Strava Made Some Big Changes To Its Free App

How much do you use Strava to measure your performance with your peers? A lot? Enough to pay for the service? Now, you will have to.


By Jessica Coulon |

Strava, a fitness tracking app popular among cyclists, dropped some pretty big news on May 18: The free version of its app will no longer include several popular features, like route building and full segment leaderboards. The company cites those features as “especially complex and expensive to maintain,” and will now make them available only to subscribing members.

Strava streamlined its subscription service, which will no longer consist of different subscription packs or the Summit brand. Now, there’s just a single subscription package that includes everything the has to offer. You either subscribe, or you don’t.

A Strava subscription costs R50/month for an annual subscription. New users can get the first two months free when they sign up for the whole year, too.

So, which features can non-subscribers wave goodbye to? We’ve already mentioned the route builder, which is a useful tool. As for its segment leaderboards—which is arguably the most popular Strava feature—free users will only be able to view the top ten riders, instead of the entire ranking for each segment.

Free app users will also lose access to analysing their segment efforts, the training log offered through the website and on Android, and “monthly activity trends and comparisons.”

Strava has also announced other additions and improvements for subscribers. These include a workout analysis for all activities, a routes update, a performance analysis feature for “matched rides,” and a new stat called Grade-Adjusted Pace. It’s also hinted at “a whole new way to compete on segments.”

“From now on, more of our new feature development will be for subscribers—we’ll invest the most in the athletes who have invested in us,” a letter from the company stated.

You’re probably wondering, why the change?

“Dedicating Strava to the community is also a commitment to longevity. We are not yet a profitable company and need to become one in order to serve you better. And we have to go about it the right way—honest, transparent, and respectful to our athletes,” the letter said.

Earlier this year, Strava, which has been around since 2009, shared that it currently has over 50 million users, with an additional one million users joining every month—and it still isn’t profitable. Let that sink in. Now, think about the quality of what the free app has offered. The company brings up another good point in its letter, too, that by and large there’s been an absence of dreaded ads, save for certain “sponsored integrations.”

READ MORE The 15 Kinds Of Cyclists You’ll See On Strava

As a longtime user of the free Strava app myself, I am rather disappointed by the news. Right now, I plan to continue using the free app, and I’ll gauge just how much I miss those features over time. I’ll definitely miss viewing entire segment leaderboards—and resign myself to looking back nostalgically on my frequently unimpressive rankings on popular segments. Maybe I’ll find myself more motivated to try to break the top ten on segments, and become even more elated when my name finally appears on a leaderboard.

However, if I find myself missing those features and wondering what the rest of this subscription hubbub is about, I’ll bite the R50-a-month bullet. It’s not a very big price to pay for what you get. And as Strava accurately points out, it “costs as much as a couple energy bars.”

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