Ah, the supertuck. You’ve seen the pros do it, and you’ve probably been advised against doing it yourself.
For those unfamiliar, this very aero tuck involves sitting on the top tube and lowering your shoulders/chest onto the bars (or close to it) by bending your arms as far as they will go while holding onto the drops. It’s a fast position, but also difficult to pedal in (although Froome pulled it off in glorious fashion at the 2016 TdF). It’s also a dangerous position because of how it affects your bike handling.
But here’s the fun part–you can supertuck in Zwift, danger-free! Here’s how it works.
Getting Into a Zwift Supertuck
To supertuck in Zwift three conditions must be met:
- You must be travelling at least ~36MPH (~58km/hr)
- The decline must be at least 3%
- Your power output must be below 11 watts
Zwift will automatically place you in the supertuck if all these conditions are true. You come back out of the supertuck once any of these conditions is not met – for example, if the road flattens out to a 2% decline.
How Fast Is It?
Specific numbers are hard to come by since the supertuck behaves differently in races than free rides. But in our experience, coasting in the supertuck will let you hang with a pack that is putting out 2.5-3.5 w/kg. Of course, this varies based on rider weight, how many in the group are putting out power, steepness of decline, and other variables.
While it is possible for riders to attack on a descent and drop supertuckers, you don’t see that very often in Zwift races.
When Should I Supertuck?
Smart Zwift racers use it like the pros outside to get a little recovery on the downhills without losing speed. The question is: when should you tuck and when should you put out power?
Use the supertuck on long descents when you need to recover a bit. But always make sure you pay attention to what’s going on in the race and respond accordingly. There are often opportunities to supertuck and sit in with a group on long descents, but you’ll want to watch and make sure you match any accelerations so you don’t get dropped while resting.
Be especially careful of Zwift bringing you out of the supertuck due to gradient changes or speed dropping below ~36MPH. When this happens you can quickly get dropped by other riders who are putting out wattage while you coast!
Note: Zwift updated how the supertuck behaves for race events in May 2019, making it an even more effective tool in the Zwift racer’s toolset!
TT and MTB Exception
You cannot supertuck if you are riding a TT or MTB frame. Because that’s just silly!
The supertuck does not make you superfast–but it can allow for short periods of rest which are helpful in race situations. So use it wisely, but keep your eyes open and don’t get dropped while you’re resting!