Zwift, the indoor cycling simulation game, has long had a ‘super tuck’ feature where a rider’s avatar squats down over the top tube to get low and reduce aerodynamic drag. After cycling’s international governing body, the UCI, announced its intention to ban the super tuck in professional racing starting on April 1 (no joke), Zwift released a statement of its own.
“If you’re still yet to claim the 100kph badge in Zwift, then you’ll be glad to hear the ‘super tuck’ is here to stay,” Zwift PR lead Chris Snook said in a statement. “Zwift falls outside the UCI Road Cycling Rules and regulations and Zwifters will be able to continue adopting the ‘super tuck’ from the safety and comfort of their home.”
Zwift lead game designer Wes Salmon told VeloNews that the super tuck feature has been inside the game for years.
“It’s been around as long as I can remember,” Salmon said. “It was one of those ‘Easter eggs’ that people only found accidentally. At a certain grade percent and a certain speed, your avatar will drop down below the seat.”
At a speed of about 54kph / 34mph when descending a gradient -3.5 percent or steeper, it is faster to coast than to pedal. This is of most benefit for eracing, which is something thousands of Zwift users participate in every day on the gaming platform.
As with drafting, climbing, and accelerating, Zwift has algorithms to replicate the physics of outdoor riding as much as possible. Zwift also has ‘powerups’ — little bonuses that can be activated for a temporary benefit, such as reducing body weight, increasing the effect of the draft, or reducing aerodynamic drag.
“The drag reduction of the super tuck is somewhat [akin] to the aero powerup,” Salmon said. “It’s about a 25-percent reduction in drag coefficient. If you think about the speed at which you use the super tuck, the benefit in increased speed will be greater.”
In other words, super tucking inside is super fast, as it can be outside. But inside, of course, there is no risk; the human rider is just sitting on their bike on a trainer, and not pedaling.
“What’s nice about the super tuck and the aero powerup is that they stack,” Salmon said. “You can use the powerup while super tucked and you can get really slippery.”
So while pro racers will have to learn and understand how the UCI will define and regular the super tuck in the coming months, Zwift racers just need to remember one thing: when going 54kph+ at descents -4 percent and steeper, stop pedaling. Super tucking in Zwift at the point is faster than pedaling — no safety issues or position bans involved.