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Strava App Sensor Pairing Is Now Dead: My Last Workout Taking Out The Trash

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As of today, the Strava app will no longer allow you to pair to sensors like heart rate straps or cycling cadence sensors. Instead, Strava is now actively recommending you download other apps instead of using Strava’s own app. Well, I suppose technically they started recommending using 3rd party apps instead of their own app last month. But today’s the day it matters. We all knew this was coming, but I thought it notable to get one last recorded workout with it late last night just 90 minutes before the feature disappeared. But more on that in a moment.

The reason for all this is that Strava says that when people used their own app with sensors paired, it crashed a lot. Too much apparently. In fact, it even crashed when people didn’t use sensors, because…Strava? I don’t know. Their words, not mine:

“Supporting Bluetooth devices was causing the app to crash during recording, whether or not a sensor was connected. Disabling this feature significantly improves recording stability for all athletes.  While this update will reduce crashes for millions of athletes, we understand that it will be disappointing for the athletes who do use the feature.”

Now, if you record your sensor data (like heart rate or cadence) on a Garmin or Wahoo or some other device – this won’t actually impact you. You’ll still be able to display all your data in all the same ways as before. So for example, if you have a Garmin Edge 500 paired to a Wahoo TICKR strap – that’ll still show up on Strava just fine. And if you record your running power on your multisport watch, that’ll still dork up your cycling power curves on Strava – just like before. See, Strava’s an equal opportunity sensor-killer here.

[Preemptive note before we continue: Yes, I’m being hard on Strava. As all of you have overwhelmingly told me – they deserve it. And I agree. But it’s not because I want them to fail. In fact, quite the opposite. There’s no fitness platform I actually enjoy using more than Strava – I’ve uploaded some 3,780 workouts to it over the last decade. I very much want them to succeed. I want them to find a way to becoming profitable so they’ll still be around. I think they’ve largely got great employees there, but it’s just hamstrung by poor executive vision and/or execution.]

How’d we get here?

Of course, this all started back on Aug 28th, when Strava told users that they would be cutting off new users from adding sensors to the app. At the time, it read (or, I interpreted the “will still be able use them “ part) that if you already had the sensors paired once, you were grandfathered in. Apparently that wasn’t the case – at least forever. Here was the original tidbits:

“As of August 28th, 2019, Bluetooth and ANT+ sensors will no longer pair directly with the Strava phone app (the Strava Apple Watch app can still record heart rate from sensors paired with the Apple Watch). This means that, for example, if you record activities using the Strava phone app, you will not be able to record your heart rate or other BT sensor data. Supporting Bluetooth devices was causing the app to crash during recording, whether or not a sensor was connected. Disabling this feature significantly improves recording stability for all athletes.

 

While this update will reduce crashes for millions of athletes, we understand that it will be disappointing for the athletes who do use the feature. Athletes who used sensors before 8/28 will still be able use them – we’re hoping a little extra time will give them a chance to try another way to pair their sensors or upgrade to a different device. For all other athletes, those who have never connected a sensor to the app or those who sign up for Strava in the future, Strava will no longer support these sensors after 8/28.”

Then, earlier this month (October) Strava decided it needed to clarify things – and with that, it would be cutting folks off entirely at the end of the month. Here’s the applicable part of that statement:

“When you record a workout on Strava, it’s our job to make sure your effort is captured accurately and reliably. We recently discovered that pairing Bluetooth heart rate monitors and power meters directly with the app is causing Strava to crash for millions of athletes — most of whom don’t even use these kinds of sensors. So to significantly improve the stability of the app, we’ll no longer support direct Bluetooth and ANT+ device pairing as of October 28th, 2019.”

This particular snippet is baffling on so many levels. Maybe it’s baffling to me because I used to work in a large corporation that carefully crafted how to communicate with millions of users. Maybe it’s baffling to me because it openly implies so many non-savory things. Maybe it’s baffling to me because my job these days is sifting through piles of PR statements from companies like Strava (Strava themselves stopped sending me PR bits last year, apparently upset about my coverage). Maybe it’s baffling to me because I worked at one of (if not the world’s largest) software development companies for over a decade – so the tech side I understand well. Who knows. Others with extensive BLE & ANT+ sensor experience in the industry agree.

But, let’s break it down a bit. First, this part:

“We recently discovered that pairing Bluetooth heart rate monitors and power meters directly with the app is causing Strava to crash for millions of athletes — most of whom don’t even use these kinds of sensors.”

It starts off saying they “recently discovered”, as in, they never bothered to look at the crash log data they’d undoubtedly been collecting for years. Why would anyone ever phrase it this way publicly? It goes on to say “…causing Strava to crash for millions of athletes”.

Holy cow – you actually just wrote that out and sent it to 46 million Strava users via e-mail? You actually just admitted your own app crashes millions of times due to poor coding? Did the PR firm get drunk that night, check-out, and then start a pool on creating the worst possible PR statement from a sports tech company this decade? I can’t actually think of any that top the nuance and self-admission failure in that one.

Here, for future reference – this is how you should properly write that sentence in bland PR-speak that minimizes your faults:

“As part of Strava’s ongoing commitment to app stability, we’ve determined that a small number of users may be seeing Strava mobile app issues due to Bluetooth Smart sensor pairing dependencies.”

See, that didn’t admit that you weren’t paying attention at the helm handlebars. It didn’t openly admit that you were causing millions of people’s apps to apparently crash, and it didn’t throw your development team so far under the bus that your app crashes on sensors that people don’t even have paired, or are using.

And, if they wanted to provide non-PR speak statements, they could have shown just how few people were actually being impacted – by going into specifics like saying “Only 0.x% of of all Strava app uploads utilize sensor connectivity”, thus helping the 99% (or even the 1%) understand why Strava’s resources could be better spent elsewhere. [Note: This paragraph added to help clarify why I think their PR statement was such a blunder.]

But that gets us to the next part of this notice:

“So to significantly improve the stability of the app, we’ll no longer support direct Bluetooth and ANT+ device pairing as of October 28th, 2019.”

Here, let me explain what they just said from a developer standpoint:

“So, because we can’t be bothered to figure out how to fix it, we’re just gonna kill it entirely later this month.”

Sigh.

Does it actually matter?

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But does this actually matter to people? Well, that’s a very valid question.

Strava seems to imply it impacts “millions of athletes”. For reference, as of last month, they had 46 million users. Of course, Strava doesn’t disclose how many of those are actually paying members. It’s largely an unknown, but it’s clearly nowhere near the majority. In fact, paying membership is largely estimated to be in the low single-digits – between 1-6% based on multiple sets of data.

Still, I have no reason to doubt Strava’s statements here. Mostly because most companies would never actually write in a public statement that they crash millions of athletes. It’s not really something you’d normally want to disclose. But remember, that’s crashes – not actual usage of sensors. And again, only Strava knows that.

Take for example myself. Aside from last night’s final hurrah, the last time I used the Strava app with sensors was a few months ago this past summer. Given I routinely take 3-5 GPS watches or bike computers out with 3 power meters and 2-4 heart rate straps, I’m not entirely the target market for this feature. Yet at the same time, sometimes I am. Sometimes I just wanna record something quickly – like being on a hotel spin bike and having a heart rate strap with me.

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Which is ironically, the exact casual fitness type segment that Strava says they want to court – their new CFO estimates that addressable market to be about 700 million people in total. If one looks at Strava’s latest feature release last month – it’s all about having users assign a perceived effort to an activity. This allows them to start figuring out how hard a workout is without relying on sensor data. In turn, they could develop products or services based on that, perhaps enticing you to become a paying member.

Still – users overwhelmingly upload runs and rides. Last year as part of Strava’s annual report, they noted that some 756 million rides and runs were uploaded (284m runs, 472m rides). Strava’s CEO James Quarles notes in an interview with Outside Magazine that Strava’s fastest-growing sport is running. Perhaps because they started charging bike GPS computer makers to enable features like Strava Live Segments on their devices, causing some companies to ditch plans there. Those users would be less likely then to pay for Strava Summit, which is required for functions like Live Segments.

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As for the overall number of uploads per year, they haven’t specified exactly the quantity. However they did say on average “15 million per week” – which puts it at 780m activities (of which, 756m are rides/runs). So roughly 97% are run/ride. The remainder you need to piece-meal from the annual report. For example they disclose that men uploaded 20 million swims (the 3rd largest activity for men on Strava), while the 3rd largest activity type for women was walking, with 9 million walks. In total that gets you to 785m activities – more than the 780m activities Strava said occurs in a year.

And that’s before we even talk about the rest of the 32 sports profiles that people use, and undoubtedly there are tens of millions more within those categories. I guess math isn’t entirely Strava’s strong suit here.

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(Note: The 36 million athletes, like all the upload data, is from their 2018 report. They add roughly 1 million users per month, bringing us to the 46 million users they publicized last month.)

But here’s the thing: I could spit numbers at you all day long. What’s far harder to do is the intangibles. Nearly any public comment or tweet I make about Strava – even positive ones – is met with upset users about lack of new features for month after month, year after year support. Or bugs that haven’t been fixed for years. In fact, the September update I mentioned above was the first time in *years* Strava has pushed out a new feature (excluding the one last January they got caught duplicating).

And feature removals like this always results in people claiming they’re cancelling or have cancelled their memberships as a result. Whether or not they do is frankly beside the point.

Strava has a perception problem, and things like this sensor connectivity debacle only add to that. If Strava wanted to remove this feature the ‘right way’, they should have highlighted (in proper PR speak) that instead of fixing their app and spending untold development hours dealing with clunky sensor connectivity across thousands of phone and sensor combinations, that they were going to invest that time into new features and new functions for their users. But they didn’t say that. They missed that opportunity, yet again, to communicate how they were going to make paying members’ lives better. Instead, they just took away features.

My Last Workout:

For my last Strava sensor workout, I decided I needed to do something special. Should I go for a ride, or perhaps do a run and draw a big ‘S’, or maybe just a big minus symbol? Maybe I should follow Strava’s market thinking around those 700 million people and do a yoga session or something, recording it with the app and a heart rate strap.

And then it hit me: I needed to take out the trash!

So I grabbed the Wahoo TICKR strap that I had sitting in my backpack (just in case, always practice safe strap behavior). I cracked open the Strava app on my iPhone and ensured it found the strap, which it did immediately via Bluetooth Smart. No crashes for me here.

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I suppose in many ways, our household is just like Strava, I needed to get rid of the waste. Offload the things that might attract bugs or cause failures if left unattended.  Off I went to the garbage bin down on the street.

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Of course, this wasn’t a long workout. It only lasted 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

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But my Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap soldiered on and captured my heart rate without any issues. Smooth and consistent operate it (or I) was.

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But it turns out I’d unlock myself a Strava badge of sorts on this workout. Look at that picture of the trash bin again up above.  Sitting off to the side of the garbage bit was a bicycle pump (perfectly functional). No kidding, welcome to Amsterdam! Dutch valve and all.

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See on Sunday nights, people stick all sorts of random things out near the trash bins for other people to pick up. Everything from furniture to toys to bike parts. Especially bike parts. If not picked up by Monday morning, the city hauls it away. A surprising amount of stuff gets picked up by others in the wee hours of the morning.

As for the pump – sure, there’s no gauge on it. Nor any data metrics. And thus, as I do the work it inflates to some unknown value – but if I want to know anything about my ride, I’m gonna have to turn to using other apps or devices.

But hey, it looks like my Strava membership’s good for something after all: I got myself a free bike pump.

Thanks for reading.

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207 Comments

  1. Oscar

    I contacted Strava support to cancel my summit subscription and requested a reimbursement.

    And that is what happened.

    Not that I needed the 5 euros left on my subscription of course. But to send a signal. If that matters to them, I don’t know. If enough people do that, I will maybe start to matter.

    Cancelling is easy: link to support.strava.com

  2. hdb

    Strava’s approach to app (and web product) functionality is quite Zen: The fewer distractions (read capabilities) the user encounters, the purer the experience they undergo. Om……

    More seriously – it’s a bit shocking to see they have only accomplished a conversion rate of <10% from free to paid accounts. I'm one of those who has cancelled the renewal of my Summit "features" and shifted the $ to Training Peaks for a premium account. I'll continue to use Strava's web interface (the app sucks for any sort of analysis) but won't bother paying them to not produce any new features or fix bugs, as you point out so perfectly..

    • Jeff

      Looks like I’m right behind you @hdb. Training Peaks has more of the data analysis I’m looking for than Strava Summit , and the “social” aspect remains free. Been operating with both for a couple of months.

      Interestingly I do (well did) use Strava with sensors for walking, hiking, running because I don’t do those things often enough to justify the watch like I could justify my Garmin 1030, and I can’t wear a watch anyway due to carpal. ( The market really needs a fitness pocket watch).

    • Toby

      A few years ago I accidentally ended up with two simultaneous Strava subscriptions. I’m still not sure how it happened. I only have one apple ID and only one apple device. I cancelled one and asked them to refund the couple of months where I had two subs going at once.

      They basically said I’d have to take it up with apple. I didn’t take it any further because it was only 15 or 20 bucks, but I thought that was a serious cop-out. It wasn’t enough that I cancelled my account, so I guess they won that one.

    • Tim Kerby

      I had exactly the same. It was the switch to summit – the app asked for a new subscription but they still collected the old premium ones. Apple refunded after poor support from Strava. Wonder how many people are unknowingly paying twice.

    • Actually <10% conversion is quite normal in freemium SaaS offerings.

    • Craig

      Hadn’t thought about funding my TrainingPeaks subscription by canceling my Strava subscription but that’s a great idea! I am craving more analysis features and Strava just isn’t delivering.

    • try stravistix/elevate for STRAVA. free. cool.

    • fuzzylightbulb

      Why not just remove one half of the strap from a regular running watch and put it in your pocket?

    • Pete

      You can take the straps off an Apple Watch and it looks just like a pocket watch.

  3. Dr_LHA

    I wonder how those Bluetooth/ANT+ crashes break down by OS?

    My impression is that Android’s jumble of hardware and OS versions make it much more prone to Bluetooth issues than iOS devices. This is based on my anecdotal evidence of friends who have Android phones, and reading negative Amazon reviews on stuff like TICKRs where the people with issues always seem to have Android phones.

    Total speculation here by me of course. I’ve never many crashes of Strava or any other Bluetooth sensor app on my iPhone. I’ve had a few TrainerRoad deaths mid rid on my Android tablet though.

    I guess from a PR perspective, they might have decided that taking away Bluetooth from only Android users would be met with a stronger response than taking it away from everyone. That’s assuming any PR went into this move, it almost seems unlikely given how ham-fisted it is.

    • Jeff

      You obviously don’t have an iPhone 11 with all the headaches that just gave Garmin for bluetooth. (Possibly fixed now) 😉

    • Yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if the bulk of the issues are on Android phones. That’s certainly what I hear from other companies, even now, in 2019. Keith’s linked video explains a lot of that and why that is from an under the covers standpoint.

      I’d actually respected Strava if they had said: “Ya know what, we’re just doing HR straps. Everything else is a mess and we’re having issues – so only HR straps, the oldest BLE profile there is.”

    • Dr_LHA

      I’d bet the number of people using BLE on Strava’s app for HR straps only is orders of magnitude higher than people using it for anything else. Judging by the number of people I know who go to Orangetheory, HR straps are getting pretty mainstream.

      I dunno, maybe Strava here are being geniuses and only a few people actually use the sensor support in their app. TBH I never used the Strava app as their sensor support always seemed so half-baked compared to other apps.

    • Mike K

      Its too bad they didn’t decide to just fix HR bands as you said. The whole reason I purchased my Scosche HR band (off recommendations from this site) was to use it with my phone. The thing was solid for quite a while on my various pixel and Samsung galaxy phones. I’d be a lot more upset right now if i hadn’t gotten a Garmin last Christmas.

    • TR

      So if BT sensors have issues – why ditch the support for ANT+ ones ? 🤦‍♂️

  4. Stracha

    There is some probably unfunded rumor that the Garmins, Wahoo, Polar and other Hardware vendor were the one pushing it for it! would that make sense?

    • I’ve seen that rumor, as well as the rumor that people keep thinking it’s because it makes it more attractive for Garmin to purchase them.

      A) Garmin has said repeatedly they have no desire to acquire Strava. It makes no sense for them. All they gain is headaches, versus today they can tell Strava to do whatever they want and they get it for free. That’s the best kind of business decision. But I don’t think they told Strava to stop sensor support, mostly because I don’t think Garmin is that cunning.

      B) Strava wouldn’t really listen to Polar or any other hardware vendor (as they’ve shown) because those companies couldn’t really pay Strava enough to do so.

      Just my two cents.

    • usr

      About A), I wonder what would happen if it would be a death threat acquisition proposal? “Hey Garmin, we cannot further afford being bossed around by you, either you pick up the bill for our continued existence or the entire sports GPS market will suffer the collapse of the dominant sports GPS data social network”. Without Strava, far less athletes would have felt a need to do GPS tracking.

      The opposite strategy (extending sensor support to become more of a threat to buy out) might be equally attractive in case Strava really wanted to actively provoke something that might be called a reverse-hostile takeover, but one of those strategies would be much easier to implement than the other.

      In any case, Strava seems to have changed from every decision a winning move to the opposite, at least since “summit”. I wonder how much of the staff is still there from back when labs.strava.com routinely saw weird little experimentations added?

    • Paul S.

      I think you’ve got that reversed. I had GPS devices long before Strava even existed, and Strava is not so wonderful that I’d stop using them if it suddenly went away. Strava is, in the end, a place to put stuff, nothing more. The reasons for creating and recording the stuff have nothing to do with Strava. Others would spring up/take over if Strava went away.

    • Yeah! Indeed – just a face to put stuff for convenient sharing. To me, Strava isn’t the hub – it just sits at the edge next to Endomondo, Adidas Running, etc.

  5. Derek

    That’s the final straw for me. I’m biting the bullet and moving to fitiv pulse after this non sense.

  6. Glad to finally hear the the Apple Watch has been excluded from this.

  7. Andreas W

    Besides arguing about Strava decision my current workflow for the casual ride relies on the Strava App with sensor enabled. At least for simple ones like where I collect cadence and speed data. I am aware of the Wahoo App where you can record your ride with sensors attached. What other apps are around on IOS who can upload to Strava too ?

  8. Nathan Budd

    Any recommendations to other apps that support sensors, but upload to Strava and other platforms?

    • It depends a bit on what you want, but I actually agree with Strava on one thing: The Wahoo Fitness app. It’s free, works well, and follows all the standards.

      (Though, I am moderately annoyed that they recently disabled the TICKR-X cached workout functionality, which was kinda sorta the entire point of the TICKR-X. I was even more annoyed when I found this out after doing multiple openwater swims with it, thinking I was collecting data…only to find out I was collecting 1KB empty files.)

    • hdb

      RideWithGPS is promoting their ability to record activities with Bluetooth sensors and sync to Strava: link to ridewithgps.com.

    • Andreas W

      It might be only my use case but for the casual ride for the grocery store I’ve paused my Strava App since I don’t want to clutter my Strava up with to many little rides.
      However the Wahoo Fitness App allows pausing but still sits on an enabled gps signal from the iPhone where it shouldn’t. And I had more issues with gps artefacts where Strava probably does some smart smoothing where Wahoo probably only collects the raw data.

    • Ryan

      Fitiv Pulse recently added strava integration as well.

    • Fred Stig

      I switched to paying for RideWithGPS about three months ago. Analytics are certainly no worse (I also pay for TrainerRoad so I have that option), the mapping/route creation is far better, and routes are searchable so I can find interesting rides from other users, huzzah! Further, they respond to requests, even if they don’t have the staffing to add the feature, at least they tell you why. And they’re (as far as I know), self-supporting and profitable.

      I also sent a message to Strava as to why I was dropping my paying membership. I’ve put in a couple of feature requests and found that indeed, the requests had been made five and six years ago. Semi-private segments and the ability to search for other users’ interesting rides are pretty basic features. But no, what we really need is more advertising in our Dashboard.

      All I can think of is the old Lily Tomlin/AT&T operator skit: “We’re Strava. We don’t care. We don’t have to.” (Man, I’m old.)

    • Carl

      +1 on FITIV Pulse, much nicer interface than the Wahhoo fitness app

    • Tj

      For Android, I’ve been using ‘a training tracker’ by Rainer blind. Open source, supports both bt and ant, customize exactly how you like, working well for me.

    • Gary P

      Yeah, I used RideWithGPS as a bike computer proxy for quite a while when I first started cycling for fitness. Some friends turned me on to Strava, which I liked for the social aspects, but after a couple rides with the Strava app, I went back to using RideWithGPS even though it meant, at least back then, having to manually upload ride files to Strava. I guess they have integration, now.

    • Derick

      IpBike for Android is what I used when Strava didn’t support sensors on Android and before I sprung for a Garmin Edge 500. It’s a well made and well supported app.

    • Ray,

      I can’t find anything referencing the removal of offline workouts on the Tickr X. Even’t Wahoo’s site still says it records them. Could you point me to any documentation or articles about this?

      Thanks!

    • Nancy Tipton Ervin

      What is the deal with that? Are they going to “fix” it …. or refund the difference between the x and the ticker.
      I thought it was just an “issue” they are trying to fix. That is what customer support told me. Were they lying to me?? Can you elaborate please Ray??

    • Yeah, they say it’s a bug in the app that should be fixed in the latest beta build. I’ve gotta check today and see if it’s all fixed or not.

  9. Rodrigo

    Well… I’m still baffled by this decision. It basically forces me to buy a cycling computer. At home, on the trainer, I’m covered by Elite’s software, but what I liked about Strava was precisely that I could head out with my bike, my phone and my HR strap (and that’s enough hardware). So if I have to buy a Garmin or Wahoo, what the hell do I want Strava for? Segments? Not enough to bother downloading my rides and uploading them to Strava. I dunno.

    • Bruce Burkhalter

      You can use the Wahoo app to do the same thing as the Strava App.

    • Brian Ogilvie

      If you use an iPhone, for a few dollars/euros/whatever, you can buy iSmoothRun, which will let you record activities and upload them to a number of platforms, including saving GPX files on Dropbox.

  10. Gertjan Hijstek

    WOW!

    First they kick out Relive and now the sensors?
    They only want to collect data from other apps/hardware for free and let you pay for showing some results you can easily get for free.
    Luckily I said goodbye to Strava since their Relive banning.

    Go Garmin Go!

    • Richard

      Same here, I dropped Strava after the Relive situation and I didn’t even use Relive. I had already dropped paid Strava support for Xert, all I do is bike at this point and honestly, not trying to be an arse here, I don’t care that you rode 28 KM and took pretty pictures.

    • Fran McGowan

      And trying to charge Stages a per device fee to do live segments…

  11. Thanks for the repport,
    Strava has always been a little bit special in the Fitness-App-World.
    I’ve always though “don’t understand the Strategy, but there must be something biggest in the background”, something like helping cities for cycle ways plannings or even bigger.
    With that last update I could only understand: “sorry people, we haven’t got enough knowledge for futher development and don’t want to get it”.
    If someone want to create a new Better-Strava-Portal, do it now!

  12. Dan L.

    *Paying Strava member here*
    Strava and it lack of direction has been a multi year letdown. They have had ample opportunity to leverage tech in sport like no other service ever has. I think a little creativity, follow through, and commitment to deliver could bring them to be the company I am sure they would like to be. They have so many options that could leverage their social network:
    -Group ride management tools- Show up late, no problem use the group track and catch back on.
    -Improve the mapping: Stability and edit existing saved route.
    -Fix the KOM problem. Require heartrate or a “race jury” for questionable ones!
    and these are the easy to think of ones. If Strava were to get really creative and motivated they could come up with even more “out there” ideas.
    A quick search about their CEO and seems like hes a good person, family man. I can relate, but he needs to light a fire under his team and get them moving on this stuff. Inspire the teams, incentivize them to create awesome software and integrations. Then sell the heck out of it.

  13. Gary

    I do really hope that Strava will come up with a pricing plan that is attractive to enough Strava users, to keep them (Strava), strong and healthy enough to weather out any attempts to buy them up. I have never found the Strava plans attractive enough to sign up but would welcome a low ongoing monthly fee just to use the “free” service. I would dearly miss Strava if it went away.

    Having a way to add a BT device was how I first started using Strava, and I then moved onto serial purchase of devices (ever more capable and expensive) that would transfer collected data to Strava. They shouldn’t forget that.

  14. Seth Haberman

    So if you use ride-share or bikes without a cycling computer and still want the benefit of Live Segments and HR it appears the Apple Watch is the best solution. I live in New York, ride three or four different bikes (only one of which I have a bike computer) and Citibike. I record my rides and often have a HR monitor on my wrist. In the past Strava found the HR monitor and the Duo-Trap on my bike. Can I now pair those to my watch and have the same functionality absent the nice display of live segments? If I move to another app I lose some of the “live” tracking features? Should I run Strava on my phone and on my Watch? It’s all very confusing.

    Also I would like to support DCR, and pay the $20, but I’m happy with the Ads. They are mostly relevant.

  15. Chris Capoccia

    Reasonable guesses put revenue from selling aggregated GPS ride data to cities with metro as ten times what they make from summit, so making sensors work is not even on their business priority list. Apparently neither is hiring people who can do reasonable marketing / press release statements

    Interesting opinion from Keith Wakeham link to youtu.be

    • From the Outside Mag article linked this past spring, Strava talked about revenue in relative terms and said Metro was the smallest, I think the exact words was ‘a sliver’, which roughly is what I understand of it.

      Yeah, Keith’s thoughts are spot-on….as always.

    • Thanks for the link. I have been a paid member of strava for quite a few years.. not so much because summit gives me features, but because I love the social aspect of it and wanna say thank you to Strava for it. But that opinion you linked to gave me a wake up call.. so I have cancelled my subscription. Having said that, I am paid up for a year so Strava have time to win me back with new features

  16. paul

    I started using the Strava mobile app when my Magellan cyclo failed. I couldn’t justify the cost of a Garmin with the features I wanted and couldn’t find any other brand I had confidence in.

    I used it for a couple of years paired with various heart straps around 50% of the time. The app only crashed for me once.

    I ditched Strava as the way I record my activities because of issues with my phone. Principally the fact that the battery life on an otherwise fully functional phone couldn’t handle my longer rides.

    My workaround was a Garmin watch. It cost as much as the Garmin cycle computers I had previously balked at but offered more functionality.

    Along the way I took up Strava premium on the strength of a discount offer then summit. The cost of summit doesn’t make sense for the amount of riding I do so I cancelled it and put the money towards membership of my national mountain bike association.

  17. RickNP

    Oh man this is good kinja. Well done, DCR. I couldn’t agree more.

    • Sodium Totalis

      Thanks for the article. I’ve been using Strava on my iphone 8 plus for 2 years after bike computer broke without any issues. I’ve ridden 8 hours riders with enough battery life left on the phone no problem. I just cancelled my Summit subscription.

  18. Nick

    Strava’s desktop route builder has been in beta for years, and is clunky and doesn’t offer road/off-road route calculations or mapping still.

    I mean, who on earth runs a beta programme for that long?!

    Sums up Strava…

  19. RickNP

    I can’t see any scenario where a PR department would craft any sort of message. Considering how little support is given to a soft dev department, the idea of using PR specialists for messaging seems counterintuitive to Strava’s mission of “just ignore the problem. The user will go away.”

    • Strava outsources PR to a 3rd party firm (or, at least they did up until early last year). They now have a communications director, but that doesn’t mean that person handles all the PR, they just coordinate it.

      It’s also plausible that the support side of the house did it, without thinking through the ramifications. But that seems unlikely that support would actually craft that message and send it to millions of people without someone at the company saying ‘Really, did we actually put that in writing’?

  20. siimon

    I used to be a strava premium member but the running power > cycling power thing meant I cancelled my subscription some time ago (that’s my post on the thread you linked) – I was with them from 2011. They promised lots of other things but never delivered – broke working features. At some point you have to vote with your feet.

    I don’t use strava at all any more, and segments are basically unachievable by mortal men and women any more – so their unique feature is getting less and less valuable.

    I’m finding garmin connect more and more useful – and they have added features like power curve – physio true up – advanced training metrics etc. Maybe garmin should relaunch their segments – it might be like re-levelling the playing field

    • John F.

      Agree that Garmin Connect is improving considerably. I recently “unlocked” a few more features when I upgraded from an Edge 520 to 530 and am enjoying the new analytics. I currently have premium subs for both Training Peaks and Strava, but will probably let them both lapse since Connect is pretty much giving me everything I need now. I do enjoy the social aspect of Strava though.

    • Lee Z.

      I agree, Garmin Connect is pretty good, I wish they would make it easier to find people you know. I know lot’s of people that own Garmin devices so they must be on Garmin Connect but I can’t find them.

  21. Yonah

    I canceled mine last week – but didn’t ask for a refund. I will continue using the rest of my paid subscription and probably continue using the free version, probably just for the challenges. Not that I care so much about the challenges, but i have occasionally gotten some discounts/free stuff from them.

    I’ve also realized that as a casual runner, sensor connectivity was an requirement – I didn’t want to spend $$ on a watch, so I needed strava to track things like HR. We’ve gotten to the point though where GPS/HR enable watches are cheap enough that they’re more accessible to most runners. (i.e. at a $150 vs a $500 price point). I honestly don’t think I’ve directly tracked a run in strava in nearly 2 years – even though every run and ride has been uploaded.

    About 2 years ago, I bought a training tool called Vi – essentially it’s an “AI” personal trainer that you run with that pushes you along during runs, and gives you stats and feedback. Originally it synced with Strava – which was great. Eventually, they had sync problems with Strava and removed it as a feature. Interestingly enough, those problems started when Vi ran their own in app virtual 5k, I wonder if that was the impetus for Strava to cut them off?

  22. Shiny

    I’ve turned auto update off for the Strava app, over a month ago, in the hope that I will still be able to pair my sensors via Bluetooth. I have an android phone and have never had any pairing issues with Strava. I haven’t had a chance to see if it still pairs yet. If it does, I just won’t update the Strava app anymore.

    • So this morning when I first tried to use sensors again (around 9AM Central European Time) it didn’t let me. The menu options were all gone.

      However now (just shy of 3PM CET), the options show up again. Not sure if it’s being controlled on the backend, some sort of bug, or they decided to let people in Hawaii complete their day.

    • Shiny

      I’ve just tested my heart rate strap and power meter and they both still connect via Bluetooth on the android phone app. Hopefully they will keep working as long as I don’t update the app.

  23. Mr T

    The irony is that if Strava did the bland pr speak people like you would have killed them on social media, etc. for not being honest. I get why you use bland pr speak. But they really couldn’t win with their statements.

    It’s a misplaced criticism.

    • I think there’s useful middle ground.

      As I noted above, they could have spun it as them wanting to take those developer hours towards new features instead of fixing code that less and less people are using. They could have talked about how small the number of people using sensors – saying perhaps that only 0.3% of activities are uploaded from the app with sensors, yet it accounting for 80% of all app crashes. That’s the kind of detail that helps people understand but doesn’t throw themselves (or their developers) under the bus. It helps people put into perspective that maybe this isn’t impacting that many people after all.

      Instead though, they painted a PR picture that’s effectively a worst-case scenario.

    • Fred Stig

      But saying that they were going to use developer hours toward new features would have been a blatant lie. They haven’t added a new, useful feature for years (ads in the Dashboard isn’t a ‘feature’).

    • Jeff

      Well, hiring actual Devs to meet the requirements for features and application stability would cut into Exec bonus’s. 🙂 I’m kinda glad I didn’t try to pursue a position in Strava when the chance was there. _IF_ I’d gotten in, I’d have to either maintain radio silence in these types of forums, or apologize constantly for crap Development efforts.

    • Jeff

      I have to agree with DCR for the worst case scenario PR. The PR ended up saying we have crap devs,and rather than fire them and get ones that can code their way out of a paper bag, we’ll just stop doing anything that challenges our current incompetent ones. (I suspect their Devs aren’t crap, but based on prior experience in similar situation – that exec leadership is restricting what they can do, and pushing different priorities at them, while still blaming them….)

    • Michael Haar

      “they could have spun it as them wanting to take those developer hours”

      You really think Strava has any _developers_ left? Does not seem like that for a long time now …

    • usr

      To my ears, the official statement has all the markings of the bland, spin-heavy PR speak that is universally vilified. It just happens to be, as Ray has so meticulously pointed out, a complete failure at everything bland, spin-heavy PR speak is usually trying to achieve.

    • Paul S.

      C’mon Ray, that “perceived effort” slider is a new thing. Not a useful thing, just a new one.

      Speaking of things that have disappeared from Strava, earlier this year I could have sworn that they showed estimated power on those rare days where I had to stay indoors and ride rollers. That has disappeared. I use a Power/AeroPod outdoors, so my tracks usually have power, so maybe that’s why. (The estimates were way off; I go hard on rollers because I can only stand doing it for 45 minutes, but not nearly as hard as they were saying.)

    • Yup, I noted the perceived effort new feature in the post (it was the September feature).

  24. Rickard

    I stopped paying for strava a year ago.

    We requested multisport support for several years and nothing has happend.
    We requested to be able to mark a swim as competition for several years and nothing has happend.

    I just feel that Strava doesnt care for the users, they just want the money.

    • David George

      I agree, they kinda do running and cycling ok but don’t seem to understand other sports or be keen on supporting them properly. Maybe those market segments are just too small?

      Searching for segments is pretty sucky.

      As others have said, the route creation is a bit flakey.

      None of that would matter if they were seen to be improving but everything looks pretty static… maybe they fired all the backend devs? It is a bit like Twitter for sports, it costs a lot to run and the revenue stream is not great.

      They wanted to reposition as a social platform but that doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere but that’s possibly down to the users not wishing to post .

  25. Daoud Amojee

    Now that’s the kind of DCR rant we wanted!

  26. inSyt

    They should have at least created some sort of API that lets other apps send sensor data in real time in a specified format that is easy for them to handle? They already do this but not in real time.

    This would place the burden of managing different sensors and supporting different versions of Android,iOS and Bluetooth onto sensor manufacturers?

  27. Tom Dahm

    What a well written article! I could not agree more with the points made here and while I love Strava I’ve been dissatisfied with it for a long time. Here’s to hoping they get their sh*t together.

  28. fl33tStA

    i never paired sensors to Strave, but my 1 year subcription ends and i will never renew anymore, the quality of Strava goes more and more down, every second day a update for android, so called bug fixing, but never seen, that anything goes better

  29. Ken Kilmurray

    Ray, I’m a long time fan of your candor, so I was rather surprised by your rant against Strava’s frank reply. I, for one, appreciate their lack of spin. They said it like it is, this set of bugs is not worth fixing. I wish they had just written the whole truth. Paying member don’t use these features anyway and answering the multitude of crash questions from free members costs money.
    Signed,
    Summit member who doesn’t connect sensors to his phone

    • I think to me though – it was still spin. They just managed to spin it in the wrong way. The correct way if they wanted to talk numbers, would have been to talk about exactly how few people were being impacted. Not about how many people were being impacted.

      As for paying members not using features, their own forums as well as numerous places around the internet seem to indicate otherwise. While I don’t tend to use this function often – a number of people do. I agree, it probably has less overlap with most commentors here due to most people here shopping for devices. But the math on 46 million users says a lot of them don’t have sports tech devices.

    • leon

      I paid (cancelled autopay when they first announced this) and I connected. Now I can’t connect I’m not paying.
      I like to pay for things with value to me, it just lost that reason.

    • Jeffrey F.

      Maybe Ken’s point is that you ranted against how they communicated, instead of against the underlying abject incompetence/apathy/stupidity that pervades all aspects of the company, from which the communication grew.

      You do allude to it at the end of your “Preemptive Note”, but as a long-time Strava superfan, the real story is that it’s been years since they gave a shit, or, at least, had the capacity to do so. It’s so depressing.

  30. Richard G

    I should have done it when the killed Relive… but this really was the final straw.

    No more money from me Strava. Your laziness and ineptitude is just astonishing.

  31. renrut

    I get the impression strava hopes one of their paths to profatibility is mining the data, then selling the results (e.g strava metro). The physiology data must have some value for research projects and specialist app developers. It therefore seems very short sighted removing features that collect such data

  32. Rob Powpowgnargnar

    Anyone need a new Bolt?

  33. Jeff

    I use either my Garmin Edge or my Apple Watch to record workouts, then have them automatically upload to Strava. For data analysis, the data that Gamin or the Apple Watch tracks is more meaningful than what Strava shows anyway. I only use Strava for the the Social Media connections with friends, to compete on challenges, and to upload photos taken during the event. Garmin has all of the same Social Media stuff, just no one uses it. I don’t see the value proposition for Strava long term unless they start doing advertising on their website to pay for things 🙁

  34. Mark

    I’m a little surprised you’re being so hard on them, Ray. Your (very valid) points about the PR/perception issues aside, this feels like a step in the right direction. The biggest consistent complaint you’ve posted about Strava is a lack of new features. Strava isn’t a new platform. They have to balance engineering time to perform maintenance of existing features versus building new ones. Sometimes maintaining existing features takes an exorbitant amount of effort. We can’t really tell this is in play here, but when I hear the terms “mobile” and “bluetooth”, I don’t have trouble believing that’s to be the case.

    I’m also going to give them the benefit of the doubt that the total number of affected users is extremely low, especially among paying users. They have the numbers and we don’t. Also, I’m having trouble groking that there are a large number of (paying) users that don’t have some form of device for collecting their data.

    If anything, the majority of value that Strava provides (me, at least) is after the fact. If I’m going to play armchair CEO, I’d say to get out of data collection all together. There are other, better means to get workout data into their system, and while at one point it was probably necessary functionality, “getting data in” is no longer a differentiating feature. I’d focus on maintaining and building features that are.

    • I think we’re saying the same things: I just want them to actually do it.

      As in, actually talk about them using those engineering resources elsewhere and what they plan to do with them. Or, to act – and actually push out new features.

  35. The pump seems a good find. It might need a strip of wood under the bottom to make sure it stands stable. It looks a lot like (but is not) the “Jumbo” bicycle pump that you will find in most Dutch households. They made 5 million of them since they started making them more than 50 years ago. You can still buy them and also spare parts should you need that. It has no gauge, you will need your thumb to feel if the pressure is right.

    See a video here: link to youtube.com

    • That’s awesome. Yeah, it was a strong night for bike parts on our street. Between the pump and the wheelset I posted to Twitter*, lots of bike stuff. We’ve also picked up a little red flyer-style tricycle too once. Kids love that!

      I agree on adding a bit more wood to the base. One of the three bolts is missing, so someone could apply force less than optimally and snap it. But there’s plenty of spare pieces of wood floating around the studio.

      My biggest trash pile regret is not picking up a KLM bike/frame that was there in the pile a few months after we first moved. I didn’t totally understand how the system worked, but it was a super cool looking frame that needed a bit of parts love (the frame itself was near perfect), but at worst might have made for a neat piece of art at the studio.

      *https://twitter.com/dcrainmakerblog/status/1188778970306764801

  36. Mike

    Nailed it Ray, don’t think you were harsh at all, called it as it is…. been a Strava user since the very beginning, and a paid up member, I don’t use the App at all for recording but it’s one straw too many for the camels back, I cancelled my membership, simple not enough features, I really like the route planner and the IQ App yo load onto my Garmin, but 2 things… can’t organise the routes and you can’t import (yes there is some strava labs importer that never works), and this is the point l, they can’t seem to give us any decent new features, they appear like a company with no vision or direction, it seems to me the future is being bought by Garmin, Apple or the likes

  37. B Silva

    Ride With GPS responds. Good for them.

    Introducing Strava Ride Sync
    We’ve always believed in giving you more options with your data, while making it convenient. After all, it’s your data. That’s why we are introducing Strava ride sync.

    Best-in-class voice navigation, offline maps, and Bluetooth sensor support in one app with no compromises. Enjoy the convenience of recording your rides with the Ride with GPS mobile app, and still have the option of getting kudos when the ride is automatically synced to your Strava account.

  38. Todd Johnson

    > like being on a hotel spin bike and having a heart rate strap with me.
    >
    > Which is ironically, the exact casual fitness type segment that Strava says they want to court

    It seems like a bit of a stretch to say someone who “[has] a heart rate strap with [them]” is the “casual fitness type.”

    Loud people on the internet aside, it seems like maybe there just weren’t that many people who had spent money on bluetooth/ANT accessories, but not on full blown watches or computers? The crashing thing could just be an excuse for, “this was a non-zero-maintenance, low-reward segment.”

  39. Marc D

    I just don’t get it – basically they are saying their Dev team are so inept they cannot code to only use Bluetooth/ant sensors when paired. Also for the “millions” of users that are supposed to be impacted on all the forums and speaking to anyone has there been a single example case that people corroborate this? Strava are so keen to kick off enhancements like relive who actually make enhancements but strava sit on their hands for years. My final gripe with it is one of the key things for some on summit is the beacon feature – using 3rd party apps loses this feature

  40. Chaos215bar2

    “Supporting Bluetooth devices was causing the app to crash during recording, whether or not a sensor was connected. Disabling this feature significantly improves recording stability for all athletes. While this update will reduce crashes for millions of athletes, we understand that it will be disappointing for the athletes who do use the feature.”

    Or, after using Google Translate from Corporate English to Common English: “It’s broke and we can’t fix it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”.

  41. M

    If their app can’t be a backup tracker for when my watch dies, I can’t think of a reason to have it installed on a phone. The website covers everything else and my adblocker works there unlike in the app.

    • Jeffrey F.

      One reason to keep the app is that photos added to an activity via the website are never connected to the activity map, but ones added via the app are (if they have appropriate metadata; I’ve heard that it doesn’t work for some Android phones).

      As an engineer who works on this kind of stuff, it’s difficult to come up with a reason for the disparity that doesn’t reflect poorly on Strava, but then, that’s par for the course with this company. )-:

  42. Derick

    Press release aside – which was bad – this, unfortunately, doesn’t surprise me. I’m not sure if I have ever recorded a ride or run on Strava with sensor data. It took so long to get ANT+ support for Android (despite there being phones with native ANT+ support) that I moved on to IpBike – which is a great app if you are an Android user. Then I started going on longer rides and battery life became an issue so I sprung for an Edge 500 and have never looked back. It gook Strava two years to implement ANT+ for Android after announcing support for ANT+ on iPhone. TWO YEARS….

    Having a dedicated device like a running specific watch or bike computer is such a better experience, I wonder how many users actually use the app to record sensor data. It could be that this decision only affects a small cross section of users. Could it be that the overwhelming majority of app users do not record sensor data and the overwhelming majority of users recording sensor data are doing so on third party devices? Of course, if this was the case you would think they would have eluded to it in the press release.

    For those looking for alternatives:
    If you are on Android give IpBike by Ifor Powell a try. Its truly a bike computer on your phone and it is well supported.
    Buy a used watch/bike computer. It really is a better experience…
    Garmin Edge 510 and Fenix 2 devices can be found for less than $100 used (these devices have Bluetooth connectivity for instant upload to Garmin Connect which syncs to Strava)
    Garmin Edge 500 can be had for less and is all the bike computer you really need. Requires manual upload.
    A ton of used running watches for less than $50. Even some new ones for less than $100.

  43. NG

    Thanks for the in-depth update on Strava. This was very timely for me because today is the day to make my decision about dropping the paid Summit and reverting to the free Strava. This downhill slide started for me a few years back when Strava decided not to allow “Activity” searches any longer because of super secret military bases. They said they were fixing the issue but obviously never did and probably had no intention to do. Then the big deciding factor was Beacon’ unreliability, the main reason I pay for Summit. I asked for help several times in getting it sorted. Most of the time I never even got a response. Funny but quick support is a promised benefit on Summit. NOT. And now today with another Strava failure. Even though this mostly doesn’t effect me it shows the heart of the company that has so severely deviated from their bread and butter that made them what they are to pursue visions of grandeur. Again, thank you

  44. Davis

    Losing Bluetooth connection isn’t a big deal. I probably only used that a few times when I had forgotten my computer. But as Strava has stripped out other features the value of Strava premium just isn’t there. I have cancelled my subscription as well.

  45. Treve Jenkyn

    Strava have failed to understand their customers, using Wahoo or Garmin is fine but why encourage people to stop using your site, i prefer to use Strava for my rides and just use Garmin as a Speedo on the bars. Removing this and the ability to see friends ride’s in date order means to me that they don’t understand or care di u cancelled my renewal.
    Bye bye£38 Strava
    Treve

  46. EternalFury

    What if their analytics show that less than 10% of their users connect a Bluetooth device while recording their workouts with the app?

    After all, Apple, Fitbit and Garmin have done a fairly good job convincing the masses that recording workouts with a phone is antiquated.

  47. John Davidson

    Just checked and Ride with GPS still supports it.

  48. flokon

    I don’t know, this all seems kinda “Wayne” to me. Who actually uses the Strava app to record workouts instead of a GPS device/watch?

    • Depending on the particular event – I surprising number of people. Past numbers we looked at for some events were like 20%+, and that’s for people that actually sign-up and do a race, let alone less race-focused people that just use the app day to day.

      My brother ran his first 10KM race last weekend. He just used the Strava app (no sensors).

    • Jeff

      I can’t wear a watch due to carpal. So I used it for off bike stuff. My edge 1030 for on bike. I personally think that the fitness pocketwatch market isn’t tapped into yet for people that can’t wear watches. 😀

    • Andrew

      What percentage of activities with sensor data are recorded on the Strava app?
      Is the percentage declining as more wareables replace mobiles for recording activities?
      It makes economical sense for Strava to shift to being a data aggregator if the percentage of people using the app is declining to the point that software development is non viable?

    • Jeffrey F.

      You’d be surprised, flokon. Lots of serious cyclists just want to ride, so they have no interest in power meters, bike computers, etc. But even these folks will bring a phone with them as a practical measure for emergencies, and so using the app on the phone has little friction, and they can then partake in some of the social elements of Strava.

      Check the activities on the leaderboards in your area, and I’m sure you’ll find some recorded with the app.

    • Chris

      I’m done with using watches, bike computers, etc. Since I have my phone with me, I open Strava and hit record.
      Have paid for a few strava subscriptions, but always cancelled them – they don’t add anything useful. The simple ability to mark ‘laps’ would be brilliant, let alone slide along a power graph and see what that spike is.
      Strava is a gps filing cabinet for me. Nothing more.

  49. Justice

    This entire topic has never clarified what “crashing ” means ? Do they mean a drop in tracking where you get the strait line , or does the app close completely while riding ? I have used strava on my phone for years , with a heart rate strap, every so often it drops the tracking , I figured it was due to my phones gps signal , and recently I figured it was because my.phone didn’t like being next to other Bluetooth connected things like cars and head units , sometimes I felt like the signal would bug out , other than that it worked pretty good for me , got plenty of koms and segment prs.

  50. Gary Saunders

    The other thing they don’t say is that if they are disabling Bluetooth connections, then the automatic BEACON notification that works with my Garmin Fenix 5X, also has to go away and I have to run STRAVA separately on my phone to have my family members track me on a run rather than relying upon the connection between GARMIN and STAVA to send my position with the settings I have in GARMIN Connect.

    • Robin

      I don’t think that’s correct. The Beacon feature works similar to the garmin livetrack feature in the background and it’s pushed through from Garmin Connect rather than a direct link from your watch to Strava.

  51. Shawn Box

    Totally agree with everything you said.

    Would have been easy to add a enable/disable and provide a quality warning as well.

    “Dear Users,

    We here at Strava are working to meet your needs.

    Based on data analysis and user reports, we have determined that a function of our App is causing some users errors. Based on this information, we have opted to make the BT/ANT function an OPT-IN Experience.”

    By default all new installations will have APP BT and ANT disabled. Any users experiencing BT/ANT issues may also disable this function, and we recommend an external device for those users. Users not experiencing issues may continue to use the function. You may enable and disable the function by following these instructions: (insert instructions here)

    Please note that due to the complexity of programming across so many variations of phones and phone carrier settings, Strava will not be able to guarantee a trouble free experience with this BT/ANT function. For your benefit, we have worked with some external device manufactures and can offer discount codes for the following products: (insert discounts here).”

  52. Paul Berry

    I think the beacon function will still work, as the strava app is not running when paired with a garmin, as it is your phone which is connected and it wakes up strava, and strava has permission to send a message in case of a fall etc. You could say strava is in sleep mode. It is a different scenario to a heartrate band.

  53. Andreas

    Just feel the tire if the pressure is suitable to you. It’s been like that for many decades and always worked.

  54. Lee

    I was a paid Strava member when I started using Strava (2011). I cancelled my paid membership a few months ago and haven’t missed anything they offer. There was too many simple things they could have fixed. I have basic feature requests in the forum from 5 years ago that still haven’t been addressed.

    You can’t really use Strava for training either. If you change your ftp, Strava goes back to all your historical data and recalculates those rides based on your new ftp. How this that even remotely accurate. My ftp as of right now should not affect race data from two years ago.

    I still enjoy the social aspect, but that’s all I use it for now.

  55. MD Biker Dude

    Maybe it’s all a PR stunt after all, now the can reinstate the feature amid fanfares and back slapping for listening to users needs. Probably not.

  56. Scott

    They’re dropping this just like they just don’t implement tons of features people have been asking for for years.
    It’s a lazy, poorly managed company that has the market share to sustain itself.

  57. Bryndis

    I have only used the app to record once or twice when I somehow manage to drive all the way to the start of a run before realizing I don’t have my watch on. I’ve never paired a sensor, and I do not pay for a premium account. But I loooove my Strava account and uploading from Garmin and getting all those kudos just gives me all the warm fuzzy feelings.

    As little as this change affects me, I have such mixed feelings about it. I agree with Keith’s video that, yeah, we’re just data points, and that is all I ever needed to be on Strava. I absolutely love their heatmaps and have used them often to find running routes in new places I’ve never been. But on the other hand, it makes my blood boil when I’m reading Ray’s criticism of Strava’s PR release, because, yeah, what the hell Strava!?

    Honestly, I will never buy premium because it’s not what I use Strava for, and I don’t expect I will ever feel the need to pair a sensor (or will ever feel the pain of not being able to do so), but I want Strava to stick around for the long haul… So whatever is necessary, I will accept.

  58. matt

    As someone who works in the tech industry as a programmer at a startup, it’s easy to be snarky about this.

    But most people’s objections to this seem to be theoretical more than they are actually grounded in “this breaks a regular workflow of mine and diminishes my experience of Strava”.

    I expect that Strava looked at the usage data and came to the conclusion that it was truly a niche feature that wasn’t worth the cost of ongoing maintenance.

    Snark about “well just hire competent developers” is naive at best, idiotic at worst. All features have maintenance cost, well built or not. If they’re not meaningfully used and don’t contribute to the mission, kill them.

    I suspect that what they did underappreciate is the loss of
    goodwill: I think a lot people’s premium/summit subscription is based on goodwill more than actual derived value, and that probably throws off Strava’s impact calculations somewhat.

    • “I suspect that what they did underappreciate is the loss of goodwill”.

      Exactly. As the comments here prove, time and time again, Strava finds ways to lose goodwill.

      And it’s funny, they do actually add small subtle things over time, they just don’t tell the world about it anywhere that I know of.

      For example – in the intro section I make a joke about hating on all sensors equally. The original phrasing of that joke was actually going to note about how they still discard swimming sensor data, years after watches started sending it to them in open standard. Turns out though, just last month they *FINALLY* added support for displaying that data. Holy balls, years later. I found that deep in a support comment on their forum that as of that date they added. That’s been a huge complaint of the triathlete community, why didn’t Strava trumpet that better? Sure, they’d probably get made fun of for being years later to the party, but hey – better late than never.

    • usr

      “I think a lot people’s premium/summit subscription is based on goodwill more than actual derived value“

      I’m definitely in that group, and the goodwill is eroding.

      As to the rare usage, perhaps they were looking more at number of activities than at number of users affected.

      Sample sizes one: hardly any of my activities are app+sensor. But on the rare occasion that my Garmin takes a day off, I was very glad to be able to track with the app, including sensors. And I probably won’t keep an extra app installed for that, it’s all about the convenience of integration.

      The thing is, when we are Strava-addicted, temporarily being without recording device feels like the worst thing on earth. This is obviously not true, but falling back to recording with the app keeps that illusion alive. Sure, the app can still record the GPS path, but when you are decked out with all the sensors that’s already half way to not tracked at all. The absolutely last thing Strava would want is us users realizing that an activity did in fact happen, even if it’s not on Strava.

      …and that whole sensor integration thing will only become more important as the installed base of dual ANT/BTLE is shifting from exotic to ubiquitous.

    • Lee

      Goodwill you hit the nail on the head. I very rarely used the Summit features. I was a Summit member only because I appreciated using Strava and I thought they deserved to be paid for their work. As I mentioned above I paid for years but have since cancelled my membership.

  59. Dahron A Johnson

    Had to signal myself as one of the Strava users (and now former subscribers) who regularly–every ride, every run–used Strava to record data from multiple ANT+ sensors (for example, hr strap, PT hub, and a separate cadence sensor because the hub’s virtual cadence was too iffy for me). At first, it was because I had sensors but no fancy computer–but I did use Samsung phones that had an ANT antenna. Then, once I got a fancy computer, it was a Garmin, and wellll, I quickly found out that having a secondary recording of my rides/runs was probably good practice. So, now I’m experimenting with other apps. (I will admit there’s something endearing about the clunkiness combined with data wonkiness of ipbike, fwiw).

    I also agree with the dissection of the press release here. Pretty much every sentence raised frustrated questions rather assuaging concerns and making me excited about other potential new developments. That non-explanation of a press release was a hot mess!

  60. Travis

    I’m the weird guy that pays for Strava Premium as my effort to make sure that the core (free) functionality stays around. The only premium features I actually use is occasionally looking at the Fitness chart and the heatmaps just for shits and giggles.

  61. kevin

    I don’t use the strava app itself. Only uses it to upload photos of activity, use its web UI to see flybys as well as use it with Stravistix.

    If they target summit to “causal people who start to get serious”, removing bio-metric sensor support is a really bad move. Just think someone can just throw in a HR strap or oHR strap with bluetooth and use it with strava without investing in a GNSS sport watch could be an attractive alternatives (they tend to bring their phone anyway). With the dropping price of entry products of garmin (FR35 45 etc) and polar (ignite), hitting ~$200 I feel that less and less people will be using the app (only) to track activities even for causal ones. And very serious ones will go to training peaks etc.

  62. noisufnoc

    I’m extremely frustrated with this change. I’m a new cyclist, I just bought my first bike in July and have logged 600 miles on it in Strava. I picked up a HR strap, a cadence sensor, and a Summit subscription to really dig into the data from my rides. I see my effort and my fitness improving, and I really enjoy using live segments to push myself as hard as I can. Connecting the sensors to my phone just worked, and I never had an issue. Now I’m frustrated with the thought of multiple apps and workarounds to get back into tracking my riding. I dunno, maybe I just need a cycling computer and move on.

    • Amedee

      Definitely feel the same…
      As starter, using Strava for the navigation and collecting HR data and cadence is all I needed.
      A 2 hours ride uses something like 30% of my phone battery, no problem there either.

      I tried some other apps, but couldn’t find something similar — there is always something missing, at least in their free tier (not that I want it all for free, but I want to test without subscribing…)

      I stopped upgrading Strava when I got their first mail, so hopefully I can still use it as before for some time (at least it still works today), next step will most probably be a bike computer — I’ll surely regret the big screen of my phone…
      (And I’ll probably drop Strava as well as I don’t share my rides with anybody anyway…)

    • Fred Stig

      If I’m not mistaken… and I would have to try this tonight when I get home… but if you download the free Wahoo Fitness app, you can sync ANT+ and BTLE sensors to that app on your phone and record a workout. You can then have the app sync to Wahoo. Not a wonderful solution, but it will get you the data in Strava that you’re looking for. At as far as I can tell, it will work for all mfgs devices. I know I can control my Elite Direto in the Wahoo app, for instance.

    • Fred Stig

      I’m a dumb monkey. The Wahoo app will sync to Strava is what I meant to say. deRp.

    • Amedee

      No more sensors today 🙁

      I haven’t updated the app since the announcement, so it is something they had planned well in advance.

      Too bad

  63. Howie

    Good riddance Strava!

  64. Oldtown Outsider

    But at least Strava is going to Apple Maps. 😏

  65. Paul Crow

    My own view is that Strava needs to embrace the social side of its users behaviour better and focus on that. People should be able to chat better amongst friends and groups and feel connected to like minded athletes. It’s not FB or Insta but look how many users now post photos and fun titles – even Dave Brailsford does. It doesn’t have to dilute from the data analysis, trends, graphs and pretty colours are all critical to it but we are now all show-offs. Imagine if Strava suggested people who have similar workouts, similar performance etc. Strava should be running way more ads on its feeds – even dating apps for cyclists etc. If it were like Instagram, accepted short video clips and still had the elevation, stats etc available it could hide the map from anyone other than special friends approved. Strava has a great future, but only if it follows the behaviour of its users.

    • I actually agree with you. There’s so many things Strava could do feature-wise that have mass appeal more than workout analysis. Strava’s never been good with workout analysis, and frankly, I don’t use Strava for that kind of data. I use it to share my ride with friends…and a few other people ;).

      I know some people will disagree, and I think there’s still room for training focused features. But I also think Strava needs to kinda get off the fence. Either be the social-network it wants to be, or be an analytic platform. Or heck, do both great. Right now it kinda does both, without doing both well.

      I started writing a ‘5 Features Strava could Add’ post last month. Maybe I’ll knock it out. Not sure if there’s any interest.

    • Paul Crow

      Thanks for your reply Ray. I’d be interested in the ‘5 features’ post. It’s easy for people on here to say that they are cancelling subscriptions and battering Strava, but as you state in your introduction, we all use it and would simply prefer it to be better and its proactive behaviour not a revolution. I could write a whole list of things that I believe would be beneficial to me and others like me so hands in the air Ray if you want input!

    • jason

      Actually my friend, no, we don’t ALL use Strava. I signed up for a free account a few months ago, because a family member wanted to ‘share’ his rides with me.

      It’s pointless to me. I shared a couple of my rides, but then wondered: “Why?”

      I don’t use it anymore. I use Garmin Connect for all my workouts (since I’ve got a Garmin watch and bike head unit) and it’s got plenty of analysis for me. I had one GPS hiccup with my watch, after a firmware update. Other than that, I have no problems with Garmin.

      Also, I am not a Pro, nor an elite, so I don’t need or want a bunch of analysis. Give me: Time, distance, pace, power, cadence and HR, and I’m more than good. I glance at the stats after a specific workout (hills, intervals, etc.) to make sure I’m doing well, but certainly not after a normal ride.

      I signed up for Komoot as a way to plan my rides and trail runs, if I’m going to an unfamiliar area. I paid less than $20 for the full ‘world’ access. $20 for a lifetime access to a route planner is a great deal. Those routes, runs and hikes I plan automatically sync to my watch, or my GPS head unit. I go out and have fun, and -poof- the data is back in Garmin Connect automagically. I also back it up (for free) in Dropbox.

      I think Strava might be a good backup repository for workouts, but something like Dropbox might be better since you have more ‘ownership’ of your data. And who knows how long Strava will let free users use it for free?

      Also, I’m not on Facebook or any other social media site, so maybe I’m a fuddy duddy like that; but I do know that facebook is not seeing the growth they used to, and they are definitely not seeing the profit like they want.

      Somebody said Strava should have MORE ads? I block ads at a hardware and software level, so I’ve never seen an add on Strava, but if it has ads, that sucks. If it adds more ads, that sucks even more.

      My prediction is Strava’s growth flatlines and they don’t add any significant new premium/paying subscribers.

      Remember when facebook came out and it was just for college kids? Then it got popular and people had 1,000+ ‘friends’? And how people started posting multiple times a day, with photos, of boring stuff that no one cared about? Strava, to me, is just like that. Sure, we can say it’s special because it’s for athletes, but long term, it’s going the way of facebook, except LESS users, LESS profitable, etc.

    • Then honestly, Strava isn’t for you. And that’s totally cool. It sounds like Garmin Connect covers your needs just fine.

      But despite Strava’s inability to make money, they are growing. Whether or not they’re growing fast is debatable, but most businesses would be happy with growth of a million users a month (which they’ve been pretty consistent with over the last year). People do like Strava as a service, they just don’t like the way Strava acts.

      Not terribly unlike Facebook that you referenced. I think a lot of us don’t like elements of how Facebook acts, but we do like how it allows us to stay in touch with friends or family. I might not upload much to Facebook personally (aside from DCR), but I do use it to keep in touch with others. I, like many others, don’t like how Facebook is handling our data.

      Which is interestingly different than Strava in that regard. I actually think what Strava is doing with Metro is great. I wish they could get it in the hands of more governments. I wish they’d do a better job of informing users why logging commute data is important for getting governments to make changes to bicycle lanes.

  66. Matt

    I for one, appreciate the fact that Strava would come out and tell….well, you know…the truth. And not “sweeten it up” with a bunch of “PR bullshit” that you apparently believe is better. Nothing is more disgusting and insulting to me than to have smoke blown up my arse with “bland” PR statement sidestepping admitting a failure. Admitting to a failure is a clear path to the road to success. I don’t use Strava for anything other than uploading from my Garmin and for “Beacon”, so this doesn’t affect me. However, if I were to use for sensor data retention, it sure is better to know right now I should be getting something else put together to keep using my equipment vs. being left with a PR statement which says…….nothing.

  67. Mike

    strava should make the distinction of the tours made with ebike !! And also the distinction of the times made in the various segments! with ebike or with muscle

  68. Mike

    so if you select ebike it will not insert you in the classifications of the segments? it is full of false times made with ebikes in the segments on the strava

    • Correct, selecting eBike doesn’t put you in the leaderboard. Obviously, if people don’t select it as an e-bike ride…then it’ll be in the wrong leaderboard by default.

  69. Mike

    it would be more interesting and correct to visualize the same segments with only ebike in the classification, not to hide them completely. that is why almost all do not select ebikes, they see the same times

    • Dirk

      I don’t get that point. Everybody can create segments for ebikes. It’s very easy.

      But the “real” riders don’t want to have anything to do with the E-Bikers. We want our leaderboards absolutely separated.

    • aaron

      it shouldn’t be terribly hard to detect. an ebike isn’t riding a segment. it’s reality simulation. it has nothing to do with an irl gps recorded segment on an *actual* bike in the *actual* world. zero reason to mix these two completely different segments.

    • Paul S

      I think you’re mixing categories. An ebike as I usually see it is an actual bicycle with an electric assist motor built in. So they really are actual bikes doing actual rides outdoors, just with the ability to goose the power output on command without physical effort. I don’t think they’re talking about indoor riding on trainer type bikes.

    • Aaron

      Ahah! 🤣 good call.

      Well, you might as well have segment challenge leaderboards for motorcycles, escooters and segways if you’re going to mix in motorized assist. What’s next Strava for self driving cars?

  70. chris

    I actually spit out my drink laughing over your teardown of the PR statement. Well done. sir.

  71. amico_pl

    How convenient, my Analysis pack subscription is up for renewal this week…and it is not going to happen.

    In my case the nasty surprise was that while Analysis for running is pretty good for what I need (graphically showing pace for given interval), I just realized that this is not the case for power in cycling..at least for workouts exported from Sufferfest or Zwift. Which makes this paid feature useless for me.
    I don’t get why I should pay a dime for something I already have at more advanced level in free Garmin Connect Mobile.
    Where is Strava heading? It is clearly weak on social features (way behind Face or Insta) and falls short on fitness analysis as well. Are they heading the MySpace route??

  72. Daniel

    As an IT professional and previous developer I can only conclude that Strava and their developers are rather indifferent and lazy to all actually fixing the issue or coming up with another solution as opposed to just removing the support for Bluetooth devices unless something has fundamentally changed within the Android and iPhone software development libraries which makes developing and connecting to Bluetooth much more challenging but without wanting to sound cynical I doubt it I just think they’re f****** lazy

  73. O.Tan

    With how large and many data that Strava has, I’m actually surprise that they weren’t able to release any new meaningful updates that makes the user want to subscribe to Premium..I mean Summit. If anything, their lack of focus on giving their users (based on their forums) what they want is the very thing that makes people leaving Strava Summit. Like seriously, why should I continue paying for a service when it appears the developer has no interest in fixing the issues that many people are having or even bothered to answer the forums. It feels like an echo chamber where you have the users giving ideas and stuff and what do they get in return? Zilch!

  74. Happy Runner

    So Strava is being bashed for not using “bland PR speak?”

    Rather than bashing them, they should be applauded for telling the truth — “We are a for-profit company and the decline in users we will see from this change is not worth the money to fix the problem to keep those users. We have a bottom line to be concerned about as we have a responsibility to investors.”

    While people can be legitimately bummed that this functionality will end, it is a sad day when a company is being bashed for telling the truth instead of using PR spin.

    • Except, they didn’t say what you quoted. Had they, I’d have respected them.

      Instead, they admitted they don’t know they’re doing. So yes, from a business standpoint I will hold them accountable on that – as anyone should. When companies make poor business choices (such as something as silly as their PR statements), it’s incredibly telling about how the rest of the company is run. I think some people aren’t realizing that here.

      I often talk about poor business decisions in sports tech here. Making a good product is just as important as making smart business decisions. They aren’t mutually exclusive. What they pushed out doesn’t appear to be the whole truth. Again, had they said what you said – I’d been good with that. Except they didn’t.

      I also find it somewhat funny that literally nobody has said yet, anywhere (not here, not Twitter, not Reddit, not Facebook) that their Strava app has crashed. For apparently millions of users being impacted – it’s an odd omission.

  75. AlfieAK

    I would love to see more of an open development community in the bike tech world. Some sort of development forums or make some of the code open source. Share the knowledge and perhaps people would be more understanding and maybe even help advance the product. Something similar to Netflix Tech blog. 👍🏻

  76. Dan

    I’m intrigued to know how much contact you have behind the scenes with people at Strava. I’m curious to know if my perception of them as arrogant, or aloof, or lazy—or all three—is well-founded. They seem to be pretty complacent about being the most widely-used platform, with an apparent monopoly. I wish there was a manufacturer-agnostic alternative. Garmin Connect is great, but I like the social aspect of Strava. The way they behave just makes me hate Strava a little bit.

    • Like any company, it’s a blend. Most of the people I know there the most, are good folks trying to make it all work.

      Others have a bit of the ‘We’re best because we’re Strava’ type attitude. To which I would counter – being the best only matters when you’re making money. Otherwise, a kids lemonade stand is a better business model.

      As I said on the podcast, I rarely look at the companies I review and think “I could do a better job as CEO of that company”. Very rarely. I know that I don’t know about a lot of these things. But Strava is the one exception here. I really struggle to understand how they can’t find a way to profitability, and to making users happy. This really shouldn’t be hard. They’ve got a product that people want to use daily, do use daily, and want to enjoy. And even pay for, even when they don’t use the paid for bits (like myself) – as many people said here.

      They’ve got incredible brand awareness and recognition, and have a slowly but diversified business model. Yet, they can’t seal the deal. A great example of that is the whole ‘Sponsorship’ thing for your activities showing which devices you used. Many of the companies I talk to have openly balked at the prices Strava wants to charge them, literally laughed. Some have backed away already. Companies I’ve talked to say it does actually convert at a reasonable level, but not often for the price points Strava is charging.

      Features is another one. How they’ve gone basically years without new exciting features people can remember is astounding. They should be on a quarterly release cycle, at a minimum, with some sort of user-memorable feature. And they should be communicating that as wide as possible. Another challenge isn’t a feature. Privacy is baseline, you don’t get feature credit for it. I should be able to ask 10-15 Strava users at random what new features came this year, and the majority should be able to list at least 1, if not more. It should be that exciting. It should be that obvious that something is new and different.

      Anyway…point being – as I said at the start, I think Strava’s got the right people, just the wrong leadership.

    • Actually, one more thought/notable.

      Strava really only has two paths to profitability:

      A) Remove features from the free version, hoping they’ll pay to upgrade to Summit (and that the amount of cancellations is acceptable for the business path)
      B) Add features that are Summit only, to entice people to move over.

      That’s it. Metro isn’t their savior, by their own admission. Sponsored ads are a tricky balance, and thus far, it’s going poorly. Whereas challenges (which are also ads) tends to go just fine. Either way, those don’t even begin to approach the numbers Strava needs to make financially for it to stay afloat.

      So in short, either Strava has to actually make new features, or they have to take them away. There’s only two paths – and I’m not convinced they get that.

    • Dude Guy

      Dude we need the full length article of everything that is F&$%# with Strava and what they need to do to fix it. Don’t limit yourself to five points. We all know there’s at least 20. Unleash the full fury.

      Guaranteed it will be your highest viewed highest commented article ever. =D

    • usr

      One thing to keep in mind is that profitability isn’t what the leadership of a VC funded silicon valley startup is paid for. They are paid for hyperprofitability and/or the growth to get there. I’m fully confident that they would easily have it in them to become the perfect virtual playground for cycling nerds with the occasional swim/run/whatever strewn in that we all want it to be off they were not sent out on a hopeless quest to become something much bigger than that.

      But if their task is to grow into all the other people, well good luck with that. I’d be just as clueless as they obviously are, there’s just no way to repeat the success they had with cyclists who happen to be a uniquely perfect fit for what Strava is/was doing. Their instantly swap one cyclist for two casual yoga practitioners or whatever (twice as many eyeballs/wallets! And in reality the ratio between casual yogi/whatever and cycling nerds is much bigger than 2:1) but those yogi aren’t exactly queuing up for admission to social media (particularly since insta exists), probably quite the opposite. Strava is force-matching itself (or likely: being force-marched by is investors) from a tiny market where they had perfect product market fit into a much bigger but entirely different market where it will likely die if they don’t find a way to turn around.

      On the topic off sensor support, someone probably had numbers that show that people *who are not on Strava* are turned off by sensors and all the implied nerdism, so the priority of sensor support implementation slid from zero to negative. Those same people will also never want a social network to track workouts, no matter how much sensors are removed, but when you are given an impossible task, you boldly try to do whatever it takes.

    • hdb

      Ray sez: “Whereas challenges (which are also ads) tends to go just fine.”
      If the Strava challenges are considered to be a success, I’m scared to see a failure.. The leaderboards on any challenge look like “Tour De Pharmacy” – people riding 300 km in a day with 5000 meters of climbing for weeks on end.. Lots of clearly fabricated results with absolutely no moderation by Strava or anyone else. The results are comical and are surpassed only by the “prizes” in the level of ludicrousness..

    • Paul S.

      Exactly. I typically only join challenges I’m likely to complete, so usually only the monthly cycling climbing challenge. (November will be the last month for a while, and that may be iffy depending on the weather.) The leaderboards are ridiculous. (I especially like the people living in Flatland climbing multi thousand meters a day.) But they did do the “Escape Plan” well, since you couldn’t see how anyone else was doing. They should extend that to all of the other challenges.

    • I’m referring to the business side of that.

  77. davidm

    Maybe I missed other discussions of this, but to me it is clear:

    Strava is simply moving away from any kind of in-app data recording and this is the first step. They see themselves as a social network and data repository, not a platform that should be tied to the disfunctionality of a wide variety of hardware (your old phone). If you have a problem, they want you to blame Wahoo/Garmin/etc, not Strava.

  78. Tom

    Just discovered this tonight with my ride. Comparing heartrate over time was the main reason I used Strava. Pissed me off. I guess Samsung Health it is.

  79. RN

    Removing a feature instead of fixing the bugs that cause the app to crash. Real smooth, Strava. Maybe they hired one of those silicon valley rock-star product managers at $$$K a year who decided to lay out a product road map that synergistically streamlined real-time business, proactively built highly efficient internal teams that progressively embraced cross-platform quality vectors and dynamically engineered performance based “outside the box” thinking imperatives in order to quickly productivate diverse results*.

    [*] link to atrixnet.com

  80. Dan Murphy

    Wait, wait – Dutch valve?

  81. Aaron

    Google Trends aren’t perfect, but for big multi 10x million customer companies, they can be useful.

    If you look back at the search popularity for the majors that got acquired a half decade ago (runkeeper, map my stuff, et. al), you would notice that nearly all of them were peaking in popularity, or had already slowed down their search growth.

    One company that bucked the trend was Strava – as they continued a seemingly unstoppable meteoric rise in search interest. In that era I was super impressed how Strava was killing it against all the competitors.

    Interestingly, their chart may look similar, but delayed by 4 or 5 years. I think there’s definitely a VC “best sell by” phenomenon going on here with all these companies, and Strava is no exception.

    Will Strava be the next Facebook? Or closer to Twitter? (or… MySpace). Time will tell.

    link to trends.google.com

  82. Joel E

    I’m a paying member and I most definitely used this feature, in fact it’s the reason i bought my phone as it has good Ant+ support and worked well for my needs. I don’t ride outside that often and so don’t really need a cycle computer so all my garmin sensors could pair to it and that was fine.

    Signed,
    Summit member who did connect sensors to his phone. (Just because you don’t it doesn’t mean that others don’t, it’s a democracy thing.)

  83. Dennis Keane

    One word – Cyclemeter

  84. David Chapel

    Yep I canceled my Summit subscription for this year with 11 months to go and they gave me a full refund.

    The only good thing about Strava in this whole debacle was how they handle my cancellation.

    Great article BTW – hoping their PR and executive team is taking note!

  85. Adam Sims

    I’m also a Summit member who did connect sensors to his phone (occasionally).

    Not to be long winded about it – I’ve just cancelled by ‘premium’ subscription.

  86. Pascal Kolkman

    Strava is so proud in their marketing past announcements informing us that many professional uci races bike riders use strava too.
    Wich I think indeed is great for the fans and the transparancy in the cycling sport.
    It is fun to be able to see pro cyclist trainings with powermeter data.
    Strava knows 99,5% of their many pro users use powermeters and heartrate sensors as training and racing tools or tools to execute certain training schedule plans.
    Knowing this they should try a lot harder to fix THEIR occasionally in my experience rare app sensor bug in stead of dumb killing this BASIC important feature all in ounce.
    That is what they are getting paid for. I’m a powermeter and heartrate strap user too in combination with just my mobile phone and the strava app clean and simple . therefor. i’m very disappointed in strava’s bug solving stupid strategy.
    Now i’m supposed to use an other mobile app or forced to buy a second additional ant+ or blt hardware device besides my new phone like an expensive Garmin edge fe 🙁

  87. Seth S.

    Ray, I find it great that you’re forthcoming with your frustration and critique of Strava. I saw some heat coming from your post — that’s OK. I take no stake in this matter even as an ardent user of Strava.

    Without leadership and strategic clarity from the CEO Strava will not succeed, no matter how dedicated the rank and file. My bet is Strava will survive and thrive. It’s asset rich even if it’s profitless, If you’re right and the CEO flounders he will be replaced or the company will be sold to buyer’s jostling each other to be first in line, with a new CEO in tow.

  88. Nice to read, thanks DCR.

    I hope Strava is now concentrating on automatic detection of E-Bike Rides. This is more and more annoying. My prediction is that if they fail on this subject they will become irrelevant in some years. The paying serious users are more and more getting pissed of the lame E-Bikers that are not willing or not able to set their activity type “E-Bike-Ride”. A small step would be to add an “E-Bike” Button in their gear section.

    • Michael

      Sadly I don’t think they will implement any software- or staff-based mechanism of busting e-bike-rides. I know a case of a persistent and obvious cheater (late 50s, about 90kg) who flew up mountains at national amateur level speed. Several riders flagged his rides and even directly reached out to Strava support – to no avail, as the guy is a Summit member and Strava don’t want to miss out on the money.

      Other than that, I’ve recorded 15.000 km this year using my Android phone paired to a Stages power meter. Expecially on commutes it’s pointless to record the activity with a Garmin, as Strava will kill all the manually set pauses. Hence stop-and-go traffic, sections on a bus etc. will always be included into moving time, completely messing up the activity. Strava have been aware of this mess for a long time, yet instead of fixing it, they simply call it their “own algorithm”. 🤐

      I’ve just cancelled my Summit membership two hours ago.

  89. alibi

    strange.. i used strava with hr belt almost everyday for about two year without single one issue..

  90. Patrick

    Veloviewer.com is now the only reason i’m still using strava.

    I’m exploring alternative apps. Dont like the wahoo app. Or maybe buy a 530 to replace my etrex 30 which is the expenisive option. GPX uploading is now manual labor

    Definitely de-installing strava app. This app seems to be buggy says strava. (which i never noticed)

  91. Robert E Downs

    Today, 11-3, I used my heart rate monitor and it still recorded to Strava. Hmmm???

  92. Slash

    I use an old android phone that no longer has service as a redundant backup recording. (I use wifi to upload the ride) The app hasn’t been updated since 2018.. it’s been logged out of google play. I notice it still works as of yesterday connecting to all my ANT / Bluetooth devices. Power, HR, etc. It is running an old version of the app…release 51.0 I believe. Does anyone know exactly what android release# that the change was made so I can install the newest possible version on my main phone that will still read the sensors?
    Thanks!

  93. Jeff

    I’m primarily a cyclist, but I really appreciated the convenience of wearing my chest strap and recording runs using the phone app. I’m also a Summit subscriber but this has got me thinking about that going forward…

  94. Luke Hardman

    I cancelled my subscription the other day, I have been a paying customer since 2015.

    It has nothing to do with sensors (which to me is neither here nor there). I have never used the app to record an activity even, let alone connected sensors.

    What is inexcusable though is that, while every other application (TrainingPeaks in my case) manages to support Garmins swim files Strava cannot. Yes Garmin changed something but any mediocre programmer could make the adjustment over his lunch break. And Strava doesn’t have mediocre programmer so why has it taken over a year to fix.

    And then there’s the fact that the fitness and freshness thing changes historical values if you update your FTP. WTF?! So after signing up because of live segments (which annoy me now and are turned off anyways) 5 years ago I have said goodbye.

    I don’t know why I wrote this comment, I am sure you guys care as much about this drivel as Strava cares about me cancelling my subscription.

    Peace

  95. Matt

    This is very disappointing. I have been using an inactive Android phone paired with Strava “Premium” for almost 3 years. It displayed every metric I needed: power, cadence, live speed, HR, distance, and time. I honestly can’t remember one time it crashed while in operation. I never had any issue pairing a 4iiii power meter or Wahoo heart rate monitor. The only complaint is the form factor and weather-ability of using a phone for a head unit. Bummer. I too will be taking out the trash.

    • Several people have recommended rwgps, which now supports uploading to Strava. I use their app on Android with a Samsung S8 phone. It only pairs to bluetooth. I have it paired to a Garmin duel HR strap (ANT and Bluetooth), a Garmin speed sensor 2 and a Stages powermeter. I had some problems getting the speed sensor to work reliably but I moved it from the rear hub to the front and spit on it a few times and it started working regularly. (It was dropping out to zero mph periodically). When I get home from a ride I “finish” the ride, type in a name and click save. It’s on the rwgps web site before I can walk up a flight of stairs. When I had problems, rwgps support responded quickly and in detail.

      RWGPS has segment (aka KOM) support without as many racer wannabees clogging the leaderboards. And good ride logging though it won’t supplant a dedicated training site if you are deep into the weeds on analytics.

  96. Alberto

    Endomond used to support BT Classic, BLE and ANT+, speed, cadence and heart rate monitors.

    Now they support only BT Heart rate monitors…

    (But MapMyFitness does support ANT+, speed and cadence sensors .. and they are both from the same company!!!)

    • usr

      Wow! I read that as investors conceding defeat in their ambitions to make Strava the unrealistic all-encompassing mainstream fitness app that would have made it a big investment success instead the modestly profitable niche thing that Strava could realistically be. Entering full cut your losses damage control mode. Readmitting the founders now probably implies that they were squeezed out earlier for having too modest/realistic goals. I’m actually positively excited, not just for the leadership change but also about the general change announced further down on the article, refocusing from the hypothetical business of growth to the actual business of the users they already have. Suddenly that annual bill doesn’t feel like a painfully nagging “why am I still not unsubscribed” anymore. Let’s hope they deliver.

    • Aaron

      The Founder/CEO may have a slightly different approach, but the goal is still the same. There’s a $70 million dollar tail wagging the dog and likely getting impatient for an exit, especially considering the coming economic slowdown or recession.

      Venture funding *usually* doesn’t simply look for a company to become moderately sized and profitable – they want to get their money back and then some. Both founders have prior experience in venture startups and private equity.

    • usr

      “Venture funding *usually* doesn’t simply look for a company to become moderately sized and profitable – they want to get their money back and then some”

      That’s exactly what I mean: they already wasted years throwing brand goodwill under the bus in a futile attempt at growing into the 700M+ company they were looking for, but it seems like they gave up on that now.

      The power investors have to force a startup into that get big or die trying attitude is the carrot of promising more funding and the stick of deposing the founding leadership. They are just undoing the stick and the article is pretty clear that there isn’t any carrot in sight. This is plan B in action, or rather plan b because it is so much smaller than Plan A.

    • In some ways, I wonder if the Fitbit/Google combo might actually open the acquisition door just a tiny itty bitty bit going forward. I could see an acquisition arms race that might occur between Apple and Fitbit. Both companies have done stupider things in the past.

      Beyond those two, the only other acquisition candidate with be a random Chinese company that just wants to buy it for fun. There’s nobody else left in the US/European market that would be able to afford Strava’s valuation and have a justifiable reason for doing so (at least that I or most people I talk to can think of).

      Still, I’m optimistic about the leadership change. Though, an anonymous Strava employee did send me a note saying some 30 people were laid off. Unclear if that’s true or not. So that’s too bad if so. 🙁

    • usr

      How could Strava gear down from growth to sustainability without layoffs? I expect a sharp decline in expensive-looking travel photography at blog.strava.com.

    • Anonymous Coward

      I don’t see how Strava would be of any interest to either Apple or Google. Facebook or Nike, maybe (see: Under Armour / MapMyRun; Adidas / Runtastic.)

    • As both companies aim for fitness and wearables, Strava would give either company and instant off the shelf fitness platform for web and mobile. That’s less appealing now for Google because they bought Fitbit. It also gives them 46 million users to market to.

    • RE: USR’s question

      Without knowing all the things they spend time/money on, it’s hard to say. Let’s take Metro for example. That’s a good project that’s doing good things for cyclists. But, as a for-profit company, what’s the amount of resources it’s taking relative to the profits from it?

      Strava’s own CEO admitted it was a sliver of the revenue. At some point as a for-profit company, people have to make tough choices. Maybe it’s better to put some of that on ice? Maybe not, I don’t have the numbers there.

      Maybe they consider tweaking their biz models/pricing. For example the ‘Sponsored’ banners you see on some activities. Numerous companies have told me it’s too expensive, but others have also said they do find pretty good conversion there – just not often enough to justify the cost. Perhaps Strava could get off their high horse and find a better pricing model.

      Another example is Strava Live Segments. Strava will tell you that the licensing cost is trivial. The market and other companies say otherwise. Strava needs to decide does it want to make money trying to bully other companies, or does it want to leverage the marketing power of those other companies for free to drive premium subs (which, after all, make more money for Strava – because you need a Premium subscription for live segments). Perhaps if Strava needs to recoup certification costs, then just do one-time fees for that (which all the companies I’ve talked to say they’d be fine with – just like they pay for certification on other platforms/protocals).

      I don’t think it’s all a game of ‘Add developers = increased profits’. Sometimes it’s taking a look at what you’re doing and re-engineering it.

      Another example is why isn’t Strava pushing more companies to use Strava Beacon? They should be pushing that every sports tech company integrates with that (especially companies like Suunto & Polar that don’t have their own live tracking platforms). Drive it as a safety feature. Safety sells. And then that in turn drives Strava Live Segments revenue. This doesn’t cost Strava any more money, they already setup the platform for exactly that integration with Garmin and even offered it early on to other companies after the Garmin exclusivity period.

    • usr

      Maybe they should add privacy policy consulting to their list of income streams, because seriously, that new presentation they conjured up, probably on short notice since the leadership change, is almost as good as all other privacy statements on the entire web are bad. If this is the new Strava, I really like it.

      Oh, and that perpetual fluff machine that was blog.strava.com seems to be all quiet for now. Let’s hope it remains that way (or gets repurposed for non-fluff messages like announcing feature changes), because while chasing the long tail of random search engine traffic might be a meaningful tactic for brands/sites that are kind of unknown it’s just a laughable waste of money for a name as established as Strava. Actually, not just a waste of money but also a waste of goodwill, when users actually spend time reading only to realize that it’s all fluff.

  97. Travis

    Totally bummed out about this. I have been using the app to record lunch runs at work since the app does a better job than my Sunnto Ambit with the tall buildings downtown. I have been a paid member for years, mostly for the simple data breakdown on the cycling side of things. Looks like it’s time for me to cancel my subscription and see what all the fuss is at training peaks.

  98. Enahs

    I cannot agree with this article more. I’ve been using Strava for years and using my HR monitor has never crashed the app. Just tell users if it crashes their app to not use the feature while they work on a bug fix. I will not be paying for a subscription until they bring this feature back. Otherwise, I will simply switch to an alternative app.

  99. Alexey Pal

    Was premium member since 2013.
    Cancelled this year after Rouvy case.
    That is it.

  100. Arnaldo Brás

    I had that issue about training indoors. Some apps are good but have a paid subscription. I ha an ambit3 sport and a lousy bryton cadence/speed combo. Some issues relatede with bryton don’t allow much apps/smartwatches to aknowledge both parameters: cadence/distance at the same time.
    I managed to order a suunto bike sensor and got the parameters right. The bryton combo flied to my wife’s bike and it seemed impossible to access that dumb sensors from any app. Some issues related with the combo, someother issues with androids versions ant+ services apparel hardware… and so on …
    Finally i found an android app free with no sign in whatsoever who seems to do the trick. It has ant+ and ble pairing available and is combo sensor aware
    That’s the “aTraining Tracker” app it’s available on google play and on git hub 😉
    Will you give it a go?

    Hope to ear from you

    Keep up with the good work