How Much Faster are Bunch Rides? (Video)

How Much Faster are Bunch Rides? (Video)

Riding in a bunch on Zwift – as in real life – is faster than riding by yourself. This is because you’re getting a benefit from the draft. When you’re tucked into the slipstreams of riders ahead, you aren’t fighting as much air resistance and you can roll along at a higher speed for the same effort.

But how much of a difference does it make? Shane Miller decided to find out. He completed one lap of Watopia’s flat Tempus Fugit route with a group surrounding a Pace Partner. Then he rode another lap alone at the same average power, disconnecting from the Internet so that no other riders would appear on the course. Finally, he tried a lap on a Zwift time trial bike.

Zwift Cycling Speed: How Much Faster are Bunch Rides?

As expected, the lap with the group was the fastest, followed by the TT bike lap, and then the solo lap with a road bike. The bunch ride was 5.6 kph (about 3.5 mph) faster on the pan-flat route than a solo lap on the same road bike. And while the time trial bike helped, it still didn’t get close to the speed of the group.

To see how Shane did the test and a breakdown of the times and speeds, take a look at the video.

The lesson here? Close that gap! If you want to cover as much distance as possible as quickly as possible, find and stay with a group.

For more on speeds in Zwift, check out “How Does Zwift Calculate Rider Speed?” and “Are Zwift’s Tarmac Speeds Realistic?

About The Author

Karissa Minn

Karissa is a freelance writer and cycling enthusiast. She also volunteers and serves as an advisor for a community bike center called The Pedal Factory. She and her husband, an avid cyclist, live in North Carolina with their two birds, who have not yet learned how to ride a bike.

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14 days ago

Great analysis and write-up! Thanks. I’d love to see a follow-up analysis of how much power it takes to stick with a group on Tempus Fugit when riding an aero bike such as Tron versus a less aero, climbing bike like Tarmac Pro. This would be a difficult test to do fairly and repeatably (would probably need two bikes in the same group riding the same way near back of the pack), but it is relevant to bike choice decisions in races where most riding on the flats is done in a bunch – whereas all analyses I’ve seen so… Read more »

Thomas Peffer
Thomas Peffer
14 days ago
Reply to  David

very relevant for season 2 of the ZRL

RHB (@robnfl)
13 days ago

I agree, great analysis. I kind of discovered the same thing while riding Tempus Fugit after warming up and waiting for Coco to come by so I can jump in. My solo laps were definitely slower than with the group. What is surprising to me is the difference in Shane’s average power, while in the group, and my average power. Shane says his average power was 181 watts, while at 68kg and 172cm I put out an average of 156W while in the C Pace partner group. I wouldn’t have thought that there would be as big a difference while… Read more »

James Metcalfe
James Metcalfe
5 days ago
Reply to  RHB

Variables like time spent in the centre of the group or on the edge. I’m sure I felt it harder to keep with a fast group when I was not in the middle of the bunch.
The benefit of the bunch is very clear on my lap of tick tock last night, where the first half I joined a group doing tempus fugit, there is a clear step change difference in speed once my route diverged from theirs, and group size went from 30+ to 3.

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