Last week’s Zwift update included an unexpected change affecting racers: Zwift has “rebalanced” most of their powerups, modifying them in various ways to make them more “meaningful” and “useful strategically.“
As of early Friday afternoon (May 5), Zwift HQ says the rebalanced powerups are live for everyone.
Let’s dig into what changed, and how these changes will affect the race experience.
Draftier Draft Trucks
“Increased duration from 30 to 40 seconds and the draft effect will be stronger.”
This seems like a sensible change, since the Draft Truck feels “weakened” with the recent rollout of Pack Dynamics 4 (PD4) and its increased draft effect.
This change should make the Draft Truck’s effect more noticeable, providing more respite when riding in the pack or sitting on a wheel in the breakaway.
Reminder: the draft truck only boosts whatever draft you’re receiving, so if you’re in the wind at the front of a group or riding solo, this powerup has no effect.
“Increased duration from 15 to 30 seconds.”
Doubling its duration doubles its effectiveness, making the Feather a much more potent tool when attacking (or just trying to survive!) on climbs.
“Reduced duration to 15 seconds. Changed the weight addition to be a percentage of rider weight instead of a fixed 50kg in an effort to make it more useful for all riders, with an emphasis on lighter riders. The percentage of weight is not fixed, and is instead derived from a formula that will make it unique to every rider while still providing a useful benefit for riders of all weights.”
This is one of the more complex changes in Zwift’s powerup rebalancing act, but it is a smart change as well. Lighter riders have consistently complained that the old Anvil (which simply added 50kg to your weight) gave too much advantage to heavier riders who already have an advantage on descents.
(This is analogous to how heavier riders complained that the Feather gave too much advantage to lighter riders – before the Feather was modified in 2020.)
The new Anvil adds a percentage of your body weight on descents, but that percentage increases significantly as riders get lighter. We ran a few tests to accurately chart this sliding scale for you, dear reader. Here are the results…
New Anvil Powerup Test Results
If you crunch the numbers in the chart a bit, you can see that a 50kg rider will get a 40kg Anvil (80% of their weight), while a 100kg rider will get a 22.6kg Anvil (22.6% of their weight).
The previous Anvil weighed 50kg regardless of rider weight, and lasted for 30 seconds. Clearly these rebalanced Anvils will be much less powerful than the previous Anvils, since they last half as long and are much lighter!
But perhaps talking about how “powerful” the Anvil is overall is the wrong approach. The better question: how does the new Anvil affect descent speeds for riders of varying weights?
It’s hard to say exactly, but on our Alpe du Zwift descent tests we estimated that 1kg of additional weight made you 1 second faster over the ~10-minute descent. Converting that to speed and using our numbers above, we can see that with the old Anvil (or no Anvil at all), the 40kg rider would have been 6.7kph slower than the 100kg rider on a descent of Alpe du Zwift. With the new Anvil, the 40kg rider is now only 3.7kph slower.
So heavier riders still have an advantage on descents, but the new Anvil reduces that advantage.
¡Adios, Suicidal Burrito!
“Increased duration from 10 to 20 seconds. Changed the behavior to only remove drafting from riders in a cone behind the rider instead of in a radius. The rider using the Burrito will still be able to draft other riders in front of them.”
The Burrito was, arguably, the powerup that most urgently needed “fixing”. After we documented how it really worked back in February, racers began pulling out pitchforks whenever they saw others using the Burrito, because it was clearly being used in ignorance much of the time. We even memed the Burrito’s uselessness as recently as last week…
Zwift’s change this week makes the Burrito work exactly as it should. No longer does it take away the draft you are receiving, and no longer does it take away the draft of riders just ahead of you, which could cause them to be gapped (and thus, you to be gapped as well). It still helps you try for the solo breakaway, without making the peloton a miserable place.
Here’s a graphic showing how the old Burrito functioned vs the new Burrito. (Note that this is for illustrative purposes only – the Burrito’s “effectiveness window” is not precisely sized.)
It’s worth noting that the Burrito’s duration has been doubled, meaning this is a very punishing powerup if you cannot move yourself out of the draftless window!
Restricted But Longer Ghosts
“Increased duration from 10 to 15 seconds. It is no longer possible to use this PowerUp when the rider is less than 400m from the finish line.”
The ghost and its invisibility/cloaking power always had a lot of potential. The problem was, it was so short-lived it was hard to use effectively in a race.
Zwift’s change makes the ghost last a bit longer, so you can get a bigger gap on the group you’re attacking. And because it lasts longer Zwift, had to change its finish line restriction from 200m to 400m. (This ensures you don’t cross the line thinking you’re first, when someone with a ghost invisibly beat you.)
No Changes to Aero Helmet and Steamroller
Neither of these powerups were changed in this rebalancing.
No XP Bonus Powerups in Races
“Removed from all competitive events by default. Event Organizers can still have XP PowerUps appear in their event by request.”
This is a welcome change, because few things in Zwift racing are as annoying as receiving a tiny XP bonus instead of a useful powerup in a race!
For more details on these rebalanced powerups, including an FAQ, see this forum topic. You can also share feedback on powerups with Zwift staffers on that thread.
Questions or Comments?
What do you think of the rebalanced powerups? Share below!
Great writeup. Thanks
Am I reading this correctly…when there are powerups enabled in races you will now always get a powerup? No more ‘nothing’ passes through a banner?
So excited for this change.
Correct. The nothing passes were XP bonuses, and those are now disabled by default in races.
HOORAY! Wait, now what do I blame??
Getting the wrong power up clearly. 🙂
The Burrito is still going to cause havoc, and anger, in the peloton.
But at least now you get a bit of benefit from it as you earn the anger. I remember one of the Zmonthly series races at the Glascow Crit Course repeatedly posting during the race that the Burrito hurt the person doing it as much as it hurt everyone around them and we should all just discard it (Burrito was the only power up and you got it 3x per lap with that since removed hidden power up location). Don’t know whether the other people riding with me thought I was trying to trick them or just didn’t care, but… Read more »
they should change the burrito icon to be a (red circle with mad face) i dont actually mind the burrito – i normally used it around people i think are pushing or going to attack. now its only behind :/ maybe have to rethink it.
Chris had a really good idea in the comments for the Update post. Make the Burrito such that it ONLY disables drafting of the rider who deploys it.
Currently the Burrito disables ALL drafting in a cone behind the deploying rider. Change it so the the Burrito disables ONLY drafting the deploying rider. Then, if deployed in a pack, the Burrito would have negligible effect since riders in the cone would still receive draft from all the other riders around.
If deployed as a rider attempts to break away (as is the intended use) then it would be effective.
That’s how the burrito originally worked, years ago. Problem is, that makes it useless 99% of the time.
In its current implementation it’s misused 99.99% of the time.
It should only be used to create a break away. Otherwise all it does is piss-off the rest of the peloton.
But now it can be used strategically to create splits. That’s what I *thought* I was doing on that Glasgow crit race. That is, I’d sit near the back of the lead pack, then fire a burrito either on the kicker, or on the downhill on the other side. I didn’t realize I was killing my own draft ability (and wondered why I had to put power down to stay with the group on the downhill). Anyway, the point was to make the guys who were sitting in and benefiting the most from the draft for most of the lap… Read more »
…implying it’s not useless 99% of the time already
Does the 250 XP still exist? Long time no see for me.
Yes, but it’s rare to get it.
So..why aren’t feathers the inverse of anvils? would that not make them fairer as well.
An anvil is usually useful after a climb. The anvil was benefiting lighter riders more than heavier riders by giving a fixed weight and now even makes it worse, as heavier riders will have more trouble getting back after they get gapped on the climb. It seems fair to give heavier riders a more useful feather as a balance. Especially since heavier riders tend to be taller and therefore also affected by the seemingly unfair CdA calculation.
Eric, what are your thoughts on whether the powerups (across the board) are more balanced now or not? Anything you’d tweak? Or are you in the wait and see camp?
id like to see ghost time increased a bit more; maybe at minimum 20 sec – possibly 30, and prevent ghost from being used in the last 1.6KM or last 1 mile. its rare to see people using ghost to actually get away, because its not enough time
I’d agree. Since you need a couple of seconds’ gap to not have anyone be able to draft you at least 20 seconds would be great. Still, it would work best on a course with tight corners and short sight-lines. Something like the Glasgow crit course. No point in using it if you’re going to pop up into view straight in front of the pack with a tiny gap (other than for FAL points).
Kudos Zwift – hitting on all cylinders with these changes
Well done ZHQ … most changes make sense … BUT PLEASE change the BURRITO : it should only have impact to the riders behind you if you are at front in the wind AND NOT mid-pack !!! … and 20s are too long !
The steamroller should be decreased to 15-20s like anvil … think about 30s at Dirty Sorpressa or Temple KOM !!!
I saw a theory that the burrito only removes the draft that YOU are providing, not the draft that other riders are providing – so if you are at the front it does allow you to break away, but if you are mid-pack then the people behind you will be sitting in the draft of lots of other riders as well and so will only be affected to a marginal extent. Maybe Eric can confirm whether this is the case or is mis-information.
That’s misinformation. That IS how the burrito worked a long time ago, but it basically just meant the powerup was useless in the pack, so Zwift changed it.
Thanks Eric! Not sure what we’d do without you!
I think upping the burrito to 30s but turning it back to the old way (only effect is that no one can draft off you) and increasing the ghost to 20s would be perfect. Similar effects, both not useful if you’re just riding in the pack and only really helpful when you’re attacking, but ghost has the surprise factor while the burrito allows people to see you making your move so it should be longer.
Re the draft truck – I saw a post the other day which said that there is a maximum amount of draft available and so if you are sitting mid-pack then the truck adds nothing (or little) as you are already getting maximum draft. If this is true, the best time to use it is when sitting 4th/5th wheel. Is this correct?
Not totally sure, but I doubt the “maximum draft” idea. I think it’ll give you an advantage now matter which draft you use it in.
Heavier riders are at a massive disadvantage on hills. For longer because uphill is slower than downhill. Anvils and feathers should be equalised as heavy riders have struggledup the hill to then have an advantage downhill. Anvils now equalise the downhill a lot more but feathers dont do that uphill so wheres the justice for the heavies? Light riders moaning about downhills are as cringey as us heavies whinging about hills.
Imo Power ups should all be positive for the user rather than a negative for others. How about better visuals as power ups like hilighting riders in red who are close to ftp or max hr?
Given that Zwift seem to have deliberately chosen to ignore changing the “Breakaway” Burrito in the only sensible or workable way which would promote its use for actual Breakaway attempts (I.e. make its effects only activate if the user does NOT have anyone within 5m ahead of them) then they really should bin it permanently as it is only going to cause even more anger in Zwift riders and is just such an anti cycling, anti joy, anti fun item now! Better to replace it with a completely new Power Up, which does NOT let the user directly affect other… Read more »
I understand the sentiment here…but I also kinda like the “Mario Kart” idea. It’s like leaving a banana peel for someone who’s just sitting in and not contributing 🙂
These are all fantastic changes! Well done, Zwift! Now the question is…what took so long? 😉