Indoor cycling is booming right now, partly as riders look to avoid poor weather and the effects of the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic, but also because the technology required to make it a fun and immersive experience is finally starting to go mainstream.
Rouvy is just one of those apps and, like any other in a hotly competitive market, it offers something slightly different to set itself apart from the pack.
In this guide we’ll look at all of the key features to help you decide whether it’s the right app for you.
What is Rouvy?
Rouvy is an indoor cycling app that offers a range of real life routes and augmented reality courses for you to ride on.
On certain courses the app can also generate animated 3D riders. There are more than 100 of these augmented reality courses and, as well as an avatar of yourself, the animated riders can either be virtual partners of your previous records, ghosts for you to race against or other real life Rouvy users.
Beyond augmented reality courses, there are thousands of different route films available, which apparently approach a staggering 3,000,000km worth of roads (at the time of writing) – so it’s safe to say there’s plenty of variety.
Aside from simply riding courses, Rouvy also hosts races (for both amateurs and professional teams), has a library of 7,000 structured workouts and even the chance to win cash and other real life prizes for completing in-game challenges.
How does Rouvy differ to other indoor cycling apps?
While Zwift has built its own virtual worlds, some completely made up from scratch and some based on real-life places, Rouvy sets itself apart by using video footage of the actual roads it simulates and by having a massive library of routes to choose from.
RGT Cycling, on the other hand, simulates virtual versions of real life courses, but there are only eight different ones available at the time of writing.
If your goal is to train specifically on real life roads, perhaps for a future sportive or gran fondo (or just for the thrill of riding some of the sport’s most legendary roads), then Rouvy possibly offers a real advantage.
In terms of cost, Rouvy is also slightly cheaper than some of its competitors.
If you’re prepared to sign up for a 12-month subscription, it costs $12 per month and you also have the option of sharing that subscription with two other family members, across up to five different devices.
How much does Rouvy cost?
A subscription costs $144/€144 for a 12-month subscription (equivalent to $12/€12 per month).
When signing up for an account, Rouvy offers new users a 14-day trial with full access to its feature set.
A subscription gives you access to Rouvy’s collection of augmented routes, other virtual routes and access to its library of structured workouts. You also get Rouvy Guides (which we’ll come on to), the ability to use the app across five different devices and the option to create separate profiles for two other family members.
What do you need to use Rouvy?
The Rouvy app itself is available for Mac/Windows PCs, Android/iOS smartphones and tablets, and Apple TV.
As with other indoor cycling apps, you’ll get the most immersive experience if you have access to a smart indoor bike or smart trainer.
Rouvy can control the resistance of the trainer or indoor bike to match the profile of the course or the intensity of an interval session. So, for example, if you’re riding the Passo Gavia (which is an option in Rouvy), the app can make your trainer simulate the resistance you would feel if you were actually climbing it in the real world.
It’s possible to use Rouvy without a smart trainer though. If you have a classic ‘dumb’ turbo trainer or rollers, and a power meter, Rouvy can use the data from the power meter to accurately follow the video of the route and drive you forward in the game.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a power meter you can also simply use a wheel speed sensor on your bike and Rouvy will calculate virtual power.
A full list of compatible trainers can be found on Rouvy’s website.
What courses are there on Rouvy?
There are more than 100 routes that support the augmented reality feature. These include iconic climbs from Italy and France like Mont Ventoux and the Passo dello Stelvio, as well as sections of famous sportives such as the Fred Whitton (which takes place in the Lake District in the UK). Rouvy includes a search function that lets you search out routes that match your criteria for where you want to ride.
Beyond augmented reality courses there are thousands of standard, point-of-view video routes to ride, with categories including the Alps, the Pyrenees and mountain bike trails.
As we’ve already mentioned, Rouvy’s route catalogue suggests there’s currently a total of almost 3,000,000km worth of virtual roads available in the game, which is a little mind boggling.
That’s partly because Rouvy allows users to upload their own ride videos and create custom routes to add to the app’s library.
This could be useful if you have a specific race course you want to train on, for example.
Can you create custom routes in Rouvy?
Yes, if you have the GPS data in the form of a GPX file.
Unlike most other apps, however, Rouvy also integrates with Google Earth to allow users to create virtual routes by selecting a start point and then dropping points on the map, similar to how you would when using mapping software to create routes for your GPS bike computer.
Done this way, there’s no need to have ridden a course before making a Rouvy route for it.
If you have already ridden it and have an action camera like a GoPro, Rouvy also enables users to upload ride videos and sync them with the custom routes.
Does Rouvy offer structured training and workouts?
According to Rouvy, there are 7,000 different workouts available on the app.
Some have been created by professional coaches like Hunter Allen or companies such as TrainingPeaks and CycleOps, but there are many created by Rouvy users too.
If none of them are suitable, or you just can’t find the right one, you can also build your own interval-based workouts, if that’s more your cup of tea.
The workouts with the richest feature set are the Rouvy Guides, where video, power-based intervals and appropriately motivating music are all synchronised to help you get a good workout.
There are currently only six Rouvy Guides videos, so the rest of the workouts simply guide you through intervals in a similar manner to apps such as TrainerRoad.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes simplicity can allow you to focus entirely on your workout, but those looking for a more engaging indoor training experience might possibly find the selection a little limiting in the long term.
Sadly, unlike Zwift and RGT Cycling, there are currently no long-term training plans on Rouvy, but cyclists who have a coach in real life can synchronise training sessions with Rouvy via TrainingPeaks.
Can I join a group ride on Rouvy?
Yes… kind of. There aren’t organised group rides to sign up for like on Zwift, but you can ride with friends and other riders on the augmented reality courses.
Once you’re set up in the app, you simply start riding on the correct route, then you can join another rider by clicking on the menu icon in the top right of the corner, then click ‘find rider’, searching for them by name and clicking ‘follow’.
Unfortunately, unlike Zwift and RGT Cycling, there’s currently no drafting mechanic on Rouvy, so it won’t quite have the same feeling as a real-life group ride. Rouvy has said on its blog that it is working on this for a future update, but as things stand it’s every rider for themselves.
If the pace is too easy or difficult for you to stay with the group, you can adjust the ‘reality level’ in the settings menu to adjust the difficulty of the course profile.
Can I race on Rouvy?
Yes, there are races and events for both amateurs and professionals.
The Digital Swiss 5, for example, was live streamed in April in place of the 2020 Tour de Suisse (which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic) and involved professional riders from a number of WorldTour and ProContinental teams. It won the Digital Communication Award in 2020 and Rouvy has followed it up with a virtual Vuelta a Espana fans’ race.
Beyond professional races, there’s a wide variety of races that are open to all, and Rouvy users can create their own events.
There are also brand-sponsored challenges with a claimed annual prize fund of up to “$10,000 in nominal value” (meaning you can win prizes such as kit from sponsors like Specialized and Elite, as well as gift cards for retailers, VIP tickets for events, and so on).
To take part in official Rouvy races you’ll need to use a smart trainer, but there are other events that are open to users with all types of trainer.
One noteworthy point about racing is the previously mentioned lack of a drafting mechanic. This hinders how realistically Rouvy can simulate racing in real life, and in some senses arguably reduces races to a watts per kilogram contest.