Wahoo RGT vs Zwift: Which platform is better?
We examine the in-game nuances between Wahoo RGT and Zwift to establish which indoor cycling application will best complement your riding style and workout preferences
Two years ago, no one could have predicted the meteoric rise of indoor cycling and eRacing as a whole. Zwift had been around for a number of years already but, in 2020, it reached new heights because of global lockdowns and thousands of race cancellations.
With fewer places to ride safely, cyclists had no choice but to jump on the best turbo trainer to get their miles in, and it wasn’t just Zwift that gained hundreds and thousands of new users; platforms such as RGT Cycling, BKool, Rouvy, and Peloton grew in popularity, too, while indoor training equipment from the likes of Wahoo, Tacx and Elite was sold out for months.
At the time of writing, it's been a week since Wahoo Fitness acquired RGT Cycling, a free platform that's one of Zwift's main competitors. It's gained a lot of traction over the past couple of years, as it claims to be the "world’s most realistic indoor cycling simulator." Now with Wahoo at its helm, the newly named Wahoo RGT is still available as a 'freemium' service, but the paid version is now built into a new subscription called Wahoo X, an all-in-one training and racing ecosystem that includes the separate software Wahoo SYSTM as part of the package.
So when it comes to two of the biggest players in indoor cycling software, which platform is the most realistic for training and racing? If you're currently trying to decide between Zwift and Wahoo RGT, then we're here to break them both down and give you an idea of what each can offer. Keep reading for a full deep dive into both platforms.
Wahoo RGT vs Zwift: Workouts
With the 'freemium' version of Wahoo RGT, users can choose any workout from the Structured Workout Partial Library, and complete a ride on one of the platform's available roads.
Upgrade to the premium Wahoo X, which matches Zwift's monthly subscription of $14.99 per month (no GBP price is given), and you gain access to RGT’s Full Workout Library where you can upload your own custom workouts, complete a ride on any road of your choosing – including custom “Magic Roads” – and you can even add bots to chase along the route. What's more, you'll have Wahoo SYSTM, which is Wahoo's overhauled version of The Sufferfest, and offers an extensive library of training workouts, including yoga, stretching and mental strength exercises alongside the usual on-bike sessions.
Complete customisation is one of the biggest factors that separates Wahoo RGT workouts from Zwift workouts: the ability to upload your own custom workout using a FIT file, and then complete the workout on your own custom route, called Magic Roads. With RGT’s Magic Roads feature, users can upload a GPX file from anywhere in the world, and the platform will auto-create a rideable route in-game that matches the real-life route in terms of distance, elevation, gradient and corners. This is a massive tool for serious cyclists who are looking to pre-ride a course ahead of time.
For example, users could upload the Nationals Criterium course to RGT, upload a racer's FIT file from the previous year as their workout, and then put bots on the course that match the effort and speed expected in the real-life race. What's more, race organisers have begun virtually replicating real-life courses to offer eRacing editions of real-world races. Something that, in our experience, will continue to thrive even after the real-world events return; and could even help those real-world events to draw in new participants.
In summary, Wahoo RGT is a really comprehensive race simulation tool that allows users to closely mimic the physical efforts of any course in the world, all from the comfort of their own homes. This, plus the addition of SYSTM should you opt for a Wahoo X subscription, effectively gives you everything you could need to prepare for that big event.
Zwift offers a workout library that is comically big – 2,171 workouts are on offer – with a helpful search tool where you can find workouts from 20 minutes to 2.5 hours in length. Once you’ve chosen your workout, there is an easy-to-read display which shows your current interval, power output, time remaining, intervals remaining, and more. Choosing a workout on Zwift is simple and easy, and with so many workouts to choose from, users will never run out of options.
The breadth of Zwift’s workouts is its strongest asset, with a seemingly infinite number of workouts to choose from, and the ability to create your own workouts using Zwift’s workout builder. Within the usual range of workouts (e.g. sprints, tempo, threshold), there are a number of workouts and training plans exclusive to Zwift. Wahoo RGT also offers a number of training plans, but not quite as many as Zwift. The Zwift Academy workouts are a standout feature on Zwift, as well as race simulation workouts from Paris-Roubaix, for example.
All in all, the customisable features offered on Wahoo RGT give it clear separation over Zwift within the workout world. Zwift workouts are perfect for users focused on improving fitness, and nailing each interval distraction-free. While RGT workouts can be done in isolation, the customisable additions of courses and bots add a whole new element of realism. For dedicated racers, there is no better race preparation than riding the course itself, and mimicking the physical efforts of racing in training. On RGT, you can do exactly that. Just don’t forget to go outside and practise your cornering.
Wahoo RGT vs Zwift: Racing
In addition to bringing hundreds of thousands of new users on-board, both Wahoo RGT and Zwift have built a community of racing.
The RGT racing community has made great strides already, but also recognises that there is room to improve as it looks ahead to the 2022/23 season. RGT uses and implements constant feedback from the racing community, a welcome act for all participants, investors, sponsors, and production teams. Prior to the acquisition by Wahoo, RGT seemed to roll out updates on nearly a daily basis in an effort to create the ideal online bike racing experience. We hope the extra support from Wahoo means this continues at pace.
While RGT’s race calendar continues to grow, the Zwift racing calendar is in full swing. The biggest event is the Zwift Racing League, which includes tens of thousands of racers from thousands of teams every season, while the famous WTRL Team Time Trials (TTT) saw thousands of participants racing on Zwift every single week, with numbers continuing to grow.
With increased popularity comes increased controversy, and in the sport of cycling, there is never a shortage of accusations surrounding cheating. In response, the community has created a number of pages, forums, and data transparency checks that include weigh-in videos, height checks, mandatory heart rate monitors, data calibration, and dual power recording. For races at the top of the ZRL – and at the UCI Cycling eSports World Championships – these checks are required for each and every rider, and the refusal to do so will result in immediate disqualification. Weigh-in videos and height checks measure the rider themselves, while data calibration and dual recording verify the rider’s equipment, ensuring that the rider’s performance is as accurate as possible.
Zwift is by far the most popular platform for indoor training and racing, but the in-game physics are a common complaint from many. The drafting effect is significant, but not at all close to in real-life. First-time users often complain that “the draft doesn’t do anything,” and while that’s not completely true, we do see where they’re coming from.
During a Zwift race, for example, it is impossible to sit in the middle of a 100-rider group and just ride easy, but the drafting effect is certainly not as strong as in real-life. In Zwift, it is rare that you can drop below ‘tempo’ and still maintain your position in the field. A Zwift race is a lot like holding your tempo-to-threshold power for half an hour, with above-threshold surges every time the road tilts up. It’s a painful style of racing and one that can take months to get used to, even for the most experienced real-life racers.
Racing on Wahoo RGT, on the other hand, is more realistic in this regard thanks to its in-game physics that, in addition to drafting, also include cornering and bunch positioning. Whereas Zwift allows you to ride full-gas through every corner, RGT will apply the brakes and ignore your pedalling input as your avatar approaches a sharp corner, and only allows you to accelerate after they’ve gone through the apex. Similarly, accelerating into the back of another rider will cause the same braking effect.
RGT’s in-game display includes a power graph that will turn red when you are wasting energy like this. It adds another level of gamification and another skill to learn, but one that mimics real-life racing well. It is a fascinating metric and dynamic tool that can be mastered for each and every course, and a standout difference for RGT.
Overall, the differing physics of RGT give it a much punchier and more realistic ride feel, especially on tight crit courses or technical descents. Whereas Zwift allows you to maintain a steady effort for the entirety of the course, RGT rewards decelerating for corners (i.e. coasting on your trainer) by giving your avatar the better line, and putting you ahead of riders who rode too hard and went wide.
The ‘blob’ effect is present in both RGT and Zwift, in that it is almost impossible to regain contact with the main peloton if you lose the draft. All it takes is 10 or 20 meters, and suddenly the draft is gone.
Wahoo RGT vs Zwift: Price
So how much will a membership to each platform set you back?
Starting with Zwift, you can get a seven-day free trial, and then to keep using your account after that it will cost you £12.99 / $14.99 per month. This gets you access to eight free-roam 3D-mapped worlds, each with a comprehensive number of routes that vary in distance and elevation.
Since acquiring RGT, Wahoo has introduced a pricing structure, retaining the "freemium" option for free riding in RGT, and a Wahoo X subscription which gains you access to all of RGT's premium features as well as Wahoo SYSTM. Should you choose to opt for Wahoo X, you can use SYSTM for training, and then put that extra work to use in Wahoo RGT's races. Wahoo X is billed at $14.99 per month.
So what is the answer then: Wahoo RGT or Zwift?
It all depends on what your goals are. For road and crit racers looking to mimic the complexity, focus, and intricacies of real-life racing, RGT is the way to go for both workouts and racing. The customisable features that RGT has on offer put it five steps ahead of Zwift in terms of real-life race simulation on your home trainer. Plus, for the same dollar price as Zwift, you can upgrade to Wahoo X and gain access to SYSTM and all its training workouts, plan builder, and off-bike workouts too.
On the other hand, Zwift has the numbers: races, courses, leagues, competition, workouts, and more. The platform is easy-to-use, but hard to get used to. Once you do master the in-game nuances, however, Zwift racing is one of the hardest and most thrilling things I’ve ever done on a bike. The community engagement is up and down, but in the past couple of years, we have seen hundreds and thousands of people posting their data to create a self-policed eRacing community on Zwift. Both platforms continue to grow at a rapid rate – with the UCI Cycling eSports World Championships on Zwift being a huge step towards recognition and legitimacy – and it’s impossible to say what will come next.
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Zach is a freelance writer, the head of ZNehr Coaching, and an elite-level rider in road, track, and e-racing. He writes about everything cycling-related, from buyer's guides to product reviews and feature articles to power analyses. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science at Marian University-Indianapolis, Zach discovered a passion for writing that soon turned into a full-fledged career. In between articles, Zach spends his time working with endurance athletes of all abilities and ages at ZNehr Coaching. After entering the sport at age 17, Zach went on to have a wonderful road racing career that included winning the 2017 Collegiate National Time Trial Championships and a 9th place finish at the 2019 US Pro National Time Trial Championships. Nowadays, Zach spends most of his ride time indoors with NeXT eSport.
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