5 Ways to Make Strava More Useful for Mountain Bikers


By now most mountain bikers have tried Strava, and they often either love it or hate it. I personally really like using Strava to track my rides, but there are a few things Strava could do to improve the service for mountain bikers.

1. Give us the ability to mark rides as “mountain bike” rides.

As it stands now, riders can only mark activities as “ride,” which lumps trails rides in with everything from road rides to urban trials. This seems particularly unfair given that Strava offers activity types for running, walking, and hiking, which pretty much all involve using your feet to move around. Even skiing and skating get multiple flavors.

Having additional ride type options opens a whole new level of analysis within the Strava app, but also enables third party apps like the Singletracks Tracker to ignore road rides and focus on linking MTB rides with specific trail systems.

2. Throw in some off road-specific challenges throughout the year.

Many Strava challenges involve riding a certain number of miles in a limited time period, which means the roadies have a distinct advantage in reaching the top of the leaderboard.

Strava is built on some pretty sophisticated mapping technologies, so one would think it would be possible to distinguish between tracks that line up with known roads and those that veer off into the dirt. Give us an MTB-specific challenge and enforce it by making sure everyone’s miles are being ridden off road.

3. Leaderboards based on equipment type.

Strava recently added a “bike type” field to the My Gear form that includes mountain bikes, which is a welcome addition. Using this data, we’d love to see leaderboards based on equipment type in addition to age/gender classifications. For example: fastest time on a mountain bike for a particular segment. And don’t forget about the singlespeed riders–those guys and girls already have their own category in most MTB races these days.


4. Auto-filter ski lifts at bike parks.

On a couple recent rides in Park City I let my Strava app run continuously, which means I was tracking the lifts as part of my rides. That made determining the amount of true climbing I had done impossible, and also gave me an inadvertent KOM on a climbing section that must have paralleled a lift.

Sure, I should have just paused my app during lift rides but the fact is, I didn’t. Again, ski lifts at most resorts have already been mapped, so it could be as easy as just checking rides against a set of known ski lifts and filtering out the data.

5. Enable friendly mode for mountain bikers who aren’t competitive.

The number one reason mountain bikers seem to give for not using Strava regularly is that they don’t like the competitive aspect of it. Either they end up taking the competition too seriously which takes the fun out of the ride, or they don’t like seeing their name at the bottom of a leaderboard every time they login.

Leaderboards are admittedly foundational to Strava, but if there was a way to hide or mute leaderboards for mountain bikers who simply want to track the trails they explore, this might be a good compromise. These same riders might also appreciate a field to enter the craft beer they enjoyed after the ride, ala Untappd. 🙂

Strava is already a powerful, easy-to-use tool for tracking and analyzing rides and by making just a few tweaks, it can become even more useful to mountain bikers. Which features would you like to see Strava add for mountain biking?

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