Zwift vs. TrainerRoad: Which One Should You Use? (2022)

Zwift vs. TrainerRoad: Zwift in-app screen on the left vs. TrainerRoad in-app screen on the right

This is my comparison of Zwift vs. TrainerRoad. These apps are among the most popular indoor cycling apps but are vastly different. So, which one should you use?

The answer depends mainly on your preferences…

While Zwift is highly socially oriented, TrainerRoad is suitable for dedicated athletes who want to take their performance to the next level.

The main difference between Zwift and TrainerRoad is that you ride through a virtual world built from scratch with other people worldwide in Zwift. TrainerRoad only shows you your current workout structure and data. But, it has sophisticated algorithms that can create personalized workout plans for you.

TrainerRoad is highly training-oriented, while Zwift is more about having fun because it is basically a game.

Continue reading to learn more.

Zwift and TrainerRoad Summary

The most significant difference between these two apps is their concept.

In Zwift, you ride with an avatar through a virtual, cartoonish world with other people worldwide. You can just ride and chat with others, race, follow pace partners, or do structured workouts.

TrainerRoad, on the other hand, is designed with one goal only – to make you a better cyclist.

They accomplish this by sophisticated algorithms that create personalized training plans based on your fitness and goals.

See my summary of the main features below.

AppZwiftTrainerRoad
WorldVirtualNo world*
DraftingYesn/a
MultiplayerYesn/a
In-game ChatYesn/a
Races & EventsYesn/a
WorkoutsYesYes
Workouts BuilderYesYes
GamificationYesNo
Power-UpsYesNo
Platforms AvailabilityAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TVAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS
Free Trial7 daysn/a**
Price14.99 USD / month19.95 USD / month
189 USD / year
In-Depth ReviewRead Zwift ReviewRead TrainerRoad Review
Comparison of the main features of Zwift vs. TrainerRoad.
*TrainerRoad only shows a screen with the structured training.
**30-day money-back guarantee
Updated on the 10th of July, 2022.

Features Comparison

Let’s now dive deeper into the individual features.

Concept

Zwift is basically a game where you move your avatar through a virtual world by pedaling on your bike (or running with a sensor).

You can meet other riders who ride the same roads throughout the ride. You can chat with them, wave to them, give them ‘Ride Ons’ (likes), etc.

In Zwift, you can also follow structured training plans, race, or train with pace partners.

Zwift currently offers worlds like Watopia, London, Paris, Richmond, Makuri Islands, etc. (check them all here) to ensure diversity.

However, only three worlds are available at the same time. The Watopia is available permanently, and the other two worlds change based on a schedule.

TrainerRoad is much simpler and more boring.

It’s a training tool that helps you get better. Its main screen shows you only the basic data you need to know when doing a structured workout.

These include your power, targeted power, interval time, workout time, HR, and cadence.

My ride data in TrainerRoad
TrainerRoad – Ride Data

During indoor training, you will sweat – a lot. Stay cooled down by using a fan for indoor cycling.


Multiplayer & Social Interactivity

While Zwift is multiplayer-friendly (e.g., you can chat, meet others, etc.), TrainerRoad is only for people who don’t mind riding solo.

Both apps have a large community and user base. But in TrainerRoad, it’s just you, your bike, and the app. No distractions.

Races & Events

You can race and do group rides in Zwift, but not in TrainerRoad.

Zwift races are usually pretty crowded (depending on the race) and frequent, thanks to the large community and user base.

My avatar in a bunch in Zwift race.
Screenshot from Zwift race

Additionally, official events like the UCI Cycling eSports World Championships use Zwift.


Improve your indoor cycling comfort with a rocker plate. It will allow your trainer to move from side to side, reducing the friction between your butt and saddle.


Workouts

Here is where things are more comparable.

Both apps will allow you to create and do workouts or follow structured training plans.

Zwift offers a workouts library, structured training plans, and a workouts builder.

Additionally, Zwift has so-called pace partners. So if you just need a “company” to maintain a constant tempo, you can use these bots.

Zwift Pace Partners: Categories from the quickest (A), to the slowest (D)
Zwift Pace Partners

TrainerRoad also has a workout library, of course. But it takes training to a whole new level.

TrainerRoad’s plan builder will guide you through a series of questions. Then, based on your answers, it will design a personalized training plan to help you accomplish your goals.

This feature works like magic. You can specify almost everything – how much time you invest in your training, which days you want to train, what discipline you want to focus on, and much more.

Additionally, TrainerRoad features so-called Adaptive-Training that adjusts your training plan based on your load and fitness. Watch the following video for more details.

And last but not least, if you like to dig deeper into your training data, you can because TrainerRoad offers helpful analytics tools for each activity.

Gamification

Another area that sets these two apps apart is their approach to gamification.

Zwift uses many gamification elements. For example, you collect drops (an in-game currency), achievements, finish routes, build your equipment, etc. These elements add extra motivation for riding more.

TrainerRoad has no gamification. It’s only up to you and your internal motivation.

User Friendliness

The ease of use of both apps is similar, but TrainerRoad is better.

Zwift’s user interface was pretty bad in the past, but it’s more usable now, thanks to the 2022 update.

TrainerRoad user interface is clean and intuitive. Some buttons or fonts could be larger, but that’s just me being picky.

Zwift Dashboard 2022
Zwift Dashboard
TrainerRoad dashboard
TrainerRoad dashboard

Pairing sensors and the initial setup is straightforward in both apps, and I didn’t encounter any compatibility issues with multiple power meters, HR monitors, or smart trainers.

Platforms Availability

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

TrainerRoad is not available for Android and Apple TV.

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

Pricing

Zwift costs 14.99 USD/month. TrainerRoad is a bit more expensive. You can get it for 19.99 USD/month or 189 USD / year.

That’s a 25% difference. Is it justifiable?

There is probably no better app for structured training than TrainerRoad. If you are serious about your performance, this investment is worth it.


Alternatives

Both apps have alternatives. The closest alternative to Zwift is Wahoo RGT. It is not as widespread but has more realistic graphics and physics. You can read my comparison of Zwift vs. Wahoo RGT for more info.

The closest alternative to TrainerRoad is Wahoo SYSTM. It’s a comprehensive training platform for endurance athletes.

It offers similar features, but its structured training plans are not as comprehensive and personalized. I also compared these two apps in my Wahoo SYSTM vs. TrainerRoad comparison.

Or, check out other indoor cycling apps:


Zwift and TrainerRoad FAQ


Zwift vs. TrainerRoad: The Winner

There is no winner between Zwift and TrainerRoad because both apps are different. It’s like comparing apples with oranges.

While Zwift is designed as a game that motivates you to ride indoors and have fun, TrainerRoad is suitable for dedicated athletes who want to improve their performance.

I recommend you consider your goals and why you want to use an indoor training app.

Do you want to have fun, meet people, or do indoor racing?

… or read my in-depth Zwift review for more details.

Are you a dedicated athlete looking for ways to become a faster cyclist?

You can also read my in-depth TrainerRoad review for more info.

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