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Zwift Explores Price Increase and Adaptive Training

Zwift sent out a survey last week to a select number of users and invited them to participate by answering a few questions around hypothetical Zwift features and to gather their thoughts about different cycling apps out there and different membership models.

I did not get the survey myself so I don’t know the full details of every question. But this is very typical of companies to do things like this. It helps them gather information about the market and their target customers like who they are, what they want, and their willingness to pay for certain features or products.

Zwift also has the habit of giving us an insight into things they are thinking about through these surveys. For example, in 2017, right before Zwift increased its price from $10 to $15, they sent out a survey with questions about pricing. Also, just last month, they sent out a survey with a fictional online store with supposedly a fictional smart bike that they later confirmed that they are actually working on and expect to be released possibly later this year. 

So with that in mind, there’s one main thing in this latest survey that captured the Internet’s attention. This survey had a question about the interest in a premium membership with features that are geared mostly toward advanced training and would give you “everything you need to train and cycle at your best – from Adaptive goal-based training plans to advanced analytics.” So, this caught my attention… one thing you know about me if you’ve been watching this channel for any period of time or follow me on social media is I tend to prefer structured training over social riding, so naturally, this caught my attention.

The survey then goes on and lists what’s included in your current app — and these are all features that you are familiar with already — such as virtual worlds, sim riding, access to races and group rides, meet-ups and riding with friends, and access to cycling workouts. 

Then there’s this new premium membership which they state includes the ability to:

  • Manage workouts all in one place with an adaptive training calendar. 
  • Custom Adaptive Training Plans
  • Daily AI-Powered Workout recommendations
  • Automatic FTP Detection
  • The ability to take workouts outdoors on a Garmin or Wahoo head unit.

Then the survey asks if you would be willing to pay 20 pounds per month for the new premium package which is equivalent to $27.

When thinking of Adaptive Training and daily AI-Powered type workout recommendations, there are two popular companies that come to mind that are doing this right now. 

One is TrainerRoad. TrainerRoad uses machine learning to create a custom plan, recommend workouts, and adapt their workout recommendations based on your past performance, feedback, and goals you set. 

XERT is another smart app that takes your performance data, does a deep dive analysis, recommends workouts for the day, and makes adjustments to your workout in real-time. They also automatically detect and estimate your FTP without requiring you to test. 

Now, these two companies basically already do part if not all of what Zwift wants to offer in their hypothetical Zwift Premium package. And it took these companies years to get to that point. For example, it took trainerRoad I think over a year to introduce outdoor workouts. 

And took them years to fine-tune their training plans and they are still doing that. 

And just recently their Adaptive training system became available to the public after years of research, development, and testing. 

Wahoo SYSTM is another strong app that prides itself on workouts and good training plans but until now they haven’t been able to put together an Adaptive Training system.

Because this stuff is very hard to get right.

With that said, it makes me wonder if Zwift will be able to pull this off – at least anytime in the near future. As they say, one’s past behavior is the biggest predictor of future behavior, and historically zwift hasn’t been the quickest at releasing new features to their platform.

Also, it doesn’t look like this was on their roadmap based on some of the things they discussed and showcased last fall. As a matter of fact, some of the features they showcased are already behind schedule. 

And this isn’t the first time Zwift toys with the idea of the price increase by offering different membership tiers either. In the summer of 2020, Zwift sent out a survey suggesting three different membership packages and prices as high as $45 per month. No mention of Adaptive Training or AI-Powered Workout Recommendations in that survey.  Instead, they called it “coached designed and Tailored training plans” So clearly zwift has been thinking of revamping their training plans in some capacity. 

But again, this makes me wonder, is Zwift really considering introducing these features? Or are they throwing these types of surveys out to feel out how users react to a price increase? Or maybe both? Zwift hasn’t revised its prices since 2017. We have seen almost every app out there raise its prices in the past four years. TrainerRoad alone raised their prices twice in less than a year. 

But assuming Zwift really wants to target the self-coached athletes and improve their training plans with Adaptive Training and AI workout recommendations, the fastest way to get them there is by making an acquisition. Can they do it in-house? Absolutely… I have no doubts they can pull this off. But that’s going to be a very long road – no pun intended – to get them to a place where they can come out and say they want to charge extra for these features. 

Eric Min, Zwift CEO, has shown interest in XERT in the past – he has used it and has even shown that in his Strava uploads. Could XERT be a possible acquisition? They could also look into TrainerRoad or even another lesser-known smaller company called Velopro.bike that sort of already does a lot of the things that Zwift listed and makes the most sense to me if Zwift is looking to acquire the technology itself without the software.

But even if they acquire XERT or VeloPro, their algorithm only targets cyclists, so triathletes and runners will be left out. But even with an acquisition, they still need to integrate the company and software which can take a while too.

As much as I would love for Zwift to offer these new features as I would use them, my guess here is, Zwift is just testing the water to raise their prices while collecting ideas for a ways down the road. 

A new interface is coming with new features and they are working on the users’ ability to create clubs, so it won’t surprise me if they come out and raise prices after these are all released. 

I want to hear from you. What do you make of all of this?  Would you use a premium membership as Zwift described? How much more would you be willing to pay for your Zwift membership?  Let’s chat in the comments.

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1 Comment

  • I was wondering if they would go down this route and aim for an all-in-one training package. Current Zwift training plans leave a lot to be desired, but the workout interface itself is quite nicely executed. I currently use Zwift and Wahoo SYSTM together and to be honest I would probably continue down that route because I enjoy the video workouts in SYSTM. While I enjoy the group rides and events in Zwift, I find it far less immersive when in workout mode. But if Zwift training plans were on a par with TrainerRoad’s AI then I would find it much harder to justify 2 separate subs.

    So I think it makes sense for Zwift to upgrade their workout mode, with more comprehensive, customised training plans (not necessarily adaptive, could be more along the lines of SYSTM) and offer a 2-tier pricing structure for those like myself who may still prefer to do structured training on a different platform.

    I have also noticed other platforms starting to build up their structured training plans, such as Rouvy and Fulgaz. So it seems like they are all looking at the structured training angle. Makes sense to me given that indoor riding is ideally suited to structured interval training.