Zwitf speed and distance vs real world ability

Ignoring the speed and distance reported by my Kickr Trainer to my garmin directly (which I understand does not reflect the in game variables the game is simulating) there is nonetheless a significant difference in my performance in game vs in the real world. I can average much higher speeds that I would achieve over a ride with the same time and similar climbing challenges. I have trainer hardness maxed out. I am not a great powerful cyclist - still improving. The only thing I can think of is downhill speeds skewing averages - there is no way in the real world I have the nerve for the speeds down I get to in Zwift. I max out of nerve on the road at 35mph ish. Could that be it? It still seems to be generous to me on Zwift rides even when I choose a largely flat course. Ideas?


There is also no wind within Zwift which can make a massive difference. Plus there are a lot more people that you can draft off of within Zwift and you don’t need to slow down for turns or anything else (and you can really push down hills without worrying about crashing).

Matching power numbers is a better comparison, but this can be skewed a little by the same things I mentioned above.

It’s fairly normal. I can get 17-18mph on the flat course without much effort. Outside that would require me turning myself inside out. 

I think there’s a few things at work

  • Zwift isn’t entirely perfect, it can only go off your power output and use it’s own variables, this won’t and won’t ever 100% match the real world

  • No wind

  • No braking. There’s never any slowing down for corners or junctions or any need to moderate your speed to avoid falling off. I reckon if I went outside and could pedal any speed I liked and take corners any speed I liked and not even pause at junctions - my average would be similar to what’s given on Zwift.

I have the reverse experience. Zwift makes me much slower than I am in the real world - like 3-10mph zwift 20-25 real world. All I can say is that you must be really blessed to have this pos working. 

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It would seem that you have a problem with your config then, as 3-10mph isn’t normal. Your weight would be the first thing to check, could you post more details about your setup?

Agreed.  Seems like checking the config would be a good idea, John.  Zwift is hardly a POS.  Your case seems to be the anomaly.  Are you riding a supported trainer?  Do you have your weight entered properly (lbs vs kg)?

Numerous factors already mentioned play a part in this. Wind being an important one, traffic (lights) being another important one, and your own technical skill/nerves especially downhill and in cornering being another one.

But let’s also not forget rolling resistance (by both tire as well as road surface), bike weight (especially on the uphill and for acceleration purposes) as well as climate. Zwift rolling resistance doesn’t change based on surface as far as I’ve noticed.

Real road feel might have come into play, however speed wise I’m not noticing an impact between driving on asphalt, wooden planks or cobblestones.

Bike weight… I’m not sure how and if Zwift factors this in. However, an important element of bike weight will most certainly be factored out in Zwift. Water and possible small repair tools and food as well. On longer trips I start off my rides with 1.5 L of water and several bars, spare tire and multitool. All in all, a quick rough 2kg of additional weight right there. The impact will not be astonishing, but also count for some.

The climate factor. Indoor with my fan(s) on I can control my own temperature. Outside it’s often either (too) cold or (too) warm for comfort. That does have its bearing on at least my performance.

Another factor ingame is the easy competitiveness. Many players are roughly going in the same direction. As such, when seeing someone going passed me, there’s this urge to keep up to them. Out on the road, most roads here are relatively short before the next turn arises. People often head out into directions of no interest to me. That little sense of competition is quickly lost there.



For best comparisons though, use a pedal based power meter both inside as well as outside. Disregard speeds entirely both indoors as well as outside. It’s a rather meaningless value for comparing performance over time. The only moment speed counts is during a race, compared to your direct competitor.

A kickr and powertap p1 pedals. I’m assuming ant/wifi interference and have mucked around with my router (changed 2.4ghz channel from auto to 8, changed transmit power from high to low on both frequencies). Hopefully it works better tomorrow morning with the changes. Ant stick is on a 10 foot usb 3.0 extension cord.