Cycling in unknown territories is exciting and fun, you feel like an epic explorer. You know what is not fun? Getting stuck in traffic or getting lost. This is where a GPS navigation app for cyclists comes into play. A good GPS navigation app for cyclists will not only help you navigate the unexplored neighborhoods with comfort but also help you become a better cyclist. Back in 2013, I started to cycle mainly because I was fat and lazy. I found that using voice activated navigation allowed me to gauge my daily progress regarding distance and speed. We’ve covered GPS navigation apps in the past, but these are primarily for people riding bikes.
Note: Each GPS navigation app for cyclists is tested on a Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone running on a custom ROM based on Android 4.4 Kit Kat. Some apps require an internet connection for initial setup while others need a constant one for advanced features. All the apps performed fine during testing. An original cycle was used in testing only one app; the others were tested using a motorbike.
Tip: There are many sturdy handlebar holders available in the market. If you are going to use a smartphone while riding a bicycle, do it safely. No one wants a broken smartphone just because you couldn’t spot a small pothole.
1. Strava Running and Cycling GPS – Free and Premium $5.99
Strava makes running and cycling a social activity, even if you are running solo. The app is like a social network but for those who like to run or cycle. You ride your cycle around and the app measures the distance, speed and calories. Following your friends allows you to see what they are up to in the fitness world. Making new routes and sharing your activity on Facebook or Twitter makes a competitive environment. There is something amazing in seeing your name on top of the leaderboard. With the premium version, which can be activated from within the app, you will get access to even more features. If you like to engage in friendly competition, purchasing the premium version is a no brainer.
- An intuitive and smooth interface.
- Following your friends ride feed is great.
- Setting personal records and stacking them against friends is rewarding.
This GPS navigation app for cyclists allows you to compare yourself with others. This is one of the best motivators out there. Watching yourself slowly climb the leader boards makes you work harder.
2. Runtastic Road Bike – Free and $4.99
Graphs for everything!
2.A Free Version:
Runtastic Road Bike makes riding a little more fun. You can track your progress with precision as well as ease with this great looking app. The live GPS tracking of critical performance metrics like calories, time, distance, speed, altitude and pace is included in the app. The best thing about the app is that you can find thousands of nearby tracks which are tested by other cyclists. The app uses Google Maps to make the experience familiar and reliable. The app is also compatible with Runtastic heart rate monitors which need to be purchased separately. If you are deadly serious about riding, this is the system you should tap into.
- An amazing looking interface.
- Colored traces make everything easy.
- Dashboard configuration is available.
The voice feedback of critical velocity metrics is available. There are various motivational messages available in numerous languages but they just sound weird. I suggest you stick with the voice feedback only.
2.B Paid Version:
The paid version of the app removes the annoying ads and introduces some minor features. In all honesty, even after purchasing the full version some users reported having seen occasional ads on the app. I would suggest that you check the fantastic free app for an extensive period of time before purchasing the paid version.
3. Map My Ride – Free and $0.99
Keep track of everything
3.A Free Version:
Map My Ride is a sleek-looking cycling app which allows you to keep track of the ride. Starting with voice prompts which enable you to get instructions hands free to split graphs, this app has it all. Nutrition, diet and weight tracking is also included for those who are aiming to lose some body mass. The app enables you to measure speeds, distance, time and calories. GPS bases route mapping is one of the strongest suits of this great GPS navigation app for cyclists.
- Real time stats during the workout.
- Calorie counting is a great way to see progress.
- Elevation profiles and nutrition guidance.
The app can be reliably run in the background allowing you to listen to music or text (not recommended). This GPS navigation app for cyclists actually continues to track your ride while others are not that reliable.
3.B Paid Version
The paid version of the app removes the ads from the app. There are no further features added to the experience. There is also a $2.5/month subscription for the MVP features. This can be purchased from within the app and allows you access to customized audio coaching and real-time location sharing.
4. IpBike ANT+ – Trial and $7.99
Mount and ride
4.A Free Version:
IpBike has one of the worst interfaces I have ever encountered during my long stint as an app reviewer. One look at the screen and you are greeted with the ugliest view ever. Still I used this app for around 4 months. The only reason I did this it because it’s the best at displaying everything on one screen. If you are going to use a handlebar smartphone mount, this is an essential app for you. From speed to distance and from max speed to incline, you get all the information you need just by taking a glance.
- Gives all the info at one place.
- Is somewhat customizable.
- The map is reliable.
The app works great in both portrait and landscape orientations. This is one of the few apps that can squeeze a mini map on the screen with every measurement. It’s like the mini map from video games.
4.B Paid Version:
The free version of the app is basically a generous trial which is limited to one million wheel revolutions. This means after that distance is completed, you will need to purchase the key.
All of the apps in this list are reliable and work really well. It’s up to your riding style and preferences to select one of them. I used number one while riding my bike to school and four while exploring the city. I suggest that you take all four of them for a ride and see what captures your attention. Ride on fellow cyclists!