Ride-logging platform Strava has today announced Routes, a new tool that aims to help athletes find the best places to ride (and run) using data the company has harvested from its more than 50 million users.
Routes will be available to Strava Summit users only. Summit is the brand’s paid subscription service that replaced the old Strava Premium service in 2018.
Routes offers personalised route recommendations based on athletes’ preferences for location, distance, and surface type (i.e. road/off-road).
Terrain data is provided by OpenStreetMap, which is combined with data from other Strava users including, among other things, “the types of bike frames that have travelled on a given segment”.
Riders just need to make some basic choices about the kind of ride they’re after. Strava
The new functionality provides time estimates for a given route that’s based on users’ past performance data, and gives detailed elevation and surface changes.
Users can also see a Heatmap overlay to give a visual indicator of the popularity of different parts of the route and, no matter where you are, Routes will suggest three options every time you ask for suggestions.
To begin with, according to Strava, routes will be generated entirely on the basis of data, but down the line it’s possible that ‘curated’ routes will form part of the suggestions.
As you’d expect, you get a full elevation profile for each route. Strava
We imagine there might be sponsorship opportunities there: “Training Loop, brought to you by Doritos, the athlete’s choice”, that sort of thing.
How smart is smart routing?
Our past experience with automatically generated routes hasn’t been all that great. The latest Garmin devices feature ‘Popularity Routing’, which claims to offer similar functionality to Strava Routes but in our experience produces fairly low-quality results.
Smart routing is only useful if it’s actually smart, of course. Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
We can’t pass judgment until we’ve tried out Routes properly in the real world, but it sounds like Strava’s system might be a little more sophisticated.
Its algorithm is designed to filter out commuting miles (which otherwise might skew results to favour heavily-trafficked main roads) and other low-quality data.
BikeRadar’s Jack Luke was given a quick demo of the feature when Strava dropped by the office, and he described it as “ludicrously quick” at producing results.
If you want access to Strava Routes, Summit membership starts at £4 / $5 a month and a 30-day free trial is available.