8 indoor bike training software options: overviews and interviews | EP#157
Short-form interviews with the major and up-and-coming indoor bike training software platforms and apps. Each company gets to pitch their product, describe the main features and benefits they offer, and explain what makes them unique and stand out among the competition. This episode will help you decide which platform is right for your winter bike training. Being stuck inside can be both fun and effective!
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In this Episode you'll learn about:
- PerfPro Studio
What is indoor bike training software
- Indoor bike training software is either software or an app that you can use on your computer, mobile phone or tablet, while actually training on your indoor bike trainer.
- There will be some form of communication between your devices such as your trainer, your power meter, your cadence sensor and the app/software.
This is either so the app can control the resistance, or so you can see how fast you're going/how much power you're putting out on the screen.
- As with last week's interviews, I have not used all of these platforms myself but I wanted to show what different options are out there.
- Don't spend too much time in research mode - use the free trials to test out and see what works for you!
- Any of these platforms will allow you to execute a training plan, whilst in a virtual world.
What are the best features of Xert?
- Xert is a front to back training system, so it moves beyond a training software.
We have a smart training platform that uses your bike or your running power metre to allow you to self-coach, and to reach your fitness goals.
- The software constantly adjusts to your needs, your event, and what you are ready for on that day.
If you miss a day of training, the software will adjust and present a differently workout appropriately.
Similarly it will adjust if you do too much on a particular day.
- It removes the need for a set type testing as it readjusts based on your fitness.
- Additionally, the intervals themselves will adjust as you do them.
- For training planning we have the Xert adaptive training advisor, which takes you up to 120 days out from an event.
The first 45 days are build as a periodised training period, the second 45 days is a build period, and the final 30 days form a peak training phase.
Every day you're presented with a range of suggested workouts depending on what phase of training you're in, and what you are ready for.
- We model fitness from 1-5 stars, so for example if you're at a fitness of 2 stars, it won't recommend a 4 star workout because you won't have a good chance of finishing it.
It will give you a workout that is hard, but not too hard for you.
- We model fitness based on three parameters: your threshold power, your high intensity energy (similar to anaerobic work capacity) and your peak power.
You may be a very sprint strong rider, so it will adapt an individual workout to your unique characteristics.
- Every day you get a range of recommended workouts and you can just pick one, but you can also choose your own workout.
- In terms of executing the workout, you can choose to run it on your Garmin or your smart trainer.
Another option is to run things through the Xert website itself, so you don't need a Garmin head unit.
You can also run it from an iOS or Android app that can control your smart trainer.
- If you really enjoy Zwift, we have a direct workout import model into Zwift.
You can select an individual workout on Xert, export it as a ZWO file and then it will open up directly as a custom workout on Zwift itself.
- If you have a power meter, you can use the software outside through your Android or iOS app.
Minimum equipment needed for Xert
- A power meter or a smart trainer, and either an iOS or Android phone.
Xert training log
- We have the capacity for running and other sports integration, but it's somewhat rudimentary right now.
You need to include the data of how long the workout was and what kind of training it was in terms of focus.
- It will then be incorporated into the overall training software, and also all the modelling we do in terms of fatigue level etc for planning workouts.
- We are working towards being independent of power - we would like to expand modelling to things like heart rate and other variables so you aren't restricted to having a power meter.
Who is Xert ideally suited for?
- It works very well for various kinds of triathletes. If you're a short course, drafting allowed athlete the cycling is very analogous to road racing which is suited to Xert and the workouts we have.
- Even for a long course triathletes, there's a huge value because we have the ability for you to look at your fatigue model live on Garmin as you're in an event.
It allows you to model how hard you can go at different times on the bike.
- For example, if you're in the middle of a long course triathlon and there's a hill, we have the ability to see live how fatigued you are and therefore how hard you can go.
Cost and free trials
- Xert offers a 30-day free trial where you can upload all of your data and analyse it.
- Xert has a two tier model:
$10/month if you bill monthly
$100/year if you bill annually.
- We do have a free model that allows you to analyse up to 1 workout a week.
To find out more
What are the best features of Sufferfest?
- Sufferfest is the most comprehensive platform available for cyclists and triathletes.
- We partner with Neil Henderson and his crew at Apex Coaching in Boulder, Colorado to use their sport science and make it available to anyone with an internet connection and a turbo trainer.
Neil is the coach of Flora Duffy & Cameron Dye, among many others.
- We have cycling workouts, mental toughness training, yoga for cyclists and triathletes and we're releasing strength training in November 18.
- Our philosophy is that a training programme should be integrated into one plan.
We work with top level coaches to create integrative plans. We have plans for cycling (road, cyclocross, mountain bike), triathlon (olympic, sprint, half Ironman & full Ironman).
- Our four dimensional power platform also distinguishes us from other platforms.
It's a one hour testing protocol that measures FTP, neuromuscular power, maximal aerobic power, functional threshold power & your anaerobic capacity.
It gives a complete power profile of an athlete, showing how you produce power across each metric.
- The app will then tailor all of the power targets in the workouts to match your unique profile.
Two athletes could have the same FTP but vastly different MAP or AC, so they'll get completely different workouts even though it's the same session.
This ensures that you're working at the correct intensity to get stronger.
- This is relevant to triathletes as they tend to assume they need to train steady state, which is not the case.
Neil has found in his research that if you don't train the other aspects of how you produce power, particularly maximal aerobic power, it acts as a ceiling on your FTP.
If you're not doing high intensity training your FTP will not improve.
- We offer workouts tailored to your complete power profile which is beneficial to all levels.
- Workouts are typically at or above FTP - athletes have different percentages of maximal aerobic power and it's typically super threshold efforts that result in a significant difference.
Two athletes with the same FTP - one is a sprinter, and one may be able to handle repeated efforts. Workouts that are based on % of FTP won't provide effective training stimulus to both these athletes.
- The mental training is typically two sessions a week. They are audio modules with a workbook that you complete exercises.
They take about 10-15 minutes per day.
- The strength training is a progressive body weight based circuit programme, designed specifically to improve performance on the bike.
It's a progression that covers about 24 weeks.
At the start it's 2 sessions per week and they are 12 minutes long. As you go through the longest session is 45 minutes.
Why should you switch to Sufferfest?
- Our unique offering is that we provide everything you need to get stronger, tougher and faster in one platform.
It's integrated into one training plan so you don't have to think, you just need to do the work.
- The personalised nature of it is also great - we look at the totality of who you are as an athlete and tailor your plan accordingly.
What type of athlete is Sufferfest ideally suited for?
- Our users run the gamet from amateur enthusiast all the way up to professional athlete - for example Cameron Dye uses the programme.
- We're geared towards the time-crunched athletes - our workouts are designed to get maximum benefit in minimum time.
The yoga sessions are 15 minutes and the mental training and strength training are designed to take as little out of your week as possible.
Price & free trials
- We offer a 7-day free trial.
- Our monthly subscription is $12.99, and our annual subscription is $99/year (which is $8.25/month).
To find out more
What are the best features of Rouvy?
- Rouvy is the indoor cycling software with a focus on variety.
- You need an indoor trainer, bike and Rouvy, and we control the indoor trainer based on a GPS elevator profile.
- You will ride a stage from the Tour de France almost as if it's real - we're trying to bring the outside indoors.
- We offer structured workouts, and you can synchronise your own workouts from TrainingPeaks and other software.
- For this indoor season we have lots of new improvements to the platform as we'll be rolling out augmented reality.
- At the moment we use video from GoPro cameras, but the augmented reality we process the video frame by frame and based on each frame, we built the 3D world around it.
After this we can combine 2D video of the route with 3D objects and riders.
We can place the rider into the video, and you will see when competitors are passing you etc.
- Also we work hard to eliminate the bouncing videos in the slower speed areas of the virtual ride. The final effect should be great video.
- In December 2018, we plan to release the beta version of the new online races.
We will combine the augmented roads with online riding so you can ride against your friends online, but on real roads.
What should an athlete switch to Rouvy?
- We really believe that Rouvy is the unique mix of the indoor cycling software, and the high tech features like augmented roads and video synching.
- It's the simulation of the outdoors, inside.
- If you like European roads, you can ride it from home and enjoy it with your friends.
What type of athlete is Rouvy ideally suited for?
- There is no limit, but we expect cyclists and triathletes.
- Cycling is painful though, so don't expect some cheats! If you want to ride uphill, you'll be sweating a lot.
The platform is great for everybody who wants to ride indoors, like the outdoors.
- In general we support all major brands of smart trainer or turbo trainers.
We recommend a smart trainer as we can control the resistance. If you have a classic trainer you need a speed sensor/power meter.
Prices & trials
- We have a 14-day free trial.
- Rouvy standard subscription is $7/month.
- Rouvy premium subscription is $10/month.
Premium offers the premium roads, family sharing and other benefits.
To find out more
What are the best features of Fulgaz?
- At Fulgaz our mission is to recreate great rides around the world as realistically as possible.
- We do this with 4K video, our own unique technology to process all the ride data, and lots of sophisticated training control to make it feel more real.
- We try and package this all up into an app that's easy to use.
- We try to find rides and get them recorded, so we can closely recreate it and make the indoor training benefit more specific.
- Our footage is all filmed on bikes, therefore it can be down gravel tracks/in the middle of fondo's, and it's going at the right speed.
It's also carefully curated to ensure the data is in time with the video.
The skill level and technology level needed to get that right is high end.
- Everything that has been filmed in the last year is 4K, the year before that it was 1080. Even if you don't have a 4K TV, it still looks a lot better on a smaller screen,
- Our library has about 400 rides, and we currently have around 100 that we're processing and will get online during the winter.
The shortest one is a hill loop that's three minutes, and the longest is the entire Kona Ironman bike course.
What sort of athlete is perfectly suited to Fulgaz?
- For some people it's the only thing they use indoors and they like that escapism.
- Some people use it for their easier training, and some use it for just their hill training.
- One of our users, Patrick Jonka, used to race the Tour de France a lot, and he still goes and does Tour de France trips and he gets fit for that riding these roads on Fulgaz.
- The software synchs with the gradient, but the video also speeds up and slows down based on your effort.
Prices and trials
- We offer a 2-week free trial which has unlimited access.
- Monthly it costs $9.90, but there's a discount if you buy a year at a time.
- The software is only available on iOS and Apple TV.
To find out more
- Download the app from the iOS store, or Apple TV.
This platform allows you to set up group workouts in a studio, which is a pretty unique feature!
What are the best features of PerfPro Studio?
- PerfPro Studio provides workouts for home use and commercial use, using all different types of trainers including bike trainers, treadmills, indoors rowers etc.
- These can all be mix and matched together - for example to set up a brick workout.
- The primary method of communication with the equipment is ANT+.
If you have the typical ANT+ devices such as a Garmin, they can be picked up by the software.
- With home use, you can set how many of each type of trainer you have and use these in workouts. You can then train with friends and all get a great workout from it.
- There are about 60 workouts that come with the trial package, and licensed users have access to around 5,000 workouts.
- There is also a schedule calendar which is similar to a training plan. You can download these and they're often build by coaches.
- Most of the libraries have levels set up (e.g. beginner, intermediate, expert etc)
- You can contact us for support if you need more information, and often contact the coaches who have designed the plans for the system.
- A key feature of PerfPro Studio is the high flexibility of the data it provides.
It goes beyond typical power, heart rate, speed etc.
- If you're into things like normalised power, and other complex metrics, you can get these easily. through the software as you're working out.
- If you want to dig into other metrics such as critical power, the software makes it easy for you to do that.
What you can then do with critical power is use it to pace yourself more accurately.
- Port workout there is analytical software in place so it can do a lot of analysis after, and push the data to sites such as TrainingPeaks, Strava, Ride with GPS etc.
- It can also take the data and measure how much stress you're putting in and give you a stress balance.
You can have these reports emailed to you. If you're running a studio you can have the emails sent straight to the clients immediately after the workout.
- The analyser also does a good job of doing athlete administration, so as a coach you can analyse your athletes easily and it saves you time.
- The data can also be linked on the web so multiple locations can share the same data.
- When you're doing workouts you'll see lots of live data with interactive graphing.
A lot of people will sync up with videos from other platforms, and then PerfPro provides the stats.
- You have different modes available in PerfPro - for example in course mode you can ride one of around 700 courses we have available for download.
You could also ride outside, record it and bring it in and ride it indoors next time using the data.
- You can also use the software to do a workout outside if you prefer.
Who is PerfPro Studio ideally suited for?
- Anybody really! The range is really wide.
- Being a data geek with years of triathlon racing, I think the software works well for people who like data.
However, you don't have to go there if you don't want too, and you can use the data with your coach if preferred.
- I think it hits everybody's needs, it's just dependent on whether you enjoy the interface.
Prices & trials
- There is a 2-week free trial for any level.
- The home use license is $99 (one time fee).
- The studio use license increases based on the number of people that want to train at the same time - there is a 6, 8, 12 and unlimited rider license.
To find out more
What are the best features of RoadGrandTours?
- RoadGrandTours is a free and open cycling simulator.
- It has a couple of goals:
Firstly, to bring the best experience to anybody using the platform, and transform people to the live cycling roads.
Secondly, to be as accessible as possible to everybody.
- The software allows you to ride well known roads that mean a lot to cyclists such as Mont Ventoux, Stelvio Pass, Cap de Formenter.
We are hoping to add more of these in time.
- The graphics are realistic and we aim to make people feel like they are riding on these roads.
- There is also a social element as when you see other cyclists on the road you can chat to them and draft with them.
- We have just launched races which the community can organise and participate in. You can invite your friends via Facebook to races you create in the software.
- We also do Strava segments, and make them feel like mini races as we have a start and end gate on the videos.
We will soon have people cheering you on too!
- We want anybody that wants to organise events in the virtual space to have the ability to do that.
- For example, we want to be able to hold Fondos indoors, and give the organisers the ability to reproduce their event and hold it multiple times per year to people all over the world.
Why should you switch to RoadGrandTours?
- From the beginning, from installing your devices, we aim to make it as simple and intuitive as possible.
- The graphics are good and we're always making them better and as close to the real thing.
- The physics are also really good, and we try to keep it as close to real life cycling as possible. It should be the same effort in the virtual climbs as on the real ones.
- The drafting is a work in progress but it's pretty realistic in training.
- Also we break into corners, and the feeling of moving round athletes is very realistic.
What is the minimum equipment required?
- You need either a smart trainer or a power meter to connect to the software. You also need an ANT+ dongle to connect devices, and a PC or Mac to run the application.
- In the future we are aiming to make it simpler, and we're working on a mobile app so you will be able to connect your devices via bluetooth.
We hope to make it accessible across iOS, Android etc.
- We will implement the virtual power idea soon, but it's only going to be used for riding around and not for the races as we don't feel it's accurate enough.
Prices & trials
- It doesn't cost anything!
- The whole idea is to make it as accessible as possible to everyone, so we felt it was necessary to make it free to access.
- We're hoping the community can take it and build on it, similar to Android, and it will lead to a lot of content development.
There will be free bikes and monetised bikes, free helmets and monetised helmets etc.
To find out more
What are the best features of Zwift?
- Zwift is a multiplayer training and racing platform for cyclists, triathletes and runners.
- It combines the gamification and the graphics of a video game, with the opportunity to do serious and effective training.
There is also a highly competitive racing environment.
- Zwift has a large and engaged community, it's a very social platform and at any time there will be thousands of other athletes using the platform with you.
- There are 5 worlds now available in Zwift:
Watopia, which is an imaginary island with several thousand metres of climbing options or flat courses.
Also a New York, Innsbruck, Richmond and London.
- There are also several different ways to interact with Zwift:
Doing a long ride alone similar to being outside
A structured workout alone or in a group environment. In groups everybody stays together as long as you're doing similar effort (in terms of % of FTP)
Races within the virtual world.
- We did a group workout with Lionel Sanders last year, we put it into Zwift and 330 people were able to do it with him at the same time. He was doing 400 watts when everyone else was doing 200-300 but everybody rides together.
Lionel was concerned it would impact his progress negatively having to ride with others, but he reported after that it was the best workout he did last winter as he got so motivated from the others.
- The racing is as true to life as you can get indoors.
There are drafting algorithms that replicate sitting in a pack or riding off the front.
We have some top semi-pro cyclists using the platform for their racing across the year.
- Some triathletes love the racing element as you can push yourself to new limits, it's a slightly different training involving high intensity intervals and then rest.
There's very little steady state training in the race.
- You can also use structured workouts, and have fun at the same time!
- Zwift has about 50 of the worlds top triathletes using the platform, and the feedback from them is that it's making them faster.
Jan Frodeno started using the platform in January, and he's ridden over 10,000km in Zwift since then. He wouldn't be riding on Zwift if he didn't find it effective.
- We're working more with world class coaches who are able to integrate their training plans into Zwift.
- We have some stand alone training workouts in a library, as well as training plans.
- Coaches can also provide training plans in programmes such as TrainingPeaks, and if the athletes Zwift account is connected it'll show up straight in there.
Why should you switch to Zwift?
- Zwift has an incredibly engaged community. You're never alone working out on Zwift, which we think makes it so compelling.
Price & trials
- There is a 7-day free trial.
- Zwift costs $15/month.
To find out more
- TrainerRoad have their own podcast: Ask a cycling coach podcast, which is well worth a listen!
- There are recent episodes recorded in Kona interviewing triathletes who used TrainerRoad to achieve their goals.
What are the best features of TrainerRoad?
- We make cyclists faster!
- If you want to use science and structure to become as fast as possible, as efficiently as possible in the least amount of time, TrainerRoad is for you.
- We do this through structured workouts, training plans and analytics programme which is on iOS, Android, Mac and PC.
- We focus on power based cycling and training - having a power meter on your bike which allows you to be objective about your training.
- There is now a lot of science about what power you should train at, what length your intervals and rest should be, and how you should build your season to peak for an event.
We package all that science and put it in an easy to use platform.
- We have a workout player, which is an app, and you sign up and do a ramp test. This gives you approximately what your FTP should be.
We then structure all of your workouts to your fitness level.
- Depending what type of rider you are, we'll have you work on different energy systems.
- We're all about progressive load - starting slower and building up.
- This has been the core of our brand, but we've recently launched two other parts.
- One if performance analytics which is a programme to analyse your workouts.
We try and give you everything you need but nothing you don't need in terms of metrics.
- One unique aspect is personal records, and inside that we have seasons.
Instead of just personal records such as 1 minute power, 5 minute power etc, we do it by second.
for example if you do a half Ironman bike in 2 hours 34 minutes, this can be recorded exactly.
- With seasons, you can plan in when you want to start and peak, and compare it to other 'seasons'.
You can then check if you're reaching the right power targets.
- The second part we launched was a training calendar.
It syncs all your workouts from Garmin and Strava. You can also plan other workouts such as running, swimming or strength sessions.
- You can do everything you'd expect to do in a calendar, but also mark certain events as racing and see your training stress score evolve.
- You can do annotations, where you note things about the day/week etc such as 'I was unwell this week'.
- Right now you have to mark run and swim sessions as complete, and type in your TSS, but we're working on making this able to pull them in automatically.
- We also have triathlon plans that have runs and swims built in which you can put on your calendar.
- In a couple of weeks we will have individual training stress data for each discipline, which you can compare to previous time periods.
Cycling software in TrainerRoad
- We follow a base build and specialty idea. You work on your base for 12 weeks, then your build, then your specialty.
- For triathletes we have sprint, Olympic and Ironman training plans for each of these parts of the season.
You pick how much volume you can take (e.g. 6 hours, 8-10 hours), and then you adjust the plan in your calendar.
- We have a tool coming out where you pick your A event, and we put in the blocks for you.
- A lot of tools we're building in the future are about how we can be more reactive to the person, and adjust the training based on what happens.
We don't want to the person to have to become a data scientist, we want the system to tell them what to do.
What does it look like when you follow a structured workout?
- This is a key difference between us and other platforms: our interface is designed to be very simple.
- There's research around cognitive load that suggests the more you have to think when you're working out, the higher the RPE is.
Due to this, the workout system is basic: you see your power, target power, heart rate, cadence and a graph that shows a time based workout where you try to hit targets.
We give people cadence drills, instructions and motivational texts throughout it.
- Depending on the intensity of the ride, you can do different things for entertainment:
If it's a recovery or aerobic ride, you could watch TV.
Once you get into the sweet spot, or above, you can maybe watch cyclocross races or other cycling videos.
Higher than that, you should listen to up tempo music. There's research that shows this can reduce your RPE.
- We don't do entertainment because we think the entertainment industry will always beat us. Between YouTube, Netflix, Hulu etc, they're great!
Once you need the entertainment, music has been shown to be the best anyway.
Why should someone switch to TrainerRoad?
- If you look at our forum, you can ask the question there and see what others who use the platform think.
- Our platform is known to make cyclists faster. If you want to feel entertained or feel like you worked hard, you can use other platforms.
We only care about you doing more watts at a higher level and peaking for your events.
Prices & trials
- TrainerRoad costs $15/month or $129/year.
- We have a 30 day money back guarantee - so you can free trial it for 30 days.
To find out more
Links, resources and contact
Links and resources mentioned
Connect with host Mikael Eriksson
Hi! I'm your host Mikael,
I am a full-time triathlon coach and an ambitious age-group triathlete. My goal is podium at the Finnish national championships within the next few years.
I first started the website Scientific Triathlon in autumn 2015 as a passion project to share my learnings with a larger triathlon audience. Later on, in early 2017 I started the podcast That Triathlon Show.
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