Zwift released a minor update last night, worth mentioning only because there’s been a lot of confusion recently due to changes made to the rolling resistance of some dirt portions of Watopia.

Last week’s update notes included this from Jon Mayfield:

Various wheels and tires now have different rolling resistance based on the surface they are rolling on. IE, a mountain bike or gravel tire may be the best on the Jungle circuit, while a road/TT bike is fastest on the tarmac. More to come here in a future update.

I love the concept here. That Zwift is adding another strategic element to their “game” so those who pick the right equipment for the course get a performance edge over those who do not.

Just like the real world. If I’m racing on gravel, I need to have the right bike for it. And that bike won’t be the same one I use for a crit, or a mountain bike downhill.

Not Quite There

So far, though, this new feature of Zwift’s hasn’t rolled out well. It began with complaints that group rides on the Jungle Circuit were splintering apart, with riders flying off the front holding less power than those struggling to catch on.

Group leaders were going crazy trying to figure out the issue until they began comparing game version numbers. Guess what? Zwifters who hadn’t updated to the latest version were rolling fast through the Jungle, while Zwifters on the latest version moved much slower. At 300 watts (4 w/kg) it was a difference of about 5km/hr. No small difference!

On top of that, the Zwift Mountain bike which was rolled out in last week’s update was supposed to perform pretty well in the dirt. Details are scarce, but the big idea was that the mountain bike would be a poor choice for a race on tarmac, while being a useful option in the jungle.

But that hasn’t materialized either. Thus far some bugs have made it so the mountain bike doesn’t perform well… anywhere, really! (It’s probably a bit faster than it should be on tarmac, but significantly slower than, say, the Tron bike on the Jungle Circuit.)

Today’s Jungle Update: Faster Dirt

With today’s update, the Jungle is rolling much faster. Since we hadn’t done a lot of testing on the Jungle Circuit prior to last week’s update, we can’t really tell if the speeds are different now than they were, say, 1 month ago. But they’re pretty close, and much faster than they were after last week’s update.

As for the mountain bike: it still isn’t performing particularly well on any surface. But that should change soon (and it seems plenty fast on Repack Ridge!)

Squishing Bugs/Riding Gravel

Zwift will get these bugs fixed soon enough. Then we’ll test various setups and help you get a virtual gravel/dirt setup just in time for the winter season.