Written by Karen Parnell

There is an amazing amount to cycling Apps on the market and in the beta test stage but which one will keep your winter training blues at bay?

It’s easy to fall in the trap of cost versus benefit and reading specification sheets, technology versus data output concerns so maybe a more fun way is to match your personality to the App? I’ve spent the year testing Cycling Apps extensively in the run-up to completing my annual quest. Last year it was to earn the London Classic’s medal also known as the “dinner plate”. The challenge is to complete the London Marathon, RideLondon-Surrey 100 and the two-mile event at Swim Serpentine. I had already completed the London Marathon twice so needed to get entry to both the other events and complete them (getting accepted was a challenge in itself!). For the RideLondon-Surrey 100, I put my hands in the online Apps to see if it could be done. My goal was to only use Apps to get me fit and able to complete the event and see what each one had to offer. For the swim, I just thought I would turn up. What could possibly go wrong?

We will look at each cycling App I tested in turn and add in a “Cyclist Type” to help you see if it’s for you. Once you narrow it down to say 2 or 3 Apps you can usually get a free trial and test them out in the comfort of your own home or pain cave. I did also construct a large spreadsheet with all of the technical data and minimum hardware needed to set yourself up (after all I am an engineer!). I can share this with you if you need that level of detail.

The Sufferfest

Cyclist Type: “Sufferlandrian” – great sense of humour but training is about suffering and pain! This athlete wants an in-depth FTP test and result, is interested in trying Yoga, Strength & Conditioning sessions and Mental Training. They may go to a gym that has a Sufferfest studio so can integrate their triathlon training into their gym visits.

Website: https://thesufferfest.com/

Platform: Mac, Windows or iOS

Minimum hardware: Classic turbo and a speed sensor (ANT+) for virtual watts, power meter or Smart turbo trainer

Wireless support: ANT+ and Bluetooth

Price: $10 / month or $99 / year

Disciplines supported: Cycling, Yoga, Strength & Conditioning and Mental Training

Zwift

Cyclist Type: “Miss. Sociable” Duathlete – Cyclist and Runner – wants to train in both disciplines with others in groups. This athlete wants the option to train on their own and in groups.

They want an app that enables them to cycle and run in a virtual world. Miss Sociable also wants structured training sessions and even to the ability to “go pro” via the Zwift Academy. She also likes

The idea of “branding up” with the clothing and accessories from their online shop.

Website: https://zwift.com/

Platform: PC, Mac, iOS or Apple TV

Minimum hardware: PowerCal heart rate power monitor and standard turbo but it’s preferred to have a Smart turbo. For running you will need a foot pod like Stryd or Milestone (now the zwift RunPod).

Wireless support: ANT+ (need an ANT+ dongle and USB cable)

Price: USD$14.99 per month

Disciplines supported: Cycling and Running (you can row on it but it can be complicated and is not officially supported but fun to row and see your bike moving in the Zwift virtual world).

Rouvy

Cyclist Type: “Traditionalist” – likes to ride on real video tour routes. Wants to compare indoor and outdoor rides and create their own routes. Wants to know their FTP and a test for this. Has a family so can share their app with them on several platforms. Wants to use training peaks for integrated training.

Website: https://rouvy.com/en/

Platform: Window PC, iPad, iphone or android phone

Minimum hardware: Smart turbo, power meter or standard turbo with speed sensor

Wireless support: Bluetooth or ANT+

Price: Standard is $6.25 per month and premium is $10 per month

Disciplines supported: Cycling

FTP Test: 40 min basic test. First 10 mins at half predicted FTP, then 20 mins at predicted FTP and then 10 mins cool down at half predicted FTP. Hard test with no motivational tips or music. 

TrainerRoad

Cyclist Type: “Statto” – This athlete wants a no-nonsense workout with lots of statistics and on-screen data with coaching instruction. They like training plan structure and the option to write their own plans or use those from their coach on the TrainerRoad platform. They like the Ramp fitness test for FTP. They also want to listen to their own music or watch their own videos or films. They also like the YouTube channel for extra information and training tips.

Website: https://www.trainerroad.com/

Platform: PC, Mac, iOS and Android

Minimum hardware: Speed sensor and trainer (virtual power), power meter and trainer or smart trainer

Wireless support: Bluetooth and ANT+

Price: $12 per month or $99 per year

Disciplines supported: Cycling

Global Cycling Network (GCN)

Cyclist Type: “Thrifty” – this triathlete does not have much spare cash and may not be able to afford a smart turbo or the online app subscription. They want a structured training session and the feel of training with others. They have internet access and are comfortable watching YouTube videos.

Website: GCN YouTube Channel

Platform: PC or MAC or anything that you can watch YouTube videos on.

Minimum hardware: Any basic turbo trainer – no need for power or cadence but may be good for a better workout

Wireless support: N/A

Price: Free

Disciplines supported: Cycling

Road Grand Tours

Cyclist Type: “Gamer” – this triathlete may be a younger athlete who has grown up with video games and wants an experience similar to this with more realism, high end rendering and realism. They are happy to try something new, beta testing products and giving feedback to the developers. They want a proper cycling simulator. Lifelike cornering, drafting and group riding. They are looking forward to the Control phone app in the pipeline.

Website: https://www.roadgrandtours.com/

Platform: Mac or PC download

Minimum hardware: Any trainer, power meter, cadence sensor and heart rate monitor that respect the open ANT+ communication standard are compatible with RGT. CycleOps, Wahoo Kickr & Computrainer are known to work.

Wireless support: ANT+

Price: Free in the beta phase

Disciplines supported: Cycling

Big Ring VR

Cyclist Type: “Engineer” – The user interface is not very slick like the others and will appeal to engineers and techies. No nonsense or gaming feel just get on and ride using HD videos. Written by software engineers who like to ride.

Website: https://www.bigringvr.com/

Platform: BigRingVR can be used on Windows 7 or higher (32 and 64 bits) and Apple Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10) or higher.

Minimum hardware: ANT+ FE-C Smart Trainers, ANT+ Trainers, Power meters and sensors

Wireless support: ANT+

Price: Used to be free but started to charge in January 2018 and is not $10 per month. If using own videos, you don’t need to pay. The charge is for streamed videos/rides.

Disciplines supported: Cycling

200 High Definition video rides. 212 rides from 10 countries (more coming), 4,903 kilometres, 179,062 meters of elevation gain.

FulGaz

Cyclist Type: “Apple Fan” – Will appeal to those who love their Apple products. Bluetooth is the only wireless protocol supported so Android, PC or ANT+ lovers will not like this app. An athlete who likes to ride on “real” routes in the form of HD video with GPS data.

Website: https://fulgaz.com/

Platform: iOS – iPhone, iPad and Apple TV

Minimum hardware: Bluetooth smart trainer, Wattbike ATOM.

Wireless support: Bluetooth

Price: €8.99 Per month or €80.59 Per Year

Disciplines supported: Cycling

415 Routes, 7903 Kilometres, 202363 Elevation gain – HD Video

Kinomap

Cyclist Type: “Multisporter” – Kinomap is perfect for someone who wants to cycle, run and row regularly. Some athletes use rowing to train for the swim if they don’t have access to a pool. Athletes who have access to smart Bluetooth 4.0 enabled equipment.

Website: https://www.kinomap.com/en/

Platform: iOS or Android App

Minimum hardware: Most Smart bike trainers, Bluetooth 4.0 treadmills and rowers (like Concept 2 with PM5)

Wireless support: Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+

Price: €9.99 per month or €59.99 per year

Disciplines supported: Cycling, running and rowing.

Access amazing trails from all over the globe and play videos at your own speed, based on your motions. You have an easy way to save your training history and track your progress and can monitor your strength, speed, distance, time and heart rate. Upload your favourite tracks and trails, challenge friends, family, or users to try the multiplayer option. Create playlists and post videos on social media.

New Kids on the Block and the others

There are others on the market such as those from the smart turbo manufacturers such as BKool and TACX but I did not have a chance to test them fully. They are playing catch up to the bigger players like Zwift and The Sufferfest so from my brief look not as sophisticated as this is a bolt on to their core business of selling the hardware.

There are also two new kids on the block called VirtuGo and CVR World Cup. This is developing rapidly and is the brainchild of three World Tour cycling professionals Michael Rogers, Daniel Healey and Bjarne Riis. This is definitely one to watch and already has athlete profiling, FTP testing and training plans built in. It’s currently free to beta testers so well worth trying. CVR World Cup CVRcade, a gaming platform for stationary cyclists, will launch in beta on December 1, courtesy of developer Cycligent Physical Esports. If that name rings a bell, it’s because Cycligent is the same company behind the CVR World Cup, a series of virtual races formerly run on Zwift, where riders compete for tens of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. Again, a free version is available to beta testers.

Conclusion

There is a cycling App out there to suit all personality types and pockets. With so many offering a free trial you can find the right one for you. The market is, however, becoming a little overcrowded and it will be interesting to see how it develops.

 

Karen Parnell is the owner and Head Coach of Chili Tri in Andalusia, Southern Spain. “I am a keen triathlete and have competed in events in the US, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Spain and the UK. My passion is to motivate, guide and coach people to achieve their own health, fitness and race goals. I help people to meet their goals via personalised training programs, 1 to 1 coaching, nutritional advice, Strength & Conditioning, Stress Management, race day planning and motivation – a truly holistic approach.”

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