New Race Format

I can hold the bunch on the flats but loose sooooooo many places going up hills… I’ve obviously been honest with my weight yet so many sub 80 kg riders seem to exist and weight cannot be proven… I’m not suggesting people aren’t telling the truth!!
Can Zwift start a race league where weight kg isn’t taken into account, just your output… Could be fun to see/compare the results??

Hi Matt and welcome to the forums.

This would require a complete revamping of pack dynamics. Height and weight are paramount to the physics in Zwift. Don’t hold your breath that this will ever happen.

Hills are where lighter riders have a chance to compete with the big power riders. Spare a thought for the experience of people who aren’t designed for the typical flat Zwift race. Those riders have few opportunities to shine. Big riders have lots of flat events to crush - the vast majority. I’m a sub-80kg rider (and not a lightweight!) who loves hills and I avoid flat races so I have a chance against the big bruisers. I wouldn’t want Zwift to give the big boys a free pass. I need somewhere to hurt them.


Well, there would still be categories. So depending on how they were split you might be near the top of a power cat :slight_smile:

Fair point, and Zwift already has the ability to split categories based on raw power. A community organizer could do that if Zwift agreed to it. The main problem is the defaults of Category Enforcement which means it works out as I described. But there’s no real feature request here since it’s already possible, just not something anyone’s doing.

Plus until Monday (?) there is Flat Is Fast which is pretty much what the OP seems to be hoping for. I went into that race with no expectation of a good placing, just to have a laugh trying to split up the group as much as I could.


I think the request is to model everyone in the race at the same weight and height no? Then it’s basically power only for that race. Not sure if I read it correctly though.

Yeah that’s the “pretty much” part of my comment. It doesn’t cover all differences but if you just want some duration of Watts as the category boundary and nothing else, that’s already possible.

BTW most knowledgeable person about the options is probably @DejanPresen

Well I think the difference is, if everyone is modelled the same nobody can weight dope, so it’s a big difference from that perspective.

So by starting this conversation (although I’m sure it’s all been said before) I’ve learnt the term weight doping and also I’ve listened to comments about how lighter riders like the hills because they can dominate. I have to say that I do not see such advantageous gains from the downhills (being a heavier rider) as lighter riders feel in the ups, I’m lucky if I gain 1 or 2 places… If I’m holding my own in a group (by no means the front group) but in a group pushing 220/260 watts and not getting dropped then going uphill if I’m pushing 280/320 watts then I’m still being passed by sooooo many riders. I think this is where I’m struggling… If I weigh 90 kg (for example) I need to push 30/40% harder going uphill or maybe more just to maintain a mid bunch position. For example yesterday in tdz I was approx 180th in a group of 1000 plus riders going hard but good but at the hills I was dropped to 350th and finished the event in about this place. I didn’t make up places on the downhill or the flats…
I’m never going to be a top 10 finisher but I find loosing so many places over a short climb really frustrating!! My aim would be to finish in the top 10% and I’ve set this as a goal for 2024… Please don’t let the maths and pack dynamics hold me back!!!

As an average weight rider (75 kg) I obviously don’t encounter exactly what you experience. But when you say that you’re riding 220-260W in the group on the flat and 280-320W on climbs, that’s about what I can manage. I did TdZ stage 1 this week and I needed these watts to keep up with a similar group (around 160th in group of 800). So I think that you did very well to keep up with a strong group on the flat. But you probably need 400+ watts to maintain position on a short climb (<2 min) and 350-400W on longer climbs (>5 min). That’s more or less B category w/kg and what is needed to get in the top10% of a competitive ride like TdZ.

The weight (and height) modelling in Zwift is not completely accurate, but in most cases it is in the right ballpark. If you want more info, you can find it in an article on the excellent website
How Rider Weight Affects Speed on Zwift | Zwift Insider

I don’t think it would be that complicated though to discard member-inputted weight values and instead eg. make everyone 75kg and 5’9"

Physics is cruel. Speed equals distance over time. As a result:

  1. You spend much longer climbing than you do descending, because you’re going so much slower on the way up. So, in the very simplest terms, climbing is already 4 or 5 times (say) more important than descending.

  2. Speed is limited by gravity on the way up when you’re going slowly but is increasingly limited most by aerodynamic drag when you’re going fast on the way down. So watts per kg are absolutely king when climbing.

  3. As a consequence of both the above, every additional 20 watts you can summon on the way up makes MUCH more difference to your speed than every additional 20 watts you can generate on the way down.

  4. Descending always follows climbing, so everyone’s pretty much knackered anyway. If you’ve struggled to keep up on.the climb, it takes a special talent to then attack on the downhill, and that almost never works (H/T to Chris Froome)


What about age? Zwift W/kg categories are a joke, but this idea is imho worse - only raw Watts would count.

So let heavier riders retain their advantage of being able to push more watts while removing their disadvantage on gradients?

Sure, that seems fair … :thinking:


One possible complication would be excluding that change from the Category Enforcement calculations, or the big powerful riders would get a category upgrade. (This is fine.)

There would be categories, so, it’s just a different way to run the races, people with similar power would be in a similar category. Personally I support Zwift experimenting with formats that are different than the current strict categories which have people often always racing at the top of their categories or always at the bottom.

Cats with CE would have to be by power only, not power/kg. So, no advantage or disadvantage if all of the 350 watt ftp folks are together, e.g.

The first step actually might be to scrap height entries. Some of the competitor platforms don’t use it – are they worse off for this? Seems like just another potential exploit that is nearly impossible to validate.

Personally, and I’ve said a few times before, I think Zwift should first experiment with just doing random periodic unannounced small changes to the cat boundaries used for CE. And if not already a game function, move entrants to the correct Pen at time of joining race if they signed up for the race before the cat boundary shift.

Yeah, just implementing different bounds in some of their big races would be ideal. Lots of things they can do to mix it up.