ZRL- Steam roller power up

Just completed race 2 of the ZRL and first time I have seen the steam roller power up in action.

I think it gives too much of an advantage. Totally blew our race appart.

Think you need to throttle it back, it’s far too powerful.

Nah. It’s a powerup that can make a big difference, so that’s good with me.

I agree with original poster . Power ups should offer marginal gains . The steamroller offers much more substantial one , in our opinion that had a major impact on the entire race . a power up that gives you 30s+ , which appears to be what you could get applying it on a gravel downhill section does make the event far to much of a lottery , especially with the course being so flat so it was otherwise near impossible to gap any sort of group otherwise.

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I can see both sides. I think last night saw the ‘perfect combination’ for the use of that power up - Dirt and an incline - and it certainly was powerful… But, as it’s the first time many have seen it in action and used it, I don’t think we should rush to be getting it reduced etc.
Once you know how effective it can be, you have to race with a strategy to maximise/cover it - be ready to put out big efforts to cover the steamrollers, send riders up the road before the key section etc.

I think its good to have some really strong power ups - it does add to the game element after all - and in my opinion it would be a shame to see it reduced to 15sec before people have even really had a chance to work with it.

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I don’t disagree that the powerup should be subject to some sort of proper measurables and acceptance…

but … seem like a inconsistent and in this case inappropriate approach to me …

Anti Sandbagging for example is released into all sorts of endless user acceptance testing and process with no clear acceptance criteria for it … and into very clearly defined test events to get to a releasable product.

Here on the other hand here we have in effect , a release of a high impact change into a flagship event and using Zwift Racing League for the user acceptance testing. Whilst the former approach is not operating efficiently and with proper gates here it just seems to be no control and no gate.

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I agree. It was way too effective in our A race last night. There was no way to cover or counter it. The whole field was pushing 6+ W/kg up the gravel incline. Those that used the steamroller for a whole minute at the correct time had a massive advantage which was almost impossible to chase down, except for a few exceptionally strong riders. Made the race effectively a lottery as to whether you would be dropped at that point.

It’s a nice concept, but 1 minute is way too long for that amount of advantage.

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This isn’t a new powerup, guys. It’s not like it’s the first time it’s been used in Zwift. It’s an event-only powerup that organisers can choose to use.

It only lasts for 30 seconds.

I didn’t even know what it did. I used it on a hill thinking it flattened them out. :smiley:

It certainly flattened out that ramp to the Italian villas!

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Must have just felt like a minute chasing it last night!

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My experience is two-sided.

A. It definitely felt out of balance on the uphill gravel. It required too much effort for anyone who didn’t have the powerup, and felt pretty much like completely losing the draft of a fast travelling pack. It may of course also have been my lack of talent.
B. Both the watt-savings and duration felt right to me when I saw it used on flat dirt, however. A teammate managed to just close a gap by using the PU - which still took enough of an effort; and in a later lap an attack by a couple of riders with the PU was countered by us without the PU. It required an effort, but nothing unrealistic and I felt like we managed to stay in the wheels because of draft. In these two situations I felt it was a great tactical PU that was balanced well.

I think the havoc it caused in ZRL comes down to a combination of 3 things;

  1. The chance for this PU was 1/3 which is quite high.
  2. Pack size was large. Combined with the previous point this allowed groups rather than individuals to break away, thus basically determining the major split(s).
  3. The uphill may have exaggerated the watt-savings to an unrealistic point, but this would need to be tested. A reason for it could be because the draft effect is less on a gradient, or because uphills tend to cause a spike in power anyhow (which may cause a problem depending on how the calculations are done).

If you take any of these factors away, the experiences would probably have been very different. If the PU does get re-evaluated it should be done carefully, because it can easily turn into something useless. Its relatively predictable and as a single rider there’s usually little point in breaking away.

What it did make me wonder about: think about a race on Serpentine 8 with only the Steamroller PU allowed. The Watt savings with everyone riding MTBs will be lower (~90 compared to ~190) thus it is more easily countered whilst still giving a significant advantage. The course all being on dirt and ridden on MTBs also makes it very unpredictable when PUs get deployed, meaning it can be played very tactically especially in teams. It could really turn each race into something very unique.

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The steamroller will likely have much less noticeable effect when on MTBs, since on an MTB you have much less rolling resistance on dirt, and reducing the rolling resistance is what the steamroller is doing.

According to Zwiftinsider it changes the rolling resistance to a road tire on tarmac:

When activated, the Steamroller makes whatever surface you’re riding roll as fast as a road tire on pavement. So if you’re using road wheels, it is only effective when deployed on a surface other than pavement.

Hence it would equal to ~90W savings (MTB+dirt compared to road+pavement). In comparison, it translated to 190W savings as used yesterday - for which the discussion is that it had unbalancing effects. Or would be close to the 100W savings a MTB has on a road bike when riding dirt. I think the unpredictability (can be deployed by riders anywhere), 90W savings, plus everyone having the same PU (rather than chance) could make for quite an interesting tactical race.

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Using an MTB on Serpentine 8, wouldn’t the best place to use the steamroller be on one of the few bits of brick or wood - such as on the run to the finish?

On an MTB, probably indeed. These are the spots where the unknowing riding road bikes recover a tiny bit of what they lost on the rest of the course.

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