Top 5 Indoor Cycling Apps

Top 5 Indoor Cycling Apps

An indoor cycling app is a software program for an indoor exercise bike or trainer. It makes indoor cycling more challenging and engaging while offering performance tracking and monitoring. Some apps build structured workouts so users can achieve specific goals. Others use virtual environments or augmented reality for users to ride and race famous locations, landscapes and courses. 
Often there’s also performance tracking and data gathering to help riders monitor their progress (or plateaus) by recording and comparing metrics like speeds, calorie burn, FTP, distance, etc.

Other indoor cycling apps offer live or on-demand cycling classes and interactive games for those who prefer doing cardio at home. Apps are a great way to supplement training or build a regular workout habit, and while there isn’t an overall ‘best app’, some apps are programmed better than others, and the trick is to pick the most suitable one for your specific goals or preferences. Take advantage of free trial periods before committing to a longer paid subscription.

Remember that these apps may require additional equipment. You may need a trainer. You’ll need an internet-connected TV or an electronic device like a tablet or mobile phone. You may also need a speed and cadence sensor or power meter to connect to the app and track performance. Bear in mind that most apps will require a monthly subscription. 

What are the benefits of using an indoor cycling app? 

Convenience

Nothing is more convenient than having a bike you can use at home.  At-home exercise means more flexibility, especially if you have small children or responsibilities competing with your free time. Outdoor riders may also find it more appealing and safer to bring a road bike inside and train in the warmth and the light during the winter months. Apps make riding indoors more convenient because they're instantly accessible. 

Motivation

Many apps have built large online communities. Several virtual platforms have in-app voice chat functions for messaging, and others allow users to create group rides and invite others to join. You’ll find that live cycling classes allow riders to communicate with one another and interact with the leaderboard as the instructor talks and responds to the class in real time. Riding can sometimes be a lonely experience, but connecting to a community or with specific friends or rivals can help make it more enjoyable. It can also make riders accountable for their workout plans when sharing their sessions or goals with others. Apps like Rouvy and Energym also offer rewards and incentives to riders. 

Progress Tracking

Most indoor cycling apps provide data about each completed session. This can then be compiled to show overall progress and can be useful in building-out training plans or setting goals and targets. It can be motivational, too, especially for people who use indoor cycling for weight loss, where physical changes may not be immediately noticeable.

Making things more interesting 

Consistency is key to any fitness regime, but exercising can become repetitive or dull. Cycling apps offer a wide range of workouts and provide a more engaging and, in some cases, gamified experience.

May be cheaper 

You may find that a monthly app subscription is less than you’d otherwise pay in the gym or studio. However, this may depend on whether you need additional equipment like an indoor bike or a trainer, sensors, or electronic devices.

 

What should you consider before subscribing to an indoor cycling app?

Compatibility

Ensure the app is compatible with your device and operating system and any additional hardware, such as heart rate monitors, sensors or power meters. 

Cost

Research is vital because there’s a wide variety of apps available and all at different price points. You may find that an app uses different pricing tiers, and a lower subscription may be a good place to start initially; check user reviews to see what others say, including whether they think it’s value for money and if the app has been well-designed or is glitchy. 

Why this one?

Ask yourself what you want from the app. You may want something other than enhanced performance tracking or access to live instructors. Maybe you want a realistic riding experience or just something pretty to look at as you’re peddling. Certain apps will handle specific features better than others. If you’re using reviews, make sure the comments you pay attention to align with your riding style or training plan, as the reviewer may have an entirely different understanding of what they think is an important feature.

Performance tracking 

Even if you’re not on a training plan understanding your progress is great for staying motivated and seeing how far you’ve come in your fitness journey. We’re not always the best judges of our own progress, so don’t underestimate how useful it can be to see just how far you’ve come, even if you don’t think you’re all that interested in the data. 

Phone screen with a welcome message about clean energy generation saying 'welcome Ohm'

 

5 Indoor Cycling Apps

 

Screenshot of a group of CGI riders in Zwift London

Zwift

Zwift is a virtual reality indoor cycling platform where users ride and compete against one another in real time. There are different virtual courses and routes to pick from, and users can track their progress, set goals and compete in events and challenges. You’ll need a subscription to use Zwift, but there are different membership tiers, so if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, then you can access the platform, albeit with some advanced features restricted.

Pros:

  • 7-day free trial 
  • Fun and immersive
  • Riding with or racing against real people
  • Massive online community of users
  • Beginner and professional-friendly

Cons:

  • Some subscribers argue that the user interface isn't great

 

Female athlete standing on the right of frame in a cropped black top

AARMY

If you’re looking for a high-intensity workout on a bike, then AARMY has a range of classes paired with great music and world-class fitness instructors. parade.com describes them as ‘not for the faint of heart’, so bear that in mind if you’re new to indoor classes. Their Train Now subscription means riders can access prerecorded classes with instructors and Bootcamp workouts too. Aarmy Live lets subscribers book a live class with an instructor. Riders can turn on their cameras for feedback and encouragement, just like in a real indoor cycling class. 

 

Pros:

  • 14-day free trial
  • A digital training platform that’s more than just cycling
  • Great high-intensity workout for anyone short on time
  • Option for on-demand or live instruction

Cons:

  • More expensive than other fitness apps 

 

Two men looking at a phone in a low-light gym

Wahoo SYSTM

Wahoo says that it uses ‘cutting-edge sports science to tailor your workouts automatically’. It does this in part by finding out your 4DP profile, which it argues is a better indicator of fitness and progress than FTP alone. You can read more about it on the Wahoo website, but the idea is that your 4DP profile gives you a much deeper insight into your training and helps develop a more accurate and personalised training plan. The System workouts also incorporate strength training and yoga into its library of workouts, as well as running and swimming for multi-sport athletes. The subscription package also includes Wahoo X RGT, which recreates some of the world’s ‘most iconic routes’. Riders can schedule rides with others and participate in races, time trials, training rides and more. 


Pros:

  • 14-day free trial
  • Advanced fitness test for better monitoring and tracking
  • Help with creating and building training plans
  • Inclusion of strength, yoga, running and swimming training

Cons:

  • Not always great at analysis

 

Female with a fitness tracking watch on her wrist

Trainer Road

This is a simpler training program that lacks the gamification we’ve discussed in the previous recommendations but makes up for it with science. Trainer Road has no virtual environments like Zwift or Wahoo to keep you occupied. Still, the real strength of this app is that it’s very heavily AI-based and is designed to make your goal achievable by what Cycling News calls leaning ‘on a huge amount of science, data and innovation as well as an enormous database of workouts to achieve it’. Users can pick from 100 training plans and 3,000+ workouts. There’s no free trial period, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:

  • Science and data-backed approach to cycling
  • Adaptive training builds a more personalised training programme
  • Simple to use interface

Cons:

  • Not as immersive or engaging as other apps

 

Man looking closely at a red bike in an apartment

 

Rouvy

Rouvy doesn’t create simulated virtual worlds like Zwift but instead uses recordings of real roads and routes and then uses augmented reality to create 3D riders, animating these over the top. Cycling Weekly says, ‘it’s a bit like riding through Google Street view’. There are around 10,000 workouts and ramp and FTP tests, and users can also upload their own ride videos to create custom routes or use Google Earth to create a virtual ride in places they haven’t ridden yet. Rouvy also gives away $20 000 in prizes and giveaways for subscribers.

Pros: 

  • 14-day free trial
  • Use of real-life video footage rather than a ‘cartoon’ environment
  • Chance to ride real event courses 

Cons:

  • Feels more solitary riding with Rouvy compared to Zwift

There are a lot of indoor cycling apps out there, so it’s a good idea to do your research before purchasing a subscription and taking advantage of free trials. There’s always an element of subjectivity in any top-5 list, so if none of the suggestions above has hit the spot, look into BKool, FulGaz, Peloton, GoldenCheetah, and VirtuPro. 

Also, in 2023 Energym is launching its own indoor cycling app offering on-demand classes, AI-generating workouts aligned to your progress and goals and more! While it’s been designed to pair with the electricity-generating RE:GEN, it will work with other bikes and trainers too. Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated with its release date. 

Female in a green-lit studio riding a RE:GEN bike

 

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