Your choice of bike frame influences your Zwift speed significantly. And Zwift’s Drop Shop gives us access to a pile of frames: 60+ including the Tron and TT bikes!
We’ve been hard at work in our lab testing wheels and frames, and this is the fifth in a series of posts giving you some solid, data-driven answers. Read more speed tests here >
We’ve already looked at which frames perform best on flat/mixed routes. The next question for racers is: what about climbing?
*First, a Disclaimer
These frames are the fastest up the Alpe, but that means they won’t be the fastest down or on flat sections since climbing frames are lightweight and less aero. So you’ll want to think through your strengths as a rider when choosing your frames and wheels for races.
Each piece of equipment has unique weight and aerodynamic (CdA) values, making them perform in ways that mirror outdoor physics. Lighter items perform better on climbs, while more aerodynamic items perform better on flats and descents. Differences between options will also be magnified or minimized by your own power levels, drafting abilities, and more.
Your best Zwift setup, more than ever, depends on your specific situation.
About the Results
Below you will find the fastest draftable frames for climbing Alpe du Zwift.
This list is based on our recent speed tests of 100+ rides up Alpe du Zwift, a 12.2km, 8% monster of a climb which takes around 50 minutes to complete for our 75kg test rider at 300 watts steady. We tested all frames using the same power levels and rider weight, making it easy to spot which frames performed best.
#1 & #2: Cannondale Evo and Specialized Tarmac Pro
Evo: 213,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 9+
Tarmac Pro: 408,300 Drops to purchase, must be Level 11+
The Tarmac Pro puts in precisely the same climb and flat times as the Cannondale Evo, but the Evo has a lower price and level requirement.
#3: Trek Emonda
Cannot be purchased, must complete Climb Mt. Everest Challenge to unlock
The Emonda used to be the fastest climber in game, but has been bumped a few spots since those early day. But look at it this way: you’re going to take on the Everest Challenge anyway, so why not unlock a nice climber while you’re at it?
#4 and #5: Specialized Tarmac SL7 and Cannondale SuperSix EVO
Tarmac SL7: 674,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 5+
SuperSix EVO: 816,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 36+
The Tarmac SL7 and SuperSix EVO turn in identical climb and flat times, so they’re ranked together here.
One of the newer bikes on this list, the SuperSix EVO was built to climb fast but be aero at the same time (read more about it here). And that’s how it performs in-game, too! It’s not the fastest on the flats, but it’s pretty slippery, beating most of the frames on this list in our flat tests. And while it may not be the fastest up the Alpe, it’s not far off.
Both of these bikes are bit faster on the flats than the Amira S-Works, so we’ve ranked them just above.
#6: Specialized Amira S-Works
Amira: 355,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 31+
A great climber with a super-cool paint job. A solid choice for the ladies!
What’s the Time Gap?
The frames above are separated by just 4 seconds on a climb up Alpe du Zwift at 300 watts with a 75kg rider using the stock 32mm carbon wheelset.
The next fastest frames are just behind those listed above–see the detailed data charts.
What about the Tron Bike?
This is the big question everyone asks. Ironically, even though it takes a lot of climbing to unlock the Tron bike, it’s not a great climber. In fact, at least 16 frames perform better up the Alpe when paired with the Lightweight Meilenstein wheels.
More than that, any bike frame on the list above can beat the Tron up the Alpe, using any wheelset on our list of top climbing wheelsets.
That said, the Tron bike is still one of the fastest on flat/mixed routes. So riders will want to think through their frame and wheelset options when racing on climbing routes. We think this is a wonderful development, bringing more strategy and planning into Zwift racing and variety in the peloton.
Share Your Thoughts
We hope all you riders/racers found this post useful. Got questions or comments? Post below!
- Oct 23, 2020: removed Canyon Aeroad 2021, since ZHQ made it heavier. Moved the Tarmac Pro back to the #1/2 slot. Added Tarmac SL7 in #4/5 slot.
- Oct 2: a big reshuffle! Moved the Tarmac Pro down two slots after some re-testing. Also moved the SuperSix EVO up a slot so it’s tied with the SL7, since their numbers match.
- Oct 1, 2020: added Canyon Aeroad 2021 in the #2 slot, which moved all bikes below it down a notch.
- Aug 7, 2020: removed Canyon Ultimate (it would have been #7). Added the new Specialized Tarmac SL7.
- Nov 15, 2019: Shortened the list. Removed 7 and #8: Cervelo R5 and Chapter2 Tere, and 9 and #10: Trek Emonda SL and Specialized Tarmac.
- Nov 1, 2019: added the Cannondale SuperSix EVO in the 6th spot.
- Oct 7, 2019: added Chapter2 Tere in #7 slot. Had neglected to test this up the Alpe when it was released back in July.
- Apr 24, 2019: removed the Safety Bike from the #1 slot, since it has gained weight and is no longer a fast climber. More info