Wahoo Fitness has announced to members that in less than 30 days – on October 31, 2023, the company will shut down the virtually cycling app RGT in an effort to focus “exclusively [on their] structured training content”.
Wahoo had acquired RGT (previously called Road Grand Tours) just over a year ago in April 2022 – ostensibly saving the platform at the time, when it was looking for buyers. Albeit, while the announcement was officially made in April 2022, the company said a the time that things had been in the works for a while – as proven by announcement-day integration of certain features. One does have to keep in mind that the size of the RGT team at the time was essentially numbered in the single digits, compared to larger platforms with many hundreds of employees.
Shortly after the acquisition, Wahoo did make a number of enhancements to the platform, such as voice chat last fall (which Zwift lacks), and then even bringing out dedicated steering for it with a new piece of hardware that you use your phone to steer with – the Wahoo KICKR STEER. The RGT platform did become favored by a smaller group of race-focused riders, mainly for some of the race tactics aspect of the platform.
However, when it came to volume of riders on the platform – that always lagged considerably behind Zwift. While certain scheduled race series did attract a good crowd, that didn’t really make-up for the sheer quantity of races/events/group rides offered by Zwift at literally all hours of the day. And that sets aside the number of actual users. For comparison, while pulling up the list of routes at this very moment, RGT totals a mere 35 riders in total. Whereas Zwift currently shows 3,902 riders. Certainly, it’s a Monday morning at 11AM CET – but that’s besides the point. People ride whenever they have time, and these numbers scaled about the same at different times of day, with RGT really only spiking during pre-scheduled races.
In other words, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time – as none of these user counts are that different to any other time period/day over the last 6-8 months.
Wahoo’s Official Statements
Now, for the purposes of historical context, there’s two statements that Wahoo has put out today. The first is an e-mail to all RGT users, which I’ve copied below:
RGT Closing October 31st, claim a complimentary Zwift subscription
Wahoo’s mission is to “build the better athlete in all of us” through our world-renowned KICKR smart trainers, ELEMNT bike computers, connected fitness products, and Wahoo X software. Wahoo X includes the structured training app SYSTM (formerly The Sufferfest) and the virtual cycling app RGT. To deliver the very best experience for you, our valued customers, we have made the strategic decision to focus on our long-established strength in structured training content through SYSTM. We will be closing RGT effective October 31, 2023.
This shift in focus means our talented team’s efforts, attention, and innovation will now be dedicated exclusively to our structured training content. Our vision for Wahoo X going forward is clear: to deliver the absolute best training software to help you become stronger, fitter, and faster, both on and off the bike.
There will be continued improvements to functionality and content to give you even better value, plus more immersive, integrated, structured workouts designed by world-class coaches using cutting-edge sports science to use indoors or outdoors – including cycling, yoga, strength & mobility, running, swimming, and mental training.
We deeply appreciate your membership and loyalty, and we understand this news may be inconvenient. To make this transition smoother for you, we’ve arranged an exclusive one-time offer: 3 months of complimentary Zwift membership. With Zwift, you can continue to ride, race, and connect with fellow Wahooligans in the virtual world. This combination offers you the best of both worlds: structured training excellence with Wahoo SYSTM and access to the world’s largest virtual riding community through the Zwift app —an unbeatable combination.
Please take note of the following important dates and terms:
You will continue to have access to RGT as usual until October 31, 2023.
You must redeem your complimentary Zwift membership code below by no later than October 31, 2023. If you do not claim your code before that time, it will be automatically forfeited and can no longer be used.
Support During Transition: If you have any questions or need assistance during this transition period, our support team is here to help. You can reach out to our support team at any time.
We genuinely appreciate your involvement in our Wahoo X community and eagerly anticipate our ongoing journey to help you achieve your fullest potential as an athlete.
And then the second, is a prepared reactive press tidbit that Wahoo is sending to media outlets retroactively, which, is also listed below:
A Wahoo spokesperson said: “Wahoo’s mission is to build the better athlete in all of us through our world-renowned KICKR smart trainers, ELEMNT bike computers, connected fitness products and software. To deliver the very best experience for our customers – we have made the strategic decision to focus on Wahoo’s long-established strengths around structured training content, through SYSTM and will be closing virtual cycling app RGT at the end of October (10/31/2023).
This change of focus means that all of Wahoo’s talented software team’s energy, attention and innovation will become solely focused on SYSTM and the company’s long-held vision to create the very best hardware and training software to help athletes get stronger, fitter, faster on and off the bike.
Over the coming month we will be announcing a number of exciting new developments – these will include investment in SYSTM with improved functionality, new content and features, and a significant update to the Wahoo App to simplify the way that users interact with their Wahoo devices.”
Wahoo has acquired easy-to-redeem complimentary Zwift memberships – to give its customers the very best in structured training with Wahoo SYSTM and access to the world’s biggest virtual riding community with the Zwift app.
Beyond that, I’ve included various other small tidbits from a conference call with Wahoo, within this post.
Impact to RGT Users & Staff:
In a nutshell, starting November 1st, RGT will cease to exist. However, Wahoo SYSTM – their structured workout platform will continue to exist, and will actually see a number of improvements and content expansions later this fall. Wahoo isn’t outlining all of those yet today, but they did hint at a few of them in their statement:
“Over the coming month we will be announcing a number of exciting new developments – these will include investment in SYSTM with improved functionality, new content and features, and a significant update to the Wahoo App to simplify the way that users interact with their Wahoo devices.”
However, for those that prefer the RGT-style racing, Wahoo is giving redemption codes for Zwift. These codes come in two forms. For those on monthly subscriptions, you’ll get a 3-month code to Zwift. For those on annual subscriptions, you’ll get a 12-month code to Zwift. These codes are stackable onto your existing Zwift subscription, if yo already have one. Thus, if you had a Zwift sub that ended in December 2023, once redeemed, your Zwift subscription will end on December 2024 instead.
For those annual members that don’t want a Zwift subscription, Wahoo says they’ll work with them members on a “case by case basis”, which I presume to mean they’ll manually process refunds.
No portion of the RGT rides/workouts/etc is being ported to Zwift. That magic road ends here. Specifically:
“RGT data will NOT be transferring over to Zwift, any new account with Zwift will start from the beginning with them and accumulate unlocks as any new rider would to their platform.
Any RGT ride data (included in fit files) is already uploaded to the Wahoo Cloud. This would include the athlete profile data. All other data, including event participation, event results, magic roads, workouts – will be deleted with the RGT database.”
Speaking of other roads, Wahoo is also making some changes with their sport science teams. You may have heard back at the end of August that Wahoo closed their Boulder office, including the big sport science lab that created. That meant that well known sport scientist Neal Henderson also left. Interestingly, Wahoo noted that they’re consolidating their sport and data science teams from a number of locations. Here’s their statements on that:
“We have recently merged our sports science and data science teams to create a Sports and Data Science centre of excellence. This World Class team will be based across locations in Amsterdam, Atlanta and Boulder – it boasts 3 PhDs and 8 Masters of Science degrees, covering Biomedical Engineering, Data Science, Applied Mathematics, Machine Learning, Human Movement Science, and Aerospace Engineering. This state-of-the-art science and coaching knowledge has influenced and informed the development of every single device, sensor, and training application that Wahoo has ever created – from hardware functionality, to higher-level product features like the Summit ELEMNT bike computer feature – through to science-backed cycling workouts in our SYSTM training app. The newly formed team will split their time between both hardware and software.”
One of the challenges that I think Wahoo had with the Boulder facility, was translating that into specific tangible features on Wahoo products that people could point to. Sure, Neal and his team undoubtedly influenced lots of aspects, but a lot of that was kinda fuzzy from an end-consumer standpoint. Not because of something Neal’s team did (or didn’t do), but rather, because Wahoo’s product offerings aren’t heavily tied to physiological metrics like we’d see from Garmin’s (via FirstBeat) or Polar.
Finally, when asked if any RGT employees will be losing their jobs (as Wahoo noted they’re working to find positions within the company), a Wahoo spokesperson says that “We expect that no more than 4 people will be affected”.
There’s no good way of putting it: Losing a platform (a choice) isn’t good for consumers.
At the same time, losing an entire indoor training company isn’t good either. It was well documented that Wahoo got themselves into a substantial financial pickle last year, partially driven by the structure of their previous private equity ownership situation. One that was recently resolved through them buying themselves away from that.
However, that’d also somewhat sidestep the simple reality that Wahoo had arguably spread themselves too thin with too many products. And it’d also sidestep the reality that Wahoo came dangerously close to going under (whether that be Chapter 11 or otherwise). Wahoo themselves documented this to the judge as part of their lawsuit against Zwift, and debt rating companies documented this to the rest of the world. Or, one could just look at the numerous employees that were let go in numerous round after round of layoffs. Now, the RGT team itself was essentially miniscule in the grand scheme of Wahoo’s operations. Again, even post-acquisition it was single-digits in size of employees. Thus – RGT was never going to be make or break for Wahoo as a company.
Given the user count numbers shown, I can’t seen any possible way the RGT platform was coming close to break-even, let alone being a contributor. In fact, it was likely a substantial financial expense for the company. Given those are smart employees that are focused on cycling, it makes far more sense from a business standpoint to refocus them into other areas of the company. And while there are arguably plenty of online cycling platforms (even if Zwift is massive), there are actually very few indoor trainer companies – and I’d argue we’d rather have more competitors in that space than not. Albeit, the recent hardware partnerships with Zwift does put some wrinkles into that too. As always, most things in life (or business) aren’t black and white.
With that, thanks for reading!