16 of the best iPhone and Android apps for cycling
There are more cycling apps for Android and Apple phones than ever, ranging from highly analytical training tools to simpler social apps and useful navigational resources. Here’s our pick of the best apps for cyclists in 2018.
For some — Google Maps, for instance — you’ll need to have your device on the handlebars to take full advantage. For others, like Strava, you can just press start, put your phone in your jersey pocket, and go.
The real-time feature, which tells you how fast you are tracking on a selected segment, such as the local hard climb, works on smartphones but also newer Garmin Edge and Wahoo computers, too. A Summit membership also allows access to the Beacon feature, which allows three predetermined contacts to see where you are in real time.
Strava’s special sauce is the slick social component. Much like Facebook, you can follow your friends and see where and how hard they’re riding, leave comments and give kudos on their rides, and post photos with your own rides.
The Road Manual App app features dozens of videos, hundreds of images that clearly illustrate steps and more than 40,000 words detailing every workshop task you can think of. Better still, more tutorials will be added every month.
The app pulls weather data from the cloud and overlays a heat map of where you are most likely to encounter head, cross and tailwinds over a Strava segment or ride.
This allows you to focus your efforts on segments that will have the most advantageous wind, or, if you’re a real TT-freak, alter your setup for a race depending on the conditions. Totally nerdy, totally brilliant.
Beanhunter is a coffee shop review app that works in much the same way as Yelp and other review apps — with reviews written and moderated by users — but it is tailored for and maintained by coffee nerds, so you can be sure you’ll be getting sage advice on what’s the best local brew.
Beanhunter was started in Australia but now covers cafes in pretty much every corner of the world.
Wahoo Fitness isn’t pretty, but there is a ton of data that can be easily directed where you want it to goWahoo
Perhaps the biggest draw of this app is the fact that it plays nicely with others. It pairs easily with Bluetooth sensors such as heart-rate monitors, speed sensors and progressive power meters, including Stages. (With a Wahoo Key plugin you can pair with ANT+ sensors, too.)
In a world where many companies defensively guard your data in their various ecosystems, Wahoo Fitness uploads to all the good sites — Strava, MapMyFitness, TrainingPeaks, MyFitnessPal — and, if you like, can push your data in your choice of five file formats via email or Dropbox.
If you’re an engineer, or just a data hound, you’ll love the number-heavy presentation of the app, too, with eight customizable pages of data on speed, power, heart rate and more. Plus, there’s a GPS map — though it burns through the battery pretty quickly.
The app can also be used indoors — with the Kickr power trainer, a best-in-class indoor trainer.
It is similar to Wahoo Fitness in its wealth of customisable options during the ride, but you also get a smorgasbord of post-ride analysis. Plus, you don’t have to log in to any site; the data stays on your iPhone.
You can start/stop rides with your iPhone earphone remote button, and integrated Google Maps can assist you in unfamiliar areas.
Cyclemeter also plays nice with Strava, Facebook, Twitter and more, and importing and exporting routes is easy.
While you wouldn’t want to use it for a long ride, Google Maps’ combination of Google search plus touchscreen, bike-specific navigation is excellentGoogle
Apple has done some amazing things, but it can’t beat Google at mapping. The latest Google Maps app is the world’s best navigation tool for your phone.
Just like you use your phone on the fly to find places, read a few reviews and then go to the one you select, you can use Google Maps to do so too — and get there on bike paths and bike-friendly routes.
Like any app, it’s not perfect or magic, but in its category, it is the best there is. The audio turn-by-turn instructions are nice when riding, too; for riders who choose to ride with headphones, you can have your phone in your pocket and easily get where you need to be.
Map My Ride does exactly what it says — and now in real timeMap My Ride
MapMyRide is similar to CycleMeter, but it benefits from the parent company’s online history with route mapping software.
The app is better equipped for tracking not only rides but your nutrition, weight and more, but it can also get you where you need to go.
The app works with any Bluetooth Smart sensor (and ANT+ sensors with a plug-in), and it offers a competitive option for popular routes.
The premium version gets you training plans, more advanced routing options and live tracking you can share with family and friends. Also, and perhaps equally important, the premium version ditches the advertisements you’re stuck with on the free app.
While Google Maps is great for roadies or finding your way to the trails, this mapping app is really useful for mountain bikers who enjoy a bit of exploring.
It’s free to download and comes with a very usable and free OpenCycle base map of the entire world, so you’re able to free yourself from ‘navigational uncertainty’ whenever the need arises.
In addition to that, you can buy super detailed large scale topographical mapping for over 20 countries around the world. The maps are stored on your phone and it uses your phone’s GPS, so it doesn’t need a signal or data connection to work. Quite cool is the Skyline VR feature, where the app uses your GPS location and phone camera to show you the names of the peaks you’re looking at.
You can create and share your own routes in the app and also download other people’s tracks or just explore the riding around you. There’s even a live tracking ‘Buddy Beacon’ function that allows you to share your ride with your adoring public or just selected friends, as well as seeing who’s around you.
Price: Free Basic (premium version also available)
We hope you never need the Red Cross app, but it’s a handy thing to have in unfortunate situationsBritish Red Cross
In a perfect world, you’d get very little use out of this app, but if the worst should happen on a ride it pays to be prepared. While it’s hard to beat going on a proper first aid course, this is probably the next best thing.
The Komoot app offers tons of information about your route
While Google Maps is arguably the gold standard when it comes to navigation in general, it comes up a bit short on directions for on the bike directions. You might have used the web portal to make a route and synced it to a headunit in the past, but the mobile app has some pretty cool features you lose when the file exported to a Garmin, Wahoo or similar.
Komoot uses the open-source OpenStreetMap database and allows you to plan road and MTB rides as well as commutes, just like Google. The big difference is in the routing, as Komoot tries to choose the most efficient route, taking into account how bike friendly a road or path is and your fitness.
Using a start and end point Komoots will tell you the difficulty, fitness required, what road surfaces you’ll come across and an elevation profile to boot. Once you’ve started your route, it will give you speed, distance travelled, distance remaining and allows for easy route on the fly route changes.
Price: first map region Free, subsequent map regions $3.99
Trail Forks relies on crowd sourced information to provide the most up-to-date trail maps and conditions
Stop us if this has happened to your before, you’re riding at a new trail network, you’ve been out for a few hours; it’s hot, you’re tired and ready to sit down with a post rider burger a beer when you come to a fork in the trail. You took a picture of the trail map near the parking lot, but you’re not totally sure where you are, so you make a call and go left because you think the trailhead is that direction.
Turns out, you picked wrong, and this trail takes you much deeper into the forest, and now you’re a bit lost and have to try and backtrack to get home.
It’s in this situation Trailforks would have come in handy to guide you safely back to the car.
Relying on crowdsourced trail information, the app has more than 161,000 trails around the world and includes conditions reports, live tracking, and even points of interest like bike shops in case you need a spare tube. The maps are downloaded onto your device for offline use, so no worries if you run out of service.
The app also has an emergency info function, that will generate your exact GPS coordinates, and the name of the nearest trail should you need to pass that information to get help.
Training Peaks offers a deep dive into training plans and metrics for coaches and athletes alike
If you’ve had a cycling coach in recent history, you’ve probably used Training Peaks; heck, even if you haven’t had a coach you’ve probably used Training Peaks. For everyone from coaches and high-performance athletes, to data-hungry office park crit enthusiasts, TP offers one of the most comprehensive tools for tracking fitness and fatigue. TP is not to be confused with a social network, navigation, or route planning app, and if that’s what you are looking for you’re going to want to look else where.
The app allows you to create and schedule workouts, or choose from a wide selection of training plans crafted by coaches like Joe Friel and Frank Overton.