How Zwift’s “Drops” Currency Works

How Zwift’s “Drops” Currency Works

Drops are Zwift’s virtual currency, introduced to the game when Zwift released the Drop Shop in February 2019. Use them to purchase virtual equipment like bike frames and wheels for your Zwift garage.

So how do Drops work? Or more specifically: how do we get them, and how can we get them faster?

First, the Basics

A Drop is roughly equal to 1 US cent. So a $10,000US bike frame will cost roughly 1,000,000 Drops, while a $1500US wheelset will cost 150,000 Drops. Zwift obviously included some other factors when setting Drop Shop prices, but 1 Drop equalling 1 cent is a good way to understand pricing.

You can see Drops adding up as you ride or run, just beneath your ride timer:

Drops are based on your effort (drops of sweat, get it?) – if you aren’t working, you aren’t earning.

Take a Drops Deep Dive

The specifics of how Drops are rewarded aren’t known (Zwift isn’t sharing the formula), but we can draw some conclusions based on what we do know and what we see in tests.

We know there are six factors affecting your “Drop rate” (how quickly you receive Drops):

  • Calories burned: this is the main factor
  • Your Gender: yep, it matters!
  • Elevation: more incline=more Drops
  • Distance: more distance=more Drops
  • Receiving Ride Ons: the easiest way to boost your Drop rate
  • Drops Multiplier Game: sticking close to a Pace Partner increases your Drops rate

You will also receive a bonus chunk of Drops when you hit certain levels. If your new level is divisible by 5 (15, 25, etc) you received 25,000 Drops. If your new level is divisible by 10 (10, 20, 30, etc) you receive 100,000 Drops!

Let’s dig into each of the six “Drop rate factors” a bit more…

Calories Burned

Your rate of calorie burn can be easily calculated based on your current power output. Zwift is constantly adjusting your Drop rate based on your watts. This makes sense, of course: it’s your power levels that determine how much “work” you are actually doing. While there are other factors that figure into the overall Drop rate equation, power to your pedals is the #1 driver.

Want to learn more about how calorie burn relates to wattage? Read this post.

Your Gender

This may be controversial for some, but here it is: Zwift awards female riders 10% more Drops than male riders for the same effort.

If that seems unfair, consider this: it is well-documented that there are performance differences (in watts) between male and female cyclists. One study comparing men and women under identical race conditions found that men averaged 278 watts in the criterium stage while women averaged 205 watts. This popular power ranking table assumes differences as well. (Many other studies show similar results. Google is your friend if you’re curious.)

Without Zwift building in some gender bias, females on average simply would not be able to accumulate Drops at the same rate as males. So Zwift has added this “gender bias” as a way to equalize things a bit.

I think it’s a good move. It’s not perfect, and we all know this is a complicated issue. But it shows Zwift is thinking about gender issues and trying to be fair to everyone.

Elevation

How much does elevation factor into your Drop rate? It’s significant. Our tests up the Alpe with a male holding 300 watts for 1 minute showed he received around 770 Drops on a gradient averaging ~9%.

Hold that same power for 1 minute on flat ground and the same rider receives around 470 Drops.

So climbing increased our Drops rate by 63%. Interesting. Zwift is certainly giving people an incentive to climb.

Distance

This is an interesting factor to consider, and I believe it is another attempt by Zwift to equalize the playing field a bit, as well as encourage more climbing. Let’s look at the effect of the distance factor a bit more…

Equalizing the Playing Field

Let’s look at two riders, Tiny and Biggz. Tiny weighs 50kg, while Biggz weighs 75kg. Both riders are well-trained cyclists at the same fitness level. Both go out for an all-out hourlong race against each other. Who wins?

The answer depends on the course, of course. Just like in pro cycling, Tiny will win if the course has a lot of climbing, because he’s got the power-to-weight ratio to drop Biggz up hills. Biggz will win if it’s a flat course, because his higher watts can make Tiny suffer.

(Obviously, I’m making a lot of assumptions here, but hang with me.)

Larger riders can burn more calories than smaller riders because they’ve got more muscle working to produce power. In a purely calorie-based system, larger riders would have the advantage–big folks would earn more, and the little man would be in the virtual poorhouse.

But the little man rides farther at the same wattage as the big man, because he’s got less weight to move. Tiny may also be shorter, which would mean he would travel further than Biggz at the same wattage since height affects speed.

And this is the equalizer. If Tiny and Biggz both hold, say, 200 watts for an hour on the same course, Tiny will earn more Drops because Tiny will ride further.

In our tests, a 75kg rider starting from a dead stop then holding 300 watts for 1 minute earns around 457 Drops. A 50kg rider doing the same earns around 484 Drops–a 6% increase.

Encouraging Climbing

The distance factor also encourages climbing, as your Drop rate will increase on descents (as long as you are still working!) In our tests, a 75k rider holding 300 watts down the Alpe accumulated around 700 Drops per minute… not far off the Drop rate up the Alpe, and much higher than the Drop rate on flat ground.

Receiving Ride Ons

When you receive a Ride On, your Drop rate doubles for 15 seconds. Receive a Ride on while climbing a steep hill and you’ll really earn those Drops quickly!

This is a stellar idea from Zwift because it encourages us to encourage others. I like throwing out random Ride Ons and knowing that it’s putting some virtual money into Zwifters’ pockets.

Drops Multiplier Game

Zwift rolled out a Drops Multiplier “game” with its Pace Partners feature. Basically, the longer you ride near a pace partner, the higher your Drops multiplier increase, from 1.2x all the way up to 2.5x! This can provide a huge boost in Drops accumulation. Read all about the Drops Multiplier Game here >

How Quickly Do Drops Accumulate?

Quite quickly, really. In a recent 90 minute workout on the Road to Sky route I earned just over 58,000 Drops with an average power of 228 watts for the ride. This calculates out to an hourly Drop rate of around 39,000.

If I ride at that pace for an hour every day of the week I’ll earn ~270,000 Drops weekly, or over 14 million Drops annually.

If you receive a fair number of Ride Ons from friends, ride with Pace Partners, and push hard (high watts) you can get over 60,000 Drops per hour, which would work out to 420,000 Drops weekly, or almost 22 million Drops annually!

How Do You Get The Most Drops?

Considering all these factors and our tests to date, the fastest way to get Drops is:

  • Climb. A lot.
  • Make friends who like to give Ride Ons.
  • Ride with a Pace Partner to receive a Drops Multiplier
  • Go hard.

Your Thoughts

I would love to hear your questions and comments on Drops. Do they help motivate you? Does the calculation scheme seem sensible? Chime in below.

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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Travis Weber
Travis Weber
1 year ago

Do drops exist or will they exist for runners?

Charles Dauphinais
Charles Dauphinais
1 year ago
Reply to  Travis Weber

Sadly no. There is no shop for runners.

Jim Pintchuk
Jim Pintchuk
11 months ago

In addition to riding Ive been running on Zwift for 2 weeks. It is so much more engaging than just running on the treadmill. I’m surprised how much more motivated to run I’ve been.
Hopefully running will evolve to include features available for riders. Probably about the same time they start charging to run. Lol

KB824
KB824
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Pintchuk

surprised they don’t charge and also I think that zwit will always be a very cycling dominated app, so I would not be surprised if they dont add a drop shop(i dont run on zwift so i dont know if this is true) but keep the unlock only system

Pierson Ramirez
Pierson Ramirez
1 year ago

I noticed in the distance section it doesn’t cover distance measurements. For example if a rider has Zwift set using kilometers and another rider is using miles, will they “earn” drops at the same approximate rate?

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

One earns more of a bonus at each marker (1km vs 1mile) using Km versus miles though, thereby earning more drops.

scrumdidalieumptiousbar
scrumdidalieumptiousbar
1 year ago

what should i even spend my drops on? i’m lvl 25, have the tron, and have 3M drops. Feels kinda lame to accumulate these things when i have nothing to spend them on. Can’t even invest them. How about a betting system where I can use my drops to bet on different riders in races?

Adam Beevers
Adam Beevers
1 year ago

Or even trade them in for power boosts, or use them to pay off Zwift fines for racing in the wrong category or expand the drops shop to bike components and clothing tech.

Christopher Poulter
Christopher Poulter
10 months ago

Give the drops to me lol I only have 22000 and I’m a newbie with the base entry bike

KB824
KB824
1 month ago

maybe get the specialized aethos(available at level 34 but best climbing frame in zwift, or really just any great climbing frame) or the new dt swiss disc wheel and/or a tt bike since you already have the tron bike.

Steve Fleckenstein
Steve Fleckenstein (@sfsfleck)
1 year ago

I am new to Zwift, 67, and love it. Ride alot of gravel here, Salida CO, Level 9 and counting.
Is a “gravel” bike available or do i need to get to 13? (I saw that somewhere !) Thanks Fleck

nothingtospenddropsonwahhhhh
nothingtospenddropsonwahhhhh
1 year ago

Scrumdidaliemptiousbar if you read the other articles about the frames and wheelsets there are combinations of frame (such as the specialized Venge) with certain wheelsets (like the 858 / Super 9) which are actually faster than the tron bike on flat course and there are frames like the specialized pro with the lightweight meilsten wheels which can climb something like alpe du zwift a lot faster than the tron bike. Plus at the end of the day it’s just a game. Have fun just making your character look different aesthetically even if it has not as good of stat bonuses.… Read more »

Kirby Krieger
Kirby Krieger
1 year ago

I have 4M Drops. I ride the Tron. I have no interest in racing on a trainer. I have no interest in Drops. I’d like to see Zwift offer a real-money contribution to a bicycle-providing NGO for some number of Drops. Maybe $147 — one bicycle — to the World Bicycle Relief for 5M Drops.

Roger
Roger
8 months ago
Reply to  Kirby Krieger

I like Kirby Krieger’s suggestion for using drops. I am at level 33 and have 4.5M+, and I own probably all the frames and wheels I will ever need. Turning those extra earned drops into some sort of Zwift-brokered donation to WBR or other would be great. — Otherwise, I might suggest to Zwift an option for Zwifters to convert high drops totals to store-discounts for items such as real-life jerseys/kit that resemble the cyberkit our avatars wear, i.e. 2M drops allows me to purchase a Zwift-POW! jersey I could wear to resemble my avatar. Is there any physical Z-licensed… Read more »

YMAL
YMAL
1 year ago

Wouldn’t it be more equitable for everyone concerned regardless of gender if drop rate accumulation was based on W/Kg rather than raw wattage. In your example above it seems to me that Tiny is earning more drops than Biggz because he is working harder. Tiny (50 Kg) – 200 Watts x 1 hour (4 W/Kg) & 300 Watts x 1 min. (6W/Kg) compared to Biggz (75 Kg) – 200 Watts for 1 hour (2.67 W/Kg) & 300 Watts x 1 min. (4W/kg). I guess what this boils down to is this – Does Tiny earn the same amount of drops… Read more »

Rainer Ebel
Rainer Ebel
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

That’s why lighter riders are the better climbers, isn’t it? And vice versa, why big blokes are faster on a straight course with little or no elevation changes. W/kg is what pulls up vertically, but on a flat course absolute power (unadulterated Watts, not W/kg) is more important as drag does not increase proportionally with weight. One could say the big guy has effectively more W/drag. In addition, on a course with little or no undulation, the energy required to keep a rider moving at the same speed will be proportionally lower, as friction losses and rolling resistance only increase… Read more »

Mike Walker
Mike Walker
1 year ago

I noticed this morning while descending the alp that you must be peddling to get drops. I was doing the super tuck and I was getting nothing so pedal easy on the descents if you want drops

Rainer Ebel
Rainer Ebel
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Walker

Why should you get drops? You earned them on the way up. Makes sense to me.

Darin Boyd
Darin Boyd
1 year ago

Eric, is there a list that shows what items are unlocked to purchase at given levels, such as the 858/Super9’s at Level 45…

Dan
Dan
1 year ago

You mention that there is a bonus added to the drops for a short period of time when a ride on has been received. I am wondering if a similar bonus is received when people give you ride ons post ride, as opposed to the ride ons received whilst you are still riding?

Daniel
Daniel
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan

You only get Ride Ons while riding (no point otherwise). Are you confusing with Strava’s kudos or something?

Glory
Glory
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel

You can get Ride Ons post-ride.

KB824
KB824
1 month ago
Reply to  Glory

it just wont affect drops

Lucas
Lucas (@martin-w-lucas)
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan

No bonus drops from post ride Ride Ons. The Ride On boost just increases gain rate for a few seconds and there are no ongoing gains post ride. Similarly, if you happen to be taking a break and producing zero Watts when you get a Ride On that one won’t provide any bonus drops either.

Michael Coyne
Michael Coyne
1 year ago

When receiving multiple Ride-On’s, what happens? For example, if I receive a second Ride-On 5 seconds after receiving the first, do the effects stack for a whopping 4x multiplier? Or does the 15 second timer get reset (so I would get 20 seconds of Ride-On time in total?) OR does it tack the extra time onto the end of the first one (so I would get 30 seconds of Ride-On time in total?) I’d be ok with celebrities and youtube personalities getting some extra compared to us normal folk with their constant stream of Ride-On’s – they’ve earned it. But… Read more »

Tora
Tora
1 year ago

My son (just turned 9) was so excited to reach level 10 yesterday and his drops jumped by 100k….(something I just read happens at level 10, 20, 30 etc) but today they have disappeared and he’s back to 62k. Seems trivial but to him a very big deal as he was getting close to the wheels he desperately wants and takes him ages to get them up. Any ideas why this is? Thanks 🙏

Tora
Tora
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Thanks, have done that now. Think it may be linked to Zwift crashing half way through the ride as the ride saved but not the full info/stats.

Dave Brillhart
Dave Brillhart
1 year ago

So here is the tradeoff – you get more drops climbing, but you are going a LOT slower. Since distance also counts, then there will be a tradeoff where a flat TT @ 24mph for an hour (24 miles) could end up with more drops than climbing 7 miles up ADZ in that same hour at the same power. I wonder how close the drops would be under those scenarios.

Remy
Remy (@xxxx_gambit_xxxx)
1 year ago

Does Zwift generate a log or purchase receipt for items purchased from the Drop Shop? It appears that My Garage is missing items I purchased a couple of months ago.

Harry
Harry (@harrytozer505)
1 year ago

I rode 5.5 hours, up alpe 2 times and epic kom 2 times and got just over 100,000 drops

Ennyt
1 year ago

how can I get to next level on my account .👂

Diave
Diave
1 year ago

I’m now motivated for weight loss so that I can increase my rate of earning drops… this might be an obsession.

Henk Blom
Henk Blom
1 year ago

New to Zwift, and 78 years young. Zwift should allow for age when determining drop awards??

gene
gene
10 months ago
Reply to  Henk Blom

absolutely agree! when i was young, i could really kick but. now, i am only a little better than average (at 70 years) – so why isn’t this like the female/male thing?

KB824
KB824
1 month ago
Reply to  gene

opposite for me(12yo) and i earn a lot less drops than other people just since im not fully developed physically yet

Mac Weelz
Mac Weelz (@wongsol)
1 year ago

Something I noticed when GP Lama was doing TdF rides is that you can still collect drops even when not pedaling provided you’re part of an event or organized ride. I tested this myself and still collected them coasting down Ventoux and AdZ without pedaling. If you’re free-riding, doing a personal workout, etc. then no drops when not pedaling.

Mac Weelz
Mac Weelz (@wongsol)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mac Weelz

Note that I haven’t tried this since the newest update yesterday.

Cliff jennings
Cliff jennings
7 months ago

BIGZ is 75kg. That makes me FATZ.

Gerald Espy
Gerald Espy
6 months ago

Does there exist a record of account for the lifetime accumulation of ‘drops’ earned and what the rider purchased with those hard-earned ‘drops’ since first setting up a Zwift account?

Bikelink
Bikelink (@darren-r-linkin)
6 months ago

Did you get a sense of how much “calories” matter to the drop rate while descending? I did notice yes you have to be pedaling but since it must take distance as a big driver the drops spin up really fast and didn’t realize maybe they’d go faster if I pedaled 2 w/kg vs. 0.5 say. I’d probably soft pedal a LITTLE harder if it mattered (not a race, not a huge timed ride where super tucking and saving energy can be important). Thanks!

Evan
Evan
5 months ago

I noticed today when I leveled upt to level 34 that i got 300,000 drops! On level 32 and 33 I got 100,000 drops, and on level 25 i aslo got 250,000 drops! is that a glitch, or on purpose?

Evan
Evan
5 months ago
Reply to  Evan

on every other level aside from level 30 (100,000 drops) i get around 25,000 to 50,000 drops as well

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