All About Pace Partners Bots in Zwift

All About Pace Partners Bots in Zwift

Since their release in late August 2020, Pace Partners have become a popular feature on Zwift, providing always-on group rides/runs at a consistent pace.

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

Pace Partners are bots, not real people. They ride at a consistent pace on a particular route, and you can easily join them if you’re looking to ride with others.

This page contains everything we know about Pace Partners. Let’s dive in!

Development Timeline

Pace Partners are still part of the FutureWorks program at Zwift, which means they are still in development. The Pace Partner feature was expanded to include the Drops Multiplier game in October 2020, rolled out to runners in December 2020, and it has been steadily tweaked in each month’s updates to further improve the user experience. Here’s a timeline of their evolution:

Meet Your Pacers

Cycling Pace Partners

D. Diesel

  • Yellow avatar
  • Weighs 82kg
  • Rides at 125w (1.5 w/kg)

B. Brevet

  • Green avatar
  • Weighs 82kg
  • Rides at 265W (3.2 w/kg)

C. Cadence

  • Blue avatar
  • Weighs 65kg
  • Rides at 165W (2.5 w/kg)

A. Anquetil

  • Red avatar
  • Weighs 65kg
  • Rides at 274W (4.2 w/kg)

Running Pace Partners

Dax Diesel

  • Yellow avatar
  • Runs at 8kph/5mph (7:30/km, 12:04/mi)

Billie Benoit

  • Green avatar
  • Runs at 11.9kph/7.4mph (5:03/km, 8:07/mi)

Cara Cadence

  • Blue avatar
  • Runs at 9kph/5.6mph (6:40/km, 10:44/mi)

Alton Able

  • Red avatar
  • Runs at 14kph/8.7mph (4:17/km, 6:54/mi)

Uses for Pace Partners

Zwifters use Pace Partners for a variety of reasons:

  • Warmups and Cooldowns: getting ready for a race or tough group ride? Get your legs spinning with a pack of friends. It’s more fun than dropping into a map alone, and it helps get you into that group ride mode.
  • Group practice: still learning how to stay in the draft and ride efficiently on Zwift? Pace Partner packs are the perfect place to practice. Move around in the group, noting how it gets harder or easier depending on if you’re off the front, tailgunning on the back, or sitting somewhere mid-pack.
  • Steady training or long distance: looking for a steady effort? You always know what the Pace Partners will be doing.
  • Intervals: interval training with a Pace Partner group is more fun than doing it alone. Try riding off the front for X minutes, or dropping off the back then sprinting on.
  • Fitness Testing: want to push yourself? Choose a Pace Partner that rides above your race pace, and see how long you can hang on. Then come back and do it again!

Joining a Pace Partner

Although you can always ride or run with a pace partner you encounter in-game, the easiest way to hang with them is to join them from the Home Screen. Select Watopia as your world (Pace Partners are only active on Watopia) and if Pace Partners are currently active you’ll see a “Pace Partners” bar under Join Another Zwifter.

Click that, and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can select which Pace Partner you’d like to join:

Then just click “Run/Ride with X” from the Home Screen to be taken into the game and placed near the Pace Partner. The game will give you a little burst of speed to make sure you don’t get dropped right away, but it’s best to be pedaling/running before you’re dropped in the world, so you’re already up to speed!

Drops Multiplier Game

The Drops Multiplier game was created to encourage riders to stay close to the Pace Partners. It provides a bit of a challenge to help us engage and learn how to manage our position in the virtual peloton – a useful skill for races and group rides. And of course, we all like more Drops, so we can fill our virtual garages with more bikes and wheels!

The big idea here is: stay close enough to the Pace Partner and your Drops Multiplier will increase. It takes 5 minutes to fill each stage, so after 5 minutes of riding close enough to a Pace Partner your multiplier will go from x1.0 to x1.2 (this means you’re earning Drops 20% faster than before.) 5 more minutes and it will go to x1.4, then x1.6, then x1.8, until you hit 2.0.

After 5 minutes at 2.0, the bar will begin to count back down until it resets you back to x1.0.

(Note that the Drops Multiplier game could be tweaked by Zwift at any time, so times and multipliers may vary from what is written above.)

If you get too far away from your Pace Partner, warning messages will come up, telling you to get closer. If you remain too far long enough, your Drops Multiplier game will be reset to x1.0.

Ride On Thumbderstorm

If you’re looking to get a lot of Ride Ons, there’s no better place in Zwift than a big Pace Partner group. Not only do the Pace Partners hand out Rides Ons regularly, but riders in the groups do it as well! Many Zwifters have received their “Bigger Than Jensie” badge (100 Ride Ons) simply by hanging with C. Cadence long enough.

Route Rotation

In March of 2021, the riding Pace Partners began rotating routes on a weekly schedule:

Pace PartnerRoute Set 1Route Set 2Route Set 3
A. AnquetilRoad to RuinsDust In the WindBig Foot Hills
B. BrevetSand and SequoiasFigure 8Out and Back Again
C. CadenceTempus FugitTick TockSand and Sequoias
D. DieselFlat RouteVolcano FlatWatopia’s Waistband

The Pace Partner’s current route is visible on the Pace Partner selection screen.

Notes:

  • Each Pace Partner’s routes have a similar elevation-to-distance ratio as their original routes (except C. Cadence, whose new routes are a bit more climby than her original pan-flat Tempus Fugit route)
  • Route changes will occur on Monday mornings between 4-5am UTC. Use this handy site to convert to your local time zone

What’s Next for Pace Partners?

Roll Your Own

This is what Zwifters have been requesting for a long time (the Personal Best Bot feature request has 660 upvotes on the forum, and was one of the earliest feature requests made.) What if you could choose to ride with a bot that was simply “replaying” your effort from an earlier ride? Or perhaps start up a personal bot that rides whichever route you choose, at the pace you select?

Change of Pace

Right now, each bot rides and runs at the same pace, never changing wattage (for riders) or speed (for runners).

In talking with ZwiftHQ, it’s clear the team is considering some sort of intelligent pace-changing in future versions of Pace Partners. The most logical approach would be to bump up wattage on climbs, and drop it a bit on descents. This would make the group pace feel a bit more natural.

But there’s much more that could be done with pace changing! For example: what if some pace bots did interval efforts, either randomized or in set times? Randomized intervals would be excellent for race training. Bots could even use messaging to warn of pace changes: “Going to ramp it up to 250 watts for 5 minutes. Here we go!”

Speaking of messaging…

Smart Messaging

Bots currently cycle through a list of pre-programmed messages, which Zwifters enjoy poking fun at (what exactly is “hard yakka” and is “wanging the anchors” a bad thing?)

What if the bots could speak more intelligently?

  • Calling out to the nearby rider with the most distance on their ride: “Amazing work, Michael Knudsen. 255km and counting!”
  • Welcoming random riders as they drop in: “Nice to see you here, Simon Schofield. Let’s ride!”
  • Congratulating group rider’s on recent efforts: “Everybody welcome Matt Gardiner. He got 1st place in a race today!”
  • Mentioning when the group is especially big, small, or fast: “Wow, 150 riders in the pack right now. That’s a lot of hard yakka!”
  • Encouraging riders to chat: “What’s the toughest ride you’ve ever done on Zwift?”

More Options

This is related to the personal pacer bot idea above – it would be nice if there were more pace options. Some riders find that (for example) D. Diesel is too slow, but C. Cadence is too fast.

Of course, Zwift has to be careful not to have too many Pace Partners going. This could further dilute community-led group rides, and Pace Partner packs might get so small that you’d lose the group ride feel.

Providing Feedback to Zwift

As with all FutureWorks features, Zwift releases them so the community can test and provide feedback. This can be done via the in-game survey which pops up if you chose to ride/run with a Pace Partner. It can also be done via 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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milhouse
milhouse
1 month ago

Thanks for the great summary Eric. My personal wish is that the pacebots were all the same weight, to even out the changes in effort required to ride with each pacebot. At 68kg I’ve found it takes a massive jump in effort riding with Brevet compared to Cadence, yet not much difference riding with Anquetil compared to Brevet. I guess riders heavier than me might encounter the opposite problem – barely any change in effort going from C to B, yet a massive leap from B to A. It’ll be interesting to see how riding with them plays out on… Read more »

Peter Higgins
Peter Higgins
1 month ago

Would like to see 2 improvements: 1. Add a pacer between Dan and Cara, and 2. Enable the Up/Down buttons in Zwift Companion during a Pace Partner ride. Use these to jump up a level (B to A) when you are feeling strong or down a level (B to C) when you are toast. You could even warm up with Dan, then jump up a level to riding with Cara when ready.

Rob GZ
Rob GZ (@robgrootzwaaftink)
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Higgins

That’s a great idea Peter! I would definitely like that. Both suggestions. Right now when I want to ride around 2 w/kg, I choose the MTB or TT bike and select D. Diesel

Mike
Mike
1 month ago

As someone that is retired and enjoys riding lots of zone 2 miles, I really love the bots, especially Cadence. Two or three times a week I select the route she is on (but not join from the beginning) and ride very low zone 2 until her group catches up to me. That usually takes 30-45 mins. By then I’m ready to hold her pace. I then join the group for 2-3 rotations through the multiplier and then I’m ready to back off a bit and am ready for a nature break. I jump off the bike for a few… Read more »

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

Thumberstorm(tm)

Evan
Evan
1 month ago

I think one bot should always be doing Tempus Fugit, preferably D. Diesel or A. Anquetil. This would make for a good warmup/cooldown, or a longer effort with a harder wattage. I always get dropped by A. Anquetil when I ride with her, and it would be easier on a flatter route to stay with the bot.

Evan
Evan
1 month ago
Reply to  Evan

It would also be nice if a bot like C. Cadence or B. Brevet did Road to Sky or Mountain 8 for some hills. Not too fast, not too slow

Matt Ladd
Matt Ladd
1 month ago

I would like to be able to select a pace bot for a climbing route like the Alpe. This would be a great way to help push oneself for a faster time on the climb.

WesFree
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Ladd

You don’t need a pace bot to accomplish this! Go into workout mode, and select (or create) a workout with intervals at a power level just above your best climb metrics. You’ll be paced on-screen by your Heads-Up-Display, and you’ll not be affected artificially by the game physics associated with the ‘bot. Also, note that the turn-by-turn timings (“sector timings) at the left when on the Alpe will report to you your 30 day PR for each segment, so that you know how you’re doing in comparison to your best recent ride!

Alpe sector stats.jpg
Dan
Dan
1 month ago

I’ve yet to work out whether A) You can draft behind a bot and B) Whether a bot gets draft from the group? Anyone? Bueller? Also despite them holding a steady W/kg their pace, even on the flat, seems very inconsistent. For example riding with Cara, occasionally she surges to the front of the pack without warning, or she suddenly seems to slow down and you need to massively ease off the wattage to keep her close. Maybe this is more reflective of the peloton dynamics though rather than the bot itself?

Evan
Evan
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

You can draft off a bot, I believe, and vice versa. With all the bots, they hold a steady w/kg, no matter flat, descent, or hill.

andre nascimento
andre nascimento
1 month ago

Coco should be identifield with another color, everyone in the pack are a blue dot and sometimes is hard to find her.

Mick Mills
Mick Mills
1 month ago

Also, Coco is the same colour as the Ride On thumbs, so can be hard to make out on-screen when there is a ‘thumberstorm’

Alan S
Alan S
1 month ago

It would be nice if there was an additional pace partner whose watts were between 1.5 and 2.5. Also, the watts could change daily between say 1.8 and 2.2 either randomly or on a schedule.

WesFree
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan S

You already have that option! You’ve had it all along! Want to ride at about 2.0W/kg? Before selecting the D category Pace Partner, change your bike to a Time Trial (TT) or Gravel bike. The game “physics” will be altered in such a way as to force you to push about 2.0W/kg when cycling with Dan. You can also experiment with different gradient biases (so-called “trainer difficulty” settings), so smooth out your experience when there are terrain changes… Cheers,

ROLAND MAATOUK
ROLAND MAATOUK
28 days ago
Reply to  WesFree

Will it show your pushing a higher wattage if you choose the MTB/TT Bikes?

Marcin
Marcin
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan S

I love the idea. There is definitely something missing between 1.5 and 2.5. Keeping 1.5 and 2.5 as they are and adding another one at 1.8/2.2 (every other day) would be a great addition to Zwift.

Steve Osborn
Steve Osborn
1 month ago

I’d like to see a cycling BOT between C and D. C is at 90% of my FTP, so I am not going to last long there. But D doesn’t do much for me.

Anthony
Anthony
1 month ago

‘Hard Yakka’ is Aussie slang for something that is hard work.

Joel
Joel
1 month ago

I joined Dan today and he was riding on the reverse hilly route rather than the Waistband as he was scheduled to do. A bit of a whoopsie there from Zwift. It’s great to have the rotation of routes though – certainly a welcome addition.

WesFree
1 month ago

Yes to the idea of intervals and other training variations, especially if they could be accomplished around a particular category. Right now, E group workouts play such havoc with the in-game metrics as to be un-usable. If I could train with a PP in my own category, and not be affected by other riders, fantastic. However, as to your other idea: “The most logical approach would be to bump up wattage on climbs, and drop it a bit on descents. This would make the group pace feel a bit more natural.” I say thumbs down. The consistent power output of… Read more »

2021-03-09_20503711.jpg
Ryan Walsh
Ryan Walsh
1 month ago

I’m interested in pacers that follow workouts – like the intervals mentioned in the article.
I’d also like to see workouts that are based on cadence, speed and heartrate as well as watts.
Can you reset your critical power curve to track only the last 30 / 60 / 90 days instead of all time?

WKW
WKW
1 month ago

I’m confused, CC was not on any of these stated routes today??

Peter Higgins
Peter Higgins
23 days ago

Hi Eric, A topic for a future column might be how to train up from one PP to the next. The gaps feel big, but you can vary your degree of difficulty (w/kg required) by: riding just barely at the front (in the wind), but still in the drops multiplier zone ride with a TT bike (no draft) ride with PP with a gravel bike ride with PP with a MTB I don’t know if you can do testing to figure out the approximate w/kg penalty for each of these, and what order they should be in, but that would… Read more »

Wesley Freeburg
14 days ago

Pace Partner (Cadence) is now travelling a faster average speeds than previously…

Wesley Freeburg
14 days ago

Here’s an example. This coincides with PP updates and other unannounced changes to the algorithms…

Pace Partner Cadence speed 05-04-21.JPG
Kurt
Kurt
12 days ago

No, she is slower.
A few months ago on tempus , I had always an average speed more than 40kmh.
Now the last 2 rides on tick tock only 39.5 avg.

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