We knew this had been in development for several months, but last week WTRL finally broke the news of some major changes taking effect in this Thursday’s team time trials on Zwift.
- TT bikes are now allowed
- TT bikes can draft
- “Conveyor Belt” system (seen previously only in certain iTT races) ensures everyone starts at the right time
- Teams can select their start time
TT Bikes… in a TTT?
Until this moment, TT bikes on Zwift have been unable to draft other riders. It’s become understood that if you want to ride without receiving any draft benefit, you’ll need to grab a TT bike from your garage.
And that’s fine for free riding. But it’s a bit silly when you think about it, because of course TT bikes should be able to draft other riders. That’s how it works in the real world, right?
Starting Thursday, not only are TT frames allowed in WTRL’s team time trial… they’ll also be able to draft! And that means all the (smart) riders will be on TT frames, because they’re much, much more aero than road frames in Zwift.
How much more aero? Well, the fastest TT frame in game (Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc) finishes our 34.6km test course 96 seconds faster than the fastest road frames. (That’s with a 75kg rider holding 4 w/kg.)
That’s significant. Course records are going to fall this week.
(To be clear: TT bikes will only be able to draft in specific TT events. Not while free riding.)
For the first time on Zwift, we’ll see teams of riders in full aero tucks going full gas in real TTT fashion. Super cool.
Conveyor Belt System
Zwift released “Time Trial Mode” back in June 2019. Available only on the Bologna TT course and Fuego Flats, this was a significant upgrade to the TT experience. Riders were given individual start times when they signed up, then placed on a sort of “conveyor belt” when they joined the pens. The conveyor belt moved them forward until they were at the front of the line at their designated start time. Then – zoom – the race began!
This conveyor belt system will now be used for WTRL’s TTT events. Teams of up to 8 riders will be placed on the conveyors, each teammate on their own conveyor (there are 8 conveyors available) and moved toward the front until their designated start time. Then their personal countdown clocks will hit zero and they’ll be racing!
The individual TT conveyor belts automatically bring riders up to 20mph (sort of like the starting ramp in an outdoor TT), but WTRL has informed us that there is no “slingshot effect” for TTT races. So you’d better have your watts up when the clock hits zero!
Conveyor Belts Everywhere
As part of this upgrade, we’ve been told the conveyor belt system is being made available in all start pens throughout the game. It has only been available on Bologna TT and Fuego Flats until now, but this expansion will open up new TT race opportunities as well as expanding the experience for WTRL’s TTT races.
No More Stopwatches
The beauty of the conveyor belt system is: no more stopwatches needed!
Anyone who has raced a Zwift TTT knows that, until this week, teams were given a delay time. Every rider for every team had to be in the pens before the start of the TTT event, but then each team had to use a stopwatch to time their own start delay, so teams could start correctly at 1-minute or 30-second increments.
Mistakes happened, of course. In almost every race someone would accidently start when the clock hit zero. Then as the riders sat around waiting, someone would inevitably roll forward across the start line before their time. And let’s not even talk about the need for the silly pairing screen hack!
The new system prevents this. Teams will choose a start time when signing up at WTRL’s website, then you only need to join the event before your start time (no more needing to sit in the pens). You will automatically be brought forward to the front when your team’s start time arrives.
ZRL As Well
WTRL assures us that these TTT upgrades will be applied to Zwift Racing League TTTs as well. Sure, we only have one TTT this season (September 27th), but the new features will be welcomed nonetheless.
TTT Speed Tests
Since WTRL’s announcement we’ve had lots of inquiries from riders wondering how this will change their TTT races, which bike they should use, etc.
The answer is actually quite simple: just use the best TT frame for the course. Your wheel choice doesn’t change (same wheels as you’d use with a road frame). If you need help picking your frame, this page shows you the Fastest TT Bike Frames and Wheels at Each Zwift Level (for flat and rolling races).
If your TTT has any significant climbs, check out the newish Felt IA 2.0 and Scott Plasma RC Ultimate. Sure, they’re technically tri frames, but they’re TT frames on Zwift, and they outclimb all other TT frames while being just a tiny bit slower than the Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc.
Questions or Comments?