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Wahoo X – Systm and RGT
Winter is coming.
After the Covid lockdowns of the last few years, many committed cyclists and triathletes already have an indoor trainer. No doubt any free subscription to an online training platform that came bundled with your trainer has now lapsed but the beauty of any indoor trainer is that you can almost certainly use it on any of the major cycling platforms. Will you stick with Zwift or get serious with Wahoo Systm?
Q: Do I need to pay for a training platform?
A: No. The bike, trainer and bike computer you bought should be able to deliver and execute structured plans, even adaptive training plans.
Paying a monthly fee enriches your training experience; it might make the organisation easier, the workouts more precise or simply make the whole experience fun and entertaining. These features might be on your checklist but you will not find them all executed to perfection on any single platform.
- Virtual, social, cycling fun
- Properly structured Winter cycling plan with a specific goal in mind for next season
- Tracking and analysis of results
- Holistic indoor training geared toward better cycling
- Real-world feel
- Multi-media entertainment
- A tool that links to your coach
- A gamified experience
- A way to mesh indoor training and outdoor training
Verdict: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - An impressive array of virtual training options presented in a somewhat disparate fashion
Wahoo Systm, Wahoo RGT Review
From scientifically structured training plans to rides through a virtual Cityscape, Wahoo X offers almost everything you will need for your Winter cycle training either by yourself, in groups or in races.
Wahoo X has numerous gems not obvious at first sight. Like the ability to have coached mental preparation in the week prior to your race and the ability to ride a simulation of your race-day course.
Should you want the occasional Zwift-like experience then Wahoo RGT has it. If you favour looking at a screen with lifelike riders then that’s an option as well. How about a cycling documentary as you train? Yep, that too.
The end game for social indoor training requires a large number of riders on the platform. Wahoo has the elements to appeal to everyone and a fair price to match. What it doesn’t yet have is the same size user base as Zwift.
A Wahoo X subscription supports many different rider ability levels, preferences and equipment from all other key bike companies.
I can definitely recommend Wahoo X now but it comes with the caveat that its component parts, SYSTM and Wahoo RGT, will morph over the coming years to meet the obvious need to gel together all the disparate parts of Wahoo X.
- Works with all modern smart trainers and most of the related technology like sensors and displays
- Gamified avatar racing, riding or simulated real rides are all offered.
- Plans optionally incorporate mental training as well as strength & conditioning
- A nod to triathletes indicates one direction of travel for the platform’s development
- Priced sensibly.
- Running & Swimming plans are not currently digitised
- Wahoo RGT and SYSTM need better integration
- A somewhat confusing number of ways to access the training
- The critical mass of users is not yet there for truly social virtual cycling
The Competitors – An Overview of the Alternatives to Wahoo X (RGT, SYSTM)
In many ways, the key players for cycling training platforms are very similar. In other respects, they have key differences.
Broadly speaking all the platforms support most of the trainer tech and they all share goals linked to improving your fitness. Their workouts are all about the duration and intensity of the time you spend in the saddle. Those workouts can come from 3rd parties or be integral to the platform.
Similarly, the post-workout analysis and progression can be integral to the platform or there can be good links to 3rd party platform platforms like Training Peaks and Strava.
Mostly all platforms realise that a social aspect is important but differ in how that’s achieved. Clearly, the critical mass of Zwift’s large subscriber base can offer a truly social experience but why is that any better than a smaller platform providing a means for clubmates or groups of friends to cycle together and be more intimately social with people they know in real life?
The only major differentiator that I see is the experience of the ‘route’ or workout in its broadest sense. Zwift has an imaginary world whereas other platforms offer videos and an experience that mimics real-world rides, some workouts try to mimic fitness-class workouts and the encouragement of a coach and finally, other platforms are focussed on riding whilst staring at stats with (or without) 3rd party accompanying entertainment from TV or a podcast.
Zwift, Trainer Road, Wahoo, Peloton, Tacx (Garmin and even Garmin Devices+Connect could all be considered the major players in the indoor training market depending on however you want to define it.
The sheer size of Garmin means its basic offering of plans and workout execution is arguably more important than anyone else…even the mighty Zwift.
|In a nutshell||Cost|
|Zwift||Gamified training and group riding, routes and races
Take Out: Choose this for social racing and social cycling
|Wahoo X (Systm + RGT)||Socialise and ride realistic routes. Plans, workouts, indoor classes and outdoor video rides
Take Out: Choose this for a wide variety of indoor training experiences
|Trainer Road||Over 3000 structured workouts and adaptive plans
Take Out: Choose this to focus on your A race.
|Peloton||Classes, structured training and holistic fitness
Take Out: Choose this expensive option to mimic fitness classes
|Garmin Connect + Watch/Edge||Training Plans and structured workouts
Take Out: Choose this ‘cos it’s free
|Xert + Bike The World||Structured training with an adaptive twist, video content
Take Out: Choose this because its a cheap, interesting and surprisingly varied way to invigorate years of previously stale training
|Apple Fitness+||Fitness classes and holistic fitness
Take Out: Choose this when you bundle all your family’s Apple services together and want a trainer-led gym class experience
|£9.99/mo (+bundle options)|
|Rouvy||Structured training and video integration||€15/mo|
|Stages Studio+||Commercial Service||n/a|
|Kinomap||Lots of video content and support for classes and structured training||$11.99€/mo|
|Fulgaz||Video routes, socialising and structured training||£9.99/mo|
|Bkool||Structured training and video integration||€9.99|
|Kinetic||Structured training and video integration||$9.99/mo|
|Tacx||Structured training and video integration||$9.99€/mo or $13.99€/mo for premium HD|
A background and history of Wahoo X (RGT, SYSTM)
It appears that Wahoo has the vision to deliver a complete indoor training ecosystem for triathletes/cyclists offering every kind of training even the gamified experience we know as Zwift. Thus as well as traditional cycling workouts, Wahoo supports running, holistic strength & conditioning, real-world video-based rides and a degree of social training around virtual classes and virtual group rides.
For now, it’s correct to say that Wahoo X Systm is still a mostly cycling-focused indoor training platform.
Wahoo X is the subscription service that lets you access its two separate platforms Systm and RGT. The former was acquired from The Sufferfest (2019) and the latter from Road Grand Tours (2021).
The Sufferfest was true to its name. If you push yourself past every known limit then this was the platform for you. Not everyone likes that sort of message or experience and it’s fair to say that Wahoo now offers a significantly more rounded and cuddly experience for those who want it. You can still suffer if that’s your thing, but rest assured that you will find the kind of indoor training you want with Wahoo X.
What equipment do I need to use Wahoo RGT and Wahoo SYSTM?
As a minimum, you’ll need a bike and some form of trainer that it sits on.
There are many smart trainer setups or sensors that are covered. If you’ve got a 10-year-old trainer and bike there will be some weird and wonderful way to get it working but if you’ve just spent $/£500 on a smart turbo trainer it’s almost certainly going to be usable. It’s definitely also worth pointing out that for the more capable training platforms, like Wahoo, you need to have a power meter to reap its benefits.
All Wahoo-branded hardware is supported but indoor trainer tech is standards-driven these days and so other brands’ smart trainers, sensors, bike computers and watches will mostly work with Wahoo X.
To run the software and see what’s happening on a screen you should find that the latest, greatest PC, MAC, iPhone or Android phone you’re going to be OK. But it’s worth checking the compatibility of older kit, including Apple TV.
Q: What do I need to run Wahoo System?
A: See this link
Q: What do I need to run Wahoo RGT?
A: See this link
What’s Included in Systm/RGT
There is a confusing array of workouts and ways to ride them. Another way of saying ‘confusing’ could be to say ‘large & extensive’. I’ll take you through some of the highlights.
There are three ways to access the content on RGT and SYSTM.
The Sufferfest was the original acquisition by Wahoo and it contains structured workouts that control your smart trainer. The name implies that the workouts are hard…and some of them are very hard. There are some less hard ones too, the video and audio encouragement are optional but are part of the ‘fun’.
Most of you will know the GCN YouTube channel, an often entertaining and sometimes enlightening place to visit for all things 2-wheel-related. The workouts that underly the sessions are led by the GCN team tend to be somewhat kinder than those in Sufferfest. The broad thrust of the app interface is the same though ie video content overlaying a smart interval workout with various ways to display the phases of the workout and your live performance.
Kinder still are the Inspiration workouts. This time you get to watch a documentary. The tempo of the documentary broadly matches the changes in the moderate intensity levels you have to follow.
A Week With cyclists like Phil Gaimon is another documentary-based overlay to sometimes difficult workouts. This lives up to its name as a famous(ish) cyclist takes you through some of their weekly workouts.
ProRides documentaries take you through rides like the UAE Tour where the documentary segues you into the peloton. Ultimately though you are still following a structured workout.
On Location is a limited set of video workouts covering iconic rides that you ride along to.
Novid (No Video) and the Fitness Tests are somewhat self-explanatory and encompass over 100 workouts
Mental Training these are simply scripted talks that you only listen to. There’s usually no exercise workout as such but there are things to do such as tasks for you based on visualisation techniques.
Running & Swimming Workouts – As of Sep 2022, these are simply placeholders. You can print out or write down these workouts but that’s it. #WorkInProgress
Strength & Mobility plus Yoga– These videos take you through a series of 5-10 minute workouts with clear multi-angle videos showing how to execute the various moves.
Just Ride: Real Roads (RGT) – This seems to overlap with the On Location part of Systm albeit with different routes.
Just Ride: Real Training (RGT) – There are 72 pre-defined workouts that you can ride on any of the existing 12 virtual routes ranging from Mont Ventoux to Canary Wharf.
Events: Real Events & Races (RGT) – Compete in time trials, eliminations or races. Or join an organised group ride or group training ride, all against real people.
Magic Roads (RGT) – Upload your favourite course or the course for an upcoming race and rehearse the gradients and twists and turns on the video.
The visual content varies immensely. ProRides and Real Rides have decent-quality camera footage whereas the imaginary world of Canary Whary appears very Zwift-like but the self-created Magic Ride routes perhaps need more in the way of roadside scenery.
The interfaces to the various workout or ride metrics also differ considerably. You can compare the images from Wahoo RGT, above, to the one below from SYSTM. They both ‘feel’ perfectly OK but they are completely disparate.
Wahoo RGT has a special app that turns your smartphone into a remote controller whereas SYSTM has a nice pop-out menu to help you control sensors and the metrics are displayed on the screen
Unlike Zwift, Wahoo RGT lets you customise your look for free. I’ve gone for a nice array of blue and black kit.
So I’d say that everything I see here is individually good. My criticism is the inconsistency in the rider experience.
Plans, Test & Data
The training plan creation is fairly impressive and flexible. I liked how I could create a duathlon plan for a given distance and set my easier week to be every fourth week, the bonus being the addition of strength, flexibility and mental training.
There’s some pretty cool stuff here ranging from a bit of stretching (yoga) through to detailed mental training in the race prep week.
However, the main science behind the duration and intensities offered throughout Wahoo’s structured plans comes from their trademarked Four-Dimensional Power approach (4DP). There are a couple of tests that can ascertain your 5-second, 1-minute and 5-minute power levels and the strengths of these compared to your goals and compared to your FTP determine which kind of training will give you the best bang for your buck.
4DP is used in a variety of ways to drive the training algorithms behind the scenes. For example, your MAP/5-minute power is similar to a VO2max effort and if your MAP and FTP are fairly close then the training focus is shifted to increase your MAP as it represents a ceiling which FTP can’t rise above. Conversely, if your friend has an identical FTP but her MAP is way higher than her FTP, she will need more endurance training – ie a different training focus for the same FTP. My MAP/FTP currently stands at 116% which means I need to shift some focus towards boosting VO2max.
At the start of 2022, the data from completed workouts did not seem to pass to all the various Wahoo apps. That now seems to have changed and it looks like your indoor and outdoor workouts are now presented alongside each other. Wahoo’s analytics and reporting are progressively improving but the relatively small number of us that have more in-depth needs on the data front are probably always going to link with 3rd party platforms like Training Peaks.
Wahoo X – What Sets It Apart
Wahoo has a strong user base amongst triathletes where it challenges Garmin for purchases of smart trainers and various bike accessories. Thus it comes as no surprise that Wahoo X is targetting the training needs of a triathlete. Sure, cyclists need mental fortitude training, flexibility and conditioning but they perhaps don’t need swimming and running workouts. Wahoo X has all that.
Trainer Road and some of the other platforms could be argued to be better suited to high-end cyclists but Wahoo X remains a highly competent solution for a wide range of triathlon and cycling abilities and needs.
Wahoo RGT’s virtual training is not quite there when it comes to emulating your favourite courses with Magic Roads …but it’s not far away. Yes, Wahoo has mass participation events where anyone can join but the subscribed masses are FAR fewer in number than found on Zwift.
Wahoo’s hardware typically carries a premium for the brand. I don’t think that’s especially the case with Wahoo X which is priced sensible compared to the competition as well as offers various free trials and free subscriptions if you buy new Wahoo hardware.
Wahoo X Pricing
Your Wahoo account covers all their products and services ie Wahoo ELEMNT Companion App, Wahoo Fitness App, and wahoofitness.com as well as Wahoo RGT & Wahoo SYSTM if you go for the optional subscription.
Annual Plan: $129 USD / Year (Save $50)
Monthly Plan: $14.99 USD / Month
Wahoo X – Summary
The first impression of Wahoo’s virtual training is one of slickness. The details of how rides work, the ride stats you see and the control you have are all good.
However, it’s also patently obvious that two somewhat disparate systems have been hitched together, three systems if you include the ELEMNT app or four if you include the Wahoo Fitness app. There’s also the RGT remote control app to throw into the mix. Add to that mix of apps: a fair bit of overlap between aspects of RGT and SYSTM; a different feel and experience to using RGT and SYSTM; and you are left with a somewhat disjointed experience. Not too much has changed in that regard in the last 6 months since I first started using the SYSTM platform with Wahoo RGT.
Wahoo has a big job on its hands to get to its eventual unified training platform.
That sounds a bit negative, and it probably is, but I’ll put a positive spin on it. Wahoo has to start somewhere and they are starting from a great place. Most of the aspects of each platform work so if you subscribe to it you will get some great and varied training experiences. You’ll also be buying into what may well become the best and most comprehensive virtual platform in a few years’ time and it will hopefully cover every type of virtual training for cyclists, runners and triathletes alike.
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