“Pace Partners” Pacer Bots Now Riding in Watopia

“Pace Partners” Pacer Bots Now Riding in Watopia

Zwift’s most recent update (August 6) included a new feature which just went live minutes ago on the roads of Watopia. “Pace Partners” are pacer bots which Zwifters can join from the drop-in screen. When you click to join a bot it will be just like joining a friend who is already riding – you will be taken to where that bot is on-course, and you can ride with them as long as you’d like.

Here’s what the drop-in screen looks like:

And here’s a quick snippet of one Pace Partner in action:

Our guess is each bot will always have a group of riders around it in a sort of ongoing group ride. The Pace Partners are visible to everyone, so even if you don’t click to join them from the drop in screen, you can always choose to grab the Pace Partner’s wheel if you see them in game.

There are four bots, and last we heard they were scheduled to be available 20 hours per day (the 4 hour window allows for tweaks/maintenance from 8:30-10:30 and 20:30-22:30 Pacific time). Each bot rides at a set wattage on a particular Watopia route:

  • D. Diesel (1-2.4 w/kg)”: Casual-paced group ride with a few gentle hills
  • C. Cadence (2.5-3.1 w/kg): Moderately-paced group ride with occasional hills
  • B. Brevet (3.2-3.9 w/kg): Expert-paced group ride with frequent climbs.
  • A. Anquetil (4+ w/kg): Elite-paced ride on a challenging route. Many tough climbs!

When we checked, only Anquetil and Cadence were live, riding Road to Ruins and Tempus Fugit respectively:

Just the Beginning

This is just the “minimum viable product” (MVP) version of Pace Partners. There are lots of possibilities for this feature to expand in the future, including having bots modulate their power in smart ways (increasing on climbs, decreasing on descents), giving riders rewards for staying near the bot, running pacers, etc. But Zwift wants to test out the feature first to see if people find it useful.

As with all FutureWorks features, Zwift releases them so the community can test and provide feedback via in-game surveys and the FutureWorks forum.

Question or Comments?

Share 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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Matt 3595
Matt 3595 (@straightlineboy)
5 months ago

I like this idea and am keen to try it. I like the idea of picking a bot that’s going to push me and see how long I can hang on for without having to join a race

Rick Allan
Rick Allan
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt 3595

What Matt said! Same here!

Matt 3595
Super Member
Matt 3595 (@straightlineboy)
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt 3595

Having had a try the other day the only downside was being dropped at roadside on Tempus Fugit and then whoooosh past went the pacer who was well up the road by I got up to speed. Maybe being dropped onto the course a bit further ahead of the bot would help along with a better indicator on screen on of how close they are (yes it’s probably on the tower on the right hand side but as you’ve chosen to ride with them something bigger would be helpful). That said, now I know how it works, I know to… Read more »

Vault Boy
Super Member
Vault Boy (@cogentwanderer)
5 months ago

I hope there’s a future update for a “companion bot” to give some assistance or pace relay when completing those long route badges like PRL full

Last edited 5 months ago by Vault Boy
FunkyT
FunkyT
5 months ago
Reply to  Vault Boy

Totally, if you could pick a route and then a pace-bot to go with you, that would be far more useful to me.

Eric
Eric
5 months ago
Reply to  FunkyT

Cant you just make a custom workout at X watts that gets you in that range and do it that way?

I run TR workouts on my other screen sometimes when i am looking to knock out a long badge (9 left) and want to be at X watts.

Vault Boy
Super Member
Vault Boy (@cogentwanderer)
5 months ago
Reply to  Eric

I think workouts give less drop xps and the advantage of drafting means you’ll go faster at the same wattage.

Rob
Rob
5 months ago
Reply to  Vault Boy

i’m all aboard that idea Vault Boy, but this is a good start

Maciej
Maciej
5 months ago

So many challenging climbs on Tempus Fugit route…

Rob valentine
Rob valentine
5 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I think the sarcasm has been missed here

Bobo Brazil
Bobo Brazil
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob valentine

The sarcasm doesn’t work when the person misreads the story. Coco (not Amelia) is riding Tempus Fugit

Jeff Pearson
Jeff Pearson (@misterpearson)
5 months ago

This is so cool. After seeing the group around CoCo Cadence, I assume now we’re in a group and drafting? Do you get a draft if it’s just you and Coco?

yousuf kazmi
yousuf kazmi
5 months ago

Rode 50km with Coco, group quickly coalesced around the bot, flyers not an issue, pace was easy until it wasn’t, in my case I’d earlier completed the 70km “big foot hills” route (badge hunting 🙂 ). I look forward to putting together some 3hr ~120km rides, with the group dynamics to keep it engaging (& tunes, don’t forget the music!).
The Pacer Bot just sets up a simple group ride, doesn’t need to be anything more, there are curated group rides for that.
TL:DR loads of fun!

Eddy Raptor
Eddy Raptor
5 months ago

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I feel pace bots are antithetical to the DNA of the Zwift brand. To me Zwift means I’m always riding with real people. That community is the product for me and a feel this dilutes the brand. I’d much rather see development effort spent on club features and other tools that further empower community.

James
James
5 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

This is exactly why I think this will be a success – there can always be a group ride to join at a chosen pace whenever you want.
Most of us have busy lives and I certainly struggle to plan my day around the schedule of Zwift events. I really hope this works out and can be extended to give us a choice of terrains (flat, hilly & mountainous) within each A/B/C/D category.

Ryan
Ryan
5 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Exactly this Eric. I find between work
and family time, finding a group ride that suits is impossible a lot of the time which is very frustrating.

This seems like a great solution (and something I asked for in the forums!) and I would argue that it actually increase the chance of riding with real people as there is more than likely to always be a group around the bot(s).

Look forward to giving it a try tomorrow and see how it evolves in the future with extra options.

Eleri
Eleri (@eleri)
5 months ago
Reply to  Eddy Raptor

For me it’s more like a blast from the past, before all the ‘real’ people came. I saw one of the bots this morning and they look better than the previous bots who were a bit scary.

Mike
Mike
5 months ago
Reply to  Eleri

You mean that creepy translucent alien blue emotionless matrix agent didn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy;)

I know exactly what you mean about those low-population bots. If you look closely you can see them pretending to be spectators in London and New York City in certain areas….then you get a serious men in black vibe. *quetwilight zone music*

Joe
Joe
5 months ago
Reply to  Eleri

I really miss the blue guys from days long gone so totally looking forward to riding with these!

Andy
Andy
5 months ago
Reply to  Eddy Raptor

Well I love this feature. I don’t think it dilutes the Zwift brand at all. I think it’s strengthened, by giving subscribers more options for training. I spend 90% of my time on Zwift doing personal training plan workouts. I’ll do a free ride on Sunday, and I want to be flexible when I do it, not tied to a group ride. I tried the pacer today and really enjoyed it. A perfectly paced ride.

Rohit Shrestha
Rohit Shrestha
5 months ago

Can we choose a bot while we’re in the Fugit or we have to do it in the beginning of the ride?

Rohit Shrestha
Rohit Shrestha
5 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Great..thats awesome.. I already see, I am going to use it lot… now, it’s good that we don’t have to ride with other unknown riders or hesitant to follow them

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
5 months ago

I like it and look forward to trying it but it doesnt allow for a warm up. You will have to start a ride, warm up, quit, load up another ride and select the bot. Zwift needs to bring in the save ride and not quit option!

jack
jack
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jones

That’s exactly what I was thinking. If I wanted to ribe with aB bot, I would want to warm uo first, but then I would have to exit and start again.

Rob
Rob (@robgrootzwaaftink)
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jones

Exactly! Yesterday I was riding with CoCo for a bit. She was going 2.3 w/kg. Later I read somewhere she was going 3.0 w/kg. So probably she increases speed during the ride?? But warm-up is definately needed. Hopefully the next update will be the new UX (that has been ready for over 6 months… according to earlier reports from Eric)

René Rolighed
5 months ago

With only a few public bots to join, it won’t take long before biggish groups will gather around them giving loads of draft. Doesn’t this totally defeat the purpose of having a ghost rider setting the pace you targeting?

Brad
Brad
5 months ago
Reply to  René Rolighed

I’ve selected Coco and Diesel (after another ride as a cool down). I agree you need a warmup for most first, and not having to completely exit would be a great update. That aside, the biggest benefit I’ve seen is what’s mentioned in the start of the article. Its a great “meetup” spot where folks can “fly off” as a group and fall back when a break is needed. Each ride I’ve done, I’ve joined a flyer group for whatever duration, and then may rejoin. I’d like to see more route options.

Daniel Vystrcil
Daniel Vystrcil
5 months ago

I am so laughing at myself now. I was seeing her messages on my ride today and was thinking her responses were canned and too repetitive. So I tried some friendly banter back, and…. silence.

yea. canned. a bot no less. 😀

Andy
Andy
5 months ago

Maybe that’ll be in the next update – bot AI. Maybe not. 😄

Paul Bestwick
Paul Bestwick
5 months ago

What’s old is new again. The blue bots have evolved… haha… very cool idea.

Farrell
Farrell (@misoyu)
5 months ago

I like the idea, but there should be more bots for CAT D riders. For CAT D riders there is a drastic difference between 1 w/kg (casual ride) and 2.4 w/kg (race pace/climb). I think it is also important to state what course the bot is on. Riders must be in the right mindset for riding climbs versus flats.

Lucas
Lucas (@martin-w-lucas)
5 months ago
Reply to  Farrell

I would love that as an overall change to the “Ride With” list. I quit using it after too many times of dropping in on someone with a high speed or time hoping to mix it up with a random location and ending up in the Volcano. Having a “Selected Route” next to the names would be cool.

Neil Owens
Neil Owens
5 months ago

Does show a limitation with the current zwift setup. Normally you’d like to do a small elm up then join the bit. But once again, as this can only be accessed before starting a ride it lessens its value. Why oh why after all this time can we not dynamically change things in game.

Oliver
Oliver (@oliver-thwaites)
5 months ago

When we checked, only Amelia and Coco were live

I remember reading in the release notes or forum that only two of the four bots will be available at any one time.

John Ehinger
John Ehinger
5 months ago

You can watch the pacer bot like any other Zwifter.

This may make pacer bot drafting a more
efficient means of leveling up than using a TT bike to the extent that allows a higher average speed and thus faster accumulation of XP. But this will likely benefit some Zwifters more than others.

I’m not comfortable with the fact that Coco is not wearing a helmet.

Tony Richardson
Tony Richardson
5 months ago
Reply to  John Ehinger

She doesnt care…

Ron
Ron
5 months ago

So basically there is a bot that is cruise controlling for you. And does that mean it is the most efficient way to ride a course? Not necessarily so. I wonder how much of the bot’s feature will be really effective (other than on Tempus Fugit).

Jeffrey
Jeffrey
5 months ago

I saw a rider like this this morning South Australian time go past me, was wondering how someone could be lit up like that and why they kept chatting out motivational quotes. 😕

Jeffrey
Jeffrey
5 months ago

I saw this rider pass me on my ride I just finished and was wondering how they got lit up like that and why they kept chatting out motivational quotes. Now it makes sense.

Alexander
Alexander
5 months ago

Rode with Amelia for a bit but there wasn’t a real group of other riders around. Most people jumped on and dropped off pretty quickly again.

Not totally sure what the benefit would be for me personally, I usually just do workouts anyway except for group rides or races. But I guess if you want to go relatively fast in free ride mode while always being able to draft, that might be a viable option.

Joel
Joel
5 months ago

Funny that it as taken this long to have pacing bots. Back in the Beta days they were everywhere!

Jon
Jon (@jonbloomer)
5 months ago

Love this feature, what a great idea! In Aus there aren’t many group rides around my lunch time when I ride so this could be the answer to keep pushing me

Jon Bloomer
Jon Bloomer (@jonbloomer)
5 months ago

Love this idea, not many group rides at lunch time when I ride in Aus so this could be the answer for me

Tony
Tony
5 months ago

FIX THE BUGS

Mick Such
Mick Such
5 months ago

Now that I have finished the badges – less for full PRL 😭….. I normally just ride an unplanned route and make it up as I go.
Now I can have someone else choose for me and I can just sit on their wheels for an hour or two. 😋
It’s a great idea but would welcome at least 2 bits for each level to spread the love around.. Would also be beneficial if the draft was reduced by 50% thus at least making you work harder at times. 😋

Dales Driveway
Dales Driveway
5 months ago

Cool feature. But imagine a world where you don’t have to exit the game to change world or select a different workout. That would be amazing

Brett
Brett (@darrnfool)
5 months ago

I just finished a ride with Coco, I have to say that it was nice riding in a group at almost exactly the pace I wanted. If i waited for a group ride at my pace it would have been 30 minutes after I started my hour ride. Group started with about 30 riders then about 20 of them rode off the front. I think thats probably going to be a standard thing where people start with the bot but then do their own thing. Motivational messages got annoying pretty quickly though.

Hugo
Hugo
5 months ago

Anyone else annoyed by the messages programmed with the bots?? The same 3-4 generic phrases repeated a hundred times, I wasn’t even riding with the bot but completing a workout nearby. Zwift needs to mute the bots to non followers or add diversity to programmed phrases!!

Renato Nardello
Renato Nardello (@renato-nardello)
5 months ago
Reply to  Hugo

Agreed. How difficult can it be to add say 20 or 50 canned phrases rather that just 3 or 4?

Buzz
Buzz (@jimbo_jim007)
5 months ago
Reply to  Hugo

I was doing Titans grove x 2 on a Muir & the Mountain mission and could see the messages from the Tempus bot most of the way. I get what they are trying to do, but makes me wanna turn off my messaging.

Anne Turner
Anne Turner
5 months ago

Really looking forward to trying this out. Especially as it seems to make impromptu groups for those times there isn’t an event ride that hits the spot you want.

Marco NL
Marco NL
5 months ago

Apologies if this has been asked and/or answered before, but does the wkg reference refer to the bot or to the wkg required to stay in the draft? And second, which weight is used for the bot? It would be very useful to know either this, or the approximate absolute wattage required to stay in draft. Ofcourse, otherwise trial and error will sort it out eventually, but it would be nice to have a ballpark estimate.

John Ehinger
John Ehinger
5 months ago
Reply to  Marco NL

The bots maintain an absolute constant wattage. The w/kg is just a measure of their power versus some sort of assumed weight for the bot.

Bob
Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Marco NL

Diesel Dan and Bowie Brevet are 180 pounds / 82 kg

Coco Cadence and Amelia Anquetil are 145 pounds / 65 kg

per the Zwift Forums Pace Partners FAQ [August 2020]

Marco NL
Marco NL
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Thanks, must have missed that info on the forums. It seems a bit odd to use varying weights tho. As it stands, the C-D riders would be below my FTP but might function as tempo-rides. However, due to the additional weight of the B-rider the gap to this pacer bot would be challenging for me at FTP. As an example, B-bot has a range of approx 260-315W, whereas the A-bot is at 260+. These seem to be little different on the flats. Keen on trying these bots when the outdoor season has ended tho.

Anton
Anton
5 months ago

So does this mean that I still have to exit the game and re-enter if I want to select another event,route or just continue a different segment? Hey no worries, I guess that request is way too new, or complex to be available soon.

Skydog
Skydog
5 months ago
Reply to  Anton

I’ve not really dug into the discussions around this feature, but I’d guess there’s issues around how you record rides that are done across different routes, worlds and so on if the avatar is relocated. Is it a continuation of the previous ride or a new ride? If it’s a new ride does that mean saving the previous ride right then, or backgrounding it? If you save it then, I’d guess their save routine is currently written to disconnect from the server once finished, so you either need the option to auto-restart or not lose the connection. This may all… Read more »

Apsilon
Apsilon
5 months ago

Great idea, it’s just a pity that the slower two pacers only do gentle hills. It would be nice to have a D/C-class pacer who could take you up Epic or Alpe rather than just the flats. I’m a D/C rider and I much prefer climbing to flats as I like the workout. I guess Zwift will tweak or include it down the line. Even better though, would be the ability to race against ghosts of your best times around routes or up hills, like in video racing games.

Bob Schraven
Bob Schraven (@b-schraven)
5 months ago
Reply to  Apsilon

Yes, thought of that too, but for the Alp it is difficult as the pacer can be everywhere on the climb. Even already nearly at the top.

Buzz
Buzz (@jimbo_jim007)
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob Schraven

Interesting point Bob. Maybe they could have multiple bots, like a bus route, one every half hour up the Alpe.

Edmond Dantes
Edmond Dantes
5 months ago

I like this. As others have pointed out, it’s not always easy to find rides at a specific pace when you want to ride. I also think it’ll be a good way for some to drop in and get warmed up for things without having to number watch etc. Just join a slower group and get going. I also hope that there’s a bit of chat in the groups, it’s always more fun on group rides if people engage and helps it seem less like a computer game. I think it’ll also be a good way to run club rides… Read more »

Scott Wilcoxen
Scott Wilcoxen (@wilcoxen)
5 months ago

Looks like Diesel Dan and Bowie Brevet are active today in Watopia! I may join Bowie later! I think this is great!

Rosco
Rosco
5 months ago

Good idea and definitely welcomed but would prefer to pace myself against a previous effort.

Francois
Francois
5 months ago

Sigh… why they are just unavailable spot on for European COB hours ? “Spot on” with their maintenance times for about half of their user base then… at least useless for me most of the time as my training usually starts about 1 hour earlier, just after work.

Marcus Haughton
Marcus Haughton (@haughton-marcus)
5 months ago
Reply to  Francois

Exactly, they’re not available from 4.30pm to 6.30pm UK time. Exactly the time when a huge chunk of UK zwifters ride, after work.
They could have been a bit more careful with the maintenance times surely.

Derek
Derek (@dpr4473)
5 months ago

Didn’t they already try this? In the early years of Zwift, those blue ghost riders were everywhere on course. Eventually they where exorcised and vanished from Zwiftland. So now they want to have another crack at?

Bo Oxlund
Super Member
Bo Oxlund (@boxlund)
5 months ago

Did a short 10 minute test ride with Bowie yesterday ( after an Alp 😯 ) and first impressions are pretty good. The idea of being able to drop into a group and just ride is great, and on my short test it was easy to stay with the group and that seemed to be case for everyone in the group.
As other already mentioned, the constant “talking” from the bot doesn’t add anything positive to my experience at the moment, but it could probably be improved, maybe with some AI 😀

MTaylor
MTaylor
5 months ago

Excellent!

Ricardo Parker
Ricardo Parker
5 months ago

Cheating on zwift? On 8/20/20 I was riding mountain 8. Two riders from IndoChina names:R. Turangan ZID and Y. Hermanto had me by 46 seconds going up the mountain. I caught and dropped them both? To my astonishment coming down the mountain both riders are in front of me by 15 minutes????? I have photos to prove this! Y. Hermanto even had a mountain Jersey? WTF?
Thanks for your time.

Ricardo Parker

Buzz
Buzz (@jimbo_jim007)
5 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo Parker

Dude, don’t get worried about cheating on Zwift. Mountain 8 includes the radio tower bonus climb. This takes you an extra 15 minutes. Many, many routes and free rides do the same Epic KOM or reverse, but don’t go up the radio tower bonus climb. You went up the bonus climb and they didn’t. Simple as that.

Jon L
Jon L (@jonleander1)
5 months ago

Someone at Zwift must like HALO cause that’s Cortana in that photo! Cortana it’s Master Chief!!!!

Cathy Williams
Cathy Williams
5 months ago

Very excited about this as I am at the lower end of w/kg and usually end up riding alone! I’m also thrilled that you didn’t give a women’s name to the slowest one. Thank you!

gary king
gary king
5 months ago

These are great , i used Diesel Dan for a gentle warm up then B.Brevit for a 30 minute ride then Diesel Dan for a cool down to test out the concept. Its the first time in ages I’ve managed to be in a B group ride without getting spat out as the pace is over 4w/kg . Whilst i don’t think it will ever replace the well led community rides it may be the death knoll for those which are less well managed. The idea that you can jump on at any time and join a group at a… Read more »

Jim
Jim
5 months ago

Why use w/kg? Depending on your size your w/kg could be fastly different from someone else’s and be going the same speed. Why not use speed?

Buzz
Buzz (@jimbo_jim007)
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim

How do you do speed when the speed could be all over the place depending upon the route?

ROBERT A BYNON
ROBERT A BYNON
5 months ago

The bots are down from 8:30 til 10:30? Arghhhh That’s when i work out.

Rachel Joseph
Rachel Joseph
5 months ago

Great idea! I will try this Is the idea to select a bot for the pace to keep to. This will help me as I am training for endurance but often get carried away at the first half of the ride.

Donna Skrede
Donna Skrede
5 months ago

So I noticed the last bot has a women’s name. I’m a woman and I can’t possibly ride with a woman at 4plus watts. We all know that’s more of a pace for men and only a few women will be riding in that category. My question is…why do women have to be dominating out of our physical context?do we always have to show that we rule??? Men can’t express there opinions because they wouldn’t dare we would have all kinds of names to call a man that would ask why in this case! I have trained my whole life… Read more »

Pete Brown
Pete Brown
5 months ago
Reply to  Donna Skrede

It’s probably political correctness run amok; a reflection of the times. I’m surprised the bot wasn’t named BLM Bonnie. And no, I’m not a racist misogynist pig.

Chris
Chris
5 months ago

Looks like only 2 bots are running each day – does anyone know if Zwift list which are going to be active each day?

Nialler
Nialler
5 months ago

The blue ghost riders are back! Anyone remember them.

Geoff Spinmonkey
Geoff Spinmonkey (@geoffspinmonkey)
5 months ago
Reply to  Nialler

Team Astana

JJ.
JJ.
5 months ago

Excellent! Looking forward to trying out a bot ride. Like a few comments before, having found the time to do a Swift ride and low and behold no suitable ride available then bot is the answer.

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago

Why am I not seeing Pace Partners in the “Join Another Zwifter” section?

Shektel 87
Shektel 87
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

you have to be in Watopia – that might be the reason…

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