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!
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:
- August 2020: Cycling Pace Partners go live as a “minimum viable product” (MVP) version
- September 2020: Drops Multiplier game launched for Cycling Pace Partners. UI tweaks to help you join and stay with the Pace Partners (read more).
- October 2020: Beacon added over Pace Partners for easier visibility, and warnings shown to help you make the right turn to stay with the Pace Partner (read more).
- December 2020: Run Pace Partners go live
- January 2021: Pace Partner UI tweaks made to help you stay close
- February 2021: Drops Multiplier game tweaks make it easier to get those Drops. Lower-level Zwifters can now follow Pace Partners into level-locked areas of Watopia. Read more >
- March 2021: route rotation announced for cycling Pace Partners
- April 2021: Zwift tests non-drafting Pace Partners… but not for long!
- September 2021: Zwift moves Pace Partners server side, making things more stable and paving the way for much more powerful features.
- November 2021: Pace Partners launch in Makuri Islands, marking the first time the bots have appeared anywhere other than Watopia. A sign of things to come?
Meet Your Pacers
Cycling Pace Partners
- Yellow avatar
- Weighs 82kg
- Rides at 125w (1.5 w/kg)
- Green avatar
- Weighs 80kg
- Rides at 265W (3.3 w/kg)
- Blue avatar
- Weighs 65kg
- Rides at 165W (2.5 w/kg)
- Red avatar
- Weighs 65kg
- Rides at 274W (4.2 w/kg)
Running Pace Partners
- Yellow avatar
- Runs at 8kph/5mph (7:30/km, 12:04/mi)
- Green avatar
- Runs at 11.9kph/7.4mph (5:03/km, 8:07/mi)
- Blue avatar
- Runs at 9kph/5.6mph (6:40/km, 10:44/mi)
- 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 or Makuri Islands as your world (Pace Partners are only active on these two maps) 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, then x2.0, then 2.5.
After 5 minutes at 2.5, 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.
In March of 2021, the riding Pace Partners began rotating routes on a weekly schedule:
|Pace Partner||Route Set 1||Route Set 2||Route Set 3|
|A. Anquetil||Road to Ruins||Dust In the Wind||Big Foot Hills|
|B. Brevet||Sand and Sequoias||Figure 8||Out and Back Again|
|C. Cadence||Tempus Fugit||Tick Tock||Sand and Sequoias|
|D. Diesel||Flat Route||Volcano Flat||Watopia’s Waistband|
The Pace Partner’s current route is visible on the Pace Partner selection screen.
- 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…
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?”
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?