During the course of the last 10 years, the world of indoor training has taken a quantum leap in terms of advancements. Functionality, ease of use, user base and fun factor have all attributed to such an immersive experience, that there are now several platforms out there investing lots to ensure their user experience is top notch. For anyone who has used a turbo trainer for structured efforts in a time before ‘smart trainers’ were even a thing, the thought of countless threshold efforts will conjure up feelings of dread and despair. However, these modern era torture devices do an amazing job of masking the pain and, dare I say it, make stationary training somewhat enjoyable! So here we are to check out the current top platforms on offer for 2023-2024.
Hardware-what do I need?
Hold your horses! Before you purchase a monthly subscription and take a one-way ticket to your new winter cycling base camp, you’re going to need some new hardware: The smart turbo itself.
Quite simply, the training app that you decide to use, needs to know a few things: your height, weight and most importantly, your cadence and power output. Although there are a couple of options available to tick these boxes, for the purpose of this article, we’re going to keep it simple.
I’ll admit it, the turbo isn’t exactly cheap. With prices starting from about £350, we’d recommend saving up a bit more if possible and buying a direct drive trainer. With a direct mount trainer, you remove your rear wheel and lock into the turbo itself. The result is instant power transfer with absolutely no slip whatsoever-really important if you’re a watt monster. You also do not have to worry about getting a spare wheel with turbo tyre mounted (a traditional wheel mounted turbo trainer will make easy work of wrecking tyres if you’re using them often)
All of these apps will require a fairly modern computer or smartphone with a good quality processor and RAM. Before subscribing to one of the services, be sure that your computer is up to the job otherwise the system won’t run very well, spoiling the whole experience.
From some extensive fag packet research online, it actually transpired that Apple TV’s were amongst some of the best units to run one of the most popular apps: Zwift. I bought a used 4K HDR, 32GB unit on ebay for £70.00 delivered. I installed Zwift and everything just worked seamlessly. Food for thought!
Show me the apps!
Rouvy provides a mix of real-life routes and augmented reality courses, offering a realistic riding experience.
Rouvy excels with its unique blend of real-life routes and augmented reality, offering cyclists a realistic experience by simulating actual roads worldwide. It features structured training plans and diverse workouts for varying fitness levels, while its advanced simulation technology adjusts resistance to mirror outdoor conditions on smart trainers. Multiplayer options, challenges, and detailed data analysis tools complement the platform, fostering community engagement, motivation, and performance tracking. Rouvy is compatible with multiple devices including Apple TV.
Subscription costs £10.50 a month
Trainer Road focuses on structured training plans and workouts, providing data-driven training for cyclists looking to improve their performance. Look at it as a training aid as opposed to a game environment, like Zwift.
Wahoo X offers a wide range of routes, including real roads and user-generated content, with a focus on realistic simulation.
Wahoo X transforms your indoor training by simulating real roads worldwide on a turbo trainer. Unlike virtual worlds, you’ll conquer renowned climbs and immerse yourself in authentic simulations of actual locations. Alongside structured workouts curated by coaches, the platform allows for course creation based on uploaded route files, providing a tailored experience for your cycling journey.
Wahoo X stands as Wahoo’s membership program dedicated to Wahoo SYSTM, presenting a holistic training solution for cyclists. Within SYSTM, there is a rich array of structured workouts and training plans aligned with your fitness goals. Beyond the virtual rides, each twist, climb, and sprint represents a meticulously crafted workout by top-tier coaches, aimed at optimising your progress. SYSTM adapts workouts ensuring targeted results and eliminating the guesswork from your training regimen.
Known for its live and on-demand classes, Peloton offers a variety of workouts beyond cycling, including yoga, strength training, and running.
Peloton initially gained fame for its signature Peloton Bike, an in-home exercise bike equipped with a large screen and speakers, enabling access to thousands of classes via the Peloton All-Access membership. However, the company’s offerings have expanded beyond the bike to include various at-home gym equipment choices and a standalone app usable on mobile devices or tablets. Having access to a multitude of different live coached classes is what makes Peloton a great choice for general fitness fans.
Bkool prioritises real-life routes over fictional worlds. It boasts a wide selection of iconic routes like Mont Ventoux, sections of Paris-Roubaix and the Vuelta, and even replicates the 2022 Giro d’Italia for users to experience and choose from. BKool allows users to create their own virtual routes and upload them to the BKool server. With millions of routes already uploaded the possibilities are unlimited.
Subscription costs £9.00 per month
Offers a platform with thousands of geolocated videos allowing riders to virtually ride real roads worldwide. The app is also designed for runners and rowers. The app allows users to upload their own footage which is then used and enjoyed by other riders in the Kinomap community.
Subscription costs €11,99 per month or €89.99 for the year
An innovative platform used by the TDF crushing UAE Team Emirates. My Whoosh offers #trainliketadej workouts which were created with the guidance of Dr. Iñigo San-Millán, hailed “a pioneer in sports science and expert in training for cycling”
The UCI recently announced that MyWhoosh would be the exclusive platform and organiser of the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships for the next three years (2024-2026).
Subscription costs- Free!
well we couldn’t do an article on indoor training apps and leave out Zwift, could we?
Hats off to them, Zwift have revolutionised indoor cycling with its immersive virtual worlds and interactive features that bring the thrill of outdoor riding indoors. It’s visually stunning landscapes transport cyclists to diverse terrains, from bustling cities to challenging mountain routes, creating an engaging experience that goes beyond traditional stationary biking.
Zwift fosters a global cycling community through group rides, races, and events, making indoor training dynamic. Tailored training plans by professional coaches cater to various fitness levels, offering a systematic approach for performance improvement. Real-time feedback on metrics and smart trainer integration simulate real-world conditions, enhancing every ride. Customisation options for avatars and equipment personalise the experience, contributing to Zwift’s appeal as a comprehensive platform merging entertainment, training, and a vibrant cycling community.
Subscription costs £12.99 a month or £129.99 per year
Have we opened your eyes to the new age of virtual training? Are you an existing Zwift user who may now be swayed by the alternative options out there? Let us know in the comments!