Cycling Apps for Android and iOS: Using a bike computer is a great way to set goals and track cycling progress. However, if you’ve been shopping you know how expensive it can get. Mobile apps have even become so effective in recent years that we wouldn’t mind wondering if you need a bike computer. Depending on your goals, it may make more sense to forgo handlebar-mounted devices altogether and use your phone to record measurements.
Many cycling-focused apps measure data such as speed, distance and pace, and help with tasks such as route planning, goal setting, community building, coaching or other cycling-related goals. Since there are so many available, which one you choose depends on what you want to use it for – you can even use a few separate apps to accomplish different goals. To make the decision making process easier, here are the best cycling apps for each type of function.
The best metrics tracker: Strava
It’s hard to beat Strava when it comes to tracking fitness data. The long-standing application is fast, thorough and extremely precise. Compared to many of its competitors – like RunKeeper or Runtastic – it offers a more complete suite of features while also running them faster. You can use the app to track or calculate your time, distance, average pace, speed, and estimated power. You can even record your routes live.
Strava is simple and intuitive, allowing you to add descriptions after the hike to remember what you liked and disliked, and it combines with many external devices such as heart rate monitors, power sensors , cadence sensors and pedometers.
Best of all, you can share your leaderboard stats and connect with friends through its in-depth social offering – something it does better than any other app on the market. In fact, Strava recently added a feature that lets you join communities and set up group rides through the app, enhancing its already powerful options for connecting with other runners.
The best indoor trainer: Zwift
If you live in a rainy climate – or prefer a controlled climate and flexible indoor workout times – Zwift is a fantastic way to push hard, maximize your workout, and force yourself to put in the extra effort. Best of all, it presents everything in a fun way, entertaining training sessions allowing you to replicate real world-class routes and compete with others.
The app, which works with any turbo trainer, features crisp graphics that even show your avatar rising from your saddle when you’re pumping hard or going into fast descents. You can decide at the start if you prefer to race against others or against yourself. The app uses your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) score to compare you to similar runners for virtual competitions.
While the mobile app works as its own game, the full experience is enhanced by connecting to a desktop version and using the mobile app as a remote.
The best route planner: Map My Ride
Today there are dozens of GPS-based apps that offer route planning and live tracking. However, none of them match the original trail-planning pioneer in versatility and ease: Map My Ride. With years of experience under its belt, the app continues to outperform its competition. Besides live tracking, it lets you fully customize routes from scratch, jumping from point to point to create a single path with a simple and user-friendly interface.
Map My Ride, which is supported by Under Armor, also allows you to ride other users’ favorite routes and browse previous routes you have ridden to decide if you want to re-ride them with audio prompts.
This app lets you share your live route tracking and maps with your friends and family, and now offers more interactions with other users in the community section, but overall it doesn’t have as many social features as Strava. However, this is clearly the winner in terms of simple card creation.
The best motivational coach: CycleGo
If you need a little inspiration every now and then to maximize the quality of your indoor outings, CycleGo has it in spades. You will have the opportunity to take virtual courses through the app – with a virtual instructor – with several skill levels available.
The app uses music, screen prompts, and the voice of the virtual instructor to give you the extra boost you need to finish a tough session. As an advantage over other indoor cycling apps, you don’t need any additional sensors to use it. You don’t even need an active internet connection, if it’s not available.
It’s more like a spinning class on your phone than an app you take with you on outdoor walks, but it will keep you moving forward (in place).
If you’re planning on buying a fitness tracker to track your progress, Garmin is the way to go. Its app is much more user-friendly than some of its competition, and if you own the Garmin Edge cycling computer, you can record everything in a comprehensive daily calendar that breaks down your average speeds, elevations, times, distances, and other cycling metrics. . You will appreciate the ability to view data the way you choose.
The app makes it easy to compare your performance with your friends – as well as other users – via Garmin segments, and it also analyzes detailed graphs showing your recorded data over time.
The best viewer: Revive
Once you’ve sweated, grumbled, and suffered from a long, rough ride, there is nothing more rewarding than being able to recap your ride through high-resolution moving images. This is exactly what Relive does, working with Strava or Garmin Connect to create a compelling and incredibly realistic simulation of the race you just completed.
While there are a number of apps that offer post-trek map graphics, none showcase the visual grace and fluidity of Relive – or its smooth aesthetic. You can even share your ride with others using the social connect feature, including that awesome cafe you found along the way.
The videos even look like the 3D satellite maps that commentators often use when covering major cycling events on TV. Unless you’re wearing a GoPro, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better way to capture your cycling memories.
The best navigation app: Komoot
Of course, you can use something like Google Maps to plan and track your routes. But when you want a lot more features in a cycling navigation app, Komoot is the perfect choice.
When planning your route to Komoot, the app looks to find the most suitable locations for bikes to complete the route without sacrificing efficiency. This app does a great job of balancing between finding a safe route and finding the most direct route. Komoot also gives you advice on the difficulty of the route you have selected and the level of fitness required.
As you navigate the route, Komoot updates your data in real time, so you can see your progress. If you want to change the route along the way, Komoot welcomes you without the negative attitude of some in-car navigation apps. (Yeah, we’re looking at you, Google Maps voice assistant.)