I used to bike a lot. I only rode mountain bikes, on the slopes around Thessaloniki; famous Chortiatis and Seih Sou. After a year or two though, there was a hiatus — mainly because I sold my Scott dirt bike to a friend and lack of funds to buy a new one, plus all the ski and school work. Fast forward in the present, based in Vienna and having bought a new Create single-speed bike (hint: it’s super-awesome) I had to test-drive the Strava app which I found in the summer whilst based in my hometown.
There are three key-aspects I’d like to discuss about Strava and how they make it a unique biking experience. I’m not going to exaggerate, Strava (as any other athletic-sport-etc-driven app) does not transform the sport itself, it (or they) add a whole new layer of data, enhancements, feedback — a new reality atop our reality, which is extremely valuable, insightful and new.
Strava is all about simplicity. The only thing you can change from the app’s Settings is the unit of measure (klm/miles). There is nothing else to bother you. You can start biking right away. The whole process starts from the icon. (That’s what made me in the first place to download the app — it is well-known that with a great icon you can attract more downloads for your app.)
Have a look now in Strava’s landing (first) and main screen. (click for full resolution)
There are no unnecessary UI elements that distract the user. The time, a basic concept which apps like this one are built around, underneath it with slightly smaller size the distance and the average speed and just below, a big blue “play” button that says “Come on, press me, let’s start!”
Simplicity is also to be found in the navigation bar of the app. Only three tabs: New Ride (main screen), Rides (your history) and Settings (where you can only edit Imperial or Metric system). I like this; a like this a lot.
As someone said “Good design is a design when the user doesn’t have to think.” Strava totally gets it, imho. Plus, if you know who said it, add it in the comments below, I’d appreciate it.
Strava is not only an app that lives in your walled-garden of your iPhone. Surprisingly it communicates with a reach social network of bicyclists on which you can make teams, share rides and stats, see stats of yours and other possible public routes.
You can even create the must-ride routes in your city for tourists or other fellow bikers. Or virtually explore other cities’ routes from the comfort of your chair. Naturally, you can use it only as a personal training app — but do know: it’s a lot more than that, yet more simple than all the other competitors. (click for full resolution)
Strava runs on a freemium model. That means all the basic features are free but with a subscription fee you have more data, analytics, records, analysis of you personal work-out profile and all that geeky mathematical stuff.
From athletes for athletes — and everyone else
As a skier, ex-member of the Greek Junior-Development National team and with a 1st place in National Championships I can deeply understand how much better is something sports-related when it’s being developed by athletes. That is because athletes not only understand but know exactly what are their needs and make stuff explicitly atop those problems eventually solving them. A jacket (or any other thing, even an app) that’s being designed with the co-operation, feedback and insights of an athlete instead of a pure R&D team it will be ten times better at least.
Quoting them, “Strava grew out of our own needs as athletes. With busy lives requiring much solo training, we missed the sense of camaraderie and friendly competition that drove us to achieve our best through training with others. We envisioned Strava as the means to put our workouts and races into context. We call that social fitness.”
In < 140 chars: If you bike, Strava is the app to download, for to enjoy and cherish your rides.
Disclosure: I have none whatsoever relationship with Strava, its founders or its developers.