There’s no doubt about it, 2012 was a huge year for cycling and saw the popularity of the sport shoot through the roof. The tough economic conditions, huge success for British riders at the Tour De France (Wiggo fever) and Team GB cycling at the London 2012 Olympics was one of the biggest success stories, both on the road and at the velodrome. This has led to more people deciding on two wheels for some journeys over their expensive, fuel guzzling cars.
There’s never been a better time to take up or get back into cycling. This new found popularity has also led to an influx of cycling apps that can be used to track your rides and store your data on your smartphone. The popular apps use GPS to track your route, show your average speed, your heart rate and even compare your results with your friends. With so many apps available though it’s often hard to know just which one to go for. Today we will look at three of the most popular cycling apps: Strava, Endomondo and Garmin Fit/Connect, and compare their main features and their pros and cons.
Strava Cycling App
Strava is a free cycling app that uses GPS to track your routes and upload them to the Strava website. It is available to download on Android phones, Iphones and Garmin devices, while an account can easily be set up on the GPS device itself or the Strava website. One of the main reasons Strava has become so popular is the fact it gives you the ability to ride a certain segment of a road or trail and compare your time with people all over the world who have ridden the same segment. Strava automatically logs your start and finish time when you ride through a segment and then uploads the data to its website where you can check a leader board and see where you stand. Whether you’re in 200th place or in the top 10, it really gives you the extra motivation to try and improve your stats the next time you ride through the segment.
Strava really does focus on the competitive element of cycling and also offers regular challenges to compete in, such as “Ride as many miles as possible in a month”, “Classic climbing challenge” and “The 100,000 mile challenge”. The app also does all the basics well, such as total miles, time, average speed and course maps. It also offers the ability to share your stats with your friends on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Strava also offers a Premium package on their website that can be upgraded to for approx £36 per year or £3.99 per month allowing for custom heart rate zones, weekly progress goals and filtered leader boards.
Pros: It’s free, easy to use and very addictive. Can be easily set up on both a smartphone and Garmin device. Nice website that shows all your previous rides and stats.
Cons: It costs to upgrade to the premium package. Some of your ride stats will be lost if you lose the GPS signal on your ride.
Endomondo is another free cycling app that can be downloaded on just about any smartphone and uses GPS to track your rides and upload the statistics to the Endomondo website. The app also uses Google Maps to show your exact route on the map. Endomondo has been around for a fair few years now and did have some early teething problems with bugs and errors but the app has received a lot of updates and tweaks since then and has run far more smoothly in recent times.
One of the best features of Endomondo is the ability to use an audio coach who updates you through your ride with your statistics. There is also a Pro version of Endomondo that can be upgraded to for £3.99 and allows you to select a previous ride and have the audio coach tell you exactly how to beat your previous time. The Pro mode also allows you to view graphs, customise the audio coach and set time and calorie goals.
Endomondo is one of the most popular cycling apps out there (over 13m users) and it’s easy to see why. It offers a free and easy way to track your ride history and share statistics with friends on Facebook. You can even search your local area for popular routes using Google Maps.
Pros: It’s free to download and easy to use. The audio coach is a great addition and you can share and compare your stats on Facebook. Can search Google Maps for nearby routes.
Cons: Had some early bugs but these seem to have been ironed out. Costs £3.99 to get the Premium version.
Garmin Fit/Connect App
Anyone who has owned a Garmin sports watch or GPS device will no doubt have used Garmin Connect – This is the online website that all your cycling data is uploaded to and then shown in graph and table form. Garmin Fit is a separate app that works in a similar way to other cycling apps and can be downloaded to your smartphone to show current speed, distance, route travelled and calories burned. This information can then be uploaded to the full Garmin Connect site. If your smartphone is ANT+ enabled, you can also see data from your Garmin fitness sensors, such as heart monitors…etc.
Garmin Fit can also use the LiveTrack feature for a small monthly or yearly fee and this allows your friends and family to track your progress on a race or just a training ride. LiveTrack allows you to send either an email, Facebook or Twitter invitation and when your friends click the link they are taken to a website that shows your live statistics, such as location, time, distance, speed..etc.