If you’re racing on Zwift, upgrading your frame and wheels can cut some significant time off your efforts. But figuring out where to spend your hard-earned Drops can be confusing! So we’ve put together this table which lists the fastest frame and wheelset available at every Zwift level.
(Keep in mind this list applies only to flat and rolling routes. The list below is essentially a simplified, flat-race-focused version of our complete Zwift Shopping Guide. If the climbs in your race last more than a few minutes, you may want to consider a more climbing-friendly setup.)
(Also, this list does not include TT frames, since those aren’t allowed in typical Zwift road races. TT frames are covered in this post.)
Want to keep it simple? Just purchase each frame or wheelset on the list as soon as you level up. Don’t have enough Drops? Keep riding – you’ll get them soon enough! (And you might want to ride near a Pace Partner so your Drops add up more quickly!)
|1||Zwift Carbon (Free)||0s|
|5||Specialized Tarmac SL7 (674,500)*||6s|
|6||Zwift Aero (319,500)||11s|
|8||Focus Izalco Max 2020 (426,000)||13.5s|
|10||Canyon Aeroad 2021 (568,000)||17s|
|19||Uranium Nuclear (184,500)*||19s|
* The Cervelo S5 2020, Specialized Venge S-Works, Felt AR, and Uranium Nuclear all turn in matching times in our flat tests.
|1||Zwift 32mm Carbon (Free)||0s|
|4||ENVE SES 3.4 (191,700)||26s|
|5||Roval CLX64 (170,400)||30s|
|6||DT Swiss ARC 62 (184,600)||34s|
|13||Zipp 808 (177,600)||42s|
|31||ENVE SES 8.9 (205,900)||43.5s|
|35||Zipp 808/Super9 (1,075,700)||51s|
|37||Zipp 858 (312,400) fastest non-disc*||46s|
|42||DT Swiss ARC 1100 DICUT DISC (1,579,800) fastest disc||59.5s|
Total time savings of fastest frame and wheelset over stock Zwift setup (Zwift Carbon frame and 32mm wheels): 19+59.5=78.5 seconds
Times above based on our flat speed tests, done with a solo 75kg rider at 300 watts over two laps of Watopia’s very flat Tempus Fugit route. Our test rider completes the route in approximately 50 minutes.
- Level 5: while the Specialized Tarmac SL7 is the fastest frame at this level, chances are you won’t have enough Drops to buy it yet! Don’t worry – you can buy the cheaper and faster Zwift Aero at level 6.
- The Tron bike isn’t listed above because it is not unlocked on any particular level. It is, however, attainable before reaching level 20, if you start working on it first thing. See below for more…
- We included the Zipp 858 wheels since they’re the fastest non-disc aero wheelset, making them the fastest legal wheelset for top-end Zwift ESports racing.
What About the Tron Bike?
The Zwift Concept Z1 (Tron) bike is 68 seconds faster than the stock Zwift Carbon+32mm Carbon setup. The fastest setup available turns in a time ~9 seconds faster than the Tron bike over our ~50-minute flat test course.
That’s a decent gap, but you can also look at it like this: until you have a disc wheelset (level 35+) or one of the faster non-disc wheelsets (level 37+), the Tron bike is your fastest option on flat/rolling routes!
We didn’t include the Tron in the chart above since you can’t separate the Tron’s frame from its wheels. But it’s certainly a bike worth unlocking. Here’s how to do that >
Want to dig deeper? See “Speed Tests: Tron Bike vs Top Performers (Scatter Plot)” >
Improvement by Level
The biggest performance gains come early in a Zwifter’s level progression. Here’s how much time you would be saving at each level if you upgraded to the recommended setups above (chart may be outdated due to speed test updates):
You can see that by level 13, 74% of the overall possible improvement has already been achieved. And once you’ve hit level 42, the only way you’ll get faster is by racing smarter and training stronger!
Want to dig deeper into the speeds of various frames and wheels? Check out our Frame Ranking Charts and Wheel Ranking Charts.
Hopefully this helps you select a bike for your next race, no matter your Zwift level. Got questions or comments? Post below!
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.
Have you ever experimented with rider weight to see if it makes any difference to the bike and wheelset performance?….as a 110kg rider i need all the help i can get going up them hills!
Higher weight, slower times. The best climbing frame is the best regardless of your weight.
“Higher weight, slower times” – not necessarily true, but I am aware that as a heavier ride i need considerably more Wattage to get up the hills than the featherweights due to my old friend gravity. However your comment “The best climbing frame is the best regardless of your weight” – has this been tested? The above test uses a 70kg rider riding at 300W – has this been tried using an 80/90/100/110kg rider at 300W to see if the rider weight introduces any variation in the performance of the frames. Undoubtedly a lot more work introducing a 2nd variable,… Read more »
At the same wattage higher weight is slower up a climb. Climbing speed is essentially based on watt output and weight (at slower speeds like the Alpe). Your weight is constant so the lighter bike at the same watts will be faster. Changing your weight by 10 kilo won’t change that since your weight would still be constant just lower. Not sure what there is to test unless it’s less steep and then aerodynamics come into play which they’ve tested as well.
But what is the best, lightest, and meanest climbing frame? I see nothing in the article related to climbing performance. All centered around a flat course test which could yield an entirely different result compared to climbing.
Here you go: https://zwiftinsider.com/fastest-climbing-by-level/
There’s this post: https://zwiftinsider.com/rider-weight-speed/
We’ve done TONS of tests at various weights on the same equipment, etc.
Still waiting on the test times for the new 2020 Cervelo S5 frame. I find it strange Zwift has only given 2 stars for aero.
It’s going to be faster. Zwift will be updating it, probably in the next minor update… we’ll release test results after that. I wouldn’t ride it now, though. 😀
All right for the 2020 S5, but there were other new gears coming with the last update (BMC TimeMachine, Cadex wheels, etc.), did you test them yet ? Is any of them a must buy ?
Eric, So even tho you’ve listed the Cervelo S5 as the “fastest” frame for level 25 above, it’s not fast yet until Zwift updates it? Do you know when it will be faster?
I see that the 2020 Cervelo S5 and regular Cervelo S5 are different now. 😳
Hi Eric, bit of a curve ball here – have you ever thought of doing a story on “the slowest bikes on Zwift”? So if you’re riding with a friend who’s a lot faster than you, what bike could they ride to “level things out”?
That’s actually a great idea! Hmm….
Thanks! I do have decent ideas sometimes…😉
I tried doing that for one of my articles and found that it made a huge difference when going up the Alpe. Not sure about flats though. If you are interested, feel free to check it out: https://pursuitcyclingforkids.com/2021/08/24/buffalo-bike-vs-cannondale-evo-alpe-test/
You might want to use an MTB or gravel bike then, those are significantly slower (unless you ride into some dirt roads). And stay in front so the weaker rider gets your draft.
Otherwise, make a rubber band meetup, then you can ride at the pace you want and you’ll stay together anyway.
@Eric Schlange : Awesome article, as always! Love that you did the Tron vs Venge S-Works/DT Swiss Arc 1100 wheelset comparison. I am a big fan of the Tron on rolling routes…I worked hard to earn it, so I am willing to give up a second or two to ride it. And the color of the wheels go nicely with my team kit. You definitely proved that on pure flat surfaces, the Venge S-Works/DT Swiss Arc 1100 wheelset is ~9.5 seconds faster than the Tron. Would you be willing to do a comparison on Sand & Sequoias, which is representative… Read more »
We’ve done a lot of those tests already, in years past. Basically, performance over rolling courses is the same as flat courses, because the lighter bikes don’t have enough time on the climbs to pull back anything significant on the aero bikes.
Short answer: it would be closer to 9.5 seconds. Especially with Fuego Flats in there!
@Eric Schlange do you think this still goes for something super close in performance, say the Cervelo v Venge S Works, although the Cervelo is 1s faster on the flat in your tests it gives away 3s on the climb time, is this not enough to equalise the performance of these fees over a more rolling course?
I’ve got the Specialized Venge S-Works with DT Swiss ARC 1100 discsetup,
but the Tron just looks nice and the with the added bonus of letting you know if you are getting intermittant drop outs by losing it’s glow.
The Venge could almost be any bike (with a 9.5sec advantage 🙂 ).
so wheel choice now has 4x the impact of frame choice hmmmMMMmmm
I got my fat a$$ up the hills for the Tron…so I am riding it until…forever…or until some other torment comes around for the Tron II
Super study as always. Thanks! I have to tell you something fun though. As I was reading it on the mobile phone, my wife approached and asked what was happening. I said “nothing”. She insisted that my face was showing an extreme degree of concentration on what I was reading. Anything new on Afghan situation? Worsening of pandemic in Madrid?” She has been trying to guess what was making me so focused… Imagine her face when I told her I was reading an article comparing the speed of virtual Zwift wheels and frames 🤣🤣🤣🤣
LOL. She should know by now, if you’re really concentrating… it’s Zwift.
i remember the chart from ur website shows Pinarello Dogma F is faster tham vange Dis now…
I made a mistake,Pinarello Dogma F is better than Canyon aeroad 2021 in charts
Great work Eric, many thanks👍
Are you guys taking a look at the climbers as well (like the Canyon Ultimate CFR)?
We’ve got this post (which needs to be revised): https://zwiftinsider.com/fastest-climbing-by-level/
New Ultimate CFR will be tested once Zwift updates it in the next release. It’s currently buggy…
Today’s 1.16.1 update changed the Aero and Weight of some bikes and a set of wheels. The Canyon Ultimate, Cervelo S5 and the Scott Addict RC. Probably will have some effect on these results.
Yup. Testing the new frames now. The Cervelo S5 2020 is FAST.
Thanks Eric for all the testing you do. Zwift should hire or at least pay you something for all that you do. Saving for the dogma F and a fast non disc wheel set. Soon it looks like I have choose between the Pin. Dogma F or one of the new frames for the fast non tron frame when needed.
aren’t the Zipp 858 worth mentioning when Disc wheels are not permitted ?
Good idea! Done.
I know it might not be that sensible, but I just can’t bring myself to use disc wheels on anything other than a TT bike. Maybe I’ll give it a try one day.
Hey Eric – I’m keen to know if you’re planning on arranging any more badge/route collecting rides – I need to nail the über pretzel still!!
Hi Eric, I don’t race. Would these frame recommandations be equally good for group rides and workouts or do you have a list of the best “all rounders”? Thks!! Keep up the amazing work!!
Bike selection doesn’t really matter for group workouts, since you’re rubber-banded together and will go the same speed as the rest of the group. But choosing your bike for your group ride matters, sure!
Sometimes I’ll choose a slower bike, if the group ride is a slower/fun one… just for the fun of it. Something like the Buffalo or Safety Bike. Or I’ll choose a fast race bike if it’s a challenging group ride.
Is there a fastest TT bikes at each level also?
Post coming out tomorrow morning!
I’ve been think about fast frames/wheels, particularly in regards to racing. Most flattish races end in a sprint, with riders drafting for most or all of the race. In this case the aero advantage of the bikes in really only in the last 15secs but possibly at 70kph. Have you thought about doing something like a 30sec test starting at 50kph and at 800w or similar. Could pick a relevant sprint segment in which to test. Differences would be in the millisecond range but might be much more relevant as these are where races and won and lost.
I purchased the Caynon Aero 2021 with my level and the required points. I raced on it a couple of times, but it has now disappeared from my “garage” !!!!?????
Just hit level 35 and I have the tron. Would the Cervelo S5 2020 plus Super 9s be faster than Tron?
Just hit Level 36! 🙂
I have read a few times recently they the Cannondale Evo is actually faster than the Canyon Aeroad? Any truth to this at all ? I’m just about to get one
I am rather new on Zwift, a level 14. I went to the drop shop to buy some Zipp 808’s and they are not listed. Anybody know why?
The Canyon Speedmax CF SLX didn’t even make the list? Do the stars in the ratings in-app mean anything at all?
That’s a TT frame. Those are covered separately here https://zwiftinsider.com/fastest-tt-setups-at-each-level/
Has this been updated since 2021? Cadex frame & Discs for aero, Scott Addict?
This post is up to date, but does not include TT frames. Those are covered here https://zwiftinsider.com/fastest-tt-setups-at-each-level/