Tech for your connected self

The best Apple Watch apps for cycling

We round up the top options to keep track of your rides

The Apple Watch has quickly emerged as a solid smartwatch option for anyone that likes keeping a closer eye on their exercise sessions. Whether you're a runner, swimmer or cycling mad, you're well catered for.

And while running is clearly Apple's main play, its cycling tracking powers on the Watch are also improving. That's thanks in part to a whole host of apps that play nice with the smartwatch and features like built-in GPS, which means you have the option to leave your iPhone behind.

Tested: Cycling with the Apple Watch

We've been spending more 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 Series 3 and Series 2 models.

So read on for our top Apple Watch cycling apps and let us know in the comments below if you think we've missed one of your favourites.

Strava Cycling

The best Apple Watch apps for cycling

After Strava took its time getting on board with the standalone capabilities of the Apple Watch, the Wareable Tech Awards winner has 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 Premium users also have the option to view analysis into their heart rate zones. This means your activities from the Apple Watch can be graded through Strava's Suffer Score, a metric which is determined by how long you spent in each heart rate zone.

Read this: Apple Watch Activity and Workout apps explained

However, if you cycle with a power meter, one of the big reasons to tap into Strava's higher tier is the Power Zone Analysis, which essentially breaks down the data gathered by the device. Once synced, your ride is charted throughout and you're given indicators of your weighted average power, your power curve, training load and intensity. Unfortunately, you don't get any of this external sensor data delivered in real time through the Apple Watch, but combining it with the heart rate data and more basic details of your ride helps Strava helps you build up a clearer view of your ride.

And don't forget about Strava's community, which includes perhaps the most active user base throughout all fitness apps, and its Segment data, another feature which helps those who cycle the same routes see how they're improving and comparing to others.

Works without iPhone: Yes

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

Workout

The best Apple Watch apps for cycling

It's admittedly not 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 in comparison 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 of 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 as GymKit continues to roll out this year.

Essential reading: Strava CEO on wearables and what's next

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.

Works without iPhone: Yes

Aaptiv

The best fitness apps for your wearables

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.

Works without iPhone: Yes

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

Endomondo

The best Apple Watch apps for cycling

The Under Armour-owned Endomondo is a great fitness all rounder, and perhaps most useful for cyclists who want an alternative to Strava and its higher subscription fees.

For the most part, you get pretty much same in-app data screens and additional sensor-pairing, though naturally you'll have to do without Strava's own metrics and instead be content with Endomondo's own heart rate zone monitoring (which can crucially be viewed during exercise) and overall step down in the analysis department. The big thing to note here is that Endomondo still hasn't made use of the standalone GPS support of the Apple Watch, so you're forced to take your iPhone out on rides.

That may or may not be a deal breaker for you, but think of its data sets as a nice halfway point between Apple's Workout and Strava.

Works without iPhone: No

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

Cyclemeter

The best Apple Watch apps for cycling

Generally speaking, data screens shown during your ride don't vary too dramatically from app to app. But that's not the case with Cyclemeter, which is a verifiable beast when it comes to giving you cycling stats on the wrist.

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. A nice touch is the app taking advantage of the Watch's Force Touch to help you start, stop, lap or access settings, while notifications can also be set to prompt you with details on your time, distance, intervals or pre-set targets.

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.

Works without iPhone: No

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


Hot smartwatch deals

Apple Watch Series 1
Apple Watch Series 1
Amazon
$220.91
Samsung Gear S3 - save $105
Samsung Gear S3 - save $105
Amazon
$244.44
Fitbit Versa
Fitbit Versa
Amazon
$199.95
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Amazon
$329.99

Wareable may get a commission



What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.