So after all of one day, I thought I’d share my initial impressions and experiences. Not sure whether I should have made this a support ticket or forum entry, but I’ll start here.
First try of the new app yesterday, as part of my regularly scheduled plan. I saw some issues from a tech side of things. I was unable to load videos, but that looks well covered elsewhere. To do strength I downloaded the video and that worked well. I guess this is something to keep an eye on for improvements as load lowers or capacity is scaled, if that’s what it was.
For the strength workouts, when looking in the app it didn’t list the needed equipment clearly. The previous descriptions had a really simple listing at the top and this appears to have been lost. Having it helps prep and gets you ready to work faster.
Cycling - using an iPad running iOS 14:
First time I attempted the video, the timers never started or loaded in properly. My first interval was 0:00m long, time riding stayed at 0:00 and total time for the video didn’t decrease, although distance was climbing up.
I wasn’t keen on the new floating display for the power and stats at the bottom of the screen. Adding too many and they push off either side of the screen, and cover the interval and total time remaining. With no borders around the displays, the power/cadence up/down bars don’t have a clear termination point, so it’s more of a surprise when the changes kick in. Although this might be an issue only because the video didn’t load in. Similarly, when tapping the display I couldn’t see the battery state or time, as they appeared to be black on black for some reason. Again, could be because of no video loading in, but it would then potentially be an issue on no-vids too.
Whilst cycling, I felt some odd power changes in the trainer (Kickr Core). At the same cadence, and supposedly the same power, it occasionally felt like there was a resistance increase in the trainer. Not a sudden one, but a small and constant increase for about half a second, before decreasing back down again. Smooth rather than sudden.
After finished workouts, the calendar was slow to update, there’s no refresh button there anymore, and I had to flick the app out and reload it to see the workout get matched up to the planned session (from which I started the workout).
The calendar looks to be a big improvement, and I like it. deleting individual workouts is good (not that I should, I know, but if deciding to change plans it lets me delete future ones without deleting an entire plan). I do miss the colour-coding from the old calendar though, it made things easier to see.
Similarly, the more modern styling of the app looks great.
So all of the above issues I think are teething technical issues with the shift to the new app, which should be congratulated. It broadens availability, and could bring more people onto the platform.
This also brings about my biggest concern, and that is the slow and steady removal of Sufferfest as a brand, and the affectations in the videos and training plan that made it what it is. The branding was the unique selling point. It was different to every other training system out there. Swift has group rides and gamification in a different way, and TrainerRoad is pure business.
So Sufferfest had a very silly, but fun, story behind it. It allowed a bit of escapism in the training. I feel like this is a large part of what enabled me to get through some workouts and push myself harder. It didn’t feel like work, it was more fun than it should have been, and this was due to the Sufferfest branding and the Sufferfest content, which is slowly being removed as Wahoo makes it more corporate branding palatable. It started with the app icon removing the bleeding eyes, now the passports and all of the “suffer” terminology, and I feel like this is slowly removing the heart of what made it different to other programs, and one of the reasons I stuck with it and it worked for me.
Given this, I believe future updates will move Systm closer to TrainerRoad, and this makes me question whether that would be a better program for me now, especially given features such as the adaptive training, as the unique selling point I had is diminishing, and looks like it could be lost. As my renewal is in October, I am really facing a difficult choice to renew, and am now forced to consider changing to another platform. One thing making the choice so hard is knowing that the last 3 years I’ve been using Sufferfest has made a huge difference to me, and substantially improved my fitness and riding, for which I am truly grateful.