Fastest Bike Frames and Wheels for Zwifters Level 30 and Below

Fastest Bike Frames and Wheels for Zwifters Level 30 and Below

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.

Top Frames

#1: Zwift Concept 1 (Tron)

Cannot be purchased, must be unlocked

While the revered Tron bike only ranks #5 in our overall list, it tops our Level 30 and below list. Why? Because the only way to beat the Tron’s speed is with the Zipp 858/Super9 wheelset, which requires level 45+! (More discussion of how the Tron compares to other bikes in this list is available below.)

#2: Cervelo S5

603,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 25+

Currently ranked #3 on our overall list, the S5 has always been one of the best frames in game – in fact, it used to be the fastest non-Tron frame available. An excellent choice for any Zwifter.

#3: Trek Madone

887,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 20+

Ranked just below the S5 in our overall list, the Madone is basically as fast as the Cervelo on flats, but doesn’t climb well, hence its lower placement here.

#4: 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. 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 >

#5 & #6: 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.

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.

Top Wheels

#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 (Zipp 454) by 7 seconds in our ~50 minute flat test, and that’s a big margin!

#2 & #3: Zipp 454 and DT Swiss ARC 62

Zipp 454: 284,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 24+
DT Swiss ARC 62: 184,600 Drops to purchase, must be Level 6+

The sawtoothed Zipp 454s turn in a solid second-place performance behind the 808s on flat/rolling routes, but they also climb better than the 808’s, so you might pick them up if you want a slightly lighter rig.

The 454’s turn in virtually the same time as the DT Swiss ARC 62’s in our tests, with the Zipp 454’s climbing the Alpe 1 second faster, and the DT Swiss ARC 62’s finishing our flat route 1 second faster. Both are top-ranked all-around wheelsets on Zwift.

#4: Zipp 404

149,200 Drops to purchase, must be Level 15+

The 404s are slightly slower than the 454s, but climb at the same speed up the Alpe.

#5 & #6: ENVE SES 6.7 and Roval CLX64

SES 6.7: 191,700 Drops to purchase, must be Level 25+
CLX64: 170,400 Drops to purchase, must be Level 5+

The CLX64s come in at basically the same time as the Zipp 404s, but don’t climb as well, so we’ve ranked them lower. The ENVE SES 6.7 hoops perform the same, so we’ve called it a tie. Neither of these wheelsets brings anything to the table that makes them stand out from the top three Zipp picks, though, so we don’t foresee savvy Zwifters using these wheelsets much.

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.

The wheels above are separated by 11 seconds on a ~50-minute test on the Tempus Fugit route at 300 watts with a 75kg rider. That’s a much more significant gap.

Compared to the very fastest frame and wheel combinations available in Zwift, the top frame and wheel combo on this list (the Tron bike) is approximately 3 seconds slower over our ~50-minute test. The Cervelo S5 with Zipp 808s is 10 seconds slower.

There are other frames not far behind those you see above. See our speed test charts for a complete list. The next wheelset in terms of performance, though, is 5 seconds behind the slowest in our list. A sizeable gap!

A Tron Note

We’ve included the Tron bike here because it is completely 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, though – which makes bike choice for Zwifters level 30 and below easy.

As stated above, the next-fastest combination (Cervelo S5 with Zipp 808s) is 7 seconds slower than the Tron bike in our ~50 minute test.

Share Your Thoughts

We hope all you found this post useful. Got questions or comments? Post below!


Changelog

  • 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.

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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Kevin
Kevin
1 year ago

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.

Snappy Little
Snappy Little
1 year ago

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!

Dan Aponik
Dan Aponik
1 year ago

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 »

Mike Kauspedas
Mike Kauspedas (@mike)
1 year ago

What’s the fastest for climbing under 30 or is that the next article? Tarmac Pro + milsteins?

Martin
Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

How does the S-Works Tarmac compare to the Pro version?

Aaron Lipton
Aaron Lipton
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Kauspedas

That is indeed the lightest setup in the game, and besides for the wheels which must be won, it is available at level 11.

Ben Fricker
Ben Fricker
1 year ago

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.

thewannabeironman
Super Member
thewannabeironman (@wanna_b_ironman)
1 year ago

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 🙁

Shawn Fink
Shawn Fink
1 year ago

Once again, bravo! This is the information that is easy to digest and allieviates drop purchase remorse. You rule!

Tom
Tom
1 year ago

This may be a silly question but at what point do you consider a course a “climb” rather than a flat or rolling course?
Thanks

anderfo
anderfo
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

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.

Calvin Seak
Calvin Seak
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Dear Eric,

I was wondering what is the fastest setup to perform vEveresting? Both climbs and descending on the alpes.

Thanks! 🙂

Marozzi
Marozzi
1 year ago

What about best equipment related to the race parcours? Thanks!

Jesse Langevin
Super Member
Jesse Langevin (@jesselangevin)
1 year ago

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.

Chad
Chad
1 year ago

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 »

samcooke
samcooke (@samcooke)
1 year ago

Hi,
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

David Gardiner
David Gardiner
1 year ago

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 »

Renato Nardello
Renato Nardello (@renato-nardello)
1 year ago

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

Laura
Laura (@laurawho7)
10 months ago

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.

Andy Aston
Andy Aston
9 months ago

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….

EndUser
EndUser
7 months ago

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

Michael Hanan
Michael Hanan
7 months ago

Hey, why is the Aeroad 2021 listed as lvl 10+ ? I think it was 23+ ?

Devan
Devan
4 months 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?

Devan
Devan
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

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..

James Metcalfe
James Metcalfe
4 months ago

“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 »

Cycleguy
Cycleguy
2 months ago
Reply to  James Metcalfe

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!

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