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.
My two earlier posts are here (last updated December 2017) and here (January 2019).
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Sadly, it is not, as the more responsive and customer driven Tacx culture has been replaced by that of Garmin’s own universe.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.
There are several other alternatives and I have mentioned a few in my original post(s), like Bkool and Kinomap, but other than Fulgaz, I have not really investigated any of them seriously.
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 🤷♂️)
8 thoughts on “Indoor Training Tools Update”
Hi Cyclopaat (OMG, you’re everywhere !?),
I like BigRingVR a lot, BUT this year, once again, they automatically renewed my subscription without my consent, in the sense that I subscribed to it in order to train on my HT during the 6 months of Winter (so, 6 months = $54), with the idea that I would not renew it for the season outdoors. But once again, I didn’t receive any notification a few days/weeks before the renewal and was only notified by Paypal after the subscription was renewed.
I HATE that behavior. At no point during the subscription process, they would ask you IF you want to automatically renew. So if you forget about it, not cancelling your current subscription before another one is committed, you’re stuck (and you pay) for another – useless – period.
Got trapped last year twice already (once for a 1 month renewal, once for a 6 months renewal), complained once again this year, and still got an answer telling me that it was my fault:
“The subscription is automatically renewed, this is in the terms of the service, as well as in the notification you receive when you purchase the subscription.
You know that perfectly well, as you seem to have the same “problem” every year – all you have to do is cancel subscription and it will not be automatically renewed – we can no longer spend resources to support “issues” related to your subscription that could be easily avoided.”
I HATE even more that kind of answer to a long time customer (posting 10-20 screen captures of my BigRingVR ride every day on my Strava account to try to support them and make my – rare – followers discover it).
So, I’m here to find an alternative for next year. Will try RGT (I think I did a couple of years ago but didn’t have any positive memory about it, hopefully they improved), but maybe even OneLap (cartoonish copy of Zwift)…
That does sound overly harsh, even if it would be (is) your own ‘mistake’.
I just canceled, never realized I would’ve been billed again. Also, even if it is in their T&C, they should send you a reminder or the ability to switch off auto-renewal.
I grew weary of their repeating challenges, but yes, it’s good value for money, though not the best.
RGT Cycling really has positively evolved. Took them a long time, but now it’s definitely worth a try.
And yes, I’m – or have been – everywhere 😂
There should be a checkbox on the subscription form to give the option to the client to automatically renew or not. Or at least, yes, they should send a reminder some time before the renewal, to inform their users that they can act now, depending on their choice.
I guess that most of BigRingVR users use it during the Winter seasons, and when the good weather comes back, they will finally ride outdoors. So, renewing a 6 months subscription should not be automatic. And yes, I’m probably partially faulty of not manually cancelling it, but you know, when you start a 6 months subscription to train during the Winter, it’s hard to remember, day after day, that you will need to cancel it before the final day of your subscription.
And even though, now I understand it, when you subscribe to BRVR, you have to immediately cancel it if you don’t want to automatically renew afterwards, again there should be a clear explanation on their subscription form informing the user about that procedure: “Dear user, if you don’t want to automatically renew your subscription, please, cancel it NOW. In this case, your subscription will run up to that date and will stop afterwards”.
And, thinking about the weather, I believe that they could also add an option to subscribe to shorter periods: sometimes, even during the Summer, you can have a few weeks of bad weather “forcing” you to train indoors. I would have been happy to subscribe for one week, here and there, when the weather forecast was bad enough. But I wouldn’t go for a one-month subscription if I know that I will only use it for 3-4 days.
In brief, in their last email:
“Please note that this is the last time we are going to make an exception and refund you the subscription fee because you forgot to cancel the subscription.
If you have a problem with the terms of BR subscription, perhaps it will be best if you don’t purchase it.”
So, I won’t use BigRingVR anymore.
I believe that their development team broke up at some point, and I think that this is the reason why their client support now sucks :-\ Well, if they can now do without their loyal clients and don’t want to spend some time to solve their problems, good luck to them.
It’s sad, because it was my favorite software to ride beautiful routes…
Will try RGT. Alas, I won’t ride “real” routes anymore :’-(
PS: nice blog BTW. Clear and simple, I like it.
I had no idea their support is – or at least: can be – that rude. They’ve been around for a while, but – obviously – I have no idea what the team behind it looks like.
Having had bad experiences with Rouvy, I tend to no longer actively get involved in anything. I only ever once contacted them on the – in my view – obvious opportunity of being “stronger together” and team up with TrainerDay coupled with intervals.icu, but I got luke warm – at best – responses.
Anyway, at least you got your refund and yes, like other platforms, they should work on their subscription model and include the option to pause from time to time, without cancelling…
I like the fact that all of the Fulgaz videos are filmed from bikes. The quality seems very good, they have a ton of them, and are adding more every week. I just feel that their Windows and Android apps aren’t ready for the prime time yet. Reading reviews of those app on their respective download sites, it appears that I’m not the only one that feels that way. I hope they get them worked out in the future.
Regarding RGT, I tried it back when it first came out and was underwhelmed. It sounds like they’ve come a long way since then. Perhaps I’ll give them another try sometime.
As I have previously – in one of the earlier posts – written, I really don’t like “on board” footage while training. I avoided Rouvy’s videos that were shot like that as well (unless needed for a challenge).
I don’t mind watching my own filmed descends, though 😂
And yes, as you can read, RGT have come a long way. In fact, I had given up on (checking on) them, until they popped up in my Strava feed.
I’ve been downloading the new VeloReality videos for use with my subscription. I don’t know if they share the link to the download page with everyone, but if you email me, I’d be happy to share it with you. One other thing to note about VeloReality is that the discount codes that they offer from time to time, can also be used for the purchase of subscriptions. Even though I’ve purchased hundreds of their videos, I got a three month subscription to ride the new rides for less than 20 bucks with a 40% off coupon.
Regarding Fulgaz, I’d like to hear more about your experience with it. It’s one I’ve tried really hard to like, but I haven’t had much luck with their Windows or Android apps. It sounds like their Mac and i apps work much better, but I’m not an Apple guy. Perhaps now that I have a much faster internet connection (Starlink), I’ll give them another try in the future. But, since I’d been downloading the videos, I don’t think the issues I had were due to my previously slow connection.
Cheers, John. The point about the discounts being used on the subscriptions is a good one.
As to the videos: I have close to 200 myself and now a 1080p (yearly) subscription. For the subscription – or BigRingVR for that matter – I don’t need to download anything as my internet (fiber) is fast enough.
I gave up on FulGaz back then and never returned, so I won’t have much meaningful info to share – I didn’t like it very much and it was quirky, to put it mildly.
Then again, RGT wasn’t progressing much for years and look where that is now 😎
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