PowerUps Balancing [May 2023]

Hey Zwifters,

Recently, we’ve been focusing on improving racing through efforts like improvements to Category Enforcement, Hardware Requirements, and the release of Pack Dynamics 4.

With the release of game version 1.39, we are focusing on making some improvements to PowerUps.

Update 5 May 11:30 PST: PowerUps changes listed below are now available. All Zwifters should be able to access game version 1.39 and are strongly encouraged to download game 1.39 before trying out the new changes.

Our aim with these changes is to:

  • Make PowerUps feel more meaningful when you obtain them
  • Allow PowerUps to be a stronger strategic tool you have during the course of a race to turn the odds in your favor
  • Remove XP PowerUps from ever appearing in races by default

It’s important to note that these changes are not just limited to races, but will affect power ups across Zwift. This means you’ll also have the benefits of these changes during your free rides, group rides, or Pacer rides.

Below you’ll find all the information you need as well as a brief FAQ.

Changes being made:

  • Aero Helmet: no changes.
  • Draft Truck: increased duration from 30 to 40 seconds and the draft effect will be stronger.
  • Feather: increased duration from 15 to 30 seconds
  • Anvil: reduced duration to 15 seconds. Changed the weight addition to be a percentage of rider weight instead of a fixed 50kg in an effort to make it more useful for all riders, with an emphasis on lighter riders. The percentage of weight is not fixed, and is instead derived from a formula that will make it unique to every rider while still providing a useful benefit for riders of all weights.
  • Burrito: increased duration from 10 to 20 seconds. Changed the behavior to only remove drafting from riders in a cone behind the rider instead of in a radius. The rider using the Burrito will still be able to draft other riders in front of them.
  • Ghost: increased duration from 10 to 15 seconds. It is no longer possible to use this PowerUp when the rider is less than 400m from the finish line.
  • Steam Roller: no changes.
  • XP: removed from all competitive events by default. Event Organizers can still have XP PowerUps appear in their event by request.

It is also important to note that we are not making any changes to the way you obtain, use, or discard PowerUps. We are only making changes to their duration, behavior, or effects.

Implementation and future changes:

As mentioned above, these changes are live as of the release of game 1.39 and affect any PowerUps you obtain while in a race, group ride, free ride, Pacer Group, or any other time you’d get a PowerUp.

Additionally, our method of implementation and ability to make changes has been revamped. What this means is that any time we need to make a change to these PowerUps (or even revert changes) we are not dependent on future game releases to do so.

This also means we can act more quickly on feedback provided by the community when needed if changes made make a PowerUp too effective, almost completely ineffective, or are not working as we would intend them to.

As a result, we are not running dedicated test events like we did recently with Pack Dynamics 4. We will be monitoring this thread for feedback and taking note of what changes - if any - need to be made to improve the overall experience.

We ask for your feedback, and to keep that feedback relevant we will be locking this post within 14 days from its original post date.

Enjoy the changes, and let us know what you think!

Ride On. :ride_on:


  • How can I experience the changes to PowerUps?
    • Make sure you are on the latest version of Zwift. After that, all you need to do is ride on Zwift and pass under an arch as normal. The changes to the PowerUps are automatically in effect.
  • Are the changes to PowerUps only available in races?
    • No, they are available everywhere you can obtain a PowerUp. This means you’ll experience the changes in free rides, group rides, Pacer Group rides, and elsewhere.
  • Are XP PowerUps completely removed from Zwift now?
    • No, they are only removed by default from races. You will still see XP PowerUps outside of races or if the race organizer has opted to include XP PowerUps in their race.
  • Has interacting with PowerUps been changed in any way? Do I need to do anything differently while Zwifting to use them or discard them?
    • No. You will still obtain, use, or discard PowerUps in the same way.
  • I’m a race organizer, do I have to do anything differently to have the newly changed PowerUps in my race?
    • No you don’t. All changes to PowerUps are automatically in effect.
  • I’m a race organizer and I want to have XP Power Ups in my race. Can I?
    • Yes! If you choose to have XP PowerUps in your race, you simply need to ask the event staff at Zwift to include them for you.
  • I’m a race organizer and I want to customize the Power Ups effects or use the old Power Ups effects in my race. Can I?
    • No. Though we are making changes to Power Ups, that doesn’t mean we have the ability for customization of those Power Ups at this time.

Yes! But your event organizer privileges will be terminated with immediate effect.


Nice. thank you

If you make the anvil better for the lighter riders, why not do the same with the feather for the heavier riders?


Right now the duration seemed to be better for us to change, though that’s what this thread is for. Once we have some folks with the feather and anvil under their belts, we can make changes if necessary. Mostly with the feather our issue was that it simply felt too short to be useful, though the weight changes were good.


It’s the only way to have races without power-ups entirely, so I would disagree.

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I’m fine with everyone getting nothing but getting XP when anyone else gets a powerup is animal cruelty.


If I recall Feathers started out at 30 seconds :slight_smile:

Getting rid of the Burrito would have been better all around. Decreasing it to like 5 seconds would be better than increasing its time.


In the past, anvil and steamroller had too much value. So if you decrease the anvil to 15sec, then do it also with the steamroller please (i.e. think about 15 or 30sec advantage at the Dirty Sorpressa !). The feather had less impact in the past, so 30sec make sense IMO. Ghost : 10sec are enough for a hidden attack.
Burrito : also after changing the behaviour, it’s still the ugliest, most frustrating and negative PUp. If activated from the whole pack one after the other for 20sec (!), then it’s like an ITT without any draft. So please decrease it back to 10sec … or better 5sec … or much better : it has impact only then if you are at the front and NOT mid-pack !!!

Lately, in the pen in races where it is enabled, there is often attempts to make an agreement to NOT use the burrito. There are always some not-so-popular guys using it anyways.
My point is - the majority don’t like it. It gets way too hard to loose draft at higher speeds if you are hit by a burrito bomb.
If it is going to be kept, I think the draft should only be reduced and not removed completely.
Also, I think it is the wrong way to have powerups affecting other riders negatively. It work in Mario Kart, but not in races that some take seriously.
Luckily it is not used very much apart from in the weekly Zwift races. It is strange that Zwift doesn’t take a hint. Just scrap it!


I must be the really odd man out.

Burrito always made more sense to me than something like ghost.
At least in its effectiveness for anyone that’s not Cat A.

My quick hot take is as follows being a 60kg 230ish w ftp rider and my experience through ZRL with the powerups.

Aero: Cake. Great PU in basically all instances.
Draft: Never really felt a big difference; only recently noticed it was useful when behind a blob versus increasing “rest” while mid-pack.
Anvil: My least favorite by far. After that update and that first ZRL race this year… that thing was overpowered… I felt like I was cheating in Makuri after descending that dirt KOM to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of it. It felt like it gave me WAY too much advantage. I was with a small group during that race with like 6 other people, and we ended up ‘taking turns’ on that long descent, and I can’t even recall how many places we made up and how many riders we dropped due to how fast we were descending.
Burrito: Rarely see the thing to begin with, but always assumed it worked the way it’s described now; knowing it wasn’t, didn’t have much impact because of how rare the thing was to begin with. But I still like the idea of it, and giving a good chance to really do an attack and not be chased in the lower Cats, and it actually being effective.
Ghost: Worthless. Again unless Cat A; attacks are rarely strong enough, and if you have the fun fire socks… then it actually is worthless. I agree with the not allowing to use it at the end though; it’s silly and confusing if you knew where you placed but someone was invisible.
Steam Roller: Personally never noticed its benefit (but also only commonly get it in France, where… it probably has a seriously small impact. So I’m biased against its effects; perhaps the best benefit it can have is review from race organizers, on courses where it will have a real impact like dirt sections. Cobbles aren’t that slow.
XP: Ahh yes, PU roulette! (very happy to see the change)

Feather: Not listed, but I have no issues with it, it doesn’t feel like anyone can get a real excessive advantage over it. It’s probably my least favorite next to draft of the common PU’s. But it never felt like anyone got an excessively distinct advantage over anyone else. To me it’s felt the most balanced next to aero.

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Overall it looks like the changes make sense to me.

The Aero is pretty powerful for the end of races which is where most short races are fully decided, so it’s good that one isn’t changed.

The draft truck going up seems reasonable, I never felt the draft PU was overpowered, probably still won’t when it’s 40 seconds, but I guess we’ll see.

Increasing the feather by 15 seconds will probably make a big difference on routes using short climbs such as the legsnapper. I’m always begging for a feather on each lap of that one, will be doing so more now.

I’ve hardly ever used the anvil since it’s only used in very specific races.

The burrito change is a good one, it at least makes the power up make some form of sense. Before the use cases for it were few and far between. At least now you’re not hurting yourself with it along with everyone else around you. I still don’t like the burrito that much, but it at least makes a bit of sense now.

The Ghost change makes sense to me. I never felt 10 seconds was really enough to make a huge difference. I’d actually be interested in testing much longer durations for this one to encourage more breakaways prior to the end of races.

Don’t care what they do with steam roller, I try to avoid routes that aren’t paved as much as I can, so I try to avoid races which would be determined by steam roller.

XP removed from competitive events - this is good assuming events with no power ups enabled still grant XP by default. An optimization I would suggest considering is to grant XP if you go through a banner and already have a power-up, that way the banner wasn’t completely wasted if you didn’t get a good opportunity to use your power up before it.

Make the anvil “dumb” again, so it is a detriment if you use it at the wrong time. It’s way overpowered when there’s no penalty for using it in a marginal/bad place. What is the % of weight?

Eliminate the ghost entirely, it’s useless.

Is the sudden loss of draft from the burrito going to trigger the PD4 autobrake?

the ghost is my favourite powerup. the aero is better, but if you can do a long sprint the ghost is cool.


We need a “roulette” power up. You press it and a wheels spins and one of the current selection one of PUs starts. You might get an Aero, or a feather or an anvil etc. Pot luck, if you dare.

Can you confirm that the burrito causes anyone behind to lose all draft from all riders, not just that proportion from the burrito dropper? I assume so.

@DavidP @xflintx Mainly David as he’s the PD4 man. Does this mean that on a descent (steep and fast enough) that the rider behind the burrito user will now be in a 0% draft situation and therefore able to supertuck - feels like it should but you’d know better than me.

Yes, in theory that is what will happen, assuming all the conditions are met.
Keep in mind that in a pack your draft situation might change quickly and you might start receiving draft from another nearby rider depending on the movements.

Thanks for confirming, I was replying to someone on facebook who was alarmed that if they were last man over a climb and the rider in front Burrito’ed them, then they were screwed, I suggested they could sprint then super-tuck and be fine (in theory)