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Is Zwift About to Acquire TrainerRoad?

Zwift-TrainerRoad

If one were reading the tea leaves of the indoor trainer industry, they’d probably be seeing some pretty interesting things. Over the past three weeks, we’ve seen increasingly clear signs that something substantial is about to occur between the two major players of the endurance sports indoor training world: Zwift and TrainerRoad. And, the wheels seem to be in motion already.

First though, as a historical tidbit it’s worth noting that by and large, TrainerRoad and Zwift grew up together. Except, just on different sides of the tracks. One has been heavily funded by investors, while the other has been entirely self-funded. In the beginning, they rarely, if ever acknowledged each other’s existence. And it’s only been in the last few years that we’ve seen more acknowledgment from TrainerRoad that Zwift exists, as the company has seen more and more of its users leverage TrainerRoad’s training, to ultimately compete on Zwift. But for the most part, Zwift has ignored TrainerRoad, instead, offering a relatively basic structured training platform. Despite their differences, many users actually use both platforms (including myself), as a way of keeping themselves occupied indoors.

TrainerRoad started in 2011, where I met them at Interbike – with co-founders Nate Pearson and Reid Weber. Reid eventually went on to join and revamp The SufferFest, which in turn is now owned by Wahoo Fitness. Whereas Nate continues on as CEO of TrainerRoad. Meanwhile, Zwift started in 2014, where I met co-founders Eric Min and Jon Mayfield in a literal coat closet at Eurobike.

From there, these two grew over the years. At first, TrainerRoad likely had a higher subscriber base (especially since it was there three years prior), but over time, Zwift would eclipse it. While neither company wants to give out paid subscriber numbers, the ballparks are likely in the 700-950K subscribers for Zwift, and probably in the 150-350K range for TrainerRoad. Neither are the biggest platforms in the indoor cycling space, but they are titans in name for many outdoor cyclists.

The Three Reasons:

There are three core signs that point towards either an outright acquisition or a significant partnership. Let’s dive through all of them – in the order they occurred.

First up, was the CEO of Zwift, Eric Min, going to Reno, NV on January 12th. In fact, he then published a photo of it on his Facebook & Instagram feed:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Eric Min (@werkdodger)

Now, while Reno is a lovely slab of concrete with rundown casinos in the middle of the desert, there’s precisely zero reasons to go there in the middle of January. Nearby Lake Tahoe, or skiing at Mt. Rose? Sure, great spots. But downtown Reno? Not so much. After all, Interbike breathed its last breath there 4 years ago.

About this point, you’re probably wondering what else is in Reno, NV? Aside from the National Automobile Museum, there’s also TrainerRoad’s HQ. Now, we won’t hold it against TrainerRoad that they list Reno as their address. After all, I’ve gone on a number of rides with the TrainerRoad crew over the years into the surrounding mountains and landscape. It’s stunning, and would easily be on my very short list of places I could consider moving to, from Amsterdam (within the Top 3, as long as I could avoid having ‘Reno’ on my street address).

But, for Eric, a guy who lives in London – it’s peculiar to fly to Reno. And I certainly didn’t see any epic outside ride photos posted. Sure, he was seemingly at Zwift HQ in Long Beach, CA prior to that. But there are countless nicer places from LGB to take an hour flight than RNO in January.

The next day after visiting, Zwift widely publishes a user survey that uses very TrainerRoad specific language.

The survey asked whether or not folks would be interested in the concept of “Zwift Premium”, which would include a slate of features that are more structured training focused. All of which would cost more (and the exact prices varied, and were part of the survey’s purpose).

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Of course, Zwift Premium is literally TrainerRoad – even using the same wording/terms, for example:

1) “Adaptive Training Calendar”: Yup, that’s the exact wording that TrainerRoad uses for their automatically adjusting calendar.

2) “Adaptive Training Plans”: Also, the exact same wording. Now’s a good time to point out that virtually nobody else in the industry uses the term “Adaptive Training Plans”…except TrainerRoad

3) “Daily AI-powered recommendations”: This is TrainerRoad’s “TrainNow” feature, with virtually identical verbiage – even including the “Make you faster” wording that TrainerRoad often uses.

4) Automatic threshold (FTP) detection: While Zwift does do automatic FTP detection, the key wording here is “past performances”, which Zwift doesn’t do. Instead, they only do it upon something new occurring and it’s fairly basic.

5) “Take your workout Outdoors”: This is again, virtually identical wording to TrainerRoad’s feature for “Outdoor workouts”, which also specifically include just Garmin and Wahoo at this time. Zwift has zero outside features these days.

I mean, basically, someone read the homepage of TrainerRoad, where they have this nifty chart, and then put it into the survey:

FixedZwift

Ok, so at this point, Eric goes to Reno, presumably meets with TrainerRoad (neither company will say), and then based on that, they decide to press ‘Go’ on a survey to begin some top-level trolling. I mean, research.

But we’re not done here folks. Yesterday, Eric joined the Strava Club for TrainerRoad:

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Now, as you can see, Eric is not a connoisseur of numerous Strava Clubs. A third of the ones he’s joined are Zwift variants, another third are existing industry partnerships (Rapha, GCN, Le Col), and then the rest are more local Strava Clubs (such as the Splunk SLAM’s – which is a local club in the Connecticut/NY area). TrainerRoad is the only one he doesn’t have a clear and obvious existing connection to.

But wait, did I mention Zwift CEO Eric Min also now follows TrainerRoad CEO Nate Pearson?

clip_image001

Eric does not follow any other competitors on Strava, nor really that many people at all – just 43 in total, most of which appear to be real-world friends and a few Zwift people. Albeit, I don’t know when his Nate stalking might have started. Nor has Nate reciprocated this following. Though, Nate’s probably still asleep or polishing his air fryer as I write this, so, that’s fair.

Is It Good For Users?

The answer: It’s complicated.

A merger would likely be good for existing consumers of both TrainerRoad and Zwift, in a number of ways:

First, financially for our wallets, it’d undoubtedly be cheaper to use both platforms together, even if Zwift created a premium tier of sorts. Certainly, that premium tier is likely to cost less than paying for standalone products today. It’s unlikely we’ll see pricing increases here for a single product. I think more broadly speaking, we’ll see training platforms increase their prices over the next 1-2 years, as growth slows/flatlines post-COVID-surge.

Second, from a Zwift user’s standpoint, you’d get access to one of the best training-focused platforms in the space. Whether that’s in the form of an integrated product into Zwift, or just access to TrainerRoad as a standalone app. Given Zwift’s super-limited training functionality today (in terms of tracking historical progress, setting forward goals, having workouts adjust automatically, etc…), everything TrainerRoad has is better than Zwift in this area.

Third, from a TrainerRoad user standpoint, we’d likely see more plans and more clear focus on indoor racing. And, undoubtedly, we’d see them given more money to do more things. It could be moving faster on app initiatives, greater coaching options, more plans, etc… TrainerRoad has historically run a rather lean shop (in terms of finances and headcount bloat), so it’s likely we’d see them have a bit more freedom to move faster within their app.

Fourth, I’d be optimistic that we’d see some of TrainerRoad’s technical chops and standards-following aspects rub off on Zwift. While Zwift makes pretty games, they aren’t known for easily working with the rest of the smart trainer industry, or following standards. They generally prefer to re-invent their own. Whereas TrainerRoad is usually more on ‘Team Industry’ than not. And for the most part, having companies not just follow but also push forward standards is good for consumers.

Fifth, this would give Zwift users credit for outside: Undoubtedly, Zwift is seeing their growth flatline (like other trainer platforms), as people are no longer restricted to indoor locales, and there’s a strong desire to go outside. If we look at concurrent users, even despite the first massive US East Coast snowstorm this weekend, we didn’t see Zwift come close to breaking any of their all-time records from a year ago (set in January). If they were growing, they’d have broken those records at some point this month, and it simply hasn’t happened. Going outside and focusing on outside rides will likely be a huge part of 2022 for many cyclists, finding a way to capitalize on that and ensure users stay with the platform as the weather warms is important to retaining subscribers and growing.

So who’s likely to lose out? Well, everyone else.

Anytime you take two dominant players in the industry, everyone else loses out. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an indoor trainer company or an airline. And the losers are both their competitors, but usually also their competitor’s consumers. There’s immediately less competition, and typically that also means less innovation. Sometimes it can also impact pricing, as well as 3rd party partnerships.

Still, there is solid competition out there remaining. So this isn’t creating a vacuum situation. On the TrainerRoad-like front, you have Xert. Obviously far smaller, but doing relatively similar things in responsive training for many years as well. And on the Zwift side, you’ve got RGT, Rouvy, and Bkool as the most similar in terms of virtual-world like racing and training. And beyond that of course you have Wahoo SYSTM, Kinomap, Tacx Training, and FulGaz (all of which are outlined here).

There’s also the strong likelihood that if Zwift and TrainerRoad were to merge, we’d probably see some additional investor-backed mergers and dev surges to try and counter that. I’d argue that while a TrainerRoad/Zwift merger is probably bad for the industry at large (but good for their own consumers), whereas a merger from some of the other smaller players would be good for both consumers and the industry, as it’d likely strengthen their positions and reduce what is currently a fair bit of duplication (some of it mediocre).

Now, at this point, you’re probably saying: Couldn’t Zwift just do a TrainerRoad partnership instead? And certainly – that’s absolutely plausible. Zwift has licensed a handful of things in the past. And, in the past, TrainerRoad’s CEO has said he would be open to a licensing model for their technologies.

But based on years of knowing the CEOs of both companies, my gut says a buy-out is more likely.

I’m also hesitant to think that Eric would fly to Reno, meet with TrainerRoad face to face, release a big survey to their userbase, then he’d follow TrainerRoad on Strava, then follow the TrainerRoad’s CEO on Strava…all while TrainerRoad, a company known for engaging in rumors on their own forums, have gone completely silent….all for “just” partnership?

Seems unlikely, especially with half a billion dollars floating around Zwift’s bank accounts. But hey – stranger things have happened.

With that – thanks for reading! I’m sure this won’t be the last chapter in this saga.

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168 Comments

  1. ms

    I wonder what would happen to TrainerRoad “legacy” subscribers who years ago locked in discounted for life prices. I pay $90 yearly for TR. I’d hate to see that end due to a merger while TR functionality carried on under new ownership.

    • david

      Legacy here at the same level! Not many of us out there. I am loyal to TR and have NEVER tried Zwift simply as I don’t want the gaming.

    • Yup, it’ll be interesting to see – and I’ll be in the same bucket as you! I’m also in the locked-discount-for-life from the begining.

    • Michael

      Nate has said legacy pricing will remain while he is CEO. Would he still be CEO?

    • Ian

      Me and my wife are both legacy users who have been very loyal to TR since the beginning. Hopeful (but doubtful) that users like us are considered.

    • Paavo Nurmi

      There was a mention in one of the podcast about changing or ending legacy subscriptions which resulted in a long and semi heated thread on the TR forum. I’m locked in at $99/year and only keep it for that price, most people like me would just go month to month if there was a legacy price increase. I only use TR in the winter so that means 3-5 months a year.

    • Steven

      We can start arguing this concept. I totally don’t get that.
      My son (14) has to pay more for a TR subscription than my dad (68) while using it 1 once a week because he signed up long ago?
      For myself, I would never get a subscription (again) knowing that someone else only pays half of the price. At least at Zwift they are clear about that. I steered away from TR due to an injury for 6 months and then they jumped up in price and they didn’t want to give the old price, so I never went (and go) back there. Sure, they aren’t waiting for me.
      I try to understand the concept.
      “I pay the price for gas in my car from 2014 because I bought the car in that year?”

    • Serge

      Same here, I am on legacy TR plan and happily keep it year round. I also tried Zwift bunch of times (On Tacx Neo too, so I had the “full” experience) but still prefer the clean, minimal approach TR offers.

      Getting rid of legacy plans and pulling it into Zwift interface would be a big bummer for me.

    • Fred Stig

      It makes perfect sense: they want to reward people that have stayed with them year after year. It’s a benefit of being loyal. If I had a rental property and my tenant was great: paid rent on time, notified me in a timely fashion of things that needed fixing, was quiet and conscientious, I would not increase their rent just to keep up with the market. I’d possibly have slight increases every year at most, but I’d want to keep them around b/c a good tenant is amazing and worth the ‘losses’ in rental income just for the reduction in hassle. TR wants to keep loyal customers around so they offer a kindly, lower rate b/c we’ve given them a constant, reliable income stream for an extended period of time.

    • David Manley

      That’s my biggest concern. I’ve been off the bike a little while but keep my TR a sub rolling because at the rate I pay it would be stupid to lose it.

    • Richard

      Same here – both my wife and I are long term TrainerRoad users and believers…. and we don’t use Zwift (or really want to).

  2. Kemal

    Great detective work!

  3. seth katzenstein

    I’m also a TR legacy user and very very loyal to the product. I’ve used both together in the past but currently only on traine road.
    I also noticed that a key trainer road employee, Jonathan Lee has liked Eric Mins Instagram posts.

  4. Noah

    Ugh… I use TrainerRoad precisely because I don’t want all the Zwift video-game nonsense. The last thing we TR users need is for some s#!tty game company to come in, steal all of the quality training content, and double the price so we can have slow and buggy software that only really works well on Apple TV. I hop that Zwift considers that if they move forward with something like this – there are plenty of people who just want to train (and maybe catch up on movies on a TV in the background).

    • Eli

      They could easily keep the trainer road ui as is moving forward. They have been innovative but their simple ui has mostly started the same. So very easy to just have a different ux when running your workout

  5. simon

    another ‘legacy’ subscriber here

    I don’t see this as good news for people like me. Zwift buy out TrainerRoad and kill off all the innovations and improvements TR have brought over the years. Make it more like Zwift with progress that moves at a snails pace.

    Good news for TR shareholders though but disappointing for those who have stuck with TR all these years.

    • Eli

      Trainer road is a llc, they don’t sell shares so no shareholders.

    • Drew

      While an LLC has no ‘shareholders’, one can have various parties with Membership Interests – which function very similary to owning shares. They are a private company so it’s going to be a much smaller pool of parties owning membership interests than one would see in a large public company.

      I’ve been expecting a series of acquisitions ever since Zwift raised that $450mm from KKR (and others participating in the round) – as a common play in large private equity owned firms is to go out and acquire to consolidate the space.
      Curious to see what happens on this.

    • Robert

      Amazon is an LLC

  6. Garry Twiss

    On the FittInsider podcast with Nate, he openly says they are happy with their business model but would be open to licensing and ‘get f anyone is interested they know where to find him’. I guess Eric found him!

  7. Michal

    I always thought Zwift is gonna go for Xert.

    • It would invariably have been a cheaper purchase (or cheaper license model), but I sense Zwift might be attracted to the larger user base of TrainerRoad.

      One other factor to consider is that an acquisition of TrainerRoad, would increase the number of subscribers Zwift could claim on their platform – which in turn has implications beyond just bragging rights. While it’s clearly no longer a good environment to IPO an indoor training company, that doesn’t mean future investors (of any sort) won’t appreciate a larger subscriber base.

    • Eli

      Xert has a great way to model rides which feels like it’s the best out there currently, but they don’t really have a good way of creating a training plan for a user where the platform is the coach. They are based on mathematical models which are great but they don’t seem to feed into a machine learning model.

      Xert smart workouts are great in how they are much more flexible based on the signature of the user but no real ml to string them together

    • neil

      I think the complexity of learning Xert would be the killer for the majority of zwift subscribers. Arguably Xert is much more suited to Zwift from an integration perspective.. Train, then use that training in zwift races using real time MPA and getting instant feedback through breakthroughs. But I just don’t think the majority of zwift users would get it. It’s too much of a leaving curve. Trainerroad would be a much easier integration.

    • Pete

      Min might be in for a rude awakening if this is for a user-base grab. There’s a lot of overlap between the 2 programs. I’d say 25-30% of TR subscribers are Zwift subscribers

    • Fausto

      I am pretty sure there would be no “rude awakening”. Getting the number of users who use both platforms would be part of basic due diligence on any deal between the companies.

    • James Eastwood

      My gut feel is a partnership (appreciated you addressed this at the end).

      Zwift premium by TrainerRoad – with all of those features for a surplus amount. However TR exists on its own for those that want that, with all of the detailed plans etc and a cheaper total figure, and Zwift has a basic plan without the premium features, for those with coaches, plans from elsewhere, etc.

      I would love to see the automated FTP estimate used as an option for race organisers to sort pens. Would eliminate sandbagging and cruising.

    • Fausto

      Zwift acquiring TR makes more sense than a partnership. TR could still exist as a standalone product as you describe (and as it is now) and “Zwift Premium with TrainerRoad” as a new product that costs $10 (or whatever) more than standard Zwift (which remains at $15.month).

      One advantage of an acquisition (assuming TR could be acquired for a reasonable price) is the potential for Zwift putting some case to work immediately to build out TR functionality. Another plus would be the ability to steer TR’s development to sync more with Zwift’s long term plan (running? rowing?). Also, Zwift has the cash and might want to put it to work sooner, rather than later.

    • Tay

      Xert is a mess in a myriad of ways. Everything from user experience to development. It’s more of a passion project than any sort of consumer ready business, and I’m not sure that Zwift’s intervention in Xert would result in anything different to TrainerRoad anyway.

    • Fausto

      “cash”, not “case”

    • Richard B

      so. basically who cares about the product as long the number grows? very zwift thing to say indeed,

  8. Gaz

    Would need a new woke meter if they merge.

  9. Eli

    You saw that xert and bike the world teamed up? So better videos when using xert workouts.

    I hope trainer road doesn’t sell out but just allows zwift to be used as the ui for running their workouts. I like how they are in complete control of what they want to do and not beholden to investors

  10. Jshort

    I’m excited to see what happens. I don’t see Zwift buying TR and then completely changing the product which has such a loyal base. Especially when sufferfest would be right there to scoop up the unsatisfied customers. The smart thing would be to leave it all the same and slowly integrate the 2. TR workouts with the option of Zwift worlds or the normal workout view that already exists.

    • Neil

      Yup, I agree. Leave them separate but with the ability to pull workouts into Zwift (like they currently do with training peaks) and integrate zwift with the trainerroad calendar and analysis.

    • Macy

      Yes, exactly. They don’t really need to touch TrainerRoad, just let the workouts go to zwift. Analysis and progression levels of unstructured rides is supposedly close, which would cover off zwift races/ events anyway.
      I’m on a legacy price with TR, but would guess losing that and paying zwift premium, would still be less that my legacy TR price + zwift sub

    • seth katzenstein

      So maybe more of a strategic partnership

  11. Alistair Flack

    Ooh, as someone who uses TR on my mobile for workouts, whilst having Zwift running on a PC…it would be great to have TR plans/workouts/train now available directly in Zwifts workout menu!

    But…I’d still want to keep my current ability to do workouts DURING Zwift events. I’m quite happy combining certain workouts with races or things like Tour Du Zwift big events…even if it does mean mashing the FTP bias to stay in the blob 🙂

  12. Matthew J Turosz

    I also received a survey from TR last week asking if an adaptive FTP algorithm would be appealing to me.😭

  13. #goteamrahman

    Any intel on whether Zwift plans to follow the surge in “play to earn” models seeing increasing popularity in the crypto/metaverse space (like axie infinity)? Zwift seems like such a natural fit, except that its user base might be demographically on the older side, so quick adoption might be a challenge – but might be a way to really entice people to enter the platform.

  14. Joseph CLARK

    As a TR user that doesn’t Zwift I’m not sure I’m gonna like what this means to my pocket book. I may be going else where if I have to pay more than I am now.

  15. Daniel Vystrcil

    I am very curious about this. I use Zwift and Today’s Plan as it tracks both my inside via Zwift and outside via Garmin. I always wanted to include TR, but TR does not track Zwift without jumping through hoops. If this merger happens I expect to pay for the “Pro level” in zwift, but then I can move from Today’s Plan.

    As for UI, I know some people have worked it so TR overlays on Zwift so that could be a nice “Phase 1”

    • Robin

      I’m a bit the same as you Daniel – I use Zwift, Today’s Plan and my Garmin. I run and ride and don’t find any of these platforms great for merging the two sports together in terms of suggesting workouts (I know only one of those platforms actively does that), I don’t think this will change if Zwift acquires TR.

      I tend to use the Garmin suggested workouts as a guide but suspect that they decide I need to do a Threshold workout (for example) and then get me to do one whether I pick cycling or running for that day’s sport, rather than choosing the type of workout dependent on the activity.

      My other issue is at the moment, I’m a better cyclist that runner so picking a “duathlon” plan to do from today’s plan tends to make my running workouts to hard for my running fitness.

      Maybe I should just pay for a coach?

  16. acousticbiker

    Funny, the online recon you did on this reminds me of the same kinds of tea leaves some of us were trying to read in the lead up to the Fenix 7 launch (e.g., DCR is in Canaries with DesFit, DCR’s Strava activities don’t show a device, DCR was on a hike with a Garmin engineer).

    Given how deliberate and detail-oriented you are, curious how intentional/approved some of these things were

    • I’m pretty intentional about what I do or don’t share on Strava/Instagram. I actually talk a fair bit about the behind the scenes for the Fenix 7 review in the most recent DCR Supporter video.

      Though, I didn’t go on any hikes/rides/etc with anyone but Des, or my wife.

      However, it may be possible that a Garmin engineer has re-uploaded a file of mine while doing testing, making it appear that they’re with me. It’s happened across many companies over the years when I send over files that need investigation.

    • Funny, I went back and looked, and see which hike you’re talking about from quite a while back. Yeah, that’s just a case of him loading my file after the fact for some diag stuff.

      For better or worse, Des and I saw only one other person that day on that hike. It was desolate!

    • acousticbiker

      Ah, ok, was wondering whether Garmin sent him out there and how much of that kind of thing happens behind the scenes during review periods – thanks for clarifying!

      Did you really take two separate trips to the Canaries for those reviews?

    • There are occasions where a company will send someone out to explain/show a product, and then we might go on a ride/run together the first time. That was actually pretty common pre-COVID. Relatively rare now, though people have dropped off products in-person in the last few weeks.

      If I’m having consistent and considerable problems that can’t be solved/explained via calls/e-mails/etc, then sometimes they do send people out to go on workouts. Wahoo for example last year with the BOLT V2, as they have a lead engineer not far from here.

      In the case of recent non-employee type travel, in December Des and I went to Grand Canaria to mostly just ride/hike and escape from the rain/cold, though I had all these devices putting them through initial paces. The purpose of that trip was less so focused on pure review data given it was still more than a month till launch, and more on getting to understand the features. Though, I ended up including snippets of that trip since the data was pretty solid then too.

      Whereas my recent solo Tenerife trip was more on finalizing the review with production firmware data and ensuring that some epic days matched expectations, as well as testing various edge-case scenarios. Plus shooting all the photos/videos I wanted. There’s also other products tested there from various companies that are for down the road.

      There aren’t really many great options for me in the Dec-Feb timeframe in terms of cycling and hiking, that are easy/quick to get to for me, that specifically aren’t covered in snow at the higher altitudes I’m looking for. There’s some spots in Portugal and Spain (mainland) that are viable, but also considerably wishy-washy weather-wise for a few more weeks still. Others like Mallorca are solid for altitude/routes/etc, but there’s no non-stops this time of year from AMS, so by time I add a connection in (and usually a lost bike as part of that for some reason), I’ve lost a lot of time.

  17. Tom P

    I really hope this doesn’t happen, love the simplicity of TR as is. I had always secretly hoped for a TrainerRoad-TrainingPeaks merger of some sort.

    • seth katzenstein

      Training peaks hasn’t done a meaningful update in years. Merging with trainer road is just about the only thing that could bring me back as a paying subscriber.

    • HSTO

      Yeah, I’m giving up my TP subscription when it ends, as it’s pretty well been replaced with TR and AT. I would just like TR to be able to take in metrics from other devices like sleep or weight from Garmin, Withings, etc, and maybe work that into the AT algorithm.

  18. Ethan Garrity

    I thought it odd that TrainerRoad just sent out a similar survey about adding run metrics as a possible future option to adaptive training.

  19. Stephen Allport

    I guess the other big question is, what happens to the TR Podcast? Will it get shorter as a result

    (And yes this is tongue in cheek)

  20. JesseJ

    Am I the only one that wants to know DC’s top 3 places he’d move to if he left Amsterdam?

    I’m going to guess:

    1. Girona
    2. Reno
    3. Palma

    • Ian S

      I had the same question 😉

    • Dan Northington

      Upvote!!!

    • I’ve actually somehow never been to Girona.

      While I couldn’t handle a Reno street address, Truckee or such is appealing.

      Mallorca is a great spot, through in Palma proper wouldn’t be my jam (just too busy). Instead, some rundown olive orchard on the eastern side of the island closer to all my favorite cycling routes would be great. But, I’m not sure it makes the Top 3 cut. Probably Top 5.

  21. James Eastwood

    Minor correction – Eric doesn’t live in London, he lives in the beautiful Cotswolds!

    In UK (or NL) terms, quite a long way from London, though there is a lot of money there from people who long commute to the city for a few days a week.

  22. rmc

    To me this is very interesting, as I live in Canada and typically pause my Zwift membership for 5-7 months, depending on the weather. I don’t know stats for how many others do that, but it would be interesting to see if fewer pause and continue the service year round with the TR features.

  23. David Watson

    I usually use TrainerRoad and Zwift simultaneously, so this is certainly an interesting rumor. However, I just suspended my TrainerRoad account because they’ve so far been unable to incorporate unstructured outdoor rides into their Adaptive Training model. I have trouble staying on a structured workout plan because I will always choose to ride outside (preferably with friends) over sitting on the trainer. Experimenting with Xert now, and so far pleased with how it includes *all* the exercise I’m doing to calculate metrics and recommend workouts. Xert does have a steep learning curve: this is my second time trying it because I couldn’t figure it out the first time! (And I say that as someone with a degree from a well-known technically-focused university and decades of experience with technology.) This time around I put in some real effort to understand how Xert works and how the various apps work together. Between the complexity of getting started with Xert and their shall-we-say-questionable UI design, I don’t see it as being a good fit for the average Zwift user, unless Zwift buries Xert’s technology under the hood.

    • Joseph CLARK

      If I lose my legacy pricing – I’ll need to do some xert research.

    • Scott

      I’m really glad you said that. I go through phones like candy, flash ROMs for entertainment, buy new bike computers because they are new, run 3-4 different training software packages at a time, but Xert has made my brain hurt. You should not have to watch 6 videos – and every time you have a question – read another full page article (that don’t always match reality). ** Now that I’m done being grumpy ** – the fact that Xert does look at (seemingly accurately) all rides is worth it.

  24. Martin

    Long term Xert user here, I’ll be sticking with it and just use the standard Zwift product.

  25. Scott Urista

    I called this two years ago. John, if you’re reading this, you owe me a case of Lagunitas.

  26. Tim Cooney

    I’ve been using Today’s Plan for about 4 years. I tried TR 3 years ago but at that time it was very Indoor Trainer centric (only recently made programs available outdoors). Today’s Plan, by contrast has been available for downloading workouts into headunits as well as for use in Zwift. Currently, all of my Today’s Plan workouts are automatically seen in Zwift as well as automatically seen in Garmin Connect and now on my headunit. Trainer Road is trying to catch up to Today’s Plan as Today’s Plan is already integrated into Zwift. Another great thing, like the Zwift workouts, you can edit them in Zwift to further customize.

  27. Paul

    Do you suppose this is company positioning for the future to maintain competitiveness against Peloton, Apple Fitness and iFit?

    • Patrick

      I doubt it. Apple Fitness, Peloton, and iFit seems more suited for “casual” fitness folks while TR and Zwift is more niche and for those focused on cycling or have cycling specific goals.

    • Paul

      I don’t disagree with your assessment of the focus of the services, but if a company doesn’t innovate or expand, it’s at risk. A bigger user base will be more attractive to investors and there’s nothing saying that the competitors are not planning to come after Zwift’s and TR’s business.

    • Like most tech companies, the definition of their ‘turf’ expands over time. For example, Peloton started cycling-only, then eventually added both running hardware as well as non-running gym-style workouts.

      Now they’re set to launch hardware aimed at strength training. Mind you, this is something they outlined many many years ago, so this isn’t some new things related to the light at the end of the tunnel with COVID. They long talked about the idea of subscribing to a gym at home, even having evergreen hardware via a monthly membership that added components at home, and automatically refreshed them.

      In the case of Zwift, as it finds flatlining growth, it’ll do the same. Adding in TR’s population makes sense, and then from there perhaps getting into having live video coaches (be it pros or others) akin to Peloton, to get a broader angle on the population. Likely eventually rowing hardware if the rumors are true, and so on.

      While Zwift’s recent valuation is massive now at $1B+, the reality is that there are still many bigger fitness companies out there. Plus, I’d question how that valuation looks now in 2022 given the falling valuations of their competitors, and flatlining interest on staying indoors 24×7.

    • Tay

      At the moment yes.

      But year on year Apple makes progress on fitness tech. If they acquire Peloton and Whoop and add training plans (remember Peloton bikes now have power meters and a new version to come come even be a smart bike) then Zwift has a world of pain you don’t even want to think about.

      If Apple wants your customers, they can and will get them. Ultimately the best case scenario for any consumer is one wrist worn multi sensor device that tracks all activities and a smart bike that works with fun and/or intelligent, visual training sessions.

      Who really wants to subscribe to multiple fitness related apps and the danger here is that Apple are now packaging fitness into their plans. Why go Zwift when you’re already paying for a power based cycling class online?

      That’s the endgame choice here and it’s only a few consolidations away.

      I love Zwift but Apple is f**king ring equipped Sauron!

  28. Gerry

    Great read between the tea leaves. Not sure if it was related, but TR discontinued their referral program in December.

    • Max Lein

      I thought they just switched to a 1-month free trial.

    • Chad McNeese

      Not so much “switched” as eliminated one option. Pretty sure that they have always offered a 30-day money back guarantee, and that is still in place.

      They just removed the referral program, largely because it was not being used as intended.

  29. Eugene C

    My version of the surgery didn’t even use the brandname “Zwift Premium.” It just asked if I would be willing to pay $30, 25, $17.50 for Zwift +TrainerRoad.

  30. Max Lein

    Your detective work is impeccable, @dcrainmaker.

    The only thing this does not jive with is that I have the impression that Nate considers TR as his baby and loves being TR’s CEO. That leaves me a little confused. On the other hand, there are indications that TR doesn’t have enough revenue to pay for features they would like to add but can’t. The promise to permanently lock in subscription prices always seemed like a huge mistake and the wrong expectation to set.

    • Matt B

      He did. But since his divorce and depression he’s been missing in action. Been away for months. Other podcast staple and big Trainerroad player, head coach Chad, has moved to remote Washington. None of them are riding bikes anymore, and have no event goals for 2022 and they all sound tired and miserable. The main topic of the last podcast was when Nate used to get into bar fights! This is in contrast to their previous overwhelming American style enthusiasm for all things cycling. I’m convinced they already have one foot out of the door.

    • Pierre

      Hope you’re wrong on that. I’d probably go month to month for indoor months on TR (if it remains stand alone) and find another service to incorporate indoor / outdoor progress. Today’s Plan, maybe.

    • david

      I have been away from the bike for several months (have not even been to the TR forum for several) as I really burned out on things. But this news makes me sad. I loved listening to their goals and feel the energy through the podcast.

  31. VP

    I’m not happy about this…

    First of all, I would probably lose my for-life discount. On top of that, I would have to pay basic price for useless functions before I could pay for the “premium” TrainerRoad stuff that I really only want.

    I really hope this won’t happen. And if it does, it would be far better to use TrainerRoad as basic, and Zwift stuff as premium.

    • jww

      Yeah this is a challenge. They’d need to sort through the best way to satisfy the hardcore TR users. Seems the lifetime TR discount is borderline religion.

      But frankly, if Zwift+TR played hardball and told those users “you got a great deal for 5, 10 years” and put TR functionality behind a $30/month wall, what other option does the core TR junkie have?

    • Jorick

      I think The Sufferfest has shown that there really is no better way to do that than to just be transparant in what you’re doing and why. If some people leave that’s fine, if they don’t that’s also fine.

  32. Sean K.

    I’ll be happy if they combine this with TR under one subscription. Really have wanted to use Zwift with TR, but already subscribe to TheSuff^H^H^HSYSTM and didn’t want to add yet another subscription.

  33. Harmen

    What proportion of Zwift users go for the group workouts vs individual workouts? The social aspect of doing the same workout as others, at the same time, is quite a strength of the platform. It would be nice if recommendations and plans would continue allowing a social approach. I’d be happy to get a recommendation whether I should have done the Carapaz workout this morning, as I did, or if I should have gone for the Bernal, or relax and join a tour de zwift session. Just work out alone? Nah.

    • Reverz

      Group workouts are by far the worst experience one can have on Zwift.
      They used to be fun when they first launched. But then they decided they would slow the entire pack down to the speed of the slowest user or something along those line. It’s always great to be doing a 300W interval en watching the scenery glide I by at a pace I could keep up with walking… nevermind the incessant rubber banding and wobbely kind motions that go with it make me sea sick.

      Zwift Group Workouts are the worst.

  34. jww

    This is simply next level sleuthing. Respect.

    I guess this is logical to Zwift’s investors. User acquisition flat lining after the mother of all pulled forward demand. If you’re looking short term and want to justify that next funding round or IPO, what other options do you have?

    The structural challenge is this space is a niche, within a niche. Such a limited TAM. With TR you’d bring in the “serious” training crowd (niche within a niche within a niche?) which is more amenable to throwing money around. Maybe eclipsing 1m users is a magic/mandatory level for public market optics.

  35. René

    Zwift should acquire TrainAsOne for there running section.

  36. Dat

    Xert starts cooperate with Bike The World.

  37. Thomas Bahr

    Fun fact: In my Zwift survey there was even an Option for a combination of TrainerRoad plus Zwift (even with TR logo) beside the Zwift Premium option. Price of the TR option was 1-2 dollars higher than Zwift Premium

  38. I like TrainerRoad a LOT, but I find myself using Zwift more often these days because it’s simply more engaging and a little more encouraging when it’s a cold, crappy winter day.

    I can see a merger of the two resulting in something nice, but I hope the resulting product has a good UI. Running Zwift on an Apple TV is great once you’re in and riding, but trying to use the remote to control anything is horridly frustrating. If this could be improved at the same time, I could see the resulting product being great.

    At the same time, TR is a very low resource no-nonsense tool that just gets workouts done and does it in a smooth manner. If suddenly the system requirements are much higher just for controlling a trainer, that’ll be frustrating.

  39. Paul H.

    Wait, so you think they’re going to come back to rowing after shutting it down? I suppose it makes sense given the time/money spent developing it.

    • I think there’s a chance eventually we’ll see it if they broaden beyond cycling. Mind you, I don’t think there’s any appreciable/real/profitable market there. But hey, that didn’t stop treadmill running from happening. 🙂

  40. John Watson

    Ray I the features sound closer to Xert. TrainerRoad doesn’t do automatic FTP calculations. You have to take a ramp test every month to figure out progress with them. Since I got both, it would drop Xert for Zwift Premium.

    • Chad McNeese

      “TrainerRoad doesn’t do automatic FTP calculations.”

      That is already set for a change. They have been teasing a new Estimated FTP tool via social media and the AACC podcast for weeks. There is a length thread on the TR forum if you want to dig in, but it is coming.

  41. Paul H.

    I have to say I was a bit confused by the automatic FTP adjustment bit. When I do a race/workout that leads to me having a higher 20 minute average than I had previously, it generates an “FTP Increase Detected” notification when I’m done. I checked that I wasn’t interested in paying more for the automatic FTP adjustment thing because I already get this for free. Would the new thing be more detailed? Allow both going up and down as fitness changes?

    • Chad McNeese

      The current FTP detection in Zwift is flawed, IMO. They are simply looking for ANY 20-minute period where that power average x 0.95 is better than your currently set FTP. It offers the new FTP at that time (closing the ride) and many people take it directly.

      It’s a mistake, because that multiplier is plucked from the 20-minute FTP test format. Doing that, without considering the prescribed efforts meant to burn off anaerobic stores is not proper application of the multiplier.

      Like anything, it can work for some, but is also potentially headed to overstated FTP.

    • Paul H.

      That’s fair enough. Since my main use for FTP is my category for races and zwift power does essentially the same thing (though it averages your best 3), it sort of, kind of, works for me (-ish). Most of my non-race Zwift rides are ~Z2, so I don’t need a lot of precision for that. I will agree that most of the efforts that set my FTP in zwiftpower (and zwift) are 30 minutes or less races that are pretty much just a hill climb (or a hill climb with a bit of a time trial intro like Bologna), so I always take those with a grain of salt as they’re not representative of what I can do in any races other than that very specific style. I do need to get more serious about my training and that will eventually require caring about a more precise FTP.

  42. Derek Chan

    Legacy sub is up for renewal in Feb, hopefully it will tick over before any major changes happen. With radio silence it seems the writing is on the wall.

    I’m cautiously optimistic that Zwift can do a ‘Distraction Free’ mode that’s just a black room with some bar metrics for people who want it.

    If not I’ve narrowed down to Sufferfest/ SYSTM or Rouvy (i’d like to do my own virtual route) as alternatives. Zwift graphics and the experience annoy me.

  43. Matt

    I’ve subscribed to both Zwift and TrainerRoad (currently, my only active sub is TR). I think a license agreement for Zwift to use TR tech embedded in their stuff seems like the best overall option for everyone.

    The TR purists could keep that only, but people who like Zwift but still want solid training could do the Zwift+TR option. Hopefully it’s priced very competitively and makes economic sense for people to want to do that though.

    Always felt that Zwift is fun, and you can get fit doing only Zwift … but when you want to get serious about training and fitness, then you do TrainerRoad. In my experience, Zwift’s current “Training” features are not great. TR is the best training you can get without an actual live coach.

    TR podcasts have referred to wanting more budget to add features faster. A massive user based like Zwift paying license fees would be a really simple way to do that, but maintain creative control of the company’s direction.

  44. James Eastwood

    A great bit of further evidence is this podcast, particular the short dialogue from TR’s Nate at 23:30.

    link to podcasts.google.com

  45. Andrew

    As a TR user (and not even a legacy one), this doesn’t sound great.

    First, as noted, TR runs a lean shop but at the same time has the “technical chops” to put out some incredibly good work. They do that by fostering a culture of being laser focused on their core value of “making people faster”. These sorts of cultures are exactly the type of thing that tend to get lost in acquisitions like this. I don’t see the “freedom” that comes with Zwift’s resources as a huge benefit; especially when Zwift is the parent company in this combination and has historically tended to squander these resources by being comparatively unfocused.

    Second, making TR beholden to external expectations (both Zwift itself and Zwift’s investors) is probably bad news. Zwift’s investors expect to make a profit, and it’s not unheard of for investors to squeeze a company dry in order to make that profit. It’s difficult to know what is really going on since these are private companies, but at least in the public space, these companies that have benefited tremendously from the pandemic are starting to look like one trick ponies. As a practical example, the recent and spectacular implosion of Peloton springs immediately to mind (especially since Zwift has shown jealousy for their business model by looking at their own hardware…). IMO, TrainerRoad, by appealing primarily to hardcore users, is likely better insulated than Zwift from this pandemic bubble that is in the process of popping. That’s a benefit they lose if they merge.

    Finally, I frankly don’t see Zwift bringing anything substantial to the table other than money (with all the attached strings). I’ve used Zwift in the past, and the video game stuff gets boring. I wouldn’t mind having the Alpe du Zwift open to me again, and I suppose their distance calculations reported to Strava is better than TR (which just uses the speed reported by the trainer). I don’t really want to pay extra money for those nice-to-haves, though.

    I really hope I’m wrong, but I see tremendous risk for (at least TR exclusive) users without much upside.

    • James Eastwood

      Nate on a recent podcast stated that roughly 1 in 20 cyclists has heard of TrainerRoad, whereas nearly every one has heard of Zwift. He specifically mentions Zwift as having broad marketing reach and a captive smart-trainer owning audience that would be good to tap in to.

    • sam

      Agreed on all points. The benefits seem to for existing Zwift users far more than folks who are just TR users (don’t use zwift also). My TR user persona: wants to get on the bike, open planned workout, put on netflix and do work. Does not want social aspects, gaming, avatars, racing etc. I love TR for this. Been on it probably 7 or 8 years now?

      Very hard to realistically see TR not becoming more and more influenced by Zwift if acquired. Ideal world would be TR remaining a standalone product/service, while still sharing all the worthwhile tech.

    • Fred Stig

      [quote]
      First, as noted, TR runs a lean shop but at the same time has the “technical chops” to put out some incredibly good work. They do that by fostering a culture of being laser focused on their core value of “making people faster”. These sorts of cultures are exactly the type of thing that tend to get lost in acquisitions like this. I don’t see the “freedom” that comes with Zwift’s resources as a huge benefit; especially when Zwift is the parent company in this combination and has historically tended to squander these resources by being comparatively unfocused.
      [/quote]

      I mean, it could be worse: they could be acquired by Strava.

  46. Albert Boyce

    I enjoy your writings and reviews.

  47. Tom

    Still have to get used to the gossip-style, but will take any update that is not about watches…

    Don’t see the logic of a potential deal. TR has a fairly limited user base, that as stated overlaps with Zwift’s. The technology that TR has developed so far is not exactly rocket science, and there does not seem to be a whole lot of IP in this space to create a moat. The TR marketing pitch of machine learning (=linear regression) resonates well with their user base, but a detailed due diligence will show this is still a thin wrapper around the commodity of FIT/ZWO files. And it will be tough to keep the TR employees on board after an acquisition, given the different company cultures.

    • James Eastwood

      If you think Zwift would be capable of doing something like this themselves without bringing in a company like TrainerRoad, you don’t know Zwift very well

    • Lars

      I think it is harder than it seems. At least in larger organisations with entrenched cultures.

      In terms of analytics and training planning Zwift has been moving at glacial pace. Not too dissimilar from Strava which are also moving very slowly in this area despite a wad of cash. In general, neither companies are known for moving at breakneck speed at this point.

      That being said, I totally agree with the risk of a cultural mismatch

    • Fausto

      I would guess the logic of a deal, if this is real, is that it’s easier and/or quicker and/or cheaper for Zwift to buy TR, rather than do it themselves. Rocket science or thin layer, the key is that the TR user base seems to perceive it as a good product and better than what Zwift offers. With an acquisition, Zwift immediately buys that credibility in the training space.

      If it took TR 9(?) years to get to this point in development, how long would it take Zwift to hire the right people and develop it themselves? Just integrating TR into Zwift will likely take longer than management would like.

      As far as whether it’s tough for Zwift to keep TR people, I would guess a lot of this depends on how any acquisition is handled. In the deals I have seen, key employees are identified and sometimes offered a nice carrot to stick around for x months/years.

      Just my two cents

    • Max Lein

      I think you underestimate the effort and expertise it takes to develop ML-based training. Yes, the underlying technologies are old and established. But you need several things to make it work.

      One big factor is TR’s treasure trove of workout (≠ ride) data where users follow a specific instructions and TR regularly benchmarks them. What is more, many athletes follow a training plan. No other company but perhaps Strava has this kind and *amount* of data stretching over 10 years. Although Strava only has part of the info and would have to reconstruct the rest. Not impossible, but that takes effort.

      And ML techniques don’t tell you what the relevant variables are, you need domain knowledge to judge both, input and output.

      Lastly, when your user base has tens of thousands of active users, your product can’t be too rough. In small proof of concepts, some shortcomings are acceptable that aren’t in a product.

    • Tom

      From a professional point of view it is very encouraging to see how users keep repeating TRs marketing claims :-).

      “Laser focused on making people faster”, “ML-based training”, “data stretching over 10 years”. The reality is that they spent significant resources on ‘group workouts’ that made nobody faster and are hardly being used anymore, there is nothing in the current version of TR that makes use of that 10 years of data, and commented on ML before. There are at least two products in the market with much smaller development teams that do a better job of adapting overall training plans (as opposed to micro-managing ‘FTP settings’/progression levels). Go do La Marmotte and see what TR’s ‘machine learning’ offers you the next day…a high intensity workout.

      The secret sauce of TR is their podcast and forum that have helped them build an extremely loyal customer base. Good luck rebranding those.

  48. Eric

    Another loser in this might be Training peaks/Todays plan. I found the the Trainerroad calendar and tracking to be very good. Todays plan is great, but it is a pain to create custom workouts, and you can only have 1 training plan going at a time. Training peaks has all the data, but no free training plans. Having everything rolled into 1 would allow a lot of people to cancel TodaysPlan and Training Peaks.

  49. SJP

    At least from the outside their cultures appear completely incompatible – if so wouldn’t this hurt both products in the long run if they tried to combine them? TR has a clear mission and uses it as a guidepost, follows standards, puts out quality product, engages with user base, etc. Zwift is more…. Chaotic?

    • Tay

      Not even sure that ‘cultural fit’ really exists as a problem and is maybe only a rationale arrived at by connecting a couple of dots from an outside observer.

      The reality in mergers is that there are all manner of results for all sorts of situations. An actual restructuring would be handled by external consultants. The end result fitting the image of Zwift’s vision and purpose for the acquisition.

  50. Sxot

    No! Gawd no! Please don’t let it be true!

  51. Andrew

    This is exciting. I’m a long time TR user. Not an OG, but I have my monthly payments locked in at $12/month. I’ve tried Zwift trials a few times, but the lackluster training plans always push me back to TR. I know I can run both apps, but I don’t feel like taking the time to mess with all of that. Integrating the two would into one app would be perfect.

    It would be sad to see the TR Team get dissolved into this bigger company though.

  52. M_L

    Your 4th reasoning as to why this is likely a good one, is the one that scares me the most. I have lived/worked in the tech world most of my life and I have seen many acquisitions over the years by companies like Zwift who are not team players, and like to write their own way through things so and and so forth. What usually seems to happen is they buy up great companies and the either bury them or they incorporate them but keep them within their own standard. Often leaving the great innovations fall by the wayside. In many of these historical pasts, the good people leave, and go to new companies or try to start up new companies. But the reality is that it is rarely a good thing. This process scares me, I don’t want a video game, I want something to make me better, I chose SufferFest because it was a little less on the intense side than TrainerRoad, but I could have gone the other way as well.

  53. Alex

    Classic Zwift move. Do the right thing just years too late.They’re one of the very few unicorn startups that’s more passive than your average old economy blue chip.

    Had they invested their huge cash reserves to buy TR and a hardware manufacturer (ideally Wahoo) two years ago, they would be huge now. Instead they waited all the way until new subscriber numbers crashed; at least I assume that’s what happened based on Peloton and other subscription based pandemic-winners. I guess all of a sudden cost of acquisition numbers started to skyrocket and somebody finally decided to try to figure out what to do about that?

    • JaJa

      @Alex
      It’s probably dumb to assume Zwift did not try to buy a hardware manufacturer, before deciding to build hardware themselves.

    • They did throw offers at a few hardware manufacturers, none of which were really that great – and pretty quickly declined.

      Wahoo was never a viability, as Zwift simply could never have afforded Wahoo. When Garmin bought Tacx, that went for a reported as roughly $200M in Feb 2019, and at the time they noted in the Dutch media that they were the #2 trainer hardware company behind Wahoo (which, is correct).

      However, things for Wahoo only got bigger there (and everyone else), especially with 2020-2021. With most companies 4x+ their revenue/sales. Thus, increasing Wahoo’s valuations further. Up until Zwift’s raised $500M in Sept 2020, there was no way they’d ever be able to afford Wahoo.

      And even with Zwift’s $500M, that would have likely been challenging. Of course, I suspect that if Zwift wanted to make a go for it, that collection of investors probably would have done it. After all, around the same time chunks of that same group also plopped down nearly $1B for Canyon. So the money was there if they wanted it to happen.

      Lastly, one has to remember that the CEO’s of those two indoor trainer companies aren’t exactly BFF’s. Certainly, a $750M+ can make anyone friends though…

    • Alex

      Canyon was exactly the example others (with more knowledge than me) listed as the example why Zwift investors could have bought Wahoo.

      Even the time between series B in 2018 and series C in 2020 was longer than necessary. And it’s not like KKR would have had trouble collecting a couple hundred million (or a billion) more. Now you could say that hindsight is 20/20 and they certainly would have done that if they had known what would happen in the space and if Zwift / old investors had been interested in that.

      Now we’re looking at a hardware release in the summer with the hope of having a significant number of units ready for holiday season. And not even that is a given with current supply chain issues.

  54. Tom Kaufman

    Noooo. Please, please no. I get it, but please no. Serious bummer.
    Regards,
    Legacy TR user who loves the their singular focus, super clean UI/UX, podcast, air fryers, and culture, and just isn’t interested in video game riding.

  55. Damn it Nancy Drew, there’s just no secrets any more with you around.

  56. Brett

    One thing not considered is the personal aspects of TR. Nate’s has had a tough time of late on the home front. He’s open about it all. I imagine he’s ready for a rest and to spend more time with his kids. And with TR being bootstrapped, this is probable his best option for an exit right now.

  57. JP

    Thoughts on the interaction of this with zwift’s new hardware. You’ve told us in the past how hard it is to build new hardware, and now they might be throwing in a potential acquisition onto their plate as well. Too much going on at once? Are they going to deprioritize hardware at all? No change there?

    • I actually don’t think it’d be too much. Meaning, in most ways those would be separate teams.

      Said differently, whether or not they succeed on their hardware ambitions would largely be irrespective of however distracting a TrainerRoad software-focused integration would be.

  58. Mr Jonathan Rayner

    I am 90% confident this will go ahead. For many reasons which I can not say. But looking at the fundamentals TR has a data trove which is so big but their biggest issue is they don’t have the deep resources to make the most of it. Adaptive training is a great start but imagine they get real ML and AI capability or at least the funding to bring them in. Then these two brands will be unstoppable. I love both products and feel like a joint product would be perfect.

  59. Rob Purbrick

    Interesting that a link to this article was posted on LinkedIn and Zwift liked it!

    Is that official validation of the rumour ?

    link to linkedin.com

  60. dustin

    I’m still waiting on zwift to actually have a desktop version that takes advantage of modern day GPU’s. From a gaming/graphics standpoint, it’s kind of a joke.

  61. Br

    As someone who uses both platforms, this would be tragic. I greatly prefer TrainerRoad to Zwift, not only because of the superior training plans but also because the TrainerRoad leadership is far more open with the direction they’re heading. TrainerRoad actively engages with their user base in a way that makes them seem like they actually care. Where as Zwift seems to operate behind a a cloak of secrecy where you can kind of feel like all they care about is attracting new users and providing the best ROI for their investors.

  62. TS

    As a long time TR user, I see a benefit to me personally. Since I joined Zwift at the start of the pandemic to do group rides and workouts I haven’t used TR workouts at all. I am still a subscriber having loosely used their training plans formulating some of my workouts and I like some of the data in the “Career” tab. I let it renew for another year this summer with the expectation that I would let it lapse if I didn’t get more use out of it.

    I do think they would be wise to maintain the simplicity of the TR platform for the subset of users that don’t want the game aspect of Zwift or the need to be chasing device tech specs to keep compatible with Zwift.

  63. Wez Nagwama

    “… or polishing his air fryer” LMAO

    And so he should. #AirFryerGang

  64. Andrew M

    “Nate …. polishing his air fryer”.

    That’s gold!!

    (for listeners of the TR podcast).

  65. Ross

    Wow, great observation! When I saw the Zwift “adaptive training” survey I assumed they were considering copying TR’s functionality, but a buyout makes sense.

    If they do merge I’m all in as a “Zwift Premium” subscriber. Having to maintain separate subscriptions for both is currently keeping me from signing up with TR or its competitors.

  66. TR also sent out a survey asking about name options for a new “Auto FTP” feature, similar to how Zwift can auto detect a new FTP after races. I use both. TR for training plan and Zwift for racing, so I guess I wouldn’t mind seeing the two merge.

  67. RMV

    Can’t wait!

  68. Have you seen this about a potential bid for Peleton?

    link to theguardian.com

    • bil

      Bloomberg has an interesting opinion article today speculating that Zwift might be a takeover candidate. let the rumors fly…

    • The key difference that seems to be overlooked is that Peloton is continuing to grow rapidly (roughly 250K-300K hardware subscriptions per quarter, plus another 200-300K software subs per quarter).

      Whereas Zwift has stopped growing based on every metric we have to define it (which, is max concurrent connected users). That max concurrent connected user number peaked last winter (a year ago), at 48K. Since then, the highest peak has been 42K – even despite the huge US snowstorms over the last week.

      If a company was growing, we’d expect them to easily surpass last years numbers, but to see a decline, shows pretty clearly that growth has definitely stopped (even if we account for lack of lock-downs reducing some peak numbers, we’d have eventually hit a new peak with any growth at all).

    • James Eastwood

      Us Zwift subscribers are a very small percentage compared to Europe. There has been a good article on ZwiftInsider recently that shows the breakdown. The peak numbers are always Tuesday European evenings. Not many from the US are on during the day on a Tuesday. So US weather really makes no difference to the peak.

      The lockdown surge was huge. There are a lot of European riders that used Zwift due to the lockdown, but as soon as rules were relaxed went back outdoors, regardless of the weather. I don’t think it’s surprising at all that numbers are a bit lower than the lockdown winter peak, but I am sure they will be higher next year – and on a chart the winter of 20/21 will be shown as a bump.

    • Yeah, but peak is peak. At the end of the day, people just aren’t Zwifting as much as you noted.

      Now, whether or not they’re still subscribing? Maybe. That’s harder to tell.

      But if we compare the growth of Peloton to the growth of Zwift (which, is what that article is about – and the potential for someone purchasing Zwift), it’s not even close. If we saw that kind of growth in Zwift, then we’d by default have seen an increase in peak users.

      I remain skeptical we’ve seen any meaningful growth over the last year in their subscriber numbers. This in turn matches when I talk to virtually every trainer and trainer app company in the industry: Demand has very quickly softened (as expected after a boom), and things are going to get quiet.

    • Tom Kaufman

      In 12 months we’ve basically gone from no trainers to be found, to Competitive Cyclist (and most other big shops) regularly having them on sale. My local stores now have boxes and boxes of trainers across all price points. And that’s at the end of winter. Really feels like we’ve hit saturation of people with the interest and resources to play the indoor trainer game. The local Peloton store is a ghost town as well, which most certainly wasn’t the case a year ago. I wish we’d see the same thing happen in 12 months with actual bikes and components, but that feels like wishful thinking.

    • Yup indeed.

      Anyone who wanted to buy a high-end trainer has bought one.

      And anyone vaguely interested in the Zwift/TrainerRoad more endurance-focused cycling has found those platforms and are utilizing it (or, as the numbers show, not utilizing it anymore).

      Setting aside media hysterics and Peloton’s over-building/stocking, and looking at actual hard numbers from Peloton, there’s clearly a large-scale interest in indoor fitness, and cycling in particular (the act of being on a bike, however we want to define that). 250K/quarter added indicates that, and that’s just within the handful of countries they support, at a time when people are choosing to do *ANYTHING* else they can except stay indoors.

      Now, where there is some potential for the existing players in this universe is figuring out how to convert more casual cyclists. The people that bought the millions of bicycles and components you can’t buy, over the last 2 years, that haven’t bought a trainer, and aren’t going to buy a high-end one if they do.

      The problem is the Zwift/TR’s of the world have seemingly no idea how to tap into that. And frankly, the trainer companies see the gap, but they don’t really know either.

  69. andrew

    Relax, they are not merging ! Check out TR forum.

    • Chad McNeese

      Yeah, we really don’t know anything at the TR forum either. Just LOTS of speculation and some worthless but satisfying memes.

      Answers don’t exist one way or the other.

  70. Isaac

    What?!?! is intel buying out amd?
    Jokes aside, i subscribe to both…
    But I still think its bad for customers in the long run.
    Why can’t they coexist and fake compete like canadian telecoms? (Another sour joke) …
    World is turning into a funny place.

  71. Adam Kulchyski - Canada

    I see a ton of people on here, happy about being “legacy clients”! But is that really a good thing. When a customer is locked in at a specific price, that doesn’t reflect the costs for continuing development, where does that leave the company?

    I appreciate the “first on scene” aspect of subscription pricing and being offered a loyalty price because you “helped” the company get off the ground. But, to be good for EVERYONE, there has to be a built in increase value applied, that still gives you a better price than the newer subscriber, but you still are contributing to the pot for development and growth.

    While TR operates a lean ship, maybe THIS IS WHY? This is why they can’t rollout a ton of the requested feature improvements? Sure, they came up with their recent release of intuitive training, but that left so important low level functions to wait. Such as video on devices other than computers and laptops – who wants to cart those around all the time? Or what about when you want to build a custom training plan for your local group, or as a coach, then load that into a, Group Workout, it won’t display the custom prompts for whatever you wanted the group to know about?? Or the ability to use some legacy trainers like you can on Zwift, without being limited to OLDER software releases, thus lacking functionality or features?

    Anyhow, I think the merger would be good for all. I would understand the disappointment of going through a price change or us, but in the end, wouldn’t a combined tool also be good for so many of us?

    I see the new model being called, Zwift TR and the “TR” will come to mean, “True Riding” lol, or “True Road”.

    Can’t wait to see what happens!
    Adam
    P.S. I subscribe to both and I am not legacy indexed (not upset about those that are – good on ya for being there in the beginning) 🙂

    • Adam Kulchyski

      Hey @DCRainmaker,
      This Canadian a little simple… lol! But would you mind removing my photo from the post. I was adding it thinking it was going on my profile image, not the post itself. I tried to find an “edit” link, but it looks like only you can do that.
      Thanks,
      Adam

    • Haha, no problems! Done!

      (Don’t worry, my life is full of Canadians, simple and complex. I won’t hold it against you. 😉 )

    • Adam Kulchyski

      That’s great, thanks and “sorry” for the hassle. 😉

  72. John Reinke

    Ha! This is interesting because I’m a TR subscriber, and I’ve also subscribed to Zwift in the past. I used them at the same time – I connect my Tacx Neo 2T to be controlled for a TR workout, and I then let Zwift get my trainer stats so I have something interesting to watch while I’m doing my TR workout. Having a quality TR workout while viewing sites/maps in Zwift would be the best of both words so I don’t have to run both applications on my PC at the same time!

  73. Karim

    Hey DC great piece on the potential merger between TR and zwift but was curious if you thought RGT (clearly behind zwift re subscribers but growing) would be a good target which helps TR take on zwift and offer racing and excellent training plans…speaking of RGT any plans to do an updated review (or have point of view) on the changes to RGT — game play improved with recent updates?

  74. Ruley

    I’m looking too move from zwift to TR. Have only done about 34mi with zwift just not a fan of the interface. I just want more focused training. I don’t need bells & whistles. Think I dabbled with TR years ago but didn’t have a trainer at the time that made it worthwhile.

  75. X

    bring your feet back on the ground and calm down when you say we dont mind paying more for TR features! jeez!!! there are people here who are happy the way it goes and would like to keep our $8.25/mo rate!!

  76. Claude

    As there been any movement on this? Is it happening?