Indoor cycling has never been more immersive with the exponential growth of interactive cycling apps. There are a few frontrunners when it comes to the best, and most cyclists have heard of both Zwift and Rouvy.
We’ve provided a general overview and comparison of both of these indoor cycling apps below. Not sure which one to commit to? Continue reading to find out the defining features of both Zwift and Rouvy to help you decide.
- 1 Indoor cycling apps compared
- 2 What is Zwift as an indoor cycling platform?
- 3 What is Rouvy?
- 4 Final takeaways for indoor cycling apps Zwift and Rouvy
- A helpful guide for troubleshooting the seven most common issues with Zwift
- The five best smart trainers for indoor all-season cycling!
- The ten best power meters for your road or mountain bike
- Our gift guide for the tech-obsessed cyclist
- The 5 best cycling cadence sensors for your bike
Indoor cycling apps compared
Let’s run through some of the details of the two largest platforms for the indoor cycling world.
What do you need to get started? Both platforms require you to have:
- A bike
- A trainer (either a smart “turbo” trainer or a standard trainer with speed/cadence sensor or power meter)
- Laptop, tablet, or smartTV
- Bluetooth and/or ANT+ dongle depending on what your sensors use
What is Zwift as an indoor cycling platform?
Zwift has largely been named the perfect blend of both a workout and a game. You’ll spend your miles on the bike as an avatar riding through virtual courses.
The virtual courses that you can choose from within Zwift are actually called “worlds.” These worlds are created entirely by computer graphics, even though some of them are based on real locations.
To date, Zwift’s worlds include:
- New York
- Richmond, Virginia
- Makuri Islands (fictional)
- Watopia (fictional)
Watopia is Zwift’s original world, and its courses are always available. The other worlds rotate depending on the day.
You can plan your rides based on location by using the calendar on the right side of your home screen. This keeps you in the know for which day hosts certain locations.
As an avid cyclist myself, and a fan of the Tour de France, it’s always fun for me when I get to ride through Paris, just as the official Peloton does on the final day of the race. The virtual graphics of a real-life Paris add an interesting twist, too.
Zwift training, racing, and points
There are four general riding options within Zwift’s indoor cycling world: group rides, group workouts, races, and solo training.
Group rides are the most realistic to an actual ride outdoors. There is typically a leader and a set pace for the group.
You can send brief messages, high-fives, etc., in such a way that mimics the social aspects of real life.
Group workouts have a more structured setup with interval and power training. Again, you’ll be with a group that sticks together for the entirety of the workout.
Zwift races are featured daily and fall into several different categories based on your power fitness level. This way, you can compete against other riders of a similar fitness level to yourself.
Solo Zwifting tends to be the option that I personally use the most. Every day there are thousands of other riders on Zwift at any given time.
You’re free to select a course and join in at any time you want. Even if you plan to just go for a casual solo ride, it’s still nice to see other riders with you on the course – doing their own thing.
And because Zwift is still part game, you can earn and win various advantages and points while you ride. Zwift offers “Powerups” that, for example, may make you “lightweight” for 15 seconds as you climb up a hill.
You can also earn “Experience Points” the more your ride within Zwift. These points allow you to get better riding kits, shoes, helmets, etc.
What does Zwift cost?
To date, Zwift costs you $14.99 per month in USD. You do get a 7-day free trial to check it out before committing.
You can pause this subscription during the nicer weather months and resume it again once the weather turns. I personally do this throughout the year and really appreciate that Zwift allows its user to do this.
What is Rouvy?
Rouvy obviously has many similar qualities to Zwift as an indoor cycling platform, but the most standout quality for Rouvy is its augmented reality experience.
Unlike Zwift’s virtual worlds, Rouvy has opted to create an augmented riding environment that lets you cycle real routes all around the world. Your avatar is still virtual, but the routes and scenery along the way are very much real.
Want to practice climbing the famous Mont Ventoux? Great! Select it and enjoy the real terrain and actual simulated gradient.
Many cyclists have used Rouvy to practice a particular ride before eventually going to it on location. It’s quite a unique training tool.
Rouvy routes and modes
Rouvy offers a Training Mode to select a specific route and work on your own personal record. You have the option to skip around the route or adjust various gradients for your own training purposes.
For these reasons, your data is not recorded on the overall leaderboard.
If you enter Time Trial Mode, you can ride the same route, but it remains exactly as it is in real life. You cannot make adjustments.
With the route remaining constant for all users, your results are entered onto the leaderboard.
Lastly, Rouvy offers an Event Mode where you can enter in official or non-official races. You can also use Event Mode to joint non-competitive group rides.
What does Rouvy cost?
There are three different subscription plans for Rouvy. To date, you can either pay $15 per month, $84 for six months, or $144 for 12 months.
The longer the time period you commit to, the cheaper Rouvy is. But honestly, the difference isn’t substantial, so you may be more inclined to do a month-by-month plan to give you more flexibility.
Final takeaways for indoor cycling apps Zwift and Rouvy
I think the biggest difference between the two is Zwift’s virtual riding experience compared to Rouvy’s augmented reality riding experience.
Both are great, and both serve similar but different purposes. I think it is truly a personal preference.
If you want the social aspect, Zwift should be your top choice. Zwift is a larger platform, and there are several million people registered with Zwift.
If you want an indoor cycling app that is going to help boost your training, then Rouvy is going to check those boxes because of its thousands of real-life routes.
Into more of the gaming aspect with earning advantages and points? Zwift all the way.
Both platforms are fun and interactive, depending on what you are looking for. We hope this highlights some of those defining features and makes your choice easier.
And if you’re still not quite sure, test out both platforms’ free trials before committing. What have you got to lose?