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Zwift adds handcycles with first adaptive bike game update (with unique aerodynamics)

zwift adds handcycles to race alongside regular bikes
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With its own set of aerodynamic qualities, the new Zwift Handcycles give adaptive athletes a more representative avatar in their online cycling world.

Designed in consultation with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), the new option is immediately available to anyone to use.

“Adding the handcycle to Zwift allows us to better-represent adaptive athletes in the game, an important way in which we are living our mission of building a platform for everyone,” says Zwift CEO Eric Min.

a group of handcycles in the zwift game

“Our team has worked hard, collaborating with experts in the adaptive sports space, including the CAF, to create a bike that will look and perform as realistically as any other in the game. It’s our hope that by launching this new bike, we will be able to show all Zwifters – whether or not they identify as adaptive athletes – that you don’t have to ride a certain type of bike to belong in our community.”

They’ll host rides for handcycling (anyone can join in) on their Events Page, and they’ll support handcycle clubs and create specific workouts for them in the near future.

Are the Zwift handcycles more aerodynamic?

zwift handcycle shown from the rear

We’ve asked that specifically, but for now, all they’re saying is that the handcycles will show the riders in a reclined position and using their arms to turn the cranks.

The bikes will be available in a variety of colors, and they have “unique aerodynamic characteristics receiving some draft from upright bikes in the game, while not conferring a draft onto upright bikes. Handcycles can draft each other.”

These aren’t the only type of handcycles in the real world, and Zwift knows it. They admit this is just the start (and we’d say a good one), and that they’re committed to adding more features and options to continually create a more diverse and representative feature set.

How do handcycles work with indoor trainers?

Zwift shared this image of Devann Murphy, who almost lost her leg as a child. It’s very weak, leaving her unable to balance on and ride a traditional bike. After trying her hand, er, legs at a marathon by using a crutch, she decided to look for something with less impact and turned to handcycling. She won the 2019 Boston Marathon handcycle race and, in 2020 started using Zwift to train.

Her setup mounts a direct-drive trainer under a small table, positioning the axle at the appropriate height so that her bike can sit in it’s real-world position.


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1 year ago

Who’s going to be first to switch to hand cycle so nobody can draft them?

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