How to Choose the Right Platform for You
I live and coach in Southern Spain where we get on average 325 days of sunshine per year, so why would I train inside I hear you ask? I do love cycling in the mountains and along the coast by the sea but sometimes I simply don’t have the time.
So, if I want a quick cycling blast, I hop on my indoor trainer in my woman cave and get my workout done on either Zwift or Rouvy (I do use other training Apps but we will focus on these two today).
I can also ride with my remote athletes and have a virtual chat which is a good way to keep in contact and have fun doing so. Indoor bike training has witnessed a significant surge in popularity, especially with the advent of interactive virtual training platforms.
Two prominent players in this space are Rouvy and Zwift, each offering a unique set of features to enhance the indoor cycling experience. In this article, we’ll compare Rouvy and Zwift to help you make an informed decision based on your preferences and training goals.
1. User Interface and Graphics
Think of the user interface as the look and feel of the cycling App—how easy it is to use. Graphics, on the other hand, are all about the visuals during your virtual rides. It’s like the difference between a smooth, easy-to-read map and a colorful, immersive video game. It’s what makes your indoor cycling experience both user-friendly and visually enjoyable.
Zwift is renowned for its immersive and visually appealing graphics. The platform offers a virtual world that simulates real cycling environments, providing a dynamic and engaging experience. The graphics are vibrant, and the interface is user-friendly, making it easy for cyclists of all levels to navigate.
Rouvy, on the other hand, focuses on realism by utilizing augmented reality technology. It allows users to ride on real-world routes captured in high-definition video. While the graphics may not be as gamified as Zwift, Rouvy’s approach appeals to cyclists seeking a more authentic outdoor riding experience.
2. Training Plans and Workouts
Training plans and workouts are like your personalized fitness guides within the cycling app. In Zwift, it’s all about diverse and professionally crafted plans for all skill levels, adding a social twist with group rides and races.
On Rouvy, the focus shifts to replicating real-world routes, offering a unique training experience, especially if you prefer the feel of outdoor rides over structured plans.
Zwift boasts an extensive library of structured training plans and workouts designed by professional coaches. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced cyclist, Zwift’s training programs cater to various fitness levels and goals.
You can now join a group fitness session so you can share your pain with others! The platform also offers group rides and races, adding a competitive element to your indoor training.
The most well-known challenge is the Tour de Zwift which takes place in January every year and features stages like the Tour de France.
Rouvy places a strong emphasis on route-based training. The platform allows you to ride on a vast array of real-world routes, offering a unique training experience.
While it provides structured workouts, the focus is more on the simulation of outdoor rides and less on gamified training plans compared to Zwift.
3. Realism and Simulation
Realism and simulation make your indoor cycling feel like an outdoor adventure. Zwift achieves this through gamification, introducing power-ups and dynamic simulations that mimic outdoor terrains.
Rouvy takes a different route, using augmented reality with real video footage of outdoor routes and adjusting resistance to match the actual terrain. Both approaches aim to make your indoor ride as authentic and engaging as possible.
Zwift creates a gamified experience by introducing power-ups, challenges, and a social component that allows you to ride with friends or join group events.
The platform’s dynamic simulation adjusts resistance based on the virtual terrain, providing a more interactive and realistic feel. You have a garage that contains equipment and clothing you can earn and wear and customize your rider avatar.
Rouvy stands out with its augmented reality technology, offering real video footage of outdoor routes. The platform adjusts resistance to mimic the terrain, providing a lifelike feel.
Rouvy’s focus on replicating actual routes appeals to cyclists who enjoy the authenticity of outdoor rides. They concentrate on making hill climbs as real as they can so if you like a good mountain climb Rouvy may be for you.
4. Community and Social Features
Community and social features bring a social aspect to your indoor cycling, so you don’t need to train on your own, listening to music. This element of both apps could give you more motivation to train.
Zwift excels in creating a vibrant and active community. Cyclists can join group rides, races, or simply ride with friends in a virtual world. If you are a coach, you can set up a Zwift club and host your own group rides.
The social features, such as in-game messaging and events, enhance the overall interactive experience. The Zwift Companion App enables you to control your ride and chat with other athletes on Zwift easily plus give the all-important “Ride On!”.
While Rouvy offers social features like multiplayer mode and the ability to ride with friends, it may not be as socially immersive as Zwift.
The emphasis on replicating outdoor routes makes Rouvy an excellent choice for solo riders who prefer a more contemplative training experience.
In Rouvy, you can invite your friends to a group ride across the Alps, or join one of the many races if you feel like competing.
5. Price and Trial Periods
Most indoor cycling apps offer you the ability to pay monthly, pay annually, and offer a free trial period so you can try before you buy. Here’s how it works for Zwift and Rouvy.
- Price: £12.99 / $14.99 / €14.99 per month or £129.99 / $149.99 / €149.99 annually. If you just want to run on Zwift, it’s free. There is also a free option for children under 16.
- Free Trial: 14-days
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
- App: iOS, MAC, Windows, and Android (Apple TV via the Companion App)
- Price: $14.99 for one account, $19.99 for two accounts, and $32.99 for up to 5 accounts monthly.
- Free Trial: 14-days.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
- App: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, iPad, and Apple TV plus a Companion App
Choosing between Rouvy and Zwift ultimately depends on your preferences and training goals. If you seek a visually stimulating, gamified experience with a strong emphasis on structured training plans and a vibrant community, Zwift may be the ideal choice.
On the other hand, if you value realistic outdoor route simulation and augmented reality technology, Rouvy might better align with your preferences.
Consider your personal preferences, training objectives, and the type of cycling experience you desire when making your decision. Both platforms offer unique features that can elevate your indoor cycling training to new heights.
It’s also worth noting that you can run for free on Zwift and if you are feeling adventurous you can row on Zwift and you can find out how in the Facebook group I run. Zwift also has hardware like the Zwift Hub smart trainer, Zwift Play controller, and Zwift RunPod.
About the Author
Karen Parnell is a Level 3 British Triathlon and IRONMAN U Certified Coach, WOWSA Level 3 open water swimming coach, 80/20 Endurance Certified Coach, and NASM Personal Trainer and Sports Technology Writer.
Need a training plan? I have plans on TrainingPeaks and FinalSurge. I also coach a very small number of athletes one-on-one for all triathlon distances, open water swimming events, and running races, email me for details and availability. Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org
Banner photos by Kai Nehm