Cycling Apps: the top 3

Smartphone cycling Apps are becoming increasingly popular even with cycling buffs who are no longer in their salad days. The main reason for the popularity of these Apps (apart from the fact that they are easy to use) is that they exert a strong “social” attraction which boosts performance levels and encourages competitiveness.

 

Once upon a time there was a cycling computer which people fondly referred to as the “little computer”. Staunch riding companion of a lifetime, farewell. These are the times of cycling 2.0 (or 3.0… we have kind of lost count…), – smartphone Apps which are increasingly sophisticated and engaging. As these new and clever devices get better and better, a Darwin-like process of natural selection is coming about. The less adaptable and flexible Apps risk going into extinction. Everyone takes their phone with them during a bike ride, so what better solution could there be than to have a device that does everything?

The newest platforms have infinite potential and are fun to use as well. And they are “darn” social with it. One essential aspect for a sport like ours where we are all competitive is that it enables us to share and compare our achievements and, let’s face it, envy those of others. Rivalry is what we live and breathe.

It also allows you to keep track of your own past records, store trails, distances, vertical climbs and averages. It measures your performance and lets you peek at that of your friends, or even strangers, who ride the same path.

Then it even enables you to interface everything with a heart-rate monitor, creating specific digital training schemes.

But don’t go overboard…

App-mania is ever on the rise…but don’t get carried away though. Connecting to our favourite application even when we ride alone means foregoing the subtle pleasure of solitude, as you subject yourself to scrutiny under a cruel magnifying glass and allow others check your progress. The risk is you push yourself to the limit instead of just enjoying yourself.

In an attempt to impress the community, some people even get involved in “digital doping”, rigging the master tracks of Strava, inflating the averages before uploading them so they rise to occupy the higher slots.

They must be bonkers…

The App-drug habit looks like it is here to stay, but why not leave your blessed (or dratted?) phone at home every now and again, so you can rediscover that peaceful feeling of cycling without being watched by the judgemental eye of big brother all the time?

 

Let’s have a look at the charts of the most popular Apps used by cycling buffs.

 

Strava

A real gem of an App. Purpose-built for running and cycling buffs, it offers 3 million activities per week. There are many pros amongst the users.

Although it boasts the classic GPS tracking functions, a feature it has in common with many other similar applications, its real strength lies in the number of services offered as well as in a brilliantly simple idea. Getting all its members to battle virtually against each other, drawing up an overall chart of times recorded on the most popular road sections or climbs, now famously known as “segments”.

As the app site vaingloriously states, there are two epochs in the history of endurance sports: before segments and after segments.

 

Runtastic

Closer to the concept of the traditional cycling computer, Runtastic first came into being for fitness and running freaks It now offers its 70 million users another two versions dedicated to MTB and road bikes, but it is heavily oriented towards wearable device interfacing.

It is still marvellous for cycling, though. It gives more than 50 functions, performance data, distances, times, averages and gradients with a huge amount of graphs for training purposes and a voice-prompted guide, meaning our hands are free for the handlebars.

One really good feature is an off-line trail map consultation service.

 

Sports Tracker

Dozens of very similar applications with the “standard” geolocation features all vie for third place on the podium. Map my ride, B.iCycle, My tracks, Endomondo, etc. but we think that Sports Tracker is worthy of a special mention.

It occupies a special place in our hearts because it was launched back in 2004 when it was a pathfinder for all the others (Strava and Runtastic both came out in 2009). At the time, it was truly innovative.

Today, it is possibly a little dated, but it still has a hard core of users from all over the world who give a sense to the sharing nature of the App.

It also provides a free online storage service for your workouts.

 

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Cycling Apps: the top 3 | Technology on the saddle – Selle Italia
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Cycling Apps: the top 3 | Technology on the saddle – Selle Italia
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Smartphone cycling Apps are becoming increasingly popular even with cycling buffs who are no longer in their salad days. The main reason for the popularity of these Apps is that they exert a strong “social” attraction which boosts performance levels and encourages competitiveness.
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Selle Italia
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