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The 7 Best Cycling Mapping & Route Planning Apps

October 8, 2019

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The 7 Best Cycling Mapping & Route Planning Apps

These seven cycling route planning and mapping apps can help you get around your city—or even the world. They’re not all created equal, though, so we’ll take a look at their pricing, details, and ideal user base.


About Cycling Route Planning & Mapping Apps

Cycling-oriented route planning and mapping apps share many similarities with tracking and training apps (such as Ride With GPS), except they’re primarily built to help you plot a course and then navigate your way.

Here, we’ll take an in-depth look at the top seven apps, as ranked by Google Play and iTunes downloads, so you can decide which one to download before heading out on your next cycling adventure.

1. Google Maps

Pricing: Free

Main Features: Google Maps might not initially come to mind when you think about cycling, but the app works in more than 220 countries and territories and allows you to highlight bikes paths in green, as well as lower traffic roads that are safer for cyclists to travel on.

All you have to do is type in your address, choose the best route (if the app provides more than one), and go. It will then display distance, estimated time, ETA, and traffic conditions with real-time updates.

Note: Google Maps’ ETA function might not always be accurate, depending on the terrain you’re riding, as well as how fast.

As you move along, Google Maps provides real-time GPS navigation (with street view and audio), displays elevation gain and loss, and automatically re-routes based on traffic conditions and road closures. The app also lists hundreds of millions of businesses and places, which you can locate and save (along the way).

If needed, you can even use the app’s offline maps for navigation without an internet connection, which can be especially useful in rural areas.

What Riders Say: Most cyclists report that Google Maps is easy to use, with dependable directions delivered via clear audio and visual prompts. The relatively few complaints typically relate to crashing, incorrect (or at least not the fastest) courses, and difficulties with the app’s layout or user interface.

Best For: If you’re looking for a highly-rated, efficient, accurate—and free!—bike navigation app, it’s difficult not to at least start with Google Maps. However, there’s no route-building option like you’ll find with many of the other options listed here, depending on your needs.

Google Maps’ bike layer allows you to enter an address, mount your phone to your Quad Lock Mount, pop in your EarBuddyz 2.0, and receive turn-by-turn cycling directions to your destination.

2. Komoot

Pricing: First region free; single regions, region bundles, or the Complete Package $3.99–$29.99

Main Features: The Komoot GPS tracking app helps mountain bikers, road cyclists, and hikers plan their adventures, which is why they advertise they’re “the key to the outdoors.”

Komoot’s Planner allows you to carefully choose your routes based on details like surface (e.g., hiking paths, singletrack trails, paved roads, etc.), distance, elevation profile, and distance.

Then, you can download the route directly to your device—including topographic maps—to track your rides and receive turn-by-turn voice navigation, even when there’s no internet connection. You can check out points of interest along the way, and also recommend your favorite places to the Komoot community as well.

When finished, the Komoot app syncs your data across all your devices, including Android Wear, Wahoo ELEMNT/ELEMNT BOLT, the COBI app, along with Garmin devices via Garmin Connect.

You’ll also have the opportunity to add geotagged photos, highlights, and tips to your adventure log, and then share your story with friends, family, and other Komoot users. As you contribute, you’ll earn upvotes and could one day become a Pioneer!

What Riders Say: Most iOS and Android users frequently compliment Komoot’s ease of use, its usefulness, and the excellent navigation and powerful route planning it offers.

Relatively few seem to think the app has an outdated user interface, and multiple experienced bugginess/crashing and incorrect navigation.

Best For: Komoot doesn’t feature cadence or heart rate monitor integration, but it does offer detail-oriented route planning and tracking, with the ability to download topographic maps and use offline (currently no regions in Canada).

Although it offers very little in the way of fitness tracking, the Komoot app is a highly rated GPS tracker and route planner among both Android and iOS users.

3. Bikemap

Pricing: Free–$4.99/mo, or $29.99/yr

Main Features: The Bikemap app allows you to discover, navigate, and track your rides using your phone, tablet, or watch (GPX and KML support included).

First, you can search Bikemap’s database of more than four million routes across 100 countries, including popular cycling routes nearby. You can filter your route by mountain or road bikes, relevance, popularity, length, and ascent, as well as find points of interest such as public restrooms, bike rentals, repair shops, charging stations for your e-bike, and so forth.

When you’re ready, Bikemap’s maps, routes, and intelligent voice navigation work online and offline, and you can choose between a variety of styles like Basic, OpenCycleMap, OpenStreetMap, 3D, and Night Mode.

As you move along, the app’s screen displays current speed, distance, duration, ascent, descent, and altitude. And if you go off-course, the app will automatically re-route you to get you where you’re going.

Once you’re finished, you can share your ride with the Bikemap community.

What Riders Say: The iOS Bikemap version comes with a meaningfully higher average rating than the Android version, although most compliments revolve around its ease of use, along with reliable turn-by-turn directions.

Complaints vary, although most related to functionality issues, less-than-stellar route building engine, excessive advertising with free accounts, and high Premium subscription fees for what you get.

Best For: If you frequently ride both road and mountain routes, Bikemap’s ability to differentiate between the two could deliver a lot of value. The social aspect is limited, though.

Bikemap doesn’t offer as much socialization as some mapping apps, although it provides an extensive database of routes, including official ones like Eurovelo, the Pacific Coast Route, TransAmerica Trail, and Mississippi River Trail, to name just a few.

4. Bike Citizens

Pricing: Free; $4.99 per city, or $19.95 for all cities

Main Features: Advertised as “the first cycling app designed for cyclists in urban areas,” the Bike Citizens App (formerly known as BikeCityGuide) promises to offer bicycle-optimized maps and real-time, bike-friendly route calculation in 450 cities across Europe, Australia, and the US.

All you have to do is enter your address, and Bike Citizens delivers real-time route calculation that prioritizes cycleways, cycle paths, and living streets. And its OpenStreetMap (OSM) platform even works offline to help save battery power and roaming costs.

As you ride, Bike Citizens’ bike computer tracks your speed, distance, and time, automatically recalculates if you go off-route, and even allows you to create individual tours from its categorized lists of sights.

Finally, the company also sells its smartphone mount called FINN, which they’ve sold to more than 450,000 customers.

What Riders Say: The Bike Citizens App represents another instance where iOS users seem to report much better overall experiences than those on Android.

The biggest compliments report that it’s easy to use, automatically delivers bike-friendly routes, and efficient operation.

On the other hand, the biggest complaints tend to reference functionality issues (difficulty importing, slow processing, stops recording mid-ride, less-than-stellar route choice, etc.).

Best For: The Bike Citizens app works in 67 cities in the US, although its database offers many more European cities, depending on your location. It’s also ideal if you bike a lot in one or two cities, and if you prefer paying for one-time downloads versus ongoing monthly subscription fees.

The Bike Citizens app allows users to download maps of 67 US cities, along with many more across Europe, directly to their phone. This way, its turn-by-turn navigation doesn’t drain battery power or require internet access.

5. Cyclers Navigation

Pricing: Free–$29/yr

Main Features: Czech Republic-based Cyclers Navigation allows you to plan cyclist-friendly routes between two or more locations, including those with public transportation. The app also displays real-time bike-sharing availability and location information along your way.

Simply choose your current location or enter a starting and ending address, and Cyclers Navigation will display the best route, along with its total distance, estimated time, and “bike friendliness” score. Crowdsourced heatmaps also let you know the popularity of different routes.

During each ride, Cyclers Navigation will track your time and distance, provide turn-by-turn navigation and short-term weather details, and warn you about dangers along the way, including unsafe locations, road closures, and restrictions in the cycling infrastructure.

As you log more and more miles, the app builds a personal heatmap so you can see where you cycle the most. You can also win prizes and collect unique badges for your cycling achievements.

After each ride, you’ll have the ability to rate your route, share your experiences in the community, connect with other cyclists, and gain access to cycling news and events.

Important: Although Cyclers Navigation’s gamification and social features work anywhere in the world, maps and navigation features are currently only available in the following locations:

  • All of the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Poland, Czechia, and Singapore
  • Bogota, Colombia
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Milan, Italy
  • Santiago de Chile, Chile
  • São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

What Riders Say: Compared to some of the above, Cyclers Navigation comes with much higher ratings among Android users than those using iOS.

Most compliments indicate that the app is quick and straightforward to use and easy on battery life, with more than one reviewer stating that it’s the best urban cycling app available.

On the other hand, frequent complaints reference instability issues, difficulty finding locations, incorrect directions, and limited region support.

Best For: Cyclers Navigation app will work best for riders in some European, South American, and Asian countries (currently no support for North America), who don’t require offline maps. The app’s gamification aspect could help keep you motivated, as well.

The gamified Cyclers Navigation app lists cyclist-friendly routes in some parts of Europe, South America, and Asia.

6. Bicycle Route Navigator

Pricing: $9.99–$94.99 per route section

Main Features: The Bicycle Route Navigator app from the Adventure Cycling Association offers more than 100 downloadable maps that don’t require file conversions—or an ongoing subscription.

In total, the Bicycle Route Navigator app features almost 47,000 miles of well-established bicycle routes, along with cycling-specific details like:

  • Elevation profiles
  • Distance
  • Riding conditions
  • Bike shop locations
  • Food and water sources
  • Scenic stops (e.g., waterfalls, hot springs, lakes, art museums, etc.)
  • Overnight accommodation listings (e.g., camping facilities, small hotels, and cyclists-only lodging)

As you ride, you can call many of these locations with a tap on your screen. The app also provides real-time wind and weather data, including include thunderstorm, flood, and fire warnings.

What Riders Say: The Bicycle Route Navigator app is another example where Android users leave much higher overall feedback than iOS users.

Most compliments indicate it’s easy to use (including without an internet connection), delivers valuable features, and accurate. On the flip side, common complaints are that it’s clunky to use, doesn’t feature turn-by-turn directions, can’t import or export data, and is buggy.

Best For: The Bicycle Route Navigator app is best for touring cyclists who need access to robust data that can help them plan lengthy, detailed routes in remote areas with no signal. Also, for those who want to support a worthy organization.

The Adventure Cycling Association’s Bicycle Route Navigator app can help long-distance bicycle tourists plan their route, including detailed elevation data and points of interest.

7. BikeMaps.org

 Pricing: Free

Main Features: The BikeMaps.org website and app are crowdsourced tools that local cyclists can use to map their trouble spots while riding, including crashes, near-misses, hazards, and thefts.

Important: BikeMaps lists far more incident reports in Canada than any other country, which might not come as much of a surprise since its development was “sponsored by the Canadian Automobile Association, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Mitacs.”

BikeMaps pools all of this submitted data and analyzes it “using GIS and statistics” to identify higher-risk hotspots. Then, after creating an account and defining your alert area, the app will send you push notifications when incidents are reported in your area.

Together, BikeMaps advertise they’re all about mapping your cycling experiences and making them safer.

What Riders Say: BikeMaps currently only offers an iOS app, which has a five-star rating on iTunes.

Best For: The BikeMaps app and website might work best for safety-oriented Canadian cyclists, who want a free tool to track bike-related safety incidents. However, there’s no tracking, route building, or training aspects.

The Canada-heavy BikeMaps app helps cyclists track—and potentially avoid—dangers like crashes, near-misses, hazards, and thefts.
BikeMaps.org website offers the same data as their app, but it’s available to all users, regardless of their operating system.

How Can You Choose the Best Mapping & Navigation Cycling App?

As with any other technology, selecting the right mapping and navigation app will depend on the aspects you highlight.

For example, if paying the lowest price is at the top of your list, most of the options above offer free versions. However, only Google Maps and BikeMaps.org provide access to all the apps’ features without paying to upgrade.

Neither Google Maps nor BikeMaps.org offers route-building engines, though, whereas all of the remaining options focus more on this aspect.

Google Maps also offers worldwide navigation, whereas Cyclers Navigation only works in someEuropean, South American, and Asian countries (currently no support for North America), Komoot doesn’t offer coverage in Canada, and BikeMaps.org features more reports in Canada than in any other country. Cyclers Navigation’s maps also don’t function offline.

Finally, Bikemap’s ability to differentiate between road and mountain routes could come in especially handy if you frequently ride mixed terrain.

Which route-building and mapping apps work best for you when cycling? Is there anything important we missed above? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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Derek is an avid cyclist with more than two decades of experience in the sport, and currently resides in Denver, Colorado. He enjoys all types, including road, MTB, cyclocross/gravel, commuting, and touring. When he's not writing reviews and guides related to bike accessories, parts, and gear for TreadBikely.com, he's riding, talking about cycling, or thinking about bikes he can't afford. #rolloutblissout
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