Wahoo launches new ‘SYSTM’ training platform as indoor cycling continues to grow in popularity

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 28 September 2021 15:36 BST

Wahoo has launched a new training app, named SYSTM, as the popularity of indoor cycling and working out at home continues to grow.

The new platform enters into a market filled with competitors – such as Zwift, TrainerRoad and Peloton – all of which aim to make interesting and exciting ways for cyclists to work at home, in a variety of ways.

Historically, Wahoo has made a number of the key bits of technology required to take part in that indoor training, such as smart trainers onto which a bike can be mounted so that people can pedal on the spot. But it has not offered its own complete training platform, instead encouraging users to do workouts and save their progress on third-party software, such as Strava or Training Peaks.

Now Wahoo is finally offering its own training platform, which has exercise sessions built-in but also the ability to plan and track progress through a calendar.

The new SYSTM is partly a rebranding of the existing Sufferfest app, which was bought by Wahoo in 2019 and has been running as part of the company ever since. The Sufferfest became famous for workouts that combine structured training with videos taken from major cycling events, so that users can exercise while also feeling they are part of a race.

Those videos will continue to live in the new SYSTM, and new ones will continue to be added. But they will be just one part of a library that also includes a range of other content: training programmes that allow people to spend a week with Wahoo’s sponsored pros, race simulations that let people cycle alongside elite riders, trips around iconic cycling routes, and content made in partnership with other companies such as the Global Cycling Network.

They will also be joined by more strength training and other exercise content that is focused on cyclists and triathletes when they are off the bike, such as strength training and yoga, as well as “mental training” intended to give people more resilience. It also includes swimming and running workouts, though they need to be written down and followed manually and will not sync to treadmills or running watches.

All of those different kinds of content and workouts are integrated into training plans that users can generate by taking a questionnaire, giving details on whether they want yoga and strength included and if they are just a cyclist or a runner too. That will then create a training plan that includes daily workouts plotted out in the new calendar.

The launch comes after a year and a half that has seen indoor cycling speed to such popularity that it has often been difficult or even impossible to buy the hardware that is required to do it. As with many other products related to cycling and fitness, lockdown saw technology such as turbo trainers and cycling computers often sell out, as people looked for ways to keep active while stuck at home.

David McQuillen, the founder of the Sufferfest and now head of Wahoo’s new SYSTM, said that he did not foresee that slowing down, despite concerns over the popularity of rival platforms such as Peloton as people are able to head back into the world and to public gyms.

In fact, he told The Independent that the biggest problem continues to be a result of the popularity: that the widespread chip shortage affecting everything from cars to PlayStation 5s is also making it difficult to make products such as cycling computers.

He said that the effect of people working at home and spending more time there had been for people to realise that “don’t need to go the gym”, but can instead do exercise from home. “It’s just booming.”

But SYSTM will also aim to let people take their workouts outdoors and track their more traditional riding as well, in addition to indoor cycling. That is not in the new platform at launch but the first work on it will be coming later this year, Wahoo said, with outdoor workouts that can be pushed to cycling cmputers coming in the first quarter of next year.

Other additions planned include an analytics platform for properly tracking progress, the option to setup Wahoo’s other hardware such as its Kickr smart trainer through the SYSTM app, and the option to swap out workouts on a training plan if the one planned is unappealing.

Existing Sufferfest users will be transferred into SYSTM, and find both their subscription and their app will switch over automatically. The cost of the new app is the same, at $14.99 per month or $129.99, or the same in pounds.

Existing data will also be brought over from the Sufferfest. That includes its “Four-Dimensional Power” technology, which puts cyclists through a gruelling test to get a picture of how hard they can pedal over shorter and longer periods, so that can be used to adjust their training.

The integration with Wahoo has also allowed the new app to be closely integrated with the hardware, and Mr McQuillen said that the new platform was developed in collaboration with those engineers that work on Wahoo’s watches, smart bikes and cycling computers. But it has also allowed for other kinds of content: one of the “week with” programmes is hosted by professional cyclist Ian Boswell, who has long been a part of Wahoo’s video offerings, as well as fronting its podcast.

SYSTM is available on Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android – the latter for the first time, and after loud complaints from users of the Sufferfest that they were unable to use the app on their phones and tablets. It also works with non-Wahoo hardware, such as the competing smart trainers made by Garmin’s Tacx.

Wahoo will also be launching a new podcast, named The Knowledge, which will be made up of 15-minute “deep dives” into different topics, and assembled by its sport science team.

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