Disclaimer: this “Indoor Training Tools Update” post may, like the previous ones, get reviewed or updated every now and then. The reviewed tools / platforms also frequently get updates or added features.
As a result, I cannot guarantee that features or prices mentioned here are still accurate at the time you read this or any of my previous posts.
Over the years, since 2016, I’ve written about my experience with indoor training tools, most of which I have used or at least tried to use.
Before we broke up, I’ve written more about Rouvy than any other and besides the occasional mention, I will not spend more words on them here.
(But I stick to my previous observations and recommendations on them. They’ve increased their prices to $12/€12 a month, no “yearly bonus” discount – the non-conversion of USD to EUR is weird…)
After my last post, a few things have changed:
- Tacx is now owned by Garmin, although it remains a sub-brand of its own
- The Sufferfest was acquired by Wahoo and re-branded to Wahoo SYSTM
- RGT is out of beta (finally, but I only recently noticed, so it might have been a while)
- I found/got on BigRingVR and think it may be a serious option for you to try.
Garmin – Tacx
As I own both Garmin Edge bike computers and Tacx Neo (2T) indoor trainers, this would seem to be a match made in heaven.
Sadly, it is not, as the more responsive and customer driven Tacx culture has been replaced by that of Garmin’s own universe.
In that universe, Garmin is notorious for it’s deplorable support, but their products – albeit often not before a few post-release fixes – are top notch.
Tacx trainers and more specifically the Neo, have been top of their class for a long time.
Now that everything is basically Garmin, I fear the day my Neo 2T will need support. But, for now, it’s still going strong, with over 25,000 training kilometers on the clock.
As to the Tacx training app or TDA (desktop), I have not much to add to my previous post, other than that they have adopted Ant+ connections instead of Bluetooth only, which at the time, was a nuisance.
Whenever I use the desktop app, I will establish an Ant+ connection, as it is generally speaking more stable. This goes for most of the desktop apps I use by the way…
Other than that, not much has changed – there is no 4K subscription, but that will not be a show-stopper for most.
Also the pricing – a yearly subscription is €99,99 or €139,99 for HD – hasn’t changed.
(You can ride for free forever, if you’re happy with the undulating ˜13 km course that is available as trial.)
And it only took them a year or so, but you can now – and in fact are more or less forced to – use your Garmin account to connect.
It’s not my preferred platform, but, depending on your wishes/desires, it’s a solid choice, with perfect quality videos.
I have no idea if and if so how it allows you to interact with you preferred workout plan tool (Training Peaks, Today’s Plan, Xert), but I fear the worst.
Its own plan builder (still) sucks big time, im
Another platform that might be a “match from heaven” if you own a Wahoo indoor trainer.
I’ve noticed a couple of my fellow Knights of Sufferlandria – if that’s still a thing – were logging Wahoo SYSTM workouts on Strava.
Those include the usual suspects based on the original Sufferfest videos, but also running, swimming workouts and even yoga sessions.
As such and lacking virtual reality, it’s more similar to TrainerRoad, but the cycling workouts at least (mostly) have videos.
I’m not going to be trying SYSTM, though.
Like Xert, it uses it’s own FTP “alternative”, in this case labeled 4DP (Four Dimensional Power).
Functional Threshold Power has been under scrutiny for a while now, so alternatives like these may be more interesting.
And they probably will be, for most but not for me…
I’m still not fitting in anywhere or in any of these models/methods, which means that none of them will guide me much towards my next Alpine expedition.
So, there is no point for me to spend money on them, including Wahoo SYSTM 1)
Speaking of money: Wahoo SYSTM is available as a monthly subscription for $14.99 and a yearly subscription for $129.
As with most services, you can try it first.
Wahoo or Garmin?
That’s not up to me to advise you on. I’m not using either, whereas I have experience with (previously) Tacx and the Sufferfest, but none with Wahoo SYSTM.
Wahoo SYSTM is the more complete platform or “ecosystem”. Garmin will offer the better video footage, but you’re pretty much on your own or need an additional service, if you want to use it for structured training.
Your choice may partly be driven by which indoor trainer and/or bike computer (combo) you have, but that shouldn’t be the decisive factor, I think.
At $129 a year, Wahoo SYSTM offers you more than Garmin.
But if riding is all you do and you can do without all the bells and whistles, there are other and maybe better alternatives.
Road Grand Tours (RGT Cycling)
One platform that I have been following over the years, but seemed to be stuck in beta forever, is RGT Cycling.
While it looked promising, I never succeeded in properly testing it, for various reasons.
Besides, over time I eventually got bored riding in a cartoon environment (Zwift) and RGT Cycling is a… cartoon network 😂
But when I recently saw it popping up in my Strava feed, I headed over to their website, read the latest update and decided to give it another try.
Ironically, I started my trial with the only road that had been available every time I tried it before, the Stelvio – the picture at the top of this post, is a screenshot from that.
I’ll leave it up to you to dig deeper into (the history of) the details, but I can honestly say that I was impressed.
Sure, it looks (a lot) like Zwift, including occasionally riding through anyone before you, but it has its own added features, being able to create your own virtual courses the main thing popping out.
Obviously, anyone creating such a “Magic Road” as they call it, will get similar footage: an asphalted road, lined with trees and the occasional rock wall or structure.
It’s not like they use Google street view for footage, which understandably would be (near) impossible.
Still, I created a couple of roads from a ride in my own backyard, but also the Bédoin ascend of the Mont Ventoux from my Cinglé.
They have their own Ventoux from Malaucène and that will probably look realistic like the Stelvio (
I haven’t tried it yet I did, it does).
But my Magic Road showed the contours of a mountain in the background when I tried the first couple of kilometers, which is different from what I got for my polder ride.
There is also a calendar filled with daily group/race events, be it on user created roads or RGT ones, plus challenges, like the January ITT Leuven and the “Everesting” challenge.
And, like Rouvy, they add bots to the tracks you’re riding, but some RGT bots are smarter.
(As I haven’t followed Rouvy since we divorced, their bot routine may have improved too.)
Like Rouvy’s, they can be pace bots (fixed at x Watts/kg), but they also deploy race bots that are capable of hunting you down or drop you and have limited reserves, as you yourself have.
For me, RGT Cycling is more perfect than Zwift, because of the “Magic Roads” and it forces me to engage in high level (anaerobic / neuromuscular) efforts for timed segments, as did Zwift.
While there’s a free option, it’s rather limited in functionality though that may well be enough for you.
A subscription will cost you $9.99 (or €8.99) per month.
RGT Cycling or Zwift?
I’m not going to burn my fingers on that one…
As stated, for me and (maybe) just for me, the better option is RGT, but Zwift – like Rouvy – has built a tremendous user base and shows up in TV commercials and as world tour sponsor.
But I have a weak spot for the “small players”, although I’m less outspoken now than I used to be, before I broke up with Rouvy.
(9/10/22: A while ago, Wahoo aquired RGT, which was just what I needed, so I’m no longer using that – nor SYSTM – and will stick to Tacx and VeloReality)
Since my previous/last post on this subject, I have spent a lot of hours on BigRingVR for the past two years or so.
I have “traded” BigRingVR for RGT now, but I highly recommend you give it a try if you’re looking for an option with great video footage and a few extras.
And let me be clear: I have not dropped BigRingVR for any other reason than wanting (to try) something else.
I have no financial problem preventing me from subscribing to multiple services – don’t we all do that? – but I already have VeloReality as an alternative for superior video workouts.
BigRingVR equals Garmin (Tacx) and VeloReality in video quality and it adds challenges for you to complete, which is something VeloReality does not offer.
I have completed multiple of those challenges, ranging from interesting to insane.
I tend to do these in my usual “lactate threshold” mode, with the occasional short all out burst on short-ish (15 – 20 minutes) challenge efforts.
As such, being forced to riding those indoor only 2), I’ve grown a little weary of them, especially the insane/long rides and hence my decision to switch to RGT.
Apart from BigRingVR’s vast and ever growing library of videos, you can create your own. You’ll need the video footage and the (exact) matching GPX to do that.
I have never tried this, but if it’s similar to what Rouvy offers, it’s certainly a viable option, albeit probably a bit cumbersome to get it right, given the standard inaccuracy of most GPX files.
(If you want to fix your track(s) head on over to RGT which offers an in depth article on that, with links to tools to help you.)
BigRingVR also offers multi-user mode (and group rides) and you can chase yourself, if you’ve previously done the track, or pick from others who have.
There’s a monthly plan at $10, a 6-months plan at $54 and a yearly plan at $100.
BigRingVR or VeloReality?
Personally, I find that a bit tougher to answer than Garmin versus Wahoo SYSTM.
And here, too, it largely depends on whether or not you want/need the extras, in this case offered by BigRingVR…
The pricing is similar, if you compare BigRingVR to VeloReality’s 1080p streaming service (€99.50/year).
Both offer importing/integrating your own workouts and pick a video to go with it.
(RGT, like Zwift, also has this functionality by the way.)
VeloReality also offers 4K footage, but as mentioned, I don’t see that being a deal maker or breaker.
There’s also an (orange bar) indicator in their screen interface, showing beginning and end of Strava segments.
Other than the extra “race” options, BigRingVR also offers you the option to download the video(s) before running them, which VeloReality does not.
That may be a big advantage for people with a (weak or no) WiFi connection.
Then again, VeloReality frequently offers great deals on videos or grand tours, which you will also be able to download.
However, depending on your curiosity for new areas to “explore” around the world, this will quickly add up.
Trust me, I know 😂
If you compare them to Garmin, which I think is a fair comparison, I’d pick either of these two, any day.
The main reason – except for Bkool – is that I don’t like “on bike” video footage, single rider or let alone in group rides or races.
Bkool riders always show up top of the list on Strava segments – sometimes the entire top 25 is made up of Bkool-ers – but that’s probably saying more about the hardware than the software.
Speeding up the Alpe d’Huez at 40 kph is what we all dream of, generating 750 – 1000 Watts for an hour is what we all wish being capable of, but either is outside the scope of a human being…
Anyway, if you have any experience with any of them or wish to add to mine, please feel free to comment.
1) Yes, I also worked with Xert for about a year and I love what they’re doing and I’m certain it’s a great alternative to other/similar tools, but in the long run, it was also not helping me prepare for my “cycling holidays”, so I left. I never got around to writing a review, but there are plenty of those out there.
2) Rouvy has a smartphone app, which allows you to ride (challenges) outdoors if you connect a power meter (pedal, crank) to it. Even though that’s considered cheating by some, as outdoor Watts are obviously inferior to indoor Watts 🤷♂️)