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January 24, 2021

Cycling App Review: RGT Cycling (Road Grand Tours)

Welcome to our ultimate guide of the world's leading cycling apps. Find out what app is right for you, and check out our other reviews of cycling apps.

The Fundamentals

Ride Type: Virtual simulations of real roads
Compatibility: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac (requires two screens)
Required Equipment: A smart trainer with power or separate power meter
Integrations: Strava, TrainingPeaks
Cost: Free (Basic), $9.99/month (Premium)

Who It’s For

Anyone who shudders at the thought of paying a monthly fee to ride their bike, but still wants a fun, indoor riding experience powered by a smart trainer. Don’t be fooled by RGT Cycling’s relatively low membership base – this is a quality product you won't want to miss out on.

App Set Up

RGT Cycling is somewhat unusual in that it requires two screens – one to follow the course and a second to run the mobile app, which controls starting and stopping as well as camera views and the rider chat. Rest assured: This isn’t a problem. Once you start your ride, the app will happily run in the background if you need your mobile phone for something else. In our experience, the app is extremely easy to set up, and pairing it with a smart trainer worked on the first attempt. Importantly, a power measurement source is required, which means you will need on-bike power measurement if you don’t have a smart trainer.

Ride Set Up

If you just want to go out (or, rather, in?) and ride, RGT Cycling has curated virtual simulations of famous cycling routes from across the planet, such as Cap Formentor in Spain, Mont Ventoux in France, and Passo dello Stelvio in Italy. There are nine routes in total and users can access up to five different routes with a free (yes, free!) membership to the app. All nine (or five, if riding free) courses are available at all times, which is convenient if users have a course they really want to ride (though it does mean the roads can be a bit lonely at non-peak times). Oddly, the RGT Cycling website indicates users have access to eight routes (and that three are free), but when we visited the app, we had access to nine routes in total and five free routes.

A premium membership allows users to supplement the stock routes with ‘Magic Roads’ by sending a .GPX route file of at most 100 kilometers/62 miles to RGT Cycling via e-mail. The route is then uploaded to the app for the user to ride, which means you can ride along your favourite local routes, or train on the undulations of an upcoming race course. Luckily, the still relatively limited number of users means this e-mail approach is manageable, but a more automated solution will eventually be in demand if the app gains a larger base of cyclists.

For users seeking structured training rides, RGT Cycling has a library of a few dozen workouts, the majority of which require a premium membership, but there are a number of free options, too. The app even offers a handful of longer-term training plans of six to eight weeks that users can load through TrainingPeaks. Similar to the app's 'Magic Roads' function, the upgrade to a premium membership enables users to upload (via e-mail) their own workouts – and to choose the course on which they complete the workout.

Last but not least, if you’re a group ride convener, RGT Cycling enables users to set up group rides and races with a premium membership. What's more, the premium membership is required only to organize the rides, which means participants can join with a free membership (so you don't have to feel bad about pulling your friends off other platforms to join you on RGT Cycling).

RGT Cycling app screenshot

In-App Experience

RGT Cycling has worked hard to make the riding experience as realistic as possible with benefits to drafting behind a fellow rider, simulated braking into corners on fast descents, and the potential to be boxed in by other riders. If your goal is to get around a course as fast as possible, kudos must be given for realism as you will need to watch the course and the riders around you. Perhaps because of the realism, RGT Cycling is one of only two indoor cycling apps approved for a virtual Everesting attempt (the other approved app is Zwift). Naturally, the more realistic downhill braking probably means a slower time in RGT Cycling than Zwift, but it will capture your capability more accurately.

The quality of the graphics are comparable (if not superior) to other major apps, and we didn’t experience any breaks in performance other than one trainer drop out (but it’s impossible to say whether that had anything to do with the app, itself, or if it was caused by Bluetooth interference). The out of the saddle dancing avatar was not quite as smooth as we are (in our own humble opinion), but the in saddle experience felt smooth and controlled even when grinding up steep climbs.

We've heard users complain of too few riders online. They're not wrong. As we pen this blog, there are 24,000 active riders on Zwift versus 160 on RGT Cycling. Personally, we would argue that a more tranquil in-app experience could be considered a selling feature – on exactly zero of our real life local routes are we surrounded by dozens of riders at all times, and the rush of chasing down a rider on the horizon is lost in a busier app because there are riders everywhere jockeying back and forth. We fully expect the user base to grow as the app gains in popularity and cycling clubs realize that it’s a powerful tool to bring people together without forcing them to purchase a membership.

The Verdict

Totally underrated! The RGT Cycling app could be a fit for you if you are seeking a cost-effective (or even free) option to ride real world routes and aren't bothered by (or perhaps even prefer) sparsely populated roads. Although the overall package is less built out than Zwift (e.g., fewer races and organized rides and less gamification) given the app's ridership is still growing, the ride functionality is comparable - and it can be yours for free. Plus, there are fewer limitations on setting up rides and races, which (combined with free) makes the app a fine choice for organized events for riders that are joining from various platforms.

Ultimately, we were pleasantly surprised with this app – it’s user friendly and it scores high on realism. Granted it offers fewer bells and whistles than, say, Zwift, but we generally aren’t that engrossed in all of the fancy gamification anyway. We predict that RGT Cycling's user base will grow as more riders jump on the bandwagon.

Full Disclosure: We're cyclists – not marketers – and we are not affiliated with RGT Cycling. This is an independent review based on our own experience with the app – to help you decide if it's right for you. For more, check out our other reviews of cycling apps

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