In the last three years, there has been a boom in streaming and training apps for cycling. The 2020 pandemic, which swept the globe, reminded everyone how important it is to be able get a great workout at home. This trend will only continue in 2021. The combination of smart trainers and streaming apps for training is set to be the norm in cycling training, thanks to the increasing bandwidth speeds around the globe and the steady growth in smart bike trainers.
We love the bike trainers and the DVDs that accompany them, but there are two things the training apps can offer that no DVD cannot: Community and real-time feedback. You won’t find a better way to ride with a friend 1,000 miles away than by sharing a bike. You can’t use a power meter on your bike unless you know your wattage output.
There are 15 good streaming options available for indoor cycling on smart trainers. We chose the four we like the best and compared them with each other: Zwift and Sufferfest as well as TrainerRoad and Peloton. These four players are all majors in indoor smart cycling.
Zwift seems to be the market leader right now.
Zwift offers a unique interactive gaming experience. This is perhaps the most interactive option (apart from Peloton), because you can compete with other riders and choose which fork to take mid-ride. You can also chat with your fellow riders and encourage them. The main interaction between the apps is between your legs, stats and the app.
We don’t know the exact usage numbers because we deal with private companies. However, based on the buzz in the cycling community Zwift is considered the most popular. Zwift was fully launched in October 2015, and has seen explosive growth ever since.
After breaking his arm in 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg began to use Zwift to train again. Lawson Craddock, Edvald Boasson Haen, Nathan Guerra and Adam Myerson are just a few of the many Zwift-loving cyclists who have used and loved it. KISS was one of the first to offer established racing on Zwift, and it became the largest organizer on the platform.
Zwift requires a bike and a smart training. You can also use a conventional trainer with a powermeter (ANT+ or BLE), cadence sensors, and a bridge (or receiver) to handle the ANT+/BLE signals. Zwift can be used on Mac, iOS and Windows. It uses Bluetooth SMART and ANT+ technology to send data which, when combined with rider’s weight, equipment choices, is used for adjusting effort, power, and speed.
We recommend streaming Zwift using an Apple TV box, paired with a regular flat-screen TV mounted on the wall. It works like a charm and gives you the advantage of a bigger screen and better audio than you would get if you tried it on a tablet or pc. Compatibility with Apple TV is a strong feature of Zwift, compared to other competitors. This app is the only one that is compatible with Apple TV. Other apps rely on mirroring, which can sometimes cause streaming problems.
Another way to stream Zwift is on a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. You can also use a phone …. to view your statistics, although it may not be large enough to see them clearly.
The platform will allow you to create a profile by entering your height and weight, then choosing the bike and kit you prefer. There are 25 levels you can explore, so you will have more options for optimizing your riding. Zwift’s preplanning courses allow users to cruise through virtual worlds such as Innsbruck and London, New York, Richmond and Watopia. These all offer a variety routes with different distances, hills, scenery. This is all done by gamification. The imagery isn’t real but it is made interesting and believable.
There are four main options for riding in Zwift: a free ride or group ride, racing, training, and a workout mode. You can ride the Zwift “gamified” routes with others. You can choose from easy or more challenging rides, and can compete with other riders. It is difficult to resist the urge to climb a timed climb on a Zwift bike. You can see how you compare to other riders as well as your past PRs for those segments on the leaderboard.
You have a wide range of options, including pre-made and customized workouts. The interval workouts are the most popular. This is because they combine with the power meter in the smart trainer to create precise workouts. After the activity (races, rides, or workouts) is completed, the data can all be saved as a.fit file that can be uploaded to programs such as Strava, Today’s Plan and Garmin Connect.
Zwift has a few minor issues that we find annoying. We wish that the routes had better visibility for climbs and time trials. Sometimes it can be difficult to predict how long you’ll be on the trail. Second, you have to be aware that many forks on the road are fast and you may end up taking a different route. It can be frustrating to be in the middle of a segment that is timed.
Pricing:To ride Zwift you will need an account. You can get a free 25km trial (which you will consume very quickly), then you will have to pay $14.99 per month (up from $9.99 in the past) which is renewed each month. Zwift’s most popular feature is the ability to put your subscription on “hold”. You can place your subscription on “hold” if you don’t plan to ride indoors between May and October.
Other Reviews Industry websites such as RoadBikeReview and BikeRadar provide mostly positive feedback. This is primarily due to the system’s attractive graphics, ease of use across a variety of platforms and situations, interaction with other riders, affordability, motivation, and cost. Some users complain about the lack of course options and high cost of Zwift equipment. iTunes and Google Play have over 1,500 customer reviews about the mobile app. These reviews include a rating of four stars and positive feedback.
Ideal for:A person who values the community and network effect of riding and wants the best chances of making friends on the app. They now haveover 1,000,000 users. It’s also great for anyone who enjoys competing with others, even if they have never met you before. Zwift is the best option if you wish to use the app through an Apple TV interface.
Not for:Anyone looking for real-life imagery can do this using gaming technology. It is not recommended for people with poor internet connections. Zwift is only worth it if you have reliable streaming.
You can call me a purist but I sometimes just need a well-structured workout. Sufferfest provides that. Sufferfest is undoubtedly another star among the triathlon and cycling training apps. The company was established in 2008, and began by providing cycling videos. It quickly gained a reputation. In 2014, Sufferfest launched its mobile app. Sufferfest is our favorite when it comes to structured cycling workouts.
Sufferfest is unique in two ways. The first is that it’s more than just cycling. The focus on flexibility and strength, as well as serious cycling workouts, is something we really enjoy. Sufferfest clearly shows its investment in trainers and coaches, as demonstrated by the 4DP measure. It feels more “coached”, which is what we need on certain days. We’ll get to that later. Another way Sufferfest stands out is the ride footage. You will want to cycle through the countryside of Europe, and you’ll be inspired to take one of the Italian or French cycling tours.
The platform can connect to your bike and trainer in a similar way to other platforms. It uses either the smart trainer setup, or a regular trainer with an ANT+ and 4.0. Sufferfest adjusts power targets to match your athlete profile and fitness level. This app has official footage from famous races such as the Spring Classics and the Tour de France. Sufferfest doesn’t allow you to compete with other riders. The platform is solely focused on improving your skills and challenging yourself.
We like the new feature of being able to reduce the video footage and still have the workout graph on the screen. This is a great feature that will allow you to get to know your workouts and watch your favorite TV show or game while riding.
We would love for Sufferfest to integrate with Apple TV. It is possible that it will eventually happen, but for now it is not. You can mirror your screen using the Airplay feature on Apple TV. However, we have found that the entire thing will skip or get hung up when there is too much bandwidth. You can’t also control the app using your Apple TV remote.
It can be synced with popular training apps such as Strava, Garmin and TrainingPeaks.
This package contains 54 videos of running and cycling as well as various mental toughness programs, including the “Sufferlandia”, which is a popular series that will help you get started in late winter. We love the 30 yoga videos made especially for cyclists. This was a welcome surprise for Sufferfest and a major selling point. Yoga workouts are more focused on stretching and back work than they are on cycling. However, we have found that they do not get us sweating as much.
The user has access to more than 100 digital training programs for road, tri, cx and xc MTB. They also have top-notch sports science from Neal Henderson. You can integrate with Kickr Climb or other smart trainers.
Sufferfest’s unique feature is the ability to measure power output using a 4DP measure. This stands for 4 Dimensional Energy. It was developed by Sufferfest founders. It claims to measure power from more specific intervals and at different angles than the 20-minute functional power threshold (FTP). This helps you tailor your workouts to your specific cycling abilities. The 4DP test is part of the initial app setup. However, the test is an hour-long workout on its own. You can pull it up anytime.
You will receive messages that look like coaching as you ride along a course. It will tell you what type of intervals you are doing and why. Tips on how to get the most from a segment and the goals will be shared. We would prefer that the coaching be done by voice (like the Spinervals videos), so you don’t have to look at the screen. However, this is something Zwift does not have.
Prices: The monthly Sufferfest subscription is $14.99, and the annual one is $129.
Other Reviews -Industry online publications such as BikeRadar or Cycling Weekly give Sufferfest high marks, praising the app’s extensive and funny videos, 4DP personal workouts, and on-point yoga, and mental training. Another perspective is that the platform’s low rating was due to a few repetitive or rushed videos. The brand’s Facebook page shows that users have kept the product’s rating at 4.6/5. This highlights the effectiveness of the training programs.
Best for:Cyclists who are looking for more than just training videos. It’s also great for people who enjoy watching old routes and races in real life, or those who don’t want to compete with other riders. It’s also great for those with slow internet connections because you can download the videos and then ride without having to be connected.
Not for: People who enjoy a gaming-type interface and thrive on being inspired by others, live users.
TrainerRoad was founded in 2010 by Reid Weber and Nate Pearson. It is a training and cycling software that has grown to be a major player in this niche. Weber would later go on and create the Sufferfest app. TrainerRoad’s greatest strength is the fact that it has discipline-specific training plans created by Chad Timmerman (a renowned Level I USA Cycling and Triathlete certified cycling coach).
For data geeks, TrainerrRoad excels. TrainerRoad provides structured interval training plans, as well as live performance data, entertainment integrations and cross-platform functionality. Users can access over 1,000 professionally-designed interval workouts to help them get fitter in a shorter time. There are more than 100 triathlon and ultimate cycling plans to choose from. You can use the calendar to keep track of your training by scheduling races and workouts. TrainerRoad analyzes your ride data in order to improve your performance analytics. The integrated tools can quickly analyze your training by analyzing data from Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ wireless devices to determine if you are improving. The app supports cross-platform access, so you can train on any iOS, Android, Windows or
The Trainerroad Workout
TrainerRoad will first test your functional threshold power (FTP). This is an important part of the set-up. It will allow you to maximize your training by determining your functional threshold power (FTP). The whole system is geared towards your FTP. You don’t have to know everything about FTP. The app will guide you through the baseline test.
The TrainerRoad interval training plans are designed for cyclists. They make it simple to follow the structured interval exercises that focus on building, establishing, and specializing your fitness in order to achieve your goals. You will find motivational and instructive text in the guided workouts that can be used to inspire and guide you. Live, interactive workout data allows you to monitor your heart rate, power, cadence and power in real-time. You can also choose the equipment that suits your budget and needs. You have the option of a speed sensor + trainer or a power meter + trainee, as well as a smart trainer.
TrainerRoad’s unique feature is their ability to provide structured workouts that you can do outdoors, on your bike, while riding on roads or trails. This is done by connecting the app to your bicycle’s or other device.
TrainerRoad also has a small but very useful feature that allows you to modify any workout at any time. You can tap the screen to add a few minutes of warm-up time if you’re about to do intense intervals or need more. It’s great interactivity.
No matter what your cycling discipline is, you’ll get customized workouts to prepare you for future events. After completing the comprehensive Ramp Test, all workouts can be automatically adjusted to suit your fitness level. You can also create your own workout or use the Workout Creator to modify an existing one. The calendar allows you to make your training plan flexible. You can add or modify plans (seasonal and weekly), assign priority and create annotations. For those who are interested in getting in touch with coaches, such as Nathan Lee and Chad Timmerman (Chad Timmerman), the TrainerRoad podcast is a great way to ask questions.
Pricing: The monthly subscription to TrainerRoad costs $15, and the annual plan costs $129. This price includes interval training, structured training plans and a workout calendar. The annual plan costs $129.
Other ReviewsOnline magazines such as BikeRadar and Bicycling have given positive reviews of the product. They praised its ease-of-use, compatibility and top-notch training programs. Another point of view is that TrainerRoad’s plans for training are still too trainer-centric and don’t allow you to export your workouts outside. Users on Facebook and Google agree that TrainerRoad helped them improve their performance and organize their training schedule.
Ideal for:People who want to watch their own content, even TV shows, while watching a workout stream at the bottom of the screen. This is a great option for data-hungry people who want to see the statistics behind every workout and those who value a tier training plan that uses Functional Threshold Power.
The ads are probably familiar to you. Peloton, which has $1 billion in funding is making a huge splash and appears to be everywhere.
Peloton is unique in one important way. Its streaming service, which features popular spin-like classes, is designed to be used with Peloton bikes. Although the app can also be used with non-Peloton bicycles, the core of the app is designed to be used with a Peloton bike and a Peloton app. The company was established in 2012. Star athletes such as Michael Phelps and Roby Arzon use their bikes and apps.
Peloton works with iOS devices. It allows users to choose a goal and pursue it by offering a combination of running, cycling, boot camp, outside, and strength training. Their library includes over 10,000 boutique classes and is constantly growing. Expert NYC instructors teach the studio classes live and on demand. This makes indoor working out fun and personal. You can choose from a variety of classes: length (from 10 to 60 minutes), type (beginner or low impact, rhythm and live DJ), theme, metrics and climb, intervals and heart rate zone, pro cyclist, and music genre (alternative rock, country, electronic and hip hop, pop, R&B, rock and R&B). You can also choose between different instructors for your bike.
Peloton allows you to interact with a human being.
On-demand classes can be recorded and can be accessed whenever you like. This is great for people who are unable or unwilling to attend live sessions. Live classes, on the other hand, are great for riding with others from around the globe, as the instructor interacts and shares their knowledge with the group. You can find out the schedules of your favorite instructors by looking at their public postings. The app will notify you when a class is scheduled once you have decided to sign up for a live class. Peloton tracks your workouts and the instructors you have worked with. The app’s latest feature is the ability to explore scenic roads (no instructors, just background music).
Pricing: If you’d like to test the Peloton app with your smart trainer alone, you can sign-up for a trial period of two weeks. The membership is $19.49 per month plus any applicable tax and includes unlimited classes. We recommend that you use the Peloton app with Peloton bikes. This changes the investment game. Peloton’s full access membership costs $39.99 per month. The bike, which gets great reviews, costs $2,000.
Other ReviewsPeloton has been reviewed online by publications like PCMag, SMART Bike Trainers and Digital Trends. Positive feedback is a strong indicator of the class’ interactivity (live or on-demand), and affordability. This platform has been rated 4.9 by more than 22,000 people on the App Store platform. Some users feel that even though you are part of a community the app doesn’t offer a true spinning class experience.
Ideal for: Those who value human spin classes and don’t mind getting off their bike to do the workouts. It is also suitable for people with a higher budget and price range.
Not for:People who want to ride their tricycles or road. It is also not affordable if you have a tight budget. The recurring cost of $40 per month is unavoidable.
Which smart trainer is the best?
Another question is which smart trainer is the best. It is complicated because it all depends on what tradeoffs you are willing and able to make at different price points. is the reason we dedicated an entire article to this topic. We know that you prefer simple, direct answers so we recommend the TACX flux and the Saris H3.
You can see that there is an app for every taste and need when it comes down to choosing the right cycling training app.
It is likely that there is a leader within this space. However, the other players should not be overlooked.
Zwiftis the most complete, especially for those who have a smart trainer. This will allow you to get the most from the platform. Sufferfest, a great alternative, is ideal for riders who are looking to improve and challenge themselves instead of competing with other riders. TrainerRoad’s training plan feature is flawless. It makes it easy to plan, schedule, and keep track of your training. Zwift and Trainerroad allow you to use the same tricycle or roadbike that you’ll be using throughout the season.
Peloton is by far the most expensive option long-term if it is done as intended. It is great for spin classes, pre-recorded or live, and the only one that offers the live experience. The $40 monthly fee will not go away and the cost of the service will increase if you don’t use it enough.