zPower races

(Tinkerbell Alsop [zinc]) #1

I’ve been zwifting for a couple of months, and I really love the races, but recently I’ve detected anti-zPower sentiments. I don’t mind being bizarrely disqualified from races, as long as I got to race and put my workout on Strava. I somewhat understand the problem with zPower calculations and the effects thereof, but it’s not my fault and I resent the idea that I’m cheating. Also, I am deprived a full Zwift experience because some people won’t chase me when I try to break away. I want to know that they couldn’t stay with me. A small part of me wants to quit Zwift because of this. The principles of it upset me.

Therefore, I propose to organise races for zPower only riders. Is that possible? Has it been suggested before? Surely so, but I haven’t found it. Are there enough zPower riders to make it viable? Most races I enter are over 95% non-zPower. Perhaps if I make it good I can convert some of them temporarily over to zPower so that they can enter my races. I’ve a feeling however, that even if I could organise a race with 100 people just like me (non-cheating), the faults of zPower would impinge upon the reality of the racing.

(Fez) #2

Low quality trolling. Almost every race and event on Zwift is classic trainer friendly.

(Nigel ) #3

A zPower race would be farcical with a wide variation in power levels. Problem is some of the people with zPower averaging 400 - 600 watts in an event don’t believe or don’t care that their power is incorrect.

My view is if you want to race and have your results count (on Zwiftpower.com) then you should make some effort to have reasonably accurate power and yes that means spending money. That then excludes zPower and some of the wheel on trainers like the Tacx Vortex but that’s just my view.

(Tinkerbell Alsop [zinc]) #4

Thanks for your friendly reply, Nigel. You’re right to say that I don’t care that my power output on Zwift is incorrect. I’d go further, and say that nobody else should care either. As long as I’m consistent, I am one more person to race against for those people I wouldn’t have a chance of competing with in real life. There’s a good idea in handicapping all riders so that everyone can compete with everyone, but I don’t know how that could be achieved. And some wouldn’t welcome it.

I was thoroughly enjoying Zwift until now. I probably will stick around for a bit longer, and continue to believe that everyone is racing me. I saw another thread in which somebody described us zPower riders as second class citizens. If that’s true, then I don’t want to join the first class. It’s disappointing that Zwift couldn’t yet solve the problem of zPower. Hopefully in the future they will.

(“Low quality trolling”?!:thinking: I don’t understand “Almost every race and event on Zwift is classic trainer friendly.” Please define ‘classic’ trainer: smart or zPower? Either way, the sentence doesn’t work. Every race is smart turbo friendly; many races are zPower unfriendly (and some racers are zPower unfriendly))

(Nigel ) #5

Classic trainers are dumb trainers I.e. not smart trainers. You can use them in Zwift races however many race organizers don’t allow the results to count or to place or some other result. The results being those on zwiftpower.com

(Daren) #6

Then what’s the point of:

I want to know that they couldn’t stay with me.

If they can’t stay with you because your power is over-reading by 100W, it means nothing, surely. And from their point of view, what’s the point of racing someone who’s quite likely to be over-reading?

I understand your point of view, but it doesn’t mesh well with the “serious” racer mindset.

You could start a race series yourself for zPower riders, of course.

(Gerrie Delport TeamODZ) #7

@Thomas_Alsop: It is sad that people treat Zpower in that way. But there is a good reason why the zpower got a bad name. There are a lot of zpower rides that have a bad setup and think it is normal to do a zone 2 ride at 300w.

But there are trainers that are pretty good and consistent. I have two zpower trainers that I tested against my power tap wheel and they are in the ball park ±5% most of the time.

I would not mind racing against someone that read 5% high, as long as he always read 5% high and he enter the correct Cat.

If you do a FTP test with your trainer (Zpower or Smart or power meter) and you have a accurate FTP number and you put in your correct height and weight then I will race you without question.

the only place where I don’t think we should see Zpower is in the A and A+ group, once you reach that level you need to have something that is calibrated and trusted. the reason i say this is because if your trainer read high you may ride in the C cat vs the D but it it read high in A then there is no place to move up so the playing field can’t be level anymore.

(Tinkerbell Alsop [zinc]) #8

Hi Daren.
I don’t think my two statements are contradictory but it takes some explaining. If my power output was correct then I might be left all alone at the back of every race with only shadows to chase. I could alter the resistance belt in my direct drive turbo, but I’m already in a lower gear than I would be on the road. I don’t want to switch down to the smaller chain ring. If incorrect power output puts me somewhere in the main rabble, then that’s great. I don’t mind being disqualified from races. But it feels a bit like I’m being accused of cheating. As I know I’m not, it’s fine. Others might get discouraged, however. Also, I’ve seen people quit mid-race, and I hope it’s not because of me.

When I said “I want to know that they couldn’t stay with me”, it means I want to know that they tried to. I’m deprived off the full experience any time somebody refuses to race me. In real life they would smoke me, but that’s inconsequential. Zwift isn’t important or serious. For me the racing is, or was, a very convincing illusion.

I don’t think I could get enough interest for a zPower-only series, but I think I could organise a zPower-friendly series which welcomes zPower riders and allies. This would serve the double benefit in keeping us away from the ‘serious’ races. My only concern is that there is something about zPower (other than incorrect wattage) that taints the racing experience. I’ve seen some comments, but I’m not on top of it yet. Somebody wrote at https://forums.zwift.com/t/are-zpower-users-second-class-citizens-on-here/3828/4:

“About a third of my races have been botched by users on ZPower, they’ll sit and the front and tow everyone along, races turn into group rides; or you attack, make a break, and there’s a ZPower in the chase group (who always seem to miss the break) towing everyone back, this is incredibly frustrating considering the work some riders put into preparing for their races (and how seriously they take them), though I’ve come to think that it’s not so much the users using ZPower, the problem is the algorithm”


“The algo as it is allows users to put minimal resistance on their wheels and pretend to be Froomey, this ruins the event for everyone and gives ZPower a terrible name, that’s what much of the resentment towards ZPower comes from”

But that’s not what I do. Some people could equally do it on an electric bike on a smart turbo, and catch no flack for it.

(Daren) #9

This is fundamentally the issue I think.

Many racers will say that if you knowingly ride at a higher power than you should be, you are cheating.

You’re saying you’re fine with “incorrect power” because it puts you in a more advantageous position than you otherwise would be. It’s easy to see why that’s regarded as cheating.

(Aaron) #10

I think that one of the problems with excluding zPower riders is that it creates a quasi pay-to-play situation, where only those folks who can afford the more expensive gear can play. Although Zwift hasn’t explicitly stated it, I think that one reason why they haven’t implemented a ZwiftPower style ranking and tracking system is that they are committed to including as many people as possible.

I get that racers on smart trainers want to compete against others in an apples-to-apples sort of way, but Zwift isn’t that platform. Fortunately there are 3rd party platforms like ZwiftPower that they can look to to level their own playing field.

zPower is here, and I’m glad for it. I know several people who couldn’t enjoy the fun and physical benefits of Zwift without it.

(Daren) #11

TBH, since almost all the racing support comes from third-party volunteer efforts, it’s up to them and nothing to do with Zwift whether they want to exclude zPower or not.

If it were solely up to Zwift, I don’t think there would be any racing on the platform. They’ve been slow to build in much if any support, and what we do have is half-arsed. Even many of the perceived improvements for the KISS Super League are smoke and mirrors rather than actual development.

(S) #12

ZHR races allow zpower in all cats.


(..Troy) #13

What started as a reasonable thread was scuppered by some of the
z-power users comments which I think are actually damaging to z-power
and z-power users.

If I was running a setup that gave me double my true power I wouldn’t even
post on this forum let alone start a thread about z-power users being
unfairly treated.
(see comments from Z-power riders should have a Z on their back)

I’m more than happy to race anyone (z/non-z) I’m not out to win.
However if I read that a z-power user cannot be bothered to achieve a
close to reality power setting, then I start to see why some non-z riders
would avoid racing a z-power user.

(Tim Camden (B)) #14

I think I agree with parts of all the comments above.
As I have posted on this forum before, I am a ZPower user. I like my trainer, it was cheap, light wt and very quiet. For years I have used and I like it and will use it till it breaks or no longer meets my needs.

It is prone to be very inaccurate. Thus, classic trainers are best for solo rides and work outs.
It is in this mode that I used it for my first year when all I did was workouts on climbing routes to get the Tron bike.
Classic trainers are perfect for this.

Once I joined group rides and a few races, I saw the problem.
I was out riding the others and had difficulty not being a flier in group rides.
It was so bad, I would just drop out of a race because I felt embarrassed to be up front with a HR 130.

I increased my resistance on my trainer but how much?

The problem with Zwift is there needs to be a way to calibrate in game performance to real life.
We could all use the same trainer but that just evens the playing field. That does not address whether the playing field is accurate - assuming everybody’s similar trainer in correctly calibrated.

I addressed my problem 2 ways.
I borrowed a friends trainer (assumed more accurate) and performed an FTP test then adjusted the restistance on my trainer to give me a similar FTP result.
I also was in a few races with friends that I ride with IRL. That is probably the ultimate comparison.
Everyone knows how each other compares and if you cheat, your friends will know it.

Zwift needs an in game accuracy test but the difficulty is how to develop a standard.
I thought a flat test route where you compare your game speed to your wheel speed on a head unit might work but it did not.
Game speed is affected by the bike and wheels you choose in game. the course is flat, so terrain is eliminated but the in game set up would have to be standardized.

Also, long post, sorry.
We are having this conversation in 2019.
Remember, others had the same conversations previously and apparently could not reach a solution.
I believe few people want to cheat, many don’t realize how the inaccuracies affect others and many don’t realize they are still voicing the same complaints even without Zpower.

(Tinkerbell Alsop [zinc]) #15

Tim, did you find that by increasing the resistance on your turbo it meant you had to ride your bike in an unnaturally low gear? This, I think is all I can do, but it won’t solve my problem. I will simply be discriminated against by a different set of riders when they see I’m on zPower. I’m already in a low gear. I agree in calibrating the ride in-game. I don’t want to cheat. Mens rea: there’s no crime without intent. If my ‘cheating’ on here allows me to be competitive with somebody I couldn’t stay with on the road, then we both win. If a 500W real life rider had to compromise their turbo in order to Zwift against more people, would that be considered cheating? zPower may be inaccurate, as you said, but (for me at least) it is highly consistent.

(..Troy) #16

good post and good points.
Ride On

(Daren) #17

Drop the quotation marks. It’s cheating. Accept it. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Tim Camden (B)) #18

Thomas, to answer your question.
Yes, when the resistance is increased, I would ride in a lower gear but that was more natural.
I don’t normally ride around IRL in my highest gears but initially on Zwift , I saw that I was able to ride in a higher gear , for a longer period of time, with a lower heart rate.
This, I feel , was the false situation.

By increasing the resistance, I found myself riding in the gears I normally would ride in.

I would stay with (or not) my friends the way we would IRL.
Now that I am on a work out schedule, my FTP is improving.
I weigh 165 lbs (75 kg) and my FTP finally went above 235 for 3 races so my FTP is 3.3 or so and I got bumped up to Cat B.
I think that will help me. In a mass start race, I’m still going to be riding in whatever group is similarly matched. I generally try to stay in the draft and ride with the fastest group I can hang with. I don’t try to break away but I do try to bridge. If people don’t want to follow me and work with me, it’s their loss.

Zpower is inaccurate. I can’t change that. I can keep the inaccuracies from giving me an advantage.
I don’t mind a handicap because I’m hoping when we finally get outside, I’m going to see an improvement. I am having a lot of fun riding Zwift in the Winter and I truly hope everyone will also have fun.
I’m not interested in winning races. I can’t win a race in real life so I know, if I win on Zwift, it’s not fair.

(Adam) #19

Tim, this is so cool. The way you found a solution.
In general, about the whole topic here: I think that presently ZPower is something inevitable, not everyone could afford it to have a smart trainer and there are still a lot of classic trainers out-there, so not always it is reasonable to purchase a new one. But, with all this, I think that over time more and more people will join Zwift by using smart trainers. Probably, by comparing 2015-2016 usage to 2019 usage, I could carefully suppose that there are less and less ZPower users each year. Although, not sure and it would be cool to see official Zwift trainer types usage stats.