Whether you want to snag a sprint jersey, boss your next event or unlock your favourite bike, Zwift is the most gamified virtual cycling platform out there, so to get the most out of it you need to know all the juicy tricks and secrets.
Just like racing in the real world, it’s not all about your watts per kilo. Factors like drafting, power-ups, course profile and even road surface all play a role in your in-game performance.
And for the Zwifters on more relaxed rides, there’s so much to see if you take the time to look around. If you’re really observant you might spot a few Easter eggs (hidden features) or even something new.
Don’t worry if you’ve been missing out though, because we’re going to spell it all out for you.
And if you’re completely new to the virtual cycling world, don’t forget to check out our Zwift guide for all the basics.
- The best workouts and training plans on Zwift
- Best Zwift setups for every rider – from budget to ultimate
- 10 Zwift tips for beginners
- Zwift Meetups explained | How to create group rides on Zwift
How to sign-up to Zwift
Visit the Zwift website to sign-up for a free 7-day trial. After your trial period ends, Zwift costs £12.99 / $14.99 per month.
What are drops?
If you want to unlock some sweet upgrades in the Drop Shop, you’ll need to earn some drops first.
The latest and greatest bikes can be pretty expensive though, and drops can’t be traded or bought, so you’re going to need to do some serious riding to earn enough credits.
If you want to earn more drops, you need to burn more calories – which means putting out more power. The harder, longer and further you ride, the more drops you’ll earn, but did you know that certain types of riding earn more drops than others?
You’ll earn drops at a faster rate while climbing, and the steeper the incline the faster you’ll accumulate them. So, if you want to kit out your avatar’s bike with some bling parts, head to the hills.
How to earn experience points (XP)
Experience points (XP) primarily helps you to level up and unlock new kit for your avatar, but most frames and wheels in the Drop Shop have level requirements too, so you’ll need to earn enough XP to check that box before you can unlock your favourite ride.
XP are earned primarily according to the distance you ride – points are added for every kilometre or mile ridden (outside of workout mode, where you receive XP according to time spent in interval blocks).
You’ll get 20 XP per kilometre or 30 XP per mile ridden in game, so if you’re looking to level up, get on that TT bike, use your aero wheels and head to the Fuego Flats in Watopia.
Eagle-eyed readers might have also deduced that for the same distance ridden, you’ll earn more slightly XP if you’re recording distance in kilometres rather than miles.
You can also get XP PowerUps when you go through sprint, KOM or start/finish arches. You’ll get 10 XP for a small bonus or 205 XP for a large bonus.
How to unlock the Concept Z1 bike
Not everything can be unlocked with drops or XP though. Some bikes and kits, for example, can only be unlocked by completing specific challenges.
The Concept Z1 (also known as the Tron bike, which many believe to be the fastest bike in the game), is one of those bikes. Luckily, unlocking it is very simple; all you need to do is sign up for and complete the Climb Mt. Everest challenge… Then keep climbing for an additional 41,150m. That’s 50,000m in total. No sweat, right?
Complete in-game challenges to earn badges and bonus XP
Zwifters can also earn badges by completing specific in-game challenges. There are badges to be earned for general riding achievements (like hitting speed speeds, wattages etc) and completing routes, but also secret ‘extra credit’ badges for truly dedicated riders to seek out.
One of the most coveted badges is the 100KPH! badge. Achieving it is pretty self-explanatory (you just need to hit a speed of 100kph), but good luck trying to clock that on the flat. Try pedalling up to the Radio Tower first…
You’ll also get bonus XP for earning route badges. Bonuses start at 60 XP for completing the Duchy Estate or Queen’s Highway routes on the Yorkshire course, but you can earn up to 950 XP for completing longer ones like the Watopia Hilly Route.
How to access locked areas – fast!
Levelling up also allows you to access new parts of Watopia. Alpe du Zwift, for example, is locked to riders under level 12.
It is possible to access these areas if you’re not yet at the required level though. If you’ve got a riding buddy who’s the right level, you can tag along with them.
Alternatively, you can join an event that heads to the locked area. Use the Zwift Companion app to search for and sign up to events that go to the locked area you want to visit.
Easter eggs – keep your eyes peeled
If you can pull your eyes away from the wheel in front of you for a moment, there are a number of Easter eggs to look out for.
At the top of the Epic KOM, for example, keep an eye out for the mountain goat congratulating you for making it up there.
Every course is also packed with small details to enjoy. There’s Jarvis the bear in Titan’s Grove, a ski jump in Innsbruck, vintage steam powered tractors in Yorkshire and, if you’re lucky, you might see the Yeti while climbing Alpe du Zwift.
There’s also an abandoned 1950’s town in the Fuego Flats and floating horse-drawn carriages in New York’s futuristic Central Park, while the underground station in London has some fun posters if you stop to look.
Every now and again you can also get a sneak peak of new sections of road that are being worked on. Keep your eyes out for road works appearing, as these usually offer clues on new routes.
Horse for the course – bike selection is important
Just like real life, bike selection is important in Zwift if you want to get the most out of the watts you’re producing.
Did you know different bikes perform differently on different surfaces? Road and TT bikes are fastest on the tarmac, yet you’ll be outpaced on the gravel roads of Zwift’s Mayan Jungle by a gravel or CX bike.
To get the ultimate look for your avatar, press “P” on your keyboard to bring up the code prompt and enter “BIKERADAR” to unlock the BikeRadar jersey and shorts.
Okay, so that one isn’t really a cheat code per se – it won’t directly have any affect on your avatars in-game speed after all – but there’s no doubt that you’ll look and feel like a million dollars, and that’s got to be worth at least a few extra watts.