For almost four weeks now, confined cyclists have been riding from home to home trainers. But we know how difficult it is to train alone facing the wall and on the spot! This is why companies have started to develop applications which, combined with connected home trainers, depict a cyclist on the road with all his data (power, speed, heart rate, number of kilometers traveled, etc.). Cyclists can, therefore, train on connected bikes to polish their preparation and train when it rains, for example. But these connected bike applications (which started to appear around 2014) already well present in the world, have had a strong increase in subscribers in the last month! And you will see that they have more than one arrow to their bow …
From a progression tool to community connected bike applications
Certainly the most purchased product on the cycling market since the start of containment, the home trainer has become the essential companion for cyclists. Almost everyone trains on a connected bike. Only, in addition to making the sessions more fun, the applications offer various possibilities! Zwift enthusiasts, for example, can ride with professionals on the same map. They can also create training groups and organize club outings from their homes … Incredible, isn’t it? We have already organized two community bike rides connected to the app. The lucky ones were able to ride with Geoffroy Lequatre for an hour. Several advantages to this; we keep hearing from you, you can follow us live and we ride together miles apart to keep in shape! Finally, professional teams are also starting to offer community rides on connected bike applications. Ineos, for example, organizes a ride with its runners open to fans followed by an inter-team race!
Connected bike competitions?
Some have therefore subscribed to applications to train more playfully since the start of containment. But others are true followers and ride more on their home trainer than regularly. So much so that last September, the UCI, and Zwift signed a partnership to organize what they called the world championships in cycling e.sport! it was the start of competitions between runners through the connected bike. Today, many races are canceled and none will be organized until June 1st minimum! Some organizers have decided to postpone or even cancel their race and others have decided to use these platforms.
Last Sunday was then held a Tour of Flanders on the Zwift application and over a distance of 32km! So certainly, there were only 13 runners and the race was cut by 260km, but it went well and it was a certain Greg Van Avermaet who won. “I have never had such a high heart rate” he reacted! In the same line but another application, it was the organizers of the Tour de Suisse who proposed to all the teams to participate in an online race. We can see that this is a trend of the moment, but is it temporary? This is the real question!
There are refractory to the connected bike
Despite the exponential increase in the number of users of these applications, some are still perplexed and find their limits there. Indeed, the only thirteen riders at the start of the virtual Tour of Flanders are an important indicator … Among the pros, opinions differ on how to use this tool. Philippe Gilbert, for example, refused to participate in the Flandrian race. He explained that he thought it ridiculous to call it the Tour of Flanders. The race was cut by 260km and above all, its paved areas. Indeed, cycling races are not limited to pressing very hard on the pedals when you think about it! Many other factors come into play and make cycling so addictive. So, to win a race, you have to be in the peloton, have the right trajectories in turns and descents, rub, face the weather … etc.
Some have therefore taken this trend against the current and decided, like Romain Feuillu (former professional cyclist) to show the limits of these applications with great humor. That’s when we see him taking part in a race on Zwift, with … a salad spinner!
The future of connected bike apps
After this inventory, we would like to open the debate. What is the future of connected bike apps? Are the subscriptions going to experience a huge fall when the cyclists can again practice outside? Will professional racing continue and create a new market? Will amateur races multiply on platforms? Will an e-sport bike federation be created?
Or will these applications be forgotten once the crisis has passed?
So many questions to which we do not yet have an answer, but you can give us your opinion! In the next article, Geoffroy will explain his vision of things with his arguments. Stay tuned.