RGT Cycling: A Free Alternative to Zwift
RGT Cycling Review: RGT Cycling, the new virtual cycling platform, has announced that it is making all of its Premium features available for free to all indoor cyclists, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. So we had to put Chuck Peña back on his Xpedo home trainer to find out more.
When I reviewed the Xpedo APX Pro smart trainer, part of the review included a little bit about different virtual riding platforms. Everyone knows about Zwift. But if variety is the spice of life, it’s good to know that there are other options if you want to ride some different roads than what Zwift has to offer (on any given day, Zwift gives you the choice of riding in Watopia or one of its other worlds).
One such option is RGT Cycling, which is a Zwift-like platform. RGT is free but they also have a paid subscription that offers more features. In response to the COVID-19 aka coronarivus pandemic, RGT decided to make its premium features free (usually £12.99 / $14.99 per month) and is encouraging cyclists and the larger cycling community and industry to join its #rideitout movement. According to RGT founder and CEO Alex Serban:
RGT was created to empower all cyclists to ride inside in the same way they ride outside. As the impact of COVID-19 is felt around the world, this mission has become more important than ever and after watching inspiring communities come together to support each other, our need to do everything we can to help became obvious. At a time when focusing on profit would be easy, this removal of restrictions will provide free access for all and, we hope, offer some support to the cycling community.
Here are the differences between RGT’s free and paid subscriptions:
RGT is similar to Zwift in that there is a screen app for riding and a mobile app for pretty much everything else. Open up both and activate the screen app from the mobile app. You use the mobile app to control what you do on the screen.
Then decide what you want to do:
- Ride any of the RGT Real Roads.
- Mount Ventoux (on my to do list) – Almost 16 miles and over 5,200 feet of climbing. But what RGT can’t simulate is the wind you’d likely experience in real life.
- Cap Formentor (I’ve ridden) – To the lighthouse is ~14 miles and almost 1,700 feet of climbing (and you can make it an out-and-back).
- Borrego Springs (I’ve ridden) – Basically a flat, rectangular route and good for TT training.
- Pienza (I’ve ridden) – A semi-hilly ~5 mile loop with over 700 feet of climbing that includes the white roads of Tuscany.
- The iconic Passo dello Stelvio (I’ve ridden) – With very little run-in, over 8 miles and more than 3,600 feet of climbing. One of the nice things about RGT is that you can do climbs like Ventoux and the Stelvio. With Zwift, you have to be at Level 12 or higher in the “game” to ride Alpe du Zwift (I’ve done it) which is their re-creation of Alpe d’Huez.
- Canary Wharf (I’ve ridden) – A 0.6 mile crit-like course with a sprint zone so a good choice for doing interval training.
- Paterberg (I’ve ridden) – A 2.6 mile up-and-down loop if you want to ride cobbles and bergs.
- 8bar (I’ve not ridden) – A virtual re-creation of the 8bar fixed gear crit course in Berlin (0.6 miles and pancake flat).
- With Premium, you can upload a GPX file that RGT’s software re-creates into a virtual road with appropriate turns and elevation changes (I’ve not tried this yet).
- Do a race (I’ve not tried this yet either). With Premium, you can create your own private races/rides and invite other RGTers to join you.
- Train using a structured workout (something else I haven’t done). If you’re using Training Peaks, RGT can sync with it to do their workouts. Or you can upload your own workout or ride one from RGT’s library of workouts.
Simply choose which one you want to ride
Before you can ride, you have to pair your smart trainer (or separate power meter and cadence sensor) to the app, as well as your heart rate monitor (all Bluetooth).
And then you’re ready to ride!
The riding experience itself is similar to Zwift. The biggest difference is that there aren’t as many riders on RGT as Zwift (you would think there would be more since it’s free). So the riding can be somewhat “lonely.” But if you’re not into the social aspect of virtual riding and are just wanting to ride, that may not matter so much.
Another difference from Zwift is that RGT applies braking force going into corners in the form of added resistance. So you have to pedal harder to regain power/speed coming out of the corner.
Like Zwift, you can control the camera to see different views on the screen as you ride.
Camera view/First person view
Third person view
In all of the above screen shots (all from my Mac for this article, but I actually use the RGT screen app on Apple TV when I ride), names with a country flag are other real riders on RGT riding with you and names with a gray-ed out RGT symbol are bots.
When you’re finished with your ride, use the app to end and save. Your ride should automatically upload to connected apps (Strava and Training Peaks are the only two supported). But if for some reason your ride doesn’t upload (I’ve had that happen), you can go into your ride history on the app to email you FIT and GPX files of your ride that you can upload manually.
I know as I write that recreational cycling in Italy, Spain, and France is banned due to COVID-19. Who knows if/when other countries will follow suit? We may all soon be restricted to indoor cycling-only for a period of time. Especially if you aren’t already set up on Zwift or another virtual cycling platform, RGT is a great way to become a virtual cyclist without having to pay for a subscription. Of course, you’ll need more than just an app to do indoor virtual riding, but PEZ’s Alastair Hamilton has previously provided a guide for how to do that on the cheap. And even if you’re already a hardcore Zwifter with a smart trainer and big screen, adding RGT to your repertoire will open up more roads to ride indoors.