ToW Stage 4 Fail?

Allow me to opine for a moment about the execution of stage 4 of ToW. First, let’s spill my bias… I absolutely loathe all things gravel on Zwift. For those who didn’t quite catch that in the back, I would typically rather crank my weight up to 200 kg and Everest Alpe du Zwift than ride gravel routes. Yes, I understand that eliminates a sizeable portion of the routes on Watopia and Makuri, but I have reconciled with that, and I am content to ignore those parts of the worlds.

Now, despite my visceral repugnance, I decided to temporarily cast aside my exceptionally rational hatred for this week, to embrace the ToW Stage 4. After all, it’s hard to argue against Zwift series group rides for their ample availability and the convenience of being able to jump on a group ride nearly any time I please and ride whatever pace I want while stealing a little free speed. To make the best of it, I thought I would add a little more intrigue, by using a portion of my obnoxious quantity of drops, to play with some of the newer off-road equipment. So, Sunday I visited the Drop Shop, and spent in excess of one million drops on the Specialized Crux and Cadex wheels knowing I would use them for the whole week and can have them at hand for any future campaigns/events. It’s not like I’ll ever run out at this point…

Fast forward to this evening, I was ready to go. I figured I may as well see how the equipment fared on multiple terrains, so I cued up my Crux in the pen and proceeded to choke on humble pie for 18 km taking a 55 watt penalty (~1 W/KG). Such is life, at least I know now that the thing is an absolute dog on the tarmac and in the future I would leverage bike swaps on the A rides. I dragged that heavy thing, with the rolling resistance of a go kart with square wheels, for what seemed like a lifetime to finally round the bend approaching the entrance to the Jungle Loop. I accepted my less than optimal position in the group, and figured I would make it a challenge to use the reversal of advantage of the gravel rig to pick off as many people as I could. Then… I saw that green arch… and through it, every single rider being flipped to the same mountain bike… suffice it to say I was annoyed… It honestly spoiled the ride for me. Yes, it’s a game, and it’s certainly not that serious, but after a long, frustrating day at work, the annoyance just left a lousy taste in my mouth.

I’m more than happy to take the personal responsibility if I missed something in the instructions about the auto-swap. I’ll be the first to call myself an idiot for not reading and adding self-inflicted insult to injury by wasting drops on equipment I will use maybe once. But, if that instruction was somewhere, it was not obvious. I am probably one of the minority who bothers to read the ride notes and I saw nothing about equipment changes called out.

But, let’s ignore for one moment, the high probability that I am, in fact, a moron. I question Zwift’s strategy here. Why auto-swap everyone to the same bike? Why not invite people to leverage different equipment they have available at different levels and different costs to add some dimensionality to the same old routes that we see year over year? Why not let people experiment with bike swaps or trade-offs that they might endure in a race while being able to use the size of these events to not be left behind? What value is there in letting people select their own equipment on the tarmac but insist the playing field is uniform on the gravel?

I can see the argument from riders that don’t want to faff about with bike changes, and this is the easier option, but that execution completely overrode the strategically selected equipment of many riders. I would like to see Zwift turn off auto-swap and let people use the tour to better learn the equipment trade-offs/strategy required for gravel.


The automatic bike swaps were mentioned in the emails they sent out:

Someone conveniently had a screenshot of the email. Don’t shoot the messenger. :wink:

I don’t have any thoughts on this because I avoid these “tours” and similar events - I prefer to ride when I want to on my preferred routes.


Mentioned here, too:


Fair enough, as someone who has gone to great lengths to eliminate marketing emails from my inbox, it would stand to reason I would not see it. Why not include it in the ride notes rather than the marketing material? I just went and checked the event notes attached to Companion, and it is not outlined there at all. Seems like that would be the most logical place to mention it


They did talk about the bike swap in the summary for the overal ToW event (the web link as part of the event announcement), but I don’t think there’s anything in the Activity description in the companion app that talks about the bike swap. I did hear a few people in the pen asking people whether they were using a gravel bike, I knew there was gonna be a bike swap, but that’s because I read the complete ToW summary which I don’t think everyone did.


Before big events I recommend checking out the article which provides complete details about what to expect.
Double Up With Tour of Watopia: Stage Details, New Features + More | Zwift Insider

I suspect the auto bike swap was an attempt to help the uninformed or rank newbies to have a decent experience. Would I have preferred to ride my gravel bike and wheels, no doubt. Since I read Zwift Insider I knew what was coming.

I’m sorry that you had a bad experience. Probably Zwift trying to introduce the mountain bikes to the masses. Many occasional users might not know it’s an option because you don’t usually see them roaming around. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more mountain bike specific worlds in the future.

Problem is, those bike swaps aren’t mentioned in the Event Description beyond a vague:

“We’re also doling out double-duration PowerUps for an extra boost. Want fun? Get ready to see your avatar in costume! Want more? How about automatic bike swapping for specific stages?”

We quite often see advice on this forum to read the Event Description (usually when someone is questioning the results or why they got DQed or some other reason caused by their failure to read the Event Description).

I think it’s really then up to the ride organisers to ensure that they include ALL relevant information in that Event Description instead of hoping the user will randomly stumble across the information in some other manner (be that Zwift Insider, the Tour home page or some other source).


the swap to the mtb on the jungle section on stage 3 quatch quest at times felt harder than being on the tron

My guess is they were reacting to the number of people who dislike gravel and tried to give them a better experience by ensuring that they rode an appropriate bike for the surface type. It didn’t bother me, but I was aware of the auto-swap and I like the gravel routes anyway, so I didn’t come into the circuit with your sense of annoyance. I liked the auto-swap much more than the in-costume segments and big wheels, which are horrible and make me look away from the screen as much as possible.

I have a great deal of respect for Eric’s work on ZI. But, after over 7 years on the platform, I use his articles selectively for those nascent features or events, recurring tours are not in that category. I dont think this will change my approach. That said, I frequently recommend ZI to newer riders and enthusiasts.

I dont fundamentally agree with the auto swap, but that is a matter of opinion. I am disappointed, and this is a recurring theme, that reading his articles or the marketing materials at length should not be a pre-requisite for the ride, but Zwift has again neglected to make critical details obvious. That detail (as heavy-handed as I think the auto-swap is) shohld be right in the ride notes.

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Honestly, I think the auto-swap is a good thing (as a Zwifter, not someone who works here). Having the right type of bike for that sort of terrain means I don’t have to either go really slowly, or make myself do a bike swap, which is a pain.

Get your point about event copy - but these are generally SOOOOO long already and we know that most people don’t read it, so making it even longer would tend to detract from the point. However, I do fully accept that it could have been more clear.

Remember it’s meant to be a bit of fun.


I respect the difference of opinion, but why does that opinion not extend outside of ToW? The same frustration/inconvenience exists on these routes outside of events. Yet, no bike swap. The swap renders the equipment available for purchase obsolete. That undermines a little of that fun.

The ride notes ARE long. I get that, but what is the root cause of the long notes? How much of that detail is critical and how much is fluff? Leaving out a key element of the ride for a paragraph rallying excitement feels like a miss to me. But that’s just one rider’s opinion.

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We’ve always used Tour of Watopia to try and do something a bit outside of the norm with double xp, kits and so on.

Totally respect that this isn’t for everyone, but is in large meant as a way of making the rides a bit more enjoyable and fun for the majority.


I understand that an edit has been made to the ride description.

I myself was going to buy the Crux but decided against it as I saw the auto MTB switch. You can also use to check out route surface and distances for bike use

Discussion point, should\could this change be applied to things like the ZRL where a bike swap is advantageous on specific courses or routes?

This would make it fairer for those adaptive athletes who might struggle with a fast bike swap, roller users, ATV users etc


If Zwift are going to swap bikes for every event going over a bit of dirt then why not get rid of the dirt at all because of some people that complain about going a bit slower.

How about a lighter bike for the climbs.

I would rather see Zwift disable bike swaps or have a bike swap button so racers can use it tactically.

Putting everyone on the same bike makes no difference everyone just go a bit faster.

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Not sure if this has always been on the event description page, but found this:


I will admit to not reading the full event description as I did not know this before my ride yesterday.

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