Accidental cheat discovered

So I was a C category and recently got upgraded to a B, which I was reasonably happy about, however I was never going to be able to win a B race. I joined a B race and tried my hardest to keep up with the pack. I started getting dropped so sprinted like mad for a second, then eased off. I then got back on the group, so once I’d recovered, after about 5 seconds, I sprinted again for one second, then eased off, then I kept on repeating this - it was really difficult but I managed it, but to my surprise I started dropping the other riders. I won the race but deleted it as I was embarrassed that I’d “cheated”? I have tried this tactic again and it works every time - it is certainly a fabulous workout for myself, doing these intervals, but it’s not fair on the other riders. My FTP has also been raised way above my level, so whilst the actual workout is beneficial to my fitness, the overall Zwift racing experience is now ruined for me. I contacted Zwift who were not very helpful, just saying that my category will go back after 60 days if I ride “normally”? So how do I now ride in races, “normally” or intermittent sprinting? I’m really not happy being any kind of fraud/cheat, so I was hoping Zwift could do more to help. For the record I’m using a Wattbike Atom and have checked my settings are all ok.

This is a clear “cheat” available to anyone, and anyone reading this will probably try it! I apologise to anyone else that has discovered this and is happily/secretly taking advantage of it, but it’s not right.

Hi @Phil_Read1970 and welcome to the forums!

This has been discussed numerous times, you’re not the first to discover it. Micro-bursting is a known issue, well at least it is known to the racing community… not sure that Zwift HQ has admitted this is a problem?

Hi Mike,
Wow that’s interesting! If it’s a known issue you’d think they’d be able to do something about it!? Like I said, I’m just in this to keep fit and slim in my mid fifties, and I’m certainly no cheat, but I’m annoyed that now I know it exists it’s going to be difficult to ignore it completely in races…
I just hope Zwift can sort it

@DavidP Is this now considered an exploit? I remember you having a fairly strong opinion on this being a non-issue.

Is it an Elite trainer?

OP said he has a Wattbike Atom

and I’m pretty sure I can get this to work on my Kickr 18


edit - Mike beat me

Sorry, I missed that.

Interesting that you can do this on the Wattbike Atom. I thought it was just on Elite trainers, but clearly that’s not the case. I don’t think this is a universal issue, I think it depends on certain trainers being used with the microbursting technique.

i can probably reproduce it on any of the 5 power meter/direct drives i own. it’s probably easier on a smart trainer than a strain gauge PM since every single one i’ve owned, including the kickr v5 i’m using now, tends to overshoot slightly in the 1-2s range. but i’m not even convinced that’s why it works either

anyway, i think the mental imagery of someone pedalling like this is more funny than annoying, personally.

on this being a non-issue.

I don’t think this is a non-issue. I probably was misunderstood back when I spoke about it, but what I meant is that from my understanding, there isn’t much we can do on the software side on Zwift. This is mostly a hardware specific problem.

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Sticky watts is all hardware… The micro busting thing has always seemed to be more game physics.

But, an actual statement on the pedalling style would go a long way to setting the stall out. Ignoring it, means it carries on. I know I know, zwift will say the odd person has been DQ’d for using it, but its not fixing it, and im actually doubtful how many have been done so by zwift themselves (some organisers, yes, ZHQ - Heads in sand when it comes to this)

I can tell you in the physics there is nothing there about it. The game receives the watts from the connected hardware and does the calculations at every frame refresh. There is nothing magical to keep the watts higher than they should.

That will inform all that has not tried it to start using it. :thinking:

What about speed? Always felt it artificially keeps the speed high from the sprint effort

Remember sticky watts and microbursting are two different things.

Sticky watts - You do repeated sprint and coast exploiting that powermeters and some trainers stick to the high wattage you were doing for 3 seconds after you dropped you power. Very clear cheating, but most people doing it don’t know that they a gaining an unfair advantage

Microbursting - More or less the same riding style but on equipment that does not report sticky watts. Might be cheating, at the very least weird and non-logical pedalling style

I am pretty sure that the OP was helped by sticky watts



It’s funny the perception differences. Some were “complaining” in another thread about how they feel that they immediately get braked/stopped if they stop pedalling for 1 or 2 seconds.

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Yeah I get where you are coming from, but one is at normal riding pace, the other is at high watts.

So whilst similar, they are very different inputs as you are talking about being auto braked which doesnt kick in if over X % of effort… but you know all of that more than anyone else.

We always return to the same conversation, if it wasnt advantageous, people wouldnt be doing it - Its not a normal effort, its use uphill sets it out as not normal - Its not new, it was highlighted 2/3/4 years ago and is an exploit. ZHQ seem determined to not even recognise this and try to counter it or fix it.

I have that trainer - Im doubtful its sticky watts as in 4 years of owning it not seen them but its possible. I did get micro bursting to work on that trainer though - Sprint & coast and watch the speed stay super high

Wattbikes and especially the earlier versions have been notorious at sticky watts, with some having problems where the power would just stick for 10-20 seconds. This also depends on what you are using as ANT is more likely to produce sticky compared to bluetooth

Your talking about Wattbike Pros & Trainers which is correct. The atom is completely different machine in every sense.