The Top 10 Indoor Cycling Platforms and Apps to Get You Through the Winter
With short days and cold months approaching, we break down the best indoor cycling platforms and apps you could be using this winter.
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Indoor riding has come a long way in the past decade. We went from using a resistance knob on the back of a trainer and staring at the wall in front of us to smart trainers altering the resistance while we cruise around a virtual Innsbruck on virtual indoor cycling platforms. And now, most people are searching for something perhaps unthinkable even a decade ago: the best apps for indoor cycling.
While Zwift is one of the most popular indoor cycling softwares to sync with your trainer and/or bike, it’s not the only one out there. If you’re looking to switch up your scenery from Watopia to, say, the streets of a small town in Italy, there’s no better time than now to test out a new virtual cycling experience.Section divider
Free Trial: Yes, 14 days
Wahoo X is Wahoo’s new and improved subscription cycling platform. Wahoo X is a combination of Wahoo SYSTM, formerly Sufferfest, and Wahoo RGT, formerly RGT. The SYSTM indoor cycling platform is focused on working with you via AI (and sometimes with a real coach) to create a progressive training program. The SYSTM workouts can be used indoors or uploaded to the Wahoo ELEMNT bike computer and replicated outside. RGT takes real routes and makes them virtually accessible (complete with avatars) along with weekly group rides – it’s like Wahoo’s/RGT’s take on Zwift.
Together, SYSTM and RGT form the new Wahoo X membership, where you get the best of both platforms. For only $15/month, it’s a pretty sweet deal: a coach via SYSTM, sessions that can be done indoors or outdoors, and a high-quality virtual world via RGT.
Free Trial: Yes, 14 days
VQ Velocity is an online cycling platform that preaches the idea that “fast is a skill” on the bike. The VQ Velocity platform focuses on two main areas within their classes: skills work—like cadence, holding aero position, or standing out of the saddle—and energy systems, like threshold focus, VO2 max focus, or a blend of the two.
VQ Velocity puts a heavy emphasis on leveling up your game metabolically, claiming that their platform can calculate your fat-to-carb utilization (a formula that uses sex, age, and heart rate for a basic output), lactate threshold, and more. Their apex of this, though, is “INSCYD,” which VQ Velocity states will “identify your physiological rate limiters to help you train specific energy systems to achieve your goals.”
Basically, the idea with INSCYD is it will take stock of where you have growth areas—your VO2 max, for instance—and will potentially recommend training based off INSCYD’s determinations. We say “potentially” because there isn’t a ton of information about INSCYD and how it works on VQ Velocity’s site yet. The platform is very sleek but very much still in beta mode. For $40/month, it’s likely only for those who love testing out new software and have some bucks to spare.Section divider
Free Trial: Yes, 14 days
Rouvy brings world-famous rides right into your pain cave. Rouvy differs from Zwift in that its focus is to bring real courses to life via augmented reality. Triathletes will especially like that Rouvy offers a tour of the Ironman World Championship bike course in Kona, Hawaii. Whether you’ve been there before or hope to get there one day, now you too can experience the magic of the Big Island from home. Rouvy now offers OmniMode, which allows riders on certain courses to pan their view 360 degrees to truly take in the virtual world in which you’re riding.
In fact, you can even filter by Ironman-branded race courses across the globe to experience them right from the trainer, like Ironman Canada, Ironman Cairns, and Ironman Lake Placid. Rouvy’s indoor cycling platform has thousands of augmented reality courses for you to pedal into and explore—choose from destination-specific rides like those of the U.K. and Italy, or event-specific rides like those of La Vuelta and Le Tour des Stations. Rouvy offers 15,500 miles of road to ride or run.
Rouvy also offers group rides (they say they have 100+ a week) and offer the option for creating your group ride, as well. In fact, from November 24-27 this year, Rouvy is hosting “Triathlon Fall Fest,” a four-day event where riders can join the likes of Magnus Ditlev, Fanella Langridge, and Rach McBride in multiple group rides and virtual races. There will be prizes for those who partake – including one slot to 2023 Challenge Roth.Section divider
Free Trial: No, but 30-day money back guarantee
TrainerRoad markets itself as the “Number One Cycling App for Getting Faster.” It’s hard to argue with that. TrainerRoad is more a solo-focused workout app than it is a community of cyclists like on Zwift or other virtual world apps.
TrainerRoad offers more than 100 million (yes, million) workouts, some of which can even be adapted for outdoor riding via a Garmin or Wahoo bike computer. This is part of the reason TrainerRoad is a bit more expensive. Its expansive library of workouts and the fact that they can be adapted outside for outside use make it a much more complete coaching and workout platform than the rest on this list. Plus, with TrainerRoad’s Adaptive Training, an AI-based intelligent personalized coaching feature, you hypothetically don’t need to take an FTP or any other fitness-based test while using TrainerRoad because the software calculates your current fitness metrics for you from your recent other workouts. (No more FTP tests, you say? Count us in.) Adaptive Training is also marketed as personalized training, as TrainerRoad will prescribe specific sessions and goals for you (which you can later adjust) based on the data it collects via Adaptive Training. No coach? No problem.
For just about five bucks more than many of the other indoor cycling platforms here, it’s a solid value if you need training advice. The only thing missing here is the sense of community offered by a more interactive indoor riding platform.Section divider
Free Trial: Yes
Fulgaz and Rouvy have cornered the market in terms of the best curated real-world videos of famous bike routes across the globe, including Ironman courses and Haute Route tours. You can even film and submit your own favorite ride to Fulgaz, with details on how to do so here. Fulgaz covers the entire spectrum of indoor riding, from cruising on an indoor recovery ride to offering curated private coaching sessions for you and your teammates. Fulgaz is also, as of publication, the official indoor cycling partner of Ironman.
With Fulgaz, you can upload your own workouts right from TrainingPeaks or use one of their programs, such as the “12-Week FTP Improvement” series. Or simply choose a ride that looks interesting and hop on.
You can also create group rides on any route that Fulgaz offers and keep track of where all your training buddies are on the course via the leaderboard on your screen. Fulgaz even has “Transitioning from Rouvy” and “Transitioning from Zwift” guides to help you seamlessly incorporate Fulgaz into your training routine if you’re new to the platform.Section divider
Free Trial: Yes, 14 days
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of, or used, Zwift. Zwift offers multiple routes, locations, and “worlds” (the Zwift world is called Watopia and is getting near-constant updates to scenery and difficulty, like with the newly released Urukazi routes as part of the Makuri Islands world). You can cruise through Innsbruck or ride your bike up Mt. Everest. Choose a structured workout or free ride. Not to mention Zwift has a stronghold on partnerships with top-tier athletes like Daniela Ryf and Jan Frodeno—both regularly host virtual group rides on the platform. You can even watch a replay of your rides with the relatively new feature of Holoreplay, in case you want to relive that epic surge at the end of your virtual race.
The Zwift interface is easy to navigate, making it obvious what your watt output is, how many miles you’ve ridden, and with whom you’re riding. Zwift has made major updates in the past year to make their avatars more inclusive, introducing a variety of new skin colors, body types, and hand cycle options. Zwift’s worlds and metrics are also available for runners, but you must get a Zwift-compatible foot pod or treadmill in order to connect.
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Free Trial: Yes, 30 days
BKool is an indoor cycling platform that’s a mashup of video, 3D simulation, and standard map topography options to help you find what visual stimulation helps you push your hardest while riding.
BKool has a Zwift-like option where you can compete against other riders or in BKool’s events like riding “with” the Giro d’Italia. You could also follow along with one of their video options, cruising through real-world routes like those in Switzerland—or upload your own route and create a virtual map you can follow at any time in the future.
BKool is compatible with nearly all trainers and indoor bikes and syncs with Strava, Google Fit, and iOS Health apps. BKool has flexible training that allows you to modify workouts and in-app goals to your ability and offers a built-in community where you can compete, leisurely ride, or complete a series of workouts alongside other “BKoolers”—all from your living room.Section divider
Trial: Yes, 14 days
KinoMap is another cycling platform whose goal is to make your experience as close to the great outdoors as possible. In fact, the software brags that it has more than 260,000 miles worth of bike, run, and rowing workouts. Like FulGaz, KinoMap encourages you to submit your own videos (and even earn some money if they are accepted by the platform) to build out their available routes.
KinoMap also offers Peloton-esque guided coaching videos that replace the outdoorsy feel with more of a spin-class vibe. What’s cool, though, is KinoMap offers their coaching videos in eight different languages including English, Spanish, and German. You can use “Multiplayer Mode” and ride with friends and other KinoMap users for a workout or race, similar to Zwift.
The only drawback is some of the less-polished videos made by users can be a bit nauseating as they’re fast and jumpy. This is likely not the best option for users who get motion sick and feel a little more DIY than other options.Section divider
Free Trial: Yes, 30 days
BikeVo is an Italian indoor cycling program that focuses much more on training and optimizing your riding than on a gamified virtual world experience – and its workouts can be done in the great outdoors, not just in your living room. The app leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to calculate the type of rider you are—novice, enthusiast, or racer—and subsequently designs personalized programs for you based on your heart rate, watt output, frequency of riding, and more. It is similar to TrainerRoad’s Adaptive Intelligence feature.
This app is not so much a virtual world or game as it is an attempt to replace a real coach with AI-designed cycling programs. It’s a cool idea in theory, but we’re not sure it entirely replaces the benefits of a knowledgeable human coach giving you feedback. Plus, the app’s pricing and interface currently reflects that most of its users are based in Europe (it only offers pricing in Euros), which isn’t a problem, but it’s worth noting in case you’re the type who likes to compare app data with buddies.
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Price: Free, but the site notes it will soon be $12/month
Vingo is like the low-fi version of Zwift. It relies on animated avatars and courses to guide you through your cycling journey.
However, the app is currently free to use and it offers nearly the same interface as Zwift: power, heart rate, nearby riders, and a small map to see how you’re progressing through your chosen route. Vingo does gamify their platform a bit, again—similar to Zwift, allowing you to unlock new routes and worlds after a certain number of completed rides.
This app could be a solid option for riders who are extra frugal, but it seems to lack some of the crispness and finesse of Zwift.
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