Your choice of virtual bike influences your Zwift speed significantly, and Zwift’s Drop Shop gives us access to many frames and wheelsets. While options are nice, if you’re a newer Zwifter it can be a bit confusing trying to figure out the fastest combination as you begin to take part in races and group rides.
We’ve already published a list of the fastest frames and wheels in game. But what if you’re just starting out on Zwift? Here are the top 4 frames and wheelsets for Zwifters at level 15 and below, 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.
#1: Specialized Allez Sprint
127,800 Drops to purchase, must be Level 14+
A favorite among outdoor crit racers, the Specialized Allez Sprint frame delivers solid performance for a low price both IRL and on Zwift. It’s the cheapest bike on our list, but also the fastest! Bonus: not only is it zippy on flat/mixed routes, it is also the fastest climber of the frames on this list.
#2: Factor One
426,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 8+
One of the newest bikes added to Zwift’s shop, the Factor One is the best choice for racers under level 14 looking for a good performer on flat and rolling routes.
#3: Ridley Noah Fast 2019
426,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 9+
Coming in just 1 second slower on our flat tests compared to the Specialized Allez and Factor One, the Ridley Noah is on-par with both frames above on flat routes.
#4: Cervelo S3D
468,600 Drops to purchase, must be Level 13+
The S3D turns in the same times as the Allez Sprint and Factor One on flat/mixed routes, but climbs more slowly than the frames above, so we’ve ranked it #4.
#5: Zwift Aero
319,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 6+
Zwift’s Aero bike has long been the first decent racing frame for new Zwifters, and it’s still a good performer. Since it’s available at level 6+, even the newest newbie can pick it up.
#6: Ribble Endurance
390,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 7+
One of the newer frames in the Drop Shop, Ribble’s Endurance turns in nearly the same times as the Zwift Aero on flat/mixed routes, and slightly better climb times, all at a level requirement of just 7+. Solid!
#1: Zipp 808
177,600 Drops to purchase, must be Level 13+
The 808s have long been a favorite among Zwift racers, for good reason: they are significantly faster than any other wheelsets available to lower-level Zwifters. They beat the next-ranked wheels (Zipp 404) by 10 seconds in our ~50 minute flat test, and that’s a big margin!
#2: Zipp 404
149,200 Drops to purchase, must be Level 15+
The 404s turn in a solid second-place performance behind the 808s, but also climb better, so you might pick them up if you want a slightly lighter rig.
#3: Roval 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 placed them here in 3rd. One nice thing about these hoops is you can pick them up at level 5+, so they may be worth picking up until you can get one of the faster wheelsets above.
#4: ENVE SES 3.4
191,700 Drops to purchase, must be Level 4+
The ENVE SES 3.4 wheels perform decently on flats, but they also climb better than any of the wheelsets above. And like the Roval CLX64s, these hoops have a low-level requirement (4+), so they may be worth picking up until you can get one of the faster wheelsets above.
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 16 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 (Specialized Allez Sprint with Zipp 808s) is approximately 16 seconds slower over our ~50-minute test.
There are other frames not far behind those you see above. See our speed test charts for a complete list.
Share Your Thoughts
We hope all you newer riders/racers found this post useful. Got questions or comments? Post below!
- April 30, 2020: added the Factor One and Ridley Noah in the number 2 and 3 slots, respectively.