Zwift teases what’s to come for 2022

Zwift gives us an insight into how Zwifters train and forthcoming updates including new roads, a new home screen, and clubs for all.

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This week Zwift hosted a meeting that revealed how the world trains indoors (on Zwift) and then provided a look into what’s to come for the 2021/22 northern hemisphere indoor riding season. The updates announced include an extension to the current Makuri Islands world with an entirely new Neokyo city map, a new easier to use home screen, and an update on Zwift’s new social feature. More on these later.

A few swift Zwift stats

Before delving into the updates, though, Zwift gave us an insight on how the world trains indoors on Zwift, a state of the virtual nation if you like. With over three million accounts on the platform and many thousands of daily users, Zwift has a view of how many people like to train. From data taken over the past 30 days, Zwift provided a few pretty predictable training insights, e.g. Zwift activities tend to be slightly longer on the weekends and shorter midweek, and peak Zwift time varies from 6-9 pm midweek to 9 am-12 pm on the weekends. Furthermore, Zwifters tend to opt for more structured workouts mid-week and “free rides” on the weekends, while Zwift racing peaks on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. 

More interestingly, Zwift says Tuesday evenings are the busiest time in the virtual world, with 50% of all weekly users active on a Tuesday evening. Friday afternoon is the next most popular weekday, apparently breaking out of work early to ride indoors is the new Friday post-work drinks. 

Also interesting are some of the trends Zwift can spot from the time of day we train. While 44% of daily active users train between 6-9 pm, Zwift says the early bird catches and keeps the worm, as those who train at 5 am are 20% more habitual than those who ride at 5 pm. And while 70% of Zwift activities are between 35-100minutes, riders tend to train 15% longer on social activities (group rides, races etc.) than solo rides.

Zwift can break its content into three categories: Train, which includes all workouts; Compete, which includes everything racing; and Explore, which covers tours, group rides, free rides, and badge hunting. Zwift says many athletes will participate in all three of these categories each month, with 50% of users completing at least one Train type workout and 80% opting for an Exploration ride. Competition is unsurprisingly lagging behind here, with just 20% of Zwifters lining up for a race in the same 30 days. 

That 20% opting to race might sound small, but racing is still one of Zwift’s core features. Zwift provided some stats from its WTRL racing community which has 1,800 teams with 10,000+ racers from 140 nationalities competing in 136 races across 55 events per week. 

The company also announced new continental qualifiers offering a path for online racers to compete in the 2022 UCI E-Sports World Championships on Zwift. Any Zwift racer active across October and November can compete in continental qualifiers on November 27th and 28th with 25 riders per gender to qualify for the Worlds in February. These 25 riders will join the 75 riders nominated by 23 national federations worldwide to duke it out for the virtual rainbow bands. 

Updates

After all that insight, Zwift took us on a look into the future, unveiling its plans for the months ahead. While one might expect updates in dribs and drabs as and when each is completed, Zwift instead revealed three big updates before any are actually ready. 

Neokyo map

The closest of those upcoming updates is the new Neokyo map (I am told is pronounced Nee-o-key-o) which will launch sometime in November. Neokyo is the second map on the new Makuri Islands world inspired by Japanese culture, joining the Yumezi map already live in the new world. The new Neokyo map connects with Yumezi but offers a contrasting urban environment with flat, fast and constricted feeling city streets taking you through shopping, eating, and living areas. Zwift dropped a hint we should catch the monorail running through Neokyo to see where it might take us without giving any further detail. My guess is it’ll offer a commuting option for those wanting to also ride Yumezi in a single session.

The Neokyo map addition signals the expansion of the Makuri Islands world. Zwift says Makuri Islands is its second hub world alongside Watopia. Expect to see the continued development of the Makuri Islands world with new maps, roads, and terrain to tackle in 2022.

New home screen

In perhaps even more exciting news than a new city to ride in, Zwift announced it is working on a new home screen to make the online platform more accessible and easier to use. The home screen has never been Zwift’s best asset, with third-party apps such as ZwiftHub providing some features Zwift really should have. The new home screen seems to address much of the complaints levelled at the current configuration. Zwift says the new home screen will improve the screen layout, and reduce the time it takes to find and then start a new activity. Furthermore, the new home screen will display upcoming events, easier event filtering, and more detailed route lists detailing estimated ride time, difficulty, climbing, distance, and route badge status. 

The new home screen is still a work in progress, and Zwift plans a phased rollout with early testing in November before a full release in early 2022. 

Clubs

Create a club, invite members, create and manage events. Sounds like a lot of work and a job for a committee.

Clubs is a long talked about and much-anticipated feature for Zwift, but until now was a limited test feature for select groups and teams. First announced last year, Clubs is one of the most anticipated releases from Zwift, promising the option to start and join a club. You’ll be able to create and manage club events and workouts. And there will be a club activity feed, club chatbox, and club leaderboards. Unfortunately, no sign of custom club kits just yet.

Like the new home screen, Zwift says the Clubs feature will move to the next test phase in November, with a full release expected for early 2022. Once that full release goes live, Zwift will allow all users to join a club, but only Zwifters at level 20 and above will have the option to create a new club. 

While clubs should bring a new and exciting social aspect to virtual riding, Zwift is likely hoping clubs can relieve Zwift HQ’s workload by putting event creation and management in users’ hands. 

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