RGT Cycling, formerly known as Road Grand Tours, is one of many indoor cycling apps to hit the market in a bid to capture the indoor cycling boom, and the company's tagline ‘where gaming meets fitness’, best explains where it sits in the market. Founder, Alex Serban, is a keen cyclist who experienced frustration with the poor virtual ‘gameplay’ on his indoor trainer. Serban’s background in computer science and artificial intelligence convinced him that it could all be done a touch better, and since 2016 the Romanian has been working tirelessly to deliver the best virtual cycling experience possible.
RGT officially launched to market in December 2019 and two features immediately distinguished it: visual quality and Magic Roads. As mentioned, Serban has a strong computer science background, and his development team approached the graphic elements of RGT as gaming technologists would.
Rider movement was intricately studied to produce the most realistic possible graphic rendering of actual cadence movements and bike handling. One of RGT Cycling's more impressive USPs is RGT’s Magic Roads feature, which allows you to upload a favourite route in GPX file format and then have RGT faithfully recreate it in full gradient, distance and road profile for you to ride.
How much is RGT Cycling?
The basic version is free, with a £12.99 premium subscription upgrade required to unlock the Magic Roads feature and all the immersive training programmes.
In the spirit of current lockdown solidarity, RGT has waived the subscription charge for a month.
How to get started
Enabling RGT’s powerful graphic properties are two apps. You’ll have to download both, one for your smartphone and the other for your screen device (Apple TV, iPad, Mac or Windows).
Simply download the two apps from the respective app stores on each device, and follow the installation instructions, which are seamless and easy to execute.
The minimum system requirement for your smartphone will be either iOS 9.0 or Android 7. Regarding your riding hardware, RGT is compatible with all Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible trainers, heart rate monitors and generic power meters. An important caveat with RGT, is that speed and cadence sensors are not supported, and older turbo trainers won’t work.
What equipment do I need?
Beyond an appropriate smartphone and screen type (television, desktop or tablet), you’ll need a smart turbo trainer (the difference between smart and dumb can be found in our guide to the best turbo trainers).
The entry point to an RGT compatible trainer is Bluetooth and ANT+ connected training equipment such as a smart turbo trainer, a smart bike or a dumb trainer paired with a power meter. Unlike its competitor Zwift, a speed sensor will not work.
All the courses and rides
RGT offers eight real-road stages. Some are urban and technical, whilst others rank amongst the most celebrated routes in road cycling.
An easy start is the legendary 8Bar fixie course in Berlin. Then there is the Borrego Springs course, which is desperately flat, climbing only 9m over its 7.7km length. If you want to work on your tempo, Borrego Springs would be ideal.
Canary Wharf is an unusual training venue, even in a virtual world, but RGT has made a wonderfully realistic representation of it. This course is highly technical, as you would expect of something in the epicentre of London’s financial district, with many tricky corners to test RGT’s very lifelike braking dynamics.
Cap Formentor is an iconic route on the Balearic island of Majorca, it registers 1,000m of climbing over 35km. If you desire an even more challenging and iconic climbing route, there’s the famous Mont Ventoux course, with 1,596m of vertical over 25.2km.
For riders who wish to squeeze maximum intensity into a short timeframe, there’s the classic Flandrien test of Paterberg. It might be only 400m, but the average gradient is 12.5%. The seventh stage option is Pienza, which is an easy-riding Tuscan course.
In theme with its collection of legendary rides on offer, RGT’s has a delightfully rendered version of the Stelvio pass, to round out its eight stages.
RGT training and racing
RGT offers structured workouts aligned to five key cycling training zones: recovery, endurance, threshold, VO2 Max and anaerobic.
If you seek a dedicated training plan within the virtual network, RGT has three of those. Novices can choose from either the #rideitout strength plan or Olympic distance triathlon base training, both of which are six weeks in duration.
Intermediate riders can opt for the #ridestronger FTP builder training regime which lasts eight weeks.
RGT’s virtual racing is mostly run on its eight real road stages. You can join group rides and training sessions or even create your own races.
A huge part of RGT’s appeal is the ability to create your own routes on the Magic Roads function and then invite fellow riders to race on them. The Magic Roads feature creates endless possibility, limited only by the number of GPX files you have to upload.
Following a replication of a GPX file on a turbo trainer isn't groundbreaking in itself. Connecting your cycling computer up to a smart trainer will provide the resistance changes that come with the changing gradients of your chosen route. Where Magic Roads steps it up a level is in the on-screen visual rendering of that course, converting GPX data into rideable terrain.
Lance Branquinho is a Namibian born media professional, with 15-years of experience in technology and engineering journalism covering anything with wheels. Being from Namibia, he knows a good gravel road when he sees one, and he has raced some of Africa’s best-known mountain bike stage races, such as Wines2Wales and Berg&Bush.
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