Of all the cycling disciplines, time trialists seem most obsessed with how equipment and setup affect their speed. And for good reason! The TT is the “race of truth” where you don’t get to hide in the draft or play cat and mouse with other riders. When it’s just you versus the clock, you want the very best bike for the job.
Zwift’s release of the Drop Shop opened up a whole new universe of TT frames, taking us from just one (the “Zwift TT”) to 20+ options! Now all the TT racers are asking which TT frame is best?
We’ve been hard at work in our lab testing wheels and frames, and this is the second 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 TT frames in game for flat and rolling courses. “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 which is almost perfectly flat. We’ve found that the best performers on flat routes are also the best performers on routes with shorter, rolling hills.
#1: CADEX Tri
1,029,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 42+
The distinctively-designed CADEX Tri is the newest TT frame in game, and also the most aero. It’s no slouch on climbs, either, beating the Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc on uphills.
#2: Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc
891,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 26+
Canyon’s Speedmax CF SLX Disc is faster on the flats than almost any other frame in game. And its level lock isn’t terribly high, either! Read more about this frame >
#2 & #3: Felt IA 2.0 & Scott Plasma RC Ultimate
Felt: 1,136,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 34+
Scott: 1,136,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 33+
Some of the newest frames in game, the updated IA from Felt and Plasma from Scott are nipping at the Canyon Speedmax’s heels on the flats, but outclimbing all other TT frames when the road tilts upward. If your TT race includes any significant climbs, opt for these frames over the Canyon to optimize your time.
#4: Felt IA
IA: 1,065,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 37+
The Felt IA turns in nearly the same performance as the Cervelo PX-Series on flat/rolling routes and Alpe du Zwift, besting the Cervelo by just 0.5s in both tests. So we give it the edge here.
#5: Cervelo PX-Series
PX-Series: 1,065,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 45+
According to Cervelo, “The PX-Series is faster and more aerodynamic than any other triathlon bike we have tested.” That seems to almost apply in Zwift as well, where the PX-Series is quite slippery.
#6: Trek Speed Concept SLR 9
958,500 Drops to purchase, must be Level 32+
The newish TT frame from Trek is fast on the flats, but watch out – it’s a dog on climbs. So only use this if you’re in a very flat race!
#7: Specialized Shiv Disc
994,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 18+
The fastest TT frame available at a lower “beginner level” lock, this radical non-UCI legal frame was created to win at Kona. Optimized for crosswinds, with a distinctive tailfin water reservoir, the Shiv Disc was unveiled at Ironman Kona 2018.
#8: Cervelo P5
710,000 Drops to purchase, must be Level 15+
The precursor to Cervelo’s PX-Series, the P5 is a mighty fast frame on its own, just 7 seconds behind the P5x in our ~50 minute flat tests. As the most affordable TT bike on this short list, with the lowest level unlock, it’s a good buy for lower-level Zwift TT racers.
What’s the Time Gap?
The frames above are separated by only 10 seconds on a ~50 minute test on Tempus Fugit route at 300 watts with a 75kg rider (see stats). That may seem like a slim margin, but that’s significant in a TT effort!
The next fastest frame is 3.5 seconds behind the Cervelo P5, so the frames above are truly in a group by themselves when it comes to speed on flat courses.
About TT Frames
TT frames cannot draft on Zwift, so while the frames above turn in faster times than any non-TT setup in our solo rider tests, you would not want to use them in a standard Zwift race which includes drafting because you’ll get dropped!
Use these frames for TT racing and any solo training where you want to look and feel fast.
Looking for more detailed TT frame performance numbers? Check out our TT frame performance charts >
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 TT frames on Zwift >
Share Your Thoughts
We hope all you TT fanatics found this post useful. Got questions or comments? Post below!
- September 22, 2022: added CADEX Tri frame in #1 slot
- August 23, 2022: added the Felt IA 2.0 and Scott Plasma RC Ultimate thanks to their incredible performance numbers. Added Trek Speed Concept SLR 9. Removed the Ventum One.
- September 19, 2021: moved the Felt IA to #2 and the Cervelo PX-Series to #3 based on fresh test data.
- March 23, 2021: added the Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc as #1. Kept the other frames on the list.
- November 6, 2019: added the Ventum One as #5 on the list. Updated #1 and #2 to be a tie after further testing on Tempus Fugit.
- June 6, 2019: added Felt IA as #1. Kept the other 3 frames on the list.
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.