The best indoor cycling training apps

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

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. Here’s a list of gear you’ll need to get started, the three apps for indoor cycling we think are the best for riding indoors, plus six others that are worth checking out.

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Racing, training or touring?

There are a few categories you can keep an eye on with indoor cycling apps, such as intervals, racing and interactive tourism.

Some apps, such as TrainerRoad, are straight-up training tools — think personalized workout classes based on power output with a specific training goal in mind.

Want power-driven workouts? Rouvy and many others have those by the bucketload
Want power-driven workouts? Rouvy and many others have those by the bucketload
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Others use on-bike video from around the world, with your pedal power driving the scenic view — and, if you have a smart trainer, the route driving the resistance.

And then there is Zwift, where you can do interactive rides and races on videogame courses, with your experience based on power-to-weight output in real time.

Which is best depends on what you want to do. After logging thousands of miles and trying as many as we could, we have found Zwift and TrainerRoad to be the clear leaders, with The Sufferfest offering a nice mix of solid training and humor.

What you need

To use an indoor-training app, you'll need a trainer, a power or speed sensor, as well as an ANT+ or Bluetooth connection to your device
To use an indoor-training app, you’ll need a trainer, a power or speed sensor, as well as an ANT+ or Bluetooth connection to your device
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To use an indoor cycling app, you need…

One of these three devices:

  • Smartphone
  • Tablet
  • Computer

One of these three tools:

  • Smart trainer (ideal: power meter, plus resistance controls for intervals and road gradient, but pricey)
  • Power meter (great for accurate data that transfers to outside workouts)
  • Classic trainer with speed/cadence sensor (virtual power is calculated)

One of these two wireless connections:

  • ANT+ (usually via USB plug-in)
  • Bluetooth

And both of these:

  • Your bike
  • A big fan to keep you cool!

For most of these apps, you’re going to want to know your FTP, or Functional Threshold Power and how to figure it out. If when you see FTP, File Transfer Protocol or Full Throttle Party comes to mind, not to fear check out our explainer.

The best indoor cycling apps

Zwift and TrainerRoad are the apps we have gravitated towards over the cold weather months, and The Sufferfest is continuing to add new features beyond just workouts for the turbo trainer and advanced metrics that many riders like. These three plus six others are listed in the chart below.

Zwift

A big part of Zwift's allure is the interactivity with other riders around the world. You can draft, pull, attack and chat with others as you pedal around virtual courses
A big part of Zwift’s allure is the interactivity with other riders around the world. You can draft, pull, attack and chat with others as you pedal around virtual courses
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Founded by gamers with a love of cycling (and clearly some good investment backing), Zwift has straight up transformed the indoor riding experience.

No, Zwift didn’t invent virtual riding — Bkool and Tour de Giro were among those offering online competition driven by rider output and physics-based algorithms on weight, speed and aero drag. 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's power-based workouts are similar to those you find in other apps — but you complete them as your avatar pedals down virtual roads
Zwift’s power-based workouts are similar to those you find in other apps — but you complete them as your avatar pedals down virtual roads
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With 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. The racing aspect of Zwift has taken off, and the company has even formed an official Professional e-racing league which kicked off in January, 2019.

Besides working together (or attacking) with your fellow Zwifters from around the globe, you can also chat with them as you ride through Wattopia, or routes inspired by real-world courses like Prudential RideLondon, the 2015 UCI World Championships in Richmond, Virginia and the 2018 UCI Road World Championships Course in Innsbruck-Tirol, either on your computer or with the companion mobile app.

Zwift also has an Apple TV app too, and you can connect your smart trainer or power meter via Bluetooth. This setup offers one of the most cost-friendly was to get into indoor training apps

If you just try one app, try this one. We bet you’ll come back for more.

Visit zwift.com

TrainerRoad

TrainerRoad is laser-focused on interval workouts, which you can do a la carte or as part of a tailored plan
TrainerRoad is laser-focused on interval workouts, which you can do a la carte or as part of a tailored plan
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Riding a trainer aimlessly, staring at the wall is about as fun as a waiting room at Denstit’s office with no wifi. On top of that, riding aimlessly isn’t really doing anything for your fitness.

Conversely, doing short, measured intervals — and then resting — will make you fitter and faster.

While some Type A folks may have had 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 the specifics, and all you have to do is pedal? That, we can do.

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.

The Sufferfest

The Sufferfest layers power-based workouts over race video
The Sufferfest layers power-based workouts over race video
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Somewhere in between TrainerRoad’s straight-faced workouts and Zwift’s ride-in-party-hat virtual-reality interactivity lies The Sufferfest.

The brand started with pro-race videos, back before apps were a thing. While the basic science is the same — intervals make you faster; do them — the execution is more playful. Video mix-ups splice in attacks from races with leisurely scenic footage, and revving engines and gunshots alert you to changes in pace.

As with TrainerRoad and Zwift, and many others, it’s all about measuring and improving power output over various durations.

While the first two are rooted firmly in FTP (functional threshold power), The Sufferfest is charting a slightly different course with what it calls 4DP training.

In addition to the videos, The Sufferfest also offers downloadable training plans, mental training and even some guided yoga and strength training sessions too.

iPhone Android PC Mac Cost/mo Free trial Primary features
Zwift $10/£8 7 days Social, interactive, virtual riding, racing and training
TrainerRoad $12 30 days* Laser-focus on interval training, training plans
The Sufferfest $10 7 days Workouts and training plans, humor
*Money-back guarantee for 30 days
Rouvy $10 14 days Video routes, workout, races
Kinomap $10 Video routes
TrainingPeaks $20 7 days Training plans, workout integration with Zwift, TrainerRoad
FulGaz $10 14 days POV video rides and workouts
Bkool $10 30 days Virtual racing, 3D and video routes
Kinetic Fit $10 Core membership free Power Training with a decent workout catalogue available with free membership

Other indoor cycling training apps

There are scores of indoor apps out there, including a quite few produced by brands to accompany smart trainers. For the most part, we have found the branded apps seem to be less polished and user friendly, however, there are a couple of exceptions which have made the list below.

Here are six apps that are worth a look.

Rouvy: Formerly known as CycleOps’ Virtual training’, Rouvy offers a mix of virtual riding and interval training. The company is currently working on adding augmented reality riding that allows you to race your friends, similar to Zwift, but instead of a fully animated world, the app generates avatars, road signs and finish banners onto real footage.

Rouvy uses POV video tied to your effort and gradient
Rouvy uses POV video tied to your effort and gradient
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Bkool: The Spanish trainer brand’s virtual world comprises thousands of courses and offers similar social and racing features to Zwift. There are outdoor courses too with real-world footage as well as the option for targeted interval training.

Kinomap: With a claimed 147,919km of POV video courses from around the world, Kinomap has added new functionality which changes the resistance on your smart trainer based on the terrain in the video. Kinomap also offers interval training too with two modes either based around power targets or fixed resistance.

TrainingPeaks: Not an interactive app, but a great training tool that works with Zwift and TrainerRoad for those training specifically for an event

FulGaz: HD POV videos from around the world with everything from famous climbs like the Tourmalet and popular bunch routes like Akuna Bay in Sydney, Australia. The app employs advanced physics modelling using your weight and power output to adjust the speed of the video and the resistance on your smart trainer to imitate the sensation of outdoor riding.

FulGaz uses POV video of iconic rides around the world
FulGaz uses POV video of iconic rides around the world
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Kinetic Fit: A mix of quite a few of the apps above, Kinetic Fit combines the bright and blocky bar graphs of and video integration which allows you to watch preselected Youtube playlists as you ride or movies downloaded to your device without the need for a second screen or navigate away from the workout. With two membership tiers, the free Core Membership allows access to 65 guided power based workouts.

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