Go backwards on (Zwift) climbs w/ same W/kg?

Interesting… I did a couple of Z “races” whilst doing a TR workout recently (Galena and Redondo with longer intervals) I used TR to control the turbo and power meter pedals to feed zwift…essentially 0% TD as you describe. At one point I did notice I wasn’t dropping back as much and on the recovery bits of the TR workout I was surprised how long I stayed with a group. If I had had Z controlling the turbo I’d have had TD at 50%… i only did this twice, but my experience kind of correlates with what you’re saying


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I have my TD down around 25 I think - very rarely I’ve to shift into the inner ring, especially on rolling course (a whole other rabbit hole of gearing/ flywheel speed etc to go with the TD “Cheating” debate). It wouldn’t be applicable to a TTT, but the only issue I find in races is that I spin out on sprints/ descents. I’m never close enough to the pointy end to bother changing it though.

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Yeah 100% this. I race the Tuesday ZRL series almost exclusively these days, has far fewer issues with sandbaggers and cheats as alluded to above.

You really need to check the course profile in advance otherwise you can get caught out quite easily - especially if there’s dirt sections or descents into punchy climbs for example. Once the gap goes it is really hard to get it back, so it really helps to be aware of what’s going on.

I find my w/kg is often higher than others in the same race, I think there’s two reasons for this

  1. I am not good at sprints or short efforts - on the most recent ZRL which had 4 sprints, I have to wind up very early and then keep pushing until well after the sprint in order to not get dropped
  2. Not good at sitting in the pack, once I drift to the back of the group I tend to panic and put some power out to get back to the front - there’s a natural churn on Zwift as obviously you speed up in the draft and slow down on the front (if everyone was doing the same power and w/kg you would still get a churn). This is just practice though.

I’m the one at 3.8 below. Also my variability (the coloured bar - the difference between AP and NP) is very low compared to the others, which means I am riding much more like a steady state TT than those other guys.

I have my trainer difficulty around 30%, primarily because the front mech doesn’t work on my turbo bike so I need to keep it in the big ring. But I actually think I might be better off with a higher % since it might stop me riding so steady state.

So tl;dr: there’s definitely a skill to it, like any other computer game.

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Also comms, presumably you have some means of communicating during the TTT… Need to keep talking and keep on top of it in the TTTs.

The TTTs are absolutely my favourite races, suits me quite well. Although I had to race 2 seasons of ZRL in A, and they wanted to do turns at 5.5 wkg - I could manage about 3 or 4… In Bs we try to do 60-90 second turns at 4.5ish wkg.

Something that hasn’t been brought up is the size / weight of your team mates and draft effect on climbs. Are they mostly bigger than you?

For example, if they are 80-90kg and hit a shallow grade climb at 5wkg, thats like 400-450w. Being lighter and even in the draft you might need to put out more than 5wkg to keep up. On the display you only see the power/weight data so it might not be clear that you are ‘drafting’ at 360w up the climb while they are doing 50+w more than you, but you are maybe 5.2wkg while they are 5wkg. My experience is there is less of this effect as climbs are longer and/or steeper, but for short, shallow grade climbs I have noticed this effect.

And as @bobmcstuff said, communication!!! There’s a tendency for people to really spike power when hills start and having good comms with the team is important so you can politely ask them not to do that. :slight_smile:

Side note: I think I’m around 40% TD. I think it is enough resistance response to feel when there are gradient changes but I can still smash downhills and also don’t feel like the flywheel is being stopped when grades kick up.

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In the real world you’d be spot on that for equal W/kg heavier riders would have an advantage on shallow climbs. I’ve never found that to really apply in Zwift though, seems much more biased towards W/kg over raw watts, both climbing and on the flat.

The thing with zwift is it is visually difficult to tell if another rider is bigger than oneself and since the side panel displays w/kg you don’t get an appreciation of the raw power they are putting out. So its difficult to make both a weight adjusted comparison and raw power comparison at the same time unless you do fan mode.

As a little manlet my experience in races and group rides is that if a big boy gets on the front on flats or shallow grades and smashes it, I am riding higher w/kg than they are (even in the draft) but lower absolute power. But with the side panel only showing w/kg it looks like I’m ‘working harder.’

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I did a bunch of group rides, races and TTTs on Zwift at the beginning of lockdown with a lot of people that I ride and race with in real life so have a pretty good handle on their size and relative strengths. Seemed the smaller guys with high W/kg were killing it on the climbs as usual but the big guys with raw watts didn’t have anything like their normal advantage on the flat. Think Zwift have tweaked the physics a bit since then so might be closer to real world now, I haven’t used it much recently.

Totally unrelated, and I have seen more than one joke… but this looks like a legit question :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


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That is still the case. Since racing (in particular) and fast group rides are mostly categorized by w/kg, it gives smaller people a disadvantage on any course with flat terrain. The zwift algorithms definitely give some preference to the smaller riders on the flats (compared to real life), but not enough to level the playing field. There is no way to use w/KG along to accurately categorize racing abilities. So, A races aren’t an issue because it’s open, but every category below that has a bias toward bigger people. The alternative is to make it more like real-life with results-based categories, but the w/KG is probably the best way to do it in an objective way. I think there are also some races now that also have weight in play for some categorization, but it’s still an arbitrary cutoff.

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Does the difficulty setting important if I use TR to control the trainer and record the ride? If so, what should I change it to?

During the race, I record the ride on resistant mode around 55% in TR. So I can respond the changes with one shift. However this doesn’t work as I get drop on the hills despite I’m around 4.5 wkg.


  • If you have “Controllable” off in Zwift, and TR is controlling your trainer like you said, the TD setting in Z is not used in any way.

Well how cool is that… 31 messages on this thread that I started late on Thursday last week, including quite a few within minutes of my post. Thats why TR is the best… I hope they don’t sell their soul to Z ( Is Zwift About to Acquire TrainerRoad? | DC Rainmaker ). Anyway… for my sins I’m entered on tomorrow’s ZRL TTT… I’ll try out the tips… TD down; Know the course; Anticipate


LOL, 31 replies… is that a coffee break or something :wink:

Just joking, but if you want to burn some real time, you can see the 2+ week old thread that hit a fever pitch after that article got shared in there.

Good luck on the race and I think your 3 bullet points are exactly what you need tomorrow. Have fun :smiley:

Ha ha… I was expecting about 5 :slight_smile:

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Yeah, we can get some great feedback here for sure. One of the reason I hang about. :smiley:

I actually like a pretty high difficulty setting in zwift for racing. I can not only anticipate a hill by starting to ramp up the power but I can then continue the surge by standing up to put down more power to stay with the group, and SAG the climb. Then you can ease back down and sit and shift.

So… I did a ZRL TTT this eve with the Trainer Difficulty at about 10%, maybe less. The good news is it was way better. There was only 1 hill, not too steep, but it was much easier to stay with the pack. So I’ll need to try it out on a steeper section. That said, my instincts and experience tells me that a larger freewheel requires a bigger hump to get over to maintain momentum when resistance hits (similar to co-efficient of dynamic friction for any physics students - surely 10% resistance applied to a 10kg weight requires more instant power to keep momentum than a 5kg. Yes the power required translates to movement on screen but I think I also burn a match in the process… Any mechanical engineers out there?

I did the same one :wink:

That was a pure power course really (that aqueduc KOM needed a bit of attention not to split the group but it was very short, and the second half was pan flat and super straightforwards).

Re your Q - that’s not what 10% difficulty means, “difficulty” is a bit of a misnomer - more correctly it’s “gradient realism” or something (although gradient simulation realism is a bit debatable anyway). At 100%, when there’s a gradient in Zwift that’s 10%, Zwift tells your trainer to simulate 10% gradient. At 50% trainer difficulty, when there’s a gradient in Zwift that’s 10%, Zwift tells your trainer to simulate 5%, and so on. The reason 50% is the default is that some cheaper/older trainers can’t simulate grades above 8% (and there’s up to 16% gradients in Z).

So all it affects is the gradient simulation on your trainer - the flywheel still weighs the same.