MapMyRide vs Strava: A Detailed Comparison

The purpose of this post is to compare the popular cycling apps, Strava and MapMyRide, in some sort of app-ocalyptic battle to establish which is best.

Ahem. Sorry about that.

Both Strava and MapMyRide are based on a similar principle. You take a GPS device out on your ride to capture where you went. When you’re done, the route and performance details are uploaded to the relevant website, where you can browse, analyse and share with friends.

I’m actually going to take this post quite seriously, which is perhaps something of a change. If you want to see a more flippant (naive?) assessment, you can take a look at my original post on this subject, written way back in the mists of time (or March 2013 as it’s more commonly know).

There were a lot of very useful comments made at the bottom of that post by people far more informed than me. Have a butchers at those, even if you can’t bring yourself to read my own scribblings.

The Pursuit of App-iness

My comparison is based on the following criteria:

  • Smartphone App
  • Website Design
  • Competition and Motivation
  • Route Mapping
  • Device Compatibility (i.e. which phones/GPS devices can you use with it)
  • Premium Features (And Cost)

Let’s dive straight into the detail.

Smartphone App

MapMyRide’s app seems very ‘processor intensive’ (I’m not an app developer – I have no idea if that’s the right term). It appears to use battery life very quickly when recording. A number of times whilst using it, the MMR app crashed mid-ride, losing the ride data. This is … somewhat frustrating.

Strava’s app seems a lot more stable and less battery intensive. It doesn’t have adverts. I generally prefer the design aesthetic (I appreciate that’s a personal thang).

Finally, and it’s a little thing, when you load up the MMR app, you need to tap two buttons in order to start recording. In Strava, the ‘Record’ page loads immediately and you simply have to tap the little red button to start

Winner: Strava

Website Design

Both systems follow a similar approach with their websites. Once you’ve logged in, you’re presented with a dashboard where you can do various things. Strava’s dashboard is dominated by the ‘Activity Feed’, where you can see the latest rides (and runs) of you and the people you’re following.

MapMyRide focuses more on your own recent performances, providing a chart showing your ride statistics over the preceding week.

Strava’s site is the ‘cleaner’ of the two. There is more white space and no adverts. The problem with the cleaner approach is that it’s not always immediately obvious how to do something, as it may be hidden away as an option on another page. This issue reduces as you get to know the site better.

MapMyRide features adverts in the header, footer and sidebar. It also has an (annoying) popup that keeps, er, popping up to try to persuade you to upgrade to the premium version.

In terms of navigation, it’s easier to find a particular feature directly from the MapMyRide homepage, since each of the navigation menu item has a drop-down with further options.

Winner: Strava

Competition And Motivation

For many, Strava’s biggest selling point is the ability to compare your performance over a particular course (or ‘segment’ in Strava-code) with everyone else on the system (including a growing number of professional cyclists).

Even if you’re not particularly competitive, it’s surprisingly interesting to compare your times with others, as well as tracking your own progress as you train more.

To reward consistency and effort, Strava has ‘Challenges’. (Surprisingly appealing) digital finishers badges are awarded if you meet the criteria for that challenge (e.g. ride 1,000 miles in January).

MapMyRide also features a competitive/comparison element. Rather than being based purely on best times, rankings are determined by a points system that takes into account times recorded and how frequently the rider has completed the course. To be honest, for me, it all feels a bit muddled.

The competition idea really only works if you have the fastest riders submitting data. Strava attracts the fastest riders and hence the rankings have greater credibility. MapMyRide will find it very difficult to catch up.

Winner: Strava.

Route Mapping

MapMyRide wins this one hands down. Go to ‘My Routes’, hit ‘Create Route’ and, er, create a route. Then it’s available to follow on your smartphone using the MMR app.

On Strava, you have to … oh wait, it doesn’t do route mapping.

Panic not, though, as this feature is on the way. Premium members have it currently and it will soon be available for all

Route mapping isn’t a key criteria for me. My phone resides in my jersey pocket rather than on my handlebars so I don’t use it for navigation. If I get lost then I’ll use Google Maps.

That said, if you want routes RIGHT NOW (September 2013), you’ll have to go with…

Winner: MapMyRide

Data Capture Device Compatibility

Both Strava and MapMyRide have apps for iPhone and Android (which you’d expect).

Strava allows you to upload activity data from your GPS bike computer or watch, but this is limited to devices made by Garmin (the Edge series of bike computers, excluding the 200, and the Forerunner series of watches) and the Timex Run Trainer watch.

UPDATE: As kindly pointed out by Grey in the comments section, you can manually upload .gpx, .fit and .tcx files on the Strava website, thus making it compatible with almost every type of GPS capturing device.

MapMyRide is compatible with a much wider range of GPS devices and other fitness systems, including Garmin, Powertap, Nike, Polar, Fitbit and Timex. It also offers limited support for BlackBerry (presumably for when you’re cycling to an important business meeting.

Winner: MapMyRide (particularly if you don’t own an iPhone/Android/Garmin).

Premium Features & Cost

If you want to pay, MapMyRide offers it’s ‘MVP’ membership for $5.99 a month or $29.99 a year.

For that you get:

  • no ads
  • various additional analyses (heart rate, power, cadence)
  • cycling training plans
  • the ability to filter leader boards
  • some advanced mapping features (it can determine a suitable route for you, based on start, finish and how far you want to go)
  • a live tracking feature.

Strava’s ‘Premium’ membership is available for a similar monthly cost (it’s one cent more…) but the annual cost is $59 (so you only get 18% off for paying annually, rather than MMR’s 58% discount).

As a premium Strava member you get:

  • the ability to set performance goals and track your progress
  • a ‘Suffer Score’ for each session (a value for how much you ‘suffered’, based on the time spent in each heart rate zone)
  • detailed power analysis
  • the ability to filter leader boards by age and weight
  • routes exportable as GPX files

Winner: It depends… (the additional features are similar; MapMyRide is cheaper – on an annual basis – but you wouldn’t purchase it if you preferred the basic features of Strava… obviously)

And The Overall Winner Is…

Strava. Though I hasten to add that this is only my personal opinion.

I prefer the design of both the Strava app and website – I find both interfaces very easy to use.

The competition element is easy to understand and is more credible (the best cyclists in your local area are more likely to show up on Strava than MapMyRide).

This is entirely subjective, but Strava feels cooler (note: I am in no position to judge what is cool).

Monty - Sportive Cyclist
Monty is an enthusiastic road cyclist with only moderate talent. He started Sportive Cyclist in 2013 to record the journey to his first 100 mile ride, the RideLondon 100. Over time the blog has expanded to include training advice, gear reviews and road cycling tales, all from the perspective of a not-very-fit MAMIL. Since you're here, Monty would also like you to check out his YouTube channel. Also, Monty really needs to stop referring to himself in the third person.

53 thoughts on “MapMyRide vs Strava: A Detailed Comparison”

  1. I should add that the Strava Route Planner is actually pretty clever (although I’ve not used the MMR one).
    Strava uses it’s huge database of people’s rides to pick the most popular cycle routes on your journey giving you the best ride it can. It also allows you to select a “flat” route, again it uses elevation data from all of people’s uploaded rides to try and give you the flattest route.
    Pretty clever I think and something that only Strava could do so well – because it has so many users and so much data to rely on.

    • Thanks Giles. Their route planning approach does sound good. Until now, noone’s really got the ‘human’ element right for web-based route-planning software. Maybe this is the solution. I look forward to it being available for us non-premium plebs 🙂

  2. Great info…I use a Garmin Edge 200 and it works perfectly for Strava..I dont know why both Garmin and Strava dont say this (maybe they want us to purchase the expensive options) I have used used it for 3 months and only this week created a Strava account as I was always under the impression it would not work..I just thought “lets give it a go and see ” ..It uploaded all my rides and maps without a problem.

    • Garmin Edge 200 sometimes gives MapMyRide a problem, it takes 3 or 4 times before it will recognize the device, with Strava it always works without a problem.

      I sent a Garmin Edge 200 to Japan as a gift, (only the more expensive version are available, easy to find on-line and in the bicycle shops) and it has worked for him to map his rides on both MapMyRides & Strava.

      He is a new Sports Bike rider, and he like myself like the Maps from MapMyRide, because you do not need to share your profile to post the map links in other venues. But posting Strava Maps links it appears to require the viewer to join, rather than just view the ride route.


  3. After trying both, I have ended up using a combination of RideWithGPS and Strava. Strava allows you to export your ride data whereas MapMyRide doesn’t. I like to see all my positions on the Strava segments, but I then export the data back to RideWithGPS (see below – its my primary route planning tool). I find it has slightly more ergonomic displays of the elevation data (graphs the gradient if you want) and speed (also displayed on the graph), and has an interesting replay facility where you can select several runs (of your own or others) and replay them together. Little coloured dots move along the map as it shows your relative positions as it moves along a segment.

    I tried both apps on my iphone 3GS and was not at all pleased with the results from either app BUT, I also have a Nexus 7 (7 inch) Android tablet and that records my ride much more reliably and accurately (its at the detail where you can see where I get off the bike to go behind a tree to relieve myself). It also has an app called Cue Sheet which with a £1.99 upgrade will read out the route planned on RideWithGPS (you can switch between miles and kilometers – in km it tells you 300m and then 100m before a turn what is coming and at the actual turn tells you the distance and what happens at the next turn point). I have done a couple of 4-5 hour rides with Cue Sheet Reading out the route to me and Strava recording where I actually went. With the tablet, the battery hardly gets dented. (ie after 5 hours it was still better than 80%).

    • Great comment. Thanks Alan.

      Do you have the tablet attached to the handlebars, or packed away with the volume turned up high?

      That cue sheet solution sounds really good. I think I can upload routes to my Edge 510 and have a cue sheet (albeit small) on the screen, but I haven’t tried it. When I was looking at it a couple of months ago, people in forums were suggesting that whilst you could upload the routes to the Edge ok (in a variety of ways: RideWithGPS, Garmin Connect etc), the difficulty was getting the cues to occur before the relevant turn or junction. It’s not much good if it informs you just as you speed past the turning. I’ll have to look into it again.

  4. Great write-up. I am a mapmyride user and one aspect you have not mentioned is APIs or connectivity to other sites. I use a fitbit pedometer and mapmyride automatically sends details of my rides to the fitbit website to correct the step count for the day and add the cycling to my daily activity. So if you are a Fitbit user that is a really useful feature.

    However, reading your review I am tempted to try Strava and put up with the hassle of manually tranferring data between the sites!

    • Thanks Paul. I’m certainly not an expert on how they handle their respective APIs. I remember a post on the DC Rainmaker blog (who is definitely an expert) talking about Strava becoming increasing restrictive in its support of 3rd party users of its data. Maybe worth looking up if you’re interested. In the meantime, sure, give Strava a go!

    • @Paul, I also use a Fitbit and Strava. I prefer the segments of Strava and the social aspect, but occasionally use MapMyRide to do a new route.

      To get the Strava data into Fitbit, download the GPX file from Strava (on your PC/Mac), and upload to MapMyRide, which will then push into Fitbit.

      More recently I have started recording in the Wahoo app, with a nice big display of speed, cadence, and distance, and then upload from the app to MapMyRide and Strava.

    • If you like all the data integration have a look at tic trac. It can automatically pull in strava data for bit data, if you got the scales it can do them to. Take a look its great

  5. The big reason I switched back to MapMyRide from Strava is the lack of a current speed on Strava. I keep my phone mounted on my handlebars and like to glance down to see my speed.
    Also, it seems to me that all of the speed information is a bit suspect from Strava. My Garmin watch tracks much closer with the information on MapMyRide.

    • Thanks Chris. The point about speed accuracy is very interesting. On a related point, what I find odd is that having uploaded a ride from my Garmin Edge to Strava, I can ‘correct’ the elevation data. I haven’t looked too hard at it, but I’m not always sure which data source is correcting which (the altimeter in the Garmin vs the elevation data in the mapping software). The difference is quite large on longer rides. It makes it difficult to compare completed rides with future routes as you’re not sure you’re comparing apples with apples.

    • For me that’s a massive plus. I’m a runner and it’s in my arm. Map my fitness gives me distance or time voice coaching and I can set a lot more metrics than strava gives. It allows me to ensure my pace and optimal speed

  6. I have been off the bike for a long time due to injury, and during that time have been hiking a lot, using MapMyHike. (All of the MapMyFitness apps allow you to choose the workout type; you don’t need all of them.) It was buggy and crashy, but the paid app for Android was only 99 cents, and that has been stable, and battery life is no longer a problem. Blame the ads for both. The paid app does not require Premium membership.

    I don’t know if Strava is any better-frequently MMMF will “rob” me of altitude climbed. Oddly, it’s calorie burn rate will be giving you the higher numbers for climbing, but the summary is often short of the real total. I have no idea if Strava is the same, but it’s a pain. I’m think that when I can ride again, I will use Strava for wheel, MMF for feet.

    • I have been using MMR and Strava simultaneously on some recent rides, and the elevation and calorie count varies significantly on both. For a 30km ride yesterday, Strava told me i’d burnt 667 calories, but MMR tells me 1030 calories! The elevation in Strava calculates the total gain in your ride, where MMR only states the net gain across the entire ride.

  7. Jeff alluded to it saying he exports GPX data from his Fitbit, but I wanted to make it clear that your point regarding Strava’s device compatibility is rather misleading. You can upload any .tcx, .fit or .gpx files which should cover the vast majority of GPS devices. I originally started with Strava years ago by exporting GPX data from my old BlackBerry.

  8. I’ve been using Runtastic Mountain Bike for a couple of months. I would like to see a comparison between Strava x Runtastic in the future.

  9. Does any one know which is more accurate for calorie counting? I know these are just estimates but Strava suggests that I burn half as many calories on the same ride as MMR does which seems excessively different for an estimate.

  10. I’ve been using MMR for a few months but I’m not impressed with the Wahoo RFKTR+ integration. It isn’t that great in the Strava app either so I now use the Wahoo fitness app to log my ride and provide me with a file to upload. The Wahoo app allows me to upload to MMR and Strava. I do both as I love the Veloviewer website for the additional Strava data analysis (3D view is great) it provides.
    I’m probably moving over 100% to Strava soon as more of my friends use it. I’ve already used the ‘MapMyRide GPX Converter’ to move all my logged data from MMR to Strava.

    I’m not in the US so the challenges from MMR are never appropriate to me. The Strava challenges are a lot more generic so it is possible to participate.

    URL for MMR data unloader…

  11. Some good information here, thank you all for posting. I just started using MMR on my old iPhone 3GS and the biggest negative is the battery consumption, as in DEAD before I finish my ride. Today, for example, I rode just under 40 miles, covered that distance in about 4 hours, included stops at a state park water fountain, a brief rain shower, quick stop at a Family Dollar for a 90¢ ReesePeanutButter cup and a bite to eat under the Golden Arches. Sometimes I would forget to click “pause”. About 5-6 miles from my start (end), the phone goes DEAD, battery. Later, when I get home to review the map, I see where the battery went dead. The app draws a line, as the crow flies, from point of dead battery to the recharge point, end of trip. At least the accumulated data was not lost. However, I wonder how much data gets transmitted back and forth during the ride. Like will I have to mortgage the house if the data amount exceeds my meager monthly allowance?

    • You can set it to automatically pause when you stop moving. Are you riding with the screen on all the time? Also, I believe it only syncs your data at the end of the ride, when you complete.

      • Blame the phone battery not the app. Gps is notorious for draining battery but it’s a necessary evil. If someone tells you an app is more efficient at location services then the app will likely be using wifi for location and this is a very poor cousin for accuracy. Switch off the display and choose pause. Stop eating junk mid ride!!! Lol

  12. You should also point out that every time MapMyRide has made a change to their site for the last two years, it has made the site WORSE, not better. So within another year or so, it will be just plain unusable.

    Literally the only reason to even possibly use MMR is to create routes for free. Everything else is clearly won by Strava

  13. I would add one to the consideration. Ride with GPS. Absolutely better in my book. Much easier and intuitive. It is big in the US Pacific Northwest and where I live in Mont Tremblant Canada….it has the pluses you like on each of the ones you reviewed and is missing the minuses of each. You don’t have to pay but you get some extra functionality if you pay a small sum. Plus the desktop site is better and allows you to do neat things in planning. The bit about comparing yourself to others is really dependent on how many others on in your route area use it. Strava had a head start so is likely to have more in that. So, it may not be the best where you ride. But check it out in your area. Search for routes that others have done or planned and you will see if it works for you. BTW, their customer service is great if you ever have a question or are sometimes an attack of computer stupids like I often get.

  14. No You Are NOT “sorry about that”. You took great delight in your app-ocalyptic. (and you should have)

  15. Having used MMR for 2 years, I bought a FitBit Surge (for heart rate data) and found 1)it’s GPS gave me much more accurate route mapping than taking my iPod touch with me using the MMR app. 2) FitBit data uploads easily and quickly to Stava, whereas MMR doesn’t register more than the fact I’ve done something. The MMR helpdesk has confirmed that the app won’t use the GPS data from my FitBit. So, after 2 years, I’m ditching MMR. I take my FitBit surge, get full GPS and heart rate data, plus all the other Strava services.

  16. I am a student of Interaction Design and if you compare both products using the six key design principles of mapping, affordance, aesthetics, feedback, constraints and consistency then mapmyride wins in every area. Adherence to design principles makes enhances usability and good usability equals good user experience. I keep going back to Strava as the experienced cyclists keep telling me that Strava is the way to go but it just does not cust the mustard.

  17. Hi Andrew,

    I use a mix of both for analysis (MapMyRide standard account and Streva premium account) but I record my activities with Wahoo fitness app for iPhone because I use the Wahoo RFLK display in my bike and my iphone in my jersey, them from the Wahoo App I export my activities to Strava, MapMyRide and Dropbox. I found this is the best way to be in both ecosystems and with the bonus of the excellent Wahoo RFLK display and Wahoo App when I ride in my opinion better than MapMyRide and Strava Apps for iPhone. If you use Wahoo RFLK display I recommend this use case.

    Thank you

  18. Hi, I can’t find/ get the route planner to work on MMR. You say go to my routes then create route. I either don’t have or can’t find create route. Any help please. I just wanted to plot a route on a map, get a time estimate and the follow that route with the app. Is there an app like that?

    • I just downloaded and can’t get any local routes to load… Left many requests on board… No response… Staying to turn on local under settings… Not there on my settings screen…. Am I missing something?
      Very disappointing!’n

    • Hi Paul – I don’t use MapMyRide much these days (at all) but the route planner seems to be there as before. From the ‘dashboard’ page, I just clicked ‘Create Route’. I don’t know if you’re planning from within the smartphone app. I only ever plan routes on a computer (laptop or desktop). It’s just too frustrating on a phone or tablet.

  19. Weird blog. He spends the entire post talking about how much cleaner and better strava is, then endorses mapmyride in the end. Secondly, although the link in the comments is maybe helpful, a link to the updated blog might be more well suited in the text itself, or for that matter just put the edits in the original site. The google search seems to favor this older post despite the fact that there has been (at least one) revision.

  20. I ran Strava and Mapmyride side by side over 9 months. I wanted to lose weight dieting while riding my bike. Over the period, I lost 55 pounds. I followed mapmyride and myfitnesspal.

    Guess what?

    Mapmyride was almost always twice the calorie burn of Strava. What did I use to measure? My duotrap S on my emonda bike and a garmin on both my fat tire and mountain bikes.

    I adhered to the diet based on mapmyride, NOT Strava. What not Strava? I rode many centuries last summer and a double century also last summer (STP 206 miles in one day) and the calorie count Strava gave was ridiculously low.

    Based on the data from Mapmyride and myfitnesspal, I lost the weight. There’s the proof.

    2 pounds a week is what’s considered safe. Strava would have had me on a dangerously low calorie diet. Based on my kids who are doctors, a nephew and a couple of friends who are docs and bike riders, I followed Mapmyride and NOT Strava.

    I just did three rides of 20 and 30 miles, and Strava once again was ridiculously low.

    Don’t know, but the “proof is in the pudding”. I was right on target with the data from Mapmyride and myfitnesspal.

  21. Thank you for your informative post comparing the two sites – but you didn’t mention the accuracy of the data they provide at the end of your ride. I had an issue yesterday where Strava wouldn’t upload my activity and therefore it was not logged, so I downloaded MMR app and tried them both when I went out tonight. The data provided at the end was quite different in time, mileage, speed (average and maximum), calories burned and inclines etc. Therefore I just wondered if other people have any thoughts on this. My preference at this stage is for Strava but the devil is in the detail ….

  22. The “devil is in the detail”.. Strava’s calorie count use is inaccurate (garbage)..!

    I compared it to Harvard School of Medicine’s calorie burn charts and MMR is almost right on, while Strave is ridiculously low.

    After my experience and MMR’s new version 18.6, I’m sticking with MMR… I really don’t care that Strava is used by tons of people. Under Armor is bigger and can pour money into support. The only thing Strava has given me is “lip service” and has done nothing to address the inaccuracy of their calorie burn inaccuracy. (AFAIK)…

    Accuracy in calorie (energy) burn is important to me…

    Here’s the link to Harvard’s calorie chart:

  23. Funny funny, for me Strava was the less stable one – it crashed way more often than MMR (after a crash it auto-recovers but it means you’ve lost part of your ride). Could be just my phone or Android version or whatever.

    I don’t get the “2 clicks” thing, I start my MMR rides with 1 click 🙂 and besides the difference between clicking 1 or 2 times seems ultra trivial to me 😉

    Finally, a couple of times I ran Strava and MMR side by side and I often get WAY DIFFERENT readings (distance and speed). Both distance and speed seem to be higher on Strava than on MMR.

    (but I do realize that running both apps at the same time might make them interfere with each other or have them compete for GPS signal, so I’m taking this with a grain of salt)

    Regarding the websites, I find the route/track/workout presentation in MMS way more friendly and informative than in Strava – altitude, speed, and both of them per segment are all available without having to dig around to find it. Way easier to read and more informative than Strava – with Strava I have to click on “analysis” to get my speed and altitude charts, and they’re difficult to read.

    (and the speed curve often shows weird numbers, like having velocity “spikes” up to 42 km/h which I know couldn’t be right)

    One thing Strava has going for it is that it allows me to see Climb Ratings (1 – 5 and HC), although not in a particularly easy way. MMS used to have that, but as part of a recent *ss-backwards redesign they’ve removed it!

    (I contacted support 3 months ago and they promised to make an attempt to “add it back in a future upgrade”, but I’m not holding my breath)

    So generally for ease of use and informativeness I prefer MMS but Strava does give me my climb ratings (but not much more, it seems).

  24. I use the energy calculations on Strava and MMR, and while I’ve noticed that they’re close for running, they’re wildly different for cycling. I don’t believe the Strava numbers. I know how hard I work on a ride, and the Strava energy value seems ridiculously low.

  25. Would love to see what people think now about the free options on both Stava vs MMR?

    I just looked at my Strava profile after doing 20 odd rides and it wants me to subscribe just to see my month total, never mind my log!

    On MMR there is a nice calendar with weekly monthly totals.


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