All About Zwift’s Updated Feather and Burrito Powerups

All About Zwift’s Updated Feather and Burrito Powerups

Zwift’s latest update included important changes to two of the game’s key powerups: the feather and burrito. Here are all the details!

Not sure how Zwift’s powerups work? Read “Your Guide to PowerUps in Zwift” >

Feather PowerUp: Helping the Heavies

The Feather powerup used to make you 9.5kg lighter, so you could climb a bit easier or sprint a bit faster. Heavier riders have complained that giving every rider the same weight advantage means the feather has a greater effect on lightweight riders than heavier riders – and they weren’t wrong!

For a 60kg rider, the old feather’s 9.5kg advantage meant a 15.8% reduction in body weight. For a 90kg rider, the same feather gave them a 10.6% reduction in weight. Since heavier riders already struggle on climbs, the mismatch seemed especially unfair.

The updated feather now reduces everyone’s body weight by a flat percentage: 10%, by our calculations. Here are some numbers we saw in our tests:

  • 75kg rider @ 300 watts (4 w/kg): goes to 4.4 w/kg with feather activated
  • 60kg rider @ 180 watts (3 w/kg): goes to 3.3 w/kg with feather activated
  • 60kg rider @ 360 watts (6 w/kg): goes to 6.7 w/kg with feather activated

Due to the way Zwift sizes our avatars, this 10% weight reduction will typically result in a visible change in size for your avatar.

Our 75k avatar before the feather powerup (left) and during (right)

A 95kg rider won’t notice any change with the new feather powerup, since it will reduce their weight by 10% (or 9.5kg, the same as the old feather). Riders lighter than 95kg may notice the feather has less effect, especially very light riders (60kg or below). Riders over 95kg may notice an increased effect.

Burrito PowerUp: Bringing the Pain

The old Burrito powerup simply turned off your avatar’s slipstream for 10 seconds, so no other riders could benefit by sitting in your draft. The problem with this setup was, the burrito is an event-only powerup, used for races. And most racing is done in a pack setting. And if you’re in a pack and activate the burrito, riders behind you are still benefiting from the slipstream effect of other riders ahead of them, even if they aren’t benefiting from you.

Basically, in a group of any significant size, activating the burrito did nothing.

It was useful if you were attacking off the front – but that’s such a rare occurrence in races that riders would often “burn their burritos” – using them immediately, or clicking the link to throw them away.

The new burrito is much more… er… powerful. It now disables the draft effect for all riders within 2.5m of yourself. Here’s a visual comparing normal pack dynamics to the old burrito effect to the new burrito effect:

Note: the draft “trail” show above is for illustrative purposes only and not indicative of Zwift’s actual draft “shape” or strength.

This change makes the burrito especially effective when used in the peloton, because it makes every rider within 2.5 meters work harder! The rider who activates the burrito still receives the same draft benefits as before, but riders within 2.5 meters are receiving zero draft benefit for 10 seconds.

Strategic Burrito Usage:

  • Watch for friendly fire: if you are riding next to a teammate, keep in mind that activating your burrito will adversely affect them. Consider moving away from your teammate or warning them via Discord to move away before activating.
  • Don’t double burrito: if a nearby rider already has a burrito activated, activating your burrito powerup will have a negligible effect since nearby riders will already have their draft disabled by the first burrito. Wait until the first burrito expires (it only lasts for 10 seconds) or move elsewhere in the pack.
  • Burrito-powered teamwork: to facilitate a team breakaway, move within 1 rider of the front of the pack (but still within the draft of the front rider(s), then activate your burrito as teammate(s) attack. This will let the teammates get away, while making it difficult for anyone to bridge across the draftless space to grab their wheel.
  • Mind the gap: when you see a nearby rider activate a burrito, increase your wattage so you don’t drop away from the pack. Keep in mind that riders just ahead of you may also have their draft disabled by the burrito, which means they may let a gap open up to riders ahead. Keep your eyes open, and bridge that gap before it becomes a problem!

Questions or Comments?

Share 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

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Glenn Bastian
Glenn Bastian
1 year ago

Get rid of all power ups

Mike Lister
Mike Lister (@mlister)
1 year ago
Reply to  Glenn Bastian

No, they add an interesting dynamic. Some events have them, some don’t. Pick the one you prefer but I don’t see a reasonable argument for removing them completely.

Brandon
Brandon
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Lister

If two riders of equal watts, bike/wheels and weight are in a sprint for a race win, a favourable power up will increase one person’s chance of winning. This is the obvious reasonable argument against them as it reduces the need for skill in favour of luck.

David Cooper
David Cooper
1 year ago
Reply to  Brandon

You’re right, it is a reasonable argument, but in a Zwift race no one is likely to suffer a puncture, drop a gear or take a corner too quickly and come off taking half the group with them. The powerups add a little unexpected randomness to a race, like a mechanical or accident does in the real world.

Also creates some space for individual strategy within a race, in working out when is the best time to use it.

Pat
Pat
1 year ago
Reply to  Glenn Bastian

dropped the burrito in real life, works great to dump wheel suckers (those who ride in the draft but never take a turn at the front).

A.Hofmann (RocksAndRootsCycling)
A.Hofmann (RocksAndRootsCycling) (@ahofmann)
1 year ago

Still prefer races without power-ups but feel these are good changes for both power-ups. Received the feather power-up a couple times during the Specialized event last weekend and being a rider leaning towards the heavier side it was a very noticeable difference vs the old feather that seemed to do nothing.

Greg Smith
Greg Smith
1 year ago

Meanwhile, the user interface is as dated as MS-DOS. We still don’t have basic things like family plans, or switch routes without exiting the application. The founder gets on a podcast and says rowing will drop in a few weeks…multiple months ago. Enough with the gimmicks. The new courses are nice, but the priority needs to be getting the new UI out, fixing the most basic of issues and actually deliver some innovation.

Chris Holton
Chris Holton (@bass_n_bass)
1 year ago
Reply to  Greg Smith

i kind of agree but the “gimmicks” are easier to do, easier to test and less of an issue if they go worng so can be released much quicker and easier than the others you mentioned (payment plans aside)

Greg Smith
Greg Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Holton

Yes gimmicks are easier to do. But then they should stop promising things they know they aren’t going to deliver. It shows a lack of respect for the user community. They have been promising a redesigned UI for a year or more now. Then they said they pivoted for COVID-19 even though it was supposedly “done”. Then they said rowing was imminent in a few weeks. Months later, no rowing. If they aren’t going to release or develop something, fine. But then they shouldn’t mention it and imply it is coming. There are only two possibilities when they perpetually don’t… Read more »

abc
abc
1 year ago

have never found a burrito to eat in my races

Alice O’Neill
Alice O’Neill
1 year ago

What power up is there to help the light riders come downhill quicker?! 🧐

A.Hofmann (RocksAndRootsCycling)
A.Hofmann (RocksAndRootsCycling) (@ahofmann)
1 year ago

Anvil

A.Hofmann (RocksAndRootsCycling)
A.Hofmann (RocksAndRootsCycling) (@ahofmann)
1 year ago

The new anvil power-up adds a certain percent of weight to your rider. Only available in races/events if I recall correctly.

MHolden
MHolden (@holdenadventures)
1 year ago

I like the new burrito power…super beans! i’m sure i’m going to suffer the results of this one 😟 But, it was less useful before. I can appreciate the feather changes, especially for heavier riders. I feel like this made the feather less powerful for more riders. It’s probably mostly a placebo feather anyway haha! my biggest powerup frustration is when racing and I really need power up and I get XP…and only a small amount. In one of my last races, I really needed any power-up (except the ghost) and got a little XP…dropped 8 places as all of… Read more »

Alex
Alex
1 year ago

I can confirm your lighter-rider test result for the feather.

During stage 3 of the Tarmac series last week, my 61kg avatar went up Mt. Ventoux at 6.0 W/kg before using the feather which got me up to 6.7 W/kg.

The old feather added a full W/kg for me.

Dave Flounders
Dave Flounders
1 year ago

Nice to see ongoing “improvements” in base features. Although i would have thought there were more important features that could have been addressed first.

Tony Richardson
Tony Richardson
1 year ago

Sadly, this is the poor level of ‘improvements’ Zwift now offer… While we sit waiting for improvements to the terrible graphic non customisable interface, Club features, bug fixes, better responds from the event tems and many many other items suggested by the community, all Zwift can come up with are tweaks to minority issues. The ‘racing’ fraternity may be happy with this fodder butt about the majority of paying users… Come on Zwift, this isn’t good enough.

dan
dan
1 year ago

you are the crying minority pretending to be the majority

Eugene C
Eugene C (@tobinhatesyou)
1 year ago

There should be clarification on how power-ups affect each other. Does the burrito subtract a known value and does the draft power-up add a know value? In other words, do they cancel out, leaving you with a normal draft effect? Does the burrito just multiply the draft effect by zero and does the draft power-up multiply the current draft by 2x, meaning the draft power-up is useless in the burrito’s area of effect? Or does the draft power-up supersede the burrito altogether, giving you the full benefit??

Eugene C
Eugene C (@tobinhatesyou)
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I suspected as such. They’re going to have to nerf the burrito at some point as teams designate 1-2 people to use them in a sprint finish. Obviously everyone will be trying to hoard aeros, but if you’re unlucky enough to be stuck with a draft, it’s as good as useless. Just the ability to daisy chain several of them together in the middle of the race is overpowered. I’m just glad most people haven’t figured that out for themselves and haven’t read this…

Ralph de Kanter
Ralph de Kanter
1 year ago

There is one more strategy for the burrito, particularly if several of you use them one after the other – Pack thinning.

Drift towards the back, then activate. Anyone on the limit could have this push them over the edge.

jeremiah bell
jeremiah bell
1 year ago

Huh. Interesting strategy. Drift to the back and waste your energy and power-up trying to crack riders that are about to crack on their own anyway. Apologies to Eric, but I’d call that being foolish (or being a bully?) I wish more of my competitors thought like you. I’ll be the guy trying to use my energy and power-ups to force the stronger riders to burn matches.

Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman
1 year ago

My understanding of all the other power-ups is that they benefit the rider. The burrito in its new incarnation is the exception. Instead of directly benefiting the rider, it penalizes a group of other riders. That difference feels critical to the enjoyment felt by Zwift’s paying customers. My mind turns to the psychological principle of loss aversion, which (in some, tightly defined experiments) suggests that we feel the pain of a loss about 2.5 times as much as we derive pleasure from an equivalent sized gain. When one rider triggers a burrito, several riders run the risk of falling out… Read more »

Nick
Nick
1 year ago

Agree on the suggestions that the Burrito is now ‘evil’ – it used to be that if you made a break, or had been dropped and were toiling along on your own with someone wheel-sucking then ‘dropping the Burrito’ to shake them off (or at least make them work to stay with you) seemed ‘fair’… now it’s kind of a ‘tactical nuke’ that can be used to penalise other riders in a way that is un-sportsmanlike at best…

Marco NL
Marco NL
1 year ago

I agree with the rational of using %weight for the feather powerup. However, wouldn’t it be equally fair to apply %weight for boost-mode as well? It must be said that I haven’t had the chance to test this race type event myself yet, but a 50W penalty at 4wkg would be different for a 60kg rider compared to a 100kg rider. Not sure if the boost would equal that out, since hanging with the pack can already be challenging for lighter riders without being penalised. Any thoughts/experience? Cheers.

Marco NL
Marco NL
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Indeed it would need to be all %based, both weight and power. As a simplified illustration; lets say a B pack travels at 350W. In draft this might require 250W to hang. At 90k this would translate to 3wkg (not sure how much correction is actually needed to compensate for a bigger frontal area). However, at 60kg your already at the top end of the 4wkg cutoff. In other words, the heavier rider might be able to recharge whilst in the pack, whereas the lighter rider would be dropped instantly. Vice versa, a lighter rider deploying the boost uphill will… Read more »

OwenD
OwenD
1 year ago

Not sure what the calculations are for the anvil, but if this is also a % of body weight then isn’t this just as ‘unfair’ (more?!) to lighter riders as the original feather was for heavy riders? Eg. if its a 10% addition then a 60kg rider gains 6kg, whilst a 90kg rider who will already descend faster gets a 9kg boost. So it feels like both power ups have less impact on lighter riders – and that’s before getting into the fact that the lighter rider still carry the same bike weight (and hence require greater w/kg): but that… Read more »

OwenD
OwenD
1 year ago
Reply to  OwenD

With the help of http://bikecalculator.com/ I’ve run some numbers to illuminate the ‘real world’ impact the feather/anvil approaches would have (note: I’m assuming anvil is a 10% weight gain, I haven’t been able to confirm this anywhere but the zwift website states “Think of it as the opposite of the feather power-up”). I’ve worked through a detailed scenario below – but the summary is: Real world pyhsics already benefit the heavier rider (including going uphill, since W/Kg needs adjusting for bike weight). The real world advantage that lighter riders have is that they are physiologically better equiped to maintain higher… Read more »

Dan Connelly
Dan Connelly
1 year ago
Reply to  OwenD

Nice work! Imagine if in a running race we asked each runner to carry a 9.5 kg brick. Next event, I suggest we race w/o the brick. Is that unfair to heavy riders? But it remains to be seen what the actual Zwift “physics” are.

Lisa Heathman
Lisa Heathman
1 year ago

Good change. An idea: I’d like to see an ‘anchor’ power up. The feather is great for heavier riders on climbs, so why not have a power up that’s useful for lightweight riders on descents? Smaller riders have every bit the disadvantage going downhill as larger riders have going uphill. If I’m going to get dropped during a ride or race, it’s usually on a downhill!

Dan Connelly
Dan Connelly
1 year ago

counterpoint: In addition to rider mass, there’s also bike + equipment mass. This is IRL a larger fraction of total mass for light riders than for heavy riders (data Eric has posted suggests this may not be true in Zwift: a 9.33% increase in mass resulted in a 10.70% slower Alpe time — how’s that possible?… I’ll assume it’s like IRL for here). 9.5 kg is a reasonable approximation to this added mass. What the feather previously did was eliminate this “dead weight”, meaning climbing became a true W/kg exercise. So it wasn’t unfair to light riders — to the… Read more »

OwenD
OwenD
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan Connelly

Agreed – I ran some scenarios above to this point.

dan
dan
1 year ago

so the feather benefits the fat rider more; they already get a huge benefit on the flat and downhill. there’s nothing worse than seeing a fat guy get dropped, and he coasts back onto the bunch doing 2+wpk less than the group

Charles Helm
Charles Helm (@c-helm)
1 year ago

It would be nice if I could log in. I have been a member of Zwift almost from the beginning and your site does not recognize my email [email protected]. Perhaps I should stop paying since you don’t seem to know me. Please don’t apologize just straighten it out. An apology is worth about a nickel.

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