Your choice of bike frame influences your Zwift speed significantly. And Zwift’s Drop Shop gives us access to a pile of new frames: 60 total 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: Specialized Tarmac Pro
408,300 Drops to purchase, must be Level 11+
The Tarmac Pro is 5 seconds ahead of the Evo, putting it squarely in 1st place. Of course, the Tarmac is a favorite climber outdoors as well, so this makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is Zwift calling this the “Tarmac Pro” when it really behaves more like the S-Works Tarmac Ultralight!
#2: Cannondale Evo
213,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 9+
Known for its feathery weight outdoors, the Evo deserves a top spot on this list thanks to its performance on the Alpe. It’s also the easiest frame to obtain on this entire list, so there’s a lot of “bang for the buck” here for climbers.
#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: Canyon Ultimate and Specialized Amira S-Works
Canyon Ultimate Lightweight: 461,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 10+
Specialized Amira S-Works: 355,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 31+
Both of these frames turned in nearly identical times up the Alpe as well as our flat/mixed course tests, so we’re putting them in a dead tie here. Maybe this is for the best, since the guys can ride the Canyon while the ladies ride the Amira (which has a sweet paint job, by the way)!
#6: Cannondale SuperSix EVO
816,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 36+
The newest bike on this list, the SuperSix EVO was built to climb fast but be aero at the same time. And that’s how it performs in-game, too! It’s not the fastest on the flats, but it’s pretty slippery, beating every other frame on this list in our flat tests. And while it may not be the fastest up the Alpe, it’s not far off.
What’s the Time Gap?
The frames above are separated by 9 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!
- 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