Revisiting Strava

Quite awhile ago, I posted my Giant GPS Data Sharing Site Shootout, and Strava was included in that review, and not reviewed well. Strava has been showing up in a lot of online discussions lately, and having a lot of favorable comments. It seems a lot of people are starting to use it, and some of those comments suggested that there have been some changes since my big review. That page is rather unweildy, so rather than add all of this there and make it worse, I thought I’d make a new post, and just put a link to it there.

First off, Strava offers embedding with a free account. Seeing as that’s a major thing I use for data sharing sites, adding this feature is pretty important to me. Here’s a short ride from last weekend.

Accessing this feature is easy enough. Go to the activity, and find the “Share Ride” dropdown, and choose the “embed on Blog” option. Copy and paste the code and voila!

There’s a premium membership option that includes additional analysis options if you’d like them, which is a nice option for the folks really looking to optimize performance. Strava’s pricing is pretty reasonable, so it may not be quite as expensive as Training Peaks (nor does it offer THAT much analysis), but the pricing compares well to most other sites that offer premium services.

The neat thing about Strava is that it has segments. You can define a segment as a portion of a ride where you can compete against others. You can define a segment (commonly a climb) and Strava will track your performance on that segment every time you ride it. If you make that segment public, others can track their own performance on it as compared to you and other people who ride it. As you can see, those segments can be shared and embedded, too. With the premium memberships, you can even compare yourself against others in different age groups and weight classes.

It will also link to your Twitter or Facebook account, if you’re interested. There is also a nice suite of unique social features within the site. You can join various clubs or bike shops and have your ride stats compared in different competitions.

When searching for rides, you can filter your searches by climb categorization, you can search for segments, and you can search for a particular athlete.

All in all, I think the additions Strava has made since my earlier review are positive additions that make the service attractive to a wider variety of people. The service supports iOS, Android, Garmin Communicator uploads directly from the device, as well as manual .gpx, .tcx, and .fit uploads allowing for a wide range of device compatibility.

5 thoughts on “Revisiting Strava

  1. I just replaced my Garmin 60csx with a Garmin Edge 200 with plans on using both Strava and Garmin Connect. It sees that Strava has a larger MTB following in my area Western NC than Garmin Connet does. My only disappointment is with Strava is that I can not pre download other riders courses to my Edge course feature.

    1. you can create a course from any .gpx or .tcx file using Garmin Training Center. Just load the file into GTC, then right click on it and select “create course from activity” and bam, you’re good to go. That doesn’t appear to be part of the API that Garmin lets other sites use. My guess is that Garmin does the necessary file conversions on its end separately. When you download from elsewhere, you have to do that step yourself.

  2. Have you reviewed, if not would you review ORUX as compared to Garmin et al?

    My reason for asking is that I use ORUX for tracking as well as creating routes to follow. I do this with a 2.3 generation Android phone. I can upload and download my tracks, waypoints, photos and so forth to Strava, MapMyTracks, Gpsies and others. It reports speed, elevation, segments, heart rate if I want to use bluetooth (I don’t). So it’s just a smartphone; not expensive but tracks my rides, sends/receives email, browser, etc.

    What I’m asking here is what am I missing out on in terms of GPS racking by not shelling out for the much more expensive GPS dedicated devices?

    Thanks.. CreeGR

    1. I do not use a smartphone to track my rides, so I have not had a chance to use any tracking apps of any kind. What I do know from using data from others’ phones/apps is that data from smartphones has ENORMOUSLY variable GPS data quality. From what I can tell, most of that variability has little to do with the apps themselves. Some phones have downright TERRIBLE GPS reception. Some phones aren’t as bad. App variability is a factor because some apps filter out bad data better than others. But the end result depends heavily on the hardware.

      Any review I’d do would be heavily dependent on both the hardware AND the software.

      I have a Droid Bionic and have been cooking up a methodology to compare it with my Garmins, but I have no intention of using it on my rides for a few reasons. Primary among them is battery life. No matter how I mess with the phone settings, there is absolutely no way in hell that I’ll get the same battery life out of the phone than I do out of either of my Garmins. Not to mention, the phone is big. Too big to put on the handlebars. I don’t want an enormous screen when I’m out on a mtb ride. Adding to the phone’s size is the fact that to keep it from being destroyed, I’d need a good case to protect against shock, dust, and water. That’ll make it bigger…and add to the cost. Then a good mount to go with the case is even more. No, thanks.

      Beyond that is the GPS performance itself. Out of a dedicated receiver, I get 1 second tracking all day long with a more compact form factor and a ruggedness that’s sufficient for what I’ll experience on the bike. I don’t need to buy extra stuff to put it on the bike. A couple accessories can help in some cases, but not to the level of all the extras I’d need for the phone. Concerned about cost? Buy a refurbished GPS for $100-$200 and you’re really not out all that much money.

      You don’t need the high-res graphics, flashy UI, and super responsive touchscreen of your phone on a bike computer. Those things are battery drains and a liability at times. Sometimes simpler is better.

      In short, what are you missing compared to a dedicated receiver?
      Battery life, durability, built-in mount support, protection of the device itself, data quality/reliability. Newer high-end GPS receivers give you those things plus to ability to link to a smartphone (protected in your pack) for connectivity. See the Edge 510, 810, and 1000.

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