Riding inside 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.
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 world.Section divider
Free Trial: Yes, 14 days
Wahoo SYSTM, formerly Sufferfest, seems to be a challenge to the Peloton workout library. The SYSTM indoor cycling platform offers rides with pros, rides on famous routes, spin class-esque workouts, and unlike every other app on this list, also features yoga, meditation, and strength guided video classes, too.
SYSTM leverages real, engaging videos with narration (and some are narrated by your favorite pro cyclists) that are meant to inspire you to get the most out of a session. Similar to the trend we’re seeing elsewhere, SYSTM has the ability to build your own training plan or use any number of their professionally designed sessions to get you to where you want to be in your cycling journey.
The quality of videos and classes are great but don’t quite match Zwift in their ability to bring in a training partner or group ride. SYSTM does not currently sync with run sessions, but plans are underway for the future.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. Basically, Rouvy is focused more on making you feel like you’re on an actual road as opposed to an animated game like Zwift. 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.
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 also offers group rides (they say they have 100+ a week) and offer the option for creating your group ride, as well. Rouvy doesn’t have quite the glitz and glam that Zwift does with its famous cyclists frequently leading rides, but when you’re riding through the Alps right in your living room, it’s easy to get lost in your own ride. Lastly, similar to Zwift, Rouvy also offers its augmented reality features for running.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 definitely more of a solo-focused workout app than it is a community of cyclists like on Zwift or any of these 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 works (no more FTP tests, you say? Count us in.).
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. Fulgaz also partners with multiple professional cyclists such as WorldTour rider Luke Durbridge to craft “ride playlists” that cover the pro riders’ favorite routes and stomping grounds.
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. Unlike Zwift, Fulgaz doesn’t offer power ups, drafting, or anything else artificial to boost your performance. It’s just you, your watts, and trying to beat your friends to the finish line.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). 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 Jan Frodeno and Lucy Charles—both regularly host virtual group rides on the platform.
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. There can be a learning curve with signing up for group rides or scheduling a meetup with a friend, in our experience, but that can also depend on how tech-savvy you are. Some have also noted that the Zwift avatars are limited in their body inclusivity with most being unrealistically rail-thin and lanky, but with Zwift constantly upgrading its platform to take such things into account, we could see a change there in the future. 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.Section divider
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 the Fietssport Autumn League. You could also follow along 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 along at any time in the future.
BKool looks like it has all the makings to become a fellow power player in the indoor cycling app world thanks to its wide variety of virtual media options and 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
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.
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, 14 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. The app leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to calculate the type of rider you are—sprinter, endurance, high performer, etc.—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 new AI 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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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 free to download and 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.