The 10 Best Cycling Apps
From route planning and ride tracking to virtual racing and campsite recon, our list of the best cycling apps breaks down how you can use your smartphone to make your bike rides even better.
Whether you’re riding roads or trails or even pedalling away on your indoor trainer, these days there’s a cycling app for just about everything. Looking for the best singletrack in a new town? Try Trailforks. Want to compete in virtual races from the comfort of your own home? Zwift is the app for you. Trying to figure out the best route to your favourite park? Komoot can do it. There’s an almost overwhelming number of bike rider apps just waiting to be downloaded, so we’ve whittled them down to a select few that we think are the best.
Part route planner, part ride tracker, part fitness log and part social network, there’s a reason Strava is the most popular cycling app. What Strava does best is track your rides. Simply throw your phone into a pocket or mount it on your bike and let the GPS track your progress. Once you’re done, not only can you see ride data like distance, elevation, pace, and even top speed, you can also see how you stack up against other riders in the segment leader boards. Special timed sections of road or trail, segments are a great feature to track your progress over time against both yourself and others.
If you’re using a Strava-compatible bike computer like a newer Wahoo or Garmin you can even see when you’re approaching a segment and how much distance there is left to time your effort to perfection. Once your ride is online, sit back and enjoy comments and ‘kudos’ from your friends on the app. At 76 million users, chances are you know a few people there. Want to learn even more about Strava? Check out our in-depth article.
Where the best version of indoor training was once watching old stages of the Tour de France on TV, now there’s the virtual world of Zwift. Not only does the app allow riders around the world to race each other on digital roads (there’s even a Canyon racing team ), it also serves as an excellent training tool with a variety of different workouts and plans for riders of all experience levels. The Zwift team is consistently adding exciting roads to ride and developing new workout programs so if you already ride a lot indoors, it’s the must-download app for you. Learn how to get started on Zwift with our guide for beginners.
Designed for the data-loving cyclist, the Wahoo Fitness app displays and records in-depth ride information so you can get the most out of your training. The app is completely free and easily pairs with your performance-tracking devices like heart rate monitors and power meters. Once you’ve recorded all the stats from your effort, it’s easy to upload the info to other apps or training programs like Strava or TrainingPeaks. While cyclists that already use Wahoo products like their indoor trainers are going to get the most out of the app, it’s still an excellent free option for any committed cycling looking to collect more performance data.
The ultimate bike ride navigation tool - Komoot can help you find the best way to get from point A to point B - whether you’re pedalling your electric bike through town to visit a friend or embarking on a week-long odyssey on your touring bike. The app uses the OpenStreetsMap database to pick the best possible roads or trails for your ride. Simply open the app on your phone or computer and select the start and finish points. The app does a great job of generating bike-specific routes, but you can even go through and edit your ride to hit particular waypoints or scenic spots. It also has a community function where other riders can share their favourite section of road, a good trail or even a nice lookout.
Komoot is also good for on-the-bike navigation. If you don’t own a bike computer, you can simply stash your phone in a pocket and let the app use audio alerts to give you a heads up before your next turn. If you do prefer to use a bike computer, Komoot allows you save your planned routes and download them in a variety of different formats to work with whatever system you use. Komoot can be downloaded and used for free but requires a small fee for each region you plan to explore if you decide to download offline maps. If you like the app, a larger one-time fee unlocks the whole world for offline download.
While it still requires the occasional route inspection for questionable roads, Google Maps bike function is constantly improving. Google Maps is ideal for the urban rider looking hop on their city bike and meet a friend out at a bar or a specific restaurant. It’s the only app on this list where you can read a review of a shop, decide to go there and immediately have turn-by-turn bike-specific directions ready to go on your phone.
Ride with GPS
A direct competitor with Komoot, Ride with GPS is a very popular app for those planning long-distance bikepacking or bike touring trips. The app is easy to use and the basic monthly subscription enables you to save detailed routes with elevation profiles to be used offline when you’re on your gravel bike and out of cell service. The app also offers turn-by-turn navigation and allows you to publish ride reports for others to check out. It would make a great option for any rider biking the 11 best cycle routes in the UK / Best Gravel Rides in Germany.
Featuring more than 161,000 trails around the world, Trailforks is the most popular app for mountain bikers. Whether you’re looking to discover new trails, or you just want to check the status of your favourite singletrack before heading out, Trailforks has got you covered. The app allows you to easily explore all the trails at your nearest mountain and offers information on difficulty, elevation as well as moderated submissions from users describing trail conditions so you can plan ahead.
Depending on where you live, the weather likely plays a major role in when and how you plan your rides. While one forecast app may only show rain all day long, Dark Sky’s complex algorithm gives surprisingly accurate hour-by-hour data on the weather forecast. Worried about those dark clouds looming on your lunch ride? Dark Sky can tell you when and if those clouds will turn to rain. Wondering if you should wait a bit for the rain to let up before heading out on your road bike? The app can accurately tell you in how many minutes the forecast is going to change. It’s a great tool for any rider trying to optimise their time spent riding in the sun.
Originally designed for hiking and deep backcountry use, Gaia GPS has gained a following amongst bikepackers and mountain bikers for its in-depth downloadable maps. Choose between Nat Geo illustrated, satellite and topographic maps to plan your voyages into the wilderness. Where other apps follow an arrow up-close along your route, Gaia functions more like a traditional map allowing you to place yourself in your surroundings and then determine the best way forward. The app lets you download huge areas using minimal amounts of data and is invaluable if you find that the trail you planned to mountain bike is no longer passable and you need to scout a new way though.
A community-sourced mapping project, iOverlander is a must-have app for anyone planning a multi-night bikepacking or bike touring trip. All over the world, iOverlander details various places that bike travellers can rest up for the night either for free or at cost. Each bivouac, campsite, hostel and hotel have notes left from users of the app so you can make the best decision on where you’d like to overnight. It also notes important on-the-road info like where to get showers, do laundry or landmarks that are worth checking out.
DotWatcher.cc If you’re eager to get into bikepacking or long-distance bike racing, it’s worth checking out DotWatcher.cc. “Dot watching” is simply a way of following along with an unsupported, long-distance race. In many races, all riders are equipped with GPS trackers and DotWatcher.cc embeds the tracking maps while also employing volunteer commentators to bring life to the race so you can watch as your favourite rider or friend’s dot rolls along. While it may sound underwhelming, it can be a dramatic affair as you speculate what happened as your favoured dot overtakes others while another dots stop for hours to sleep or fix bike mechanicals.
On the Go Map While it’s not an app, On the Go Map is just about the simplest tool out there for planning a bike ride or seeing how far you went afterwards. The no-frills website allows you to simply click out your path either snapping to streets or just drawing a straight line across terrain. The site tells you exactly how far your route is and how much elevation it covers. It doesn’t do a lot, but it does it well.
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