Handcycles are now available on Zwift with the most recent update (1.29.0).
This is a much-anticipated feature among the active paracycling community on Zwift. Earlier in the year, we spoke with handcyclist, Ken Bestine, about his hopes for the evolution of paracycling on Zwift.
Today’s launch of handcycles is the first step toward achieving much of what Ken and his fellow handcyclists are looking for from the platform.
From Zwift’s press release, they stated, “The Zwift handcycle was designed in consultation with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), which was founded in 1994 and strives to help people with physical challenges live healthy, active lives.”
One of the biggest issues is representation. True to Zwift’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging (DEIB) handcyclists will now be visible in game. For now, there is only one type of handcycle available, but Zwift has plans for incorporating different types (upright handcycles, trikes, etc.) based on paracycling disability categories.
Another greatly anticipated feature by Ken and his fellow paracyclists is specific draft dynamics for handcyclists. In this first iteration:
- bicycles will receive no draft from handcycles
- handcycles will receive 50% draft from bicycles
- handcycles will receive 100% draft from other handcycles
Sure to follow will be handcycle-specific events and races on Zwift. One of these events will be a series of group rides led by the “Bernie” pace partner, who rides at 1.5 w/kg, and will now ride a handcycle. According to the Zwift press release, all Zwifters are invited to join these rides and see the new handcycles in action. Much more is to come for existing handcycle clubs with plans to add specific workouts for handcyclists in the future.
Read Zwift's Handcycle FAQ for more details, and handcyclists note that there is a way to provide feedback at the end.
However, Ken’s concern about cyclists choosing a handcycle from their Zwift garage and participating in handcycling rides and events is an issue with this initial launch. Zwift has stated that they will be monitoring these rides and events and refining a method for flagging cyclists posing as handcyclists.
This is an important first step, and all of us at Slowtwitch are excited to see the inclusion of paracyclists on Zwift and the in-game refinements soon to follow.