In simple terms, Strava is an app that records your sporting activity and displays analysis of your performance. The analysis breaks down your activity into segments which can be a section of road or a famous climb. Segments allow Strava to compare your performance against yourself and against the community. If you have the fastest time on the segment, you become ‘King of the Mountain’ (KOM) or ‘Queen of the Mountain’ (QOM). The paid up version goes into yet more detail and if you combine with a heart rate monitor and power meter, can really help you train for your next race.
Komoot, on the other hand, is geared towards helping you find or plan new tours whether for road cycling, touring or mountain biking. Its detailed maps allow you to plan a tour yourself and the system will choose the most appropriate routing. It will show you how much of the ride is on paved roads versus gravel or single trail. You can choose from rides the community has done and you can contribute too by posting pictures and highlights of your ride. This helps improve the experience for other riders. If you are a large contributor in a particular geography, you can gain expert status or even pioneer status. Like Strava, Komoot is available as an app. If you want to use the maps offline, you need to pay.
I started out with Strava about 6 years ago and have done about 28,000km of ride recording. In the beginning, I paid up and really paid attention to winning my segments and improving my position on the leaderboards. I purchased a heart rate monitor and a power meter and I got super into it. But then the comments started: “hey, your heart rate looked a bit high on that ride, you were suffering lol”. It started to become a bit invasive. Then I noticed that to get a KOM became increasingly difficult. Perhaps my fitness was levelling off or there was a sudden influx of mega tour-de-france fit riders. People were posting ridiculously fast times, often with very low power outputs and low heart rates – or suspiciously without any recording of these key metrics. I could not pinpoint the reason, but I started to think e-bikers were infiltrating some segments.
I have stuck with Strava because what I appreciate most about it, and still do to this day, is that it is a very effective diary of your achievements. It shows you in unflinching detail how you did on that ride (or run) and the summary of your weekly stats is a motivator get out there. But I stopped paying up a couple of years ago and just use it as a diary feature. If you are someone that is into statistics and want performance data, perhaps with an eye on racing, then Strava is absolutely the right app.
Komoot, on the other hand, is a more recent app. It focuses much more on fostering a sense of community with tours for all users from beginners ‘easy’ to experts across a range of cycling surfaces. The fact that it actively encourages you to post highlights, tips and photos of your tour reinforces the desire to share your experience. Having ridden 28,000 km using Strava in largely familiar locations, Komoot was able to find me many new rides right on my doorstep. It has and continues to expand my portfolio of rides. The turn by turn technology is exceptionally good – I rarely have had the app make route selection errors. And if you do have to deviate from your planned route, the App will re-calculate your new routing on the fly.
The other thing I really like about Komoot is how you can go somewhere, e.g. on holiday and look at Komoot for a ride or a run. Almost without exception, you’ll find someone has been there before you and has recorded a nice route, showing you photos of their highlights. And if they haven’t, you can make a new route and share it with others. Kudos to the Komoot team in Berlin! If you are someone that is new to cycling, or even someone hugely experienced but are looking for a new tour, then Komoot is absolutely for you.
Both apps foster privacy – you can put all settings on private and ensure your rides are only visible to yourself. That’s ok by me.