Your choice of bike frame influences your Zwift speed significantly. And Zwift’s Drop Shop gives us access to a pile of frames: 100+ if you include the Tron, TT, Gravel, and mountain bikes!
One question every rider should ask as they head into a Zwift race is: which frameset is should I use on this route?
At Zwift Insider we test every Zwift frame and wheelset using a standard, isolated procedure to determine how it performs on flats and climbs. This gives us the data to determine which frames and wheels are best for any given route. Read more speed tests here >
*First, a Disclaimer
Although our test results are accurate and repeatable, the “which bike frame or wheelset is fastest” question isn’t as easy to answer as you might think. 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 the flats. 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 flat and rolling courses. This does not include TT bikes, which cannot draft and are in a list by themselves. “Flat and rolling” covers most routes on Zwift, with the exception of anything including major climbs like Alpe du Zwift, the Epic KOM, or Innsbruck’s KOM.
Additionally, routes with key climbs over a couple of minutes long (think Watopia’s Volcano or London’s Box Hill) may lend themselves well to an all-arounder as opposed to a straight aero performer. Some of those all-arounders are included in this list but ranked lower because the list is sorted strictly by aero performance.
This isn’t an exact science, but we’re pretty confident in our findings thus far.
This list is based on our latest speed tests using the Tempus Fugit route.
#1/#2: Specialized Venge S-Works & Felt AR
Specialized Venge S-Works: 798,800 Drops to purchase, must be Level 33+
Felt AR: 639,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 34+
These two frames turn in identical times in our flat and climbing tests, so they are ranked together here. Which one should you buy? Depends on whether you prefer white or grey, since neither frame has a color slider!
#3/#4: Cervelo S5 2020 & Uranium Nuclear
Cervelo S5 2020: 852,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 27+
Uranium Nuclear: 184,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 19+
These two frames turn in identical times in our flat and climbing tests, so they are ranked together here. The real standout is the Uranium Nuclear, though, due to its low price and level lock.
#5: Canyon Aeroad 2021
568,000 Drops to purchase, must be level 10+
With the lowest level lock of any frame on this list and standout all-arounder performance, the Aeroad 2021 is a smart buy for any Zwift racer. It turns in the same flat test time as the Cervelo S5 and Trek Madone, but beats both of those frames handily when it comes to climbing – so we’ve ranked it at #5 here.
#6: Cervelo S5
603,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 25+
The Cervelo S5 matches the Trek Madone’s flat test time, but outclimbs it by 2 seconds, so we give it the edge here.
#7: Trek Madone
887,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 20+
The Madone is a solid race machine on the flats, and fairly easy to maintain since it is level-locked at 20+. Its flat test times match the Canyon Aeroad 2021 and Cervelo S5, but it is a bit heavy and climbs the Alpe slower than either frame, so we’ve ranked it last in that set of three.
#8: Pinarello Dogma F
1,029,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 32+
The Dogma F is an excellent all-arounder, handily outclimbing every other frame on this list! But since we’re talking about flat/rolling speeds, we’ve ranked it lower on this list. Got a mostly-flat race route with a key climb? The Dogma F may be a better choice than the frames above. (It’s also the most expensive frame on our list, but that’s Pinarello for ya!)
#9: Chapter2 TOA
426,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 18+
The TOA turns in the same flat test time as the Dogma F, but is 4 seconds slower up the Alpe, so we ranked it lower. Still a very good all-arounder, at a lower level lock and less than half the price of the Dogma F.
#10: Zwift Concept 1 (Tron)
Cannot be purchased, must be unlocked
The Tron bike may not be at the top of these rankings, but keep in mind if you don’t have a disc wheelset to couple with one of the fast frames above, the Tron is faster than any frame on this list on flat/rolling routes!
What’s the Time Gap?
The frames above are separated by just 3 seconds on a ~50-minute test on the Tempus Fugit route at 300 watts with a 75kg rider. That’s a slim margin, and one you’re not likely to notice in the craziness of the Zwift peloton.
There are other frames not far behind those you see above. See our speed test charts for a complete list.
A Note About Wheels
It bears mentioning again that the frames listed above only beat the Tron bike if they are paired with a disc wheelset.
See complete wheelset data here >
Since those wheelsets are level-locked at 35+, many Zwifters will not have access to them. The fastest non-disc wheelset (Zipp 858) puts you 3 seconds behind the Tron bike in our flat test, assuming you’re on one of the first four frames in our list above.
What About Climbing?
Time to climb? You’ll want a different frame than those listed above because as cyclists know, weight (not aero) is what matters on longer, steeper climbs! Here’s the list of top climbing frames on Zwift >
Share Your Thoughts
We hope all you riders/racers found this post useful. Got questions or comments? Post below!
- Jun 27, 2022: updated the overall post and added back the Cervelo S5 2020 and Canyon Aeroad 2021. Also added the Pinarello Dogma F and Chapter2 TOA, and removed the Cannondale SystemSix and Specialized Venge since they are the slowest on the list and we’ve got to keep the list short.
- Dec 27, 2021: removed Cervelo S5 2020 and Canyon Aeroad 2021 because the overweight groupset bug slowed both (read more)
- Sep 14, 2021: a big reshuffle thanks to updated test data. No new additions to the list, but removed some and moved Tron to the bottom.
- Sep 2, 2021: added the Cervelo S5 2020 in the #1 slot. Changed Felt AR and Cervelo S5 to be tied for 3rd/4th based on current tests.
- Jul 26, 2021: added the Pinarello Dogma F in the #4 slot.
- Oct 1, 2020: removed the old Canyon Aeroad (which was ranked #8) and listed the new Canyon Aeroad 2021 in the #5 slot.
- Nov 13, 2019: removed #6 Giant Propel Advanced SL 1 and #7 Specialized Allez Sprint. Reshuffled the deck based on our latest speed tests.
- Jun 6, 2019: added the new Felt AR as #4. Kept all other frames already on the list, for a total of 10 frames listed.
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.
Hey Eric, have you had a chance to test the new dogma F12 frame yet?
Yeah. It’s nothing special really. I’ll publish a post about it and the Parlee soon.
just bought it, spent all my drops 🙂
Ah oh well, bit of shame!
I wonder if there is an easy way to tell when to go with a climbing bike, or an aero bike? I guess on a long solo ride, you could swap, probably from a tt bike to a climbing bike. Just wondering if anyone had thought about what makes the differential for a race requiring an aero or climbing bike, seeing as you are not going to want to stop? Mathematically there would have to be some max climbing height over some distance that makes a climbing bike more efficient over the whole distance than an aero bike and vice… Read more »
I would say if the race finishes at the top of a climb (e.g. alpe du zwift or Innsbruck etc.) then lightweight is the way to go (unless there is a very long flat lead in) otherwise aero is more important as what you lose on the way up you gain on the way down and on the flats. Also depends where in the race the important moments are going to be, no point having an aero bike if you get dropped on a climb, and no point having lightweight if you are dropped before the climb. Better to sure… Read more »
S-Works venge + Zipp 454nsw VS Tron BIKE. WHo is the best for mixed routes ? Thx
Tron would be faster.
No it’s not. We can race sometime.
The riders will be different in weight, height & motivation…..pointless race!
Hey Eric, on a course like the Surrey Hills, with multiple medium climbs and descents, would a full aero set up have an advantage over the climbing bikes?
Eric, frame wheelset combo would you recommend for everyday riding. Rolling, climbing and flats.
I have the Venge S Works, Felt AR, Madone and System Six Frames for Aero
Cannon EVO, Scott Foil, Tarmac Pro, Emonda,
Wheels I have Aelous 5
Enve 3.4, 6.7, 8.9
Mavic Carbon SL US, CXR60c
ZIPP 202, 404, 454, 808
And I am at Level 35
Tron for sure for every day riding buddy. Not only does it preform awesomely, but aesthetics will give you a few more placebo watts 😂. If you haven’t got it, keep on climbing the Alpe 👍🏼
Bonus tip–climb Alpe as part of a workout, and get much better XP boost than you’d get trudging up at regular non-workout speed, plus every trip to top gets spin of prize wheel. Potential for lightweight wheels, or more likely 250 extra XP.
2 trips up VenTop on workout = Kask helmet! (takes time though)
Eric, I always find these so helpful, but have one quick question. In your wheel tests, the Zipp 808/Super 9 wheels are incredibly close to the Zipp 858/Super 9’s. If I’m only level 36 so have the former but not the latter, are you saying that the Tron Bike is still the better bike? [i.e. the *only* bikes that are better than the Tron *have* to be equipped with the 858/Super 9’s, and will be worse the 808/Super 9’s]?
Thanks for your awesome resource here.
I’m also interested in this topic. As far as I understand tron bike Is faster than anyother bike used without the 858/super9.
I have a similar understanding from what he wrote above, except that in his wheelset reviews he says the 808/Super 9’s performed identically on the Alpe, and were only 1-2 seconds slower over the ~50 flat test, so they *should* be better than the Tron bike?
Note: Just noticed that above in his article I missed the sentence that says the 808/Super 9’s will provide about the same results as the Tron, so I guess my question is answered!
what is about the factor one? don’t you think is underrated? Could be in The top ten?
(sorry for my english 😅)
Wonderful help in racing!
Hi Eric.. First of all.. Thank you for all sharing all the great knowledge.. “The Cervelo S5 + disc combo used to be the fastest non-Tron combo available in Zwift, but when the S-Works Venge and AR arrived on the scene the S5 had some company. Still a speedy beast, though.” 1- Can you please explain how to do the + disc combo on a Cervelo S5? I can´t see how to change it to disc.. :-).. 2 – Furthermore, any input on which is the best bike for the WM route 2020? 2.A – Which bike and wheelset when… Read more »
Any chance of doing some analysis into the acceleration of frames & wheels? Both from starting at zero; and also when alternating 180W to 220W continuously. In Real Life, a lighter bike is better on the flat in a group because aero advantage is less relevant – and the shifts in speed to hold position in the group is helped by faster acceleration – which is better on a lighter bike. So should be the same on Zwift… So fastest race bikes may not be the aero ones that do well on constant-effort, non-group rides…
Disagree as on flat weight be it slow to get going totally gets more momentum but for once going flats and weight is where a rock can fly …
In Zwift times I raced with a lighter bike and lightweight wheels for the few climbs that were in the loop and I had to pedal much harder
Looks like the Canyon Aeroad 2021 is currently level locked at 23.
I think it dropped to 10 now. When I bought it, it was 23 – and one star better in weight. Then I realised i would gave got one for free for completing Zwift Academy, and then got a Tron for completing 50 km climbing. All in all, not the best purchase I made but it’s only drops anyway after all 😉
If that’s what you’re seeing then you need to update your Zwift install.
What is the best bike for a round trip including a mountain? (e.g., the mountain route) Something that has going up a mountain, but also down a mountain, and some flat sections.
Which would be faster: “Canyon Aeroad” vs. “Zwift Aero+ZIPP 808 wheels” ?
PS…. Or “Zwift aero+dtswiss arc1100” combo…..
” It also climbs just a few seconds faster than the Felt AR and Cervelo S5 in our Alpe tests, so it definitely deserves the #1 slot.”
A bit of edditing required for the number 2 slot
After that you can remove the comment
Some of these comments are 1 year, or more, old. How is that possible for an article that was just published? Or is this just a re-post??
Not even a repost – just an update of the publish date, since I modified the post substantially.
The line above “what about climbing” still says the Cervelo S5 2020 is the fastest frame.
Eric can you clarify the status of Cervelo S5 because in the list it is #3 but the Changelog says it was removed because of an overweight groupset bug. Does it still have the bug? And if so shouldn’t it be ranked lower? Thanks
The S5 2020 is different than the much older S5. The S5 is still on our list. The S5 2020 has been slowed due to the groupset bug.
Hi Eric – great work, Thanks. Given there are so many group races with drafting plays a big part, have you thought about a test to see which frame/wheel combo is fastest when the draft is taken into account? ie. sitting in the draft on a lightweight non-aero frame but getting a benefit on the climbs vs pushing on the front on an aero frame but having a weight penalty on the climbs?
I miss Uranium. Should be as fast as Madone, Felt, and S5.
am I losing my mind, or was the Scott the fastest draftable bike for awhile?
I know it was the Venge for the longest time, then I thought I saw that the Scott passed it shortly after it was released.
I’m probably going bonkers 😛
I thought the same as you, but after cross-referencing some other ZI articles, I see that the the Scott Addict RC is listed #14 fastest frame on flats, which would exclude it from this page’s list. You’re likely thinking of the ZI article listing the fastest climbing frames, where it’s #2, or the speed test article, where it’s the #1 all-rounder frame. Hope that helps.
The Tron is an always aero position on bike, it doesn’t gain much in draft and can’t climb well. On rolling terrain or draggy terrain think Neokyo Crit Course or Wandering Flats or Flatland loop any aero bike on 454s can race at less watts than the Tron bike. The sprint times between 454 on these bikes are comparable to the Tron. Any aero bike with 858/808/ENVE 8.9 will sprint faster the Tron. The problem for these bikes is they generally require slightly more watts than Tron with the fast aero tires is you need to be a complete rider… Read more »
Do you have any concrete evidence that the Tron doesn’t draft well?
Yep, I’d love to see that too, as it is I don’t see the tron draft any different to the bikes mentioned.
Thank you for the update. I’m bummed to lose the Aeroad as it was an amazing frame with a low barrier to entry. My new target is the S5, which I should be able to unlock in the next 3-4 week or so of Zwifting.
Eric, do you foresee any changes systemwide to Zwift frames (i.e. fixing the Dura Ace bug to make them lighter, or inversely slowing down all other frames without the new Dura Ace)? I would hate to waste a bunch of drops on a frame that will be rendered slower if an update/fix is made shortly thereafter.
Hi. Where would you place the Ridley Noah fast? This bike rarely gets mentioned so was just thinking is it that bad. Thanks
This article didn’t help me at all since I’m only Level 15, but the article from 2019 regarding bikes for climbing gave me some good options.
Aeroad 2021 is on the list and available to you
After the Sram Red bug was fixed is the Cervelo S5 2020 the fastest frame again?
Any plans to retest the Cervelo S5 2020 after the bug fix?
Yeah, I got the better discs being level 46 now … but you know I really like the tron bike and I worked hard to get it so I using it … as I am not going to be leading any packs anyway so I should be enjoying my bike of choice … oddly to me anyway at 104kg the TRON feels faster than my sworks with the ARC discs should not be the case but SWORKS Verge feels slower
First of all, thank you for your amazing and so useful works. You are the best! Just one question: Why is Nuclear Uranium not on the list?
Also wondering because it seems to have insane test scores for the drop price in previous articles ?
Just updated the list… Uranium is now on it!
Would you update this post with the latest Cervelo S5 2020 bug fix?
Hi Eric, the overweight groupset bug was fixed, right? Any plans to update this list with the S5 2020 and Aeroad 2021? Thanks as always for such a wealth of info!
Just updated the list today. Enjoy!
Regarding the Uranium Nuclear. Im not sure what to say that a Shimano 105 bike is one of the fastest bikes we have.
why is the tron bike #10 now?
Because its frame only. As Eric says overall its the fastest bike UNLESS you fit disc wheels to the frame of your choice!
3 seconds in an hour is 0.1%; relative to my FTP that’s about 0.3 watts (yes, increase in speed isn’t linear with power, but it gives an indication of the magnitude of effect). Differences in a flat race are generally made in (albeit repeated) short periods of intense effort over small rises and sprints at the end. You can easily save 0.1% over an hour by being more careful about sitting in the draft. Think it goes to show that any differences between any of the ‘decent’+ frames are pretty much zero, and it’s best to ride the one you… Read more »
Everything you said is exactly right, but even with the tiniest of margins, competitive people inherently like to know the differences and will base their equipment decisions on the data. It’s completely silly, but the mental aspect counts for a lot and if you THINK you’re faster with something, it may actually make you faster!
and in that respect the S5 2020 is definitely the better bike than the Uranium Nuclear, because it LOOKS faster
C’mon Eric I’m sure you’ve got enough time on your hands to produce a fastest bike/wheelset for every route on zwift? 😂
Felt AR instead Venge if you hate disc brakes!!!
Why is there no colnago Frame in the Game?
I wonder how the new Madone will do on the flats. Also if the 51mm medium depth wheels is a negative compared to RSL62’s or positive as a more all round bike
I did the Arena games, but im not in the list at the end First race i Was 2nd , second race i was 3rd.
I have zwift power and was registrred on the zwift side.