We’ve already published a list of the fastest frames and wheels in Zwift, as well as the fastest picks for beginning Zwifters. But what if you’re past level 15, yet not in the very highest levels? What are your best options for racing on flat or rolling routes?
*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.
This list is based on our recent speed tests using the Tempus Fugit route.
#1: ZWIFT CONCEPT 1 (TRON)
Cannot be purchased, must be unlocked
There are faster frame+wheel combos in Zwift, but not below until you get to the disc wheels at level 35+! So the Tron tops our list here because it’s the fastest frame+wheel combo available at level 30 and below.
#2: CERVELO S5 2020
852,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 27+
Released in August 2021, the new Cervelo S5 is the fastest in game, by just 1 second. Read more about this frame >
#3: CERVELO S5
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 a few seconds, so we give it the edge here.
#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: CANYON AEROAD 2021
568,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 10+
The new Aeroad is one of the most aero frames in game, and it’s a strong climber as well. Just 1-2.5 seconds behind the top aero frames in a ~50 minute test, this frame beats every bike on this list when the road gets steep. You can’t go wrong with this frame as your all-arounder, and you probably won’t notice the slight hit if you use this for your flat races as well! Read more about it >
#6: SPECIALIZED VENGE
Venge: 461,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 18+
The Specialized Venge (which appears to be the original Venge ViAS) is a very slippery frame, and outclimbs the Cannondale SystemSix (just barely), so we give it the edge here.
#7: CANNONDALE SYSTEMSIX
SystemSix: 497,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 27+
Cannondale’s aero offering doesn’t disappoint, turning in solid fast lap times on flat/rolling routes. x
#1: Zipp 808
177,600 Drops to purchase, must be Level 13+
The 808s also topped our list of fastest wheels for beginners, so clearly they sport a killer combination of speed and attainability. It’s no wonder, then, that the 808s have long been a favorite among Zwift racers. They beat the next-ranked wheels by 7 seconds in our ~50 minute flat test, and that’s a big margin!
#2: Zipp 454
Zipp 454: 284,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 24+
The sawtoothed Zipp 454s turn in a solid second-place performance behind the 808s on flat/rolling routes, but they also climb much better than the 808’s, so you might pick them up if you want a slightly lighter rig for mixed courses.
The 454’s are actually ranked at the top in terms of all-arounders, tied with the DT Swiss ARC 62.
#3: DT Swiss ARC 62
DT Swiss ARC 62: 184,600 Drops to purchase, must be Level 6+
The DT Swiss ARC 62 wheelset is 2s behind the Zipp 454’s in our flat test, and just 0.5s faster in our climb test. So they slip into the #3rd slot quite nicely. Considering their low level requirement, this is a great wheelset for beginners to pick up!
#4: Zipp 404
149,200 Drops to purchase, must be Level 15+
The 404s are 3s slower on the flats compared to the 404s.
#5: ENVE SES 6.7
SES 6.7: 191,700 Drops to purchase, must be Level 25+
The ENVE SES 6.7 hoops are just 1s behind the Zipp 404’s, but about 4s slower on the climbs.
#6: Roval CLX64
CLX64: 170,400 Drops to purchase, must be Level 5+
The CLX64s are 2s behind the ENVE 6.7s.
What’s the Time Gap?
The frames above are separated by just 2.5 seconds on our ~50-minute flat 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.
The wheels above are separated by 12 seconds on our flat test.
A Tron Note
We’ve included the Tron bike here because it is perfectly attainable below level 30. (Not sure how to unlock the Tron bike? Read this.) The Tron is much faster than anything else on the list, which makes bike choice for Zwifters level 30 and below easy.
As stated above, the next-fastest combination (Cervelo S5 2020 with Zipp 808s) is 6.5 seconds slower than the Tron bike in our ~50 minute test.
Share Your Thoughts
We hope you found this post useful. Got questions or comments? Post below!
- Sep 24, 2021: made various small changes thanks to fresh test data and new Drop Shop items.
- Sep 2, 2021: added the Cervelo S5 2020 in the #1 slot.
- Oct 23, 2020: moved Aeroad 2021 down to 4th slot, after ZHQ made it a bit heavier
- Oct 1, 2020: added Canyon Aeroad 2021 in #1 slot. Removed old Canyon Aeroad from the last slot.
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.
For those of us that have the 808/Super 9 (pre drop shop), do you know if these, on the S5, are faster than the Tron on a flat/rolling course? Thanks.
They are. Just barely!
Have you done a wattage test for the bikes and wheels? In a race you’re gonna stay in the pack so you won’t notice 11 sec in 50 min but your body will notice if it took another 20w over that time frame. That would be an interesting data point since cyclists love numbers!
First of all, Thank You Eric for taking the time to run all these tests. However, I think while picking 300 watts and 75kg is a nice round number, it is a figure that I think is only attainable by the top 5% of Zwifters. Could I ask that you run the same test at 250 watts/75 kg, perhaps among just the current Top 4 or 5 bikes on this list to see if the results are the same? I analyze a lot of race results and group rides and 3.5 w/kg appears to be the “median” of a much… Read more »
The results will be the same, even at 3w/kg. The bikes would all be a bit further apart though in terms of time.
We partly run these at 4w/kg just because it’s faster that way!
What’s the fastest for climbing under 30 or is that the next article? Tarmac Pro + milsteins?
Tarmac Pro + Meilensteins, yes. It is an article we’ve got planned!
How does the S-Works Tarmac compare to the Pro version?
The S-Works is 11s slower up the Alpe, and the same speed as the pro on the flats.
That is indeed the lightest setup in the game, and besides for the wheels which must be won, it is available at level 11.
Thanks for all your testing.
ATM I’m using a Cervelo S5 with 454’s as Allrounder and Cannondale EVO with Meilensteins as climbers.
And Cervelo Aspero for the Jungle.
I’m riding the Venge. I’m looking forward to ride the sporks venge. but I think you can’t get it until level 34 🙁
Once again, bravo! This is the information that is easy to digest and allieviates drop purchase remorse. You rule!
Thanks Shawn! Happy to be of service.
This may be a silly question but at what point do you consider a course a “climb” rather than a flat or rolling course?
I don’t have a hard and fast rule, but at some point perhaps I should try to classify the routes!
I’d say 90-95% of routes, it’s pretty clear what they are.
I think I’d consider it a climbing course if it includes:
Box/Fox or Leith/Keith Hills in London
All of those climbs are steep and/or long enough to make a lighter bike worth the aero penalty.
What about Yorkshire/Harrogate UCI (as the one you ride today in TdZ)? Do you prioritize aero there as well, even if the sprint is uphill and the whole course is a lot of up and down?
My garage includes Venge, Tarmac Pro, Z808, Enve3.4 and Meilenstein.
Last time in Yorkshire I used Tarmac Pro and Enve 3.4 but I wonder if I should go more aero (Venge/Z808).
Tron isn’t in my garage yet.
I was wondering what is the fastest setup to perform vEveresting? Both climbs and descending on the alpes.
does not matter much, but maybe going for a full climbing setup the whole Veverest or maybe switch to a tt bike at the top and keep your climbing wheels
here’s a list for the best climbing setups for the alpe https://zwiftinsider.com/fastest-bike-alpe/
theres also routes like the cobbled climbs course on the richmond course that dont have a big climb but they have those two short and steep climbs that would make it so you should probsbly use a mixed set up
there’s also routes like the cobbled climbs course on the richmond course that dont have a big climb but they have those two short and steep climbs that would make it so you should probably use a mixed set up
What about best equipment related to the race parcours? Thanks!
Great job on all the testing, much appreciated. Any chance we could get a mixed test of climbing and flat? Like the Big Loop course. I would be curious to see how the frames and wheels rank in comparison to the “frame/ wheelset percentile rankings, stacked” chart.
Love these equipment tests & comparisons Eric! Thank for all the hard work that goes into them. One of the aspects I wonder concerning different frames/wheelsets is how rider weight might effect their performance? As a bigger chap, I have lots of power but suffer for it on the climbs, so for instance, I’ve found the Tron to not be as formidable for me as the Tarmac/Sprint/Madone on quite a few rides as I just can’t get up to speed as quickly on the Tron and rarely do as well on any Sprint. I also thought perhaps at some point… Read more »
Such useful data on your site Eric!
However, I’m surprised you haven’t done speed tests on a mixed route, (as well as the flat and all uphill routes).
as in reality most routes and such a mixture of up/down/flat, it would give a more realistic ranking of frames and wheels
I think it’s pretty easy to just figure that stuff out yourself, for instance if it’s a mixed route I’ll either go with the canyon aeroad with the dt swiss arc 62’s, or if there is more climbing the melinsteins
Thank you for your testing, Eric! What about performance going both up AND down hills? For example, I am riding an Emonde with Zipp 808s rather than the the 404s. I am guessing that the 808s are slightly slower going uphill but those 808s are so fast on the downhills that it feels like the the extra speed down more than makes up for the slower trip up. Have you done that kind of test? Body weight also seems significant. I weigh 95kg so the weight difference between the 808s and 404s may be less significant for me on the… Read more »
Hi, thanks for this guide, clear and useful. I was wondering where do you place the Trek Emonda, that Zwift rates 4/2 stars for weight/aero. Is the Cervelo S5 3/3 stars rating overall better than the Emonda? Thanks
the Emonda clearly is a climbing frame while the cervelo is a all-rounder so if you are in a flat course cervelo and opposite for a climbing course
Is the DT Swiss ARC 62 for level 27+ a typo? I dont see it in my drop shop but I do see the DT Swiss 62 in for level 6.
Yup, typo. Fixed!
So based on the above the DT Swiss are #2 as they are a second faster on the flat and the Zipps are #3 as they are better on the climb, and this article is about fastest. Why are they stated the wrong way round. Yes I know it’s negligible, yet in a sport where every gram and second counts….
Ah no wonder the aeroroad took a hit … Felt off the other day…
Sketchy ZwiftHQ … Very sketchy😜
Only thing I hate about the tron bike is there is no standing animation for it …
Sure splitting hairs but still …Looks like I’ll switch the tron bike back in for the flats as I have the disc wheels but not the disco ball versions as I only lvl 36
Hey, why is the Aeroad 2021 listed as lvl 10+ ? I think it was 23+ ?
Because it was changed a couple weeks ago.
Eric, how does the Tarmac SL7 fit into this list? It doesn’t make the cut? The stars “rating” or whatever you call it shows this to be better than the Cervelo?
Correct, it doesn’t make the cut. It outclimbs the Cervelo, but isn’t faster (more aero). This list just takes aero into account. See https://zwiftinsider.com/charts-frames/
Very interesting. I assumed it was the best “all around” bike but would that’s looking more like the Aeroad 2021 then? Currently using DT Wheels..
“We’ve included the Tron bike here because it is completely attainable below level 30″ I’m at level 21 and 28,000m (2083km) It’s possible I will get the tron bike before level 30, but not much before. I suppose level accumulation will slow down due to a) fewer xp per level required in the low levels b) reduction in xp accumulation when there are no more routes to complete. I don’t have the inclination to do frequent Alpe du zwift rides to accelerate the process. I picked up the aeroad 2021 before reaching level 20, doesn’t look like the Trek Madone justifies spending… Read more »
Yup, climbing from the get go is key to getting the Tron before lvl 30. I didn’t start the quest until I had already logged 8,000m of climbing. But, if all I did for the next 9 rides were Road to Sky, I would get the Tron (and hopefully the Meilenstein wheelset) and be lvl 29. At that point I would have 16 AdZ climbs and only 9 more for the masochist badge…. I’m tired thinking of it!
but theres a xp bonus at the top of adz! so, much sooner than lvl 29, surely.
I got the Tron at level 29 without focusing exclusively on climbing – did lots of group rides over that time and plenty of flat routes. I’ve done the alpe 5 or 6 times, and Ventop once. I actually had an extra 50k feet climbed outside of the challenge too (did tour of Cali first) so I could have gotten it even earlier without too much fuss. One thing that helped a bit is going up the reverse epic KOM for workouts. Start on road to sky, do a u turn, and go up the epic KOM route. You can… Read more »
Found it: https://zwiftinsider.com/points-levels-unlocks/
I was wrong, 70k points for level 20 and 170k for level 30. So it actually takes longer to go from 20 to 30 than from 0 to 20, especially if you do a lot of badge hunting early on.
if you do want to get the tron faster it does not mean you have to do frequent alpe rides but just doing routs like cobbled climbs in richmond or the uci course in innsbruck should help a lot, also if you are doing long outdoor rides during the weekend maybe throwing in a zwift ride with a lot of climbing instead like four horsemen or 2 muir and the mountain laps.
Brilliant analysis as ever, but can ask if until “you can access the 858/super9 with a frame -all bikes are slower than tron upuntil you have these wheels?- how is this list not fastest bikes below level 45? Until you can access the 858/Super9 wheels aren’t all other frame/wheel combos will be slower than tron? Or have i got this wrong? Keep up the great work and thanks.
s-works venge, cervelo beats tron when paired with disc combo (lvl35+)
Hi Eric! Can it be that this list hasn’t been updated since the Dura-Ace weight issue? I don’t see the Aeroad and Cervelos on the ‘fastest overall frames’, but they’re still here.
The Dura-Ace weight issue is now fixed https://zwiftinsider.com/speed-tests-feb-22/
Eric, thank you for this. What I do not well understand is that any bike on the list among top 30-level from top 15-level should be among first on you list of best bikes under level 15. But that does not seems to be the case. For example, Canyon from level 10+ is among top bikes on this list, but you can’t find on the sub-15 fastest bike list. How so?
Following a fairly recent update the Canyon became slower than it had previously been. In December the under level 15 report was changed and the Canyon removed from list of top performers. I think in December removing the bike from the list of under level 30 best bikes was probably forgotten.
if you go back to the bottom of comments on the under level 15 report you will now find I have written a more detailed account for Cathy who had a similar question to your own.
Which is better Cervelo S5 2020 or Cervelo S5, after Cervelo S5 2020 got a heavier groupset
The Dura-Ace weight issue is now fixed https://zwiftinsider.com/speed-tests-feb-22/
@eric Schlange: Zwift Insider is an Amazon Page. Thank you so much. Are you updating Theis Child Page shortly? Would be mich appreciated.
Should the Uranium Nuclear be on this list?
Shouldn’t the Nuclear Uranium be in 5th spot pushing down the aeroad 2021?