SPECIAL OFFER: Objects In Motion Shimano 105Titanium Road Bike
Streets AheadWomens Waterproof Commuter Jacket
SPECIAL OFFER: Irons In The FireSteel Gravel Bike
Streets AheadWaterproof Commuter Jacket Black
Because It's ThereRed Adventure Long Sleeve Cycling Jacket
Bryter LayterWaterproof Jacket Yellow
Streets AheadWaterproof Commuter Jacket Navy
Test Your MettleWomens Polartec® Insulated Jacket Shadow Lime
Gimme ShelterWaterproof Gilet Navy
Test Your MettleWomens Polartec® Insulated Jacket Blue Ink
Zwift dominates the indoor cycling app landscape, but there are alternatives like Rouvy, which offer something different. Now snapping at Zwift’s heels is the Wahoo X platform though and it’s just added a whole range of new functionality. Here’s a look at what Zwift and Wahoo X offer to help you choose your best option if you’re wanting to ride hard indoors.
Where you ride on Zwift
Zwift has been the go-to training and racing platform for indoor cycling for over eight years and has concentrated on developing its app over that time. Zwift’s rise coincided with the development of smart trainers which can interact with the app to alter resistance to simulate climbs and descents. It’s estimated that there are more than half a million Zwift users.
Gradually there as been more roads and new functionality added to its Watopia training “world”, so you can ride through the Mayan jungle or on a sand trail on a Southern Japanese island.
Zwift also offers you real courses like the World Championships course in Yorkshire and the Alpe de Zwift, a simulation of riding Alpe d’Huez, perhaps the most famous cycling climb of all.
It is progressively adding to its range of roads you can ride, so there should be plenty to keep you interested going forward. But on any day, only two additional training worlds are available in addition to Watopia, so you’ll need to choose your day if you want to ride around Paris, for example.
Zwift includes simulated real world features too. There’s an advantage in drafting another rider or sticking in a group, for example.
Wahoo X’s alternative
In contrast, Wahoo focussed on the development of smart trainer hardware and so its expertise was complementary to Zwift and each benefitted from developments in the other. (It’s worth mentioning that Zwift has recently entered the hardware arena with its own smart trainer).
That changed when Wahoo bought The Sufferfest, a suite of cycling training apps and content, which it rebranded Wahoo Systm. More recently it’s added the RGT cycling game to its portfolio. It’s packaged Wahoo Systm and Wahoo RGT together under its Wahoo X training environment.
Wahoo X gives Wahoo an offering that rivals Zwift. Wahoo Systm has an extensive suite of workouts, while Wahoo RGT offers racing and riding on simulated routes. As yet, they’re not that closely integrated though and have separate apps, so in reality you can choose to use one or the other Wahoo X app, dependent on which appeals more to you.
Wahoo RGT offers 13 simulations of real roads in places as diverse as Berlin and the Southern California desert. It’s just added its first off-road MBT/gravel route in Dunoon, Scotland.
Wahoo RGT’s unique feature is its Magic Roads though. This functionality lets you upload a GPX file of a route anywhere in the world, which Wahoo RGT will convert into a course for you to ride. The scenery will be simulated, but the gradients and turns will be the same as in the real world.
That means that you can ride through a sportive course, a race or just somewhere that you’ve always wanted to ride like a big climb in the Alps. Wahoo says that this feature is used by some pro teams to train for events, including perfecting their strategy for team time trials.
Wahoo RGT prides itself too on its physics simulation. In the real world, it points out, you can’t take a corner at 65kph without something nasty happening and it’s the same on Wahoo RGT. There’s also advantage in drafting, just like in the real world and you can’t ride through someone. There’s added resistance on off-road singletrack sections of the Dunoon course and if you get stuck behind someone you’ll need to put out extra effort to pass them.
The Wahoo Systm environment offers not just the original Sufferfest workout videos, but additional content like following a pro rider for a week, race video from inside the pro peloton and cycling documentaries. You can also enjoy guided rides on famous cycling routes or take a class with a GCN presenter.
Zwift is very focused on racing - it’s the only platform with the chance of a contract to turn pro via its annual Zwift Academy competition. Previous winners have included Jay Vine who won two stages and led the King of the Mountains competition at the 2022 Vuelta a España before he crashed out. Zwift is also hosting the 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships.
There are also events under the Zwift Racing League, which gives you a monthly schedule of races and events for individuals and teams. Zwift claims that over 15,000 riders take part each month. Zwift also offers ZRacing, which are shorter races which are always on and are designed so that you can warm up, race and warm down all in under an hour.
There’s racing on Wahoo RGT too, with a schedule of events and like Zwift you can also create your own race event for other riders to join. It’s hosting five national indoor racing championships this year. You can also create elimination races, team time trials and non-competitive group ride events.
Both platforms let you race against bots as well as real people. Zwift has been developing its PacePartners functionality for a while. These are bots that you can follow to ensure that you keep the tempo you’ve planned or on a group ride.
You can also race against an avatar that replicates your previous best performance on a route, allowing you to compete against yourself to improve your times. Zwift includes Strava segments on its roads and you can link your Zwift and Strava accounts to automatically upload your rides to Strava.
Although there are training options in Wahoo RGT, letting you follow a routine on its virtual roads, Wahoo X’s training offering is concentrated in the Wahoo Systm part of the platform, which was formerly The Sufferfest.
Wahoo says that it has over 750 workout options developed by its sports science team.
With Zwift, training is built into the environment. There are loads of training plans available, or you can build your own. Zwift’s plans are based on your FTP value and watts/kg, so you’ll ideally need a power meter, although it can estimate your power output otherwise. It’s recently reorganised its interface to make it easier to find a workout to meet your goals.
Wahoo X meanwhile bases its training around what it calls 4DP, which it claims is a more balanced measure than FTP as it takes into account the period over which you can deliver power, which can be very different for different riders. Wahoo X’s training plans are designed around this to allow you to work on your weaknesses and/or develop your strengths. Like Zwift, there’s a workout builder if you want to follow your own plan.
Wahoo has also integrated its training with its Elemnt computer platform, allowing you to take a pre-planned workout outdoors rather than being tied to the turbo and it will give you a holistic view across both indoor and outdoor training.
The Wahoo SYSTM side of Wahoo X includes training plans for running, swimming, strength and mental strength as well as yoga, so you’re not confined to cycling.
One big draw of using Zwift or Wahoo X over just following a routine alone in your garage is the opportunity to make it social. An advantage of Zwift’s rotating availability of its worlds is that riders aren’t spread out too thinly so you’re more likely to find someone to ride with.
On both platforms you can invite others to ride with you, set up events or join pre-scheduled events or workouts. There’s group text chat on Zwift, but Wahoo X has now gone one up and offers voice chat channels while you ride. It means that you can chat with everyone on the same road as you, but you can also limit chat to other riders in a breakaway. Chat can also be used in directeur sportif mode to give instructions to a team in a race, or for group workouts.
Both platforms support a range of hardware. It helps to have a smart trainer, but you can ride without one. You can run Zwift and Wahoo X software on a range of devices from a smartphone or Apple TV up to a computer or tablet. It helps to have up-to-date hardware, but both will run adequately on older systems.
Wahoo RGT has dropped the need for two pieces of software, so you only need to download the app once, although it’s still not unified with the Wahoo Systm side, so you’ll need to download that separately. In contrast, Zwift is a single unified platform.
There’s actually no difference in price between Wahoo X and Zwift, both costing $14.99 a month. Both give you a free trial period too, so you can get to see what’s in the package and make a choice of which to join.
Wahoo X also gives you a free tier. Although that unlocks limited functionality, you can still ride a selection of real roads and participate in events that others have organised.
So which should you choose?
Both Wahoo and Zwift are compelling options to keep your indoor training and racing interesting. Zwift is the more integrated package, giving you everything in the same environment, whereas with Wahoo X you’re going to have to pick and choose between Systm and RGT depending on where your interests lie.
Zwift is still the leader when it comes to racing, with more competitors and more events, although there’s also plenty of competition to keep you occupied on Wahoo RGT.
Where Wahoo X scores is in its Real Roads feature on Wahoo RGT, which allows you to ride where you want and experience new routes outwith the pre-defined training environment. That’s a great option if you want to train for the challenges of a specific course or event or just want to ride a favourite local route indoors on a dark evening. Wahoo Systm’s suite of masochistic training content might be a draw for some people too.