All About Zwift’s Specialized Aethos S-Works Frame

All About Zwift’s Specialized Aethos S-Works Frame

Zwift’s newest update includes a new bike frame: the S-Works Aethos from Specialized.

This bike created quite a stir in the roadie community when it was announced in late 2020, but not for the usual reasons. It isn’t flashy, and doesn’t look radical. Actually, it looks like… a road bike. And that’s exactly what Specialized was going for. A bike made for riding, not racing. One that rides like a dream. Based on the reviews we’ve read, they hit their target.

Here’s how the frame is described in the Zwift Drop Shop:

“The Aethos frame has been designed with the perfect combination of ultimate ride feel, light weight, and style – from accelerating up steep pitches and descending technical descents, to all-day saddle comfort on even the longest coffeerides, the Aethos hits the mark. With Aethos, Specialized stopped worrying about winning, or the way things are supposed to be done, and instead chased the greatest expression of ride quality ever made. Well, they did it, and in staying true to keeping that promise, they broke every design, ride, and race rule along the way. And they’re not sorry.”

The Aethos caters to those who prefer a classy/minimalist look: don’t expect a lot of bling for your buck! You’ll have no color options on Zwift apart from the default dark brown/green, with hardly any visible decals.

The frame is rated 2 stars for aero, 4 for weight – so clearly it’s a climbing bike on Zwift. (Specialized claims the Aethos is the lightest production disc-brake frame ever made, weighing in at just 585 grams.) You’ll have to be level 34+ to purchase it in game, at a price of 923,000 Drops.

We know the reviews say the IRL bike rides like a dream and climbs like the featherweight it is. But IRL performance doesn’t always map directly to Zwift performance, so we ran this frame through our standard tests (plus some extras just to be sure) to learn how it performs in Zwift. And the results were, frankly, surprising!

Here’s everything you need to know about the new Specialized Aethos S-Works in Zwift…

The Specialized Aethos, IRL

Climb Performance

The Aethos is rated at 4 stars for weight, and with the IRL version being super-light, we figured it would climb well in Zwift.

We weren’t wrong.

The Aethos distances all other frames in game in our Alpe du Zwift test, reaching the top 8 seconds faster than the next-fastest frames. Wow! That’s no small margin, when you consider that prior to the Aethos’ release, the top 15 climbing frames were separated by just 8 seconds.

Some of you will surely ask if this standout performance is a bug. Will Zwift go in and tweak the Aethos to make it climb slower after you purchase it, like they did the Canyon Aeroad 2021? We don’t think so. Our interactions with ZwiftHQ indicate that this frame’s performance is right where they intend it to be.

The Aethos is a truly unique bike release from Specialized, and on Zwift, it stands alone in its climbing ability with an Alpe du Zwift time of 48:49. By comparison, the standard Zwift aero frame turns in a time of 49:31, and our former top three climbers (the Specialized Tarmac Pro, Cannondale EVO, and Bridgestone Anchor RS9s) made it to the top in ~48:58. (All of these test times were done with Zwift’s stock wheelset, the 32mm carbon).

Aero Performance

The Aethos turns in precisely the same flat test time as many existing frames, including the (former) best climbers (Specialized Tarmac Pro, Cannondale EVO, and Bridgestone Anchor RS9s)

Rated at just two stars for aero performance, we didn’t expect much from the Aethos in our flat test. Its time places it right in the middle of the aero performance percentile rankings, along with 10 other frames which turned in the same time and an additional 11 frames which are within 1 second of the same time.

The Aethos turned in a time of 51:33 on our test course (two laps of Tempus Fugit). By comparison, the fastest frame in game (Specialized Venge S-Works) turned in a time of 51:18. (Both of these test times were done with Zwift’s stock wheelset, the 32mm carbon).

Conclusions

As a result of this frame’s incredible climbing performance we’ll be updating the following posts soon:

Riders now have a chance to test the new Aethos frame and Roval Alpinist CLX wheels in the Specialized Roval Climbing Challenge events beginning July 20th. We predict that heaps of level 34+ Zwifters will be spending their Drops on this frame in the coming days. And we won’t fault you for doing so! In fact, we’ll be standing in line to buy our own…

Questions or Comments?

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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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Mick Such
Mick Such
2 months ago

That’s a fast climbing bike on zwift. Let’s hope they keep it like that.
Might have to spend some drops as being a fat bloke, I need as much assistance as possible. 😁😜

Daniel Connelly
2 months ago
Reply to  Mick Such

An unanswered question is whether bike weight is proportional to body weight, or is independent of body size, so is this a % advantage (like the feather) or proportionately more to lighter riders? Eric’s previous tests suggest it’s proportional. Anyway looking @ my VenTop times yesterday, I thought I saw an approximate 1% advantage from the Aethos/Roval combination versus my prior Tarmac or Evo/Enve. 8 seconds here is 0.27%.

Evan
Evan
2 months ago

Guess I’m off to the Drop Shop! It better be good at almost 1mil drops

Fahrtz
Fahrtz
2 months ago
Reply to  Evan

Don’t assume, the safety bike had a brief stint as the best climbing bike by a good margin….

Tony Richardson
Tony Richardson
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

We’ve all heard that before…lol

Fahrtz
Fahrtz
2 months ago

Their track record of keeping hot climbing bikes is not great. Tron got demoted at climbing speed, safety got demoted at climbing speed, aeroad got demoted at climbing speed…..

At some point you learn it’s not going to stay like this regardless of what zwift tells us

Razz
Razz
2 months ago

So basically Specialized paid Zwift to make this bike fastest?

rmx
rmx
2 months ago
Reply to  Razz

And?

Aoi Niigaki
Aoi Niigaki
2 months ago
Reply to  Razz

Specialized Bicycle Components was one of investors in the last $450 million capital investment in Zwift. So yeah, Specialized has a financial stake in Zwift that’s probably larger than any other bicycle company.

Michael Hanan
Michael Hanan
2 months ago
Reply to  Aoi Niigaki

Right, so that’s why its so confusing to me that the Tarmac SL7 is so average on Zwift….

Jeroen
Jeroen
1 month ago

Hi Eric, has it been renamed in the latest update? Can’t find it in the dropshop (level 50++) only the Amira S-Works which has 4 stars for weight? Thanks!

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