All The iOS Apps, Ranked (Spoiler Alert: We're #1!)

During the Northern Hemisphere’s outdoor season, I played around with the different virtual cycling and training apps available on iOS. Here are my rankings and notes about the various products. Why would I do this, when I already had The Sufferfest? Well, Suff came with my Kickr and it was the first app I’d ever used. Committing to it right off the bat would’ve been like marrying the first girl I ever kissed.

First, here’s my ranking of the “cycling simulator” apps:

Zwift
Rouvy AR
BitGym
KinoMap
BKool
RGT
FulGaz

And the training apps:

SYSTM
Peloton Digital
(Honorable Mention: FitBod. It’s a weightlifting app, so kind of a whole different thing. But I love it.)

And … all together, with notes:

SYSTM Really fun, and funny, training program (as opposed to cycling simulator). Great video. This is the only app that will teach you to improve your form. Excellent yoga that doesn’t require blocks and straps. Unique and very useful Mental Training Program grounded in legit performance psychology. Strength program, but more “strength for cyclists” than “let’s get huge.” Strong “excellence,” vice “wellness,” orientation. No front camera or Garmin watch connectivity, so not good for hotel gym Lifecycles or treadmills - must rely on RPE. Downloadable videos. Strava connectivity. Kickr integration. Terrific message board community - very supportive and offers a direct line to coaches, developers, and CEO.

Zwift Nice, gamey (SVGA-level), graphics. This avoids the uncanny valley effect I feel in Rouvy AR. Well-executed and compelling gamification with levels and customization. Very full world with many participants, some of whom I know IRL. This, too, is compelling. IPad takes over Airpods, keeping me from listening to my audiobook on my phone. Good treadmill program with Garmin watch connectivity. Requires internet connection. Strava connectivity. Kickr integration.

Rouvy AR SD video. Free, good treadmill program with Garmin watch connectivity. Strava connectivity. Doesn’t upload rides directly to Garmin. No sound effects. Selecting virtual training partners a crap shoot, since I don’t know what my time on a given course will be. Should allow me to sort by W/Kg or learn my riding style and automatically add virtual riders in my range. Nice visual representation of w/Kg in real time. Superimposed virtual rider does not improve my sense of immersion; actually, it distracts me. Kickr integration. Good PC interface. Downloadable videos. Wish it had a top-down map, like FulGaz. No training programs - just a straight-up bike simulator.

BitGym Beautiful video and nice interface. Structured workouts available. No notification of other people. Downloadable videos. No Strava connectivity. No Kickr integration. Small library of free runs and rides. Really nice stereophonic ambient sound - you can hear water running as you run by a stream, or crowd noises as you run through a tourist area: I like this a lot. Camera mode, so works in hotel gyms and on rowers & ellipticals.

KinoMap Similar to BitGym. Beautiful video and nice interface, with large fonts for older eyes. No AR overlay, but five other people on the course whom I could “race” via the leaderboard. Downloadable videos. Strava connectivity. No Kickr integration. Camera mode, so works in hotel gyms and on rowers & ellipticals.

BKool Premium for Strava & FTP Test. SD video. Real-world participants out there, but empty when I used it. Kickr integration.

Peloton Digital Good yoga. Don’t enjoy the runs and rides - I simply don’t care for the whole “spin class” thing. All those instructors shouting encouragement at me really pull me out of my headspace. No Strava connectivity. No Kickr integration.

RGT Sub-MFSX graphics. Empty, except during structured, event rides -of which there are many. Nice community on FB and a limited, free, option. Can’t get HR monitor to work. No structured workouts. Internet required. Kickr integration.

FulGaz HD video. Dizzying array of rides - hard to pick the right one. Video taken from bikes instead of motorcycles - bike shadows really help me feel “there.” Rides don’t come with screenshots in menu, so a bit of a crap shoot. Nice little “bike computer simulator,” but could use some drone shots or sound effects or something. Route selection menu locked up on third ride and wouldn’t function after several restarts. Frustrating - pressed for time that day. Tried deleting iPad app, then reinstalling. Now, it won’t let me log in at all, though I can log into the website on my PC. If not for this tech issue, FulGaz would be my #2 overall. Not social. Strava connectivity. Downloadable videos. Poor PC interface. Kickr integration.

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Hi Alex have you tried resetting your password for FulGaz or will it not let you even do that ? And Rouvy in January will start doing workouts on any rides as well

Hi Shaned,

I haven’t tried that. Instead, I thought, “That’s it for FulGaz. On to Rouvy.”

You should be able to go onto FulGaz.com scroll to bottom of the page where it says member login and instead of logging in just hit I forgot my password and see if that does the trick for getting into the app

There’s also an issue when you first load up FulGaz it asks if you will allow FulGaz to use your location. It might not have let you use it if you only said Allow Once ? So you might have to delete it, reinstall it and when it says Allow Once, Allow Only When Using App or Never Allow you need to pick Allow Only When Using App otherwise you probably won’t get it to work.

Thanks for the tips, Shaned.

Nice reviews. As a side note, if you get annoyed by your AirPods switching between devices as you touch them, you can toggle that behavior in the settings. Once connected, go to the AirPods and toggle off the “automatically connect” option (I forget the exact nomenclature, but there are only two options).

This will allow you to connect to the device you want and stay on it. You’ll want to toggle that setting on any device you don’t want to grab the connection automatically.

The option only shows up when you are connected, so be sure to do that first. :slight_smile:

Apologies if you already knew this. It drove me crazy until I found this setting.

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Hey, thanks! I didn’t know that!

Some work went into that review! In spite of the concerns voiced in the community, I won’t give up SYSTM/Sufferfest as the central app in my Pain Cave riding. I personally find Zwift too cluttered and I don’t like the virtual world, while I agree that the avatar that appears in Rouvy is kind of silly. The races I have done on RouvyAR were not really that enjoyable as so much of e-racing is just pushing out watts, a reason rowers do so well. I would rank FulGaz above RGT–at the time I looked into the latter, it required using two devices to get in.

For those looking to do scenery rides (and I do recommend the On Location ones with Mike Cotty on SYSTM), a very nice alternative is Biketheworld.com’s Open Road app, which has a very clean interface, has beautiful photography, and is quite inexpensive.

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I liked FulGaz too, but two show-stopping tech problems in ten days of a trial period were enough to get me to uninstall it. Open World looks nice. When I migrate from iOS to Mac later this year, I’ll play some of their YouTube videos over SYSTM’s no vid workouts. Thanks for the tip!

@AlexEllermann
Sir Alex, for nice scenery rides you could also check Bigringvr.
I’m using it again this winter as a “teaser” for next year.

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