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!

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