Remove sticky draft on uphills

OK, clickbait title a bit, but lots of riders suffer when climbing a hill and there are tons of slower riders in front - many times the speed difference is not enough to pass them by and we stick behind them, losing time and speed.
My suggestion is to have the stickiness delta (the difference between the speed of the rider in front to the rider coming from behind) a percentage of the rider’s speed. So riding slowly won’t stick that much as riding faster.
Another suggestion is to have the stickiness delta dependent on the power. If the rider behind would continue to move faster when passing the rider in front (assuming both of them don’t change their power), then don’t stick but let the back rider pass.
Third suggestion is to stick to the faster rider around. When riding behind a fast rider that just overtook a slower rider, it makes no sense to stick to the slower one.

Now to avoid sticking to a slower rider, I have to forcefully increase my power just when I get behind the rider in front, and keep it higher until I pass. But for a long ride, this quickly burns my matches.

Best of luck with this one. My only suggestion is the same as it would be IRL, get into a better position before the climb and those “slow” riders won’t be an issue.

It does not mimic real-world physics or come even close. Drafting is fine but please, PLEASE for the sake of your paying customer, remove the sticky component. Get out, do some riding on a real bicycle, and then maybe you would understand that the ‘sticky’ part of drafting only happens when you get out of the draft, NOT when you get into a draft.


I have to disagree with you on this one. This is a constant issue on every hill and every stretch.
I’m riding with friends, and i’m allways being trapped by some slower person and i have to get up and push to be released, if i don’t my friends just drift away.
This has bothered me since i started playing, and i say playing because the lack of realism reminds me that this is just a game.

drafting should not suck you out of your pace, but rather stick after you have adapted your speed.


Recently discovered “sticky draft” during Alpe de Zwift race. Had decided to ride the first flat 5km steady then work hard up the 12km climb, rather than engage in the usual mad sprint off the line with red zone after 1 minute and cling on for the rest of the ride. I’m cat B so started catching cat D riders struggling on the climb. To my surprise my avatar snapped behind the slower rider rather than passing. can’t remember the exact figures but I was doing say 3.6 w/kg and sitting behind someone at 2.5. I eventually figured out that by sprinting, I could get past, but then I would catch the next person, so after about 6 sprints I was fried. Thought I must have changed a setting somewhere only to discover afterwards that sticky drafting was something Zwift had created on purpose. Having read up about it, i can understand the logic but it’s a disaster for climbing. I emailed Zwift who explained the intention was to make drafting “realistic, intuitive and functional” but recognized it was an issue going up steeper hills. They advised increasing power by 100W or approach the person in front at a significantly higher speed, neither of which is sustainable on a long climb. I made the following suggestions to them

  1. Ideally the drafting algorithm is modified significantly when speed falls below let’s say 20km/hr. So then the dominant metric becomes w/kg rather than speed and should be based on a % differential. So I’m thinking that maybe you have that already because an extra 100 watts prompts the overtake, however if we consider that cat B and cat A might climb between 250 and 350 watts, then 100 watts is 30 to 40%, which is much too big a differential. A more realistic differential would be 5%.
  2. If this is too difficult to code (and I believe it’s achievable if Zwift wanted to do it) then just temporarily disable the draft at 20 km/hr.
    They they replied saying
    Thank you for the feedback!
    I’ve passed it on to the dev team, but we also encourage you to share your thoughts on the Zwift Forums.
    The forums are a great place to get more community support for an idea and gain attention from our dev team. The more attention an idea receives, the more likely it’ll get implemented into Zwift. You may find many members have the same thoughts and ideas as you!
    Hence the post. So if Sticky Drafting is an issue for you please add to the post

Typical comical response from somebody who knows nothing or very little about cycling. Firstly a sticky draft is not realistic, intuitive or functional. In what world you you get stuck behind anybody when you approach at a higher speed or power output! YOU GO PAST AND THEN START LOOSING THE EFFECT OF THE DRAFT WHEN YOU ARE IN FRONT!!! Then the advise to overcome their lack of common sense is great if you are a professional rider with a FTP of 500w but asking the average Joe to increase their output by 100w 3/4 up adz is laughable. Trying to communicate with the ‘technical’ people at zwift is like having an argument with a 4 year old.

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Yep, I suffered same I think up Alpe. So set off on group ride up alpe. I rode steady until start and then went up to about 3wkg for the climb. There was loads in front of me and as started climb and was constantly passing people riding 2-2.5wkg. I was hoping they would help me get under an hour. I finished climb at 1hr 6min, 4min slower than best. Question…did this tactic actually harm my speed, getting stuck in sticky draft over and over?

I think it held you back.
I’ve gotten suck in behind someone when I just couldn’t give anymore to break loose.
I’ve not seen the opposite situation where I could ease off and be pulled up hill.

Sticky drafts happen IRL. Zwift’s algorithms may be a little off. I had this discussion with someone recently who complained about the sticky drafts.

On the road you can’t ride through another rider, on Zwift they have tried to add this realism. So IRL you do have to bump up your power output to get past a rider if you come up behind them and to pass IF you are on the same line. You alter your line since you can’t ride through them. That requires a jog in your route that adds a very small amount of distance that you need to get around them. Meanwhile they are still straight. The other rider’s draft is pushing air to their sides, thus now you face more air volume at an angle exposing more of your bikes side profile. The small distance, the slight increase in air volume and the slight increase in exposure due to the angle translate to the requirement to bump your power to get around them. This only applies if you overtake them at a slightly higher speed and end up lined up behind them.

If you are over taking at a moderate speed difference, you usually are already on another line as you can’t ride through them, you aren’t right behind them and you hit their trailing draft at an optimum angle with the least exposure. In Zwift this happens as well. It’s harder “break out” of their draft when you are already in it whereas if you were never in it to start it requires less effort.

This may seem odd, but it’s real, and studied by F1 and NASCAR teams for their strategies. You can notice the same “sticky draft” when you drive, it takes a little more “gas” to pass if you are already behind in the same lane, whereas you slide past if you are in a different lane.

Zwift is attempting to emulate real life. You have to accept the good with the bad if realism is what you want. You benefit from the ability to draft in game, so too the negative impacts from drafting occur.

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I think this request is about too much sticky draft when the speed is low and therefore the drag is low, like on steep uphills. It is not about removing the sticky draft altogether.

@D.M I don’t think there is any dispute about the fact that you must add some power to come out of the draft to pass some one but to say that sticky draft exists IRL is your opinion and is something I have never experienced. Remember we are not talking about sitting in and then deciding to go to the front, we are talking about coming from the back and then being sucked into a draft and being kept there for some time. Also the benefits of any draft, sticky or not, is really non existent when you drop below a certain speed i.e. below 10km/h on a 15% gradient yet zwifts logic sucks you into the sticky draft. To compare this to studies made by F1 and NASCAR is not really relevant because we are talking about vastly different environments and while the physics still applied you cannot seriously say with a straight face that an average amateur bike rider suffers from the same symptoms :wink:

Get it that zwift is trying to emulate real life but my personal opinion is that I will gladly do without it if that emulation is bad.

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