Zwift drafting is broken

OK - could you PLEASE fix the draft? I was just dropped on the descent holding 3.5 and the group was going 2.0. I had to hold 3.8 on the climb to keep up with a group holding 3.3. Please roll back the draft to a version that actually worked. I have to quit group rides because I have to hold 10-20% more power than the group. It is time you actually fixed this because there ARE other alternatives. Thank you.

It’s not broken for me (72kg) Raced on Rolling Highlands yesterday and it was great.

How heavy are you? What bike and wheels are you on? Which climb/road surface?

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55 KG (yeah, I know but I am short). Tron. Pavement (Epic Climb and Descent). I have to hold MORE power on the climbs than heavier riders and even the coffee break fails to hold the draft about 25% of the time on the descent. I Have 70,829 miles on Zwift and the draft just barely seems to work now. The last few “upgrades” to the draft have pretty much broken it…for me anyway. I am happy for you that it works for you.

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Ouch. The downhill I can understand, but you should be ripping people’s legs off on the uphill, regardless of the draft, which should be minimal on big chunks of the Epic KOM, eh? Something sounds off, for sure. Just not sure it’s (just) the draft. :man_shrugging:t2:

Your weight is going to count against you on the downhill, just like it would in real life. It’s not the draft, which is working fine.

You at 55kg were doing 192w and the big guys in the group 100kg 200w. Sounds about right to me.


So 192 Watts can’t hold the draft of someone holding 200 Watts? That sounds about right to you? OK then, fair enough. OK to close this thread I guess. Apparently, I need to hold MORE Watts than the group to stay in the draft. That wasn’t how I thought it was supposed to work.

Were you in the group and got dropped, or you were behind the group and fell farther behind?

I also think that descending mechanics aren’t quite realistic, groups being easily able to catch solo riders on descents. But I’ve thought that a lot of it has to do with cornering and the bunch–IRL a bunch can’t negotiate a corner anywhere near as easily as a solo rider can, because they can’t just ride right through each other like on Zwift.

Not sure what to make of the climbing part. The draft will be playing much less of a role/no role at all on a climb, And even on a climb, the heavier rider will go faster at the same w/kg. You’d have to be going literally straight up for things to even out, and there’s no point where the same w/kg would make the lighter rider go faster.

I was 9 meters ahead of the group as we crested the Epic Forward climb I increased my power (BS that I had to INCREASE my power AFTER the climb but I know the penalty I pay) the group of maybe 10 caught me on the flat section at the summit and I increased my power to maybe twice the group and they just pulled away doing half the power. Once there was a gap, I had no hope, regardless of the power which I increased to just about 6 w/kg.

I am frankly tired of being penalized for my weight. Unlike real life, being light on Zwift has NO benefit. Despite this, I get bumped to Cat B because of my w/kg which is a useless measurement when I struggle to hold the C pace. The penalty for being light didn’t exist to this extent in prior versions of the draft.

They aren’t going to fix it so I am going to try the alternatives to see if I get a better experience. Having to sprint on the downhills AFTER a climb has became intolerable.

I’m 93kg and I regularly get caught on descents by groups, regardless of what power I’m putting out. I’ll use Pace Partner groups as sprint/breakaway training–I can reach the top of the Makuri rooftops KOM with a 30+sec lead over the bunch, bust my ass on the descent, and the group will still catch me before we reach the bottom. So that part of it is weight-independent.

The other part that gets me, that maybe happened to you, is that there seems to be a delay in receiving the effects of the draft. That bunch that caught you from behind and then pulled away–that sort of thing happens to me all the time too. Flats or descents. I’ll be ahead of a bunch, see them approaching from behind, I’ll match or exceed their w/kg (meaning that I’ll match or exceed the highest number from the bunch), and now with steering I’ll make sure to position myself right in the middle of them as they pass…and they’ll just leave me behind, or I’ll barely cling on to the back of the bunch. Maybe 5 seconds later, if I’ve managed to stay attached, the draft benefit will kick in and I can drop my power down to match the bunch. And again, at 93kg, I don’t think my experiences have to do with being lighter than most of the people in the average bunch.

So not to deny your experiences with being lighter, but I see some of the same things happening at my heavier mass.

And to me, it’s not that all of the draft is broken, but the descending/bunch mechanics allow bunches to draft on descents in ways that just don’t happen IRL, and that weird delay in the draft taking affect, those are my primary issues.

You need to match their speed not their power.

5 seconds later if you are still attached you have now matched their speed.

Not my point. If I match their speed, then they wouldn’t catch me.

My point is that there is a delay in the draft. If I’m 1 kph slower than they are, but at 0.5 w/kg more power than the highest power in their group, and they come right around me/I go right backwards through the middle of the group, there shouldn’t be a 5 second delay before the draft they are all benefiting from starts to benefit me. As soon as I move into the space behind the lead riders, I should be in the draft. And my significantly higher w/kg should make up for that 1 kph difference, and with a small difference, it shouldn’t take 5 seconds for the 1 kph to be made up.

Example for clarity:

Me: doing say 40kph, 4 w/kg.
Bunch Behind: doing 41 kph, 3.5 w/kg.

They catch me (because 1 kph difference). I go backwards right through the middle of them, still at 4 w/kg. And at 93kg. 5 seconds later, at the tail end of the group (likely after increasing power to stay there), draft takes affect and I can drop down to 3.5 or lower, and will even start to drift forwards in the group. That should not take that long to happen.

With out a video of the race it is impossible to know what happened.

If you quoted the 2w/kg of a racer that was also in the draft then you would need to have the same power as he since both were getting draft advantage.

I just compared your ride to the person that crossed the KOM just behind you. Big difference is he did a good power effort before the decent to get enough momentum to gain speed on the decent, where you lowered your power before the decent.

This is your decent:

His decent.

Just compare max power.

Look at you (Rider A) compared to two riders with you over the top. They did the work on the flat part that made all the difference.

Thanks for adding the example to your original post.

From your example would you say that, to give yourself the best chance to stay with the passing bunch, you need to ensure your speed is as close to the bunch as possible and to be exceeding the power of the front of the bunch?


i agree with what dejan will probably say btw. this descent is scuffed. probably just descent speeds on high negative gradients in general are scuffed, it’s just there aren’t actually a lot of them in zwift

Already made a few complaints but no one listened…on gradients -12% or more there is 0 draft as Tower descent and a few other places.

Had an issue today that no one will believe but 2 riders side by side and i got braked for a second.

What I have to do to stick with a bunch that’s catching from behind is to of course match the speed as best as possible–and, given that I’m solo, that requires more power. And given that the draft doesn’t seem to affect me for the first 5 or so seconds that I’m in the bunch, that power has to keep exceeding the power of the lead riders for that duration, yes.

Think of it this way: if you just tuned into Fan View me as this was happening, immediately after I’d been caught, you’d see me in the bunch, and far exceeding the power output of the front riders, me at 93kg, and still sliding backwards and/or out the back. And you’d see that happening for several seconds. If it were me tuning in at that point, I’d assume that it was a very light rider (not me), or else I’d wonder why someone in the middle of the bunch has to put out so much more power to get the same speed.

But then, suddenly, with nothing else changing, after those few seconds are over, with me still there in the bunch…suddenly that same power starts shooting me out the front.

For the record, Zwift drafting has always been that way IME. It’s just not the most realistic. :person_shrugging:

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Trying to change the name of the thread to Zwift drafting on descents is broken.

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I don’t know if you need to, at least on my account. The delay I see happens on flats too.

Flats can be rough and iffy but on the descents it is broken. I accelerate to match speeds as best as I can before the pack reaches me and they just slowly pass me. It’s like I don’t even try to draft. I sometimes use a coffee when the pack reaches me and it usually fails.