The current coronavirus lockdown has made indoor cycling a much more attractive proposition, if you want to keep fit and ride with or against others.
RGT Cycling is one of a number of indoor training apps that lets you simulate the great outdoors and ride some famous roads without leaving the house.
We’ll take you through its key features and tell you everything you need to know.
What is RGT Cycling?
Road Grand Tours Cycling is an indoor training app that lets you ride simulations of a selection of real roads around the world on a turbo trainer. Rather than riding in a virtual world, you’re taking on famous climbs and experiencing simulations of real places.
There’s also a range of coach-developed structured workouts and you can create your own course based on an uploaded route file.
If you’re using a smart trainer, RGT Cycling can wirelessly control your trainer to simulate the changing gradient of a particular road or the wattage required in whatever training session you are tackling.
You can select different views of the road as you ride, including a drone view and a moto camera view, if you want to imagine that Eurosport is following your ride. And there are KOMs/QOMs and leaderboards over parts of the ride, so you can challenge yourself.
You can also customise your avatar in RGT Cycling, with a range of different bikes and kit available, including BMC and Ridley machines. RGT Cycling says it’s planning to up the number of options for bikes, components and kit in the future.
RGT Cycling has majored on making its simulation more like the real world, compared to some of its competitors, with a diminution in effort if you draft another rider and the simulated effect of braking into corners.
RGT Cycling says speeds are calculated from real-world data for cornering and your avatar is slowed down automatically to stop you rear-ending the rider in front. Ease off then accelerate out and you’re likely to pass a rider pushing out constant power.
Plus you can’t just ride through another rider, you have to ride past them. So you need to make sure you’re towards the front of the pack when you come to climbs, if you don’t want to get blocked.
RGT Cycling’s in-app screen offers a range of data, as you’d expect. The forward-facing camera is the standard view but there’s also a rear-facing camera.
How does RGT Cycling differ from Zwift?
Zwift tends to snatch the headlines when it comes to indoor training apps, but RGT Cycling is among a range of apps offering an alternative way to train on your turbo.
Unlike Zwift, RGT Cycling needs power data to work – either from your turbo trainer or a power meter on your bike. With Zwift, you can get by with a cheaper set up using just a speed/cadence sensor and a classic (non-smart) turbo trainer.
Whereas Zwift can be run on a computer/tablet/smartphone alone, with the option of using the Companion app in tandem, RGT Cycling needs both a smartphone and a separate display simultaneously.
Zwift’s main training environment is the Watopia virtual world, with extensions that you can unlock.
That’s supplemented by a daily choice of virtual courses based on the real world, including Alpe d’Huez (or, rather, Alpe Du Zwift) and the Road World Championships courses from Virginia and Innsburck.
RGT Cycling’s environment, meanwhile, lets you select from eight always-available simulations of real world courses.
RGT Cycling’s premium subscription normally costs the same per month as Zwift (£12.99/$14.99 a month). A basic subscription to RGT Cycling is free, but there’s no free option on Zwift after an initial trial period.
How much does RGT Cycling cost?
During the current coronavirus pandemic it’s free, including the premium features that you’d normally pay £12.99/$14.99 a month for.
Once you’ve registered on the app for a free subscription, you just need to send an empty email to email@example.com, using the same email account that you used to register. RGT Cycling will then set you up for free premium access.
If you subscribe to premium features using the functionality in the app, you’ll be charged the standard monthly fee.
Premium features include support for your structured workouts and access to RGT’s structured workout library, as well as the Magic Roads feature (which we’ll come on to) and event creation.
What do you need to use RGT?
The RGT environment uses two apps: a mobile app that runs on Android or iOS and a screen app, available for Windows 10, Mac, iPad and Apple TV, which displays the simulation.
Most RGT functions are accessed via the mobile app, including group rides, training management and connectivity to Strava and TrainingPeaks.
You’ll also need to be able to access your power data. That can be either via a bike-mounted power meter or a trainer with a built-in power meter.
The power meter can use either Bluetooth or ANT+ for connectivity. Unlike Zwift, using only a speed/cadence sensor without power measurement won’t work.
Bluetooth connectivity should be native to your phone, but you’ll need a dongle or other device to use ANT+ because connectivity is not built into most smartphones.
To connect up your hardware the first time that you use RGT Cycling, you need to select a route to ride, then connect up your power meter or trainer, as well as other kit such as a heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor, by clicking on icons in the app.
What courses are there on RGT Cycling?
The Real Roads feature on RGT Cycling offers simulations of actual roads. There’s currently a selection of eight always-on courses.
Mixed terrain rides include the roads around the Paterberg in Belgium, which features in the Tour of Flanders, the Cap de Formentor on Mallorca, and the rolling Tuscan countryside around Pienza in Italy.
Big name climbs include Mont Ventoux and the Passo dello Stelvio (there’s an updated version in the works).
There’s also the twisty 8 Bar Crit course in Berlin and another in Canary Wharf, London, plus a flat time-trial course in Borrego Springs, California.
RGT Cycling includes real-world Strava segments in its simulations, with banners over the course marking their start and end.
RGT Cycling courses
- Cap de Formentor, Mallorca
- Borrego Springs, California
- Pienza, Tuscany
- Canary Wharf, London
- 8Bar Crit, Berlin
- Mont Ventoux, France
- Passo dello Stelvio, Italy
- Paterberg, Belgium
What are Magic Roads?
RGT Cycling’s premium Magic Roads feature lets you create your own route to ride, something that’s not always possible with other training apps.
So, rather than being constrained by what’s available in the app, you can choose a route that you’ve always wanted to ride, one which you know already or a key part of a sportive or race that you’re hoping to take on in future.
That means that you know what’s in store for you, including any surprises, and can work out your real-world pacing ahead of the event.
The process starts with you uploading a GPX file of any route under 100km that you want to ride. RGT Cycling then creates a simulation automatically within 10 minutes. You have to ride this as an event, inviting at least four fellow cyclists to ride it with you, rather than being able to ride it solo.
RGT Cycling says it’s decided to introduce this restriction due to the popularity of the Magic Roads feature and that it’s looking to enhance functionality significantly in future.
Does RGT Cycling offer structured training and workouts?
Yes. There’s a series of structured workouts created by a number of TrainingPeaks coaches and available in RGT Cycling.
Plus there are structured training plans, designed to build strength, improve your FTP and prepare for an Olympic distance triathlon over six or eight weeks.
Can I join a group ride?
Yes, all RGT Cycling users can join group rides and training sessions.
If you have a premium subscription, you can also create group rides and group training sessions, and invite people to join them. As well as real people, you can also create a series of bots in the app and ride with or compete against them.
It’s a feature that’s grown in popularity with the coronavirus outbreak – Evans Cycles hosted a virtual Ride It event on RGT Cycling and clubs and coaches are organising group rides.
One advantage of a group ride is that you can draft others. Get in their slipstream and the effort required reduces, depending on your speed and how close you are.
Can I race on RGT Cycling?
Just like group rides, you can also use RGT Cycling for races. Again, you can join a race as a base level subscriber or you can create your own competitive event and invite others if you have a premium subscription. Races are not categorised.
If you follow RGT Cycling’s Facebook page, you might find invitations to events that you can join, posted by other users. Clubs are organising race series and virtual time trials during the coronavirus lockdown.
You can race against bots, with their performance based on their parametrised power output, as well as against real people, while the drafting feature means that you can try and tuck in behind a stronger rider and conserve your energy.
And unlike a real person, a bot’s not going to make you take a turn at the front or swear at you for being a wheelsucker.