Wheel and Frame Performance Scatter Plots for Zwifters

Wheel and Frame Performance Scatter Plots for Zwifters

Our performance test charts for wheels and frames have become a popular tool for Zwift racers, and today we’re releasing another way to view the data: scatter plots.

This style of chart lets you quickly see which wheels and frames are top performers on climbs, flats, or both. Just mouse over a plot point to find out which wheelset or frame it represents.

If you’re looking for the best performers, you want items that are lower on the chart (indicating a faster climb time) and further left (indicating a faster flat test time). This means we have a top performer “inner curve” running from the top-left to the bottom-right of each chart. We’ve enlarged the plot points for these frames and wheels so they’re easy to pick out.

These enlarged points are the fastest wheelsets and frames available, but they are top performers in different ways: those lower on the chart are better climbers and less aero, while those nearer the top are more aero, but slower climbers.


Wheel Performance Scatter Plot

There are three definite “performance bands” visible here, running diagonally from upper-left to lower-right. You have the top performers (the enlarged points, plus those nearby), then a middle band, then a low-performing band which includes a couple of outliers.


Frame Performance Scatter Plot

This chart doesn’t break into easy visual performance bands, but there are three noticeable vertical groupings of frames with the exact same flat performance time (at 3093, 3094, and 3095 seconds). These three groups comprise 22 different frames from the total universe of 50. Our guess is most of these grouped frames share the same CdA value in Zwift, but slightly varying weights.

To keep the chart user-friendly, the three slowest climbers have not been included. Here are their timings:

  • Zwift Buffalo (3091, 3048)
  • Zwift Safety (3096, 2989)
  • Zwift Steel (3100, 2997)

TT Frame Performance Scatter Plot

There are a few clear leaders here, with the ideal choice varying based on terrain.


About the Performance Tests

  • Flat tests run on 2 laps of Tempus Fugit at 300 watts steady with an isolated 75kg rider 183cm tall, using basic Zwift 32mm Carbon wheels.
  • Climb tests run on Alpe du Zwift using 300 watts steady with an isolated 75kg rider 183cm tall, using basic Zwift 32mm Carbon wheels.

Where the Tron?

This is a question we always get when we publish performance charts for wheels and frames. Unfortunately, the Tron bike comes as a unit – the frame and wheels cannot be separated for testing purposes. We could include it on the charts above, but it wouldn’t be very useful, since the charts above aren’t displaying top-performing wheel and frame combinations. Rather, they display top-performing wheels on one chart, and top-performing frames on the other.

The Tron would simply appear as a top-performing outlier on both charts, but that wouldn’t give you a full picture of Tron performance, since we know that combining a top-performing frame+wheelset will give you a setup which is competitive or even faster than the Tron bike. To graph the Tron in a useful way, the other graph points would need to consist of top-performing wheel+frame combinations.

So we’ve done just that. Check out our popular Tron vs Top Performers Scatter Plot!

Questions or Comments?

We’ll be adding these charts to our main chart pages soon. Got questions 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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Herr Dolphus
Herr Dolphus
10 months ago

Please add the Tron bike for comparison ? I know you can’t change frame/wheels but lots of us have earned them !

Daniel Pearson
Daniel Pearson (@dpearson)
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Eric, I love the scatterplot, although it makes me feel foolish for having not used the Venge S Works in the past based on prior percentages charts, lol. It’s a great idea. I think you’ve also included another good idea in your update to this article, which I don’t think originally included the Tron caveat. You state: To graph the Tron in a useful way, the other graph points would need to consist of top-performing wheel+frame combinations. I mean, could you please do that? Even just 5 or 6 popular combos would be so useful, and we could extrapolate from… Read more »

Kyle
Kyle (@kylebredesky)
10 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Pearson

To echo this, absolutely epic idea on the scatterplot, super cool !!! Would love to see the “best combos” graph too though. Would be very interesting and helpful!!

BRB
BRB
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

The comparison is not useless. Pick a couple of the best climbing frames, best flat frames and best all-rounders, then do the same for wheels, and then do the combinations. Why not do, Venge s-works, S5/felt, Tarmac pro, Tarmac SL7, then the zipp 454, zipp 858, zipp Super/858, Enve 3.4, Lightweights. That would be very informative I should think. Far from useless. People only care about comparisons on the frontier – the rest are irrelevant.

BRB
BRB
10 months ago
Reply to  BRB

And DT Swiss. New wheels. Forgot them.

David Rodriguez
David Rodriguez
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I’m sure you have plenty to do, but do you have the data such that you can create a ‘Tron comparison calculator’?

Pulldown 1: Frame
Pulldown 2: Wheels

Results comparison between the above combo & Tron on a few routes (Big climb, flat route, mixed-route)

B B
B B (@benbliz)
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

The question people want to answer is “should I use the Tron or should I use a combination of a good wheel and a good frame?”

Trey Dunnaville
Trey Dunnaville (@trey-dunnaville)
10 months ago

Thank you for building the scatter plot graph. The visualization helps with comparing the frames and wheel sets. I understand that not all frames were not included but would it be possible to add the plot for the Tron bike, unless it was a deliberate decision to not include it?

Max Schemansky
Max Schemansky
10 months ago

Where is the Cervelo S5?

Chris
Chris
10 months ago

Looks good, it’s a shame there are only really two optimal bikes in game, a nice curve between the venge and tarmac would make bike choice more interesting for mixed terrain races. If the SL7 was a bit more aero it would be worth considering

ThT
ThT
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Agree. On terrains with 50% time on flat and 50% time on climb the two bikes perform the same. Higher flat proportion -> venge, higher climb proportion -> tarmac. Apart from that when choosing the Zwift steel bike, the slowest frame on flat terrain, you are on a complete flat terrain only 0.75% slower than the venge, the fastest frame on flat terrain. That is less than the tolerance of your trainer.

Chris
Chris
10 months ago
Reply to  ThT

Yes, remember that these results are distance based when trying to work out which is better, the flat time is over 34km and the climb over 12, so for a 50/50 flat climb it would need to be 34km flat 12km hill, or equivalent.

Mike
Mike
10 months ago

Is there a performance-based reason for using different scales for the x-axis and y-axis? The result is that the frame graph emphasizes differences in flat test time, while the wheel graph emphasizes differences for climb test time. I don’t think this matters if you’re just looking at relative differences in each separate category, but it seems to make it more difficult to evaluate trade-offs between flat speed and climb speed.

ThT
ThT
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike

You are right. The graph is misleading.

Preston
Preston
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike

…if the axis were equal, the graph would be unreadable. If X used 10 second intervals, the plot points would essentially congeal into 2 blobs. If Y used 2 seconds, the graph would be 4 feet tall.

ThT
ThT
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Great! Thanks!

Jacob Braaten
Jacob Braaten
10 months ago

Have you ever done testing to see how rider weight effects the time differences. For instance, say a 60 kg rider, would the time difference in the uphill test between the S-Works Venge and the Tarmac Pro be different due to a greater percentage of overall weight being the bike?

Oliver
Oliver (@oliver-thwaites)
10 months ago

Is the frame chart is missing the Tarmac SL7? It would be at almost the exact same point as the SuperSix Evo.

Chris G
Chris G (@chris-greenway)
10 months ago

Great articles! I’m using the Tron bike at the moment mainly for the novelty of riding a glowing bike… but sounds as if it performs well as an all-rounder. I’m taking on the London PRL Full route this weekend. Should I be changing bikes? (Currently Level 30)

Jessica Hamilton
Jessica Hamilton
10 months ago

In a very early post, you displayed how wheel + frame combinations aren’t just a combination of frame perf + wheel perf. A chart of best 10 wheels + 10 best frames for climb vs flat would also allow adding Tron into the mix.

David
David (@dashton)
10 months ago

“To graph the Tron in a useful way, the other graph points would need to consist of top-performing wheel+frame combinations.“

You should do that then. I’m pretty sure the question most people over a certain level have is “Should I use Tron or xxx for this route” where xxx varies based on hilly, flat or mixed terrain.

O. l'Phart
O. l'Phart
10 months ago

👍👍 👍 a picture (well, graph) paints a thousand words!

Joel
Joel
10 months ago

So if trying to choose between then ZIPP 858 and ENVE 7.8, which have 2 second difference that appear to balance out, for a mixed flat/climbing terrain does this mean that if I plan to attack on the climbs (like most people) I should choose the ENVE 7.8 over the ZIPP 858 as that is where it gives an advantage? For reference I can on a good day maintain about 220 Watts (3.5 W/kg) with 2-3 minute bursts (300-350 W) or 30 second (500-800 W).

Eric Grant
Eric Grant (@ecgspam)
10 months ago

Based on those charts there is really only 3 bikes to consider: Spec. Venge S-works, Spec. Tarmac SL7, and Spec. Tarmac Pro. Then there is 7 wheels that could be considered: Lightweight, DT Swiss 62, ENVE 3.4 and 7.8, Zipp 454, 858, and 858/Super9. While it’s impractical for you to test all wheels and bikes against the Tron, could you test those 3 bikes with those 7 wheels and then compare it to the Tron bike? That would be 22 test, make it 44 with both flat and climb. If you needed to reduce by 12 test, you could probably… Read more »

Chris
Chris
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Grant

The SL7 isn’t even worth it, if you have access to the venge and the tarmac, it would need to do a flat time of 3084 or so to be worth considering for mixed terrain. Wheel choice is more tricky on different courses.

Daniel Pearson
Daniel Pearson (@dpearson)
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

You’re the man Eric! Giving the people what they need!!!!!

But seriously, I recognize this is a lot of work. Before you post, you should start a patreon or some similar platform and charge people for the data (with future premuim stuff for subscribers). I’m super serious. You obviously have to be making something from this website, but whatever it is, it isn’t enough for all the time you put in and the value you add to Zwift. I’ll pay, and I bet a lot of others would too.

Buzz
Buzz (@jimbo_jim007)
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Eric, you are awesome! I don’t mean to add to the load, but I think there is a way perhaps to generalise the average climbing of a route (total climb/total distance as a %age) then which frames and which wheels work best. It would be crazy to calculate it, but say a hilly route can be 2% average over 40km, a flat less than 1%, a mountain 5% plus. This would help figure out which bike and wheels for a certain route. Like, how hilly is hilly enough not to use 808s? How mountainous does it have to be to… Read more »

Dan Connelly
Dan Connelly
10 months ago

This is fantastic work! The way I think about it is for each given event, there’s some tradeoff between how much flat performance you’re willing to give up for climbing performance, a form of “load line analysis” in engineering. For Tempus, that is a vertical line: all you care about is flat performance. So shift that line from left to right until it intersects a dot, then that is the best choice. For L’Alpe or VenTop, the line would be horizontal, so you’d shift the line up from the bottom until you hit a dot, and that’s the best choice.… Read more »

Dan Connelly
Dan Connelly
10 months ago
Reply to  Dan Connelly

I created a plot from Eric’s data, showing best wheels under different scenarios. I labeled the wheels with their level requirements. The axes are the relative time increase for each wheel relative to best case. A 45 degree line on this plot is for a course like Bologna ITT where climbing and flat speed are equally important. For different situations, flat speed or climbing speed may have different importance. Most wheels are never the best choice for any course, For a few selected wheels, they may be the fastest option depending on whether climbing or flat speed are more important.… Read more »

ZwiftInsiderSpeedTests_wheelPlot.png
samcooke
samcooke (@samcooke)
10 months ago

It would be interesting to add data for DESCENDING as when you look at the stacked graph data (ie. climbing and flat) it is missing the downhill, which would favour the aero bikes/wheels obviously. Even a route with 25% climbing will have 25% descending, and I would assume that the aero benefits would increase even more than on the flats!

Kevin Day
Kevin Day
10 months ago

Love this. Really shocked that the buffalo is only 155 seconds slower than the Tarmac…

Rob
Rob (@robgrootzwaaftink)
10 months ago

Great work! Makes it more visual this way. But when in a race (with draft) would bike choice really matter? I think -when there is a climb- a lighter setup would be best, since a climb is usually the place where draft matters the least? Or am I thinking wrong?

Ron Buch
Ron Buch (@ronbuch)
10 months ago

Fantastic post, Eric!

Terence J
Terence J
10 months ago

Thanks for this, makes it much easier!

Keith
Keith
10 months ago

Eric, best visualization method yet! Any plans to make a chart for time trial bikes?

Keith
Keith
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Thanks!

M. Owen
M. Owen
10 months ago

I’d love to see a chart of recommended bike per course – as some bikes favour flats/climbs – it’d be good to see at what point the bikes change the performance. ie – I use my Tarmac Pro for everything because of ANY climb, whether that’s Epic KOM or Petit KOM, but would I be better off with a ‘flat-course’ bike on certain stages?

Hugh Fry
Hugh Fry
10 months ago

Amazing resource! Thanks for creating it!

Just wanted to check, the P5x time trial bike? couldn’t find it. From memory it should be with the Felt IA?

Chris Ovenden
Chris Ovenden (@cdovenden)
10 months ago

Thanks, Eric. Amazing resource and super useful. What I keep coming back to is: what is the interplay between aero and lightweight on hills of differing gradient (and courses with ups and downs)? What all this data definitively tells us is that the Venge S-Works is the fastest bike on a totally flat course, and the Tarmac Pro is the fastest on a hill of 10% gradient. But what about say a 5% gradient hill? How does the aero benefit of a slightly heavier but more aero bike than the Tarmac Pro affect things there. Put another way, take the… Read more »

Mac Weelz
Mac Weelz (@wongsol)
9 months ago

This post and the Tron vs. Top Performers scatter plot post represent an enormous amount of work. Thank you, Eric! They’re my most often referred-to posts!

Chris
Chris
7 months ago

Hi Eric, the Aeroad hasnt been updated on this chart

Maciej
Maciej
7 months ago

> This means we have a top performer “inner curve” running from the top-left to the bottom-right of each chart. 

Guess this should say “running from the bottom-left to the top-right of each chart.” ?

Randy Bailey
Randy Bailey
6 months ago

Eric, I notice that the Canyon Aeroad shows as the best climbing frame in this document rather that the Tarmac Pro. Is this accurate and an update or is it an error? ThankS!

Mark
Mark
5 months ago

I think the Aeroad needs updating in these charts.

Mike Tighe
Mike Tighe (@mbdtighe)
4 months ago

Is this suggesting that the Felt IA would be the fastest frame for a sprint also? Its flat time is 2984 vs 3025 for the Venge S-Works.

Tony Lane
Tony Lane
3 months ago

This is incredibly useful, so thank you for putting this together. To illustrate how this format really aids understanding – I am still on the Zwift Carbon and am 120k drops away from getting the Aeroad. I am entering my first race in a few days on a flat course. Based on the ranking charts I was wondering if it was worth spending drops to get the Evo or Tarmac Pro (on the basis that i would want one of them eventually for big climbs, and they are at least better on the flat than the Zwift Carbon). The ranking… Read more »

Chan Stevens
Chan Stevens (@chanstevens)
1 month ago

FWIW, the OTHER page that includes Tron I’m plot is no longer displaying the scatter plot, nor comments (or accepting them).

*.Courtney
*.Courtney
12 days ago

These charts are super useful. Thank you so much for all the work and exposing the numbers. That said, I can’t see the road frame chart at the moment.

Thomas
Thomas
12 days ago
Reply to  *.Courtney

Yes I miss the road frame chart too since last month. Would be super helpful to get it back with the new frames included👏

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