If you’re new to Zwift, you may not realize in-game speed is affected by the bike frame and wheels you choose. In fact, Zwift Insider has performed hundreds of test rides to compile the data so you can know which setups are fastest.
What about helmets? Do they affect speed?
A year ago there were only two generic helmets available for your cycling avatar. Then the Laser Bullet helmet was added as an unlock at the top of Alpe du Zwift, and people wondered if this helmet was faster than the original two. When Zwift released levels 26-50 (which includes several new helmets as level unlocks) the questions really start flying. This week’s Zwift Coaching Podcast even includes a reference to certain helmets making you faster!
New helmets Available as Level Unlocks:
- S-Works Helmet (level 29)
- Bell Javelin Helmet (level 37)
- Retro 80s Helmet (level 43)
- Giro Synthe Helmet (level 45)
- Giro Vanquish Helmet (level 49)
Our Speed Tests
It’s logical to assume that helmet choice affects your speed in-game, since it does outdoors. (For example, Specialized claims wind tunnel tests show their S-Works Evade II shaves 6 seconds off a 40km time trial compared to their already-slippery original Evade.)
We had tested helmets a couple years ago but found they did not affect speed in-game by more than 1 second over a ~ 45-minute Watopia Figure 8 lap. Back then it appeared as though helmets were not included in CdA or weight calculations, and the 1-second variation was just a Strava/GPS rounding error.
But we weren’t sure if things had changed, so we did a pile of test runs using both the TT bike and the Tron bike. (We included the TT because we thought it may be possible that Zwift would let certain TT-specific helmets affect speed on the TT bike, but not on other frames.)
We found that what you wear on your virtual head makes virtually no difference. All helmet choices (including no helmet) were within 1-2 seconds of the same time over the 29.8km (18.4 miles) Watopia Figure 8 route.
With that said, it is important to note that according to Jon Mayfield helmets do affect your in-game speed. The reason we don’t see much of a difference between helmets is that none of those currently available are efficient enough to make much of a difference. That should change as new helmets are released in the near future.
You can see our test results here.