Although actively using a smartphone while cycling is generally frowned upon (unless you have a snazzy handlebar mount), when it comes to fitness apps few groups are better catered for than cyclists. Below you’ll find 22 that are deserving of a place on any bike enthusiast’s smartphone. They’re divided into five categories, but before we go in-depth, here are the very best apps in each category.
Best Ride Tracking App: Strava
Best Bike Navigation App: Bike Citizens
Best Training App: Zwift
Best Bike Hire App: Santander Cycles
Best Maintenance App: The Road Bike Manual
Best Ride Tracking Apps
You have Strava, right? What kind of cyclist would you be if you didn’t? Strava is the king of cycling apps, with reliable and detailed ride tracking backed up by its social features, including short segments where your time is recorded just for that section of the cycle. These allow users to compete for the title of King of the Mountain on their local hill, which might not seem like a big deal now, but wait until your crown is pinched by some cocky out-of-towner or, worse, a smug neighbour. We guarantee you’ll be out the door in seconds trying to win it back. strava.com (opens in new tab)
Thanks to a huge array of in-depth stats that are clearly presented in an excellent and tremendously colourful interface, Cyclemeter has a strong claim to be the very best of all the cycle tracking apps available. abvio.com/cyclemeter (opens in new tab)
Download from App Store (opens in new tab) | Free, pro version £9.99 a year
This app gives you someone to race every time you go for a ride, making it ideal if you’re the competitive type. You can either set up a route and a time to aim for and race against a ghost, or you can use Ghostracer with live Strava segments to try to grab a record over shorter sections of your ride. As well as using Ghostracer directly through the app, it is compatible with some Android Wear devices and GPS computers, if you don’t have a smartphone mount for your handlebars. getghostracer.com (opens in new tab)
Download from Google Play (opens in new tab) | Free
This is one of the oldest ride-tracking apps around, and the enduring appeal of MapMyRide largely lies in its sizeable user base and the routes they upload to the app. This means that when you’re searching for your next challenge you can find new routes near you. Competitive types can also get their fix from the courses feature, which allows riders to compete for the fastest time over certain routes (if you’re a Strava user, think segments). All the expected metrics are tracked during rides, including pace, distance, time, calories and elevation. mapmyride.com (opens in new tab)
Almost every cyclist has a post-ride routine, which usually includes refuelling, a nice sit-down, and a look at the stats from their ride on an app like Strava. However, if a quick dive into the stats and a glance at a GPS map isn’t enough for your most memorable cycles, you should Relive them. This free app creates a short video that animates your progress on a 3D map of your route plotting your highest elevation, heart rate and speed. It also automatically integrates any photos you took during the ride and, naturally, you can easily share it on social media. Relive links to the likes of Strava, Garmin Connect and Endomondo to get your ride data, so rest assured you can carry on using your favourite tracking app. relive.cc (opens in new tab)
The name might suggest that this reward app is for runners only, but rest assured it also gives points for all the rides you log on it (through third-party apps like Strava, Fitbit and Garmin Connect) and we all know what points mean. The prizes on offer if you do enough activity are impressive – discounts on sports clothing brands, races and free treats like craft beer – and it doesn’t take any extra work on your part once you download the app and connect it to your preferred cycle-tracking software. Just keep on pedalling and check in occasionally to see what your rides have earned you. uk.runningheroes.com (opens in new tab)
Best Bike Navigation Apps
Many standard navigation apps fall short when it comes to cycling in big cities, mainly because they don’t recognise dedicated cycleways as options. Bike Citizens does an expert job of providing the best routes for cyclists in the 450+ cities it currently covers, and once you download an area, it works without an active data connection, so you can use it abroad without fear of running up huge roaming charges. You can also choose between the fastest and quietest routes available, so you can stick to cycle paths and side streets when you have time, and hit the A-roads when you’re late for work. bikecitizens.net (opens in new tab)
100 Greatest Cycling Climbs
Best Training AppsBest Bike Hire AppsBest Maintenance Apps
All the info you need to track down and tackle the 100 best climbs in Britain, as listed by the popular book of the same name (£7.99, buy on amazon.co.uk (opens in new tab)). The app lets you sorts the rides by difficulty and location, syncs to Strava and records every climb you conquer on your journey to completing the full century.
Footpath Route Planner
Plan your cycling routes quickly and easily with this seriously user-friendly app. Draw a vague route on the in-app map and it will automatically fix it to the nearest roads and paths, as well as giving you the route’s overall distance and elevation. If you’re especially adventurous and are biking where no paths go, you can also draw your route freestyle straight on the map. footpathapp.com (opens in new tab)
Download from App Store (opens in new tab) | Free, pro version £3.49 a month, £21.49 a year
Google Maps and the like will suffice for all your navigational needs in the city, but for riders who like to go off-road ViewRanger is a must – especially since it’s free. It comes with the OpenCycleMap that shows routes and trails for the entire world, and there’s the option to buy more detailed topographical maps for specific areas. These maps are stored locally on your phone so you can navigate even in areas where you have no signal. viewranger.com (opens in new tab)
While getting you from A to B is the primary purpose of any navigation app, CycleMaps is smart enough to realise that the type of road you take to get there is also important for cyclists. This app sticks to cycle routes and quiet roads wherever possible, so even if you end up riding slightly further, the quality and extra safety of the ride makes it worthwhile. cyclema.ps (opens in new tab)
Download from App Store (opens in new tab) | Free, pro version £8.99
There’s a chance you’ve already heard of this one. However, it’s still worth highlighting because although Google Maps’ directions for cyclists are not the best – with an unhappy habit of using traffic-heavy roads or, worse, busy canal towpaths where you constantly have to dismount to avoid fights with pedestrians – it does have two main advantages over dedicated cycling navigation apps. The first is that you almost certainly already have it on your phone, and the second is that its turn-by-turn directions are clear and easy to follow, which isn’t always the case with some apps. So when you’re really in a pinch, Google Maps remains the go-to option for getting you back on track. maps.google.com (opens in new tab)
See related :
- The Best Cycling Route Planners To Get You From A To B Fast
- 21 Lessons In Strava Etiquette From @stravawankers
- The Best Health And Fitness Apps
- The Best Workout Apps
- The Best Healthy Eating Apps
- The Best Running Apps
Best Training Apps
The ultimate indoor cycling app for the serious rider, Zwift lets you enter a digital world filled with other cyclists from around the globe, so you never have to suffer through a turbo trainer session alone again. You’ll need a smart bike trainer or power, speed and cadence sensors to pair with the app, because it uses these readings to move your on-screen avatar, but once you have the set-up perfected the hours of indoor training will fly by. Like The Sufferfest app, Zwift is pricy, but a seven-day free trial allows you to try before you buy. zwift.com (opens in new tab)
Download from App Store (opens in new tab) | £12.99 a month
There are a few different apps designed to make your indoor training a little more fun, but if you’re a cyclist on the hunt for a structured plan for your work on the turbo, then TrainerRoad is the best option out there. The app contains a huge amount of power-based interactive workouts – over 1,000 in fact – which you can try on an ad hoc basis or as part of one of the training plans. During the workouts you get coaching tips and a clear summary of all your stats, along with an indication of what’s coming up next. It’s a subscription-based app and a not-inconsiderable outlay at $12 (approximately £9) a month, but if you want to become a faster, stronger cyclist, following a TrainerRoad plan will get you there. trainerroad.com (opens in new tab)
This app for indoor cycling manages to pull off the tricky feat of making turbo training both more enjoyable and more effective. There are 34 video-led workouts that follow routes from races like the Tour de France, as well as three- and ten-week training plans for all kinds of events. The Sufferfest app also connects to power meters, heart rate monitors and speed and cadence sensors, using this data to make the rides more immersive. It offers something out of the saddle as well, with 20 “yoga for cyclists” workout videos. It’s not cheap – the subscription costs $10 (around £7.70) a month – but there’s a free seven-day trial so you can see if it’s worth your moolah. thesufferfest.com (opens in new tab)
Download from App Store (opens in new tab) | $12.99 a month, $99 a year
it takes both nerves of steel and rock-solid technical skills to ride mountain bikes successfully, and this excellent app will help with the latter. It contains videos and instructions covering the fundamental techniques you need. You can even film your own rides to upload to the app and compare with videos showing correct technique or common mistakes. dirtschool.co.uk (opens in new tab)
Download from App Store (opens in new tab) | £5.99
Best Bike Hire Apps
This app can be a little buggy at times, but it’s still your best bet to find docking stations for London’s cycle-hire scheme. You can also hire bikes using the app and see which stations have a free space for returns – especially useful during the morning rush hour. tfl.gov.uk (opens in new tab)
Assuming hover cars and cost-effective monorails (remember, mono = one, rail = rail) aren’t anywhere close to becoming a reality, dockless bike share schemes are the most promising solution to improving transport in city centres. Ofo is one of the biggest dockless bike brands and its fleet of bright yellow bikes can already be spotted in several UK cities, including Oxford, Norwich, Sheffield and some boroughs of London. The app is the key to using Ofo’s bikes, because you locate and unlock the bikes using it, as well as tracking your rides and fees – it costs 50p per half hour, with the cost capped at £5 a day. Well worth having on your phone for when public transport fails you. ofo.com (opens in new tab)
Like Ofo, Mobike is a dockless bike brand that can be found in a number of UK cities – Oxford, Cambridge, Newcastle and several London boroughs. The app is required to locate, reserve and unlock the bikes, as well as keeping tabs on the funds in your Mobike account, with each 20-minute period of riding the bikes costing 50p, 69p or £1 depending on which type of bike you use and the city you are in. You can also buy passes for unlimited riding, which will bring the cost down to 25p a day if you opt for a year-long pass. mobike.com/uk (opens in new tab)
Best Maintenance Apps
The Road Bike Manual
The most comprehensive and easy-to-use road bike repair app available, and just about the best £3 a cyclist can spend full stop. There are step-by-step instructions and tutorial videos for all common repairs and every bit of bike maintenance you should be doing regularly to keep your ride running smoothly. Each guide advises you on the tools and time you’ll need before start, as well as rating how hard the process is going to be out of five. There are also guides for emergency roadside fixes, which is where the app really comes into its own, unless you prefer to carry a bike repair book with you at all times.
While the other repair app on this list are all about trying to help you fix your bike yourself, we know that not everyone wants to do that. Even relatively simple bike maintenance can be frustrating if it doesn’t go as planned, and when you’re inexperienced it always takes longer than you think it’s going to. However, taking a bike to be repaired by a pro isn’t exactly frustration-free, especially because most of us have free time at the same time, so you can expect to wait your turn in bike shops at lunchtimes, evenings and weekends.
VONCRANK is an app that makes it easier to get your bike seen to by bringing the mechanic to you. You upload a short video of the problem with your bike and pick a service or repair on the app. A mechanic will accept the job, and you set a time when they can come to you and fix or service your bike. It’s as simple as that, and the repairs are often cheaper than you’ll pay in a bike shop too. voncrank.com (opens in new tab)
Fill That Hole
Potholes. Hellish pits of despair. Scourge of the road. The cyclist’s greatest enemy. Fill That Hole makes it easy to report potholes to the local council responsible for fixing them, ensuring a smooth ride in the future. fillthathole.org.uk (opens in new tab)
First Aid For Cyclists
Should something go wrong on your ride, this app from St John Ambulance could come in very useful indeed – and all it will cost you is a few MB of your phone’s memory. Obviously if you or someone else is severely injured don’t faff around with an app, call an ambulance, but for the most common bumps and scrapes people experience on a bike the First Aid app will advise you on the best immediate and short-term treatment options. sja.org.uk (opens in new tab)
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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