In a world of smart mobile devices, cycling apps are a rider’s best friends. But from a wealth of apps, how to choose the ones that really serve a purpose?
Finding the best cycling apps is hard. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Yet, after years of use, I identified the following six apps as the best. A quick research showed that many cyclists also prefer using these apps over the others.
This list of the best cycling apps for iOS and Android devices isn’t exhaustive. Let it inspire you if you’re looking for the best apps to install on your devices or just add your favorite app to this list.
1. Strava – The Best Metrics Tracker
Strava is one of the most popular metrics tracker and fitness apps. Ideated for those with a competitive nature, the app is designed to record your bike rides and running sessions creating a competition between you and other people who travel the same routes.
Available for iOS and Android devices, Strava registers your riding time and distance, the speed, and a series of other relevant factors about your activities. Designed for outdoor activities alone, the app can be used on your phone directly or it can be synced with a supported activity tracker, such as a smartwatch or a bike computer.
This is particularly useful if you don’t plan on carrying your phone during the rides. The app is free to install and the free plan gives you access to a bunch of useful features. However, if you want to keep records of your activity, it is necessary to subscribe to a Premium Plan which is quite expensive, to be honest.
Another drawback of Strava is the amount of personal data that needs to be provided to enjoy the full benefits of the app. Strava has some privacy settings but much of this personal data has to be shared publicly; specifically, the app will require you to share your geolocation data and all users will be able to see where you are in real time.
This guarantees that you get the most out of the Strava experience but it is also sensitive information you’ll have to share with people you don’t know.
Privacy concerns apart, I never had any issues with Strava and thoroughly enjoyed its rich set of features. Putting a strong emphasis on community, this app is one of the best metrics trackers I’ve ever used.
2. Garmin Connect – The Best Fitness Tracker
Garmin Connect may be the best fitness tracker app for those athletes who own a Garmin GPS watch or bike computer. Compatible with all Garmin sports devices, Garmin Connect comes as a web service and smartphone app available for the iOS and Android devices.
The app enables you to access a wide range of tools designed to boost your training game and help you improve your cycling or running performance.
As a user of Garmin smartwatches, I find Garmin Connect quite useful. Yet, the app is only compatible with Garmin sports gear – and this is limiting. You won’t get any benefits from using the app alone, although the competitive range of features includes tools for planning, tracking and reviewing your workout sessions.
In my opinion, the combo Garmin smartwatch – Garmin Connect is ideal for all athletes, not only cyclists. When it comes to cycling, this app allows you to set monthly goals and helps you achieve them by joining team challenges or by determining you to beat other cyclists’ best time.
Apart from this, the app also helps you get ready for competitions and acts as a sort of motivator in achieving your goals. Despite its limitation, Garmin Connect gives you the best hardware device – app experience and is ideal for reaching your training goals.
3. Zwift – The Best Indoor Trainer
Rainy days, the winter, or simply the pleasure of training indoors go hand in hand with the pleasure of playing the Zwift video game. Coming in a desktop and in an app version, Zwift brings multiplayer engagement and high-quality graphics.
If you’re looking for indoor training motivation, this app is designed to connect you with other riders across the world and lets you challenge them in real-time competitions. The app connects with a wide range of Bluetooth devices that track your speed and performance.
In fact, you’ll just have to pedal on your trainer to propel a customized avatar along various routes inspired by real-life cycling trails or along fantasy routes.
Besides in-game competitions, the app boasts sophisticated calculations for accelerating, drafting and climbing, has a workout mode for interval training and uploads all saved data to Strava. The fun doubles if you have a smart indoor trainer as the game will actually control the resistance, bringing training challenges to the next level.
To be honest, this is one of the most entertaining cycling apps even if it has limited courses. Although not an app for the faint hearted, Zwift is ideal if you want to give a twist to the plain boring winter workout sessions.
4. The Road Bike Manual – The Best Bike Diagnostic App
Depending on whether you’re a road or a mountain cyclist, this app may or may not be of any use. For all road cyclists out there wondering how to repair their vehicle, the Road Bike Manual is a more than valuable app that provides comprehensive bike repair guides that help you troubleshoot and fix the most common issues that may arise while riding.
The app isn’t free but it’s ridiculously cheap – and the investment is well worth your money.
Road Bike Manual includes step-by-step tutorials and instruction videos for bike maintenance and common repairs. Although all tutorials are specific to road biking, some of them can be used to maintain and troubleshoot a mountain bike too.
The best part of the app is the guides for the emergency roadside fixes that come in handy when incidents happen. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to avoid carrying your vehicle to the closest repair shop – and the app won’t occupy any space on your bike repair kit; it’s all on your mobile device.
5. Endomondo – The Best Motivational Coach
When tracking and fitness apps are insufficient to boost your motivation, try Endomondo. This cycling fitness app is a life saver for those unable to reach their goals without a bit of inspiration.
The app is designed to provide easy-to-set goals, it lets you personalize your training program and it also monitors your progress.
Up to this point, Endomondo is similar to many cycling apps. What is different is the audio coaching that whispers words of encouragement while it delivers feedback about your training, including the time, distance, burnt calories, heart rate, pace, lap count, lap time, and more.
Customized motivation is another option with this app, as long as you have a friend willing to track your performance in live mode and send you personalized messages when your motivation begins to wane. Called Pep Talks, this feature is one of the most entertaining.
Undoubtedly, Endomondo is a great motivational and performance tracking cycling app to consider regardless of the purpose of your training.
6. Bike Gear Calculator – The Best Gearing Optimizer
When cycling becomes more serious than a simple passion, the Bike Gear Calculator app helps you improve your strength and riding style by showing you how to optimize your gearing. The app works wonders for those with a passion for mechanics and it’s very easy to use.
Delivering exactly what it says it delivers, Bike Gear Calculator will calculate the speed and cadence figures via virtual drivetrains. Just input your variables, such as the size of the tire, crank length and gear ratios of your vehicle.
The app will use this data to help you optimize gearing. Providing a wealth of information, this is one of the best cycling apps to use when you’re aiming for performance.
The featured cycling apps are the ones I found the easiest to use and the most useful for this sport. Yet, when it comes to choosing an app it all comes down to preference and purpose. There are dozens of excellent cycling apps worth trying in addition to the ones mentioned above.
Whether you’re a novice or an experienced rider, let me know what you think. Which is your favorite cycling app? What cycling apps would you add to this list? Looking forward to your comments!