Your choice of bike frame influences your Zwift speed significantly. And Zwift’s Drop Shop gives us access to a pile of frames: 55+ including the Tron and TT bikes!
The big question for racers is: which frameset is best?
We’ve been hard at work in our lab testing wheels and frames, and this is the third in a series of posts giving you some solid, data-driven answers. Read more speed tests here >
*First, a Disclaimer
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. This isn’t an exact science, but we’re pretty confident in our findings thus far.
#1: Specialized Venge S-Works
798,800 Drops to purchase, must be Level 33+
The S-Works Venge has just a slight aero edge on the other fast frames, consistently turning in times ~1 second faster on our test flat course when paired with the fastest wheelsets. 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.
#2: Felt AR
639,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 34+
The AR performs identically to the Cervelo S5 in our flat tests, but has just a slight weight advantage on climbs, so we’ve slotted it just above the S5.
#3: Cervelo S5
603,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 25+
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.
#4: Trek Madone
887,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 20+
The Madone is a solid race machine and the easiest to attain of the top frames, being level-locked at only 20. It turns in a performance on par with our top 3 picks on the flat test, but is a few seconds back on the Alpe.
#5: 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 the Zipp 858/Super9 wheelset to couple with one of the fast frames above, the Tron is faster. Watch out, though: it’s not the lightest bike, so if you want maximum vertical speed you’ll want to look elsewhere.
#6 & #7: Cannondale SystemSix and Specialized Venge
SystemSix: 497,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 27+
Venge: 461,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 18+
Cannondale’s aero offering doesn’t disappoint, turning in solid fast lap times on flat/rolling routes. The Specialized Venge (which appears to be the original Venge ViAS) is also a slippery frame. They both turn in essentially the same times, including lackluster climbing performance.
#8: Canyon Aeroad
532,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 23+
One of the original “Fast 5” from pre-Drop Shop days, the Aeroad still turns in a solid performance on flat/rolling routes, and climbs just a bit better than the Specialized Venge or Cannondale SystemSix.
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 Wheelsets
It bears mentioning again that the frames listed above only beat the #5-ranked Tron bike if they are paired with the Zipp 858/Super9 wheelset.
Since that wheelset is level-locked at 45+, many Zwifters will not have access to it. The Zipp 808/Super9 wheelset will put you basically on the same level as the Tron, and any other wheelset will see you 5 seconds or more behind the Tron bike over our 50-minute flat test.
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!
- 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.