Apple watches don’t just look good, they can be a valued partner in your cycling workouts. There are many cycling apps to choose from but not all of them play nice with Apple. Which are some of the best cycling apps for an apple watch?
One of my best friends and cycling buddy just got me an Apple watch for my birthday. I know these watches are great to keep track of cycling workouts because you can download apps and have them analyze your data but there are so many apps to choose from. Which ones are better for more seasoned riders like myself?
Here is a list of best cycling apps for an apple watch. There is something to suit you whether you are a beginner or a pro.
The Best Cycling App for Apple Watch – A Comparison Table
Works without iPhone
Can Export Data
(to 3rd party app)
Comes with Apple watch
Strava Cycling – Our Top Pick
It took some time for the Strava Cycling app to be made available for use without having an iPhone within range. Now it is available and Strava lovers are a happy lot.
- Free with charged premium features
- Premium features include Power Zone Analysis and Segments
You can view your workout information such as distance, speed, time, heart rate, calories burned and elevation both during and after your ride. Like other apps, additional features are available to premium users.
With Strava Cycle, premium users can access advancedanalysis into their heart rate zones. Your riding activity is graded through what Strava calls a Suffer Score. This metric is determined by how much time you spent in each heart rate zone.
Another benefit you enjoy from Strava Cycling higher tiers is the Power Zone Analysis. If you ride with a power meter you can have your data from the device broken down.
Once it’s synced, your ride is charted and you get indicators on your power curve, weighted average power, intensity and training load. Although this data from external sensors is not given in real time through the watch, it does give you a very clear picture of your ride and its overall benefits for you.
That said, it is the social element included in this app which makes it so popular. Strava’s community has what is arguably the most active user base in all fitness-related apps.
Segment data is another feature which allows users who cycle on the same routes to compare themselves and note their progress. This ability to compete with virtual friends on similar routes is an attractive element for users who want to interact and enjoy the competitive edge.
Other features available under subscription include Beacon, live location tracking of a rider for the benefit of trusted friends and family and live performance data.
Strava also lets you export your workout data in form of GPX and TIFF files. This allows you carry out further analysis though a third party app.
- Well-established and widely used
- Provides basic workout data including elevation
- Works without iPhone
- Can export data to third party app
- Social interaction and competitive
- Some data not provided in real time
- Privacy and security concerns
Strava is a well-established, renowned app used on Apple watches as well as many other fitness platforms. It has become popular largely due to the community aspect which lets users interact and engages the competitive spirit.
TheApple Workout app is an Apple product which comes pre-installed in the watch. You can find it under the cycling sports profile.
- Has GPS
- Data provided: distance, heart rate, calories burned
- Comes pre-installed
You will notice from the onset that it is quite basic. If you are just getting started with cycling activities for fitness it will likely serve you for a while when you don’t want to be bombarded with a lot of information. As you advance and get hungry for more detail it gradually becomes insufficient.
GPS tracking is quite accurate and you can swipe from menu to menu for your choice of music. You get data like distance travelled using GPS, calories burned and average heart rate as you ride but this app doesn’t do well with post-workout data.
It is worth noting that data indicating distance is accurate when you are on an outdoor bike. When you are using an indoor bike distance can’t be captured. This is a common challenge with workout apps as it is difficult to track movement while in a more or less stationary position.
You don’t have to drag your iPhone along when you go out riding. This is a deal breaker for some people who prefer to have the hands and pockets free. If you like to export workout data to a third party device, unfortunately this app doesn’t give you that option
- Works without iPhone
- Accurate distance for outdoor riding
- Very basic information
- Weak post-workout data
- Cant export data to a third party device
- Doesn’t capture distance for indoor riding
If you are a beginner or the kind of person who wants to ride without a lot of detail, this is a good option for you. The best part is that it comes pre-installed inthe watch so you don’t even have to go through the trouble of downloading it. On to of that, it is free.
Endomondo is another popular social fitness network which allows you to turn your Apple watch into a personal trainer on your wrist. It supports multiple activities including walking, running and cycling.
- Free with charged premium features
- Displays distance, speed and calories burned
With this app you can view usual data displays such as distance, time and calories burned. It also lets you view cycling routes in your area and recommends improvements which can better help you reach your fitness goals.
Having familiarized yourself with Apple’s Workout app and Strava Cycling, it is safe to say Endomondo falls somewhere in between the two. One notable difference is that Endomondoallows you to view heart rate zones as you cycle which Strava doesn’t. This company uses its own heart rate zones.
For a long time you couldn’t utilize Endomondo without having an iPhone within range. This meant that you had to carry your phone with you when you go out riding because the company had not enabled it to use the built-in GPS on the watch. Now that has been taken care of. You can now leave your phone at home and still get accurate distance measurements.
It also lets you export data to a third party app if you require further analysis.
Endomondo is available free and there is a paid version with additional features. The free version carries ads while the paid version is advert free. It includes features which allow you to create a personalized training plan. Users can also add to the various challenges already offered and create personalized ones.
A Bluetooth Low Energy heart rate monitor can be used with the Endomondo app. Simply pair the monitor with the app and it displays the readings.
- Can view heart zones as you cycle
- Can be used with Bluetooth Low energy heart rate monitor
- Works without an iPhone
- Can export data to a third party app
- Let’s you create personalized training plans and challenges
- Adverts can be annoying
Endomondo is a great workout companion for cycling as well as other activities so you can enjoy the versatility it offers. It is not rated as well as other apps but does offer the advantage of viewing heart zones as you ride.
If you are looking for an app which is heavy on stats Aaptiv will disappoint you. It is different from other cycling apps in that it focuses less on measuring data and more on getting you on the saddle to sweat it out and enjoy yourself while at it.
With a primary focus on indoor cycling, it becomes your personal trainer. When you are done, the details (distance and calories burned) are displayed on the watch.
There are hundreds of audio-based fitness classes which relieve you of the burden of researching to find out exactly what you should be doing to meet your fitness goals. Whether you are a beginner just looking for light exercise or a cycling athlete looking to train for events, Aaptive has workouts for you.
The company adds new audio classes every week so you won’t get bored or find that you have been through all of them.
Wherever you fall, the idea is to have a trainer who urges you on. There is a variety of trainers (or voices) to choose from. You can always find one to your liking.
The companion feature lets you view your class history while ‘Team’ gives you the option to post your workouts for other app users to view.
Another convenient feature is the ability to schedule a workout. If you are browsing through the app and come across a workout you like but don’t have the time to do it immediately, you can schedule it. The app links the workout to your smartphone or computer calendar. You are asked to select a date and time and it immediately diarizes it in your Google calendar.
You can also share a workout. If you come across one which you think a friend might like, click ‘share’ and they get access.
If you have Bluetooth headphones, they will come in handy here. With these you can control music entirely from the watch.
One drawback you feel in the course of audio classes is that there is no real interaction between you and the trainer. Unlike in a spin class at your local studio, the trainer guides you if you are doing something wrong.
- Audio based classes
- Highly motivating
- Works with Bluetooth headphones
- Can view class history
- Can schedule and share workouts
- Can share workouts
- Gives basic stats
- No human interaction
- No videos or visual cues
If you are looking for motivation to get on the saddle every day and go at it like you were in a spin class, Aaptive will do you well. Basic stats and the absence of an actual human being are drawbacks but shouldn’t be enough to stop you.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Cycling Apps foran Apple Watch
Many cycling apps offer basic features for free and then charge a subscription fee for more advanced features (freemium). When you start your search for the best cycling app for you, find one that fits your budget.
Aside from that, look for one with a free offering. You always want to have the option to enjoy basic features at no cost such that the app is not completely useless to you if you have not kept up with subscription payments.
Trial periods:Some apps offer a free trial period. During this time you enjoy features which would otherwise be paid for. The idea is to get you to understand what they have to offer, get you hooked and start paying subscription fees. Some offer 7-day trials while others offer up to a month. Look for an app which offers a long trial period which gives you enough time to get a real feel of what it offers.
Discounts:Many apps give small discounts as an incentive to encourage users to make subscription payments for several months at a go. For instance if the monthly subscription fee is $15 per month, the company may offer 3 months subscription for $35 instead of $45. If you try an app and are sure you will pay for it every month, it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of these discounts.
Some cycling apps can be used without an iPhone and with others you must have your iPhone in range. If you don’t mind taking your phone with you on rides, it doesn’t make much of a difference. If you are like many cyclists who want no extra load or responsibility on them when they get on the road, this can be a deal breaker.
The basic data provided through just about any cycling app you come across is distance, speed and calories burned. Some apps give you more advanced analysis of this data as part of their premium offerings.
Assuming all cycling app give you more or less the same data, you should do some reading to find out what is included for a fee. Some apps have different levels of subscription under which the benefits increase as the cost increases. What is who offering and what makes most sense for you?
Ability to Export Data
If you are working out for weight loss or as part of training for events you want to keep track of metrics such as speed, heart rate calories burned and the like.
There is a host of third party apps which can help you analyze this data further to better guide you on your progress. Some apps allow you to export your workout data and others don’t.
It is easy to consider the social part of an app inconsequential. Strava cycling is proofthat it matters a great deal to many people. The ability for users to interact and even compete has contributed to its popularity. It boasts of one of the most active user bases in the fitness and technology industry.
Cycling is a major part of your regular workouts because you enjoy it. Chances are that this is not the only exercise activity you enjoy. When you set out to identify a cycling app for yourself, look out for apps which also support other exercise activities, preferably the ones you enjoy.
Strava Cycle for instance supports track running, cycling and swimming.
Your final pick comes down to how much information you want to get during and after your rides. If you are happy with basic information, the Apple native app should work just fine. If you want more information and a good amount of analysis of the data gathered then the likes of Strava and Endomondo are a good choice.
How does and Apple watch track calories burned during exercise?
The number of calories burned depends on intensity of exercise and your individual information. The Apple watch uses your personal information like weight, height, age and gender to calculate the number of calories lost.
Sometimes my Apple watch doesn’t record my exercise. Why does this happen?
Check to make sure the watch is firmly strapped on your wrist. If it is worn loosely, it could believe that it has been removed and therefore not record anything.