Imagine the blog post. Strava vs MapMyRide, in some sort of app-ocalyptic battle to establish which is best ride tracking software. A fight to the last
breath gpx waypoint. Well, ideate no longer. This is that blog post.
And I can save you the trouble of reading it: Strava is better than MapMyRide. Considerably better.
It looks better. It is easier to use. It smells better*.
(*Okay, slipped that one in. They smell the same.)
For 99% of use cases, Strava provides a better experience, with the ability to record, store and then present back to you more interesting data.
The reason it is not better 100% of the time is because, yes dear reader, I am fallible, and it’s possible that I’ve missed off a crucial use case. No doubt that person will let me know in the comments.
(I have literally been mulling on the relative merits of these two apps – at the time they were called… ‘websites’ – since 2013. If you want to see a more flippant (naive?) assessment, you can take a look at my original post on the subject.)
Quick Recap Of What Strava and MapMyRide Do
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 app, where you can browse, analyse and share with friends.
Over time, the features offered by both apps have broadened to include:
- Social-style activity feeds
- Route planning
- Training programmes
As is c’est normal these days, both MMR (we rilly wanna save those fingers) and Strava have paid subscription versions. The free version in each case offers only the bare minimum in terms in of features.
Now. Let’s run through the things that matter when making your selection.
What Is The Best Bike Computer For Strava Or MapMyRide?
Well this deserves a full post of it’s own, which I’ll write at some point.
In the meantime, I use the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt. Wahoo is very much ‘software-first’, so the integration with popular ride tracking/training apps like Strava and MapMyRide is pretty seamless.
Garmins work fine as well, syncing via the Garmin Connect app. If I was thinking Garmin, I would go for the Edge 830.
The Pursuit of App-iness
My comparison is based on the following criteria:
- Website Design
- Smartphone App: Is There One?
- Smartphone app: Usability
- Competition And Challenges
- Route Mapping
- Data Sensors
- GPS Device Compatibility
- Do Strava and MapMyRide Sync With Zwift?
- Training Analytics
- Premium Features & Cost
- Third Party Applications
- Strava vs MapMyRide: And The Overall Winner Is…
Let’s dive straight into the detail.
Yes, I know we’re all ‘mobile first’ these days. And I’ll be honest, I interact most with the website version of Strava when I’m writing posts for this blog rather than day-to-day ride recording, analysis and ‘social’.
But the website design speaks to a key fundamental difference between Strava and MapMyRide.
It looks like development on MMR stopped in about 2013 (which is coincidentally-not-coincidentally when Under Armour – they of the magnificent tight undercrackers – bought it).
The MMR website feels tired and old. In the free version, most screens feature display adverts. The ride details screen is messy and, bluntly, corrupted in places. Text extends beyond where it’s meant to go. There are broken image icons. I tried it in both Chrome and whatever Microsoft calls its new browser and both present the same issues.
The MMR app is somewhat better (although, again, the free version has adverts) but, overall, the design issues speak to a lack of investment and harm my enjoyment of using the tool.
The Strava website, on the other hand…. works. It’s not exactly super clean in design terms. It has to strike a balance between white space/modern icons and actually showing all the information/data that cyclists and other users (ha, “other users”!) want to see about their rides/activities.
Once you get the hang of where everything is, the Strava website is pretty straightforward to use. It at least looks like they’ve invested some cash in development over the past few years!
In terms of functionality, 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. There’s a bit of bumf about your own recent ride stats in the left hand side bar (for luddites that still use a computer to access the internet and therefore have a viewing area wide enought to see it).
MapMyRide focuses more on your own recent performances, with the initial dashboard showing your rides or other activities in the current month. This is either presented in a daily calendar format or as a list of activities.
Smartphone App: Is There One?
MapMyRide is available as both an iOS and Android app.
In terms of ‘wearables’ (not a term I feel comfortable using as a 41-year-old), you can have it as an app on Apple Watch, and devices (smartwatches I guess) that use Android Wear or Samsung Gear.
Strava is pretty similar. There are Android and iOS apps, as well as Apple Watch, Android Wear and Samsung Gear.
Those are the main app platforms. So far, so similar. We’ll call it a draw.
(Note: in this section I’m talking about platforms where there is a native app – for viewing historic activity, progression over time, etc. I’ll deal with compatible external devices – GPS bike computers and sports watches – for recording and then (easily) uploading ride data, later in this post).
Smartphone app: Usability
Here I can only speak to the iPhone app. So sorry. I only have one phone.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the iOS and Android apps are similar if not identical. If you have an Apple Watch or some other ‘wearable’, well, you’ll just have to take your chances.
The MapMyRide app is definitely more attractive than its website sibling. It’s hardly cutting edge in terms of design though (whether you want it be is perhaps a moot point). I suppose it does the job. The free version stil has adverts though (I can’t complain too hard – there’s probably a display ad just below this paragraph…).
When you open the MMR app it defaults to the ride-tracking page. You hit the big green ‘Start Workout’ button and you’re away. Strava, on the other hand, starts with the Activity Feed. You would click over to the ‘Record’ page to, er, record an activity directly with the app.
Through various buttons and sub-menus, Strava does a good job of providing much of the website functionality within the app. Some of the detailed analytics are only available on the website. The MMR app probably has it easier – the content of the website is more limited; I reckon all of it is accessible via the app.
To be honest, determining which is the better smartphone app is essentially working out which is the better software tool. Which is Strava.
Competition And Challenges
For many, a big selling point of Strava is the ability to compare your performance over a particular course (or ‘segment’ in Strava-code) with everyone else on the system (including 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 element but these are focused around the challenges only.
MMR used to have league tables for courses and segments but I remember it being very muddled (fr’instance, you got more points for riding a given course more frequently). These have gone. Challenges it is.
That said, right now I can see a grand total of two challenges that I can sign up to (and both of them involve running?!). Which is not that appealing.
Strava on the other hand has loads of challenges. Some are its own. Some are being run in conjunction with brands and other organisation. There are plenty of riding challenges (and, yes, loads of non-bike activities).
Winner: Strava – it has a much broader range of interesting challenges, with new ones coming online throughout the year; MMR no longer even tries compete on the ride segment front – the feature has just gone.
This one is complicated slightly by where it falls as a paid/non-paid feature.
Route creation on Strava, whether that’s on the website or app, is a Premium feature (so you’ll have to have a paid subscription).
On MapMyRide you can create routes on the website using a free account. If you ‘Go Premium’, then you get access to ‘Route Genius’ on the app, which creates a circular route for you, based on the distance you put in.
The Strava app is similar, although in addition to distance, you can also specify how much elevation you want and the road surface (any/dirt/paved). It throws out three options, each with an estimated ride time (or run/walk time).
On Strava you can also draw your own route on the map. You squiggle your finger around in the general direction of where you want to ride and the app will snap to the nearest suitable roads that approximately fit your squiggle.
I could spend ages talking about the usability of each tool but it’s sort of irrelevant. There are plenty of route creation apps/websites that are certainly better than the MapMyRide web version (which again looks like it hails from 2013).
Strava is better but I still prefer RideWithGPS (I use the free version). Routes created on RWGPS show turn-by-turn directions when I upload them to my bike computer (I mentioned the
The main reason for caring about route creation in either Strava or MapMyRide, over dedicated route creation apps, is about route discovery. Strava is better for this.
Strava auto-route-creation is based on the ride data of all its users (on the basis that cyclists will tend to use the best, safest roads in a given area, rather than riding down a motorway/highway/autobahn).
Bluntly, Strava has more of this data than other apps (it used to sell it as a product to cities and other interested parties). I therefore have more confidence that the routes it creates stand a better chance of being suitable for riding on.
On a more personal level, the majority of times that people have shared or suggested a route to me, it is via Strava (I can ‘Star’ someone’s saved route and it appears in my list of routes). No one has ever offered to share a route with me via MapMyRide.
(Though, as mentioned, I recommend RideWithGPS from a pure route creation usability perspective).
This is only really relevant if you are using Strava or MMR with your smartphone on its own (i.e. using the smartphone as the data capture device rather than recording your ride with a bike computer or a sports watch).
Let’s start with the simple one. The MapMyRide app will connect directly with a Bluetooth heart rate strap/sensor (strictly, a Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE heart rate monitor).
It won’t connect directly with other types of BLE sensors (like speed and cadence sensors, power meters etc) because this functionality was removed from the app earlier in 2020.
It will, however, connect with Under Armour ‘Connected Footwear’ (“sneakers with Bluetooth”) should you have an irrational desire to run somewhere for fun (as cyclists you should not).
For Strava…. it’s complicated.
You used to be able to connect external sensors directly to the smartphone app, both Bluetooth and ANT+ (assuming your phone supported it). In late 2019 they removed this from the app (external sensors caused the app to crash, apparently).
Then, in September 2020, Strava started reintroducing BLE heart rate sensor support for some users of the app.
So, if you randomly find yourself in the beta subset with access to this feature, you have BLE HRM support. If, like me, you don’t, well… you don’t.
GPS Device Compatibility
Most people reading this blog will be rocking a bike GPS device to accomplish all their ride recording requirements (and if you’re not, I heartily recommend the
In order for a ride tracking and analysis app to be of any use whatsoever, you need to be able to upload data to it. Ideally in an easy and automated fashion.
These days (the ‘mobile first era’), most bike GPS devices (and sports watches, if you’re that way inclined) have a dedicated smartphone app. Garmin has Garmin Connect, Wahoo ELEMNT devices are managed with the, er, Wahoo ELEMNT app. Etc.
The process for getting ride data into either MapMyRide or Strava is:
- Step 1: Make sure that your GPS device app is connected to the MapMyRide/Strava app;
- Step 2: Upload the ride data to your GPS device app;
- Step 3: MMR/Strava makes nice with said device app and the ride data syncs between the two.
Step 1 should only need to be done once (although, PSA time, sudden syncing issues can often be resolved by disconnecting and reconnecting the two apps).
Step 2 in most cases is automated once you hit ‘End Ride’ on your GPS device.
Step 3 is definitely meant to be automated.
Long story long: you need to check that your device platform can sync with MapMyRide or Strava.
On the face of it, Strava has more of these available connections:
BUT the thing is, all of these ‘Get Started’ buttons on Strava are links to support posts that essentially say, “Go into the other app. Enable syncing with Strava.”
It’s the same with the MapMyRide screen. They just have fewer buttons/help posts:
As you can see at the bottom, I’ve connected my Wahoo Fitness account (which I did in the Wahoo Fitness app). This wasn’t originally a button on this screen.
Long story longer: it all depends on your GPS device and whether the developers of the related app have chosen to use the Strava/MMR API to install a ‘data pipe’ (technical term) back to your chosen ride analysis app.
Finally, if by some freak occurrence you can’t find an app-based route, you can always go old school and ‘physically’ upload the ride data file.
Both Strava and MapMyRide allow you to upload .fit, .tcx and .gpx file types directly into the app. It’s probably easiest done using a computer rather than on your phone. But then I am a middle-aged luddite and do not understand these things.
Winner: Strava (on the basis that it feels like a greater number of other apps sync back to them; in practice, there’ll be a solution for getting most devices to sync into MMR as well, so probably not a major deciding factor).
Do Strava and MapMyRide Sync With Zwift?
Whilst I have done the odd session, I am by no means a Zwifter. If this is going to play a key part on your app selection, I’d suggest doing more research elsewhere (or just trying them out).
However, like the GPS devices mentioned above, Zwift will sync rides undertaken on the platform with both Strava and MapMyRide.
The fact I see so many Zwift rides from people that I follow in my Strava feed suggests it’s pretty straightforward.
I can see from the Zwift website that MapMyRide works in the same way. In addition to the session data (time, distance, cadence, whatever), Zwift also uploads images from the ride (of your avatar riding riding in virtualspace; not a sneaky pic secretly taken of you sweating in a garage).
To use the technical sports science term, Strava has a metric fugload of analytics (perhaps I exaggerate). MapMyRide does not.
I’ll save a full breakdown of all the different Strava graphs and charts for another post (on the basis I might have used up my annual quota of words in this one already).
As a taster, you can analysis your fitness level over time, the amount of training stress resulting from each ride, and your weekly training intensity trend.
Hmmmmm, smell that rich, rich data…
It’s generally all quite useful, interesting and, most importantly, you can use it to make informed decisions about your training.
Be aware that the majority of the tools that fall into the data analytics bucket are paid premium features (but then so are many of the more limited features on MMR).
If you are into this sort of stuff (humour me, I’ll assume you are), then Strava will be right up your strasse.
Premium Features & Cost
In my humble opinion, getting a good ride tracking and analytics app/tool is worth paying for. I pay for my Strava Premium membership (and have done for many years). I have not bought the MapMyRide ‘MVP’ membership.
This either tells you the whole story (I’ve voted with my very-difficult-to-get-at Yorkshireman’s wallet) or that I haven’t given MapMyRide a fair crack of the whip because I’ve not tried out the premium features. There, I’ve saved you need to make this point in the comments.
It is certainly the case that the paid version of MapMyRide is cheaper than Strava Premium.
MapMyRide will cost you $5.99 (US) / £5.49 (UK) a month or $29.99 / £27.99 a year.
Strava Premium will set you back $15 / £12 a month or $60 / £48 annually. At least Strava acknowledges that cable hasn’t (yet) gone to parity (Google it).
I don’t know whether a 60-66% annual discount tells you these companies expect most people to cancel after 5 months…
Anyhoo, MapMyRide ‘MVP’ members get:
- No ads
- Live location tracking (for friends and relatives to ‘dot watch’ whilst you’re out on a ride)
- Various additional analyses (heart rate, power, cadence)
- Cycling training plans
- ‘Route Genius’ – the mapping feature that automatically generates a route based on how far you want to go
- Interval training with audio prompts (I think this is more a running feature)
As a Strava Premium member you get:
- More detailed league tables for segments (which used to be a free feature)
- Heart rate and power analysis
- Route planning
- ‘Beacon’ (live location tracking for friends/relatives)
- Personal heatmaps (see where you ride a lot by different coloured roads)
- Route planning
Really, as a result of the changes that Strava introduced in 2020, Strava is now a paid tool. To me, the free features (activity recording, the ability to upload rides and the social feed) are just tasters. By all means try them out to see if you like the look and feel of it, but it’s the features when you subscribe that provide the value.
MapMyRide on the other hand, whilst less ‘feature rich’ overall, is less skewed towards the paid version. You can use the free version to benefit your training without necessarily needing to upgrade (if stats and amateur science are not your bag)
Winner: It depends… MapMyRide is cheaper. Strava gives you far more if you pay (on the basis they give you very little if you don’t). Call it an unsatisfactory draw?
Third Party Applications
I mentioned the Strava API (Application Programming Interface, er, natch?) above.
Well, (I think) anyone with a computery mindset can use it to have a go at making something that sort of links in with the app for the benefit of users.
There is a rabbit hole you can descend which is occupied by the weird and wonderful “sub-apps” and integrations that companies and people have created with Strava. A whole eco-system of the stuff.
I have just returned from my trip down said hole.
Two that I use:
- Veloviewer – provides extra ride analysis and visualisations (of climbs for instance):
- Klimat – automatically adds weather and air quality data to each ride I log on Strava.
(As an aside, and related to the GPS device stuff above, one of the rabbit hole burrows is entitled ‘Data Importer’. You can look here to find less common data/training platform apps to help you sync data with Strava.)
Winner: Strava (I can’t see that any of this third party developer activity goes on in MMR world)
Strava vs MapMyRide: And The Overall Winner Is…
Obviously this is my personal opinion. Obviously I am biased.
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).
The community on Strava is more vibrant and active. Follow your friends or follow professional athletes. Or both. See who posts feats of super-athletic endeavour. See who posts their lunchtime stumble to Greggs for a vegan sausage roll.
Strava has recently undergone a management shake-up and a refocusing on the app’s core function (
to make money to help everyday athletes reach their full potential). It feels like it is investing for the future. It feels like investment in MapMyRide has stopped.
YMMV as the ‘Mericans say.