While one of the appeals of cycling is how refreshingly low-tech it is, there are few activities in this world that can’t be improved with an app or two. Many people find that recording, analysing and broadcasting their rides - with a little help from their smartphone - is a great way to stay motivated and track their progress.
There are now quite a few different cycling apps out there, and the best ones for you depend on how you use your bike. Whether you simply cycle to work or take part in endurance cycling challenges, there’s an app to help you get the most out of your time.
Fitness Cycling with Strava
Strava is one of the most popular running and cycling apps on the market, and it’s a great all-rounder. It combines GPS tracking with sophisticated mapping software to measure achievements, such as the distance you've covered, the speed you've reached, and any elevation gain along the way.
It can sync up with other devices such as heart monitors to provide even more detailed statistics – ideal if you’re getting serious about tracking and improving your workouts. You can also see popular cycle routes in your area submitted by other users - perfect for inspiration. The leaderboards add an element of healthy competition, too.
Endurance Cycling with Training Peaks
If you’ve got your sights set on a triathlon, a marathon or a race, TrainingPeaks might be the app for you. As with Strava, you can log your rides and track stats like speed and distance, as well as share your workouts with others.
While it’s great for all kinds of fitness users, the app is geared towards those who’re serious about pushing themselves up a level – it’ll help you make training plans specifically for road cycling, mountain biking, cyclocross events and many more.
Organised Cycling With Cyclemeter
Cyclemeter is another very popular app that lets you plot routes, record any number of workouts and view them on a calendar – it’ll even record what the weather was like on the day. You can configure up to 25 voice prompts to update you on your progress during a ride, as well as syncing it with a heart rate monitor.
Unlike some similar apps, there’s no online service to plug into – it does all the work right there on your phone (although you can sync it with Twitter and Facebook if you like). This could come in handy if you’re prone to losing signal, though it does mean Cyclemeter lacks the community-centric features that other apps have.
Efficient Cycling With Bike Hub
If you’re a London-based cyclist using the capital’s Barclays Bikes, the Cycle Hire app will be a big help. Using Foursquare’s geolocation tech, the app lets you search for docking stations by postcode and recommends the quickest cycle path routes. You can even set a reminder for yourself to return the bike before your fee goes up.
For everyone else, Bike Hub Cycle Journey Planner does a similar thing. Essentially a satnav for your bike, it’ll find you the quickest or quietest routes wherever you are, favouring cycle paths wherever possible. You can choose a male or female voice to announce directions, or simply have it vibrate to indicate a turn – handy for when you need to keep your attention on the road.
Everyday Cycling with Cycling UK
Of course, cycling’s not all about fitness – for many of us, it’s just a handy and healthy way to get around. The good news is there’s a great selection of apps for everyday cyclists too.
Fill That Hole from Cycling UK is a great complement to your commute that helps you to avoid that bane of cyclists everywhere – potholes. As well as letting you see where dangerous road surfaces are on any route you choose, you can report holes that aren’t listed, using your smartphone’s camera and GPS.
There are plenty of ways you and your smartphone can enjoy better cycling together. If you're in need of a new device, don't forget to head on over to Mobiles.co.uk for the very best smartphone deals.