Indoor virtual cycling training platforms: 6 of the best
Thinking about investing in an indoor virtual bike training app/platform to help you smash your turbo sessions? James Witts lists 6 of the best, including one that's free
£12.99 a month
Industry leader Zwift have added gaming, competition and interaction to the indoor cycling market. The basic requirement is an indoor trainer, a speed sensor, ANT+/Bluetooth connectivity and a laptop. If you have the money, a smart trainer will calculate further metrics as well as changing the resistance to suit the terrain. You simply download the app and register for the free seven-day trial, which is £12.99 a month thereafter.
£10.99 per event
The app by the turbo brand puts you into the centre of classic races around the world, even if distances max out at 30km. The trainer simulates the road while, neatly, your pace influences the speed of the film. The app stores your effort so you can analyse afterwards, a graph plotting your power output, cadence and speed against time and distance. You don’t need to own a Tacx turbo to use the app, and Tacx also sell videos, including IMUK (£44).
$12 a month
TrainerRoad’s one for the experienced triathlete, lacking the immersive graphical qualities of Zwift but featuring 1,000-plus workouts. The simple interface is intuitive, a cursor moving across a screen of blue shapes as your workout progresses. Many riders will use a power meter as their primary connection to the software but it does a decent job of approximating your Virtual Power if you don’t have one. Connection’s via Bluetooth or ANT+.
$12 a month
Sufferfest’s arguably the brand that changed the face of indoor training, revered by many and feared by a few who’ve ridden into the depths of ‘Sufferlandria’. Whereas Zwift’s purely graphical, The Sufferfest is real-life footage including sections of the Tour de France. Metrics are wirelessly transferred and overlaid on the footage with tongue-in-cheek instruction raising a smile.
The newest competitor has a similar feel to Zwift but focuses entirely on reality, including climbs of Mont Ventoux and Cap de Formentor. In fact, the outfit has really pushed the real-life envelope. For instance, unlike Zwift, as you approach a bend, your avatar reaches for the brake levers and your speed drops to a realistic level. It’s still in beta phase but it’s all via your laptop as there’s no app.
£8 a month
Turbo-trainer hardware provider Bkool has dipped into software with fine results, featuring thousands of routes. Impressively, you can switch between the 3D world, the route video or via your location on the map, all at the press of a button. Even more impressively, Bkool includes the most tri routes here, including Windsor and, more recently, a partnership with Challenge to simulate Roth, Madrid and more. And you don’t specifically need a Bkool trainer to enjoy it.