Sticky Watts: Why They Exist, and How They Affect the Zwift Experience

Sticky Watts: Why They Exist, and How They Affect the Zwift Experience

I’ve been testing a set of Favero Assioma pedals as well as Garmin Vector 3 pedals for several months, and while I’m impressed with their performance both on Zwift on IRL, there’s one Zwifty niggle that bugs me. I call it “sticky watts”, and it’s what this post is all about.

Ready to head down the rabbit hole with me? Let’s go!

Sticky Watts: an Introduction

Zwift processes the data for certain power meters in such a way that the wattage reading in-game gets “stuck” on a particular wattage for 3+ seconds whenever a rider stops pedaling quickly.

To illustrate, here are two quick test rides I did yesterday.

The first shows how power data should look. It compares Vector data from my Wahoo ELEMNT computer with Tacx NEO1 trainer data from Zwift’s .fit file:

Chart 1: Vector (via ELEMNT) vs NEO (via Zwift):

Click to view live chart on ZwiftPower

The second shows sticky watts. It compares Vector data from my Wahoo ELEMNT computer with data from the same Vector pedals from Zwift’s .fit file:

Chart 2: Vector (via ELEMNT) vs Vector (via Zwift):

Click to view live chart on ZwiftPower

Notice how, in chart 1, the power reading is changing every second, for both lines. This is how power data should look – when we’re pedaling, our power output is constantly changing. (True, there are two times I see where the NEO had the same reading for two seconds in a row, but those occurrences aren’t consistent, or very long.)

Now look at chart 2. Note how, whenever I stop pedaling, the blue line (remember this is the Vector power data from Zwift) “hangs” for three seconds (and sometimes as much as 6 seconds!)

Pointing Fingers

I’ve replicated the sticky watts issue using Assioma pedals as well as Vector 2 and Vector 3s. You may ask: are sticky watts created by the power meter pedals themselves? Or is it due to Zwift’s recording of their power?

Chart 2 above shows that it’s not the pedals. That chart shows data recorded from the same set of pedals, on the same ride, but recorded on two different sources. The purple line is my bike computer, and the light blue line is Zwift. You can see my bike computer recorded the data properly, while Zwift’s data (and only Zwift’s data) displays the sticky watts issue.

The astute observer may say, “But sticky watts didn’t happen in chart 1!” And you would be correct. Sticky watts on Zwift only happen with certain power meters. It doesn’t happen with the smart trainers I’ve tested. Let’s look at why this is…

Event-Based vs Time-Based Power Meters

Power meters come in all shapes and sizes, but if you look at the way they calculate and transmit data, there are two types: event-based and time-based. Here are the definitions straight from the excellent “Power Meter 101” article on Slowtwitch:

  • Event-based. This type calculates and transmits power information based on ‘events’. For example, with a crank-based power meter, each cadence revolution is an event. That finite piece of time is the starting and ending point for our time in the power equation. Data will not transmit to the head unit if events aren’t happening (i.e. if you stop pedaling).
  • Time-based. This type is identical to the above, but with a caveat. Events happen and power is calculated the same – but this information is stored first, and then transmitted at a specific time interval. The CycleOps Powertap hub uses this. Why? Generally speaking, your wheels spin faster than your cranks – and when you stop pedaling, your bike keeps moving. Events happen much faster and for more of your ride, so they essentially bottle them up and shoot data to the head unit at regular intervals of one second.

As I understand it, pedal and crank power meters are generally event-based. Smart trainers are generally time-based. And that, my friends, is why Zwift appears to process their data in two different ways.

Full transparency: I’m no power meter/electronics expert. And I’m certainly not privy to the details of how Zwift’s code processes power data. But my guess is, this is what happens when I stop pedaling:

  • My pedals stop sending data. If they’re paired as the power source in Zwift, that means no power data is coming in. Zwift doesn’t know if this is a data dropout, or me just not pedaling! So it does what Zwift is programmed to do in the event of a data dropout – it holds onto the last power reading it received, for a few seconds. Then it drops to 0, because it is still paired with the pedals, even though it isn’t receiving power data from them.
  • My smart trainer keeps transmitting a power reading at regular time intervals, even when I’m not pedaling. So if I’m reading power from my smart trainer, Zwift gets a zero watt reading when I stop pedaling.

Can Zwift Fix It?

Comparing bike computer data to Zwift data might lead a person to think that sticky watts is a Zwift bug – but I don’t think that’s the case. Rather, it’s simply how Zwift has to work given the realities of data dropouts and event-based power meters. Let me explain my theory (and again, I’ll remind you that I’m not an expert here).

My ELEMNT head unit is receiving the same data as Zwift. So when I stop pedaling, it stops receiving data from my pedals (because they aren’t sending anything). So why doesn’t my bike computer show/record sticky watts? Well, the truth is, it does. Sort of. My Wahoo ELEMNT does, at least. if I stop pedaling, it will get stuck on a particular wattage for a few seconds. But it doesn’t record those sticky watts. That’s the crucial difference.

We have to remember that immediate power data on Zwift is much more integral to the experience when compared with power data on a head unit. If Zwift wants to keep its users from seeing a zero watt number (and slowing down!) whenever even a short data dropout occurs, it has to allow for sticky watts. And those sticky watts directly affect the motion of our avatars in game.

In contrast, my ELEMNT can display those sticky watts, but it doesn’t write them to my .fit file. My guess is, the ELEMNT’s data processing code detects a lack of signal and keeps displaying the last wattage read for a few seconds – just like Zwift. But the ELEMNT has the luxury (and Zwift does not) of being able to buffer its data and effectively go back in time and write a different value to its .fit file than it was displaying on the screen. And that’s why we see data like chart 2 above.

Implications for Riding/Racing

Now we get to what I think is the important part of this article: how do sticky watts affect our Zwift experience, if at all?

My guess is, most Zwifters using a “sticky” power source haven’t even noticed the extra watts. This could just be me projecting my own lack of awareness, though! While I’ve ridden probably 20,000 miles on Zwift with power pedals as my primary power source, it wasn’t until I started testing these pedals around April 2020 that I noticed the stickiness. But a look back at my early dual recordings on ZwiftPower (such as Sprintapalooza back in September 2019) shows the issue existed back then.

The good news is, sticky watts don’t matter, most of the time. As long as you’re pedaling, sticky watts aren’t an issue – and we all know that it’s rare to stop pedaling in a Zwift race.

There are a few situations, though, where it can have a significant effect on your race.

Situation #1: Going Into the Supertuck

The supertuck is one of my favorite moves in a Zwift race, since it allows me to hang with the pack on a descent while resting. But timing is crucial when supertucking – you want your watts to hit zero only when the road gradient is -3% or more, and only when your rider is going fast enough to drop into the tuck.

Sticky watts can wreak havoc on a well-timed supertuck, or they can actually make your supertuck an even more effective move. They wreak havoc when you stop pedaling, but Zwift sticks your watts at some low number (say, 100W), which means your dropping into the supertuck is delayed and your power is low while you wait. This can cause you to drop from the group you’re trying to hang with.

But if you hit the wattage hard then stop pedaling immediately, your watts will typically get stuck at a really high number – perhaps 500-600 watts! This speeds you up, then drops you into the supertuck as soon as the stickiness ends.

Is it cheating to use sticky watts to your advantage when entering a supertuck? I’d say so, if you’re doing it on purpose. But here’s the sucky part – event-based power meter users are stuck between a rock and a hard place here. Because the only way to avoid sticky watts getting stuck at a low number and possibly messing up your supertuck is to 1) go hard then stop immediately (cheating) or 2) slow decrease your watts, so your pedals send power readings all the way down to zero. Neither of those approaches is a good one.

Situation #2: TTT Sink and Sprint

The “sink and sprint” move is used by TTT riders to move from the front of the pack to the back of the pack (learn more about it on TTT Secrets from Matt Gardiner). Sticky watts making timing your sink a real challenge, since your watts get stuck at a particular wattage for a few seconds before going to zero. That means you have to stop pedaling before you really need to.

Situation #3: Mini Microintervals

I know for a fact that racers have attempted to exploit the sticky watts bug in events by doing super short intervals – that is, pedaling hard to spike power, then stopping the pedals so the power gets stuck at that high wattage for a few seconds. Then do it again, and again!

Here’s a power file of a short microinterval test ride I did using my Assioma pedals (the purple line is the power data from Zwift (notice the sticky watts) and the blue line is the power data from the same pedals from my bike computer):

Click to view live chart on ZwiftPower

Look at the difference in average wattage between the two readings: Zwift’s power is 20% higher!

Would this approach work over an entire race? Not for me – I couldn’t continue doing microintervals for 40+ minutes. But perhaps some riders could. More likely, a cheater could use this technique for a short (1-2 minute) attack at a key point in the race, or in the final sprint.

As I understand it, ZwiftPower has some detection built in for this sort of repeated sticky watts behavior.

Situation #4: Shortened Sprint Finishes

If a rider’s setup consistently produces sticky watts at or near their peak power, they can use this to “coast” across the finish line at full power. Hit the sprint hard, put in a few final pedal strokes at maximum effort, then stop pedaling for the final 3 seconds over the line.

You may laugh – but riders do it already in Zwift races.

Conclusions

Armed with the knowledge of sticky watts, event-based power meter users find ourselves in a bit of a predicament. Do I keep using my pedals as my primary power source (because I want consistent readings between indoors and outdoors) even though it can affect my race data? Or do I switch to my smart trainer – which may be less accurate and will generally not match my outdoor power meter?

The best answer will vary from rider to rider due multiple factors. But I think it’s safe to say this is a concern that will continue to simmer in the Zwift racing community for the foreseeable future.

Your Thoughts

Have you noticed sticky watts with your Zwift setup? Do they affect the Zwift experience in ways that I missed? Share your thoughts 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

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
88 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Edu Harms
Edu Harms
4 months ago

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I had sticky watts with my single sided favero Bepro, now i am in a 2 week old Kickr Core and it sometimes als registers sticky watts..my one week old Assiomas Duo dont, at least not in the Elmnt bolt. havent tested it to Zwift as power source. Iam in ant+ connection though.

Still trying to get my head around this

Edu Harms
Edu Harms
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Funny thing is that it now happens with my pedals, i see it on my headunit and when oauring to zwift its also there..i will dual record my TTT and see what happens, but i am almost certain its the Ant+ connection

Michal Wozniak
Michal Wozniak (@michwoz)
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Wahoo computers have sticky watts too. They don’t correctly record 0 watts after signal is lost, but smooth it out for a few seconds, from last received power to zero. Take a closer look and you’ll see. It’s not as bad as repeating same value for few seconds but it’s not correct power recording either.

Gregory Juviler
Gregory Juviler
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Generally with data display units… the display is updated at a slower rate than the actually recorded data.. That is so that the observer doesn’t see numbers flying around all over the place.

Gustavo Gomez
Gustavo Gomez (@mgfjd)
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I have to differ about head units not recording sticky watts. My stages gen3 using ANT+ have the sticky watts. Using bluetooth does not. My head unit is lezyne mega xl. I always thought the sticky was more an issue with the power meter.

Alex Fuller
Alex Fuller (@atfuller)
4 months ago

Great article – super helpful. Zwift definitely feels a bit different when I ride with Vectors vs. KICKR – and this answers a lot of those questions why. Thank you!

David Haley
David Haley
4 months ago

Great write up! I have been struggling with this and pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to get supertuck to work faster (using Assioma’s as my Power source). At least this explains why!

Unstuck
Unstuck
4 months ago

This is a great article and also explains for those curious, why avatars continue to sprint for a few seconds past the finish line in a live race broadcast. I’ve investigated this myself a bit and have not only seen it with the pedals you mentioned in zwift, but it is also reproducible in rouvy. In testing and looking at rider data, I generally see only 1 second of sticky watts with these particular pedals, but observe it to be far worse with a DZero for example, often in the 3 second range. I filed a bug about this and… Read more »

naan
naan
4 months ago
Reply to  Unstuck

One easy solution would be to just remove the sticky watts for races and keep the current behavior for everything else.

Stefan Versick
Stefan Versick
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Probably it would be best to offer both: races with sticky watts and without them.

naan
naan
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

All the more reason to fix/address the dropouts, then. (Still waiting for the Kickr V5 ethernet dongle to be released…)

Unstuck
Unstuck
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I just had another thought on this that I would imagine would be simple to implement. For those of us with a reliable connection, why not make it a client-side option? I would then just go into settings and toggle off dropout tolerance / sticky watts, after 1 second with no events, power drops to 0.

Darin Boyd
Darin Boyd
4 months ago

so being an avid Zwift racer I have of course seen the post addressing this issue. My thinking is that since the only reason Zwift needs to know your power, is to it can plug that in along with all your other data and determine your estimated speed and simulate what it would be like riding IRL. That being said if you are riding IRL and you stop pedaling, yes your watts will immediately drop to 0, but does your speed? So my question is how do smart trainers and/or Zwift deal with that momentum? and then which is actually… Read more »

Andy
Andy
4 months ago
Reply to  Darin Boyd

Riding in real life?

I don’t think we’re anywhere near that. Not at all.

This is another issue Zwift laid firmly with the hardware manufacturers and called them out for poor design.

More collateral damage in the march towards world domination.

Rogerio Costa
Rogerio Costa
4 months ago

I have always preferred my double vector 2 pedals, rather than the power of my Hammer. although in zpower analysis my pedals score about 2% less, these sticky watts create favorable physics. Some events already require the trainer as the primary power for the event. okay i adapted to any of the physics. but I prefer my pedals.

Nick
Nick
4 months ago

It isn’t dropouts that zwift/other head units are compensating for by giving you sticky watts, but low cadences. if you want to allow cadences down to 30rpm you need at least 2s of sticky watts as that is the time between crank events, down to 20rpm requires 3 seconds.

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
4 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Isn’t pedals like the assiomas sending power data far more than once per crank event though?

Graham
Graham
4 months ago

I don’t have any power meter – just my Kickr Core. I get sticky watts on that and it is quite annoying. I don’t really mind it in races, as you say it smooths the power output a bit and while it might affect supertuck I am usually blowing so much when I am trying to get into supertuck that I don’t really notice! It seems to affect how the trainer performs during workouts – it often hangs up for a while at the start and end of intervals – I find that a lot more annoying. I also run… Read more »

Matt Edler
Matt Edler
4 months ago
Reply to  Graham

Based on my understanding of the article, you shouldn’t be getting sticky watts from your time based trainer as a power source.

Graham
Graham
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

The computer is only about 1-1.5 meters from the trainer (to the right of my bars) and I don’t get signal dropouts in other cycling apps on the same computer (mainly TR). It definitely seems to be something Zwift is doing when it is processing the power. Obviously, I don’t have a power meter to compare against, but I have dual-recorded using my Garmin before, so I can compare those. I find they don’t match very well. The garmin sits on my bars… I have some dual recorded rides I can compare but I wasn’t doing anything scientific then (intervals… Read more »

Wally
Wally
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham

My ANT+ signal starting sticking a bit on my Core recently. It used to be smooth, so I expect it’s a signal issue

Mick Such
Mick Such
4 months ago

Eric, does the 3 second sticky have anything to do with the settings page where there is a power reading setting of either 3 seconds or 1 second….. I have changed mine to 1 second as I’m using the Elite Drivo trainer as that has constant power readings throughout each rotation.

Richard Gate
Richard Gate
4 months ago

A different question but sort of similar field, what happens to sticky draft watts, ie. extra watts which you produce, but which don’t allow you past the rider in front. I’m forever trying to find the lowest power that keeps me in the draft, but to overtake the rider in front needs extra watts to break the threshold of the sticky draft. I’m sure there is a wattage window in between these two figures. Are these watts just wasted, do they get banked and used when you overtake?

Stefan Versick
Stefan Versick
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

It most likely is a speed difference. I am an almost 100 kg rider and i am getting into the sticky draft behind some of the 9 year old feather-weight kids. My absolute power should be much higher when we go uphill. The other option would be w/kg difference.

Darrell Russell
Darrell Russell
4 months ago

My initial thoughts are that it’s not cheating. It’s gamesmanship. It’s only cheating if a rider is hacking either their hardware or software to gain advantage or the people that provide the game’s framework (Zwift) explicitly disallow it as part of the rules of the game. The ball is in Zwift’s court to change their framework if they believe it’s cheating otherwise racers are going to try to find and exploit all of the advantages that they can.

Joakim Lisson
Joakim Lisson (@joakiml)
4 months ago

Zwift has explicitly disallowed it. In the zwift esport ruleset under appendix B: Sanctions. Here it is mentioned that “Exploiting disconnection / lag / dropout behaviour” and “Exploiting bugs in Zwift software” is a sanctionable actions. These rules are of course developed with the focus on big race events, but my guess is that when a rider rider is reported to zwift, a lot of same rules apply, in checking if the rider is doing something wrong

Wally
Wally
3 months ago

Zwift is about sportmanship … I wouldn’t exactly qualify trying to abuse a software glitch to gain an athletic advantage as good sportmanship.

It is definitely considered cheating, and it will most certainly get you disqualified (also from smaller events)…

Dan Connelly
4 months ago

This is fantastic work. It’s a nice demonstration of the difference between reporting present data (what is my power now?), and reporting historical data (what was the power during my ride?) The luxury of hindsight is a big advantage. I had previously thought the reason for E-Racing rules requiring data from the smart trainer to be to require transmission thru the drivetrain before measurement (it’s a 3% or so advantage to measure power upstream of the drivetrain, around 2 minutes saved up Alpe). But this is another reason, and perhaps the main reason: smart trainers can come much closer to… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
4 months ago

Aside from all the sticky watts, potential cheating or losing out stuff it’d be great to see an article covering the best, and most cost effective, dual recording power meter options available to Zwifters especially since it might be needed for ZRL etc data checks – many riders like myself probably don’t have one or any idea of options 👍

Andy Gajraj
Andy Gajraj
4 months ago

I’m so glad you published this. I’ve been scratching my head many times wondering why my power takes so long to drop to zero when I want to super tuck. There’s also a weird issue when starting TTT races. I have to pedal for around 3s before the power stops reading 0 when using Vector 3 pedals.

Matt Edler
Matt Edler
4 months ago

Interesting article, and perfectly timed with my recent attempt to reach out to Zwift Support regarding the exact issue (2 weeks, 4 different people, no response yet). Depending on the event, especially ones with surges, I would see higher power with my Vectors than my Kickr. At first I assumed it was my Kickr, because we always assume we’re stronger than we are, right? Also my Kickr was behaving oddly on a tech support driven ERG ramp test, so I had lost some faith in it. I sent snapshots of the exact issue to Garmin- the plateaued trailing power curve… Read more »

rdcyclist (Mark Crane)
rdcyclist (Mark Crane) (@rdcyclist)
4 months ago

I’ve had the opposite experience with my Vector 3’s: They respond slowly to changes in effort and drop off almost immediately when I stop pedaling. I switched back to the Wahoo Kickr for my power readings and I seem to be faster. I’ve been just using the V3’s for cadence and power numbers on my Garmin 935. The numbers I’m seeing on the watch are usually lower than what I see on the Zwift data HUD.

Maybe I’ll switch to the pedals for the Sprintapalooza tomorrow morning and see how it goes. Film at eleven.

Tiago Barreira
Tiago Barreira
4 months ago

I though I had read about a similar issue with Garmin Vectors a long time ago, but I was remembering wrong. The recording using a Garmin Edge like the 1030 gives an sticky cadence. If you stop pedaling the power reading goes to 0 but the cadence is repeated 2-3 times. I wasn’t able to find the source of the information right away but I verified in my data. Looks like with the Zwift recorded data both cadence and power are sticky.

Don't DQ me bro!!
Don't DQ me bro!!
4 months ago

Why is it considered cheating if I didn’t know about sticky watts, but I’m able to hold 10+ minutes of micro intervals up the volcano climb? If I’m performing consistently like that, zwiftpower will upgrade me and then I’m forced into the next category trying to hold on. Like another commenter wrote, it’s gamification, and if zwift doesn’t like it, then they need to do something in the software that addresses it. You can’t tell me that I need to get a Kickr or neo for $1200+ because the software doesn’t stop listening to the power meters I use. If… Read more »

Matt Edler
Matt Edler
4 months ago

Zwift needs to address it if they want to be more than a game, which is what they seem to be aspiring to- helping amateurs secure pro contracts, hosting professional races, premier racing leagues. At those levels, accuracy is essential, and making a selection can be about 20 watts. I hear ya, upgrade, but that only works for so long. I used to argue to my friends that the platform was fair enough and not to worry about cheaters, but I def have come to question the crew putting down > 4.7 w/kg FTP’s- numbers the pros can barely produce… Read more »

Gorilla
Gorilla
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt Edler

Context in esports, games take this stuff way more seriously. Its the cycling world that is way behind, not the gaming world.

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt Edler

4.7 wkg are numbers pros can barely produce???

Sure there are some who have terribly calibrated power meters on zwift (like old mate who did 400 watts avg, and in real life strava, avgs 70 lol).

But zwift attracts the best most serious training cyclists, zwift isn’t the local bunch ride.

Matt Edler
Matt Edler
4 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin

It must attract some serious talent- as evidenced by the video with Alex Dowsett on how TT,ing in Zwift is so hard. He finished 23rd or so, 369 watts for a little over 20 min. Wiki has his weigh at 73kg (could be wrong) but as a TT specialist and previous hour record holder he is no slacker. His effort in the vid has him at just over 5w/kg, an FTP of around 4.8. I did a race this am, using my Kickr it was 6% below my vectors, only other power analysis in the race with someone using petals… Read more »

Wally
Wally
3 months ago

Can we agree that according to the spirit of the game, success is driven by athletic performance, in combination with strategic elements intentionally introduced by the developers? Can we also agree that abusing a sticky watts issue inherent to some technical software glitch, present in only a handful of power meters is clearly not a part of this? Zwift has stated abusing this glitch to gain an unfair advantage is against the rules. You will get disqualified when your power output reveals you abuse it. So for the same reason you don’t participate in real life events with an engine… Read more »

Martin Stadler
Martin Stadler
4 months ago

May that’s the reason why the Zwift racing rules say that the power source has to be the smart trainer.

Nate Katz
Nate Katz
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Stadler

Exactly this. One of the recent rider sanctions mentioned that they were trying to make a power meter look like the trainer for the race. I didn’t understand the problem at the time, but it makes sense now!

Paul Rayner
Paul Rayner (@paulrayner)
4 months ago

If the problem is with Zwift receiving a “null” value when watts are zero, could a longer-term fix be that trainers manufacture their units to transmit a decimal, like “0.001” instead of zero, and Zwift turns anything below 0.002 into a zero?

Andy
Andy
4 months ago

This has been an issue since… Well, since forever.

But instead of doing something about it and admitting fault Zwift chose to lambast and troll both athletes and hardware manufactures blaming them.

The usual machiavellian, arrogant behaviour. Who cares about community collateral damage with 450 million in the bank?

Who cares about fixing known issues with 450 million in the bank.

Who cares about hardware manufactures with 450 million in the bank.

Michal Wozniak
Michal Wozniak (@michwoz)
4 months ago
Reply to  Andy

It is not that simple. Sticky watts are still there fore a reason. And the reason are widespread problems with wireless signal quality. Zwift without sticky watts would be simply unusable for large part of the riders. And this is in fact not a Zwift fault.

Andy
Andy
4 months ago
Reply to  Michal Wozniak

What utter protective tosh.

If that were the case they should have provided details to both athlete and brands explaining why this happened.

Instead they banned athletes and blamed them and the hardware.

Zwift being Zwift

Daniel Payne
Daniel Payne (@daniel_2)
4 months ago

I ride with the Quarq Dzero power meter outside all of the time, however I select the Quarq Dzero as my power meter in Zwift then I can pedal fast, hit 600 watts, then abruptly stop pedaling, and Zwift will hold 600 watts indefinitely. Yes, forever. To snap Zwift out of its stuck power stupor, I have to soft-pedal at 100 watts to have it drop from 600 watts. Yes, I’ve reported the bug to both Quarq and Zwift, and the Quarq people tell me that it’s a Zwift bug, and the Zwift support people are radio silent.

Matt Edler
Matt Edler
4 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Payne

I think they don’t want to burst the bubbles of everyone breaking their outdoors ceilings?

Stuart
Stuart
4 months ago

I guess this is why Zwift states you must use a trainer as your primary power source for official races and then submit your secondary file for certification

Matt Edler
Matt Edler
4 months ago
Reply to  Stuart

Maybe sort races by power source 😉

ExerScreen
4 months ago

For my indoor rowing apps this problem is even worse due to the lower frequency of power events which are once per stroke. The only potential solution I have come up with is to occasionally compare the calculated energy from the real-time sampled wattage events (including the “sticky” dropout protection power) with the (less real-time) reported cumulative power (calories, joules, etc.) and then spread the error as it accumulates. Over time, this makes things fair in terms of total energy applied to the game, so your 20% advantage from sticky power goes away. But, it does not solve the problem… Read more »

stephanie fisher
stephanie fisher
4 months ago

Couldn’t you just record on Zwift with your trainer and record on your head unit with your power meter? That would keep Zwift more accurate and still give you a file with readings that match outdoor activities.

Ernesto
Ernesto
4 months ago

I belive Zwift for with the Favero gets the 3 seconds power, this could be as simple as that, it does not gives the instant power.

Matt
Matt
4 months ago

This is why I actually prefer our dumb trainers (Kinetic Road Machine). They do not transmit power, only rpm which is then used in a lookup table in Zwift to determine power. This assumes you are using a speed sensor and not the inride sensor. Zwift does have another issue that must purely be bad programming, if you stop pedaling and then pedal backwards at a high cadence Zwift will give you a high power for a long time. This has been a problem for sitting in the pen for the TTT events. If you pedal backwards, you leave the… Read more »

Cédric
Cédric
4 months ago

Very interesting article ! I’ve recently switched from using my smart trainer as the power source in Zwift to using my Vector 3S (power matching) and have also noticed differences between my Edge 1030 and Zwift. It seems Zwift (or my Garmin ANT+ USB stick) is much more sensible to the quality of the ANT+ signal than my Edge, as I often get signal drops in Zwift which I don’t get on my Edge computer.

Robert Barrett
4 months ago

Pretty sure this is all down to the head unit(s) and the way Zwift processes data, although some PMs (I seem to recall from the ANT+ power profiles) need three consectutive seconds of zero cadence before they declare zero power. The ANT+ transmission intervals are defined by the ANT+ specs and vary slightly for the type of device (power, HRM etc) as a crude way of handling (avoiding) collisions (of ANT+ transmisisons). ANT+ protocol also sends the same data for four consecutive transmisisons at approximately 250ms intervals so tha if a “packet” is corrupted there is a duplicate to take… Read more »

Derf
Derf
4 months ago

Could you use an external cadence sensor to correct this for the power meters? One that is separate from the power meter and the trainer.

Gabriel Aleksandar
Gabriel Aleksandar
4 months ago

SInce this is such and “old” thread I don’t know if I will get an answer, but really, how hard is it to put a @#@#% USB port on these smart trainers and to quit worrying about all this signal dropout mess for people that can simply “plug in”?

j.anthony
j.anthony
4 months ago

What I’m curious about with your testing protocol is which device received data through BTLE, and which through ANT+. The difference is important, and sometimes staggering. The reason for its importance is the broadcast protocols, as well as recording protocols, and a possible overlap. With ANT+, there are the two types of broadcast as you mentioned… the event based (each rotation), and time based, which updates at 1Hz, or once per second (this is ANT+ standard). Pedaling at 60rpm will yield the same update frequency as the ANT+ standard for time-based broadcasting. Pedaling faster will yield a faster update. The… Read more »

Jeremy Hopwood
4 months ago

Just did a race where this was getting discussed in a very animated way in the peloton as we approached the finish.

amazed at people’s ability to type in the finale.

incoukd see it happening especially on the climbs for the rider I question but not sure where it lies.

Is it in the spirit of the game is the question as the current implementation of the software allows it.

Don't DQ me bro!!
Don't DQ me bro!!
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Hopwood

I watched your race on youtube. What do you think should happen to the rider in question? Would it make any difference to you if they came down to 1w/kg instead of 0 in between his pushes? And then is it their fault if Zwift knows about it and hasn’t updated the issue?

eamo
eamo
3 months ago

i have a new elite direto XR purchased in december 2020. Do you know if the sticky watts / power dropout issue applies to this type of trainer

eamo
eamo
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

thank you Eric – when i ride i often go hard for a short interval to stay in the group, bridge a gap or go for a sprint immediately followed by a rest period when i will stop pedalling to catch breath allowing the flywheel to keep momentum going for a few seconds. do you think this would cause a potential a drop-out issue?

eamo
eamo
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

thank you again Eric👊. Great site and informative discussion. keep up the good work!

Ernesto
Ernesto
3 months ago

Wow Eric, this is very interesting and beautifully explained. I landed on this page while I was checking why,in zwift analyzer, I get sometimes many searches of the ANT for my trainer and I noticed that I get one search everytime I stop pedaling… Probably this is a side effect of the power dropping to 0 (sure, I’m not pedaling) but Zwift cannot know if this is actually a drop or not… Maybe I’m wrong, but for the 2nd stage of TDZ, I got 10 descent and 10 times I’ve stopped pedaling (looking at the charts in zwift, the watt… Read more »

Capture.PNG
Wally
Wally
3 months ago

Thanks for the article Eric. Once again, very interesting, and relevant. Bit of a double edge sword, of course, since I think this issue was a bit hidden away in obscurity. Bringing it out in the open is definitely useful, but I hope it doesn’t inspire more riders to try and abuse it.

So just to be 100% clear to those who are still not sure – because there seems to be some confusing in the comment section: yes, it’s definitely considered cheating, and yes, it will get you disqualified from races when you get caught abusing it 😉

Simon J. Rhodes
Simon J. Rhodes
2 months ago

I use Powertap P1S pedals. I have never experienced sticky eats when using my laptop for Zwift with Ant+. Recently I have been using a 5th gen AppleTV with Bluetooth and have experienced sticky watts.

Jordan Nuger
2 months ago

Quick question, Is this the same for powertap pedals? I have never tested, but when I dual record my pedals on zwift and on garmin my garmin AP/NP power is higher than my zwift power because I do get a few dropouts every race. I connect my powertap pedals via ant+. So, I wonder if that makes a difference and that sticky watts don’t happen with ant+

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

I have a wattbike atom and it really seems like it generates sticky watt behaviour. I paid particular attention to time till supertuck and it was 3+ secs when above 58km/h and greater(smaller?) gradient than -5. The readings are, likewise, slow to drop to zero despite power reporting being set to instantaneous. If this behaviour is not sticky watts,(because trainers don’t generate them), then what can it be? I am using bluetooth and zwift on the ipad. I find it really annoying as you start wondering if the speed/gradient isn’t enough and end up intermittently pedalling to avoid slipping back,(thus… Read more »

Rainer
Rainer
2 months ago

Looking at the crude ANT+ datastream from my Assioma DUO pedals, there are around 4 ANT+ messages per second (channel period is 8182 counts, quartz frequency is 32768 Hz, thus the ANT+ message frequency for Bicycle Power is 4.005 Hz) but only every forth ANT+ message contains new data. Therefore, I ask me whether the Assioma pedals are indeed event based? For example, SRM cranks broadcast to ANT+ event based, i.e. the next outgoing ANT+ message after every complete crank revolution is updated. But SRM use the Crank Torque frequency protocol whereas the Assioma pedals use the Standard Crank Torque… Read more »

Jude Davison
Jude Davison
24 days ago

Before I had a smart trainer at home I used to use Zwift at the gym on the Wattbike trainer, and I had the same issue but exaggerated as I could sprint at 500ws then suddenly stop pedalling and it would keep my wattage there until I began to pedal again.

Carrie McBride
Carrie McBride (@carrie-mcbride)
12 days ago

I think I am getting a version of sticky watts on my new Kickr 2020 v5 trainer. Power sticks (for lack of any other way to describe it) usually at a high output for me but not always and then after several seconds to a half a minute it sticks at a lower power for several seconds. Nothing I do makes a difference. Eventually it will go back to normal. Running Zwift on a 2019 MBP and using ANT + with an extension to connect the trainer. I have not figured out what triggers it but so far it has… Read more »

88
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x