Which is better, Zwift vs Sufferfest?
When the temperature outside is negative with some insane degree. The weather is definitely not on your side. Going to the grocery store becomes a pain. And you feel you're literally going to die if you step out.
Why not stay indoors. The chances of you stepping out is zero. That's when your favourite indoor cycling app comes handy.
Zwift or Sufferfest
Today we will look at some of the best indoor cycling apps available. We'll give you a pretty good breakdown of what we think about each of these indoor cycling apps in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. you can read about what we found when Zwift came head to head with Peloton in our Zwift vs Peloton article.
We'll look at these apps in detail (Zwift vs Sufferfest vs Trainerroad), their pros and cons, and make a better, more informed and intelligent decision as to which indoor cycling app is better.
This is more of a review of these programs in general - in terms of how a beginner, the intermediate or advanced user feels about or may use these apps.
Are you ready?
Let dive in!
What is Zwift?
Zwift is an indoor cycling app that enables you to ride with other cyclists, runners and triathlons in a virtual environment. This is done by simulating a real-world cycling experience through the use of a smart trainer and the app.
In other words, Zwift allows you to train, race or ride at the comfort of your home anytime by linking up your bike and smart trainer to either your computer, iPad, iPhone or Apple TV, etc...
Costing £14.99 or $18.99 a month – Zwift comes ready with a free seven-day trial and you can just download the version you need from their home page.
So come to think of it - when you're having a bad day when your motivation is low when you struggle to hit your target - there's a big draw of having other riders on the field that you can ride with or compete against.
And that is all about Zwift. The sense of community - Zwift social.
No wonder the master of social networks, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg chose to ride with Zwift during his arm injury rehabilitation.
The Zwift idea is to allows you to join virtual group rides around the world where you can measure your progress against other riders right in the comfort of your home. All you have to do is got to the Zwift website and register for an upcoming group ride.
Generally, indoor cycling is great for keeping up your motivation. And making you feel you're actually riding and not cubed inside.
Yes, there are several indoor cycling apps and Zwift definitely has its pros and cons. We'll look at some of them here but let's look at how the Zwift setup works.
If you're riding with Zwift - the app, you're not going to only need the that but you'll also need the hardware to go with.
For the best Zwift experience, you'll need to save as much as you can and invest in the equipment.
It's always worth investing as much money into your smart trainer. Go with a direct drive instead.
So probably the most important part of the Zwift setup is the ANT+ dongle. The is the piece of hardware you put in your computer, your computer sends information to Zwift from your smart trainer and that's how your avatar gets to move.
Never forget to turn your fan ON. And we found a perfect fan on amazon - the ...... for this purpose.
Let's look at the software side of the Zwift setup.
So you head over to zwift.com - download and install Zwift for IOS, MAC or Windows and Apple TV.
A lot more people are using Zwift m Apple TV nowadays. Install on your laptop, computer or phone.
How to ride with Zwift
1. Grab Your Bike
You’ll need your own bike for Zwift. Most cyclists use modern road bikes, but mountain and hybrids are also welcome.
2. Connect to Trainer
A trainer attaches to your bike and gives you resistance. Many trainers let you experience the rolling hills and big climbs of Zwift.
3. Download Zwift
Start with a free 7-day trial and ride. No payment required.
Here, you can register and log in with your username and password.
Then you'll see the "paired device" page which uses your dongle to pair your device to your smart trainer and other devices (heart rate monitor, cadence, power meter, etc..)
Now you can follow the prompts to set up Zwift to your desired preference.
Sufferfest is basically a big library of structured indoor cycling workouts. However, their workouts have a different flavour to them. A lot of them are accompanied by video footage of real professional racing such as Tour De France, UCL, Giro d'Italia, etc.
In short, Suffferfest is more of playing a video of a race and you're virtually part of that race - representing this mythical country called Sufferlandria.
In general, Suffferfest offers over 50 guided erg-mode workouts. The main difference between Sufferfest and other indoor cycling apps such as Zwift is that, with Sufferfest the edge to work harder is built into the app.
So basically, the culture of the workout is that - the music, the video and almost everything else is programmed into the app to get the most out of you.
And that is great.
Further, it comes with a library of energy-boosting and body toning workouts such as yoga programs, mental toughness programs, nutrition guides, etc..
Costing $99 a year or 12.99 a month – Sufferfest comes ready with a free 14 days trial and you can just download the version you need from their home page.
So you head over to sufferefest.com - download and install Sufferfest for IOS, MAC or windows and Apple TV.
If you care to know, WAHOO acquired Sufferfest in July 2019. Meaning this robust, widely used indoor cycling app can only get better.
With Sufferfest you get a better quality workout that is more exactly what you're looking to do.
The workout is structured in a way to match the race footage you're watching - so if there's an attack or a sprint, you'll be instructed to sprint or climb.
One notable aspect of Sufferfest is the personality it assumes. It will not only motivate you but very fascinating. What really gets me is when you're recovering between intervals you might see one of a few things such as;
And that is cute!
The Sufferfest app is full of funny commentaries meant to keep you engaged and motivate you.
The app itself is really great. It's available for windows, mac, and IOS so you can run it on your iPad, iPhone, android and apple TV.
As I've mentioned earlier, there's a Free 14 trial you can take advantage of. No risk.
You can download workouts especially if you're in an area without a good wifi connection. The workout screen is very sleek - you can pair your trainer using either ANT+ or Bluetooth, heart rate monitor, cadence sensor, a power meter, etc..
If you have a regular spin bike, a peloton, a hotel spin bike, you can just play the video through a heart rate monitor, play the videos and follow the instructions to do these workouts.
The Sufferfest workouts are designed with 4DP or 4-dimensional power. These power metrics are:
These metrics will be available for you when you complete the 4DP test. Once you complete this test, you'll see your full power and these 4 metrics will be defined for you. And each metric is colour coded.
In 2019, Sufferfest introduced e-racing as an addition to the already existing programs. So now Sufferfest offers different training plans for riding including triathlon, e-racing, etc..
If you don't like cookie-cutter plans for a one time fee, you can have a custom plan designed for you by one of their coaches on phone or Skype.
Zwift vs Sufferfest: Which is Better?
Getting the best bang for your buck is everybody's goal. Inasmuch as you want to get into the indoor cycling world for one reason or the other, you don't want to break the bank for no reason.
So on the price side of things, Zwift has gone through a number of price changes - from $12.99 to $14.99 and then $18.99 for a month.
Sufferefest is at $12.99/mo and $99/year.
With everything we've talked about, pros and cons, the value for money audit and overall experience, you can make a good decision here.
Your guess is as good as mine. Until now, the decision is yours.
With Zwift, you can upload your own workout or go and find free workouts on the internet, upload them and off you ride.
When it comes to Sufferefest, flexibility is non-existent.
However, both indoor cycling apps have workout plans you can easily access and upload into your training. For instance, you can upload an Olympic triathlon workout plan through their system.
Zwift is very immersive. you basically have the choice of erg mode or that fully immersive mode. There's a real sense of community with Zwift. The available interaction and chats between riders and users are what make Zwift really social.
With Sufferfest, you don't have that immersion. No sense of community there. All you've got is an erg mode and enjoying the 'pain inside'.
Sufferfest rides on its absolutely phenomenal, maximum, customized 4DP training setup. And that is a huge thing.
But Zwift only has your FTP numbers to rely on or count on.
The whole point of having an FTP is just so that you can place your training zones appropriately to where you are in fitness.
With Sufferfest you get all those regular prompts (instructional and informative text overlays) to get the best possible workout out of you.
The Sufferfest app is designed purposely to really push you and give you awesome workout experience.
Zwift is more of a video game. your avatar is your focus and the virtual world is yours to conquer.
Sufferefest or Zwift Experience
Of course, Sufferefest is
On the other hand, Zwift comes in with a whole package. Therefore, you'll need a few other add-ons to your Zwift membership for a great Zwift setup and experience.
So if you're interested in this whole 'Zwifting' thing - the question is, "Where do I start?"
Inasmuch as we want to best bang for our buck we would definitely want to the best out of our indoor cycling adventure.
After all, we just want to ride, isn't?
If you're that person who wants to run or ride and have fun without regretting your decision to do so; then lend me your ears.
In fact, using Zwift doesn't require a power meter or a smart trainer. You can do just fine
with your old or standard trainer thanks to a concept called "Virtual Power".
A virtual Power is an estimated power number that is derived from a rider’s weight, speed, tire size, and the resistance curve of the rider’s specific trainer.
Every trainer has its resistance curve that can be measured and mapped. The Virtual Power concept has been a revolutionary development in indoor training indeed.
Even though Virtual Power is not perfect, it is a great option if you don't have a smart trainer or power meter.
In fact, Zwift will be compatible with any bike that has a Bluetooth or ANT+ speed sensor or power meter. A standard turbo trainer will do just fine if the tools mentioned here are available.
This setup will cost not more than $200. An estimated cost of between $200 and $300 depending on the setup and experience you'll want to achieve.
The following are what you need to ride, and you can all of these on Amazon.
You can ride with a speed/cadence sensor, which will calculate your virtual power. For more accurate results, you can use a power meter on a standard set up but for the full experience, a smart turbo trainer will replicate climbs, descents and the effect of drafting.
What Equipment Do you Need?
In order to ride with Zwift, you need the following hardware:
Stationary Trainer: As already mentioned you'll be OK using virtual power. Or otherwise, use any "non-smart” trainer. However, for the best Zwift experience, we recommend this riser block trainer from Amazon or a stable ride.
Protective Floor Mat: Super-tough, durable mat to help protect your floors and carpets from the damaging effects of equipment and debris from mechanical parts. You can look at this amazing protective floor mat on Amazon.
Speed Sensor: For speed, you need an ANT+ or Bluetooth speed and cadence sensor mounted at the rear wheel. We recommend this RPM Cycling Speed and Cadence Sensor available from Wahoo on Amazon.
A Receiver/Dongle: Your speed sensor now needs to have a way to communicate with your computer. How you make this connection depends on if you are using ANT+ or Bluetooth. We also recommend this Garmin USB ANT Stick from Amazon.
If you have any ANT+ devices, you will need an ANT+ dongle. If you have other fitness equipment, you might already have one.
A Computer, Tablet, or Smartphone: You need to meet the minimum hardware requirements to use Zwift. Zwift can be installed on a PC or Mac or a compatible Apple iOS device.
What if you want a Perfect Zwift Setup?
If you want a high-end Zwift experience and setup, then you may need to do a bit of investment. You’ll need is a turbo trainer. And that's very key.
You'll find good smart turbo trainers on Amazon such as the:
All these 3 are great and regarded as the industry standard. A smart turbo trainer comes with (what you really need) and not just the usual bells and whistles.
We are looking at a price range of between £500-£1,000 depending on the type of smart turbo trainer you use.
How does it work?
It adjusts its resistance based on the real-time on-screen action.
So apparently, it will fell harder when your avatar on the screen is climbing. On the other hand, it will feel easier if your avatar on the screen is descending.
This smart trainer changing resistance does take the experience to another level. Using your gears makes the simulation much more engaging.
The biggest benefit of a smart trainer is the ERG mode. Notwithstanding the app you use, all you have to do is pedal - the trainer does the rest.
NB: Note that Zwift needs to support your trainer to estimate power readings.
Zwift vs Sufferfest vs Trainerroad
Zwift is entertaining, fascinating and more of a game. This is all because of its accompanied racing abilities. Zwift is great because of racing.
Zwift is all about the immersive, community-based race, workouts and free rides in a virtual environment. Welcome to the Island of Watopia where amazing rides happen.
Ideally, with Zwift you can chat with other riders, give them a thumbs up and other gestures as they ride.
The Zwift companion app that allows this social function has been improved for the 2018/2019 indoor season.
Who is Zwift For?
Zwift is great for a large number of people.
Easy to get your kids on the bike to try out cycling and racing in a video game experience while getting them to work out.
Further, the hyped concept of the Peloton bike experience could easily be replaced by the Zwift setup experience.
With Sufferfest you get;
Most importantly, it comes with 4DP training that tests and analyzes your FTP power for profiling your workouts and future workout customization.
It basically pulls out the first few minutes of your workout in a test, analyze it and create a full profile of what kind of rider you are.
Your subsequent workouts are customized based on that analysis. This awesome technology takes a look at you as a complete cyclist.
Again, you can download a training piece plan - there are templates available for you. All these and other workouts appear in your training piece account.
Basically, the whole Sufferfest user interface is made to push you to give your maximum best. Constantly overlaying instructional and informative text to guide and inform your riding experience.
Featuring a target for cadence, heart rate guidance in the middle, power indication for target power and your power for customization.
So who is Sufferfest for?
Sufferfest is perfect for someone who wants to be engaged with the professional cycling culture. An integration into what it means to be a cyclist. Geared towards and loved by the real cycling doers.
If you're highly focused on performance in the summer and not really interested in any entertainment in the winter, then Trainerroad is for you.
If you're dedicated to being a serious cyclist looking to make some improvement or progress - Trainerroad should be your preferred indoor cycling app.
The Trainerroad platform comes in with 3 phases of training. The base, the modified base ad the specialty.
It is very much focused on building your aerobic capacity and system as a rider.
Very robust, mechanical and follows a certain method. Not so much to be entertained about, unlike many other fitness apps. Trainerroad is keen on getting your results not fun. Period!
However, the results speak for itself. You get your heart rate elevated for a long period of time. and that is great.
Its entirely focused on giving you an on-road result based on what you do in the winter.