Apps have aided every part of our lives we place on our phones, pads, and computers. So it’s no surprise that there are many cycling apps, and new ones are being developed every year.
It is hard to keep up with all of the cycling apps. In preparation for this article, I found several useful ones that I did not know existed.
I will review thirteen of the most helpful cycling apps.
No one would use all of them. Look at the apps for yourself. I have included brief reviews of each, but I encourage you to test the cycling apps that seem helpful in your ridding situation.
It will not cost you any money to try them. Most have free levels of membership, so try them out.
I have provided links to the desktop, iOS, and Android versions of each app.
My Most Prized Cycling Apps
Among the 13 cycling apps discussed in this article, two are my absolute favorites, and I use them almost daily, even when I don’t ride.
Strava is the first cycling app that I downloaded and began to use. There have been a lot of improvements over the past eight years. It has continued to grow its membership. I can confidently say Strava is tops among the cycling apps out there.
Many of us say, “if it is not on Strava, you did not ride.”
Almost every other cycling app integrates with Strava. That is a testimony to its widespread use among cyclists.
Many cyclists, especially beginners, only use Strava. The app serves up real-time data by uploading the mobile Strava app to a phone and mounting it on a bike. It transforms a phone into a cyclometer.
Its GPS function tracks your distance, speed, and route in real-time. It keeps records and stores those metrics for viewing after the ride.
Strava’s beacon function can keep other riders and family members informed of your location on the ride.
Put on a heart rate strap, cadence sensor, or power sensor and pair them with the app. Those metrics will be tracked in real-time and recorded for analysis later.
Strava Segments is one of this cycling app’s most popular features. Cyclists, including yourself, can star portions of the route. Then, at the end of the ride, you can compare your time and ranking on a particular segment with other riders over different dates, gender, and age groups. It is a valuable way to see how you compare with other cyclists in your area.
You can upload routes that other riders have designed or choose a course you rode in the past, and Strava will cue you where to turn all along the way.
All in all, Strava is my go-to cycling app after every ride. I can check all of the ride data in one place.
The GCN app is my go-to app for cycling news, reviews, and advice. These folks have come a long way with their offerings.
Dan Lloyd and Si Richardson were the only presenters when I began watching GCN on their YouTube channel. They only had one show per week or fortnight. I forget which. There are at least ten presenters, and who knows how many people are working behind the scenes.
Currently, they have several shows each week, yet the GCN Show is still the lead. So if you want to know something about a particular cycling technology, the best practices for the various cycling sports, or see some rather unique challenges, reviews, and tests, you will most likely find a GCN-produced program covering it.
The newest development at GCN is their partnership with Eurosport in streaming all the top UCI events on the road, track, and cyclocross courses. You can watch all the action and highlights either live or on-demand (depending on where you live) by subscribing to GCN Race Pass.
I strongly recommend both the GCN app and the GCN Race Pass.
I hate getting lost on a ride. Even worse, I get frustrated when I cannot remember where to turn on a route that I have ridden a couple of months prior. But, as they say, “there is an app for that.” So, I should never get lost again unless I want to.
Cycling apps for planning and recording ride routes have been around for many years. In addition, new navigation apps are brought to the market all the time.
The three below have been around long enough to have thousands of users each. Each year there are improvements in functionality and accuracy.
Komoot is a somewhat newcomer to the cycling apps offerings. It is a navigation app, but it is not your typical one.
With this app, you can design a ride or explore the extensive library of carefully archived and categorized routes in this cycling app.
While other cycling apps offer navigation, Komoot is especially useful for riding in areas new to you or if you want to discover some route you have yet to explore. Bikepackers find it very useful.
As with all navigation devices, you can receive cues, verbal and visual, for turns all along the route. Komoot goes further by an inch-by-inch view of the route surface, surface type, and elevation making you aware of the challenges and possible water and food stops ahead.
The navigation works when there is an Internet or phone data signal that is not available. Just download the route before you head out. All the cues will be available even in the most remote areas.
Many routes have photos so you can view what other riders have experienced on the route. Here is an example of the route page for a ride on and around the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. https://www.komoot.com/smarttour/701708
Komoot has routes from all around the globe. Don’t leave your home area without this cycling app.
Komoot plays well with scores of other cycling apps and devices like GPS computers and smartwatches.
Komoot is just a navigation app. If you want to view and record riding data such as speed, heart rate, and cadence, you will need an app like Strava loaded and running on your chosen device.
Map My Ride is a navigation cycling app with a few extras.
The route creation tool is fast, simple, and convenient to use. Like most other navigation apps, you can choose a route from the archive contributed to my riders around the globe. Or, you can design your own.
You can download your routes in several formats, then upload them to a cyclo-computer like Garmin or Wahoo Element.
Map My Ride pairs with heart straps and cadence sensors so you can view, archive, and study these training and health metrics.
The app conveniently allows live tracking so fellow riders our relatives at home can track your progress or locate you quickly in an emergency.
Ride With GPS, as the name gives away, is another navigation cycling app. It has one of the most powerful and diverse route-planning tools in the category.
The developers of this app have recently added Surface Types to its route designing tool for both desktop and mobile users. So before you start your ride or progress down the route, you can see what type of surface is ahead. Then, when designing a course, you can choose the type of surface you prefer – paved, unpaved, and unknown.
This app pairs well with Garmin and Wahoo cyclocomputers.
For cyclists interested in sharing the sites and route of their ride, this app contains a powerful publishing platform. A brilliant example of what this platform can publish is the SoCal Desert Ramble.
Like other navigation apps, you can download routes to save battery life and upload them to either a Garmin or Wahoo device.
Ride With GPS’s audio component of the navigation is at times challenging to understand.
NAVIGATION FOR MOUNTAIN BIKERS
The above apps are built on maps created to accommodate vehicles traveling down the world’s paved and unpaved roads. Consequently, they do not contain many maps of paths and trails used by mountain bikers or adventure cyclists.
The following two apps can assist off-road cyclists.
Outdoor Active – Formerly View Ranger
Outdoor Active is a navigation app for outdoor, adventure activities of all types. It is beneficial for mountain bikers.
The app boasts of having more than 82,000 mountain bike trails and 380,000 tracks in its collection.
Recently, Outdoor Active has added Skyline. The addition is spectacular. It uses your mobile phone or tablet to overlay the landscape with name labels of peaks, places, passes, and lakes up to 20 miles around the rider. More than 600 partners (national parks, tourism agencies, travel journalists and search and rescue teams provided the labels. The labels cover most of Europe, the U.S., and Canada.
Outdoor Active’s maps come in topographic, satellite imagery, and slope angle formats. It is the most popular outdoor adventure app in Europe.
Trail Forks claims to have 495,167 miles of 393,055 trails in 123 countries archived in their databases.
The collection includes the topographic layer, points of interest, trail popularity, heatmaps, routes, trail conditions, Strava segments, photos, videos, and so much more.
Mountain biking is just one of thirteen different types of outdoor activities facilitated by Trail Forks. The app’s maps and trail suggestions come with metadata such as trail difficulty, surface type, direction, season preference, and allowed activity types. In addition, the trails are color-coded to show popularity and recent use.
An example of just how much information is available on the Trail Forks, explore the maps, photos, videos, and much more available for the Whole Enchilada Trail in Moab, Utah.
In this category, also look at The MTB Project
There has been a massive increase in indoor cycling over the past two years, primarily due to the isolation and quarantining brought on by the COVID 19 pandemic.
At my age, I dislike riding in extreme heat or cold. So, when the weather is too harsh, I jump on my trainer.
If you are watching your favorite television show or simply listening to music while on your trainer, you miss some exciting and engaging technology. The growing list of indoor training apps is very engaging.
Here are four indoor cycling apps listed in order of popularity.
Zwift (and Zwift Companion)
When I cannot ride outside or choose not to, I jump on my trainer and start “Zwifting.”
Unlike traditional spin class apps or videos, Zwift and the other indoor cycling apps below are gamified.
You can draft, and you will feel the effects of the hills and mountains.
You have the option of several ways to Zwift each time you jump on your trainer. You can choose a structured workout. There are well over 2000 of them of various durations and intensities. You can also create your workout.
There are scores of events every. Some are group rides graded according to the expected ability of the rider.
A: 4.0 W/kg FTP or higher
B: 3.2 W/kg to 4.0 W/kg FTP
C: 2.5 W/kg to 3.2 W/kg FTP
D: Under 2.5 W/kg FTP
E: for every one
some are for women only.
If you choose an A group ride, but you ride at 1.5 W/kg, you will be dropped very quickly. Some events specifically for women.
The Zwift Racing events use the came W/kg categories. Many of the races have all four divisions racing at the same time.
What do you need to Zwift?
I read that a smart trainer is necessary. It is excellent if you have one. Yet, a smart trainer is a significant investment. You can Zwift without one. That is what I do. A smart trainer will regulate the resistance during the ride to match with hills and drafting.
If you do not have a smart trainer, you can still draft, and you will climb hills at a slower speed. Zwift takes care of all of that through algorithms using data from your cadence and speed sensors.
You need speed and cadence sensors as well as a heart monitor (strap). Sensors with either ANT+ or Bluetooth will be able to communicate with the Zwift app.
Several worlds are available to ride, such as Watopia, a futuristic world; a route in London and surrounding area; the 2015 World Championships route in Richmond, Virginia; Innsbruck, Austria’s 2018 UCI World Championship course; and New York City in Central Park and a futuristic skyway.
Sufferfest is the first indoor training system I used. My cycling club gathered inside the bike shop during December and January and cycled through the various Sufferfest workouts.
The workouts are great. They take you through the paces as you watch some of the top pro cyclists compete.
The accompanying music is very conducive to training.
The Elements of Style reminds riders of the techniques of pedaling, standing, and posture.
I must say that the other indoor platforms discussed here, with their gamified interaction, are much more engaging.
Sufferfest is now part of the Wahoo Fitness program under the name of SYSTM.
Unlike Zwift, the RGT Cycling app needs power data – either from your turbo, smart trainer, or a power sensor on your bike.
The app boasts of being the most realistic trainer ride out there. You can even load your real-life ride data, and RGT will design a course with the same elevation and distances as your ride. So, you can ride the same ride indoors and out on the road.
I do not have the equipment to test this app properly. So here is a relatively complete comparison between RGT Cycling and Zwift.
Rouvy is another indoor training app.
You have an avatar that uses your trainer and sensors to move you down the route.
The principal differentiating feature of Rouvy is that among its collection of routes are the major pro cycling tour stages. So, you can ride the same routes as the pros.
UNIQUE CYCLING APPS
Relive is a photo scrapbook app that stores photos and videos you have taken while on your ride or cycling adventure.
The app also creates a map of your ride and places icons to click on to view the images or videos you took at that particular point along the route.
Relive claims to have more than 100 million photo journals stored on its site. They were all contributed by riders or adventurers. Besides storing the individual images, Relive creates a 3D video flyover of your route. Your photos pop up at the appropriate spot.
Relive does not help you improve your cycling, but it certainly enhances your memory of your rides.
Here is an in-depth review of Relive.
MyWindsock with Strava adds a recording of your ride and segments along with the weather you encountered along the way. With an already recorded route that you have chosen to follow, MyWindsock allows you to look a bit into the future of your ride to see what the weather will be and how it will affect your ride.
Added features allow you to see what improvements you can make in your overall time and speed if you pushed more wattage or became more aero at certain spots along the way.
Sure, it sounds nerdy, but it could help those wanting to fine-tune a ride.