There’s no shortage of route planning, navigation and recording options for cyclists. Many are geared towards performance cyclists, but Bikemap looks to offer a one-stop-shop with a more user-friendly experience for everyday riding, and functionality that allows you to share information to benefit its whole community of riders.
The smartphone and web-based user interface lets you plot your own routes anywhere in the world, with a range of map formats available.
If you’re looking for inspiration, there’s a huge number of other user-generated routes available in Bikemap, and the tools to narrow them down to suit your interests.
Once you’ve found a route to follow, you can save it to a personal collection and ride it with turn-by-turn navigation, recording points of interest and real-time information as you ride, making Bikemap a smart alternative to other cycling apps.
1. App-based route planning
Bikemap’s Android and iPhone apps give you comprehensive route planning at your fingertips. Alongside the phone app, there’s also a web interface if you prefer to plan your route on a larger format device.
Bikemap lets you plot routes anywhere in the world, so you can plan your rides ahead if you’re going to be travelling abroad for a cycling trip.
You can use heatmaps to identify and follow the most popular cycling routes. There’s the option to plot out a route using up to seven different map formats, including OpenStreetMap and OpenCycleMap, as well as terrain maps and satellite imagery, allowing you to pick out both on-road and off-road features.
You’ll get a gradient profile, and distance, ascent and descent stats for your route as you plot it. Another option is to display it as a 3D view with the profile superimposed on the route trace, so you can scroll around it and see where the significant ups and downs occur.
2. Turn-by-turn navigation in-app
Once you’ve mapped out a route, you can just hit ‘start’ in the app to start recording a ride with turn-by-turn route guidance.
Bikemap lets you use your smartphone for navigation (you can read BikeRadar’s guide to the best phone mounts for bikes), rather than having to purchase a separate GPS bike computer to navigate and record your activities.
However, you can download a planned route as a GPX file to add to a cycling computer, if you prefer to use a separate device during your ride. You can also sync your Bikemap account to Garmin Connect, to feed your routes to a Garmin Edge bike computer.
Bikemap notifies you with an audible alert and a visual indicator of the direction as you approach a turn. It will also guide you to the start of your route or to the closest point on it from your current location, and it will reroute you if you do miss a turn while riding.
If you’ve subscribed to Bikemap Premium (we’ll come on to that), you can download a regional map and follow your route offline, rather than relying on a data link through your phone.
3. Seven million routes in 100 countries
Bikemap gives you access to routes plotted and followed by other users – seven million of them in 100 countries, which Bikemap says is the largest collection in the world.
If you’re looking for a route, Bikemap will use your current location to present routes nearby. You can easily search for routes in other locations too, or scroll around the map, with the selection of routes updated to match where you’re viewing. Hover over a route and it will be overlaid on the map.
You can sort routes by popularity, and sort or filter by factors including length, amount of climbing, type of surface and bike type to narrow down your selection, so it should be easy to find routes to ride locally and if you’re travelling further afield.
Bikemap classifies routes by other search criteria too, so you can view routes that are flat or hilly and that trend uphill or downhill, offering yet more options to refine your search.
4. Collections to organise your preferred routes
With so many routes to choose from, and so much functionality to plan your rides, it would be easy to get swamped with options and lose your way in them all.
But Bikemap lets you create collections of routes, so you can organise your choices. For example, you could create separate collections of hilly routes and easy rides, so you can quickly select a route that fits your riding plans for a specific day.
5. Share your routes with your ride buddies
With the option to email a link built into the ‘save route’ dialogue, once you’ve planned out a route it’s easy to share it with your friends, so they have a copy. You can share it via Facebook and Twitter too, or keep your rides and routes private if you prefer.
Rate your new route four or five stars and it will automatically be added to your favourite routes listing.
6. Real-time updates by users
One of Bikemap’s key functions, which distinguishes it from many other route mapping apps, is the option for users to add annotations in real-time.
These can be used to alert other users to problems encountered during a ride, such as potholes, slippery roads or other obstacles.
This benefits the whole community because all users can see if there are road closures or other problems that might stop them from following their planned routes.
7. Enhance your route with images and waypoints
Users can annotate their routes with points of interest for cyclists, such as shops, coffee stops and electric bike charge points.
If you want to document your route more fully as you ride, or once you get home, you can add images by dragging and dropping them into the app interface.
Again, it’s a function that adds value for other users of Bikemap, so they get a better idea of key points of interest on the route before selecting it to ride themselves.
8. Your ride stats in-app
As you record rides, Bikemap will keep a record of your key ride stats, such as how far you’ve cycled and for how long, and how much climbing you’ve done.
That’s all displayed via a dashboard showing your stats over the last seven and 30 days.
9. Developed to meet user community’s needs
Bikemap says the app’s development is guided by its users’ requirements. That means that you can suggest enhancements that will benefit you and the whole riding community.
When it comes time to decide where to put development effort, Bikemap will use these suggestions to prioritise changes that its users want, rather than having a pre-planned focus.
10. Premium offering for added functions
Most of Bikemap’s functionality is free to use. However, Bikemap Premium gives you a host of added functions for £28.90 / $34.99 / €29 a year or a one-off payment of £89 / $99 / €99 for lifetime access.
The Premium offering gives you enhanced mapping with extra cycling-friendly map layers and 3D views of your planned routes. In addition, there’s offline navigation, so you don’t have to use mobile data.
Premium routing options are designed to fit your ride style, whether you’re looking for road, unpaved or trail rides. You can select the surface type, so you’ll stick to roads on a road bike or prioritise trails if you’re on a mountain bike, adding useful extras to your planning.
Premium gives you access to enhanced support too.
11. Smartwatch friendly
Bikemap’s routing functionality is available on many leading smartwatches, including Apple Watch, so you can download and follow a route without needing to carry your phone with you.
On Apple Watch, there’s a one-button start and stop to record your ride, and you can access performance data, including your heart rate, as you ride. There’s also automatic syncing back to the Bikemap app once you finish.