TrainerRoad Review: The Best Performance-Focused Cycling App? (2021)

TrainerRoad Review

On many cycling forums, TrainerRoad is considered the best indoor cycling app for improving your cycling performance.

TrainerRoad claims their science-based workouts, unique Adaptive Training technology, and analytics will provide you with an effective training system that makes you a faster cyclist.

Are these claims valid?

In this TrainerRoad review, you find out.

I share my experience and compare TrainerRoad with other popular indoor cycling apps. You learn who is TrainerRoad for, what its benefits and disadvantages are, and more.

TrainerRoad Summary

Pros

  • Science-based and personalized structured workouts
  • Unique Adaptive Training technology improving the training effectiveness
  • Focused on improving your performance
  • Counts with your outside training
  • Seamless integration with Strava and other cycling apps
  • Solo or group workouts

Cons

  • You have to be self-motivated to push your limits
  • An absence of a virtual world or real-world footage
  • Very limited social-interactivity

What is TrainerRoad?
TrainerRoad is an indoor cycling app focused on making you a faster cyclist. It leverages science-based structured workouts and Adaptive Training technology. TrainerRoad also provides you with comprehensive analytics tools and training guidance.

Who is it for?
TrainerRoad is perfect for riders who want to improve their performance and push their physical limits. It is suitable for people with a clear goal in mind and those who don’t know where to start with structured training.

Who is it not for?
TrainerRoad is not for people who are not motivated or require watching how they move through real-world footage or a virtual world.


My Experience with TrainerRoad

Here are my takes on the ease of initial setup, in-app experience, and more that you can find in the TrainerRoad app.

I admit that I didn’t spend as much time with TrainerRoad as it deserves. But I plan to use it more once I start preparing for the next season or races and update this review.

Initial Setup

If you want to use TrainerRoad, you don’t need a smart trainer. You will be fine with a power meter, or with cadence + speed sensors.

However, to get the best TrainerRoad experience possible, I recommend using a smart trainer that supports ERG mode.

Keep in mind that your laptop, computer, or other display device has to feature Bluetooth connectivity to connect with these devices. If it doesn’t, you may need an ANT+ dongle.

The pairing process is effortless.* Once you pair your devices to the app, TrainerRoad shows a few recommendations for calibration, firmware updates, etc.

*I’ve been using TrainerRoad with Elite Direto 2 smart trainer and Wahoo TICKR HR monitor.

TrainerRoad Pairing
TrainerRoad Pairing
TrainerRoad Pairing - Recommendations
TrainerRoad Pairing – Recommendations

PRO TIP: Bike trainer accessories will take your indoor cycling to a whole new level. A fan will keep you cooled down, a trainer mat will protect your floor, and a rocker plate will improve your riding comfort.


In-App Experience & Training

One of the things I like the most about TrainerRoad is its seamless integration with other cycling apps like Strava or TrainingPeaks.

All my previous rides from Strava were synchronized into TrainerRoad’s calendar, so I could see my training load in charts and analyze it in-depth.

TrainerRoad also counts with your outside training. This is an excellent feature because you are not limited to training indoors only. If you decide to ride outside, it will count into your training.

My first experience with TrainerRoad was when I took the Ramp test. I didn’t prepare for it at all. Instead, I spontaneously jumped on my bike and started riding.

Thanks to Direto’s ERG mode that adjusts the resistance, I just focused on smooth pedaling and breathing. In addition, the app guided me throughout the test with instructional messages (you can turn them off in settings).

TrainerRoad does not include any video so that you can focus on your effort. Here is my Ramp Test result.

TrainerRoad Ramp Test Results
TrainerRoad Ramp Test Result

Once I finished the test, I proceeded to the Plan Builder. And this is where TrainerRoad stands out from the rest of most indoor cycling apps.

It guides you through every important area like your training load & volume, experience, type of event you train for, etc.

These structured plans differ based on these areas and your goals. Do you want to train for a Gran Fondo, Time Trial, Triathlon, Cyclocross, etc.? TrainerRoad has got you covered.

Here is an example of a structured training plan:

TrainerRoad Calendar
TrainerRoad Calendar

TrainerRoad tests Adaptive Training (AT) technology. It analyzes your workouts and adjusts the future ones to maximize your training effectiveness and performance.

When writing this review, the AT feature was still in beta, and it was necessary to turn it on in settings.

Naturally, the more data can TrainerRoad assess, the better adjustments it makes.

It is worth mentioning, though, that neither TrainerRoad structured plans are perfect.

According to Dylan Johnson, you have to be careful not to burn out or overtrain. TrainerRoad training plans include too much intensity and not enough recovery and endurance rides that are important for becoming faster.

To wrap this up, TrainerRoad workouts and the app do work (check out these reviews), but don’t overdo it to avoid overtraining.

Engagement

TrainerRoad doesn’t use sophisticated motivation elements like Zwift. You have to be self-motivated to push your limits further.

It focuses on the types of riders who know what they want to achieve. It also helps beginners who want to implement structured training.

In the end, the biggest motivation for riders is their progress.

If you still need some motivation, though, you can invite your friends and do Group workouts together. This adds a little competitiveness, and your friends will push you further.

Routes

There is no TrainerRoad route library due to the nature of this app. You can browse workouts or the training library instead.

NOTE: TrainerRoad workouts cannot be exported to 3rd party apps. (Source)

The workouts library is comprehensive, and you can filter it using advanced filters.

TrainerRoad Workouts
TrainerRoad Workouts

Some people don’t mind that the app doesn’t include footage because they can watch movies while training. However, for some, this can be a dealbreaker.

Personally, I don’t mind because I have multiple screens, so I can watch a movie on one screen and my ride data on the other.

I read comments where people described how they combine TrainerRoad with other apps. They run them simultaneously – one for training and the other for the scenery.

To wrap this up, if you look for real-world footage, you have to look elsewhere (ROUVY, FulGaz).

User Friendliness

TrainerRoad’s user interface is modern and minimalistic. It is easy to navigate, and it has clear call-to-action buttons.

Together with Wahoo SYSTM, these user interfaces are the best of all indoor cycling apps I tested.

TrainerRoad also offers almost the exact copy of its app available online. You can set everything up in a browser, then open the desktop app and start training.

I had to continue with the web interface because I didn’t manage to set a training plan in the app. The ‘NEXT’ button was not clickable, and there was no error notice, so I had no idea what was wrong. However, everything worked fine in the internet browser.

I didn’t experience any other issues with the TrainerRoad desktop app.

Platforms Availability

TrainerRoad is available on all major platforms, including iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows. Unfortunately, an AppleTV app is not available.

TrainerRoad platform availability
TrainerRoad platform availability

I’ve been using TrainerRoad on macOS and iOS, and except for a few minor issues described above, it worked flawlessly.


TrainerRoad Alternatives

There are plenty of indoor cycling apps out there, but only a few of them are worth it. The following ones are my favorite.

  • Wahoo SYSTM – displays your ride data with pre-recorded footage. It is a universal app not only for cyclists, but also for other endurance athletes and people who want to strengthen their mental health. It is one of the most similar apps to TrainerRoad.
  • Zwift – unlike ROUVY, Zwift uses a virtual world built from scratch. It doesn’t have as wide a route library as ROUVY. It is much closer to being a game.
  • ROUVY – uses real-world footage augmented with avatars and other objects. It has a huge route library and allows you to explore beautiful places from the comfort of your home.
  • RGT Cycling – features a virtual world inspired by real-world roads. Its graphics is more realistic than Zwift, but it doesn’t offer as sophisticated motivation mechanisms.
  • FulGaz – is the most similar app to TrainerRoad. It also uses real-world footage of routes worldwide. The main difference is that FulGaz doesn’t use augmented reality. This means there are no avatars or artificial objects.
AppPriceFree TrialWorldMultiplayerConnectivityPlatform Availability
Zwift14.99 USD / month7 daysVirtualYesANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
ROUVY12 USD / month
144 USD / year
14 daysRealYesANT+ FE-C, BluetoothAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
TrainerRoad19.95 USD / month
189 USD / year
7 daysn/aNoANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS
Wahoo SYSTM (formerly The Sufferfest)14.99 USD / month
129 USD / year
14 daysRealNoANT+ FE-C, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS
RGT CyclingFree or
9.99 USD / month
14 daysVirtualYesANT+ FE-C, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS (remote)
Windows, macOS, Apple TV (screen)
FulGaz12.99 USD / month
108.99 USD / year
14 daysRealYesANT+ FE-C, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
Updated on the 17th of September, 2021.

I created a rating system for evaluating the following features. It helps to keep the comparison between training apps consistent.

  • Price – how expensive is the app relative to other indoor cycling apps?
  • Ease of setup – is the app easy to set up with a smart trainer? Can it be used without it?
  • Engagement – does the app keep you engaged and motivated?
  • Routes – does the app offer a wide route library?
  • Training – does the app include prebuilt workout plans? Do they help you get faster?
  • User-friendliness and intuitiveness (UX) – is the app easy to navigate, easy to use, clear, and intuitive?
  • Platform availability – is the app available for multiple platforms like iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, AppleTV, etc.?

The following table shows my ratings of specific areas on a scale of 1–5 (5 is the best).

AppPriceEase of SetupEngage-
ment
RoutesTrainingUXPlatform AvailabilityTotal
Zwift355343528
ROUVY454533529
TrainerRoad253n/a*55424
Wahoo SYSTM354355429
RGT Cycling552242323
FulGaz452532526
My indoor cycling apps rating on a scale of 1–5 (5 is the best)
*TrainerRoad is different from other apps and doesn't offer any routes.

TrainerRoad FAQ


My Verdict

Do I recommend TrainerRoad? Yes. Riders who are motivated to improve their performance will appreciate the science-based plans and Adaptive Training technology. If you follow one of their plans, you can be sure you will improve the area you want (FTP, endurance, sprints, etc.). You will also appreciate their in-depth analytics tools and insights that will help you understand your progress.

Do I recommend it to everybody? No. TrainerRoad isn’t suitable for people who want to explore new places from the comfort of their home (like in ROUVY or FulGaz). It also doesn’t provide you with many rewards (achievements, new equipment, etc.), like Zwift.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top