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The best indoor cycling apps compared: which training app should you use?

Which apps we use and why, plus the gear you need to plug in

The best indoor cycling apps compared: which training app should you use?

Yes, we would all rather ride outside. But when weather, work and the rest of your life rules that out, riding inside can leave you fitter and faster.

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What’s more, the best smart trainers and training apps have made indoor cycling more realistic and effective than ever.

Here are four of our favourite indoor cycling apps, plus the best of the rest that are worth checking out. We’ve also included a round-up of the kit you’ll need to get started.

Racing, training or touring?

While most indoor cycling apps serve a similar purpose – to make indoor training more enjoyable and effective – they can broadly be split into a few categories depending on what you want from the experience, including intervals, racing and interactive tourism.

Some apps, such as TrainerRoad, are straight-up training tools – think personalised workouts based on power output with a specific training goal in mind.

The newly-released Wahoo SYSTM allows you to build and follow a dedicated training plan from a large workout catalogue, and also incorporates many of the features previously found on The Sufferfest, including pro race footage to train alongside. 

Others, such as Rouvy, use on-bike video from around the world, with your pedal power driving the scenic view – and, if you have a smart trainer or smart bike, the route driving the resistance.

And then there is Zwift, where you can do interactive rides, workouts and races on gamified virtual courses, with your speed based on your power-to-weight ratio in real-time.

The best app for you depends on what you want to do and, ultimately, what you want to achieve. Are you laser-focussed on interval sessions and personalised training plans or do you want an app that incorporates training features in an experience similar to a video game?

The best indoor cycling apps

Zwift has established itself as the go-to training app but there are plenty of alternatives if you want to mix-up your indoor cycling experience.

TrainerRoad is another app we have gravitated towards in the pain cave and is great for structured workouts and training plans.

The most significant launch this year was Wahoo’s SYSTM training app, while RGT Cycling is also a relative newcomer on the scene.

For most of these apps, you’re going to want to know your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) to get the most from the workouts.

Don’t worry if you don’t know it because the apps will all be able to help you determine what your FTP is – and, in turn, establish your training zones. Just be warned that finding your FTP generally involves a 20-minute all-out effort or a ramp test, so it’s no walk in the park.

Zwift

Zwift Yumezi road cycling
Zwift has arguably done more than any other app to popularise virtual riding and racing.
Zwift

Founded by gamers with a love of cycling (and clearly some good investment backing), Zwift has undoubtedly transformed the indoor riding experience.

No, Zwift didn’t invent virtual riding – Bkool and Tour de Giro were among the first to offer online competition driven by rider output and physics-based algorithms. And Computrainer had the smart trainer experience years ago – but within a closed system and you had to buy a Computrainer.

Nor did Zwift invent power-based interval training. TrainerRoad had the early lead there.

But what Zwift has done is absolutely crush it on the social interaction and graphic elements of the game

Zwift custom workouts
Zwift has a library of workouts and training plans, but you can also create your own.
Zwift

With virtual group rides and races going on almost constantly, it’s easy to jump in with a group for an easy spin or an all-out slugfest. You can also ride on your own, of course, or tackle one of Zwift’s many structured training plans and workouts after taking a Zwift FTP test

The platform’s racing aspect has also taken off, with categorised Zwift races to join based on your power-to-weight ratio if you want to stoke that competitive fire.

Zwift is regularly adding gamified elements to bring further interactivity, including introducing steering to all courses within the game (provided you have the right equipment).

A bird's eye view of Zwift's new virtual map Neokyo.
Zwift regularly introduces new map areas and routes.
Zwift

Once you’ve got your Zwift setup sorted, you can also chat with friends and other cyclists as you ride through the app’s virtual worlds.

Routes include the fictional Watopia and Neokyo worlds, and routes inspired by real-world courses such as Prudential RideLondon, the 2015 UCI World Championships in Virginia, and the 2018 UCI Road World Championships course in Innsbruck-Tirol.

Zwift also has an Apple TV app, and you can connect your smart trainer or power meter via Bluetooth.

For more, read our complete guide to Zwift.

  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
  • Cost: £12.99 / $14.99 per month
  • Free trial period: 7 days
  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth
  • Primary features: Solo and social riding, virtual racing, training and structured workouts
  • Website: Zwift.com

Wahoo SYSTM

Wahoo SYSTM
Wahoo SYSTM was introduced in 2021.
Wahoo

SYSTM is Wahoo’s new online training platform, combining The Sufferfest and a wide range of additional training content in a new app.

Rather than going down the virtual world route, and competing with the likes of Zwift and RGT Cycling, SYSTM focuses on helping you to build and follow a training plan, alongside a large library of workouts and content.

Aimed at time-crunched athletes, SYSTM uses Wahoo’s proprietary Four Dimensional Power (4DP) profile (a kind of advanced FTP profile, more akin to Critical Power) to help tailor training plans and workouts to your individual fitness, strengths and weaknesses.

Wahoo SYSTM training app
SYSTM combines The Sufferfest with a range of new training content.
Wahoo Fitness

SYSTM also has an ‘intuitive training plan builder’, which enables users to customise training plans to suit their own goals and fitness level. It also takes into account both your indoor and outdoor riding, as well as any off-bike cross-training you may do.

Wahoo says every workout and training plan has been designed by its Wahoo Sports Science Division, led by professional coach Neal Henderson.

SYSTM has also imported content from The Sufferfest. Race simulations combine first-person camera footage and race data from elite riders, scaled to your fitness level, while there are also sessions set to videos of iconic cycling routes.

Wahoo SYSTM
The app also includes off-bike workouts.
Wahoo

In the ‘A Week With’ category, users follow a Wahoo-sponsored professional athlete for a week, copying their turbo trainer workouts and seeing how they live and train.

SYSTM also includes classic cycling films and documentaries, such as A Sunday In Hell and Outskirts, to help you through longer base training and recovery workouts. 

  • Cost: £12.99 / $14.99 per month
  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS
  • Free trial period: 14 days
  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth
  • Primary features: Comprehensive workout library, customisable training plan, incorporates The Sufferfest and additional content
  • Website: wahoofitness.com/systm

TrainerRoad

TrainerRoad iPhone
TrainerRoad is completely focused on training.
TrainerRoad

Riding a trainer aimlessly, staring at the wall is about as much fun as a waiting room at the dentist’s office with no WiFi. On top of that, riding aimlessly with little regard for your goals and training zones isn’t really doing anything for your fitness, if you really want to make the most of your time on the turbo.

TrainerRoad takes a less is more approach to the indoor training app, focusing heavily on relatively short, measured interval training sessions. The aim is to make you fitter and faster without the bells and whistles other apps may offer.

While some folks may have the discipline to guide themselves through workouts in their basements, most people (including the majority of the BikeRadar staff) aren’t that mentally tough. But if a coach or an app is there walking you through that sweetspot or VO2 max session and all you have to do is pedal? That, we can do.

The app’s new adaptive training feature acts like an AI coach by tailoring sessions to your current condition. The software interprets your data and makes the training schedule easier if you’re fatigued or harder if you’re getting stronger. 

An athlete's training schedule in TrainerRoad's adaptive training feature
TrainerRoad’s adaptive training feature is an AI coach that analyses your data to tweak upcoming sessions.
TrainerRoad

In testing, TrainerRoad claims the technology halved the number of aborted workouts and increased the likelihood of users improving their FTP by 20 per cent. 

In short, TrainerRoad is streamlined fitness on your mobile phone, tablet or computer. You can drop in and do workouts a la carte, subscribe to a training plan tailored to your target event, or, if you’re already plugged into a plan on TrainingPeaks or Today’s Plan, it will import those workouts and keep you right on track.

The interface is clean and simple: just follow the targets for power (and sometimes cadence) for the prescribed duration. The bar graphs show what is coming up, and the text explains the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’.

No fluff, just fitness.

  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS
  • Cost: $19.95 per month or $189 per year
  • Free trial period: 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth
  • Primary features: Laser-focus on interval training and training plans
  • Website: Trainerroad.com

RGT Cycling

RGT Cycling Passo dello Stelvio
RGT Cycling offers virtual recreations of iconic real-life roads such as the Passo dello Stelvio.
RGT Cycling

RGT Cycling (which stands for Road Grand Tours Cycling) is a competitor to Zwift, except it offers virtual riding on real roads.

You can do rides, structured training, group rides and races on virtual reconstructions of iconic roads such as Mont Ventoux, the Paterberg in Flanders and the Passo dello Stelvio.

Premium users can also upload their own GPX files and the app will create a virtual course for you to ride in-game.

RGT recently merged its two apps into one (there were previously individual apps for running RGT on mobile and then playing it on a screen). 

As a result, you can now directly connect a Mac, PC or tablet running RGT Cycling to your smart trainer or smart bike. 

The platform says this should resolve connectivity issues some users were experiencing and make it easier for any bugs to be fixed. 

For more, read our complete guide to RGT Cycling.

  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
  • Cost: Free (£9.99 / $6.99 / €8.99 per month for premium features)
  • Free trial period: 14 days
  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth
  • Primary features: Virtual reconstructions of real roads, training and racing
  • Website: RGTCycling.com

More indoor cycling training apps

There are scores of indoor training apps out there, including quite few produced by brands to accompany smart trainers.

For the most part, we have found the branded apps to be less polished and user-friendly, however, there are a couple of exceptions, which have made the list below.

Rouvy

Rouvy indoor cycling app
Rouvy offers augmented-reality virtual riding, where your avatar rides on videos on real-life routes.
Rouvy

Rouvy contains a mix of virtual riding and interval training.

The company offers augmented-reality riding that allows you to race your friends, similar to Zwift, but instead of a fully animated world, the app adds avatars, road signs and finish banners to real-life footage. 

You can specifically train for UK sportives on simulations of Yorkshire hills the pros rode in the 2014 Tour de France. 

For more, read our complete guide to Rouvy.

  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
  • Cost: $12 per month
  • Free trial period: 14 days
  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth
  • Primary features: Video routes, augmented reality routes, training
  • Website: Rouvy.com

Bkool

Zwift regularly introduces new map areas and routes.
Bkool is now focussed on indoor training software.

Bkool previously made indoor trainers, alongside offering an app, but the Spanish company is now focused exclusively on software.  

Its virtual world comprises thousands of courses and offers similar social and racing features to Zwift.

There are also outdoor courses with real-world footage, as well as the option for targeted interval training.

  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS
  • Cost: €9.99 per month
  • Free trial period: 30 days
  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth
  • Primary features: Virtual racing, virtual routes and video routes, training
  • Website: bkool.com

Kinomap

A screenshot of a Kinomap training video in progress
Kinomap increases the resistance as the video takes you uphill.
Kinomap

With more than 425,000km of video courses from around the world, Kinomap changes the resistance on your smart trainer based on the terrain in the video.

Kinomap also offers interval training, with two modes either based around training with a power meter or fixed resistance on a smart trainer. You can train solo or join sessions with users anywhere in the world. 

  • Platform: iOS, Android
  • Cost: Free / €11.99 per month / €89.99 annually / €269 lifetime access
  • Free trial period: 14 days
  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth
  • Primary Features: Video routes, training, multisport functionality
  • Website: Kinomap.com

FulGaz

FulGaz uses POV video of iconic rides around the world
FulGaz uses POV video of iconic rides from around the world.
Courtesy

FulGaz offers more than 1,200 high-definition POV videos from around the world, with everything from famous climbs such as the Tourmalet to popular group ride routes such as Akuna Bay in Sydney, Australia.

The app uses your weight and power output to adjust the speed of the video and the resistance on your smart trainer.

  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, Apple TV
  • Cost: £9.99 per month / £85.99 annually
  • Free trial period: 14 days
  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth
  • Primary features: Video routes, training
  • Website: fulgaz.com

Kinetic Fit

Kinetic Fit sample screen
Kinetic Fit has a free and paid-for level.
Kinetic Fit

A mix of quite a few of the apps above, Kinetic Fit combines interval training (using bright and blocky bar graphs) with video integration.

That allows you to watch pre-selected YouTube playlists as you ride, or even movies downloaded to your device without the need for a second screen or to navigate away from the workout.

The free ‘core’ membership allows access to one introductory training plan and a range of workouts. The premium ‘smart’ membership opens up an additional 27 training plans, video features and third-party smart-trainer support.

  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS
  • Cost: Free / $9.99 per month
  • Free trial period: N/A
  • Device compatibility: ANT+, Bluetooth
  • Primary features: Training
  • Website: kinetic.fit

Tacx Training

Tacx Training Mont Ventoux
Tacx’s training app allows you to ride to videos of famous real-life roads such as Mont Ventoux.
Tacx

If you own a Tacx smart trainer, such as the Neo 2T or Flux S, then the Dutch brand offers its own training software.

The Tacx Training app features films of real-life roads such as Mont Ventoux and the Paterberg, as well as training plans, customisable workouts and the ability to replicate your own routes from GPS data.

The free service allows users to create custom workouts, analyse training data and ride to two demo films. You’ll need to sign up for a Premium or Premium HD subscription in order to access the full library of videos and training plans or to import your own GPS data.

Unfortunately, it’s only compatible with Tacx smart trainers, so if you don’t have one you’ll have to look elsewhere.

  • Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS
  • Cost: Free / €9.99 monthly or €99.99 annually (Premium) / €13.99 monthly or €139.99 annually (Premium HD)
  • Free trial period: N/A
  • Device compatibility: Tacx smart trainers only
  • Primary features: Training, real-life videos
  • Website: Tacx.com

Indoor training: what you need to get started

Best mid-range Zwift setup
You can get started with a few basic pieces of equipment, but there are other things that will greatly improve your indoor cycling experience, if your budget will stretch.
Immediate Media

Here’s an overview of the basic equipment required to use an indoor training app.

One of these three devices:

  • Smartphone
  • Tablet
  • Computer

One of these three tools:

  • Smart trainer (best for a realistic ride quality and automatic resistance control for intervals and road gradient, but pricey)
  • Power meter (great for accurate data that transfers to outside workouts, no automatic resistance control unless paired with a smart trainer)
  • Classic trainer with speed/cadence sensor (affordable but virtual power is calculated, so not as realistic and no automatic resistance control)

One of these two wireless connections:

  • ANT+
  • Bluetooth

And both of these:

  • Your bike
  • A big fan to keep you cool!
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That’s the basics covered but our guide to turbo trainer accessories covers everything else you may need to make the experience more immersive or pleasurable.