In the indoor cycling world, we’re getting a lot of really great choices to “entertrain” us. We’ve been exploring some of those options here, including Zwift and Rouvy.
Today we’re going to take an initial look at a product that has been in Beta and is going live soon - Road Grand Tours. Let’s get a glimpse of what Road Grand Tours looks like with a brief video:
As you can see in the video, Road Grand Tours is an online multiplayer cycling simulator. For those of you familiar with Zwift, you’ll note some similarities - you are modeled as an avatar riding through a virtual world. The Road Grand Tours team has put quite a bit of emphasis on making a very good looking virtual world. I have been lucky to be part of the beta for over a year already, and have seen RGT continue to improve and provide a solid user experience.
Since it is still in beta, we won’t go into a lot of detail in this article about system requirements and the installation process. We’ll focus on highlighting some of the features of RGT.
Location, Location, Location
One of the most fun features incorporated into today’s indoor training software is the ability to ride in places all around the world. Road Grand Tours provides several routes modeled after real locales such as Cap Formentor in Mallorca, Spain or Canary Wharf in London.
For each of the routes, you have the ability to choose several starting points - you don’t always have to start in the same place, and you can also start where you left off last time. If you see a friend out in the virtual world, you can choose to catch up and ride with them, too. Once you’ve decided on a starting point, you just click and go.
When I look at indoor training software, one of the primary needs I want to see addressed is performance information - measurement of my efforts, any biometric feedback my sensors are gathering, and how that translates to my performance on screen. The Road Grand Tours screen layout checks all of those boxes by including your biometric statistics, map, elevation information, and more in a relatively clean dashboard-type format. You have the ability to turn the various visual elements on or off to show as much or as little as you care to see.
There are a few basic shortcut keys to make it easy for you to interact with the Road Grand Tours environment, as well as with other riders. As you ride through places such as Belgium or Italy, you can enjoy the scenery from multiple perspectives afforded by 6 different camera angles.
Overall, the controls and interface are clean and intuitive, and you don’t have to be a tech whiz to get in and enjoy a ride in Road Grand Tours.
Choose Your Weapon
As we all know, cycling is a fashion industry as much as it is a sport. Road Grand Tours has you and your avatar covered when you want to ride in style. You can select one of several road bikes from BMC, Ridley, or 8bar.
Once you’ve picked your trusty steed, you can choose from a variety of kits from Adidas and others, helmets from Lazer, and eyewear from Adidas.
Be Part of The Community
As an online multiplayer game, Road Grand Tours offers the ability to feel like part of something bigger than just you on your bike, sweating it out in your pain cave. These tools are great for providing motivation in several different ways. While riding in Road Grand Tours, you’ll see other people from around the world sharing the road, have the opportunity to participate in events, and also see how you stack up to the competion with built-in Strava segments.
Are You Ready to join the Grand Tours?
If you like what you see, you can still try to sign up for the beta. In order to run RGT, you will need to be using a PC or Mac with a 64-bit operating system. Your Road Grand Tours experience will depend on having some good hardware:
Minimum System Requirements (low quality setting)
2 GHz CPU
4 GB RAM
Intel HD integrated graphics
Recommended System Requirements (high quality settings)
nVidia GTX 970 or equivalent card
You will also need a smart trainer that supports ANT+ communications. Bluetooth, as well as the ability to calculate virtual power using a speed sensor with a regular, non-smart trainer, are coming soon.
Overall, Road Grand Tours is off to a great start and if you have the right hardware, certainly worth a look. It’s hard not to look at Road Grand Tours without comparing it to similar products such as Zwift. Zwift has quickly moved to the forefront in this space, with a massive rider presence at any given time of day, continued improvement, a great feature set, and a community being built around it. How does anybody else catch up to that?
Road Grand Tours has great graphics, an intuitive and clean interface, and a good start on providing a variety of locales to explore. Events are available, but there is a feeling that you are all alone out there. It lacks workouts or training elements that get back to the primary purpose of indoor training. It also is a bit more graphic intensive, and that’s going to put more emphasis on having a relatively powerful gaming PC or Mac to enhance the experience. Is Road Grand Tours right for you? Right now, it’s free to join the Beta, so give it a try and help shape the future of Road Grand Tours.