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 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 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!)

Fastest Frames

LevelFastest Frame Time
Savings
1Zwift Carbon (Free)0s
5Specialized Tarmac SL7 (674,500)*6s
6Zwift Aero (319,500)11s
8Focus Izalco Max 2020 (426,000)13.5s
10Canyon Aeroad 2021 (568,000)16s
20Trek Madone (887,500)17s
27Cervelo S5 2020 (852,000)18.5s

Fastest Wheelsets

LevelFastest WheelsetTime
Savings
1Zwift 32mm Carbon (Free)0s
4ENVE SES 3.4 (191,700)26s
5Roval CLX64 (170,400)30s
6DT Swiss ARC 62 (184,600)34s
13Zipp 808 (177,600)42s
31ENVE SES 8.9 (205,900)43.5s
35Zipp 808/Super9 (1,075,700)51s
37Zipp 858 (312,400) fastest non-disc*46s
42DT Swiss ARC 1100 DICUT DISC (1,579,800) fastest disc59.5s

Total time savings of fastest frame and wheelset over stock Zwift setup (Zwift Carbon frame and 32mm wheels): 18.5+59.5=78 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.

*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! 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 (Cervelo S5 2020 combined with DT Swiss ARC 1100 disc) turns in a time ~10 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:

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!Digging Deeper

Want to dig deeper into the speeds of various frames and wheels? Check out our Frame Ranking Charts and Wheel Ranking Charts.

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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Finn McCool
Member
Finn McCool (@cryptonorniron)
28 days ago

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!

Hansel
Hansel
28 days ago
Reply to  Finn McCool

Higher weight, slower times. The best climbing frame is the best regardless of your weight.

Finn McCool
Member
Finn McCool (@cryptonorniron)
28 days ago
Reply to  Hansel

“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 »

Hansel
Hansel
27 days ago
Reply to  Finn McCool

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.

Derek
Derek (@dpr4473)
28 days ago

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.

J. Pennarun
J. Pennarun
28 days ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

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 ?

John Schultens
John Schultens
27 days ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

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?

John Schultens
John Schultens
27 days ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I see that the 2020 Cervelo S5 and regular Cervelo S5 are different now. 😳

Paul Rayner
Paul Rayner (@paulrayner)
28 days ago

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”?

Paul Rayner
Paul Rayner (@paulrayner)
28 days ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Thanks! I do have decent ideas sometimes…😉

Oliver
28 days ago
Reply to  Paul Rayner

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/

anderfo
anderfo
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul Rayner

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.

Danny
Danny
28 days ago

@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 »

yousuf kazmi
yousuf kazmi
28 days ago

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 🙂 ).

ShakeNBakeUK
ShakeNBakeUK (@bakeuk_2)
28 days ago

so wheel choice now has 4x the impact of frame choice hmmmMMMmmm

chris benten
chris benten (@chris-benten)
28 days ago

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

Luciano
Luciano (@luciano-pollastri)
27 days ago

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 🤣🤣🤣🤣

abcd
abcd
27 days ago

i remember the chart from ur website shows Pinarello Dogma F is faster tham vange Dis now…

abcd
abcd
27 days ago
Reply to  abcd

oh,
I made a mistake,Pinarello Dogma F is better than Canyon aeroad 2021 in charts

Tony Applewhite
Tony Applewhite
27 days ago

Great work Eric, many thanks👍

Hansel
Hansel
27 days ago

Are you guys taking a look at the climbers as well (like the Canyon Ultimate CFR)?

rdcyclist (Mark Crane)
rdcyclist (Mark Crane) (@rdcyclist)
26 days ago

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.

temps 09
temps 09
26 days ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

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.

Mathieu Bonnet
Mathieu Bonnet (@mathieu_bonnet)
26 days ago

Hi Eric,
aren’t the Zipp 858 worth mentioning when Disc wheels are not permitted ?
BR

Mathieu Bonnet
Mathieu Bonnet (@mathieu_bonnet)
23 days ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

👌🏻Tx !

Paul
Paul
25 days ago

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.

Sam Cates
Sam Cates (@sam_cates)
24 days ago

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!!

Kim
Kim
19 days ago

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!!

Mute Legs
Mute Legs
59 seconds ago

Is there a fastest TT bikes at each level also?

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