Zwift has something new: Zwift Clubs! Well, it sort of has something new. The launch functionality has been announced, and there’s a limited release to anyone that was an original beta tester back in 2015. So it’s not finished, and nor is it widely available. But what is it? Here’s our brief explainer.
At the moment, it’s a very limited release to a select few, which allows them to do certain things, notably:
So it does allow people to show their colours, and adds some of the things you might be familiar with from Strava Clubs, but doesn't really add any major new in-game capabiity.
Club functionality in Zwift has always been a weak point. Zwift clubs have existed since Zwift has existed, and many have their own kit in the game, but organisation of a club isn’t really possible from within the app. There’s no capability to do any of the things outlined above, and there’s no way for a club to set up its own events. All the calendar events are generated by the Zwift team, and the meetups function is limited: it doesn’t work for bigger clubs and you’re limited in the kind of riding you can do. Currently you can see events that a club is linked to, but there’s no way for the club to add events themselves. That will be the big draw when it’s eventually implemented, which it surely will be. It's not in the scope of the current release though.
Presumably this has been in development for a while now, and now we're in lockdown other online apps are rolling out functionality for riders to organise their own events and ride together. TrainerRoad is currently introducing group workouts, and RGT is offering group rides that can be set up by individuals rather than centrally. Zwift clearly doesn’t want to miss out on this, and the soft release is presumably just to let everyone know that it’s not far off.
Clubs is being released under the FutureWorks banner, which is the same way it’s been rolling out the steering functionality on Repack Ridge. The ability to organise into clubs, and for clubs to organise their own rides and races, will be an enormous boost to the platform.
"We've been hoping to release Clubs for some time", Zwift's Chris Snook told us. "Our intention has always been to roll out to a small pool initially for this second phase under the FutureWorks banner. Selecting the original Beta users not only seemed like a nice way to repay loyalty, but also provides us with a pretty significant audience - around 18,000 Zwifters".
Like we said above, the first release is to anyone that was a member in the heady days of the free beta, racing blue ghosts around Jarvis Island. Zwift expects that the second phase will be a release to the bigger clubs already on Zwift, and then the public release will follow that later in the year.
“I imagine that Zwifters will see some discussion about the new Club Functionality within the community pages, so I want to make sure that the community understands the planned roll out,” says Eric Min, Zwift CEO and Co-Founder. “I’m incredibly excited by Clubs, especially for the additional tools and control it will provide to our community.”
So there you go: that's what we know for now. What do you think Zwift should add to its Clubs rollout? Let us know in the comments below.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.