I’ve noticed in the last two Zracing events I’ve entered that steering seems to confer a huge advantage. It was particularly noticeable or the windy climb in Scotland where a racer with steering could take several seconds on each corner. On the flat route it there were bizarre attacks where a racer would plow themselves into the edge of the road while trying to break away so that no one could draft them. Of course they could always steer back into the middle of the road and benefit from the draft themselves whenever they want. This seems unfair or, at least, like a “pay to win” scenario. While I can appreciate Zwift wanting to promote a more immersive experience, this doesn’t seem the the intended effect and can be quite demotivating, especially for those who don’t want/don’t readily have the means to splash out for additional equipment.
This is the business case for Zwift.
I have ordered the steering because I do not like the unrealistic feature that allows to pass through the peloton. I have understood that with the steering you have to ride around to overtake.
This is not true.
I agree with you, but for me is more of an annoyance.
No, even with steering enabled either through Zwift Play or steering (Kickr Bike for instance) you can still ride through people, which is needed especially in situations with huge groups.
@Cameron_Raynor - I am guilty - I had a Sterzo and then my wife bought me the Zwift Play. Steering is nice to have. I have noticed that, while I can cut corners (nice) - once I am out of the draft, I still slow down. Where the steering seems to help me, the most benefit is from staying in the draft.
My question to you - given how much you paid for your bike, bike computer, smart trainer, and other accessories, is the cost of a Sterzo or Zwift play that much?
On the other hand, I do think that Zwift could update the software so that riders by default do a better job of staying in the draft - without steering being required.
If Zwift allowed steering to be enabled using simple keyboard shortcuts, it would then be accessible to everyone with many hardware solutions available. They could then turn it on in all events, and ultimately it would sell Zwift Plays. I’m not sure they think that ‘openly’ though.
To me it’s not so much that it’s cost prohibitive (I have an extensive Zwift setup that supports steering if I enable it), but more so that the advantage seems to create a two class system in races. I feel conflicted about using it knowing others in the race have no way to compete.
I’ve recruited several new Zwifters since joining an few years ago and the cost to get started is always a big part of the conversation. I know I will struggle to convince them that Zwift is worth getting into if they know that they will be at a significant disadvantage in races with a basic setup (just a basic smart trainer and a bike, for example).
The two main places I currently see it giving a large advantage are cornering on climbs where climbing the outside of the corners means a lot more slow road to cover (the Sgurr climb in Scotland, for example) and finishing sprints where someone with steering can “steer” into the side of the road so that no one can draft them. The climbs are often make or break moments where losing a few seconds can mean being way behind after the decent. In the sprints, having a steering removes the key tactic of timing a sprint to come out of the draft at exactly the right moment, especially because non-steering players don’t follow the player with steering.
@Cameron_Raynor - all good points. That’s one reason why I would love to see the non-steering code improved so that riders by default ride better, especially in the lower category races. But now that it’s almost always on, more people might start getting it, taking away some of that advantage.
The Sgurr climb is about the best to race if you have steering - since it’s almost all just a bunch of very tight turns.
i’m easy with steering users having some minor benefits (i think it’s fair since they are offset by the mental cost of actually operating the things) but they need to fix this, because right now my preferred approach to dealing with a steering user going up the road is to personally tow the entire peloton back onto their wheel myself. since if i bridge across solo i wouldn’t be able to work with him in a breakaway even if we both wanted to
and TTTs with mixed steering/non steering users are a terrible experience for everyone involved. everyone loses
I agree. I am not too fussed about steering being enabled by default, but the current situation where non-steering players can’t follow seems unfair. Some minor advantage, such as being the first mover, seems perfectly fine.
With the current dynamics, I also find myself avoiding any cooperation with players that I notice have steering and try extra hard to drop them early knowing that they will have an big advantage in the final sprint. I don’t think this is a good experience for anyone involved. If more people adopt steering, it will become a two class system as things stand.
What I do now in races, when a rider with steering moves to either side of the road, I accelerate so he can’t get back to my wheel and has to work more, some times they even get dropped.
Huge advantage? No.
I have both Sterzo and Zwift Play, currently using the Sterzo. And definitely take advantage of it. But it is a marginal advantage. Primarily allowing some moving up by taking the inside lane on a tight turn.
Can’t say it does much more than improve my odds of staying with whatever group I’m in.
Early in the week I did a crit race in Scotland. Small field of less than 10 but when 1 rider with steering rode away just after the start no one chased. What was the point? Even if you caught up to them they could easily prevent you from drafting by just steering away.
A couple of days ago I rolled off the front in one of the short Zracing races. Two riders with steering chased me down but kept to the left of the road. Do they want to form a breakaway? Well it would work better with 3 people instead of 2 but I can’t join them because they have steering and I don’t.
Riders with steering have become like riders with ZPower. Most people just ignore them because it’s impossible to compete against them as they can be permanently undraftable if they want to be.
Steering in races removes any concept of fairness. Makes me wonder if I should virtually drop 10kg just to level the playing field.
Zwift racing has become so meaningless with pay to win steering (not that it wasn’t meaningless before). Perhaps it’s time to give RGT another trial.
Respectfully, I think if you were being dropped by people using steering you might feel differently about it. It’s a small advantage in most scenarios, but in a handful of situations it can be make or break (such as a climb with switchbacks) and it is a bad experience to not be able to compete because someone has purchased the ability to beat you at critical moments.
Just because someone who beat you is using steering does not mean that they could not beat you if they did not use steering.
I am (possibly) slightly biased by a decade or more of IRL racing where small advantages were sought, sometimes at high expense. Aero helmets, aero bikes, aero wheels, lightweight wheels, lowest rolling resistance tyres, skin suits, heart rate monitors, power meters, MO2 sensors, supplements, …
You name it and IRL people are buying it hoping for an advantage. Sometimes you get a small advantage. Sometimes enough small advantages do add up. Mostly just training more and better is cheaper assuming you have the time.
And the absolute highest benefit comes from choosing your parents. If they both were good at endurance sports (i.e. high VO2Max) it is likely you will too.
IMO where I think Zwift went wrong was in going from basically 0 to 100 overnight on the steering. I’m a fan of steering, but very very few events actually had it enabled. Then suddenly it was on by default. Zwift should have had steering on for the past couple years in more Ride (not Race) events – certainly in their own TdZ and TdW types of group rides. It would have gotten the subscriber base time to adjust and adopt to this. The appearance is that they only turned it on because they decided to sell the Play.
And in a small number of situations it can be detrimental - I have several times engaged breaks during a final sprint.
As long as folk get to choose which trainer they are using, some will have an advantage over others.
In IRL you can’t buy a magic shield that protects you from being drafted.