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FulGaz rolls out Apple TV App–First Ride Details

Fulgaz

Over the last week FulGaz, the indoor trainer app that lets you ride outdoor routes indoors, released their Apple TV variant of the app. This is notable for a few reasons.  First, they’ve become the second app to do so after Zwift last fall. And second, whether or not you’re an Apple or Android household, Apple TV represents the least expensive way to get a dedicated trainer computer/setup up and running.  With the regular Apple TV version costing $149, and the 4K version costing $179, there’s no less expensive way – especially for 4K content.

But more than that, there is another world of trainer apps out there other than Zwift and TrainerRoad. Nothing wrong with either of those apps, but there’s over 20 indoor training apps that allow control of the trainer and such. And it’s cool to talk about those.

Even more so as FulGaz is doing some technically unique things within their implementation of the app, especially when it comes to the KICKR CLIMB and for the geeks in the house, NAS server support.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Oh, and since it’s a Friday and sunny out, I’m gonna keep this brisk so I can go out and ride.  However, since this post is all about video and such, hit up the complete video I made below – as it’ll quickly and efficiently give you an overview of the entire app:

And by overview video…I really mean a ton of details.  You didn’t expect anything less, did you?

The App:

To start on the Apple TV variant (they also have an iOS variant), you’ll need a compatible Apple TV. In short, if your Apple TV supports apps, then you’re good to go. If you’re looking at picking up a new Apple TV, I strongly recommend spending the extra $30 for the 4K variant. It has about double the processing power of the regular one, which has a dramatic improvement in apps, even if you’re not doing 4K video.

In any case, to find the FulGaz app you’ll simply search for it within the Apple TV app store. It’s basically the only one that has a name anything like it:

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After that, you’ll need to either sign-in to your existing FulGaz account, or create a new one. You can do a trial for 14 days, or you can pay monthly at $10US, or even less if you do an annual plan.

At which point the app is ready to pair to sensors. In the case of Apple TV, that means Bluetooth Smart sensors. You can see here the KICKR CORE I was riding, and then I selected one of the power meters for cadence. I also selected my TICKR-X heart rate strap.

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Now, there’s a couple caveats here. In the case of the Apple TV, it supports a maximum of three Bluetooth Smart connections. Unfortunately, one of those is the remote. So you’re down to two connections. That meant that it retained the trainer and heart rate sensor connection, but I lost the cadence one. That’s because Wahoo remains one of the only trainers to not include cadence data within the native trainer sensor stream. So, no cadence for me (I could have swapped it for HR, but I’d prefer HR this time). Speaking of being behind the times – Garmin also needs to get with the show here and allow Bluetooth Smart broadcasting of live heart rate data from their watches (they allow ANT+ broadcasting only), as I could have in theory just done that too.

Also note that FulGaz does support both the NPE CABLE and 4iiii Viiiiva ANT+ to Bluetooth Smart converters, so that might be a solution for some to channel that data in from ANT+. After you’ve completed all that, you’re at the home screen:

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It’s here they’ve got rides in a pile of categories from mountain rides to race rides and so on. The ones that are listed as KICKR Approved, are essentially ones they’ve gone through with a fine-tooth comb to ensure are perfect on the CLIMB. The others work just fine, but they’ve given these a bit extra love.

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If you dive into a given video you can see a number of stats about it. This includes the elevation profile, a brief description, distance, as well as the duration, and the filmer.

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The duration and filmer are of note because the video is aligned to their cycling performance. All of these videos are filmed on real-bikes, mostly with GoPro Hero 6 Black cameras in a bit of a specialty setup.  They record everything in 4K with GoPro ProTune enabled, and then do a fair bit of processing afterwards to clean things up and make them as pretty as possible (including a bunch of processing on the elevation data as well).  The company even ships out camera kits (inclusive of a special mount they’ve designed for filming these) to folks that are willing to film special routes.  For example, right now they’re looking for someone to go out and film the IM Kona course.  Today they’ve got 364 videos live, and they’re aiming to onboard another 100 videos by the end of the year.

Anyway, the reason why the time matters is that the closer you are to the time of the filmer, the more realistic it’ll be.  See, in the settings there’s an option for the playback (Steady/Reactive/Challenge). When the video plays back there’s basically the option to play it back at the speed it was filmed – Steady – regardless of your effort. Or, to play it back such that the video speed is slowed or sped up based on your effort (Reactive). This is similar to how other apps do it.

Speaking of settings, there’s a pile of them, most of which are pretty self-explanatory.

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One of the coolest geeky ones though is the ability to download any of full-res 4K and 1080p video files to a local computer or NAS server on your network. This is notable if you’ve got bandwidth issues, or if your Apple TV is filled up already with other stuff, or if you’re running a studio of these all setup and want everything available locally.  Cool stuff.

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Below there are a bunch of options primarily related to the trainer and CLIMB. This includes what is essentially a ‘Trainer Difficulty’ setting, as well as max incline and even max decline for the CLIMB (in case you have crazy long crank arms or something and might bottom out). You’ll also see support for the road feel/patterns within the Tacx Neo.

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And finally after that is a bunch of upload options. Strava, TrainingPeaks, Today’s Plan and such. Plus the ability to e-mail yourself the files (you can also download them from their web portal too).

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So, with all that set, let’s start riding. In my case I selected to download the file to the Apple TV using the ‘download’ button (not the NAS server, just the standard download option you see a few screenshots above). In my case the download button has changed to ‘Delete’ because I’ve already downloaded it. Note, you don’t have to wait for the download to complete at all – you can just stream it. After which, I’m brought to the start of the ride.

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As I start pedaling you’ll see most of the normal stats you’d expect on the sides and top, including my power/wattage and heart rate. One notable one though is the playback speed, directly below my speed (left side):

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This is telling me how close I am to the original filmer. The closer this is to 1.00%, the more it’ll feel like the real thing. If you’re down at .60% or up at 1.33%, it won’t feel life-like. If it’s too slow it’ll stutter, and if it’s too high it’ll look like fast-forward.  Of course, you can always just go and change this to simply play-back at the filmed speed (called ‘Steady mode’)– but the downside there is that your distance won’t quite be accurate.

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In my case it was easy enough to match the filmed speed (or be close to it), and things felt and looked really nice.  Since it’s resistance controlling the trainer, it also changes the incline accordingly. This is supported for all the major trainers/brands.

And since I was using a KICKR CLIMB with this, it changed the CLIMB’s incline there as well. And this is where they’re doing some unique bits. See normally app developers with the CLIMB simply match the trainer incline. So by default an app tells the trainer (KICKR) to be 5% grade. That makes the KICKR 5% grade, and then the CLIMB is also made 5% grade at the same time.

But there’s also a lesser-known option with the CLIMB’s development kit that allows developers to send secondary commands to the CLIMB. This means that a developer can tell the KICKR to be 5% but the CLIMB to be something else.  Why would you want to do this?

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(Note: Yes, my seat is WAY to low. I had a DCR Reader in doing some power meter tests this week, and totally forgot to change it after the ride.)

Well, it turns out that it actually feels better to send the CLIMB’s commands slightly ahead of the KICKR’s.  In the case of FulGaz, they send the CLIMB commands 2 seconds prior to the KICKR gradient commands. This has the result of making the two feel more cohesive (as backwards as that might sound). It’s really impressive, and just feels so much more immersive than it does in Zwift (which just uses the regular way). Two seconds apparently matters.

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As noted above, there are some 364 courses/routes from all around the world. Some are longer climbs, and some are regular roads that may be interesting, and some are even loops that you can have it repeat over and over again.

Finally, when you’re done riding your trainer, you can end the ride. However, you can also save your place and finish it another day – which is super cool. Why can’t I do that on other apps? This is especially useful if you’re doing a longer climb like Alp d’Huez, and perhaps finish it over two shorter weeknight sessions.

Once you have ended for real though, it’ll upload automatically to platforms like Strava and such, depending on what you’ve configured.

Wrap Up:

I think there’s a few overarching themes with the apps I enjoy reviewing. First, they do cool technical stuff. Everything just works, and it works well.  But, equally important is that the user interface just looks super clean. The user interface for FulGaz, especially on Apple TV – is so clean and efficient it feels like Apple TV itself. From the color scheme to the menu system, it doesn’t feel cluttered or clunky or from the 1980’s.  And again, it just works.

From a ride quality standpoint, the videos I tried were all pretty high quality. I did see a little bit of pixelization on some of the 1080p videos, as I was running up against a bug on getting the 4K videos to download (the company says the fix for that should be approved by Apple in the next day or two).  Looking at the 4K files though, they look awesome. There was one minor filtering bug I mentioned in the video around the mountains list being not right; the company has also said it looks like they had a secondary filter showing only a fraction of the videos. Should also be fixed soon.  But these are super minor things in the grand scheme of an app that just released onto a new platform.

Speaking of platforms, I know some of you will ask about Android. Here’s what they had to say:

“No plans for Android at this time. It’s not an Anti-Android thing or an Apple Fanboy thing on our part, it’s just the harsh reality that it would take an entire rebuild from scratch, plus ongoing work to perfect things for all the Android variants. It would be nice to have, but it’s the sort of thing a much larger company would take on. The same goes for Windows.

Apple TV was pretty simple in comparison because it’s “just” a new interface. All the physics etc and device connection code is the same as the iOS version.”

And there is a reality to what they’re saying. With TrainerRoad and Zwift both having over 100 employees, it’s pretty hard for a small development shop with only a few employees like Fulgaz, to do both platforms well. Unlike more traditional games on these platforms, the barrier to entry for a trainer game/app is much higher due to all the sensor interfaces (especially Bluetooth Smart variances on the wide variety Android devices).

Still, it’s neat to see them branch out into the Apple TV realm. And more importantly, it’s cool to see smaller app developers like FulGaz putting out equally high-quality trainer apps and even surpassing some of the big guys when it comes to specific technical implementations (like CLIMB).

With that – thanks for reading and have a great weekend ahead!

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68 Comments

  1. Matthew

    Oh man, nice kit!

  2. Anirudh

    It’s nice to use AppleTV to get Zwift on your big screen, but you gotta be careful with image burn-in issues on those fancy OLED TV’s…

  3. Marcos Saad

    Hi Ray,

    What’s this platform you are at?

    Tks,

  4. Cornelius

    I posted this as a question over on YouTube but I thought it would be helpful here too: is there any way to have TrainerRoad control your trainer (say in ERG mode) while FulGaz runs as well? The idea would be you could do a structured workout while having “something to look at.” Does FulGaz have any plans to offer structured workouts in the future?

    • Boris

      @Cornelius I do that… TrainerRoad (on tablet/phone) controls my SmartTrainer and FulGaz gets only power & cadence (via BLE) broadcasted. Works great. But I use a little helper for that. It’s called CABLE (from npe).

    • Eli

      Should be the same as zwift in that sense. FulGaz won’t have any control over the Climb though

    • We’re looking at structured workouts. Not as in a way to create them but a way to use the existing workout file formats, you can then load up an existing erg session to go with the ride of your choice. As Boris mentioned, you can do this already but it’s a bit of stuffing around.

    • Boris

      @Mike:

      „but a way to use the existing workout file formats, you can then load up an existing erg session to go with the ride of your choice.“ Could be really neat.

      „you can do this, but it‘s a bit of stuffing around“
      Is passive mode (like on iPad) on Apple TV availabe too? If yes, haven’t figured out how to activate – maybe a hint for me?

  5. John

    Ray:

    Are you planning to do an APP overview this fall. I am trying to decide which app to use this winter. I like to mix them up. I do not think you posted one last year, so it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    John

  6. Mervyn

    Great review! I see I can ride with Hesjedal in Jasper anytime now!

  7. Ged Equi

    Brilliant review. Superb app.

  8. JP

    It’s a shame, it looks interesting but they don’t have a Windows version, so I have to take my money somewhere else.

    • Boris

      I’m not aware of a media player, which runs Windows, has the “tiny-teeneee” form factor of a Apple TV 4K, does cost only about 200.- CHF/€/$ has enough ohhmmpf to even render Zwift.

      What do you use?

  9. Matt

    Ray,
    is my understanding correct that your speed relative to the person filming will have no bearing on your position vis-a-vis other riders in the movie?
    So speeding up just makes the other riders speed up as well?
    If so, did you not find this annoying? Ideally you would overlay Zwift with real filmed courses, I guess that is the next step in the evolution?

    • Correct, it just speeds it up/slows it down.

      It’s not ideal per se, but it is what it is.

      There’s some work being done to overlay virtual riders on real-course videos. I detailed that last month at Eurobike in this video, but it still needs a fair bit of work: link to youtube.com

  10. Dave

    To avoid not having one sensor due to being limited to 3 simultaneous connections, could you turn the remote off and use an iPhone to control the AppleTV with the Renote app?

    • Yes, it does work with Zwift (disabling remote and using phone), but I haven’t tried it here. Should work though.

    • Gareth

      Yes I’m surprised a few others haven’t mentioned this. I’ve ordered a Cable ant device as I can see a load of other uses for one of those (thanks for the heads up on it!), but removing the Apple remote seems like a logical, cheap and easy way of returning to three BT inputs which would be enough for most people. I expect that many people who have a new Apple TV will also have one of the older aluminium remotes and they are, if I remember correctly, Infra red so will still work for the basic commands.

      PS Get on with your task list – am eagerly awaiting Pizza report 🙂

  11. Kev Dwyer

    Missing a trick here to get the full immersive experience Ray.
    Most of the courses I can see are blessed with fine weather ( for practical reasons of rain on the lens I suppose ).

    How about a course filmed in the driving rain with controls linked to a couple of powerful fans and shower heads? ( Or get the Girl to throw the occasional bucket of cold water over you )
    🙂

  12. Dan G

    FulGaz looks a very nicely designed and executed service.

    But I’m concerned at their reasoning for not having Windows or Android versions. Yeah it would cost money to develop those, but of course it would. It’s called investment. If you don’t do it someone else will, and then your company will die as your competitor re-invests the new revenue from new platforms to move ever further ahead.

    • Charles Morgan

      The future is the Apple TV. It is the cheapest and simplest way to get these apps onto your TV. Hooking up a computer is the past, Apple TV is the future.

    • I think the challenge for any company is to determine whether the work-effort justifies the revenue.

      Starting with doing a PC/Windows version – I don’t think it does anymore, at least for this specific use case. In the case of Zwift, it does, because they’re doing more gaming where it makes a bit more sense from a realism standpoint.

      Whereas with Fulgaz, the ability to deliver video (1080p or 4K) is honestly pretty trivial, and thus it makes sense to push that to mobile devices.

      But more importantly, virtually every consumer will have either Android or iOS. So if we look at the practicality of adding Windows/Mac, it probably doesn’t make much sense.

      Now, then there’s the Android bit. I’d have to take Mike’s word on whether or not it’s justified. I’m sure they’ve done the math on what it would take to build and support an Android app from scratch.

      Having a bit of insider knowledge from talking to all these companies (Fitbit/Garmin/Zwift/and everyone else in between), Android support for BLE devices continues to be a significant source of pain. Not so much on flagship devices (i.e. the latest Samsung or Pixel device), but rather, on the 18 million other Android devices. Some of which just do crappy implementations. Support costs tend to be exceedingly challenging for these companies.

      So, I can see how that’s a tough pitch for a company that’s likely only a few employees.

    • Kostya

      No sure how big percentage wise user base you represent. I for example do not have Apple TV. I have a PC that is hooked up to 40″ 4K monitor and it does everything. Granted it is more expensive than that cute little box from Apple but it also does so much more. To each their own,

    • Patrick Myers

      >> Hooking up a computer is the past, Apple TV is the future.

      Respectfully, hogwash. My trainer (a Neo) is in my living room, and if I’m going to be on there clicking away, I can’t monopolize the TV too. My wife watches the TV and I use a laptop.

      Separately though, I love that they have at least a couple IM rides. But I watched the beginning of the UK one and starting getting motion sickness from the side to side of the camera. Are all of them like that? I get that it adds to the realism, but ooof.

    • Kostya

      Patrick Myers – “…I get that it adds to the realism…”
      It does not add realism. It subtracts it. In real life your side to side motion is due to your balancing efforts and your vision system promptly compensates for it. On TV that movement is completely detached from your body muscle/sensor system and just leads to motion sickness.

    • Hi Patrick

      The UK Ironman is one of the older rides. As cameras have improved, so has the stability. We’re about to film the whole Kona course in 4k, then the Aussie IM courses. They’re tough ones to film because you can’t do it on race day and the rest of the time there’s issues with traffic etc.

    • Patrick Myers

      Thanks for the reply Mike.

      I’m coming from a triathlon background rather than cycling, so whereas other programs tend to focus on courses of big cycling events (which I *totally* understand the appeal of for cyclists), those are very ho hum for me. Having IM/70.3 rides is a *huge* incentive for me to subscribe, and lack of them is why I haven’t subscribed to other ride simulation programs. I don’t even care about simulating the race per se, I just want to *see* the course before I get there; I don’t care if it’s a race day or later with traffic – I just want to see it.

      So keep ’em coming!

  13. Rob S

    Road Marin Headlands today. Enjoyed the scenery but the elevation/grade information sent to my wahoo kickr snap was not accurate of what was presentedon my apple4k.

    Downhills were more difficult to ride than steep uphills. Appreciate the effort, but I’ll stick to my other training app

    • It’s rare, but it does happen with the Apple TV occasionally. That ride is synced correctly, every second of the way. We have seen instances where if a KICKR (or other trainer) is left alone for a while before riding it’s connection drops out then gets confused when it restarts. This is more a reflection on how bluetooth works on the Apple TV than anything else unfortunately but we’re currently talking to Wahoo about ways it can be overcome. (It’s not a wahoo specific issue but they like to stay on top of this sort of thing).

      If you restart everything and give it another try it should be fine. Just be sure to start riding soon after you’ve turned the trainer on. If you want more help email mike@fulgaz.com

    • Rob S

      Thanks for the prompt reply! I’ll jump on a few more rides during the free trial period to see if I run into any more issues. I’m hopeful this was a weird anomaly. My cadence and wattage output seemed accurate despite the trainer elevation/sync issues.

      The app shows promise and the virtual ride concept- with the ability to ride nearly anywhere- is quite exciting.

  14. Happy Runner

    The knock on Apple TV 4K is that it can’t produce shadows and other Zwift realism effects like a PC can. Is that true with the FulGaz app as well?

    • Good question.

      All the realism as you put it, is in the video, there are no effects except for in the menus and navigation etc.

      We don’t need to do any complex rendering like there is in Zwift etc because all the moving images are video. The Apple TV can be optimised to display video content, so we really take advantage of that and make big video files play very smoothly (unless your streaming in your basement or something).

      We designed FulGaz to use the absolute minimum CPU possible by pre calculating a lot of the terrain and physics calculations on the server. This means so we don’t need a computer to provide the grunt.

    • Also, as an aside to Zwift – there’s a bit of debate as to why Zwift hasn’t enabled those effects, since others games are capable of doing so on Apple TV 4K.

  15. David Mulligan

    In the video your Kickr and Climbb are mounted on a moving platform – I’d bee interested to know what that is?

    David

  16. Cody

    “The closer this is to 1.00%, the more it’ll feel like the real thing. If you’re down at .60% or up at 1.33%”

    1.00%. That’s gonna take 100 times to get there!

  17. Duncan Tindall

    ” And second, whether or not you’re an Apple or Android household, Apple TV represents the least expensive way to get a dedicated trainer computer/setup up and running. ”

    Whilst scared to question this, and pardon my impertinence, but I managed to do it cheaper by buying some off lease PC desktops for $50 each, and chucking in a basic 3d card. Is this better? Well I reckon it’s more flexible, but more importantly then it gives me the option (that I’m using) of running second screens off each pc for Netflix.

  18. Rich

    This looks like a great ap.
    However, the app makes you choose power meter or trainer. my interpretation is that:
    1) if you select trainer then the trainer resistance is controlled by the app and the on screen speed is adjusted to match the trainer power. However,
    2) if you select power meter then the trainer resistance is not controlled at all -only the speed is adjusted on the screen.
    Is this understanding correct?
    Is there a way that you can choose the trainer and choose a different power meter? the reason i ask is that my trainer power reads differently to my bike power and i’d prefer all my rides to use the same power meter.
    Thanks,
    Rich

    • Hi Rich

      Your understanding is correct. If you connect a power meter, the resistance on your trainer will not be controlled. However, if you have a KICKR, you can configure it in the Wahoo fitness app to act as a bluetooth bridge and send your power data to FulGaz instead of it’s internal power meter. The KICKR is still then controlled in the normal way.

  19. “…Finally, when you’re done riding your trainer, you can end the ride. However, you can also save your place and finish it another day – which is super cool. Why can’t I do that on other apps? …”

    Sorry Ray, I have to correct you here. You actually can. Not sure about every other app but Veloreality does that automatically. The ride never ends until you explicitly tell the app to end it.

  20. Lloyd Jowsey

    Great review thanks

  21. PAM392

    Anyone has an idea when the new Tacx app is going live on Apple TV or Ipad?

  22. AndreaL

    Are you aware of similar apps that might be used for running, when training on a treadmill? If so, have you reviewed? Thanks!

  23. Jason

    Ray, I’m looking to buy a couple TV stands similar to yours for my pain cave – which model is yours? Are you satisfied with it?

  24. Ray Mass

    Hi Ray and all,

    I am trying to connect my indoor trainer (tacx Neo) with the FulGaz Apple TV 4k. The app finds the trainer and displays in the list….but I just can’t connect it (I have unpaired all other devices and restarted both the trainer and the app). No problems at all with Zwift. Any idea anyone?

    • Hi Ray

      If FulGaz is seeing your trainer on the list but absolutely cannot connect to it, delete FulGaz and reinstall it, or start creating a second user, which should activate the checkbox. We’ve seen this happen a few times and have put a fix in for the next release.

      As awesome as the DC Rainmaker’s website is, it won’t be the best place to get advice on this. If this doesn’t solve your problem, email support@fulgaz.zendesk.com and if you’re on facebook, join the FulGaz riders facebook group.

  25. Conor Duffy

    Seeing as I didn’t see it in your article…
    FulGaz costs:-
    €8.99 Per month
    €78.59 Per Year

  26. tom

    Curious to know if Ray has tried this on other trainers? I am having an issue with my Direto receiving no resistance. I have read through all the comments on this site and on the FulGaz support page and have tried the suggestions – restarting the app, deleting the app, adding other users – all to no avail. I think it’s a great platform otherwise.

    • This trick below works.

      Yes, it shouldn’t be necessary, and for some firmware versions of the Direto it isn’t needed. To make it harder to fix, our Direto and elite’s one at their HQ both respond correctly every time. We’re looking at more workarounds, but in the meantime…

      “My workaround is to connect with the Elite MyETraining app every time before starting Fulgaz. I open the Elite app, start level training mode (which I think is the only free mode) and immediately exit. Then resistance control in Fulgaz always works. My guess is that the Elite app is doing something that Fulgaz doesn’t – extra commands or a different order perhaps.

      Once it’s connected it is perfect until next time the trainer has gone back to sleep post-ride”

  27. Ron Green

    I am interested in using Fulgaz on AppleTV but want HR and cadence. I see with the Wahoo Ticker X you can do this. I currently have a Schoche Rhythm 24 that also captures Cadence with the HR band. Will this work and if so how do I set it up?