Since Zwift was first released, there has been a steady run of updates and new features. Riders initially had to work out for themselves how things worked on Zwift. This post has been maintained to help new riders understand the ins and outs of Watopia
Zwift User Manual – The Unofficial Guide to Zwift!
Last update to Zwift User Manual 03/12/2018
This Zwift User Manual is NOT affiliated with, or endorsed by Zwift. I was just lucky enough to have access to the “golden ticket” to the early beta test, the Fan Manual was set up at that time. In addition to the essential Zwift User Manual, this page also covers useful hints and tips for getting started
A lot of the detailed information has come about from the excellent community that is the Facebook Zwift Riders group. I’d highly recommend new riders join there
Any links on this page are either to reviews I have written which might
Zwift User Manual Index
- Getting Started
- Supported Trainers
- The Game
- Zwift in-game boosts
- Getting Boosts
- Zwift User interface
- Segment/Competition Jerseys
- Ocean Boulevard (includes turning instructions)
- Zwift Mountain
- Zwift Map of Watopia
- Unlockable Jerseys
- Unlockable gear
- How Many Miles per level?
- Zwift Mobile Link App
- Keyboard Shortcuts
- Group Rides
- Zwift Workout Mode
- Zwift Running
- A brief guide to the Richmond 2015 course can be found here
Zwift User Manual – Getting started
What do you need to get into Zwift?
- You can sign up to Zwift, and crucially download the software for Mac or PC from Zwift.com
- From there you get a 25km free trial – down from the one week which I thought gave a better sense of the game and the world
What HARDWARE do you need to get into Zwift?
- A system capable of running Zwift. That is most of the major platforms today. Mac or PC for the desktop, or Apple TV, any iOS device, or certain Android devices.
- For a lot of people, Zwift on Apple TV is an easy-access way to start. You can check the Zwift on Apple TV review here
- A Bike
- You know this is an indoor BIKE training game yes?
- Turbo Trainer of Sorts
- Otherwise, your bike is just an uncomfortable seat for your computer!
- An ANT+ USB dongle or Bluetooth
- This is how your cycling kit will communicate with Zwift on the computer – frankly its the most important part of the system after a turbo trainer and bike!
- A lot of people run Zwift completely on Bluetooth, but I prefer to keep an ANT+ connection, as you often get a better signal closer to the trainer.
- HERE is a link to the cheapest ANT+ UK dongle I can find, and the one I use. If anyone can find cheaper, I’ll gladly update
- Conversely here is the link to the larger Tacx ANT+ adapter you can see above, which use as it is BOMB proof
- A cycling metric device
- Speed/Cadence meter – vital
- Heart Rate monitor – good
- Power meter – luxury
When you are setting up a sensor in Zwift, the protocol you are getting data from is indicated by the symbol in the bottom RIGHT-hand corner, here showing ANT+
A heart rate monitor (HRM) is NOT an absolute requirement either, but it’s certainly seen by most as pretty essential bit of kit to use especially if you don’t have a power meter. This is because as Zwift is able to help estimate your power from your heart rate. Plus many race teams of Zwift tend to request that you use HRM when racing with them
The choice of heart rate monitor is varied. Some of the Garmin watches, such as the Fenix 5 are able to broadcast heart rate date, which Zwift can pick up.
Some people prefer the certainty of a chest strap monitor like the 4iiii Viiiiva, but personally I find the Polar OH1 optical heart rate monitor is probably the best, as I can also use it with swimming when not on the turbo trainer
After the install, Zwift checks for updates – this will happen every time the game loads. It’s important to log early if you are doing a race or group ride, just in case there is an update pending. You don’t want to miss the start simply due to a software update!
The loading screen details several things about Zwift, most notably Zwift Boosts/power-ups, and any other information that is current. The previous “Ride with Jens Voigt” Event was advertised on here. So it’s worthwhile having a quick look when the system is booting.
Once Zwift has booted it’s time to LOG IN!
Zwift will auto-remember your password after the first login – thankfully
Immediately after logging into Zwift you are presented with the Paired Devices screen. This will pop up every time you log in, to confirm your kit is working, and you have the right bits connected. Like the username, Zwift will remember the last devices you used and will search for an connect to them automatically. You just have the make sure everything is working. the Paired Devices window will also auto-close after 5 seconds – making login more efficient when you have everything set up.
When you are doing the setup, there is a little ANT+ or Bluetooth animation in the top LEFT of the “Paired Devices” title bar. This indicates everything is working well with your chosen communication protocol – a great little addition, as most ANT+ USB sticks, are just a black box! (In the above picture I’ve got Bluetooth turned off on my Mac, hence the alert symbol)
At the top RIGHT of the Paired Devices screen is the communications settings where you can toggle BlueTooth on and off – either using your computers Bluetooth chip, or pairing devices from your phone
You only need to use your phone to pair devices if running on Apple TV, as you can only have two devices connected to the Apple TV. But Zwift is able to pair to them via the Companion App, and then rebroadcast to the iOS
Initially, there were only two fully compatible trainers. Now there is a whole world of turbo trainers, with manufacturers actively producing exceptionally advanced machines like the Tacx Neo 2T at the top of the range. Through to the Elite Direto and classic or wheel on trainers at the cheapest end such as the Wahoo KICKR Snap
But you don’t have to spend the earth to Zwift. If you are setting up with a classic turbo (not automatically resistance controlled), you will need to pair your speed sensor. A popup appears, asking you which turbo you have:
This is important, as different turbos have different power curves, which will relate to how much power you will generate during the race/ride. You could change things to get a better power output for yourself, but you’d only be cheating yourself
Choosing a power source
One issue that people have raised about power meters built into turbos is that while they may give a consistent readout for your power, they may give a slightly different output from your crank or pedal power meter. That is assuming you are lucky enough to have a separate power meter use on your bike IRL (In Real Life)!
Zwift has you covered here if you are that lucky, as you can select to have your power meter source different to your turbo trainer if you so fancy
Here you can see I’ve selected the Wahoo KICKR as my turbo, but that I have selected a different power meter – my PowerTap C1
It also means that I can still use the smart features from the Wahoo KICKR to simulate the topography of track
As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to have either a power
- Classic Mode: which reduces the jumpiness of the wattage display experienced using zPower
- zPower: which is less responsive during sprints as it does not account for acceleration – or to be read another way, can be a little choppy!
Note UNSUPPORTED zPower/classic trainers are capped at 400watts on Zwift
When riding on Zwift, you can tell that a rider is using zPower by the lack of a lightning bolt by their watts/kg in the RIGHT-hand rider list. So the bottom rider here, S.Sherbatov is using some form of power meter (hence lightning bolt) but we can’t tell what. By comparison the top rider, E.Henderson-King is not displaying a lightning bolt, thus the rider is using zPower (therefore on a classic setup) – simples 🙂
The following classic turbo trainer models are compatible with zPower: – i.e. you can ride them, but they with will NOT give resistance
- Kinetic Rock and Roll
- Kinetic Road Machine
- CycleOps Fluid²
- CycleOps Super Magneto
- CycleOps Jet Fluid
- Performance TravelTrac Comp Fluid
- Elite Qubo Fluid
- Elite Qubo Fluid +
- Elite power Mag
- Elite power fluid
- Elite Mag Digital Wired
- Elite Mag Speed Alloy
- JetBlack Fluidpro
- Nashbar Fluid
- Nashbar Fluid Pro
Zwift User Manual – Going for a spin
After logging in, and setting up your sensors, the first game screen that greets you, is where Zwift is essentially asking you a series of questions:
- Are you here for an event?
- Where would you like to ride?
- Can you challenge yourself?
- Do you want to Ride or Workout (train)?
- Which type of route would you prefer?
- Would you like to ride with a particular rider already on the course?
Let’s walk around the start screen first, answering Zwift’s questions as we go.
Starting in the top RIGHT – “Upcoming events” – which covers the question “Are you here for an event?”
To join one of the events from the Zwift login page, just click on the event box, and you’ll be signed up.
The title is in white, below that the race/ride countdown. The first counter is the number of riders whom you follow also joined that race. The second counter is the number of riders signed up overall. The letter (s) show what category of riders the event is focused on (with some events, you can choose a different letter at this point)
But what do those letters correlate to? They indicate a riders strength or their ability to put out power and are as follows:
If you have never raced before, do a couple of rides, and you’ll get a feeling for your own watt/kg, you can see that on the right side of the screen as you ride – take a look here: Zwift User interface. Also, RoadCyclingUK has a good piece on watts/kg if you want to find out some more
A good list of the up and coming events can be found on Zwift’s website, but the place to keep an eye on for the week really is the Zwift Companion
At the bottom, the RIGHT is the course calendar, which partially answers “Where would you like to ride?”
It is worthwhile noting that this will change from month to month. The main course is always Watopia, but there are other courses to choose from on the secondary course option, so you have some ability to choose a prefered ride
- Watopia – Black circle
- Richmond – White circle
- Innsbruck – Green
- London – Bue
- New York – Red
- North Yorkshire – TBA
In terms of
Going back to the log in screen, though – below the calendar is the option to challenge yourself by setting up a goal for the week
Underneath is how you performed against your previous goal – I think it’s fair to say I didn’t cover myself with glory last week!
When you click on “Add a goal” you can choose what sort of goal you want, and over what time frame:
Returning to the centre panel, the question is: Do you want to Ride or Workout (train)?
If you want to do structured works outs, hitting the blue “Select Workout” button at the top will
For now, let’s assume you are completely new to Zwift and just want to go for a spin, that brings us to the next question!: Which type of route would you prefer?
By hitting the arrow next to “Route” it brings up a menu to select which courses are available on Watopia – here’s a tip for the first time rider – don’t try the Mountain 8 first, that’s a LONG climb to the top!
Similarly if you: Would like to ride with a particular rider already on the course? Select their name on the carousel and once you have selected your route or rider, hit the orange “RIDE” button to get straight to the action!
An aside note – on the LEFT side of the screen there may be information about current challenges which Zwift are running, such as the Cervelo Challenge, or the current Zwift Academy challenge with Team dimension data
So before we look at the game, it’s worthwhile going over your settings, to make sure if nothing else, your weight is correct – as that matters in the game.
The settings are accessed from the orange Menu button in the bottom LEFT which is present when you are stationary. You can also get to the Pause Screen through the Orange turn arrow on the bottom LEFT of the screen when riding – you need to click the arrow twice to get the pause screen if you are riding – as the arrow is multifunctional
Starting at the top left of the “Pause screen,” you can see you current rider details and how your name will display
The orange box with the pencil brings up an edit screen allowing you to change your name, FTP, weight and various other details
This is a screen you’ll have to go to on many rides, as many events request you to have specific titles in your name e.g. ZTR-EB
It is important to add your correct height and weight details here, as these will have an impact on your power to weight ratio in the physics engine of the game. The weight will also affect your avatar’s appearance – there are four sizes of rider, both for the male and female, which I’d probably characterise as ranging from “Rugby player” to “Pro cyclist.”
Here is my avatar at the heaviest part of the scale
Then on the smaller end of the scale
A big question is does rider weight matter other than aesthetics?
Short answer yes. There is essentially a speed advantage to being lighter, a 3.5% time penalty per 10kg!.
What about height?
There is also a disadvantage to being taller – kind of makes sense, as that is what you see in real life – thought to be about 5 secs for every additional 10cm.
SO yes, you could cheat, and adjust your stats, but at the end of the day, Zwift is a game or a training platform, so the only person you really cheat is yourself.
Going back to the Pause screen – to the RIGHT we have your current rider totals on Zwift
Towards the middle are your best power outputs, definitely something to work on
In the very middle is you Rider Score – on the “pause screen” is the only place you can currently see your points total – referred to as the Rider Score.
These points relate to your in-game level. The more points, the higher the level. The higher the level, the more toys! As you increase your score, you reach, and unlock presents, as can be seen above, which tend to be upgrades, such as jerseys or bikes. The upgrades and the points required are listed below in the Unlockable gear section.
Currently, the rider level is capped at 25, there has been no word of further increases for more than six months now, but eventually, we do expect the cap to be lifted again
Finally at the bottom are your power, and heart rate curves for this ride so far
To change various features on Zwift, you are going to have to use the icons on the bottom RIGHT of the menus screen
Like many other game achievement systems, you get awards for completion of certain tasks or goals within the game. Some are clearly much more entertaining than others – you can view these by clicking Achievement icon
There are currently twenty-four regular achievements – You can see the requirement for each achievement by hovering your mouse over the icon in this screen.
Also, there are also six “Extra Credit” achievements related to power for you to unlock.
Each time you complete an achievement, you will see a splash banner popup on the screen,
The pairing button takes you to your sensor screen which you also see when you log in
The setting screen that loads depends slightly if you have a smart turbo or a classic turbo
The only difference is that with a classic turbo you get to choose which type of virtual power, and on the smart turbo, adjusting trainer difficulty
- Game sound volume – does exactly what it says on the tin, reducing the music, etc
- 3D world volume – controls the bike and general world sounds
- Game resolution – graphics level
- Virtual power (Classic turbo) – a software algorithm for power calculation in those who don’t have power meters
- Trainer Difficulty (Smart Turbo) – affects the feel of the gradients. Apparently, 100% is supposed to mimic IRL completely… but the default is 50%, and after 5000km on Zwift, I’m scared to change it!
- Power display – select if you want power smoothing or not
- Leaderboards – toggling the point they appear on the screen, either when one a relevant section, or constantly
- Measurements – metric or imperial
- Image uploading – selecting if shots are uploaded to Strava
- Show Group chat – Zwift is very social, some people are not though, and prefer to Zwift without the chatter of the fans (You are missing out on some great conversations though) plus this is needed for communication at the start of races
- Laptop Battery Saver – activates levels of optimisations to save your battery if needed
- Language filter – Zwift is certainly a family game, but occasionally things can get a little heated, this allows you to toggle how much of a “raw” experience you want
To clarify, if you do stop riding at any point on Zwift, e.g. Loo break, postman, alien abduction, the ride timer will stop. The clock and your ride will commence again when you restart pedalling. This has been tested with a 24hr pause (I’m assuming the tester was abducted mid-ride!), as soon as you get back on, everything keeps going. Although your sensors may have gone to sleep!
With that in mind, Zwift has Strava integration built right into the game. BUT you have to log into the company website www.Zwift.com to make the connection. Currently, it can’t be done through the game itself.
After logging onto the website, select Dashboard, and in the top RIGHT, below your level is “Edit Prof..” – click this
Inside your profile, there are several options about your account on the LEFT side of the screen. In the “General” tab you can also change your name etc. before a race.
To connect to Strava, you want the “Connections” tab at the bottom. Simply follow the prompts for your Strava account to be connected, then you are quite literally ready to race.
Also by connecting your account to Strava, you will get access to the Strava jersey when you next log into the game
Once your 25km trial distance has ended, you’re going to have to look at actually subscribing to Zwift. You can sign up with various credit cards, or PayPal through your dashboard
At times different trainers will come with different offers. It is not unusual to see a months trial in the box with a new trainer
Strava Post Ride
Strava is fully baked into Zwift, so when you end a session, your data will automatically load up to Strava. Note the arrow in in the top LEFT of the popup box, to return you back to the game if you accidentally hit “escape” in your sweaty state and you don’t want to exit the game
When you upload to Strava, the system can automatically replace the route map, with a picture from your ride – hopefully with you cranking out the watts!
While every ride is important, sometimes you are just tweaking settings and checking that your sensors are working. As a result rides shorter than 2km won’t get uploaded to your Zwift feed, or 3rd party apps, like Strava
It should be noted that occasionally things happen. Cats knock over laptops; power cuts happen to trainers and simple internet gremlins. As a result, you can sometimes lose a ride before you’ve actually finished and have had the chance to save the session.
Don’t worry. Your effort is not completely lost – you can still get access to the .fit file generated by your ride and manually upload it to Strava. Proving that you did dominate that KOM!
Zwift User Manual – The Game
When you finally hit the “Ride” button, before you will first be given a choice of personal challenges to which all of your km’s count towards
Climb Mt. Everest – after the lunatics such as Frank Garcia started doing the Virtual Everest challenge using the Zwift system, Zwift went and made it an official part of the game.
Official Everesting “simply” involves cycling to over 8,848m of elevation gain…in one go!! Yes, you are allowed breaks for food and other bodily functions, but you have to do it in one period without going to sleep. Thankfully the Zwift challenge is a cumulative total across your rides, not in one go – phew!
When you complete the Everest challenge, you unlock the Trek Emonda bike
But there is ANOTHER bonus, as an additional Everesting challenge
…after 50,000m of climbing, you unlock the Tron bike! It’s as good as it sounds… (so good, it’s near the bottom of the page, so you’ll have to wait for the good stuff 😉
The second option sounds much sunnier, so I opted for the 1283km, that is the Ride California challenge
Completing California unlocks the S-Works Tarmac
Finally, there is the 2000km Ride around Italy
Completing the 2000km here unlocks the Pinarello Dogma F8 bike
If you are doing one challenge, but want a change, you can swap from one to another at any time, by going back to the Pause screen
To change your challenge, select the Challenge picture in the upper RIGHT part of the screen.
Zwift User Manual – User Interface
The user interface on Zwift is quite straight forward, but there are a few icons, and bits which are not immediately intuitive, we’ll take a look at those now
Top of the screen
Top, LEFT, Blue box
- The large number at the top outlines your wattage or power output.
- Bottom LEFT is your cadence – revolutions per minute
- Bottom RIGHT is your heart rate – beats per minute
Top, MIDDLE, White stats box
- Top row, LEFT to RIGHT:
- Current Speed (and units)
- Total ride distance (and units)
- Total ride elevation climbed (and units)
- Current elapsed time (no units!!)
One of the more/less important pieces of the HUD. The orange bar represents how far you are away from reaching your next level, and
Level counter – The white number on a grey background indicates your current level, related to your overall points total
Your drops count. You earn drops for riding distance, time and difficulty. You can check out the drops, and what they all unlock here
Does exactly what it says on the tin and shows which boost is loaded. You can utilise the boost by hitting the space bar, or hitting the boost bar on the phone app!
When you run over the start line for a particular challenge segment, the central box will expand to show your current time in the blue box on the LEFT, and the position you are just in front of in the orange box on the RIGHT, including that position on the leaderboard. This can act as an incentive to help attack those last few sapping seconds!
The number on the bottom LEFT, shows the distance from the end of segment/banner
The number in the middle, your ETA, is how long Zwift this thinking that you’ll take to complete the segment – this can be a useful way of controlling a rides speed on a climb, aiming for an ETA, rather than a wattage
Finally, your 30Day PR, which does what it says on the tin, showing what’s the best time you’ve managed to complete that segment in this month
RIGHT of the screen
This is where we tend to get a few icons without explanation
Top right-hand column
The top two graphics show a zoomed given the current section of the course you are pushing along, and crucially the grade. This is read in the direction of the big arrow, as you can choose which direction to ride in
The large orange dot on both graphs is you. The riders around you, are the smaller orange dots on the top graph, and the white dots on the bottom graph Underneath is the topography map of Watopia. Again you are represented by the orange dot. The three icons underneath the topography map show the location of the Segment/Competition banners. Note that the icon on the FAR LEFT is the KOM spotted jersey banner, NOT a finish line banner. If there is a “finish banner” that would be the orange “Z” icon on the FAR RIGHT – this is the first banner encountered from the “Just Ride” point – and also acts as a meeting point for most organised rides If there is a ride leader, their position will show on the map as a yellow pointer, very visible when close up
If you end up getting dropped the ride leader icon shrinks somewhat, but you can still track their progress
The box in the far RIGHT shows all riders logged into Zwift and includes relevant stats for those riders
From LEFT to RIGHT:
- Rider initial and name
- Rider time in front (-) or behind (+) you/rider you are viewing
- Rider power in watts/kg – the presence of the electricity bolt indicates a rider using a power meter
- Country flag
- The phone icon in the top LEFT of some of the riders indicates that the person is using the Zwift App
Icons associated with the rider list
Orange Triangle – Occasionally an orange triangle will appear next to a rider name here – this indicates that the rider has an issue with their setup. The commonest issue is a “dumb” trainer with the trainer not tightened fully against the rear wheel causing a wheel slippage. This can give a momentary spike in power, which Zwift detects and briefly flags the rider. Make sure those turbos are nice and tight, as the flag stays in place for 15mins
Ride On thumb – when you select a riders name on the RIGHT, are oranhge thumb appears next to them. Click this to give them a “thumbs up”, a little acknowlegdment from you to them
Zwift Icon – The “Z” icon indicates an employee of Zwift – as seen here – Give them a “Ride on!” for their good work if you see them, but there are some who ride incognito, so beware….! (G.Master is a bot by the way)
Phone icon – Somewhat self-explanatory – shows the rider has the Zwift Companion Phone app active – not that they are running Zwift on iOS
Zwift Workout graph – A rider who is using the Zwift Work out plans
Person – Mean someone you follow on the Zwift Companion phone app
Zwift Academy – A rider enrolled with Zwift Academy
Moutain Goat – When you have completed the Mountain KOM, regardless of your time, you get a goat in your name bar, to proclaim your achievement!
Volcano – If you have spun through the lava fields
Tick/Checkmark – Means that the rider is who they say they are. We’re used to this on Twitter etc.premium, but it is needed on Zwift as well given that there are a lot of Pro riders who normally use Zwift
Strava Shield – Another icon you might see when flying round the island is the orange shield. But this is one you are more likely to see coming up from behind. Seen on the name tags of the riders you are close to, indicating a Strava Premium user
- The rider pop up also indicates how far behind your rider. This can really help in a fight, as you trade single meter distances as they race against you
Background colours to user name
Normally the background to the users name is blue/grey-ish (I’m colour blind! I’m confident the background isn’t red, thats about it!)
If a rider has managed to achieve one of the segment jerseys during their ride, the background image to the riders name will reflect to change that
Zwift User Manual – Zwift Boosts
Note that different boosts last for different lengths of time
- Large bonus
- Adds 250 bonus points
- This is worth 12.5km of cycling points. Not to be sniffed at!
- Seems very rare
- Used up automatically, freeing your boost slot of the next segment
- Small Bonus
- Adds 10 points to your score
- Equivalent to 0.5km of riding
- Always good as points equals new kit – we’ll talk about that shortly
- Also used up automatically
- Feather Weight
- Reduces riders weight by 8lbs/3.64kg
- Improves the power to weight ratio
- Duration: 15 secs
- Draft boost
- Draft other riders as if they were a white van
- i.e. 70% reduction in drag WHEN YOU ARE DRAFTING
- Duration: 30secs
- Drafting and physics matters, if you end up dropped from the peloton – it hurts getting back in – if you can!
- Draft other riders as if they were a white van
- Aero Boost
- Reduction in drag coefficient
- Currently, we don’t know what that drag reduction is
- Duration: 30secs
Around each boost, is a circle which activates white when you use it – the white bar counts down, showing how long the boost will last.
Boosts are allocated randomly each time you pass through a Stage Checkpoint – you cant really miss them! There are three checkpoints on each direction of Watopia island which correlate to the Competition Jerseys – which I’ll come onto in a moment
A boost is activated by hitting “Space bar” on the keyboard, or alternatively the boost bar on the Zwift App
Hitting the space bar with an empty boost slot produces the “Ride On!” Call out. Giving 100 “Ride Ons” is also an achievement you can unlock!
Its imperative to make sure you have used your last boost BEFORE going through a checkpoint, as you only get a boost refresh, with an empty boost slot – shown here
Some boosts are much better than others, so you can hold onto a boost passing through a checkpoint in order to use it tactically later – e.g. saving the feather weight for an attack on the KOM, but you do run the risk of missing out on the large or small bonus boosts.
Zwift User Manual – What is drafting?
Drafting is exactly the same as on the road. If you are in a group, there is less air resistance to your rider, and you can travel further for less effort, the same is true in Zwift. But the draft should not be underestimated. It is vital. If you get dropped from the draft, it can be really hard to race to get back in. Similarly, you’re time isnt going to be close to the peloton
How do you get into the draft?
As you approach a rider, a draft box will appear. The box will appear when you are ~5m behind them
The closer you get to the rider, the more wind they block. Drafting is very important for Zwift races, and as if in the real world, if you get dropped, it hurts getting back into the draft.
If you find yourself riding on your own, there are blue AI riders on the island. You can use them to draft off, to help you keep going. Currently there is no indication as to the AI riders speed, or wattage, so frequently you drop them, and have to find someone else further along to draft off
Left Side Leader Boards
On the LEFT side of the screen is a leaderboard showing the times on that particular jersey section. When you are approaching a segment start point, the table shows your previous times on a segment
As the start of a segment is visualised, the leaderboard rotates to show the current riders live leaderboard
When you complete the segment, the leader board rotates back to your personal times on the segment.
At the bottom of the leader board, are three buttons, these allow you to move between the Sprint, KOM, and Fastest Lap leader boards as you want to. This is more often used in Spectator mode.
If you select another rider from the rider list with the mouse, you go into Spectator Mode. For which the Keyboard camera shortcuts are really useful
Note the spectator screen also has a “RIDE ON!” button at the top centre of the screen of to allow you to give encouragement to a rider
When you do, a 3d glowing thumb appears above the rider, with the RIDE OUT call out played. The thumb then shrinks and disappears in the riders rear jersey pocket – very cool!
When in Spectator Mode, you can go back to your own rider, using the orange arrow in the bottom LEFT hand side of the screen
Display pop up boxes
When you cross the start line of a segment – note the line on the road
As you cross the segment start line, the centre box changes. To show your current time on the segment, the distance from the checkpoint banner in the bottom left, and your 30 day personal record in the bottom.
As you progress along the segment, Zwift has an algorithm that estimates your ETA. The ETA calculation needs to see your performance over a portion of the section, so there is a brief delay in it appearing
On each track, there are three challenges. On Watopia island, as you can change direction, there are three challenge sections in each direction, so giving six possible wins, and six corresponding jerseys to win.
If you start riding when you log in using the “Ride” button, and set off clockwise, you’ll encounter the segments in the following order:
- King of the Mountain
- Sprint Section
- Fastest Lap
You also have the option on Watopia to turn off the main track and head up the Moutain, which will lead you to the Epic KOM
At the end of a segment, it displays your time in the top-centre of the screen, along with any relevant info -e.g. 30 day PR
You now also get confetti, as you pass over the segment line, just to reinforce the point!
If you cross the line and unlock a segment jersey you also get fireworks too!! But what are the segment jerseys?
Zwift User Manual – Segment Jerseys
For each direction, there are three segment challenges on Watopia, each with a corresponding themed jersey.
You win segment jersey by being the fastest on that section – Simples! The jersey then appears on your avatar, and on the rider board on the RIGHT of the screen, you keep the jersey until someone else knocks you off that leader board OR 60mins have passed. The end of each segment has 3 markers, covering the last 300, 200, 1o0n distances up to the segment banner – to help with that last moment burn.
By comparison, the start of each segment is marked with a white line the RIGHT side of the road, the start of each section is detailed below
There is a separate jersey for both men and women on each section now
King/Queen of the Mountains (KoM) challenge (Polka-dot jersey)
This is the first jersey you encounter after riding through the Island Lap banner (which is also the start of its own segment). If you stay on the shortest route, “hilly” at 9.1km, the first challenge you will hit is the KOM. The KOM jersey is awarded to the rider who covers the massive Watopia incline in the fastest time. It starts from a line on the road, just after crossing the first bridge – which you can see in the below picture
The KOM tends to run between 104 and 120 seconds clockwise – it’s TOUGH! Finishing at the polka-dot banner at the top of what is sometimes referred to as Watopia Wall
Sprint Competition (Green Jersey)
SPRINT Jersey segment starts from a line drawn on the road at the entrance to a tunnel over half way round the island as you pass into a rock tunnel, after coming through the village,
You are then flat out for about 21-27 sec if you are hoping to get the jersey clockwise, before passing under the green sprint banner. The run is a shorter 13-14 secs anticlockwise
Fastest full loop rider (Orange jersey)
Awarded to the rider who rides the fastest lap around the whole of the Watopia track, from the start checkpoint and back again – as such there is no “white line” start point, the banner is its own start and finish point.
Segment time approx 13-14mins in either direction if you are wanting to bag yourself a jersey!
It should be noted that the banner has changed at different points depending if there is a specific event going on, above here showing the Amgen TOUR of California ride. But it’s always in the same location. Below is the regular Zwift lap banner
All of the segment for the Richmond course are detailed in that post
If you ascend Zwift Moutain and are the fastest passing the goat at 372m above sea level, you get to wear the Goat KOM. Far less of these are seen!
After battling up the Epic KOM, if you want to continue abusing yourself, you can opt to turn LEFT shortly after the goat to head up to the mast, to highest point on Watopia
Not only is the climb up to the mast/tower the highest elevation, but you’ll be pushing up a very steep 16% gradient before you get to the top and see the summit trig point
Volcano Route Fastest Loop
Completing the 4.2km on the Volcano loop will unlock you a nice red and black number
The 4.2km is measured, like the orange jersey, from arch in the Lava Dome, back to the same arch
But jerseys are not just one achievement at a time, they are also stackable:
The latest Mayan Jungle extension also has it’s jersey, with a very Aztec, geometric theme
Super Double Jersey
A double jersey is available comprising two of the three segment leader jerseys – your rider name on the right-hand list also changes to a graphic comprising of elements from both.
If you are extremely fit/lucky, there is also Super Jersey comprising all three colours – should you be able to take all three section jerseys when you are logged in. Your rider name on the right-hand list again changes to a graphic now comprising elements of all three.
But if that’s too easy, there is also all six jerseys to get, as don’t forget you can do the same in the reverse!
Keeping the jersey
When you have held the jersey for the 60mins, a small count down timer appears next to your time on the leader board, indicating that you will shortly surrender the jersey – but dont worry, you can just re-earn it!
When you do a U-turn (Down arrow on keyboard) your jersey however will disappear (!!) – as there are 3 jerseys in each direction. You don’t however lose the jersey. An icon indicating the respective jerseys you’ve won appears next to your name on the riders list indicating that you hold that jersey, but in the opposite direction (each direction has separate leaderboards).
This all means it is possible to hold SIX different jerseys at once! Three on the riders avatar and three on the board on the opposite direction
Extensions of Watopia
Just getting inside before the door closed on 2015, on 30th of December Zwift released the Ocean Boulevard track extension to Watopia
Ocean Boulevard is to put it simply stunningly beautiful, the designers have done a great job creating a visual spectacle, which is frankly reminiscent of a Bond Villain’s lair with underwater tubes, and a plethora of sea life (and a sub if you look closely!)]
With the Boulevard extension also comes the option to take turns whilst riding, thankfully none of the riders crash on the intersections, although I’ll admit to closing my eyes on the turns, they are TIGHT!
With that in mind, lets look at turning
When you first logged into Zwift, you were given options about your Watopia route. Flat takes you via Ocean Boulevard, Hills over the KOM on Watopia, whilst Group will following the peloton you riding and drafting with. Choosing any of these will make the requisite automatic turns.
You can however manually override any of the turns from either the onscreen buttons, or from the app
Turning on Zwift
Coming from the initial log in, or ‘Ride’ point in the forwards direction, it is approximately 1km to the turn onto Ocean Boulevard, which is just longer a fraction longer at 10.3 vs 9.7km going over the KOM, but Ocean Boulevard is very flat, and great for a TT run.
As you approach the turn to start Ocean Boulevard coming from the start, you see an electronic sign by the side of the road
As you draw level, you will see two turn options occur on on your screen, and a distance counter underneath (Orange bar)
If you have selected “Flat” course, then the LEFT turn will be automatically selected, as shown above. If the “Hills” route, the straight on at this point will be selected. You can change from either one to the other by clicking on the screen icons with the mouse (Yay, sweat and electronics), or using the smart phone app (safer bet)
To turn using the phone app, you have to be on the “Actions” pane, and the top two icons will change from “Elbow flick” and ‘Wave” to the turn buttons.
(Click here to jump to the rest of the section one the Zwift App)
When a choice is selected, light up chevrons appear behind your rider so people know which way you are going
Whilst here are currently no official segments on Ocean Boulevard, I can’t emphasis enough how beautiful the whole section is, covering the underwater tubes, dirt tracks and a marina. All very cool
Thankfully the dirt track doesn’t affect your speed!
By manually selecting the turns you can manage to greatly increase the route variations on Watopia if you are doing large distances for unlockable jerseys
If you thought that the KOM challenge was a bit tough on your legs, you have seen nothing yet! Whilst Watopia generally has a tropical feel, turn either during the tunnel section, or around the dirt roads, and you’ll be heading into Zwift’s version of the Alps. Heck you can even ride Alp du Zwift!
At the start choosing a specific event was mentioned when you initially log in. This will put you in a specific race or ride event. When you log in, afte having selected an event, blue box appears in the bottom LEFT of your screen saying “join” when you have started to ride.
Hitting this will take you away from the main course into a holding area, where you can warm up, without having to worry about missing your start
All of the riders appear on little blue turbo trainers either behind a laser barrier (on the London course) or behind electronic billboards (Watopia)
On the top RIGHT you can see the count down timer before the race (useful if you realise you have forgotten to fill your bottles) plus a count of how many riders are currently participating in that event. You can also message each other on the RIGHT message screen.
The messages, when typed in an event mode, are only visible to riders in that event, rather than the whole of the Zwift game.
The top bar during an event also changes to show your lap counts, and the total distance remaining – nice touch!
Note that the above picture is from a RACE. In a RIDE event, there is a group leader, who sets the pace for the group. The ride leader is identified by the yellow rotating shield over their riders avatar.
If you get dropped from a pack with a ride leader in it, you can still see them, as at distance this shield becomes a beacon of light shining down on them – you can see that here as we’re waiting in the start area to head off
During the ride, any comments from the ride leader will appear in the middle of everyone’s screen, in order to help them communicate, and administer the ride more effectively. Regular riders can still , but will occur on the RIGHT side of the screen as usual
At the end of an event, there is a leaderboard presenting, showing all the riders efforts during that ride – I find I have to scroll down the list quite far to find mine 🙁 – note that the board is visible for 30 secs and then will auto close (the timer is in the “OK” button)
Zwift Map of Watopia
Eric Schlange over on ZwiftBlog.com has spent an inordinate amount of tip putting together a brilliant map of the Zwift Watopia course:
The map covers all of the current extensions to the Watopia island, and if there is one thing we know from Eric Min the Zwift CEO is that Watopia has the space to grow, so make sure you check back after the next inevitable extension – kudos on the Zwift blimp!
It’s worth while making sure that you have a print out of the map to help keep your spirits up when slogging it out on Zwift, thus ZwiftBlog has released a PDF
Zwift User Manual – Permanent Unlockable Jerseys
As the segment jerseys at temporary, Zwift also has a series of permeant achievement jerseys you can earn
Metric century Jersey – (Skywalker White)
Unlocked for completing 100km in a single ride
Imperial Century Jersey – (Darth Vader Black)
Unlocked for completing 100miles in a single ride
Power based awards
- Hold 500 watts for 10 seconds – “Shut up legs”
- Hit 900 watts – “Sprinter in training”
- Hit 1200 Watts – “The Blowdrier”
- Hit 1300 Watts – “Fight for the line”
- Hit 1400 Watts – “200m Beast”
- Hit 1500 watts
- Hit 50mph – “Dare Devil”
Single Distance-based awards
- Ride 40km – “Marathoner”
- Ride 100km – “100 Clicks”
- Ride 100 miles – “No Big deal”
The Volcano Extension has also provided several distance unlocks as well – The Volcano section of Watopia currently has a 4.2km lap. Each time you pass through the checkout in the middle of the lava field, you can see a lap counter
There are achievement unlocks for 5 (Warm Up!), 10 (Hot Head!) and 25 (On Fire!) laps of the Volcano that we are aware of currently
Gear Related Awards
As mentioned earlier there are two boosts that give extra points. The points fill up your orange bar in the top of the screen.
1 km is worth 20 points
1 mile is worth 30 points.
When the bar has been filled up, you level up. Points and levels mean prizes! Currently, this is just graphical bling but there is a plan to have the gear you ride in, be affected by the worlds physics – so that could lead to an “All Steel Bike” race etc.
Levels, Scores and Unlockables
As you pass through a level, there is the corresponding notice telling you what you have unlocked
But perhaps more importantly, here is the kit list, and the number of points you need for each level
Zwift User Manual – How Many Miles for Zwift Levels?
The below tables show the XP at which each level triggers and how far that is in miles or kilometres. XP is awarded at 30 XP per mile, or for a proper cyclist, using a proper system of measurement 20 XP per kilometre
There is a slight complication to the maths is that you can be awarded Zwift large and small bonuses
- Large bonus
- Adds 250 bonus points
- This is worth 12.5km of cycling points. Not to be sniffed at!
- Seems very rare
- Used up automatically, freeing your boost slot of the next segment
- Small Bonus
- Adds 10 points to your score
- Equivalent to 0.5km of riding
- Always good as points equal new kit – we’ll talk about that shortly
- Also used up automatically
Zwift Level 1-25
Zwift Level 26-50
When you do log in if you find that if you have been riding a while, there is the option to unlock the additional Zwift levels or ride thought like the rest of us mortals
So there you have it, Zwift level 50 update! How much more riding have you got to do?
Zwift from time to time does events and team ups. As a result of this, certain bikes and kits become available temporarily. Here are a few of them we’ve had in the past.
- Feb 2015 – Pinarrello Dogma bike released to all Zwifters at the time – currently not unlock able
- April 1st 2015 – bike wheel trikes – Have I mentioned I LOVE the Zwift programmers?? – Only available for the day 🙁
- July 2015 – Trek Madone Released to all as part of Trek month
- August 2015 – Canyon Aeroad, and Mavic Cosmic CXR60 wheels
The Zwift HQ designers also enjoy a few festive specials from time-to-time, so we’ve had:
Big Wheel Trikes
For Halloween we all shed a few Kg’s and ride as skeleton!
April Fools and we’re all bobble headed
On the New Year, we all gain party hats (although I’m not sure about the safety aspect there!)
- There is a “Tron” Bike unlocked when you hit 50,000m on the Everest Challenge, and it looks sooooo cool! – Props the Legend that is Jeremy Samuels for busting a gut to confirm the theory!
Looks AMAZING at night!
You certainly see them coming!
- Draft for 15 seconds
When you unlock an achievement/aware, a banner also displays across the screen
There are various keyboard short cuts to Zwift, some of which are distinctly more important that others. When you are using the spectator views you can get some great photos
Taking the camera keys one step further is Chris Pritchard who does weekly videos of some of the key Zwift races. Here commenting on the ZTR EB Tuesday Night Race
As well as camera keys, the keyboard also allows you to interact with the game
Zwift System Keys
Zwift Mobile Link app
(Not to be confused with the full blown Zwift iOS app – which you can read about here) The crucial bit of kit allowing you to stop covering your keyboard in sweat, and communicate easily in game. The latest update also allows you to connect Bluetooth to Zwift
Even if you are not riding, the app lets you “sneak a peak” and see which other riders are out on the island
But I’ve seen upwards of 400+ riders on the island at the same time, and you dont really want to look down that number of people to find your mates, so Zwift allows you to follow people, as on Strava or Facebook, which then also shows who is riding as well.
The four sqaures in the top left is the app menu, allowing you to access all of your settings etc, without now having to log onto Zwift.com
There are three main sections to the app for use when riding:
- Ride Mode
- Action Mode
- Rider List
App “Rider Mode”
This shows all of the details/stats from your current
- At the bottom is the Power Up bar, which allows you to trigger your power up
- The blue “U-Turn” arrow, allows your rider to change direction now, so you can ride the island both ways (but not Richmond). The two directions
hasgiven rise to two very different courses on Watopia, one favouring a high power rider (clockwise) the other favouring the consistent rider (anti-clockwise)
- To activate the turn, you press and hold the U-turn button, your avatar slows to 20kph – so you need to be moving at more than 3kph before making the turn.
Alsoa U-turn may be delayed if there are riders trying to pass you, presumably so as to not crash the riders/game
- To activate the turn, you press and hold the U-turn button, your avatar slows to 20kph – so you need to be moving at more than 3kph before making the turn.
- The Orange pause button, which brings up the save screen, allowing you to specify a ride name before it gets saved, and likely uploaded to Strava
When the app connects to your profile, you can use the phone app to interact with the Zwift world. The most useful screen is going to be the Actions/Gestures screen
This screen contains the majority of the important in game signal controls, and the camera
“Elbow flick”, “Wave”, “Bell”, “Hammer time”, “I’m toast”, “Ride ON!” and “Nice” – are all purely gestures.
“Power up” – As above
“Snap shot” does exactly what is says on the tin. Allows you to take photos of you rocking that green jersey! These photos are now stored on your phone, whereas previously they were stored on the computer running Zwift – makes things easier for FB bragging now!
“Group Text” – allows you to send shout outs to all the riders on Zwift within a 1.5km radius – useful for co-ordinating group ride starts etc.
“Switch view” – like the keyboard camera angles. To help you get a better photo of that rocking’ jersey!
The flag and number at the top is the notification screen – currently telling you when a rider has followed you
This is essentially your chat page – or somewhere to hurl verbal abuse to the chap who just stole your green jersey and who was obviously weight doping. 10w/kg my backside! (Not that I’d been trying for that green jersey for ages!)
Selecting a rider provides you with their brief bio
The Text button allows you to send a private direct message – this will come up in orange on the recipients screen
Ride On button – to give encouragement, and refreshes every 15mins
Fan view, to what that particular rider
Follow button – which does what it says on the tin, put that rider in your follow section
The messaging app in Zwift is very useful, but there any many people that dont want to trust how well their technology is likely to last with a sweaty keyboard or screen. As a result a lot of people have started looking at TeamSpeak as an alternative communication tool during races.
Zwift User Manual – Group Rides
There are a series of regular rides that have grown up on Watopia through the various Facebook groups for the Zwift Community.
I’ve placed the list in a separate post: Zwift Group Rides along with a little blurb about each race and the link to the various FaceBook events page
When you’ve had a look at the types of rides which are available, and you know the rides you’d like participate in, the Zwift Riders Michael Neal and William Kwan have produced a TeamUp calendar which holds all the various races running each week – as you can see some days get a little crowded!
Best of all, because of the nature of the calendar, it puts everything in relation to YOUR time zone – my poor brain can stop trying to work out which of Australia’s many time zones a “late morning” UK race is over there!
Zwift Workout Mode
Zwift HQ have flipped the switch on one of their most hotly anticipated software upgrade – Zwift Workout mode. Everything you need to understand the Workout Mode is here!
Zwift has released their iOS app via the Apple App store. However, the Zwift team are a group who could NEVER be accused of sitting still. As a result, they have also slipped an easter egg of the Zwift running module with the app! Without a doubt Zwift is DEFINATELY going to transform the indoor running scene in the way they have the indoor cycling world. Especially as you can just lean your iPad or iPhone on any treadmill – I get a few odd looks when I use it at the local gym!
If you want to have a look at Zwift Running in detail, I’ve done a full #ZwiftGearTest HERE
Just for FUN!
The Zwift team are very cool, and there are easter eggs hidden in the game. One bridge has JWB stencilled on the side of it, as a tribute to one of the games Beta testers Julynn Washington, after a banter filled Facebook post once night. It’s great that the development team REALLY integrates with the community and listens.
Scotty the Squirrel
Somewhere on the Watopia Island is Scotty the Squirrel, a character that came over from the previous island
- Finally found him! On Watopia he’s sitting on top of the gas station!
From the previous island, he might change position. At points he has been sat in the middle of the road, with bikes riding VERY close to him, so he might not be where he was last spotted
Take a look, and if you see him, stick it on Twitter and FB!!
Zwift User Manu
al – Errors and Issues
Any comments, changes, things you think I’ve missed, drop me a line in the comments and I’ll try and get things updated as fast as I can