Fastest Bike Frames and Wheels at Each Zwift Level

Fastest Bike Frames and Wheels at Each Zwift Level

If you’re racing on Zwift, upgrading your frame and wheels can cut some significant time off of 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.)

Want to keep it simple? Just purchase each recommended frame or wheelset 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!)

LevelFastest Frame Frame
Savings
(seconds)
Fastest WheelsetWheel
Savings
(seconds)
1Zwift Carbon (Free)0Zwift 32mm Carbon (Free)0
4ENVE SES 3.4 (191,700)27
5Specialized Tarmac SL7 (674,500)*5Roval CLX64 (170,400)32
6Zwift Aero (319,500)9DT Swiss ARC 62 (184,600)35
8Factor One (426,000)11
10Canyon Aeroad 2021 (568,000)14
13Zipp 808 (177,600)43
20Trek Madone (887,500)15
25Cervelo S5 (603,500)16
31ENVE SES 8.9 (205,900)45
33Specialized Venge S-Works (798,800)*17
35Zipp 808/Super9 (1,075,700)52
45Zipp 858/Super9 (1,508,800)53

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 typically completes the route in 50-51 minutes.

*Table Notes:

  • 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! But never fear – you can buy the cheaper and faster Zwift Aero at level 6.
  • Level 33+: even though the Specialized Venge S-Works turns in the same flat times as the Cervelo S5, it climbs a bit faster. So we’ve included it here since it’s the better overall frame. The Felt AR deserves an honorable mention as well, since it turns in the same times on the flats as the Cervelo S5 and Specialized Venge S-Works, while weighing just a bit more than the Venge and a bit less than the S5.
  • 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. It delivers a 67 second time savings over the stock frame and wheels – so the only way to go faster is with one of the Super9 disc wheelsets (level 35+) and a very fast frame.

What About the Tron Bike?

The Zwift Concept Z1 (Tron) bike is 67 seconds faster than the stock Zwift Aero+32mm Carbon setup. The fastest setups available (Cervelo S5, Specialized Venge S-Works, or Felt AR frames combined with Zipp 858/Super9 wheels) turn in a time ~3 seconds faster than the Tron bike over our ~50-minute flat test course, but only when coupled with a disc wheelset.

So one way to look at it is: until you have a disc wheelset (level 35+), 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 >

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:

You can see that by level 6, 63% of the overall possible improvement has already been achieved (44 seconds out of 70 possible). By level 25, you’ll have made an 84% improvement. And by level 35, 99% of the possible time reductions have been made.

Another way to look at it: once you’ve hit level 35, the only way you’ll get faster is by racing smarter and training to get stronger!

Your Thoughts

Hopefully this helps you select a bike for your next race, no matter your Zwift level. Got questions or comments? Post below!

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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Alexandre Flores
Alexandre Flores
1 month ago

What about the Lightweight wheels? In a flat course like this, ain’t them worth mentioning?

ShakeNBakeUK
ShakeNBakeUK (@bakeuk_2)
1 month ago

Lightweight wheels are for climbs, not flats

Jason Ball
Jason Ball
1 month ago

These assessments are really useful Eric, thanks. The thing that confuses me is how much rider weight should be a factor in any kit choice. So, if you’re 85kg+ are you better off going for a lighter set up on a flat/rolling course (eg the kind of Tarmac Pro + Enve 3.4 you might normally select for for a hill race) vs a lighter rider (eg the 75kg person in the test) who might be able to go for heavier but faster set up (such as Venge + 808s)? Or should you simply go with the combinations above no matter… Read more »

Jason Ball
Jason Ball
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Thanks Eric, that’s really useful. Hills are where I get dropped too so I’ve been making the trade-off of a more hill-friendly rig at the expense of flat speed. I can see the combination of the new Canyon + DT Swiss wheels becoming my go-to for most rolling-ish courses (I’m not a Tron fan) – it seems a pretty good compromise. Cheers.

Henrique
Henrique
1 month ago

What about the new Aeroroad 2021, is it in this list?

Henrique
Henrique
1 month ago
Reply to  Henrique

Sorry for the question, I didn’t see, but it is. Tks!

Rob
Rob (@robgrootzwaaftink)
1 month ago

Great list!! Gives all the information we need! Thanks Eric

b.schraven
b.schraven (@b-schraven)
1 month ago

So in the end, only till you can buy the Zipp 808/Super9, the Tron is faster?

Sam Couture
Sam Couture
1 month ago

Thanks for this great list Eric! Just purchased the DTSwiss Arc 62’s yesterday after seeing it was a “must buy” on the shopping guide article. I really like the simplicity of this info layout – well done!

jordan fowler
jordan fowler (@jfowler)
1 month ago

IRL you have to know the critical part of the race and be set-up for that. If you are on a super fast on the flats rig, but the race attack will most likely happen on the climb, that needs to be considered. Where will the race redline? Wonder how much this crosses to Zwift?

Maybe the fastest accelerating off the starting line bike? haha.

dan
dan
1 month ago

something to look at but ive always felt like the tron works a bit better over gravel than normal roadies do.

Temps 09
Temps 09 (@quatre24)
1 month ago

Thanks for the article and doing the tests. It is great help when knowing how to sprend drops in app.

Bryan
1 month ago

I am level 13 and just crossed a million drops, I guess it’s time to buy some wheels and grind to level 14.

Christopher Cumming
Christopher Cumming
1 month ago

Eric, does helmet choice make a difference?

tim bland
1 month ago

another super useful chart – much appreciated Eric

Kieran Woodward
Kieran Woodward (@woodythemuss)
1 month ago

This is brilliant, such useful information and a perfect and easy way to read and digest it all. I would love to see something like this with regards to best climbing rigs at each level.👍

David Cooper
David Cooper
1 month ago

Thanks for this Eric. His level 33 a while ago (34 now) and, for some reason, had got in my head I was still a couple of levels away from being able to get the Venge. Now snagged it thanks to your prompt (just a pity you can’t change that bland colour scheme).

Also realise I am only a few thousand XP away from getting the 808/Super9 combo so definite incentive to get off my backside and get some more rides in.

Brian Kurtic
Brian Kurtic
1 month ago

Would love to see the bike graph for climbing as well. Also, even more is to have you guys create a better way to see what “rides” we’ve done and/or haven’t done without having to go in and out and back again to look. It’s super cumbersome as it stands. Also, losing power avg of a ride by the time you complete a ride and then save the ride is terrible. Small gains matter and get harder to obtain with advanced fitness. Then losing a documented PR due to the save delays is really annoying. Thank you!!

Han Weicheng
Han Weicheng (@calayanrail)
1 month ago

have the tron bike, never rode it. don’t like its look.

ShakeNBakeUK
ShakeNBakeUK (@bakeuk_2)
1 month ago

interesting to see that wheel choice has 3x the impact of frame choice..

ShakeNBakeUK
ShakeNBakeUK (@bakeuk_2)
1 month ago

wats the best setup for London Loop? Tron vs Aero / Zipp 808 vs Canyon Aeroad / DT Swiss??

Vidar Sorensen
Vidar Sorensen
1 month ago

Great list, but you have Canyon Aeroad 2021 frame on both Lvl 10&13! Im lvl 15 now but i cant buy it until lvl 23..

Is it me who misunderstood the list or is it wrong?

Always great content you write Eric.. Keep em coming, Big fan! 👌

Temps 09
Temps 09 (@quatre24)
30 days ago

Excellent chart and what to get for the drops at certain levels. The blank spaces makes sense to me as just repeating item as would quotation marks in the that space. Would love to see how some the top climbing frames compare times at their respective levels with the necessary wheels as above or to start level. If possible a chart like above for the climbing frames comparing to aero frames.

Nick F
Nick F
23 days ago

Excellent post, very useful! I saw where someone asked for a similar post for climbing rigs, I would also be interested to see a similar table for the TT bikes as well.

Rico
Rico
20 days ago

I think there is a mistake with the Trek Madone at level 20. In all posts related to the fastest bike frames the Canyon Aeroad 2021 is ranked faster than the Trek Madone, so we should not do anything at level 20 and keep with the Canyon frame and the Zipp 808 wheels. Don’t you think?

Rico
Rico
20 days ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Eih thanks a lot Eric, all clear my fault

trackback

[…] Zwiftをしていると光るバイクを見たことないでしょうか。それがConcept Z1ことトロンバイクです。性能の高いオールラウンドモデルです。ド平坦やド山岳出ない限り、トロンバイクを選択しておけば間違いない性能です。※速さ比較参考:ZWIFT INSIDER […]

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson
12 days ago

Which bike/wheel combination is fastest for a rolling pack ride? Presumably a rider would already benefit from the draft of other riders, which would somewhat negate the need for an aero bike. Do your results from above still hold or is a lighter bike such as the Tarmac with Lightweights preferable?

Rolf André Bohne
Rolf André Bohne
10 days ago

Nice work Eric, but a quick and somewhat specialized question. What would be the fastest bike for attempting to get the 100 kph bagde, and what would be the best decent to try this in. Down from the radio tower? I am 88kg and are currently at level 29 (I also have the Tron bike). Should I go for the Tron bike, a TT bike or Cervelo S5 + 808s? I have enough drops to by whatever my level allows.

Kirk Hurme
Kirk Hurme
1 day ago

Use a TT bike with the 808s. You can change bikes at the top so you don’t need to climb up with this setup.

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