Forgive the derisive title, it may be a little inflammatory but nevertheless, it has become a stock response for our support team when they are asked questions like…

“why do I stop pedalling when I go around corners”

“why do I brake so I don’t hit other riders”

“why do I brake when descending down the Stelvio Pass”

We know, we all get it, we really do – No one likes change, it’s scary, but in this case, change is essential for cycling eSports to progress. 

In reality, cycle racing is exciting because the courses offer riders different challenges based on the routes. Up until recently, cycling eSports has failed to capture this. It has been (at least for the most part) a threshold effort with a sprint at the beginning and end, and not much else.

It’s boring, it’s for testers (time trialists) and the guys who’s physiological systems are better placed to deal with those physical demands.

This isn’t good enough and it’s making the sport boring to watch and even more boring to participate in.


In the minds of the team at RGT Cycling all of the above outlined the need for change. So what are we doing differently to change the game?.


Firstly, we worked hard from the beginning to create a physics algorithm that was based on real-world research. It took us a long time and 1000’s of iterations and we’re still not done with this, but we’re getting closer to a hyper accurate representation of the real world speeds and movement.


Obviously, in the absence of steering we don’t want you stuck in the stickiest of drafts unable to get away from your opponents in the sprint. However, we do want to simulate the need to move up to the front before long climbs, or big sprint finishes etc.

We also want you to be able to sit on the wheel of your team mate without constantly overlapping them.

To simulate this we have added braking to avoid you hitting the back of other riders. This has been crudely implemented elsewhere, and is sometimes referred to as sticky draft. 

On RGT you can see it happening as your power value turns red indicating the brakes are being pulled.

You can overcome this by pushing significantly higher power numbers than your opponent or by approaching them at a significantly higher speed. 


This is one of the most essential developments we have made in providing a more realistic racing experience

To recreate the concertina effect experienced in real life racing when cornering, we have simulated breaking into corners. Sometimes this might seem slower than you would like but it’s based on angles, forces, the line the rider takes, and pedal strike considerations to workout how slow the rider should go.

Corners, as with real life racing can become tactical opportunities to launch attacks from.


We know from our own personal experience as riders that our normalized power values are more realistic when racing on RGT, when compared with racing on other platforms and this is a good indication that we are on the right road to more exciting racing for virtual cyclists.

All things considered, we’re working in a complex area, delivering on our commitment to realistic and engaging eSports for cyclists but we’re a long way from finished and have features in development that add even more to the experience.



The RGT Screen App Drafting interface is broken down below:

Drift Back – This appears in the power HUD when power gets below the lower required amount to sit on the wheel. You will start to get dropped if you’re seeing this.

Pull –  This appears in the power HUD when power gets above the upper level required to sit on the wheel. You will start to come around the rider in front of you at this point.

Saving – This appears in the power HUD and shows the amount of power you are saving by sitting in the wheels.

Arrows >>> – The power value shown here is the value you need to maintain to stay in the draft.

Arrows <<<  – The power value shown here is the value you need to reach to come around the riders in front of you.

If you want to stay in the draft, stay between the two numbers next to each arrow, e.g 

Taking the image as an example 170 watts (the halfway point between 100 and 240) would be the optimum power to aim for.

The power turns red when automated breaking gets applied.


You will not get pulled into the draft at speeds lower than 16 km/h. (If there’s no room to overtake then drafting is forced regardless of speed).

Hopefully this is helpful and goes someway to giving you an understanding of why we’re doing, what we’re doing.

Got a comment on the physics or want to make a suggestion for the future? Please let us know in the comments below

25 thoughts on “PHYSICS ON RGT

  1. Avatar
    Nikolaus says:

    overall i think you have made a great job in rebuilding drafting physics!
    However there is one thing where I experience differences on RGT vs real racing. If you have a large bunch of riders you experience a significantly larger and distance wise longer lasting drafting effect than compared to a small group or a single rider. Correct me if I am wrong but I did not experience this on RGT so far. My impression is that the algorithms picks the rider were the speeds are matching best and just takes his/her slipstream into account. And if the algorithm chooses to change the rider to draft in a big bunch you see a massive drop in W savings for this changing period which again you would not see in a big bunch in real life.
    Keep on your good work and keep on improving! 🙂

    • Avatar
      adminjames says:

      Thanks for the reply 🙂
      The number of riders in the group does make a difference to the overall saving of any rider in the draft. However, we certainly agree that this can be improved.
      We’re working on our drafting and refactoring the code at the moment. We hope to have improvements shipped sometime in the new year so keep your eyes and ears open.

      We still stand by RGT Physics as the most realistic.



  2. Avatar
    Andrew Fraser says:

    On the flat will an 80kg rider doing 4w/kg, i.e. 320w go faster than a 70kg rider doing 4w/kg, i.e 280w and if so by how much. Our club created races on an essentially flat circuit and it appears that everyone goes the same speed for the same w/kg which in reality is nowhere near correct on the flat.

    • Avatar
      adminjames says:

      Thanks for the reply 🙂
      There is a difference between the actual wattage produced and the speed of the rider. W/KG also influences this.
      We’re working on our drafting and refactoring the code at the moment. We hope to have improvements shipped sometime in the new year.

  3. Avatar
    John Martin says:

    I have found when riding a route on RGT that I have ridden in the real world the elapsed time is very similar. In some respects it can feel harder but is often helped by being able to draft a Bot. The net result seems pretty accurate to me. If you adjust the drafting physics as mentioned above I fear that the overall difficulty may then become overstated. Great work guys. I am really enjoying using RGT.

  4. Avatar
    Gabriel says:

    Sorry for not agreeing the principles of automatic braking. The rider can’t feel any physical stimulus that could trigger braking (or at least stop pedaling) during a virtual cornering or descent, like he feels in real world. There is no feel of centrifugal force, no bike tilt, no slide slip and no crashing in virtual ride. Virtual automatic brake just make the rider loose his pedaling effort because he has no physical stimulus to tell him stop pedaling, like in real life. I think it should be removed, releasing resources for other computing challenges.

    • Avatar
      adminjames says:

      Hello Gabriel
      Thank you for your message.

      We disagree entirely – But that’s okay. We’re not always going to agree with everyone!

      There is no rider stimulus such as forward momentum or acceleration provided by pedaling, but we think this is essential too.

      We’re fully committed to this feature and will continue to enhance it.


    • Avatar
      Gerald Hines says:

      I completely disagree. I stop pedaling and slow down ahead of corners in the real world because I SEE (physical stimulus) the corner I’m approaching and know I can’t just go flying through it without crashing. I stop pedaling ahead of corners in RGT because I SEE the corner I’m approaching and know that, due to automatic braking, I’m going to waste watts if I keep pedaling.
      It has the same effect, and I prefer it to just letting me keep all of my momentum straight through a corner. That’s not just realistic. And RGT’s physics results in me having to put in more effort to get back up to speed out of the corner, just like I have to do in the real world instead of getting the “free energy” ride through a corner like I get in other apps.
      I want my virtual ride to be an actual replacement for my real rides, which is why I don’t care for Zwift. All of those free “power ups” and whatnot aren’t what I’m looking for in a workout.

      • Avatar
        adminjames says:

        Hey Gerald
        You’re right “RGT’s physics results in me having to put in more effort to get back up to speed out of the corner”, but that’s the point.
        It’s that simple. RGT is a supplement to real-world cycling, a racing simulator, and a training tool. If you want to improve the same physiological systems you use when riding outside you need to exercise them. It’s that simple, and that’s why you need to pedal harder to get back up to speed.


    • Avatar
      ChrisH says:

      Agreed, Gabriel. The algorithm that controls positioning seems arbitrary and often makes counter-intuitive decisions as well. It can be frustrating to have elements of the program that directly affect speed and position within a race be so important but also be entirely out of your control. I’ve raced a couple of times now on RGT, and while I like the idea of making it as realistic as possible, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I think for the idea to work (well), there has to be a way for the rider to control their own position. The in game mechanics simply don’t make race-intelligent decisions. There is nothing more frustrating than to put on power and watch the algorithm try to slot you in behind another rider you are trying to pass, then hit the brakes while there was plenty of room to have passed. It is useable and I suppose in some regards better than other platforms, but still has a long way to go approach “realistic” in my opinion.

      • Avatar
        adminjames says:

        Hi Chris
        Obviously sorry you’re feeling this way and we’re taking this on-board. We may allow organizers to select to turn collision avoidance on or off. Making this easier for those who are not interested in learning how to ride.

        The in-game mechanics make the same decisions for everyone. Those who learn this are able to position themselves accordingly and make the most out of their power in a race.

        It’s because of this races are won and lost on race craft and athletism, not a random power-up or boost after a standard TT Effort.

        We’re certainly making this better but we’re never going to stop braking for corners. It’s like saying “Arhh guys, I don’t like gravity, can you switch it off?”


  5. Avatar
    Scott Frey says:

    Thanks for this helpful information and for the platform, which I am really enjoying. The community spirit of RGT users is truly outstanding. One the topic of physics, are you modeling air resistance as a function of riders’ velocity?
    Happy holidays

    • Avatar
      adminjames says:

      Hi Scott
      Thanks for your kind words. The team will be thrilled to see more feedback from another happy users.
      I think what your asking is, does the drag and draft change based on speed and the answer to that is yes.
      Thanks again

  6. Avatar
    Gabriel says:

    I’ve done some more riding, solo or by drafting a bot. I really liked the idea: higher wattage with the bot in your draft, then “rest” by drafting the bot at lower wattage – the perfect team :). But I noticed that if I try to corner just around maximum allowed power (power figure continuously switching from red to white and back), the bot slightly tends to drop me (he knows the game algorithm better than me, doesn’t he?). So, in the game, the rider has only 2 alternatives:
    1) Corner with lower power than maximum allowed and ride below maximum possible speed, or
    2) Corner with higher power than maximum allowed, which means preserving the maximum possible speed, but lose power in braking.
    In real life, alternative 1) is possible, but 2) does not exist: it means just hard crashing. But in real life there is also the third alternative that the rider can never apply in virtual riding, because he has no stimulus to reach it: take (almost) the best position and power for cornering at maximum speed.
    Thus, I am not sure that such feature in the game can reasonably mimic reality, even in a perfect application.

  7. Avatar
    Gabriel says:

    P.S.: Overall, I think RGT became a very good simulator, maybe missing (just for the moment, I hope,) the critical mass in number of riders. Btw, I have just leaved Zwift, mainly due to a very poor implementation of drafting and, probably, poor synchronization of the real position of the rider on the screen.

  8. Avatar
    Andrew says:

    The values that are displayed next to the “drift back” and “pull” arrows within the drafting interface are very hard to read owing to them being a faint shade of grey.

    Just a suggestion, but by having the values as green (drift back) and red (pull) would make them easier to read.

  9. Avatar
    Sylvain says:

    Dear RGT Dev team,
    I really appreciate the work you’ve done to have a more realistic plateform in terms of physics, braking and drafting. I definitely think it’s the way to go for eSport competitions.
    However, I’m not yet entirely satisfied with ho the braking is applied in some corners.
    It looks like that the braking is from time to time to strong or shouldn’t be applied at all in regards to the speed of the avatar and the curvature or the turn.This is, for exemple, the case on the last turns of Borrego Springs before the finish line.
    This is maybe due to the fact that the trajectory of the avatar is not really realistic in these turns also. The avatar is like fixed on a rail. We would expect the avatar to try to cut a bit in these corners on a large road for a more realistic feeling and I imagine that it would allow for less braking as well.
    I hope you keep up working on these aspects that are for me really important if you want the riders to understand and adhere to your strategic choice towards more realistic virtual riding.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Avatar
      adminjames says:

      We’re very happy with how the product has progressed but we agree entirely, we’ve still got a long way to go!
      We’re working on all aspects of the physics and hope to improve this with a new release we have planned this year.
      #ridefree 👍

  10. Avatar
    Nate Fulcher says:

    So I have a slight issue with the physics….I’m heavy weight which means in real life on the flat and downhill my weight and watts are an advantage which don’t really seem to come into effect here, especially if trying to get away from the light weights downhill pretty rubbish after you kill yourself uphill to stay with the bunch hope for a little rest on the downhill and then get dropped but a guy half my weight…. can we please have our gravity back!

    • Avatar
      adminjames says:

      Hi Nate
      Thank you for the message. You do have your gravity but the overall savings for big groups on descents is too high meaning you will get brought back.
      We know about this and hope to improve it with the next update to physics.
      #ridefree 👍

  11. Avatar
    Tim Davies says:

    Today I noticed huge drafting watts on the fast descent in race conditions, over 1200w at times. The punching thro’ when riding in a fast bunch I can understand created this high ‘demand’, hence the high draft. I cannot actually exceed 800w myself, so a draft of 1,2kw is quite meaningless to me. The other effect is a near instantaneous being dropped if you a distanced by a few metres, and huge power demands to get back on. Real world descending is not so extreme, and the drafting extent not a fixed value, i.e. as speed increases, so does draft. Also we descend in lines behind each other, in RGT it tends to parallel up, not sure why.

    • Avatar
      adminjames says:

      Hi Ian
      The savings calculation includes everything at the moment, including the savings from a descent. We know we need to change this.
      Thanks for the reminder.
      #ridefree 👍

  12. Avatar
    Richard Neil says:

    Newbie to RGT & loving it! I was reading ‘Drift Back’ & ‘Pull’ as instructions TO me in order to maximise drafting. I thought that when ‘Drift Back’ appeared I needed to ease off & when ‘Pull’ appeared I needed to apply more power. Reading the above I believe I have got this the wrong way round . So the game is telling me what’s happening – EG ‘Drift Back’ is when I need to add power to stay in the draft (as I’m drifting back) and ‘Pull’ is when I’m adding more power than needed to stay in the draft? Have I got this right?

    • Avatar
      adminjames says:

      Hi Ian
      Yes! This has been mentioned before.
      When you are being dropped it should say “Pull” and when you are pulling around the riders in front it should say “Ease Off”.
      I will add this to the list.
      #ridefree 👍

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