Ex-pro cyclist, Richard Lang, is using smart algorithms in the new SPOK’D platform with the aim of making cycle coaching more accessible and affordable for the masses.
From a unassuming office in Manchester, UK, a team of cyclists, coaches, software developers and data scientists are… ‘reinventing online cycling coaching, bridging the gap for riders forced to choose between creating a DIY plan, hiring an expensive personal cycling coach, or the relatively cheap but generic online training platforms that give users a list of sessions to work through, but don’t adapt to a rider’s changing fitness, lifestyle, or goals.’
Launched last year, the SPOK’D app presents an alternative, by providing riders with a structured but flexible training plan. This uses dynamic algorithms to tailor sessions and a rider’s weekly workload based on their availability, form, progress and goals. The approach is designed to ensure they make the most from their time on the bike.
“It’s really just about making training smart, simple,” said founder and ex-Rapha Condor rider, Richard Lang. “Beyond that, we wanted to make ‘having a coach’ and following a structured plan accessible to everyone, whether they just want to get stronger to enjoy cycling more, are racing, or have a specific event or goal they’re shooting for.”
At £9.99 a month, and with a free 14-day trial, SPOK’D enables a rider to have a bespoke, flexible and structured training regime. This keen pricing strategy reportedly delivered 400% user growth late last year, with users reportedly ‘enjoying the easy-to-understand session setup and feedback, and focus on less is more.’
“The thing that differentiates SPOK’D for me is its flexibility, and how it is tailored to each individual,” said Tom Elliot, who downloaded the app in November 2019. “There are numerous platforms out there that offer structured training, but SPOK’D stands out as the platform responds to everyday life, so if I miss a session because I worked late, it just recalculates my plan.”
Another rider, Eddie Ryce, said “Using SPOK’D has taught me the difference between training and being coached. There are plenty of linear training plans online you can follow, but they don’t adapt, whereas SPOK’D is dynamic and it will change my plan depending on my form, feel and feedback. All for the price of a few coffees a month.”
Building SPOK’D, does present its challenges, as Richard states “SPOK’D needs to motivate and understand the mindset of what a rider is going through. This is the softer side of coaching. To overcome this challenge, we always take a novice mindset, which allows us to assume nothing.
“This allows us to be truly guided by rider feedback and dig deeper into the core meaning. The riders have been influential in how SPOK’D is shaped.”
Chris Newton a founding member of SPOK’D, added “Being able to coach at the top end of the sport, it’s brilliant to channel my knowledge and experience through SPOK’D to help riders achieve their personalised goals in a smart way.”