SINCE WRITING THIS I’VE SWITCHED TO CYCLEOPS WHO HAVE A BETTER U.I. AND MORE CONSIDERATE CUSTOMER SERVICE VALUES
I‘ve never been one for exercise equipment in the home and beyond the odd roller, a couple of yoga mats and a few tensile bands I’ve managed to stick to that for over two and a half decades. Over winter I’d eat pies and become slightly more rounded.
2016 ruined that as I bought into turbo training and the gamification of indoor cycling and when you think about cycling games Zwift has become the name on everyone’s lips, there’s a massive community, thousands of riders on it, workouts, mass events, the pros use it and it’s all bundled up in a slick nice front end that makes it effortless to use. I really do like Zwift, I get a slight buzz out of chasing jersey’s.
I used Zwift for months, exploiting very free trial that I could and I had free access for a good five months, which sadly because of the lack of variation was far longer than it kept my attention. I found the track selection limited and while the graphics are smooth and the course moves quickly and the wide selection of workouts, no matter how many wonderful points Zwift has I ended up taking out a Bkool subscription.
With the trainer Bkool offers, from what I can tell, the exact same feel and rider experience through the crank, there’s also parity between my Garmin and the numbers shown within Bkool which is something that Zwift struggled with.
Bkool doesn’t seem to have the numbers that Zwift has but it constantly has high engagement without the screen looking cluttered with overlapping avatars. As with Zwift you can have your workouts, you can make your own and it all links to your Strava account.
What really sold me on Bkool was the route selection, Zwift has Wattopia, Richmond, and a bit of London. Bkool has Alp A’huez, Col du Tourmalet and bucket loads of real routes that you can test yourself on.
In theory these real routes are great and I love the challenge of them but Zwift with its quick routes make the game engaging because with real routes, as with me on Ventoux, it could take a very painful 10 minutes to travel 1.4k with the screen crawling along at a grinding 6.5kph, that though is obviously related to my performance which is limited as always by my exploded disk.
Another great feature of Bkool is the live video feature so instead of having a graphics driven presentation your given actual road footage, I don’t use it because of the sync issues with my cadence sensor and as with the 3D function, I get motion sickness. The Platform runs on both my sweat covered four year old laptop which is so crappy they gave it away with a mobile phone contract and on my very bottom of the range Samsung J5 phone.
What I am looking forward to trying is the upload feature, in theory as a global community of cyclists it really does excite me that I could digitally ride your normal route, we all have at least one 25k regular quick and dirty ride. As soon as I GoPro myself ill start putting my Richmond Park ride together and get it uploaded, if I was fit enough I would like to ride the whole ride London Route.
On paper Bkool has the capacity to be a cycling snowball, once it reaches that critical mass of users and uploaders the library of rides should be huge and I know there are many cycling nerds like me but how many would upload their ride videos would be small as a guess but even if 1% of users upload once a year, that would still make the variation mind boggling.
What does interest me in 2017 is what will Zwift do with the $27m of investment, who much will that outside equity drive the platform and in what direction and how will Bkool respond.
I suppose both platforms work well and anything that allows me to ride while broken or ride when it’s blowing a gale or in the off season is great and I can only hope that Bkool invest heavily in their platform.