The best Apple Watch apps for cycling

We round up the top app options to keep track of your bike rides
The best Apple Watch apps for cycling
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The Apple Watch may receiving a lot of praise for growing to become a great run tracking companion and for jumping in the pool, but the onboard GPS means it's also equipped to track your outdoor rides. It's also fit to do the same for indoor cycling sessions too.

You can rely on Apple's own Workout app to take care of that cycle tracking, or delve into the Apple App Store for a dedicated app that might well do a much better job of it. You'll likely find access to richer cycling stats, training plans and analysis to get a better sense of your performance.

Read this: Best Apple Watch apps to download

Some of these Apple Watch cycling apps can work without the iPhone while some will still rely on having that smartphone nearby. Ultimately though, the improvements Apple has made to its smartwatch has made it better suited to strapping it on when you jump in the saddle. Even the latest watchOS software update brought big cycling features in the way of building cycling directions into the Watch's mapping app.

We've been spent a fair amount of time getting to know what Apple's smartwatch is like to take out on the road, and picked the best cycling apps that we think take full advantage of the Apple Watch. Whether you've got an Apple Watch Series 6, SE or Series 3, read on for top cycling apps for the Apple Watch.

Best Apple Watch apps for outdoor cycling

Cyclemeter

Free (subscription also available) | Download Cyclemeter Apple Watch app

Works without iPhone: No

Cyclemeter

If you're big on cycling stats, then Cyclemeter is the app you want knocking around on your Apple Watch.

In total, you can configure your pages to track more than 200 metrics, which include everything involving your power, speed, heart rate, cycling cadence and more. It can lean on your iPhone to provide ascent and descent data for hilly rides, it'll let you share your live location with family and friends if you're riding solo and supports GPX, TCX, FIT, KML, and CSV file formats if you want to export your ride data.

The comprehensive dive into your ride doesn't end on the wrist, either. Once you branch things out to the companion app, everything tracked on your Apple Watch is amplified, and can even be backed up by the likes of training plans and route planning. All in all, this is one of the more complete cycling apps for the Apple Watch currently available, and certainly one that cyclists who crave detail will love.

It's free to download, though subscribing to the Elite version you'll get access to weather recording, Google Maps support and dashboards to look back at your history of cycling sessions and stats. One of the negatives here is the fact it won't work properly without your iPhone being in range. If you can live with that, and like the idea of all those stats, then it's well worth taking a look at.

Strava Run, Ride, Swim

Free (subscription not included) | Download Strava Apple Watch app

Works without iPhone: Yes

Strava Run, Ride, Swim

After Strava took its time getting on board with the standalone capabilities of the Apple Watch, it's now developed into a much more rounded option — particularly for cyclists.

The initial issues it faced with GPS reliability have now been ironed out, and you're given some of the best post-workout metrics you can find. Throughout and after your workout, you'll have the choice to view all the basics – distance, time, speed, heart rate, elevation and calories – and signing up the a subscription gets you access workout plans, more performance metrics and chase those segments.

You can make use of Apple's heart rate monitor to better understand your effort levels and listen for the audio cues to get a heads up on your cycling stats on the move. If you own an Apple Watch Series 2 or newer, you can do all of this without needing your iPhone to hand.

It does include a profile for indoor rides, though you're only going to get heart rate data and the duration of the workout, so it keeps things basic.

Once you're all done, it will of course sync everything up to the app where you can wait for the kudos to come rolling in after you casual 50km Sunday bike ride.

Komoot

Free (in-app purchases) | Download Komoot Apple Watch app

Works without iPhone: No

Komoot

If you're not familiar with Komoot, it's a service that's all about helping you find new outdoor routes and locations to explore. The likes of Garmin and Polar offer support for Komoot and there's also a pretty handy Apple Watch app too.

You can enjoy turn-by-turn directions and there's offline navigation support when that you hit those really remote locations. It's been optimised to work on that smaller screen and will give you details like distance and speed in real-time if you're keen to keep tabs on your performance as well.

The useful Tour recommendations will serve up places to visit and explore based on other users and will be delivered based on your current location. It's free to download with in-app purchase to unlock extra features on a cycling Apple Watch app that's ideal for anyone that likes finding somewhere new to clock up some riding miles.

Workoutdoors

£5.99 | Download WorkOutDoors Apple Watch app

Works without iPhone: Yes

Workoutdoors

Workoutdoors is fast merging one of the best sports tracking apps for the Apple Watch. It's great for runners, but it also offers all its goodness for cyclists too.

If you like your metrics and great quality maps to follow, then that's what this app is about. It promises up to 300 real-time metrics and gives you the freedom of how those metrics are displayed. It uses vector maps to make it nicer to zoom and pan around routes and there's offline map support if you're planning to go remote with your bike sessions.

You can get a clear idea of GPS signal strength and how much battery you have to play with and there's GPX file format support you can import when you find a particular route that you love.

Outside of running and cycling, it will also offer tracking support for activities like skiing, hiking and geocaching to widen its uses. It's pricer than most of the apps on this list, but if you value those raft of metrics, the flexibility to choose how those metrics are displayed and those rich mapping features, you're going to find a lot to like about this Watch app.

Apple Workout

Works without iPhone: Yes

Apple Workout

The pre-installed Workout app isn't the most exciting option out there for cyclists, but Apple's own system for tracking your rides is an ideal way to get started with the Watch.

During and after your ride, you're not overloaded with info, but you get just enough to keep you coming back. We've found GPS tracking to be largely on the money, when compared to our bike computer, and you're free to swipe between menus to control your music and pause/end the workout.

It isn't the easiest to navigate through when you're wearing gloves or find yourself with sweaty hands, and could benefit from making use of the Apple Watch's buttons or Force Touch, but at least the option is there. Something else you have an option for is using Workout for indoor cycling. The accuracy isn't great, as is the case with most devices trying to track your movement while being essentially stable, but it's something that'll no doubt be improved if Apple begins to embrace support for third party cycling kit.

Unfortunately, there's no option to have your workouts automatically pause, and the data you receive once you're back in the Activity companion app isn't as in-depth as you might like – you'll get your heart rate average, your time splits and your average speed, but it's likely you begin looking for more insights after using Workout for a while.

Best Apple Watch apps for indoor cycling

iBiker Cycling & Heart Trainer

Free (subscription also available) | Download iBiker Cycling Apple Watch app

Works without iPhone: No

iBiker Cycling & Heart Trainer

One to turn to if you prefer spin sessions to heading outside in your lycra, this Apple Watch app will help you track your key cycling stats when you're sitting on a stationary bike.

It promises to deliver distance, route, speed, and time stats while upgrading to the Pro Plus subscription will give you access to heart rate tracking stats from your Apple Watch in real-time for looking over after you're done riding. Paying up also lets you pair up cadence and speed sensors and create custom workout training sessions.

It's one you can make use of outside too, taking advantage of the Watch's GPS to track your rides, get voice feedback and it's also compatible with apps like Strava and Apple Health.

Signing up for that subscription will help you dump the ads and get more in the way of analysis and those extra data insights. If you're happy with the basics and just want those core indoor riding stats, then you'll find plenty to like here.

Aaptiv

Free (subscription also available) | Download Aaptiv Apple Watch app

Works without iPhone: Yes

Aaptiv

While other apps aim to track your every movement while in the saddle, Aaptiv acts as more of a personal trainer, offering over 2,500 audio-based fitness classes for you to choose from – many of which are aimed at indoor cycling.

Programmes are also on the Apple Watch ready for you to start and download, whether you're a beginner looking to do some gym cycling or a triathlete looking to augment your training. Whichever bracket you happen to fall in, the key here is the trainer pushing you on. And thankfully, there's a range of trainers/voices to cycle through if one isn't to your taste.

Aaptiv's workouts are based upon intensity, or even the kind of music you want to listen to, and once you're done you'll get basic feedback on the Watch regarding the activity you just completed (eg. distance, calories burned). You can also view your class history for more details once in the companion app.

It isn't the most stats-heavy option on our list, but it's definitely one that will give those looking for a helping hand the most in-app guidance. Oh, and remember to bring your Bluetooth headphones so you can control the music entirely from the Apple Watch.

mPaceLine

Free (in-app purchases also available) | Download mPaceLine Apple Watch app

Works without iPhone: No

mPaceLine

mPaceLine is an Apple Watch cycling app that's designed for people that jump on a Peloton or an indoor bike, but have no real sense of whether they're actually getting fitter in a really meaningful way.

Using both iPhone and Apple Watch, you can track performance metrics like power, cadence and heart rate and will even let you stream live workout data to be displayed on smartwatch and smartphone. Once workouts are synced to the phone app, you can view trends over time for aspects such as output, see the instructors that pushed you the hardest and delve into heart rate metrics too.

The Apple Health compatible app also influences Activity Rings and you can view data inside of the main Apple Fitness app too. It's free to use, but there's a 25 workout limit before you have to decide whether to subscribe or not.

That subscription is offered n a monthly or annual basis and if you spend more time on your bike in the comfort of your home and want that bigger hit of analysis, that's what mPaceLine promises.