Wahoo Fitness has announced today the acquisition of the RGT Cycling app (formerly Road Grand Tours), as well as announcing their new Wahoo X Subscription Service, which combines the membership for both apps under one umbrella. In short, subscribers of either platform now get both platforms for the same monthly price (effective immediately).
In talking with Wahoo Founder Chip Hawkins, he says this will mark the start of a substantial growth period for RGT – not just in terms of fueling the company with much-needed cash, but also with new features that compete with Zwift – most specifically in areas that Zwift has ignored. However, to be clear, Wahoo SYSTM (previously The Sufferfest) is not going away or being defunded. Wahoo says they have continued content expansion plans for SYSTM.
However, all is not good news in Camp Wahoo. Just prior to announcing this acquisition, Wahoo has also non-announced a round of layoffs that impacted a number of departments in the company, from devices to apps. More on that down below.
Wahoo Acquisition of RGT:
First up is the acquisition of RGT, which Wahoo says has been in the works for a long time. So long in fact, that today’s acquisition announcement is concurrent with the ability to use a single consolidated login for both apps, immediately. Something that’s pretty much unheard of in an acquisition announcement. Effective today, both Wahoo SYSTM and (Wahoo) RGT accounts fall under a new Wahoo X bundled subscription service/login account. That account covers both software apps, and even your Wahoo ELEMNT and Wahoo Fitness apps (also, WahooFitness.com accounts).
This means that subscribers of either platform now get both platforms for the same price. So in the case of RGT users, you’ll now get all the stuff from Wahoo SYSTM, and the inverse as well.
Of course, as interesting as that is, what’s more interesting here is what Wahoo plans to do with it all. In talking with Wahoo Founder Chip Hawkins, he says they plan huge investments going forward, and noted that the core of RGT from a software development perspective is designed well. Saying specifically that “it’s a well-designed system on Unity”, though acknowledging that the graphics aren’t necessarily there yet, but “that’s easy to fix” given the underlying structure that RGT has in place already atop Unity.
He went on to say that RGT’s limited scale was largely because they “never had the marketing budget” to work from, especially in comparison to platforms like Zwift which can throw tens of millions of dollars at marketing each year. In the case of RGT, he stated specifically that the company had done impressive things despite operating on a “shoestring budget”.
Going forward, Wahoo sees themselves focusing heavily on RGT’s so-called Magic Roads, which allows individuals to instantly create courses/routes based on uploading a file from a real-world place. Wahoo sees big potential in two different but similar aspects there. The first is doubling down and focusing on the race and cycling realism aspects for those that want it, but then a second piece being more gamification (e.g. for those that prefer the Zwift style). Thus, in effect, allowing a user to choose which type of experience they want when they go off to do a race or ride. Wahoo says they don’t see themselves getting into the world-building realm like Zwift does (e.g. Watopia, Makuri Islands, etc…).
It’ll be interesting to see if that approach works, I’m somewhat skeptical of that, for the simple reason that one thing Zwift has demonstrated is that while people like choice (e.g. choosing a world or route), they also prefer to have lots of choices within that world that are well designed and detailed, with nuances specific to a given section of the course only seen in that section and not auto-repeated elsewhere. I’m not convinced Magic Roads gets to that level of realism, since it’s auto-generating everything. Still, I’m open to being convinced.
In any case, without giving specifics, Wahoo says they plan to iterate very quickly, and will be aiming to deliver key new features to RGT that go to the core of areas, not just ones that the RGT racing base have asked for, but also specifics that the Zwift Community/Racing Core have asked for but haven’t yet been delivered on Zwift. Said differently, it sounds like Wahoo is basically trawling the Zwift forums for the features that Zwifters have been asking for, but ones that have been ignored. Expect those to be implemented first.
As for SYSTM, Wahoo says that it’ll continue to get content additions. The company seemed to imply that they see the SYSTM app as relatively mature in terms of delivery, but now want to keep adding more content. Whereas RGT will see both content as well as growth of the app design/features/etc.
In terms of the existing free version of RGT, Wahoo says that’ll remain, stating specifically “there will still be a freemium option across all platforms”.
Finally, note that from a pricing standpoint there is one loser here, which are RGT subscription users that were paying $9.99/month. That’ll continue till Sept 1st, 2022, then rise to $14.99/month. However, it should be noted that if someone signs up for the annual membership, then the cost is $129/year (effectively $10.75/month).
Layoffs At Wahoo Fitness:
While much of today’s media attention will be on Wahoo’s acquisition of RGT, one would be remiss if the substantial round of layoffs that occurred this past weekend weren’t covered – as certainly, they form part of this picture, even if only tangentially.
Last Thursday night, Wahoo notified a number of employees that they were being let go as part of a large round of layoffs. This impacted employees across all divisions, including device/firmware, Wahoo SYSTM, and other components. Wahoo wouldn’t disclose the exact number of employees that were impacted, however, based on the numerous employees that reached out to me over the weekend, the most consistent range puts it roughly in the ballpark of 50 people.
Wahoo would confirm that the layoffs did occur, and noted that for the last several years the company had doubled its employee count each year to keep up with demand. While that worked during times of tremendous demand (namely, the surge of COVID lockdowns and massive demand for indoor training products), that was no longer viable for the company, as the market is now substantially down for the company. This massive drop in product demand mirrors what I hear from most other companies in the space, though, some have put in more in line with pre-COVID 2019.
Albeit, the mix of demand has shifted, with some indoor training companies noting a shift in the blend of more premium heavy products back in 2019, to more entry-level products. Said differently: Any cyclist who planned to buy a nice trainer would have done so in the last 2 years. And anyone who didn’t, probably wasn’t all that deep into the sport.
As for Wahoo, they noted that they had to “right-size” the company going forward, while also wanting to have better time-zone coverage going forward with the RGT components being brought onboard. Similarly, it would not surprise me to see layoffs in other indoor training focused companies over the course of the year (at least, the ones solely focused on indoor training), as the realities of stagnating indoor app memberships continue throughout 2022.
One notable loss as part of this was Reid Weber, one of the original co-founders of TrainerRoad. He went on to join The Sufferfest a number of years back, and led much of the product development that transformed The Sufferfest from what was then an outdated software app into the vastly revamped Sufferfest platform that many came to know and love over the past few years. Following Wahoo’s acquisition of The Sufferfest nearly 3 years ago, Wahoo subsequently revamped it as SYSTM last September.
I think things are about to get spicy in the indoor training app realm.
It’s been long discussed that realistically, Wahoo was probably the only one with the brand awareness and marketing prowess to take on Zwift. But, there’s always been two core pieces to that: Financial and platform.
The first being the platform: Having something people actually want to ride – repeatedly. As a platform, RGT has made great strides over the past 12-18 months. The unification of their splintered app design into a single app is key to the start of that. But it’s still not perfect. I used RGT’s new Apple TV app a few months ago, and came away both excited and frustrated. A smattering of tiny user interface things ended up ruining my ride (namely, the start of the race). But, if there’s anything everyone agrees upon, it’s that Wahoo is really good at user interface things. However, the core reason most people tended to try RGT once and then move away was simply lack of users.
While some RGT fans love the empty worlds, the simple reality is that’s not exactly a selling point for a social riding app/platform. And to fix that, you need money. Lots of it.
And in Wahoo’s case, layoffs aside – they have lots of money from their investment fund friends. Within the industry, an oft-agreed-upon napkin figure says that it’d take roughly $20-$35 million dollars to initially launch a viable Zwift competitor. With the word ‘viable’ specifically meaning that something that’ll actually take market share away from Zwift and become something that the masses and media realistically consider as an alternative. That figure includes the software development side, but also the initial marketing/launch push (but doesn’t include trying to equal every aspect of Zwift in features or marketing spend). In Wahoo’s case, they’re buying RGT for likely far less than that. But that’s only a piece of the puzzle. After all, if the RGT platform feature-wise had been a viable major competitor to Zwift, they’d have amassed far more users by now.
Wahoo says their funding is going to drive huge software development investments into RGT, to start competing on features and functions. And at the same time, Wahoo also says they’re going to invest in marketing too. And in this world (virtual or otherwise), that’s what counts.
While the vast quantities of pro cyclists train on Zwift without being paid by Zwift, Zwift has long paid numerous high profile pro cyclists and triathletes to be featured in heavily utilized advertising campaigns, including Tour de France winners. Zwift was really the first indoor cycling platform to feature pro riders in this way. Similarly, Zwift also funds other community aspects/efforts. And the company further holds events both physically and virtually, all of which cost money to put on – all money paid by Zwift. And that quickly scales into the many tens of millions of dollars. Of course, as anyone in the industry will also readily tell you (complete with plenty of concrete examples), Zwift spends money on everything and anything like it’s going out of style. Most companies are far more restrained in their spending, either out of prudence or necessity.
Wahoo’s edge here compared to other existing attempts, is they are an existing brand that’s well known and well-liked in the cycling community. In addition, Wahoo is a brand with deep ties to pro cycling teams via their sponsorships. Thus, it won’t take as much effort or money for Wahoo to drive interest and traffic to a renewed RGT, as it might for other upstarts. The challenge however once new users arrive on Wahoo RGT will be the same as non-Wahoo RGT: Ensuring they stick the landing and stay. And that invariably gets back to more features, and more concurrent users.
Only time will tell whether it works, but if there’s one known good here, it’s that competition is a good thing for consumers. And we’re about to get a lot of high-money competition.
With that – thanks for reading!
Zwift better watch their backs – they’re going to be seen as standing still if they don’t get their apps (game + companion) up to snuff.
Agree. Zwift’s cash burn has to be fugly.
Investing in hardware development right as hardware demand hits a massive air pocket.
Does this put TrainerRoad at top of Zwift’s shopping list more likely I wonder?
It is tempting to believe this will usher in a new era of advancement for RGT and Wahoo and create true competition with Zwift. Considering this announcement is coming just a short few days after Wahoo laid off upwards of 90 employees, mostly software engineers, and a few short months into the monumental flop known as the Wahoo watch, I’m personally not going to hold my breath.
Wahoo’s product leadership and exec level has no idea how to leverage the thing they just acquired. They destroyed a massive amount of goodwill with their software engineering staff and will continue to see an exodus of critical people who don’t care to be a part of that anymore.
Zwift doesn’t have anything to worry about.
Zwift has to worry about the same things as Wahoo: running out of money and growing, or more realistically maintaining, their user base. Like the high end trainer market, anyone who is really excited about virtual training worlds has already signed up for one.
Soon, zwift will be flooded with thousands of level 50 tron bike owing members who want more worlds,routes,challenges (hello le col!). . Riding watopia for zillion times is getting boring.
Zwift is investing too much in user windows interfaces (the garmin cards styling) instead of new full routes. Just make rebel routes official isn’t a new experience. On the positive side, races, wtrl, the social part is very good. Even the graphics compared to Rgt (what i have seen so far) is better imho. I like the idea of magic routes, uploading your gpx, but the augmented overlay rgt generates, is not good (yet?) , for instance with rgt the hill went up in thin air with trees planted on nothing….
Agree with what you say, however my understanding from reading somewhere, is that only about 7% of Zwifters have reached Level 50.
How sure are you about the 7%? As of a few months ago, it was less than 1%.
“As of a few months ago, it was less than 1%.”
Do you have a source for that info?
My mistake — it was more than a few months ago. Dang pandemic. It was February 2021 when Eric Min said .7%. Maybe Ronald forgot the decimal? Either way, I don’t think the number jumped from .7% to anything near 7% in the last year.
link to zwiftinsider.com
Color me excited. Love the potential to switch between video game rides and Suff style rides like the Col Collective, under one sub.
Those cheesy old Suff videos are fun at times, too.
This quote is so spot on: “Any cyclist who planned to buy a nice trainer would have done so in the last 2 years”. NYT had a similar quote on a Peloton owner who fire-sold her bike “to beat the rush of everyone else selling theirs.”
Quite a few of the criticisms of Zwift are from the long-timers who see the platform as standing still while excessively gamifying over the pandemic period. Arguably that’s true, and many are active on the forums. Core worlds – Watopia and London in particular have seen very little love in the last few years. That’s really got to be looked at by Zwift. If Wahoo get magic roads anywhere near where they hope then Zwift have an issue – albeit more of a niggle considerig their market hegemony. Therein lies the problem.
In what fashion do you think Zwift increased its gamification over the last couple of years? Seems unchanged in that regard from where I sit.
Interesting about RGT. I tried it a few weeks ago under a trial. I liked a couple of the routes but did not do the big climb ones….I also did the Magic Road….This is a really cool idea but it needs some work. When you have to use user-developed programs to clean up the roads, it loses its appeal. If they could incorporate the required post-work and keep all the Strava segments of IRL riding, I would sign up long-term. Zwift has become “meh” since they dumped all the segments. Now I have to ride for an hour for my two motivational/”whereamiat” marks…I am losing interest.
I get more Fulgaz segments when I ride Yorkshire in Zwift…
I may have to re-try BigRingVR…for some reason I really liked it when I did a 2-week trial a year or two ago.
i’ve been using the “free” accounts ie. limited to 1-2 routes under rotation and a few ergs and access to participate in rides. – A long time ago (sometime last summer) i was having conversations with their support team about implementing some of the technology used in MS flight sim 2020 for making magic roads. currently they are barebones and only the gps and height is “true” to IRL, with that tech they could actually easlily build most of the world quite acurately.
More location-specific scenery is already announced — the RGT team has been really lean and it’s amazing what they’ve done with what they have. Magic Roads version 2 was a huge improvement on 1 (which just drew roads as floating ribbons), and version 3 should use land use data for more specificity.
But when racing, I really don’t pay much attention to the scenery anyway. I’ve been doing RGT races for a year, and while I would love for things like putting an ocean next to coast routes, I really don’t miss the cute scenery of Zwift. Afterwards I check Strava satellite view for the local details.
I’ve been using BRVR for many years, but they’ve made so few upgrades to it…and it is buggy as heck. I often have to restart a stalled instance of it in order to get it to work correctly. I want to love it because the rides are great, but it is SO frustrating to use. Plus, no Apple TV version.
I will be so thrilled if RGT comes close, so I can just use my AppleTV for RGT and Zwift.
Scenery I do not care too much about…Heck I rode BKool for a long time a few years ago. But when they take a constant 0.5 mile @ 5% climb and turn it into 15 foot steps…the community seems to be rabid and have been able to come up with methods to fix…but I am not rabid enough. I am old and crabby enough that I just want it to work.
The steps are due to bad GPX data. For example, if the data have altitude rounded to nearest meter, you’ll get steps in the data.
The magic roads come out only as good as the input data. Some GPS units can deliver really nice data if they’re used in regions with excellent signal and you ride in a constant position within the lane, but this is rare.
There’s a fan website called GPX Magic (google for it). It has a variety of options to improve GPX files from route builders like Strava’s. There’s even a one-click fix. It enormously improves the quality of Magic Roads.
Trust me — there’s some fantastic Magic Roads out there. A good way to find them is to do community events posted to RGTDB. For example, the Wednesday Mountain Goats series is a great one if you like climbing, and I host a NorCal Tue Niter (6 pm Pacific time) and my roads are generally good.
Dear Wahoo – add whatever content\app\features you want, but please don’t take away the SUF videos! That’s all we use SYSTM for anyway. #sitdownmikecotty
Amen to that
Double Amen to that!
Long time Sufferfest User, I think I bought +20 videos. Then gave TR a try, and went back to the Sufferfest app. I am super excited about what Wahoo has added. And looking forward to trying RGT. But no doubt Cotty is the best. Inspiring and funny!
I’ll add another upvote!
Every new feature, while interesting, always seems to dilute the core reason I started indoor cycling and maintain my subscription to Suf videos & TR / Suf App / SYSTM. The Sufferfest videos are excellent and motivational, and I am worried that there will be less additional focus on new video content going forward.
I would have loved them to pick up VirtuPro.
It’s a better riding experience than RGT.
link to virtuprocycling.com
Also Rouvy would be a good fit with all the pro racing videos there
I wonder if the pool of potential users is big enough to sustain the level of financial growth that VC needs
Assuming average usage of 8 months/year==>120 $/Year/user, it brings a paltry 12M/yr revenues for every 100K user (which is quite large a number already for a Zwift competitor). That level of revenues does not really cover much R&D payroll…
As a matter of fact, Wahoo HW division does not gain any benefit from this move
i seriously doubt they have 100K paying users. – i’ve never seen anythng above 20 users on normal rides. maybe 50 at an “event”, but that’s about it.
Close the Gap! Hmmmmmm . . . can Wahoo do that? Z have such a huge headstart, first mover advantage, 100s of thousands of users and an entire community slash ecosystem around it. It’s a tough ask. Not impossible. But hard.
Beta, VHS, DVD, HD-DVD, BlueRa …. Streaming.
Downtube shifters, STI shifters, Di2 1st gen, Etap…. everyone is electronic wireless
Blackberry encrypted, Messenger …. WhatsApp… Signal…. etc.. etc.. etc..
Zwift better drop down into an aerotuck and start giving their clients what they’ve been requesting for years.
Zwift has a headstart in cash burn. They are so far removed from profitability that competitors could just sit back and wait for their time to come.
All the big changes at Zwift were not natural improvements or extensions but desperate hail mary excuses for telling that story of a bright future to would-be investors so that they can do another year or two without profitability anywhere close. Running (total failure, all the ten or so runners you see on Zwift at any given point in time are probably triathletes who’d be on Zwift for cycling alone anyways), competition (a full 180, before they went all in on competition they were decidedly against it because they knew that cheating would be an unsolvable problem), now hardware (admittedly with a minor anticheating angle, but as long as competition isn’t on-site there will always be ways).
The only good sign is that in recent years, they apparently have realized that they should better spend those investment dollars on advertising that can easily be stopped again instead of making their apparently already huge base cost even bigger (not spending the money is not an option, investors certainly expect their money to be used for growth, not stockpiled for some long game).
A couple of thoughts:
The advent of quartz watches comes to mind…
Zwift has wasted years, man-hours, and heaven knows how much $$ chasing the trainer. Geez…just buy someone already!! Ohhh…. might be too late now.
It does feel that way, USR. In the beginning, Zwift felt like it was a work of passion. More recently, it feels like (a) the main goal is to cash out big and (b) everyone in the company has a different idea on how to do that. It’s still top dog IMO and is worlds above the old riding a dumb trainer and staring at some silly video for the 20th time.
Did you miss this blog?
link to dcrainmaker.com
We are up to the challenge, Simon. Quite excited by it, actually!
Obviously this is anecdote, not data, but I do not have the equipment at home to use Zwift cycling. I only use Zwift running. The sense I get from the Facebook “Zwift Runners” group also suggests that most are not triathletes and use Zwift running exclusively.
Whether it is a failure or not is purely opinion without seeing their financials, which none of us have.
Yeah, probably not correct. The reasons you think you see few runners is because they are travelling at a slower speed over a greater distance. Also, many run courses are run only and not cycling, where many runners are. I use both Zwift running and cycling, and am not a triathlete. I think Zwift running is still totally free?
If there is no demand for running on these platforms then why would Rouvy be adding it? They have it in beta. It’s true that a pure runner is unlikely to come to Zwift/Wahoo or wherever just for the gaming side but there are enough triathletes and occasional runners to surely make it worthwhile.
Regarding my dismissal of running as a failure, yeah, it might be true that I underestimate the amount of runners present on run-only routes. However the fact that they are slower (well, outside of steep climbs at least ;)) would make them more visible to cyclists when on the same routes, not less: more overtaking, less following right outside visibility range, and runners are unlikely to be in oncoming traffic when you ride away from a start area because most loops designed for cycling are longer than most runners’ workouts.
But if, as you say, Zwift running is still completely free, a full four years after moving from closed beta to public, then that’s all I need to declare it a failure. Total failure indeed.
I wouldn’t read much into Rouvy adding running as well, probably just a case of why not. Likely driven as much by technological curiosity (can we do it, how hard will it be?) as by strategy. The Zwift running part on the other hand seemed very much like a top priority project for a while (“we’ve already won at cycling, where can we expand into?”)
You are understanding it wrong. If a runner only covers 3 miles in a run, that’s far less dispersion throughout the game. They can only start from several different spots and you are only likely to see them on those 3 mile sections, if they are even on the sections that include bikes vs the many run-only sections.
Yeah but those three miles sections aren’t exactly packed with runners either, and you’d see all of them when sweeping through on the Neo.
But it’s pointless arguing about in-game perception: still entirely free in 2022 can’t be what they hoped for when they started their expansion into running. Back in 2016. The days of “just give it some time” have been over for quite some time.
Will the Wahoo/RGT/Systm merger also reignite the rumours of Zwift buying TrainerRoad, and Zwift possibly getting into the trainer hardware game as well?
Nothing too exciting, rather looking forward to a Trainerroad/Zwift merger. Yes I’m riding a wahoo kickr V5 and tried both platforms previously. They’d need at least 2 years of development to be on level with a current Trainerroad/Zwift merger, and then they’ll advance as well in the meantime.
Ray, any news on Trainerroad/Zwift?
CyclingTips is reporting that the possible merger has been called off, but no source cited. link to cyclingtips.com
When I decided to try Zwift a couple of years ago, I chose the Wahoo speed & cadence sensors to use with my dumb trainer. They were reliable but the design of the battery compartment was terrible – I basically destroyed the water tight seal trying to pry them open. Nonetheless, I wanted to go all in with Wahoo. Tried Sufferfest – wasn’t my thing. Held out for a color Elemnt Bolt, but the reviews were terrible (see DCR’s review). Contemplated a watch, same thing. When I upgraded my trainer, considered a Wahoo Kickr, but ultimately decided against (same with the Tickr) – because reliability issues from those who owned. All of this is to say that I wanted to give my money to Wahoo at every turn and I like the idea of integrated hardware + software (Apple). But until Wahoo can deliver on quality, I’ll stay away. I ultimately went with a combo of Stages, Elite, Polar, Zwift, TrainerRoad… and it works good enough.
You are overthinking. I bought Elemnt Bolt 5 years ago (five!) and it has been rock solid since then. I would call it being reliable. Same with Tickr Fit which I used for 3 years daily. Both are likely the most reliable pieces of bike tech I ever had.
Agreed. I’ve owned a lot of Wahoo kit. My ELEMNT is going strong, 6 years after I bought it, battery life still allows me to do a century ride, and still getting firmware update support from Wahoo amazingly. All my sensors work fine, including an old school Blue SC still running on one bike, Cadence and Speed sensors on others, and an original TICKR HR strap. KICKR CORE got thousands of miles on it. I had a TICKR FIT break on me, but Wahoo replaced it *after the warranty period*. Nothing but good luck with Wahoo.
I have an original kickr and have never even changed the belt. So when my buddies elite direto completely crapped out after 2 years i convinced him to get a kickr. He’s had 4 units in 2 months. 1 of them was not working correctly in the 1st fifteen minutes he started riding it, another one didn’t last an hour ride. Every single time wahoo has tried to get him to take a refurbished unit to replace the brand new one he paid for and he had to fight with them to send him a new one. When my kickr dies I’ll likely buy a Tacx.
I have no idea what’s going on inside Wahoo, but it’s easy to see layoffs as being a negative. It sure is for those getting laid off. That said, over the years, I’ve been party to a number sizeable layoffs and associated reorganizations that wound up being revitalizing to the companies and businesses. Personally, I don’t have anything invested in any of this other than my monthly memberships and looking for an app that meets my needs/wants. I was using primarily Zwift for years and switched to SYSTM about 6 months ago for their 4DP training plans, which I really like, except for some hiccups in the app the delayed the start or interrupted a workout. Personally, I never really cottoned to Zwift’s virtual riding/worlds and gamification.
What happens to rgts free option?
i’m with you – but an unqualified guess is “gone”.
The BikeRadar article said Wahoo confirmed the free version will remain, curious how long that will last.
OK – thanks (and still my guess is – not very long) – i only got the email from wahoo (i have no products whatsoever from wahoo so i was really baffled when i read it on my phone) and went straight to DCR for any news
Yes, I just confirmed with Wahoo as well – and they stated the free version will remain.
Strangely enough i looked at the rgt website a few days and i think on the pricing page there was a table with highlighted the differences between the paid and free options.
Its been updated with wahoo integration and i may be blind but i can’t find any mention of a free version.
Uhh that price point… 🧐
Under 10€ was just justifiable enough for me for a computer game…
I think the future here will be the combination of ‘serious’ training programmes and video or animated environments. So I think this merger is going to be good (though I only have a passing trial experience of RGT, and I have never tried Sufferfest/SYSTM). And presumably also the rumoured Zwift-TrainerRoad partnership in whatever form it takes.
For my part, I use TrainerRoad simultaneously with FulGaz which provides the visual distraction of a plain TrainerRoad experience. And I use Zwift for a change when I’m not following a scheduled trainer session.
I would really love to know the real reason(s) why Zwift opted against using a full featured 3D engine like Unity and ended up rolling their own. On the surface it seems like a poor long-term decision.
Great summery Ray!
I can foresee that the ability to ride on RGT for free will be removed, which will be an issue for me because I’m not about to pay for both Zwift & RGT subscriptions.
I see RGT as being the best indoor app around for getting anywhere close to the ‘Real Life’ experience and if it has more events with more users I’d seriously consider switching from Zwift to RGT.
Fortunately for us in the Northern hemisphere we have time to see how things shakedown before the indoor season recommences in the autumn.
I read about layoffs, looking on my Elemnt Rival and feeling confused…
Wahoo always “wants” to do sooooo much, but in the end it takes to much time.
Let’s see what will happen with Wahoo X and how long it will take to realize their great plans.
It will be interesting to see if Wahoo add any proprietary license stuff to their trainers to lock them to specific software or reduce functionality for other platforms.
With Zwift bringing out their own hardware soon, if that’s not openly compatible with all platforms……..🤷♂️
Maybe getting RGT for free for SYSTM users will push more people to the platform, and more people leads to….more people….
Before features, I think RGT needs some (or…lots of) polish. Some menus, sounds, the web platform for events…Etc…everything still screams “tiny little development team focusing on core”. This is good, as it is way more difficult to modify the core than the clothes…
I tend to zwift less and less, but TBH, it’s difficult to beat for free riding during winter 🙂
(and RGT lacks some detailed easy roads. I cannot loop on Borrego Springs as I can on….any Zwift route actually)
Zwift has an extreme first-mover advantage. The social aspects (I.e. large groups cycling at the same time) are of huge value to consumers and Zwift has a major head start in this arena. No matter how nice the graphics and user interface is on Wahoo in the future, If they don’t have the critical mass of people on the platform, they won’t be able to compete with Zwift very effectively due to lack of other riders on the platform/routes at the same time. Not sure what the answer is for them. Trainer Road owns the seriously-training cycling athlete, Zwift owns the social component, Peleton owns the spin-class crowd. Wahoo will need to carve out, or create, a new segment to succeed, in my opinion. Would make a great business case study.
I think that Wahoo is doing too much at once and dropping the ball too many times. Especially on hardware. I have my third Kickr Bike. The frame on the first one broke after a year at the base of the seatpost, the replacement overheated and failed on the first ride, and the third, so far, is ok. I am on my third original Bolt after two screen failures. A friend has the exact same problem. The Bolt V2 is only now getting the software bugs under control. I bought a Roam and sent it back after I discovered that it only had enough memory to load the map for a single, large, state (CA). I had to unload CA to load anything else. Wahoo verified that the memory was too small. Every other computer I own can load the entire US at once (Edge 1030, Karoo 2, Stages Dash). And then there is the giant Kickr fiasco from a couple of years ago. I think that they have not done a good job defining the products or in QA and hardware testing. Their bike computers especially seem to be lagging way behind the competition. The only saving grace is that their customer service is quite good. Although it much cost a fortune.
I’ve been on Zwift since early Beta, and used to use Sufferfest until the combined subs got a bit much and Zwift improved their workout library (still miss the Suff vids, though!). I had RGT Free for a good while, but could never get into it – I’m not a racer, and just going for a ride seemed a bit soulless.
Wahoo could easily construct a more realistic and more fun competitor to Zwift if they combine the best of SYSTM and RGT and get enough people on the platform to make it feel busy. I’m not sure how the videos would fit into that, or even if they could, but the training expertise of Sufferfest way eclipses that of Zwift and I’m sure it wouldn’t take too much to create a couple of ‘worlds’ that would grab the imagination of users if the graphics and physics were better than Zwift. I look forward to seeing what they achieve.
I feel like I’m starting to turn on Wahoo. I loved my Elemnt, and it still serves me quite well, but getting support used to be easy, I’m now on two weeks of an inability to download (or update) maps that were all on my device at one point. I get an email maybe once every three or four days, reply immediately, and sit and wait again. The battery life on an almost 6 year old device is still great, so I’m not rushing to replace it, but included map updates are only so good if you can’t download them. I thought a Roam might be in my future, but I’m not sure they can hold their focus for an actual product’s lifecycle.
Pretty excited about this…
I dropped Zwift and went back to Systm for Sufferfest videos – much easier (mentally) to get through hard workouts.
Was “missing” an option for outdoor rides separate from inspiration videos when calendar/program deemed necessary. I tried FulGaz which was OK but somewhat difficult to justify the subscription when I was using in 3-4x/month max.
$25 to $35 million. Which of these will be the basis for the next WeCrashed mini series? Wahoo or Zwift. I need to email Anne Hathaway so she can get this in development already. One of these companies is going to end gloriously in the next five years and I would hate to be Wahoo with their crappy watch, lackluster RGT, and layoffs.
There is a lot of potential but right now I’m skeptical of that being realised.
I tried Sufferfest/SYSTM and, like so many, there were bits I loved and bits I didn’t. The workout UI is awful compared to Trainerroad which is perfect and the training calendar awkward. Syncing devices cumbersome too.
I loved the “On Location” videos but they aren’t widescreen and not enough of them.
RGT I’ve tried but everything felt so fake. I just couldn’t immerse myself in the world. Magic Roads would be a nice feature but unless the world resembles the location it’s not going to achieve much.
FulGaz works with user submitted real locations because it’s HD/4K video of the location – just a shame the app is so unbelievably unstable and the UI so bad it’s unusable most of the time. Someone please buy FulGaz and fix it!
Zwift does workouts “well enough” for many and I can immerse myself in the world. The golden ticket is TrainerRoad and Zwift for me and merging Sufferfest/SYSTM/RGT into a single offering and improving the issues across both is a lot of work that I think will take too long to realise.
I think the future best indoor app won’t come from any of those currently available. People know what’s wanted now and can start coding something new from scratch.
Someone did buy FulGaz, Ironman (link to dcrainmaker.com). Likewise I hope they invest in it–some time working on stability and UI would go a long way since the content is already there….
Thanks I wasn’t aware of that.
Yes if someone can make FulGaz run for more than 5 minutes on a PC without crashing that would be a huge improvement. I could even live with the poor UI if it was functionally stable.
I hear iPad version is more stable but I don’t want to immerse myself in a 10″ screen when I have a 46″ screen on the PC and Mac I use for the trainer.
“In talking with Wahoo CEO Chip Hawkins”
Ray, I only noticed this from the quote in the related email, but it seems that the “real” Wahoo CEO is Mike Saturnia. Chip is now the Chairman of the Board per my quick search, but that may well be off.
Probably doesn’t matter to most everyone, but might be worth editing to be up to date for whatever Chip’s title is at the moment.
Huh. Things I never noticed. Good catch! Updated to ‘Founder’ in the meantime.
LOL, probably a distinction without a difference… at least in this context.
Thanks for checking and updating either way 😀
The Magic Road thing sounds tempting. Re-riding old routes done in the analog world and possibly being to use old ride times to pace or improve would be really cool. However, I worry about how realistic this would actually look. If it’s just a recreation of the road grade at different points without the same or similar scenery, I think the relevance and cool factor would be lost.
I’ll admit I’m not into the gaming kind of virtual ride experience. I really dig FulGaz. I know that it’s impossible for Magic Road to approach that sort of detail in the scenery, but I’m nonetheless interested to see how Magic Road evolves.
Magic Roads are great but either auto generation must be more advanced to generate proper landscapes, road network, landmarks and buildings based on a map data (openstreetmaps) or we need map editor to fine tune them and make them pretty. The routes are too monotonous and there are no actual landscapes. If I’m about to ride up the mountain I want to see the damn mountain before my eyes 😉
Agree, I love the idea of magic roads, but unless there is a map there or some sort of landmarks that indicate where you are on your real road ride, it’s just falls flat….
But overall, I’m very pleased to be able to have SYSTM and RGT now for 1 price. I was a dual subscriber before.
Be aware that as a dual subscriber, the Wahoo subscription FAQ recommends to cancel one. I have no idea what happens to any stored data of the service you cancel. Contact customer service if you have concerns about that.
From the FAQ:
I was already subscribed to both RGT and SYSTM. I don’t want to be double-charged. What should I do?
You need to cancel one of your active subscriptions – either through RGT or Wahoo SYSTM. Please contact customer support with any questions.
I used to have a Tacx smart trainer about six years ago. You could load a GPX route into the Advanced TTS software and it would show dynamic Google Streetview images as you rode.
This seems so far ahead of its time when you look at the options now available.
Bad news for me, biking is not main interest and RGT has been a valuable thing for me and I really mikr it. Now it will be a price hike from 99 to 185 SEK in sweden. I am leaving that boat now. Any idea for an alternative?
Regarding the SYSTM, I was thrilled when it came out but I found it totally miserable. I even have a 12 months free subscription on it, but I cant stand it. Goodbye Wahoo.
Zwift is sitting on that TR acquisition not sure for what reason other than it not happening
CyclingTips article seems to state (even if a bit wishy-washy) that the Z+TR option is officially “dead”. They don’t give any real info, so it could be wrong or just deliberately short of info for a range of reasons.
I agree that this action is very big and should be getting people thinking if they aren’t already doing so.
In most business cases, acquisition offers never really die. One company makes an offer, perhaps another company does too, and then the recipient decides. That process can drag on for months or years.
At this point, said recipient has apparently decided either no to Zwift, no to all (other) offers…or no for now. Almost every company has a price where no turns into yes. And any hesitations can usually be changed by increasing said price.
I don’t think this announcement is something that immediately should cause Nate concern, but I’d be more concerned for 18-24 months down the road depending on how Wahoo handles things. Realistically speaking, if Wahoo can make RGT into a viable Zwift competitor, then the initial loser isn’t Zwift: It’s TrainerRoad. That’s because SYSTM has vast overlap with TrainerRoad. So if Wahoo can give people a pseudo-Zwift + pseudo-TrainerRoad for one lower price. Well, that’s likely to hurt TR more than Zwift (based on user numbers alone).
Of course, that all assumes Zwift stays static. The last few months are really the first time in Zwift’s history I’m seeing some legit signs that the company is growing up. Much of it isn’t obvious yet to users, but structures are being put in place that should have been years ago. I’m seeing those in minor day-to-day things, but also behind-the-scenes tidbits when talking to other industry players that interact with Zwift. Of course, their own hardware will be a massive distraction, launched at realistically the worst possible time (no fault of theirs). But, it does appear to be causing them to focus a bit more.
Anywas, interesting times…
Great info and thoughts, Ray. Much appreciated.
Maybe this is off-target, but it feels to me that Trainerroad is somewhat left out in the cold in all these machinations. Zwift would only acquire TR to dismantle it & eliminate a competitor. At the same time, Garmin’s fledgling efforts at structured training seem to be going nowhere. So, maybe Garmin buys TR??
I dunno, I see Wahoo as getting too distracted. Their head-units used to Just Work Every Time – and why I migrated from Garmin. Then came the Garmin-style firmware updates that regularly broke stuff, then the twin disasters of the Bolt 2 and watch (not to mention the early problems with the most recent Kickr). Feeling really bad for the Speedplay devote’s as well in the midst of all this and looking at that likely future.
Why does everyone feel like that have to do EVERYTHING? Why can’t companies be satisfied with doing a smaller number of things REALLY well? For example ummm… I dunno… Zwift(?!). This is also the reason I seriously hope Zwiift doesn’t actually go down the hardware rabbit hole.
I guess it comes down to Sturgeon’s Law… “90% of everything is crap” (or will become crap in the long term).
Not saying that anyone else in this market is better, but implying that Zwift does software really well…really? They’ve also been down the hardware rabbit hole for a year(s) now; see Ray’s many other articles on the subject.
I’m hopeful this means Wahoo will put more focus on improving and streamlining SYSTM. As an RGT fan with a rarely used SYSTM membership, I think Wahoo is doing a better job trying to get my money with this.
Not getting into world creation is a big mistake. It’s one of the big social aspects of Zwift.
I host a race series on RGT Cycling: the Northern California (NorCal) Tue Niter, which is every Tue at 6 pm Pacific. As I write this, we’re doing stage 2 of the 5-stage Redlands Classic. Each week is 20 km, and it’s a good chance to try out RGT racing beyond the “official” events, which tend to have low turnout. It’s much more of a “community” feel than most Zwift races, which tend to be a bunch of random strangers.
There’s three sources of RGT events: (1) the app shows upcoming events on the home screen, (2) RGTDB is the “ZwiftPower” or RGT and is the best resource for events and Magic Roads, (3) there’s Facebook and Discord groups. But my recommendation is check out RGTDB, which has registration links for events.
Thanks for the pointer to RGTDB – I’ve just done my first event on RGT (I’d never even heard of it before yesterday!) and quite enjoyed it. As it’s included in my Systm subscription I’ll definitely use it a bit more.
I subscribe to both so I’m happy about this from a financial perspective.I’m hopeful this will bring more users to RGT to start populating the courses more. I’ve seen the user base grow slowly over time so I’m optimistic about the positive affect this will have for RGT over the near term. I prefer the physics and actual riding on RGT over Zwift personally, but Zwift definitely has the UI and ease of use edge by a long way. Also the advantage of Zwifts worlds is pretty significant if you just want to get on the bike and ride. You can loop and make turns and adjustments to your rides on the fly – it’s better than an A to B route that ends in RGT. Also the lighter/brighter colors and lighthearted nature of the world I think attracts more people than the “realistic” environment of RGT.
Hopefully Wahoo can improve the UI and then focus on integrating their workouts into RGT as an alternative to their videos. I have been more and more turning off and turning on something else to watch – not sure why but I’m having a harder time leaving them on for some reason. Lastly I hope they can develop some built in tools for development of real roads from users. I have done some and they work ok with the community tools but they are a bit of a bear to use. Integrated tools would give better uptake I think. Also the ability to add banners/sprint points/Points of interest on a course would be very welcome to make it more interesting.
Overall I’m optimistic about the acquisition. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Now I just have to make sure my RGT account history isn’t lost.
Echo all of your sentiments.
The FAQs say that those with different email accounts for SYSTM and RGT are not yet able to have their accounts merged, but they are working on it.
Any chance you used the same email for both, like me, and have been able to log in to RGT? I haven’t received a single password reset email.
Tim, luckily I used the same email. I went to the Wahoo website first and when I tried to login it said I needed to reset my password but didn’t give me a link to reset it. Then I went to the RGT website and it had me reset my password and provided a link to send an email to reset. I set it to the same as my Wahoo account. When I checked the RGT app (update was required) it still had all my history and settings.
RGT user here.
I go mostly for rides… Sometimes I join events for a change on routes.
While riding in real worlds, and having the wave/chat features, you can interact, but I barely use that if I’m in a workout.
Platform -wise, I tend to disagree with Ray. I think it’s different:
It caters for people that dislike the gamification on Zwift
Being server based, in RGT everybody has the same info, you know who is ahead and you play tactics… Whereas in Zwift, it feels more like a tempo effort all the time
More realism in drafting and cornering.
On the minus side:
Time zones in America, Asia and Oceania are missing many events, although European events attract a decent crowd.
The latest interface improves in some aspects but leave other things outside: Stop/Pause button, mouse pointer is lost in the screen, map has an XY distortion
Ray’s app review alone had a consolidated list of 11 options: Bkool, FulGaz, Kinomap, Peloton Digital App (sans-Peloton Bike), RGT, Rouvy, The Sufferfest, Tacx Training App, TrainerRoad, Xert, and Zwift. And these are just the big names; there are tons of smaller and hybrid players. Meanwhile Apple Watch / Apple Fitness+ gets better every year, taking an ever bigger slice of the generic fitness market (in turn shirking the market of potential premium subscribers for all the other companies). Even with RGT and Sufferfest now off the table, that’s just too many apps chasing a very small total addressable market of people willing to pay premium dollars for cycling apps. COVID’s dramatic but ultimately temporary and artificial inflation of this niche market masked that basic economic reality. Most everyone who needed a $1,000+ smart trainer and associated app has one. (Or three, as is the case for many on this site.) So now the consolidation era begins. My heart goes out to all the people who lost their jobs. It sounds like they were mostly devs, which hopefully means they’ll get picked-up very quickly by others given the major skills gaps in tech at the moment.
I wish Wahoo would snap up Xert, a signature based training app would be great, or snap up 2Peak (they do run, cycling and multisport AI). That would be a game changer.
If they are listening….Repack Ridge! Yes, mountain biking with steering is awesome!
Thanks for clarifying Ray!
I got the email from Wahoo as I’m on their mailing list as I have a Kickr Air. So I loaded up RGT and did a group ride, then a free ride and a workout. While they’ve come along way since I last tried it a few years ago they are a long way behind Zwift especially when it comes to routes. If the subscription price was a lot lower I might be tempted but at US $14.99 no way. I’ll continue using Zwift at the same price. I’ll keep an eye on things however as with Wahoo now owning RGT development may ramp up to make it some serious competition to Zwift.
For me, not going into “world building” is a terrible decision. That means choosing the worst part from Zwift (the clunky, unrealistic graphics) and the worst part of the real-world video apps (once you have selected a route you cannot change and just have to ride it…)
I dislike a lot of things about Zwift and have been testing out all of the alternatives for the last months. Still not found anything good. Either the SW is unstable, the selection of routes is limited, the videos quality is lousy, they use some clunky graphics or a combination thereof.
Give me Watopia with better graphics (on a better engine) and with stable software and I’d be happy. But I haven’t found anything that I’d like to use on a regular basis yet. And this doesn’t help…
Any thoughts as to whether they might introduce running to the RGT platform? if they want to compete and get the most out of the deal it would make sense. They offer multi-sport training programs in Systm but at present they have to be done outside with no ability to upload workouts to get a total training load.
I just want real roads. Let me draw a route on the map and let me ride it virtually. License google maps and make it happen.
There was an iOS app called Skuga that would let you re-ride any Strava ride you did, and it would give the top-down Google satellite view of your progress, and a “ghost” dot for the ride it came from.
I used it a few years ago, and it wasn’t too bad.
In what fashion do you think Zwift increased its gamification over the last couple of years? Seems unchanged in that regard from where I sit.
i was happy with RGT as a solo entity.I am sure the RGT guys are flipping dollar bills away but i kept my subscription due to being loyal to the start up ethos and local community support.
i am ditching it now as they have sold out.
Moved to Trainerday in combination with intervals.icu.
For costing three AAA game titles a year, Zwift scenery is a few years behind looking like Skyrim or Far Cry 5.
Anyone who is concerned about gamification should sit on a couch and play XBOX or Oculus. I have been a beta tester since 2015 and since day one I thought that Zwift is a training platform. I guess some of us utilize Zwift as a tool.
Perhaps I’m the minority. I keep my eye on the power curve, while other are concerned about graphics and gamification dynamics?
That’s very myopic response. No reason it can’t be both. And just because it works for you, doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Why not go a step further then and just shut it all off and stare at the wall like the good ol’ days?
$15/month seems to become the new standard for indoor cycling !!
Luckily, there are still some free apps available, such as GoldenCheetah (link to goldencheetah.org) and Incyclist ( link to incyclist.com).
The latter is quite new and still under development, but looks promising
So. It’s difficult for me to see how Wahoo has the resources to make RGT competitive with Zwift when they have been unable to deliver on some (what seems like) fairly simple requests to the updated Sufferfest (SYSTM). SYSTM users have been asking for features that were available in Sufferfest but absent in SYSTM such as a count of the number of times a user has completed a ride, or the last time a particular ride has been completed. I suppose that Wahoo will say ‘well, we secretly had all our programming resources blending RGT into Wahoo and could not devote the time to SYSTM user requests’. If that’s the case, it says something right there. If it’s not the case and they were simply short of programming help…well, that does not bode well for what is required in the next phase of RGT, especially with the layoffs. Unless the layoffs were done to generate resources for more programming help… As an annual SYSTM subscriber, I’m a beneficiary here of new things to try (RGT) for, effectively, free. That’s great. But it’s difficult to reconcile the effort seemingly necessary in RGT and the demonstrated glacial velocity of accomplishment at Sufferfest (pre-Wahoo: Android app was years in the making, for example) and now SYSTM. Maybe Zwift is no better in bringing new capabilities to users!
….I know many of you were wondering what was taking us so long to get new functions deployed on SYSTM over the last few months. Well, now you know. We put considerable resources to work behind-the-scenes to get both apps ready to work on the Wahoo cloud, creating a single subscription and laying the groundwork for closer integration between the two apps. This meant we slowed down a bit on pushing SYSTM ahead, but it’s worth it. Now, with one subscription, you’ve got two completely different experiences to keep you riding and improving and, importantly, connecting with friends and other riders around the world. (If you’re not a subscriber yet, then we’ve got a 14-day free trial gives you full access to both platforms)…..
Head of Wahoo Training Services
link to wahoox.forum.wahoofitness.com
As a handcyclist, RGTs willingness to design a handcycle avatar should be applauded. Now with Wahoo, they’ll get my business for sure. I get paracycling is are small group, but it speaks to their openness, attention to detail and doing that which Zwift will not. I’m very excited!
My biggest surprise was that Ray has not done a proper review of RGT in nearly 3 years.
Generally speaking, I haven’t done much in the way of any training app platform ‘reviews’ (including Zwift or anyone else).
Instead, I tend to focus my training app posts on two areas:
A) News updates (new features, etc…)
B) Sorta-annual trainer app guides. The last one for all platforms was two years ago, and is undoubtedly due for an update. It’s also the one I dread the most, because I actually go and use all the platforms and try them all out – which takes forever.
Ray, what is Garmin doing with their Tacx Training platform? They’re actually poised even better than Wahoo to disrupt given how huge of a market share they have with Garmin devices and Garmin connect. Why are they doing nothing with it?
I don’t understand why Garmin/Tacx hasn’t developed an Apple TV version. The app is very good and outclasses many but the convenience of Apple TV with Zwift is huge. Garmin could take the number 2 position easily if they simply ported to Apple TV.
Would love to see Garmin buy Rouvy.
Or Wahoo will buy Xert too?
Then they are the Leader!
That’s the reason why they use Wahoo X as Name today 🙂
I guess Rouvy could make sense if Garmin wanted to quickly snag the virtual riding integration with the video rides, but the Tacx Virtual Training app they already have via their Tacx purchase seems like plenty of a starting point already.
Wahoo SYSTM XRT!
Do you know what Wahoo plans with regards to support of Apple TV? RGT is supported there, but SYSTM is not – I don’t need RGT there, since I have a computer by my trainer setup, but would love to be able to use the Yoga and Strength parts of SYSTM in front of the TV…
One would expect that they would streamline things, so everything is available on the same platforms?
Wahoo truly has a ‘Chip’ on it shoulder, in the way it’s business model is to take the bigger companies down by disruption.
Although I feel the Elemnt wave has died down, with little progress on that genre, and too much focus on a watch that is far from ever reaching a competitive level.
With a bit of luck, maybe DC will include this in the annual keynote.
I have been looking at this market. I think it is a good purchase for Wahoo which has grown well through acquisition. Zwift is a superior platform. Both have missed the mark in terms of broadening the market. Compare Zwift to Minecraft or Roadblox. Every platform has its time of growth, plateau, and decline. I think this market may be in plateau. Take running, home treadmill market was about $200 million in the United States from estimates, and with COVID restrictions ending, my guess, 2022 will be a very down year of treadmill sales. Look at Peloton stock price. In Sept 2019 it was $25, Dec 2020 $162, May 2022 $12.90 and in free fall. The innovation in smart bike trainers has been significant, all new models are great. I have the new TacX Neo. But running is limited, and there is no ability to reach young runners. The vast majority of group runs are in high school and college and are formally through teams. Most adults today are trying to leave virtual environments and companies want everyone back in the office.
I think the only way for another app to get users from Zwift would be using a free subscription.. if you look at the gaming industry as a whole this is a proven trend.
In Wahoo’s case, giving some more freemium features to anyone who has a wahoo trainer for example would already pull a giant crowd towards System..