Zwift Review: An Online Video Game Not Only for Cyclists & Runners (2023)

Zwift Review: Screenshot from Zwift app put into MacBook Pro mockup.

In this Zwift review, we’ll pedal through the features of this leading indoor cycling app.

I will tell you who is Zwift for or whether you should avoid it. I will unveil some of its unique motivation techniques and much more.

In addition, I’ll put it in context with other alternatives so you have an overview and don’t have to try each app separately. I’ve already done that for you!

Zwift is the most popular indoor cycling app thanks to its active community that organizes events like group rides, races, and more. It resembles a game because it uses many gamification techniques (collecting badges and experience, building an avatar, etc.). However, the cartoony graphics may not suit everyone, and the choice of routes is also quite limited.

Zwift Summary


  • Unique virtual world
  • Sophisticated motivational system
  • Huge community & user base
  • Social-interaction friendly
  • A lot of supportive websites with plenty of tips
  • Many events (group rides, races, time trials, etc.)


  • Routes may get repetitive
  • Cartoony graphics design may not suit everyone
  • User interface is sometimes confusing
  • Training plans are not individualized

What is Zwift?
Zwift is an indoor cycling app designed as a game. It features a unique virtual world where you cycle or run with your avatar.

You can ride solo, train, connect with other users worldwide, or race. You gain experience and ‘drops’ by riding and accomplishing challenges that you can later exchange for better equipment.

Who is Zwift for?
Zwift is ideal for people who lack motivation for indoor cycling. It has a sophisticated engagement system. The more you ride, the more rewards you get.

Thanks to its user base and community, it makes surviving the winter months and indoor training sessions easier.

Who is Zwift not for?
Zwift is not for people who require route diversity and real-world footage.

Since it is a game that should motivate you to train more, it is not the best choice for people who generally don’t enjoy playing games.

My Experience with Zwift

I use Zwift mainly in winter, during testing of smart trainers, and for e-racing. Here are my takes on the ease of initial setup, in-game experience, engagement, and more.

Initial Setup

The initial Zwift setup is straightforward. The device you connect to (laptop, computer, smartphone) has to feature Bluetooth or ANT+ connectivity to pair with your devices (cadence and speed sensors, power meter, trainer, etc.).

There are plenty of tutorials on how to get started with Zwift, so let me jump straight to the pairing process and my experience.

I didn’t experience any problems when connecting Elite Direto 2 (or any other smart trainer) and the HR monitor (Wahoo TICKR).

It took me about one minute to set everything up. It’s super easy.

Pairing Process in Zwift app
Zwift Pairing Process

I recommend using one of these smart bike trainers for Zwift to get the best experience when using Zwift. They will calculate your power and adjust the resistance based on the terrain you ride.

These power adjustments are smooth and pretty realistic, depending on your bike trainer.

However, you can use Zwift even with a dumb trainer or rollers. You just need a cadence and a speed sensor (so Zwift can calculate your power) OR a power meter.

PRO TIP: Bike trainer accessories will take your indoor cycling to a new level. A fan will keep you cool down, and a trainer mat will protect your floor.

In-App Experience

Zwift is unique.

Their built-from-scratch world will engulf you if you like computer games.

Depending on your goals, you can spin your legs, cruise through different worlds, follow structured workouts or training plans, race, ride in groups, etc.

I used Zwift mainly for preparation for the next season. I took an FTP* test and then enrolled myself in the ‘Active Offseason‘ plan and started training.

*Functional Threshold Power

This 12-week training plan is focused on building endurance and requires about 8 hrs of training per week.

Shorter and medium workouts for up to two hours were fun. I immediately had better motivation when I saw completed intervals, achievements, and other challenges.

The endurance rides above two hours were a true challenge.

I zwifted while watching movies because three-hour rides on an indoor trainer are boring and require much determination.

When you ride, the screen shows you all the important information like your power output (eventually, targeted power), HR, speed, time, cadence, etc. Thanks to this information, the workouts are easy to follow.

In the end, I finished all 58 workouts except one or two. So when I saw the following screen, I felt a sense of accomplishment.

Screenshot from my finished Active Off Season Plan in Zwift
Zwift Active Off Season Plan Finished

Zwift also includes racing. Thanks to a vast user base, many races are held daily. You can browse them on Zwift Hacks.

These are categorized according to FTP so that you will compete with people of similar fitness levels.

Participating in Zwift races is a great way to let off steam and clear your head.

Group workouts are another feature worth trying. You can train with friends (regardless of their location) and train together.

Zwift will keep you together in-game even though your FTPs (and watts) are different. Additionally, you can chat via the Companion App.

This interactivity, social, and game elements (more about them later) make Zwift unique and fun.


Zwift is a game, so it uses gamification frequently.

You get ‘drops’ for riding and accomplishing routes, training, etc. You can later use them to purchase better equipment.

Naturally, there is also a level structure. You gain experience by riding, completing workouts, challenges, etc. – just like getting drops.

Every level unlocks certain items (bikes, components, clothes…) that cost drops. To spend your drops wisely, check out Zwift Insider’s shopping guide.

Zwift's Garage - choose a frame
Zwift Garage

Zwift is not far from an MMORPG game like World of Warcraft. It tries to keep you engaged and motivate you to ride more. You basically build your character.

Does this motivation work? It depends on what type of person you are. If you are competitive and you like games, then yes, it does.

A few friends tried Zwift, but those gamification mechanisms didn’t work for them. Instead, they rode outside in the winter.


One of the most significant downsides of Zwift is its limited range of routes.

They will get repetitive. Please don’t take me wrong. Zwift developers work hard to add new routes.

But apps like ROUVY or FulGaz are on another level. They offer hundreds to thousands of routes worldwide. However, these routes are recorded footage, not a virtual world.

Zwift Routes.
Zwift Routes
Zwift Route detail.
Zwift Route detail

Zwift designers and developers had to build the worlds/maps from scratch.

You will have access to three maps at a given time. Watopia is available all year round.

The other two maps rotate based on a schedule. These maps include France, Innsbruck, London, Makuri Islands, New York City, Paris, and more.

TIP: Browse the routes available in Zwift on What’s on Zwift.

Zwift’s graphic is more game-like than in Wahoo RGT. I like Zwift’s graphics more, but some people prefer RGT’s real-like graphics.


Zwift also offers an extensive workout and structured plans library. It includes more than 2000 workouts. You can browse them all here.

I absolved the Active Offseason, and except for the 3-hour-long endurance workouts, I pretty much enjoyed it.

I am sure you will find a workout or plan that will suit your needs. If not, you can build your own using the workout builder.

Zwift Workout Builder with instructions.
Zwift Workout Creator

But, According to coach Dylan Johnson, Zwift training plans have one big problem: They are overly complicated, too high-intensity, lack proper recovery, and are not individualized to meet your personal needs.

This is because they are supposed to keep you engaged. Imagine riding the same tempo for 2 or 3 hours. You appreciate every change of it. That’s why so many Zwift workouts are so variable.

I also cannot forget to mention the Zwift Academy. It is a collection of structured workouts designed by professional coaches.

This eight-week structured training should help you understand the training essentials.

You can also take advantage of Zwift’s pace partners. They will guide you through routes depending on the difficulty you choose.

They are suitable for warmups, cooldowns, intervals, etc.

Another feature worth mentioning is the Zwift workout mode. It’s a mode where you train with friends – all at the same effort level.

FTP is calculated as a percentage, so everybody rides together through the Zwift world.

User Friendliness

The earlier versions of the Zwift user interface were hard to navigate. They were too ‘funky’ in my opinion.

So, although I consider myself an experienced technology user, I struggled to find some features.

For example, if my friend hadn’t told me about the ‘Climb Mt. Everest’ challenge, I wouldn’t know where to find it.

The following pictures show Zwift’s old and new dashboards.

Zwift Dashboard screen (available worlds, events, etc.)
Old Zwift Dashboard
New Zwift dashboard (2022).
New Zwift dashboard

The biggest issue I encountered in Zwift was a sluggish interface and longer loading times than in other apps.

I have a MacBook Pro 2020 with 16 GB RAM, a 5-core Intel processor, and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 1536 MB.

These parameters should be enough, according to Zwift’s system requirements. But it seems I need better graphics.

The app also froze when saving workouts sometimes. This happened, especially when I used Zwift with an external monitor. When I used the laptop screen, saving rides was flawless.

Platforms Availability

Zwift is available on all major platforms, including iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, and Apple TV.

Zwift platform availability (iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, etc.)
Zwift platform availability

I’ve been using it on macOS and iOS. Except for the issues described in the previous section, they worked fine.

The Zwift Companion app is a great extension that sets Zwift apart from other apps (more about it later).

There is always a small percentage of users who can’t get an app working due to unique circumstances. However, positive Zwift reviews prevail; you shouldn’t experience any issues on any platform.

Zwift vs. Zwift Companion

Zwift Companion is a mobile app that extends Zwift functionalities. It makes interacting with others, browsing events, finding clubs, etc., easier.

When you are on the roads or in a race, you can chat with others, give them Ride Ons, etc. See the following video for more details.

Zwift Companion App Explained - The Activity Feed

Remember, you still need the main Zwift app to ride Zwift, but you don’t have to use Zwift Companion.

Zwift Alternatives

There are plenty of indoor cycling apps out there. However, the following are my favorites.

  • ROUVY – unlike Zwift, ROUVY uses real-world footage of routes worldwide. You move through them with your virtual avatar. Learn more in my ROUVY vs. Zwift comparison.
  • TrainerRoad – is focused purely on making you a better cyclist—no distractions – only structured training plans. Learn more in my Zwift vs. Trainerroad comparison.
  • Wahoo SYSTM – displays your ride data with pre-recorded footage. It is a universal app for cyclists, yogis, and people who want to strengthen their mental health. Learn more in my Zwift vs. SYSTM comparison.
  • Wahoo RGT (formerly RGT Cycling) – is the closest alternative to Zwift in terms of graphics. The RGT’s world is virtual, but it is inspired by real-world roads. Learn more in my Zwift vs. Wahoo RGT comparison.
  • FulGaz – like ROUVY, uses real-world footage of routes worldwide. The main difference is that there is no avatar.
  • BKOOL – uses a combination of virtual and real-world footage. It has much fewer users and worse graphics/footage quality. You can check out my comparison of BKOOL vs. Zwift for more info.
AppPriceFree TrialWorldMultiplayerConnectivityPlatform Availability
Zwift14.99 USD / month7 daysVirtualYesANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
ROUVY15 USD / month
144 USD / year
14 daysRealYesANT+ FE-C, BluetoothAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
TrainerRoad19.95 USD / month
189 USD / year
n/a²n/aNoANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS
Wahoo SYSTM (formerly The Sufferfest)¹14.99 USD / month
149 USD / year
14 daysRealNoANT+ FE-C, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS
Wahoo RGT (formerly RGT Cycling)¹Free or
14.99 USD / month
149 USD / year
14 daysVirtualYesANT+ FE-C, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
Android, iOS (remote)
Kinomap11.99 EUR / month
89.99 EUR / year
429 EUR / lifetime
14 daysRealNoANT+ FE-C, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS (screen mirroring available)
FulGaz12.99 USD / month
108.99 USD / year
14 daysRealYesANT+ FE-C, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
List of the best indoor cycling apps with the info about their price, free trial period, type of the world, multiplayer option, connectivity, and platform availability.
Updated on the 12th of September, 2023.
¹You can only subscribe to the Wahoo X subscription and get access to Wahoo SYSTM and Wahoo RGT.
²30-day money-back guarantee

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

AppPriceEase of SetupEngage-
RoutesTrainingUXPlatforms AvailabilityTotal
Wahoo SYSTM²454355430
Wahoo RGT (RGT Cycling)²552242323
Tacx Training App352435426
My indoor cycling apps rating on a scale of 1–5 (5 is the best)
¹TrainerRoad is different from other apps and doesn't offer any routes.
²You can only subscribe to the Wahoo X subscription and get access to Wahoo SYSTM and Wahoo RGT.

Zwift FAQ

My Verdict

Do I recommend Zwift?
I recommend Zwift to people who enjoy playing games and appreciate in-app social interactions.

It has a sophisticated motivation system and a huge community. If you lack motivation, Zwift will probably make you do the work.

Do I recommend it to everybody?
No. Its virtual world may not appeal to everybody. Some riders prefer real-world footage and more routes to choose from.

On the other hand, Zwift has users worldwide. Thanks to the huge community, plenty of races, and structured workouts, it will help you easily survive the winter months.

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