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I just purchased a smart trainer and plan on trying different apps/platforms. While i'm waiting for my smart trainer to arrive i've read some what the different apps offer.

One feature that I'm looking for I didn't see in any of them: Riding custom routes, e.g. i have an elevation profile, or I can import a route from komoot/strava and I can ride it indoors.

I'm not looking for pictures/videos while riding these routes, just that the trainer will adjust the resistance according to the gradient in my given elevation profile.

Is there an app where I can ride custom elevation profiles/routes?

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  • I don't know if something as emulating power data of a given route exists (because you want some kind of entertaining visualization to anticipate a profile). The closest I can think of are custom workouts but this would only be a bunch of steady efforts stitched together (15 min150W, 20 min 250W to simulate a climb) but it would be a pain to "model" a fine-grained profile and in the trainer's ERG mode, you wouldn't even have to shift which takes away from the experience, indeed.
    – DoNuT
    Nov 13, 2023 at 12:10
  • RGT offered 'Magic Routes', but Wahoo nixed it. Meanwhile, Zwift - the defacto leader in this space - doesn't even let you design custom routes around its own terrain 🤦🏻‍♂️. Nov 14, 2023 at 4:53

6 Answers 6

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If you have an Garmin bike computer it is possible to simulate courses (planned routes) and saved rides: https://www8.garmin.com/manuals/webhelp/edge530/EN-US/GUID-8826CB17-DD0D-40F9-89BB-D93C1E8534CF.html

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There's four common training software modes:

  1. Erg, where you follow a power profile, i.e. 300W of 30 sec followed by 1 min at 100...
  2. Real Life Video, where the software display a video with additional elevation data and speed of the video play is controlled by the amount of power you produce
  3. Virtual World, where the software displays a simulated virtual world with an avatar
  4. Elevation profile, where you upload an elevation profile and the software simulates it.

In my experience, the last option doesn't tend to work very well unless the software is very effective at cleaning up the file. There tends to be a lot of noise in real life (i.e. downloaded from Strava, etc.) profiles that result in sudden changes in resistance that provide an unpleasant experience.Publishers of real-life videos spend quite a bit of time cleaning up the elevation profile to remove this (they also need to take care that the video and cleaned elevation profiles are in sync).

The following is a very non-exhaustive list of examples:

Tacx Training Software includes all these modes, it's no longer available since Garmin acquired Tacx but there is a Garmin equivalent.

BigRingVR do just videos, I personally like this format.

Zwift has virtual world and erg modes.

Golden Cheetah is free, open source and does erg and can also play videos (if you happen to have a video with elevation data).

TrainerRoad, Xert and Sufferfest (via Wahoo SYSTM now) are well known for their Erg mode and training plans.

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  • Interesting, this is not a bad overview. Do you know if any of these options will allow the user to import a route from a route mapping service and use that as the basis of the virtual elevation?
    – DavidW
    Nov 13, 2023 at 23:04
  • I think from memory Golden Cheetah does. I trained for a ride (Amy Gillet Great Ocean Road) doing this years ago but forget what I used - it was either Tacx Training Software 4 or Golden Cheetah. Nov 13, 2023 at 23:06
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    Nice summary of most of the current training software available.
    – Ted Hohl
    Nov 14, 2023 at 0:44
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It looks like it's possible on Zwift using a 3rd party tool: https://whatsonzwift.com/gpx-to-zwift-workout

Otherwise, Rouvy had this possibility, but removed it. With Fulgaz, you need to upload a video as well.

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    Oh wow there is a tool for what I suggested doing manually above. The main downside is that you'd have to ride it as workout on one of Zwift's original courses which will have a totally different profile, might be a bit confusing when not riding in ERG mode because might have to shift down on descents when the power kicks up in the workout and vice versa.
    – DoNuT
    Nov 13, 2023 at 12:38
  • Also, erg mode will hold you to a specific power target that the app has estimated. You could modify the workout yourself, but you are still being held to that target. If you switch to level mode (i.e. turn off erg mode), you can manually control the resistance, but that goes against the intent of just having some app simulate the course for you.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Nov 13, 2023 at 18:27
  • @WeiwenNg The main problem is that these generated workouts (probably) don't include climb simulations, so regulating flywheel speed and power demands. So, you could ride it as a varying-power TT effort in your biggest gear, but you can indeed shift in whatever gear you want to simulate climbing and you will force the trainer to a lower speed. In "level mode" you have to shift to harder gears for more power (before spinning out) but don't quote me on that, 100% ERG mode here. ;)
    – DoNuT
    Nov 13, 2023 at 19:03
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Something like that is present in Elite My-Training. Nothing fancy, but it takes the profile into consideration. I haven't used it for a couple of years so I do not remember the exact details. It has a very simple planner or you can import a KML file.

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I have used Ride With GPS successfully with an Elite Tuo. It did adjust the resistance according to the slope. The feature is only available for Premium subscribers, though. In my case, I use RWGPS for real-life cycling, so all my routes track real-life paths. I don't know if it's possible to build a completely custom route that doesn't correspond to reality.

I also have an Elite Sterzo Smart, which is "exclusively for Zwift", so neither RWGPS nor my Garmin watch seem to be able to do anything useful with it, sadly.

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I think PerfPro Studio will do that (https://perfprostudio.com/). I just use it with basic ANT+ enabled studio bikes so my wife and I can work out at the same time to Peleton videos on the big screen with live stats overlaid. Perf Pro comes with a number of workouts that I believe will do just want you want or you can build your own.

Here is their list of supported trainers: https://perfprostudio.com/StationaryTrainers.aspx

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