of testing to figure out just which combinations are fastest.

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 Tie for the Top

The fastest framesets up the Alpe are the Specialized Tarmac Pro and Cannondale EVO:

These framesets coupled with the Meilenstein Lightweight wheels beats all other combinations, whether you ride up the Alpe at 1 w/kg or 5 w/kg.

Browse our test data spreadsheet for more results >

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 Tarmac Pro or EVO, here are your next best options:

  • Trek Emonda (2 seconds behind)
  • Specialized Amira S-Works or Specialized Tarmac SL7 (4 seconds behind)
  • Cannondale SuperSix EVO or Canyon Ultimate (5 seconds behind)

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!

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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Copainbig
Copainbig
1 year ago

Is it only me, or the spreadsheet gives the emonda as the fastest, and not the tarmac

Bobby Mac
Bobby Mac (@rmacdowell1)
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Hi Eric. When I look at the spreadsheet I see the Emonda/Lightweight as the fasest in all categories. Maybe somebody changed/hacked the spreadsheet?

Bikus Likus
Bikus Likus
10 months ago
Reply to  Copainbig

I thought the same thing. There multiple sheets, and it loads the OLD Alpe 2018 first. Look at tabs at the bottom and switch to the Alpe sheet.

R. Swinton
R. Swinton
10 months ago

Eric, you supplied the spreadsheet at one point with more details. Is that still available?

R. Swinton
R. Swinton
10 months ago
Reply to  R. Swinton

Sorry found it

Kirk Robb
Kirk Robb
9 months ago

I’ve ridden up the Alpe four times in the past ten times looking to get the meilenstein wheels, got gloves first time, slightly disappointing. Gloves second time, annoying. Gloves third & fourth time, how’s this happening? As you know it takes some effort to get up there. Any advice or am I just really, really unlucky??

Mikey
Mikey
9 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Robb

Kirk, make sure you don’t have a power-up when you cross the line. You’re almost guaranteed a pair of gloves if you do. Since hearing the wheel has been very generous to me. Good luck!

JayDee
JayDee
1 month ago
Reply to  Kirk Robb

I got the Lightweight wheelset on my 18th ascent… I climbed Alpe two times since then and both times got the wheels again. Call that irony, or maybe it is true that after you get the wheels once the spinner actually has a lot higher chance to land on the wheels again?

JayDee
JayDee
1 month ago

I am intrigued whether this applies for the fastest riders too, who can ride Alpe sub 40 minutes. Their average speed is over 18.5 km/h, which is over the threshold when air becomes the primary force to overcome in the real world. Maybe it applies in Zwift too and you would be actually faster on a more universal setup like Aeroad with the DT wheelset?

Jim Borrens
Jim Borrens
14 hours ago

I want to use the tarmac pro to ride Alpe de Zwift tomorrow since it is the fastest, but I’m wondering why it’s weight is so heavy. It has four stars for weight.

Carl J
Carl J
10 hours ago
Reply to  Jim Borrens

Use a MTB for the first part until you get to the Alpe

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