We compare Zwift, RGT, Rouvy, Bkool, FulGaz, The Sufferfest and TrainerRoad to help you choose the right virtual cycling platform for your triathlon training needs.

Virtual cycling has been growing for years, but it’s suddenly taken a leap in relevance due to the need to train indoors during lockdowns around the world. We’ve put together 7 of our favourite online platforms to help you pick which is right for you and your training.

What Equipment Do You Need?

A smart trainer (or smart bike) will provide the best experience on most platforms, automatically changing resistance with the terrain but any power meter-equipped bike will give you accurate data reflected on-screen. Double check your equipment matches the transmission protocols of your chosen app, such as ANT+ or Bluetooth.

You’ll also need a decent laptop, tablet or smartphone plus an internet connection in your pain cave! You may also need multiple devices to get the most out of some platforms.

Zwift

Zwift is the most well-known and well-marketed VR training app so you’ve likely heard of it, even if you’ve never tried it.

With videogame graphics, six worlds including 80 routes to explore, 1,000+ structured workouts and group rides and races for socialising, there’s plenty to do. You even get the chance to ride with pro athletes from time to time. A big part of Zwift is it’s ‘gamification’ elements, such as power-ups and the ability to level up and upgrade your equipment.

Zwift also has a running option for treadmill users – currently in free-of-charge Beta – giving you the chance to train two triathlon disciplines on one subscription.

Zwift VR Triathlon Bikes
Zwift lets you ride on virtual tri bikes to help you feel at home while in the game (Photo: Zwift)

In addition to the main VR software, Zwift offers a smartphone companion app, giving maps, the ability to chat, make U-turns, interact with other athletes and tweak your structured workouts on the fly.

Price:
£12.99 / USD$14.99 monthly
7-day free trial

  • Zwift Main App Compatibility
  • Mac
  • Apple TV
  • iOS
  • Windows
  • Zwift Companion App Compatibility
  • iOS
  • Android

RGT Cycling

RGT Cycling is another VR training option with a selection of ultra-realistic 3D roads. It has competitive races, group rides and group training sessions.

A totally free subscription option gives you access to ride the VR courses and join events. Meanwhile the premium membership (currently free during the COVID-19 crisis) adds structured workouts – both uploading your own and access to the RGT library – as well as hosting events yourself.

Virtual cycling - RGT cycling
RGT’s virtual world aims for accuracy, like the weather station at the top of Mont Ventoux (Photo: RGT Cycling)

Perhaps the coolest premium feature is Magic Roads, which allows you to upload any GPX route and the RGT team will turn it into a rideable VR route, perfect for recceing triathlon events in far-flung destinations. RGT also includes two-way sync with Training Peaks.

RGT requires two apps running simultaneously. The mobile app connects to your devices, starts rides, let’s you chat to (and wave at) other riders, adjust camera settings and connect to Strava and TrainingPeaks. Meanwhile the screen app just provides the virtual reality environment to ride in.

Price:
currently FREE, usually USD$14.99 monthly

  • RGT Compatibility
  • Mobile app
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Screen App
  • Mac
  • Apple TV
  • iPad
  • Windows

Rouvy

Rouvy places your own videogame avatar on top of real-world video to create a unique augmented reality riding experience.

There are group rides and races (there’s even prize money) with over 4,000 video routes to choose from over 70 iconic locations and race courses. A new partnership with Ironman as part of the Ironman VC platform means 35 Ironman and 70.3 courses will soon be online for you to recce too.

Rouvy AR Cycling
Rouvy has a unique augmented reality riding experience with avatars layered over real video. (Photo: Rouvy)

You can also add your own virtual cycling routes by uploading a GPX file, giving you a change to recce your next tri from the comfort of your pain cave.

Rouvy also has a library of 6,000 workouts and a custom workout builder and there’s automatic syncing of sessions from Training Peaks.

One of the best benefits for multi-athlete households is that a single subscription can be used by up to three athletes – a serious saving compared to the virtual competition.

Price:
USD$12 monthly – up to three users
$120 yearly ($10 per month) – up to three users
14-day free trial

  • Rouvy Compatibility
  • Mac
  • Apple TV
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows

Bkool

Bkool is one of the longest-standing virtual cycling apps, predating Zwift and boasting a user base of over 100,000 riders, making for great social training. There are leagues throughout the year as well as regular challenges to test yourself against other Bkoolers to keep things interesting.

Because you can upload your own GPX routes, you can recce any future event you might be doing in VR. This also means there are thousands of user-generated rides to choose from, so you’ll never run out. For routes provided by Bkool, you can choose between 3D VR, real video footage or map views. If you’re using Bkool on a Mac or PC, you can even enjoy the simulator’s Real Weather system, which replicates the real-world conditions of wherever you’re riding including sun, rain, snow and day-night cycles.

Virtual cycling - Bkool
Bkool has thousands of rides to choose from as well as route upload options so there’s always somewhere new to ride (Photo: Bkool)

In addition to a library of structured workouts, there’s also the chance to take part in velodrome events including Keirin, elimination and pursuit races. You can even have a go at the hour record if you’re seeking a real challenge for your legs.

Your subscription also includes gym-class style video sessions with coaches when you need a little extra motivation or just want something different, adding value to the package.

There’s also a companion app for smartphones that lets you control the simulator on the fly without reaching for your keyboard.

Price:
€9.99 monthly
€96 yearly (€8 per month)
One-month free trial

  • Bkool Simulator Compatibility:
  • Mac
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Bkool Remote App Compatibility
  • iOS
  • Android

FulGaz

FulGaz offers a huge library of high-definition video footage, giving you the chance to ride on ‘real’ roads with your smart trainer reacting to changes in gradient. There are currently nearly 600 routes with 12,000km to cover and more added regularly, so you really can explore the world from your pain cave.

There’s also the opportunity to do structured session thanks to the FulGaz virtual coach, Bernard, who gives interval prompts as well as technique advice. You can also sync workouts directly from Training Peaks, Today’s Plan or even Zwift using the .zwo file format, making it super easy for coached athletes.

A FulGaz annual subscription gives you a nice saving but also allows you to add an extra family member for free, giving a serious boost in value.

Price:
£9.99 / USD$12.99 monthly
£85.99 / $108.99 yearly (£7.17 /. $9.08 per month) – up to two users
14-day free trial

  • FulGaz Compatibility:
  • Apple TV
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows 10

The Sufferfest

The Sufferfest offers a complete selection of holistic training tools for athletes who want more than just riding. The app features a host of video-based interval workouts in ‘Sufferlandia’ across 11 session categories with clear on-screen prompts. These include officially licensed footage from the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. You can even access the complete library offline if your WiFi is shaky out in the shed!

The app also brings its unique 4DP fitness testing, which is designed to produce higher quality training by providing more accurate power goals that auto-adjust based on your complete power profile and fitness level. It’ll also identify your riding style from sprinter to pursuiter and rouleur.

The Sufferfest Time Trial Video
The Sufferfest offers officially licensed WorldTour videos so you can really feel like a pro cyclist (Photo: The Sufferfest)

The Sufferfest’s rider Passport gives plenty of built-in analysis as well as instant session sharing to Strava, TrainingPeaks and Garmin Connect.

On top of riding, there are now three run-specific videos for treadmill use plus two cycling-specific strength training programmes designed to build functional strength week on week. The beginner course is 10 videos over 24 weeks while intermediate features 14 videos over the same time period.

There’s also a 41-session yoga programme that helps build your strength and range of motion over six categories and three skill levels. Finally, there’s a 10-week mental toughness serious with 20 audio modules to complete.

All this makes The Sufferfest a great one-stop shop for improving your performance.

Price:
USD$14.99 monthly
$129 yearly ($10.75 per month)
14-day free trial

  • The Sufferfest Compatibility:
  • Mac
  • iOS
  • Windows

TrainerRoad

TrainerRoad is a long-time favourite of cyclists who aren’t looking for a virtual cycling platform, but just want to get the job done with structured sessions designed to make you faster and stronger.

The app features a plan builder that helps you set your weekly schedule and work towards your goals so you hit your races in the best possible form. You start by picking your triathlon distance, then personalise your calendar by adding races. You’ll also get swim and run workouts in addition to cycling, helping you to become a fitter athlete across all disciplines.

Trainer Road App
TrainerRoad is all about structured training with easy to follow sessions to give you results (Photo: TrainerRoad)

During indoor bike sessions, you’ll get an easy-to-follow display leading you through each workout plus loads of performance analysis. Meanwhile, users with Garmin and Wahoo head units can make use of structured training outdoors too.

You can also take part in group workouts with up to four other athletes, making remote training with friends that much easier.

Price:
USD$19.95 monthly
$189 yearly ($15.75 per month)
No free trial – 30-day money-back guarantee

  • TrainerRoad Compatibility:
  • Mac
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows

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