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Strava Cuts Off Leaderboard for Free Users, Reduces 3rd Party Apps for All, and More

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After roughly five months of appeasing users with new feature after new feature after new feature, the other shoe has finally dropped. Today, Strava sold its segmented soul. At least, if you believe Strava Segments are the soul of what makes Strava, well, Strava.

The company announced three substantial negative changes to the platform effective immediately, which will have huge ramifications for its 55 million users, as well as the 44,000 registered 3rd party apps. They are summarized as follows:

– Non-paying users will no longer see the full leaderboard: They’ll only see the top 10 times (all + Top 10 women), you won’t see your friends anymore
– Strava is removing the leaderboard from all 3rd party apps: If you’re using one of the 44,000 3rd party apps out there to do anything with Segments, this likely just broke it. Only devices like those from Garmin/Wahoo/Hammerhead/etc that have Strava Live Segments can display that for paying members.
– Non-paying users will no longer get the web route builder: If you want to build routes, you’ll need to use another platform.

In addition to those substantial ones, there’s also one lesser removal:

– Non-paying users will no longer get ‘matched runs’ feature: This will automatically compare runs on the same route from a pace/speed standpoint. A new matched rides feature is introduced today, which is only available to paying users.

One might mistakenly believe this change is only impacting non-paying users. But that’s far from true. This change is impacting anyone who uses the platform with 3rd party apps to do any amount of analysis of Segments. And even beyond that, it’s lessening the value of Segments for everyone. Strava is in effect saying: Segments don’t really matter to our business anymore, getting people to pay for them does.

And here’s the worst part: They aren’t necessarily wrong on that specific issue. In a conference call last week, Strava was point-blank clear that if they don’t get more subscribers and become profitable, there’s a pretty good chance there won’t be a Strava in a year. [Update: 26 hours later, Strava disagrees with this summary of that portion of the call, stating only that “We are not yet a profitable company and need to become one in order to serve athletes better”.]

Is some of that posturing? Probably.

But is the undercurrent of it true? Most likely. You can only run an unprofitable business so long when people stop giving you money.

Still, my take is that this is less about Strava’s goals of being profitable, and more about the way they’re going about it. Instead of adding value and new features to the platform and convincing people to convert, they’re pulling the rug out from both free and paid users alike. They’re using the stick, instead of the carrot. And historically speaking – that doesn’t improve customer satisfaction.

Finally, it should be noted that while Strava is slashing and burning today, they did roll out a few new (positive) changes for premium users. First of all, you got a new desktop (web) route builder which better integrates Strava Segments and terrain filters (e.g. gravel vs not, more elevation option, etc…), and you also got some redesigned elements of the mobile app around training load tracking. Some of it is new functionality, a lot of it is mostly cleaned up user interface design. Those will show up in iOS/Android app version v150 starting today, but may take up to 48 hours for everyone to see. The restrictions will appear immediately. On a normal day I might have covered that more in-depth, but today is not a normal day.

Leaderboard Changes:

This first change only impacts non-paying users. By the way, while we’re at it, as of today Strava is ditching the ‘Summit’ moniker it created two summers ago. Now, you’re simply a ‘subscriber’ or not. Meaning, you’re either paying or not. If you’re not paying, Strava wants you to pay – and they’re even giving you a 60-day trial to test things out. Mind you, you’ll have to provide a credit card first, and if you forget to cancel in mid-July you’ll become one of those paying subscribers.

In any case, as of today, non-paying users will no longer see the full leaderboard. The ‘leaderboard’ is basically what is shown when you look up a Strava segment. It manifests itself in a few different ways, including mini-leaderboards and full leaderboards. For example, here’s a mini-leaderboard. You can see not only the top 10, but my self and my stats on it.

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However, when I view the full leaderboard, I get additional key information – notably the ‘People I’m following’ and ‘My Clubs’, as well as ‘My results’ and ‘This Year’. Plus age groups and weight classes too. If you’re a non-paying member, you’ll get none of this going forward (you previously didn’t get ages/weights unless a subscriber).

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In this context, if I was a non-paying member, I wouldn’t be able to see that I’m faster than GPLAMA here. It simply wouldn’t show up anymore, as if it didn’t exist. And frankly, I can’t have that.

Same goes for my group membership in the Slowtwitch.com ‘Club’, that too would go away, here on a different segment:

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Free users can still create segments, as well as use the segment explorer to look at/search for segments. They can also see the KOM/QOM (due to being allowed to see the Top 10/10 Top 10 Female), as well as they can see their own PR’s.

To be very specific, here’s what non-paying users will see going forward:

Free users:
•    Top 10 all-time and top 10 women Results in Leaderboard
•    New Segment Creation is allowed
•    Segment Detail screen is allowed (just not leaderboard details)
•    Segment Explore / Search is allowed
•    Flagging Segments is allowed
•    Activity achievements is shown on a ride (KOM’s, CR’s, PR’s)

Paying Subscribers only:
•    All segment leaderboards (including following/clubs/this year/age groups/weight classes)
•    Analyze segment efforts
•    Compare your results
•    Analyze your efforts

So, here’s (on the mobile app), what a non-paying member should see starting today, and what happens if they try and do anything:

clip_image002  clip_image002[4]

Now – obviously, if you don’t care about segments, then you probably won’t care about this.

I think though this lessens the value of Strava Segments for everyone, because it makes it far less interesting/valuable to non-paying users. They won’t care what their friends do, because they can’t see what their friends do. And if a tree falls in the forest…who cares? In other words, your friends that aren’t subscribers won’t bother competing with you on Segments anymore, because they can’t see the results of it.

And of course – this perhaps gets to the core of Strava’s realization: They’re far less a network about segment KOM’s than they are now a social fitness network. As much as Strava has resisted that aura being applied to them in the past, that’s what they are today. And it’s probably not untrue. I personally don’t care much about segments in my day to day riding (and certainly not running). I use Strava for essentially three things:

A) Finding/Building routes
B) Posting my activities and photos for others to see
C) Looking at what my real-life friends have posted recently

And that’s it.

Segments don’t appreciably enter into my day to day usage of Strava (unless I’m beating Lama on a segment when he doesn’t realize it, obviously). Of course, we’re all different. If you’re out there hunting segments with Strava Live Segments or Xert, awesome, more power to you. It’s clear that Strava wants you to have a subscription though, otherwise Segments are mostly useless.

3rd Party App Access:

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Out of all the things they’re doing here, this is one of the most irritating ones. Mainly, because of how they’re doing it. Effective today at the exact same time this post publishes, Strava will break some portion of those 44,000 apps. The same app developers that have furthered Strava’s business and reach, Strava has decided to give zero notice to.

Of course, Strava counters they did notify a handful of ”larger developers” ahead of time. But most didn’t get notice. For those, Strava says:

“We realize these API changes could be especially challenging for some developers, so they’ll be non-breaking for 30 days, returning empty data during that time so they can make necessary adjustments. After June 18th, those endpoints will either omit the data or return an error message.”

Which is hilariously crass.

Here, let me translate what they’re saying for you into plain English:

“We realize that this is probably gonna break some (ok, most) apps. So instead of giving you time to fix your apps, we’re just gonna do it anyways and instead give you empty data that confuses your end users and app design, so this way it appears your app is broken – not Strava’s. Good deal?

I’m not aware of any reputable software development platform that gives zero notice to their development customers before breaking their apps. The appropriate course of action here would have been to give their 3rd party developer partners at least a month to update their apps to deal with this significant change. Most companies give many many months for upcoming deprecated features.

Plus – if the tables had been turned, and it was Amazon AWS (Strava’s hosting provider), and they simply sent them a note one morning and said: “Don’t worry, we’re just sending you empty data from your databases effective immediately.” – I’m guessing Strava wouldn’t feel the same way.

Look – I get why Strava needs to deprecate this feature. If they let 3rd party developers access it, then people could just go to 3rd party apps to get the leaderboards which are only available to paying members. But I’m not clear why they had to burn the house down to do it today at 10AM Pacific Time. If they didn’t break apps for 30 days, would that have really been such a big deal?

Strava likely still would have converted those users that cared about in-app access, without breaking their partner ecosystem. An ecosystem that at every turn is wary of Strava’s apparent habit of killing of apps that get too close, or too useful to users.

But even in the larger apps, there are features that will go away. Take for example VeloViewer, within this Zwift Insider leaderboard section. You’ll still see the segment placings (and times for non-paying users) – so in effect for non-paying users, it becomes more of a check-list of to-do’s, than a leaderboard of standings.

But wait – why is VeloViewer different than other apps? Well, apparently a small number of apps retain leaderboards, but only to show to Strava subscribers. VeloViewer has detailed the nuances here, which still involve less features now for non-paying Strava users. They’re the only app I’ve been made aware of that retains full leaderboard API access (aside from actual devices with Strava Live Segments).

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Some aspects of VeloViewer that include leaderboards won’t change though. For example, the ‘Leaderboard’ tab on a given segment won’t change, because it is actually just an embed from Strava’s public site which shows the overall leaderboard + Top 10 women.

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That’s still permitted, but isn’t done programmatically anymore. They’re just using the ‘Embed on Blog’ feature to get that to display:

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I asked Strava exactly what was changing developer-wise, and they noted the following specific items from the API:

Segment Leaderboard data is not available anymore

  • /api/v3/segments/:id/leaderboard

Segment Effort data is available for subscribers (but not non-paying users)

  • /api/v3/segments/:id
  • /api/v3/segments/:id/streams
  • /api/v3/segment_efforts [Updated]
  • /api/v3/segment_efforts/:id/streams
  • /api/v3/activities/:id

*Note: An earlier version of this post included additional API deprecations. Strava has since changed the listings and corrected errors in their documentation that included those earlier added items. The current/final list is also now shown correctly here.

So basically, that first single line item above simply says “kill off segment result data”. Here’s what that API call did before today. Even if you’re not a developer, you can see (in yellow), what’s being killed off. To be clear, everything below is killed. But the yellow parts make it clear that they’re doing this so you can’t get the other premium leaderboard features via apps.

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Meanwhile, the other ones that are allowed for paying members means that apps can still get individual efforts for the given authenticated athlete, but not segment-specific data like people within a leaderboard category such as following or age groups. So basically, as a paying member of Strava, I could still use App XYZ to track my specific pedaling on that segment (with things like cadence/heart rate/etc…), but not my rank (unless I ranked in the Top 10 – which pulls via DetailedSegmentEffort – ”kom_rank”).

Look, API changes and deprecations are a normal part of hosting a web platform. What’s not normal is how Strava is handling this. That’s the part they need to be called out for.

Route Builder Changes:

As part of the May 18th changes, Route Builder got a complete overhaul. They’ve added in new map styles, added sport type filters, show segments directly on the Route Builder, and also have a new surface type and increased elevation features.

But, if you’re not a paying member, you’ll never see it.

As of today, non-paying members lose access to the Route Builder entirely. Up until this point, any member could use the Route Builder for free. Going forward, non-paying members can no longer create routes within Strava, except as to copy an existing route from someone else (or your own ride). Existing routes you have in your account remain.

Here’s the two route builders side by side. At left is the new one. At right is the older one:

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The main change here aside from all the user interface elements and map styling, is the addition of surface type preference – similar to what was added to mobile a month or two ago:

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And along the bottom you’ll see a breakout of the surface type, just as you do on mobile now:

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You can also now toggle segments within the map builder directly:

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Previously you could ‘minimize elevation’, but now you can also ‘maximize elevation’, in case you have a soft spot for hills:

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And they’ve incorporated the dark map them from the heat maps into the Route Builder, which is toggleable on the side. The other three map types, as well as heatmaps, were already viewable in the Route Builder.

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Look, the new changes are nice. Nothing earth-shattering, though a nice clean-up.

The only problem? Likely less than 5% of Strava’s 50 million users will ever see them. Why? They’re not paying members.

Wrap-Up:

I’m sure Strava will think this post is overly negative, not highlighting enough of the new changes introduced today. And perhaps that’s the case – but I honestly don’t think those new feature adds are that big a deal. The Route Builder does have some minor nice new additions, but the training updates seem mostly to be more UI tweaks and filtering options than anything major. There’s some value to be had there, sure, but not as much value as is being lost today (for all users).

And look, I get it, Strava needs to find a way to make money. Every company should – that’s why they’re a company and not a non-profit. As part of a letter going out to all users today from their founders, they outline that part well, saying:

“This means that, starting today, a few of our free features that are especially complex and expensive to maintain, like segment leaderboards, will become subscription features. And from now on, more of our new feature development will be for subscribers – we’ll invest the most in the athletes who have invested in us. We’ve also made subscription more straightforward by removing packs and the brand of Summit. You can now use Strava for free or subscribe, simple.

 

This focus on subscription ensures that Strava can serve athletes decades from now, and in an up-front way that honors the support of the athletes we serve today. We plan to take what we earn from these changes and reinvest straight back into building more and better features – not devising ways to fill up your feed with ads or sell your personal information. We simply want to make a product so good that you’re happy to pay for it.”

But I think there’s still tons of value being left on the table that they can focus on in terms of new features to bring to people that would drive paying member adoption, rather than pulling features away that have been there a decade or so.

For example – why can’t clubs/teams create shared Strava routes that automatically sync into the team members’ accounts based on upcoming rides on a team calendar? Or, the ability for clubs to have a group routes page that includes a list of all popular routes that you could easily sync to your device. That would be a huge driver towards membership.

Or why can’t Strava Beacon then automatically integrate across teams/clubs so that people know where everyone is on a group ride? Or perhaps leveraging vehicle density/speed data integration already being gathered, into route builder as I floated this weekend. Or…or…or. There are countless ideas that people can come up with that would drive subscription revenue. All of which could be Summit paid-only features.

I’m just not convinced gutting Segments and routes for non-paying members is the right direction there. Nor is poorly communicating to your development community. But maybe I’m wrong.

With that – thanks for reading.

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708 Comments

  1. David

    I stopped paying a few years ago because they don’t fix bugs. And won’t pay until they do. I just wanna delete in past goals….

    • AC

      Same. They are punishing users now for their own management errors. I’d have been happy to pay (and did at tims) if I’d have simply seen positive progress, instead of reordering my feed without notice, or say, bugs and feature requests from 2010 addressed by 2020. Now? f’em.

    • Nick

      Exactly. If you go on their community forum, you can find so many useful and simple bugs or features that they just completely ignored for years. Then the things they offered in premium were/still are pretty lackluster. Besides power curves there is nothing else in Premium that even remotely interest me.

      Imo it’s a big mistake to remove leaderboards for free users. Without it Strava is just another fitness tracker app.

    • Cy

      They haven’t fixed goals at all! And for me they are not even updating when met! Yeah, Strava isn’t making things better.

    • Patrick

      I stopped paying last year and never looked back. Had been a paying customer for over 5 years, since before they even had mapping options and it was a product I liked and wanted to support.

      Now it’s like they’re being run by financial idiots / VC managers that only look at the balance sheet and that’s no company I ever want to give money to. User hostile companies are going to stay that way!

      They already monetize their data and have an existing user base of paying customers. If that huge recurring cash pile isn’t enough they got serious cost issues to work out, not pissing off the entire community. You can fix your burn rate without alienating everyone!

    • randy

      The same… Have been paying member since 2012 until they introduced the stupid “suggested athletes” feature and based on their forum many people did the same. And it looks like it was a good choice, because they are not fixing bugs for all people, only introducing a “new” feature that is in reality something old with fixed bug and only for paying members.
      I hope Garmin will remove Strava Routes form all Edge devices as it is now completely useless for most people.

    • Chris

      Great article. My thoughts exactly on the stick and not the carrot. I use Strava to compare against my friends and almost exclusively why I use Strava. We have a virtual run series with segment leaderboards that may not be used now. I use my best efforts through a third party site (strafforts) to track each run and see if I’m improving. And even though I’m in a regional town, with maybe 150 people per segment, it still impacts me for what I use Strava for.

    • Alexander

      A big misunderstanding is to add the ability to disable activity from statistics. Because of this, we have inadequate PR / CR. This is a quick and cheap fix, but Strava does not want to do this.

  2. Guy

    This is not the way to have a premium subscription. Premium subscriptions should add to what people already have (something Strava has not been doing until recently), not simply give back what was taken away.

    Can’t help but wonder whether in the long term this will harm subscriptions by reducing the base of free users, as people turn away to different platforms.

  3. Danny Lievens

    This brings us back to garmin connect… same features, more analysis, currently less users…

  4. Danny L.

    This brings us back to garmin connect… same features, more analysis, currently less users…

    • Craig Hoskin

      I’m not so sure. How do the majority of people using Strava get their data into Strava. Everyone I know is using a Garmin device via Garmin Connect (tho they may not know it exists 😂)

    • flokon

      You miss that Garmin Connect (like Polar Flow) is bound to a registered Garmin or Polar device, with which you paid for the platform like an entry fee. However, you don’t need a proprietary device to use Strava.

    • cw18

      From a Suunto watch via MovesCount

    • Dave Lusty

      “ via MovesCount”

      That’s the funniest thing I read today, I think you won the Internets.

  5. Julian Divett

    Any news on what they are going to charge going forward? I’ve got a cheap deal at the moment because I was automatically upgraded when they got rid of summit. I’m more interested in the social side and agree with you about the club integration. Be nice to have a club price to include beacon etc…

  6. Yonah

    Over the weekend, I saw an ad for a couple of virtual challenges. The way the company tracked your challenge, was by having you join a club on strava.

    I am wondering if there were a proliferation of these ‘virtual’ challenges that were trying to leverage free strava features that prompted this.

    • Stef

      Rouvy/MapmyRide is winning the virtual challenge game with IronmanVR at the moment, although the Zwift/Strava interface is pretty seamless and fast.

  7. Uh, what?

    In translation: is this really serious, and not a joke?

  8. Fred Stig

    It’s an unfortunate decision they’ve made. I do know a lot of friends that have paid accounts (and I used to as well but, wisely, moved to RWGPS for my route-making) so who knows how much they will notice this, but this isn’t a useful way to run this company. As has been alluded to, you add features that people want to get people to pay (it’s not like they don’t have a long list that we’ve all been giving them on the forums). Shutting everything off with no warning is a good way to shoot yourself in the foot.

  9. Jake

    i pay and basically use Strava for the same 3 reasons; i do however (maybe 3a), set up my own segments solely for the purpose of utilizing a handful as ‘real-world’ test segments. i use them as training markers more than anything.

  10. Mike

    Face palm!

    I stopped paying 2+ years ago and haven’t noticed a difference in how I use Strava. About the only reason to “upgrade” at this point would be to get rid of the annoying popups encouraging me to upgrade.

  11. Chris Watson

    Killing segments for every 3rd party app is the SUMMIT of stupidity.

  12. Rick

    Maybe off topic, but I’m wondering if there is a way to upload another cyclist’s ride?

  13. Mark Middleton

    Ive been a loyal paying subscriber for years and this s a step backwards, then a sneaky kick in the balls. Just looking at their actions over the years they seem unique in that they themselves dont know what to do, and at every fork in the road pick dead ends. Strava IS SEGMENTS and leaderboards. Im quite happy to defect to the next platform to do it better than whatever this is now. All the3rd party apps that held strava up on their shoulders should do their own version. With Blackjack and Hookees. Lol

    • Gunnar

      See, for every “Strava is segments and leaderboards” person out there, there is someone like me who is well past caring that they are 52,345 out of 120,000 up such and such climb. I really like Strava for the social aspect as well as seeing routes available when I travel (or used to….)

    • Frederick Vanderhaeghe

      Dito. Strava for me is for the social stuff, the mileage of my shoes and training log.

    • Frederick Vanderhaeghe

      And I already pay for Training Peaks 🙂

    • chris benten

      You are doing well!!!! I am usually 105,000 out of 120,000….kick ass going DH though…

    • Bill O'Hara

      1) They need to provide street names in the route files.
      2) Plus allow you to select a ride in the club’s page and have it magically appear in your Garmin or Wahoo. Have the route disappear after the ride is concluded.
      3) each club should have a route page. Users should be able to permanently select routes from the club pages.
      4) any admin in the club should be able to assign one of their routes to the club route inventory.

    • Mike Richie

      But they would need to allow access to all users for that to work for a club. They just got rid of that.

  14. David G

    A big issue with the routes and why my cycling club is hesitant in using strava routes is a missing embed feature. Is there anything said about that? I might actually pay for that

  15. Without money a business cannot survive in the long run. For years Strava had the incredible luxury of getting a lot of money from investors without the focus on being profitable. Too much money was thrown out of the window for too long.

    We have also founded a company around Runalyze – without investors – so that we can survive in the market in the long run. We are still working on it alongside our full-time job and in the long run our goal is to run it full-time with one or two other employees.

    • Kevin Morice

      They have been cashing in on their user data for years, selling it on to a number of other sources, even though that data doesn’t legally belong to them. If between that and Summit they have failed to monetise their platform in to profitability then it will be no surprise when they collapse. My prediction, if they follow this proposal and stand by it, they will be as useful as myspace or bebo within 2 years.

    • kchung

      I am a huge fan of Runalyze.
      As soon as I recognize your app, I’ve dropped strava premium subscription and stayed in a realm of Garmin connect + Runalyze.

      Bit off the topic but I’d like to thank all of your efforts!
      I saw you clearly state that there will be no working project on mobile app but wish to have that at someday.

  16. i_c

    I was a paying subscriber for years. Was always irritated by the fact they wouldn’t add a “Mountain Bike” category to their set of activities, but I finally stopped paying for Strava several months ago when they put the screws to third party developers. (Not a developer, just on principle). This is unlikely to get me to come back into the fold. Sounds like a death-spiral to me.

  17. Mike S.

    It’s a tough situation. I hope they can find a path to profitability without destroying their user base in the process.

  18. AC

    So who do we think will buy Strava when they run out of cash?

    And will the new owner (Garmin, Wahoo?) address the long overdue list of bugs and feature requests, not to mention get the free/premium model right?

    • John Holland

      I can think of another online cycling app developer that also uses a lot of orange in their branding… they’re pretty cash poor as well though.

    • AC

      I don’t see how combining those helps the other orange brand though. IMO they are more likely to integrate their own segment tracking in their platform.

      Strava would have been a good add for garmin, but now a lot of users are on mobile so it might not helps spur hardware sales. Perhaps any other PE firm with a strong understanding of SAS and freemium models, or say, what to do with bug reports and enhancement requests.

    • Ian C

      The management of Zwift is a mess too. So it’s a natural match, made in hell.

  19. Eagle Jackson

    Strava drops the hammer. With a freemium model, it’s critical to get the line right between what’s in free and what’s paid. Free – enough to generate lots of sustained usage, word of mouth and reliant users, but also not so much that paid isn’t compelling enough. (Look at the history of Dropbox, though their job was somewhat easier because over time people used more and more storage which pushed them into the paid category).

    It’s been clear from the start that Strava gave away too much for free. They’ve been trying for years to make paid more compelling. And Ray has some good suggestions for other ways to make it more compelling (club related stuff). But today’s announcement makes it clear that their conversion rate from free to paid hasn’t been sufficient. Strava has determined that fundamentally that line needs to be drawn more harshly and take away stuff long taken for granted and core to Strava’s usage — that the carrot hasn’t worked and now they need to try the stick.

    In sure it was a very painful decision for the founders who’ve returned to executive roles to make.

    There is a good interview with them from May 7, 2020 on Cycling Tips’ From the Top podcast. The question was asked about giving too much away for free, and you can hear the founders tap dance around the answer.

    I realize a lot of people may disagree with my opinion, perhaps even strongly so, but I think we should appreciate the good days while they lasted. I’ve been a paid subscriber for years, even when I got very little value from the paid-for features because I wanted to support the company and felt I get $60/year (actually I pay $47.98). Heck look what people pay Peloton a month.

    I hope that Stava will restore third party access, perhaps it will require third parties to pay a licensing fee (perhaps they do now, I don’t know how it works).

    • Mike Richie

      Two things. First although I agree they may have given away too much for free, they did it because there were others doing the same thing – if they had charged, there would be no Strava. Second, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place – if they allow third party access to the data they are no longer providing for free, people will just use the third party apps instead. Maybe they could allow an authentication process so only if you are a paid Strava subscriber can you get the full data set.

    • Eagle Jackson

      Yes, they have a hard problem to solve. Freemium models are hard, finding that right line is hard; getting enough adoption and momentum biases free; how to get enough conversion to paid has eluded Strava so far. In part they’ve struggled for so long figuring out what they want to be and the right business model for it. For third parties, they could license access to the API, or perhaps as you suggest, it’s available only if you’re a paid subscriber.

    • Troy Schuler

      I don’t have a problem with the locking down their API. It was their team that built the software to capture the data from either their mobile app/tracking and GPS inputs from other platforms. It was a convenience to have access to the API, but riding the coat tails only lasts so long. Best example of this business model is Twitter and what they did to third party apps. Bottom line, it’s about Strava maximizing that data and profiting off of it within their walls.

      But here is the issue for charging for API. I don’t think they can because then they would be stepping on the toes of profiting the data of not only their free app users that track on their phones, but also all the GPS hardware users that share to Strava. I don’t think Garmin and Suunto would allow Strava to profit off a license fee from their user’s data.

      WIth Garmin’s rise in profits lately, moving into the fitness tracking/smart watch realm, I could see them purchasing Strava. Garmin has tried to incorporate the segments and social into Connect, but as mentioned in another comment, you have to buy the hardware to be in that club. Purchasing would allow phone to provide Garmin GPS data. They could even throw in 12 moths of premium with the purchase of thier hardware. Some of the best run trackers have fallen to buyers… Endomondo was bought out by Under Armor, Runkeeper funded by Asics, and Runtastic/Adidas? All they would have to do is slap their name on it.

  20. Neil Owens

    You hit the nai on the head. Strava is a non profit. Why should it give content away for free. Everyone wants everything free these days but not many people would work without getting paid. It’s harsh but that’s business. As a subscriber I’d like to think I’m getting more than on subscribers. There will still be a free options. Either pay up or use the free version.

    • Fred Stig

      I used to be a paying member for several years. But as time went on and I saw that they weren’t adding features that *paid* members were requesting in droves (like fix the damn FTP issue or how about semi-private segments to share with friends only) I realized that paying wasn’t worth it. They had crap management after the founders left and those crap leaders are probably crying all the way to the bank, unfortunately. I hope they can fix their stuff but until I hear otherwise, I’ll stick with free at Strava and keep paying RWGPS. They’re stable as a company, have segments, respond directly if you request a feature (even if that answer is ‘no, we don’t have resources’), and have better mapping tools for new routes. Worth every penny.

    • Indeed, Asked them (via mail, twitter, facebook,…) tons of times to improve the routebuilder, they never did so I stopped paying for beta-software, I still use routebuilder because I’m used to it, maybe now i’ll have to search for other software?
      Or maybe I should ask my money back from the days that I was a premium member?

    • Doug

      Yep same here I pay for RWGPS and occasionally post rides on my free Strava account – I use RWGPS as my ride log and route planner and use Strava for its social and segments piece. Not gonna pay for 2 services. I will likely stick with RWGPS

    • Bosco

      You can try Komoot

  21. ken

    I’m still seeing the route builder beta without the “prefer dirt surfaces” feature. Am i just being impatient, or are they rolling it out to different members at different times? (I’m a premium member).

  22. Fhirleighinn

    I was thinking about an idea on my ride yesterday after I had installed the car radar app that you mentioned. Could you build an app that used an acceleratometer already in a unit maybe that counted bumps per mile and count that be translated into a road quality metric? Imagine what strava could do with that data for route planning, or even selling that data to states etc.

    • Thomas

      Actually research into this is already taking place at the Danish Technical University, where accelerometers are being placed on the cars of a car share platform. The data is used to monitor road conditions and facilitate early, and thus cheaper maintenance.

  23. Gary P

    I get that they need to make money, but this decision stings a little. If they were looking for a way to force me to a decision point of whether to start paying for Strava or quit using it all together, they’ve likely succeeded. Not sure the answer is going to go in their favor.

    Does the value to their paying members diminish if the free users leave en masse? And does the value of the dataset they sell to governments and other businesses diminish as well? One would assume so. Then again, the fleeing free users would have to proactively deactivate their accounts and/or stop the automatic data pushes they’ve set up. I suspect most will just stop logging on, and Strava will continue to get data from people who are essentially non-users for years.

  24. Thor OdinSon

    This is no doubt the last nail in the coffin. Not fixing bugs, offering less and less for increasing amounts of money, forcing pay-to-play to leverage “premium” subscriptions is now beyond ridiculous. I hope they go down with a bang and finally release other platforms (Stravistix/Elevate/Garmin connect) to enable them to develop the little extra strava was providing (segments).

    This frankly feels like Youtube premium. Paying more money to keep the already underperforming skeleton of what once was.

  25. Andrew

    Welp, guess it’s time to go back to just updating my training log by hand every day.

  26. Kevin Morice

    Since Strava want to play the slash and burn game, then so am I. Having created over 300 of the local segments over the last decade, including the routes for pretty much every local running race, sportive, and triathlon, I am off on a deleting binge before they revoke my rights. If they want to remove the value of their site, I am quite happy to respond by removing all the work I put into helping them build it.

    • Mike Richie

      Wow, that’s not very nice. You realize that will affect a lot of Strava users a lot more than it will affect Strava the company. (They also could undo your deletions as well).

    • Steevensk

      I guess, most of those segments are crap like 95% of all existing segments. Are most of them flat, in one direction only less than 2 km? Right, that’s how stupid segments look like 😉
      If, not than please accept apology 😀

    • max

      I think he has a point! A lot of segments came from non paying users. For those people segments are nearly useless until now. Destroying there own work (fair enough), so that strava can’t make mony with it, is sad for subscribers. But if a lot of them unsubscribe, strava maybe think this over.

    • Mountainking

      Already done same man…..Now looking for an alternative platform 🙂
      I have downloaded all my rides first…

  27. Really this sucks, I’ve used Strava courses for a long time but it was never fully developed (alot of bugs) and was always alpha or beta, and now I have to pay for a beta routebuilder?! If anyone from Strava reads this, F U!

  28. Will

    For too long Strava gave too much away free.

  29. Mario S

    This is laughable. Strava hopes to take my money by blocking some features I don’t care about? While other companies are having to re-invent themselves by creating virtual competitions, by adjusting their business model to accommodate to a locked in active population. I have been doing rocknrollvr.com races and other similar things just to keep me motivated running in a treadmill, and a company such as Strava believes it is not profitable and simply cuts features from free users (not that I use them…).

    So, instead of leveraging its user base to improve support for virtual competitions, for setting itself up as THE platform for which current running, cycling and tri-sport races companies can turn to to create their events, share some of the sponsorships and revenues given the eyeballs they have, not to mention many other revenue streams that can be thought of, they’re going the route of alienating their large audience ?

    Oh well, no issue for me, I have been loving SyncMyTracks for a couple of years, and I have my data cloned in several platforms, and just pay for the most valuable one (for my use case).

  30. Steven

    Amongst friends we always said that Strava was giving away too much for free and there was no real need to pay for it. I only took a subcription as I enjoyed Strava and wanted to support them and partly for the heatmap. I think it’s only fair to pay for it in the long run and it would be very naive to think that something can remain free for ever…

  31. Fredrik A

    Garmin Connect have more features I use anyway.
    I´ll just keep using that, and rather spend the money on Zwift.

  32. Zane Z

    For me, one of the best features they took away was the ability to search activities. I know they claimed security issues on it, but there has to be a way to make that available. It was so useful when traveling to see routes that people actual RODE.

  33. Long time paying Strava user here, and I’m a software startup veteran. This change makes a ton of sense. The segment data is one of their unique differentiators and they haven’t done enough to monetize it. As someone who specializes in DevOps, having public API’s costs lots of money. Strava is a business, not a public service.

    That being said, there was 4 year period from like 2015-2019 where there was ZERO innovation at Strava. The offering has improved, the mobile app has improved etc, but the amount of basic shit that is broken at Strava is just mind boggling.

    • Craig Hoskin

      The mobile app where they disabled sensor support? 😉
      Agree totally with what you say though

    • Andrew

      The cynic in me wonders if that was actually (perhaps partly) done to make themselves more attractive for a buyout from the Garmins and Wahoos of this world.

  34. John Hallas

    I have always thought that if they reduced their subscription to a quarter of what it is now that they would get many more than four times the paying subscribers.
    The only thing I really look at is the annual total of miles per bike.

    • cw18

      Halve it and I’d consider it – providing I could have a play with the route planner first. I’ve used MapMyRun for years (must be about 10 now) so I find their planner quite instinctive to use after all this time, and although I’m not paying at the moment I did for 5 or 6 years – and some of them I wasn’t using it much. If I subscribe to that again now it would cost me about £27 for the year (after allowing for the international transaction fee my card company would apply), and I’d consider paying somewhere in the region of £25-£30 as fair. I’m not paying closer to £50.

    • Dan G

      This. £48 a year for a route builder (Garmin Connect’s is just as good, if not better) and segment leaderboards just isn’t value for money. £20 and I have signed up last night.

  35. Marc

    How are segment leaderboards expensive for Strava? This is the worst excuse, in the age of data this amount of information should not be an issue. Facebook/Google should have bought them years ago and handled the platform better.

    • Fred Stig

      Let’s face it: if Google had purchased them, the ‘Strava by Google’ service would have been killed off by now. That’s just the Google way.

      – nick

    • Sam

      It’s very compute intensive, it needs a lot of resources from AWS (aka: VM) to scale up…. it’s a cost for sure… nothing is free in this world…. or I guess only the outside is (sorta) free

  36. Mike Richie

    I’m of two minds about this. I am a paying subscriber because I use Strava Live segments, not all that often, but on certain routes I like to race against my, or friends times. I also do use the various leader boards, since I am unlikely to make the top 10 on any popular segment, I can see how I do against my age group of myself. I also use the analysis features, but until now would have been able to use the features I use most often for free. I don’t think Strava is out of line to want to be paid for those features. If you enter a race you pay a fee, even if it’s a local race against bumpkins like myself.
    All that being said, we should look at how we got here. Although you, Ray, don’t use the segment features much anymore, that is what put Strava on the map. And the reason it succeeded in getting the “segment market” was, both, because it provided a good platform for racing segments AND because it was FREE. Garmin segments didn’t succeed because Strava was better and worked with everything and everybody because it was Free. I think the real problem for Strava (or opportunity for somebody else) will be if somebody makes a Free (or ad supported or free plus premium like Strava) site that allows anybody to race segments against anybody and everybody. Strava has a lot of value add and a much greater ecosystem than somebody else could create, but killing the thing that got them here might just open the doors for some competition.

  37. Paul

    Be interesting to see what actual impact this has on Velo Viewer and MyWindsock, as I subscribe to them as well. Glad all my data is in Golden Cheetah so if Strava ever folds I still have my numbers. Never used Strava Route builder even as a subscriber.

  38. Julia

    I don’t mind paying but it’s not worth what they want for me.

  39. marklemcd

    Like most strava things, the web route builder stinks anyway and there’s no way I’d pay to be able to use it.

    1) It is inaccurate on distance. I recently ran a loop where my watch said 20.0 miles. The gmap pedometer site said 20.09. Strava said 20.9. What?

    2) It followed weird routes all the time and I had to micromanage it to get the route I wanted. Sometimes it would back track me and then route. Ie, it was dumb.

  40. Tristan Matthews

    I’m not sure what this will result in for Strava, but IMO, it seems to me that they are positioning for a takeover/buyout within the next 12 months……whether that is good or not for users remains to be see. Letting the mass market know that you have an unsustainable business model is not the best way to hold up it’s value. Even if it is obvious to all and sundry, you still don’t admit it..!
    I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Strava for a long time so have never subscribed as I didn’t really like what they were doing with my data (first off – trying to call it THEIR data), lack of meaningful updates/improvements, and playing the bully tactic with smaller businesses.
    RWGPS is my route builder of choice, they have a segment feature that would only need modest investment to become a significant competitor, IMO.

  41. Ian S

    The only surprise is that it’s taken this long. At some point Strava need to monetise what they do, the issue they’ve had is that they’ve not really differentiated to make it worth subscribing. The added features are nice but ultimately anyone who trains uses TP or another, garmin connect has live track, etc, etc. The core offering was always going to be monetised at some point.

  42. Paul

    Removing access to features for free users is what Endomondo. Remember Endomondo? No, cos everyone jumped ship to Strava.

  43. Scott

    I suspect that Zwift and COVID sped up this timeline for Strava. There are so many segments on Zwift that for every ride I get something like 100 segment, yet a IRL ride would be 10 or so. With every Zwift rider uploading so many segments to Strava, and then many of these rides analyzed by Zwift Power and Veloviewer (and similar I’m sure), that is likely a significant portion of the total leaderboard server load. Then, when COVID shut downs, the number of Zwift rides, and segments, sky rocketed; it must have put a huge load on Strava and hasten the plans they had already developed.

    This might force Zwift to build its own segments and leaderboards, something it has always relied on others to accomplish.

    I’m going to miss the impacted Velo Viewer features that I pay for, but probably not enough to pay for Strava.

    • Nick

      If they had a problem with server load they could have reduced the rate and request limits they already impose on 3rd-party access. Due to those limits, most platforms do an initial import and then going forward use the webhooks API to access the data on Strava’s servers just once, storing their own copy of just the parts they need. What they did today looks like a dying attempt to make some quick money.

  44. Phil W

    I was a paid user for years, but I cancelled it when they dropped bluetooth device support. They need to find the right balance and offer some real new features to get people interested.They treat 3rd party developers like something on the bottom of their shoe – I used Relive and still do (but through another app from my head unit). Cycliq keeps having the overlay feature fail becuase Strava keeps changing the API without warning.

    I paid in the past to help their business, but tthey are losing so much goodwill. many of us send our data to multiple platforms and may end up using the others more and more.

  45. Nighthawk700

    How much is Strava now anyway? I remember at one point it was something like $60 a year, and I thought “If they cut that to $30, I’d join.” They eventually came up with the Summit plans, but no one plan seemed to have enough features to be worth it. I wonder if they’d get more subscribers (enough to be profitable) if they lowered their price. Of course that’s just me and my value added breakdown. I can’t speak for the millions of other non-paying users.

  46. Edwin

    I stopped my paid subscription about a month ago for several reasons, probably mostly to check if I will miss it and really need it.
    No doubt I would prefer that Strava wouldn’t cut features for non-paying users but on the other hand they actually don’t owe me a thing so what they’re doing is absolutely legit. They have to earn money, in the end of the day we all do somehow.
    At least I think what they now do is better than to flood the whole thing with ads to make some profit.

  47. Matt

    I understand where Strava is coming from. You can either get people to pay a little bit ($5 a month is a pretty paltry fee compared to how much money people are spending on their bikes, trainer, Zwift, gps device, powermeter, gels, yada yada) to have the full feature set. Or you can be like Facebook or youtube and just sell data, blast advertisements, etc.

    I’m mixed on allowing no subscribers to make public segments. I’m probably in the minority here, but there are just to many segments. Not every quarter mile of a bike path or road needs to be a segment. And don’t make a segment which is basically the same as another segment but just starts a block earlier. We have some climbs which have over a dozen different segments that are so close to each other that if you get one KOM then you always end up with 6 others. Oh, and don’t end a segment after a stop sign, or if is a hill climb don’t have it end after you’ve started going down the other side of the hill. If people want to create dumb segments to test themselves on, go for it. But it just litters the map and makes good segments harder to find. But just make them private. Also, I wish more people had some fun with there segment names. Honestly, I’d give Strava $1000 if it would let me be in charge of the segments in my area.

    Ok rant over. Thanks everyone for letting me get that off my chest.

    • Mike Richie

      You need to be in charge of segments in MY area.

    • Mike Richie

      Oh and get rid of the KOMs that have someone riding up a steep hill at 50 mph. Or running up a hill at 2:00/mile. Although you would think that could be automated by now.

    • Jeffrey F.

      Matt, you might appreciate this:

      link to regex.info
      “Strava Segment Tutorial: Removing Suckage and Promoting Quality”

      With your attitude, I would be for having you in charge of all segments worldwide. We are birds of a feather….

    • ah

      How about this? If I pay $60 I get 30 credits to delete crappy segments. If the creator wants it back s/he has to use her credits to recreate it.

      I’d like segments a lot more if they were crowdsourced, not done unilaterally – i.e., easy to vote down and out of existence, elevations fixed by data from each successive rider (none of these garbage 500m climbs because someone created the segment in 2011 before GPS did altitude well), etc.

  48. pat

    There wasn’t enough before this grand change content/bug fixes/update wise to make me pay and definitely not going to pay now with the stick in the eye regarding segments and 3rd party access. Post ride segments was about the only thing i payed attention to (i know where the segments I’m interested in start/finish so live segments wasn’t worth the money) beyond keeping track of bike mileage . The route builder was well behind any of the other free ones out there, especially in the woods, and I got the fitness metrics as part of my Garmin devices.There wasn’t any reason to pay before and there certainly isn’t now.

    I’ll keep my account until i go back and update my data on Garmin Connect (8 years worth, not looking forward to that) with bike information for mileage tracking purposes.Then delete Strava as the one main thing I was using it for (segments as a free user), won’t be there anymore for me. I’ll stick with RWGPS for route planning as they incorporate Trailforks data into their maps, making it very worthwhile as a mountain biker at the free level and Garmin for everything else.

  49. Hervé

    Good news for the competition regarding route planner. Long life to Komoot and alike.

  50. Joel

    I pay for strava, and i also pay for TP.
    I wish strava would actually put some money down and license the TSS from TP and stop trying to reinvent the wheel!
    If they do, I bet they would become profitable. For most users a simplified version of the data driven TP would be worth the 60$

    I am waiting for TrainerRoad to finally add running imports to their platform. Once they do, i will more than likely drop Strava!

    • A thousand times this!!! Yes the trainerRoad analysis is getting better and better, strava should see TrainerRoad as an example of how to listen to customers and how they add new features and constantly improve. TR is expensive but you really feel like it is wort it. Strava on the other hand has not added anything wort it.

  51. greyltc

    Thanks very much for the analysis Ray. I’ll vote on their decisions here with my wallet. Canceled my subscription.

  52. T

    Curious timing considering what must have been a massive leap in new users trying to learn how to track activities and build routes for the first time during quarantine.. I wonder if there aren’t some jilted third party devs thinking about challenging them head on now that they seem to be in a position of weakness!

  53. JP

    And just like that, the ability to put routes on almost any Garmin watch that Garmin added becomes useless…

    Back to trying to figure out how to get Komoot routes to sync with my Garmin account (it didn’t work last week when I first started trying it but Strava did)

    • Adam

      Apparently the key to getting Komoot routes over is to make sure you have map access for where they are. I’ve heard a few people have been caught out by that. Works fine for me

    • Oskars

      Most likely you need to buy that region in order to sync it to your device

  54. skyrun

    it’s like what, $5/month? i don’t see an issue here at all.

  55. Nick

    Wow. I’ve only been developing with the Strava API for a few months now and I think I have my head around the various issues (there are some BIG ones). It’s been clear from the lack of updated documentation and complete lack of support or any engagement with the development community that they don’t care about 3rd-party developers. There is a Google-hosted forum for developers but it’s entirely staffed by 3rd-party developers donating their time to help each other work-around Strava’s bugs. The icing on the cake is that Strava support actually direct people to the group rather than help them directly.

    I don’t think I’ll be continuing to invest my free time in their platform, creating value for other users. Why on earth would I? Maybe the part of the API I use will stop working tomorrow.

    Strava’s lack of interesting new features was the reason they don’t attract premium subscribers. Prior to the last few months they had launched nothing new for years. I sincerely hope we don’t still see Strava next year. We don’t need platforms like this. There is space in the market for a new, better-behaved version of Strava. When it turns up, the 3rd-party developers will flock to it and the (paying) users will soon follow. This is a really dumb move.

    • Jeffrey F.

      “….they don’t care about 3rd-party developers”.

      This is, to put it mildly, an understatement.

      They have a history of just shutting off the _entire_ API. Today’s change does rank in Strava’s top 10 of “horrible horrible ways to treat developers that love your product”, but it’s probably not in the top 3.

    • Troy Schuler

      I am curious of how many premium subsribers are actually 100% tracking solely on the app vs. dedicated GPS hardware. Let’s not forget, for a lot of the data they get, Strava itself is a third party developer.

  56. Dolan Halbrook

    I find myself using Strava less and less anyways. Mainly for route planning, and tracking miles put on my various bikes and parts (a very valuable but hidden feature). Kudos are nice and all, but like others have said, the innovation has slowed to a snail’s pace. There’s a thread about being able to filter commutes out of the feed that’s over four years old at this point; something that should take a dev team about one sprint (max) to write and test. In any case, good luck to the Strava team, but I suspect I won’t be the only long-time (and paying) Strava user to start looking at other platforms soon unless they can start innovating (and bug fixing) a little faster. This is simply a wake up call.

  57. Martin

    Just posted my thoughts on Twitter:
    link to twitter.com

  58. Joe

    Eh, maybe go back to Endomondo then. Strava’s segments and routes have never been that useful. Strava should pay its users since it sells its data.

  59. Tim

    Hi Ray,
    Rare grammatical error:
    Strava is removing the leaderboard from all 3rd party apps: If your using one of the 44,000…

  60. Slartibartfast

    Anyone else note that “training log” is included in their list if subscriber features, but not in the free membership? I haven’t seen any change to the behavior of my account yet, but that particular piece is a BIG deal to me, as I’ve used it as my main training log for the past 7 or so years.

    • Allan

      That’s another Strava “bug” it seems. If you navigate to your profile, there is a tab at the bottom called “training”, which is a premium service. Not sure what that is, but if you scroll down to “training log” it’s free. I can’t imagine that your actual training log is no longer free, if that were the case, they’re basically stealing and keeping your own ride data from you. You absolutely have to have the ability to see your own ride information from past rides, or else it is literally pointless to ever upload anything. I think they are confusing things with their own poor choice of terms.

    • John Lewis

      Training log is the big one for me. Training plans et have been premium for a while (maybe always) so the only explanation here can be the training log is being held as a hostage – I’m not paying the ransom

  61. Todd

    I think I would cry if the Strava route planner went away. To me this has long been Strava’s killer feature vs the other platforms. I would gladly pay double the current subscription fee to keep this.

    Is there another platform that overlays a similar heatmap on their route builder?

    This is enormously helpful for identifying routes even in areas where you are relatively familiar, but especially so in new locales.

  62. greg

    Funny how other outlets view these changes in a marketing point of view (like directly posting the probable press release)…

    link to bikerumor.com

  63. Paying Strava customer since 3 years here. My primary reason for subscribing to them back then was the API and particularly the segments and with them also the leaderboards.

    While I fully understand that they can’t give away stuff for free, why do they remove segment leaderboard API access for *paying* subscribers?!?! Why would that part of their API be more difficult to maintain and be more expensive than other areas?

    About 2 years ago I spent a couple of days coding a personal app which does some analysis on those leaderboards, poof, down the drain for no apparent reason.

    Bad move and thanks a lot for nothing.

  64. Mike H.

    Also, I feel it should be pointed out that these changes to leaderboards don’t actually save them much processing time. They are still doing the same processing, they’re just restricting who can see the results of the processing. When I finish a ride, they still process my ride through their systems that determine whether I took a KOM or not, and that data still gets saved in their systems somewhere, I just can’t see the details behind it unless I’m a subscriber. There’s a certain cost associated with retrieving those results for each person that wants to look at them, but I’ve got to imagine that cost is small compared to the cost of analyzing the data in the first place.

    I’m not a huge fan of taking existing features and moving them behind a paywall. I understand strategies change and they have to make money at some point. But they’re a victim of their own success here, it’s generally viewed that segments are a core feature of Strava, moving features that are considered a core part of your platform isn’t going to sit well. It’d be like Google saying, ‘You can still run a search for free, but if you want to see more than 10 results you need to pay us $5 a month’. It’s entirely within their rights to do that, but a lot of people are going to be unhappy with them.

    If you want people to pay for your services and not be annoyed at the prospect, like Ray said, give them features that make them decide it’s something they want to pay for.

  65. Chris Clancy

    Here are our APIs – we’ll rip them away at a moments notice, so don’t get too attached – but please help us make money! ha Strava doesn’t seem to have a clear direction as a company…

    • Chris Clancy

      it’s interesting too that on my “free” account – you can’t see most segements anymore AT ALL – but if I hit it by URL, I can see it.

  66. Joel M.

    I’ve been paying years precisely because of this problem, they have to make money eventually.

    Look how many people in these comments say they don’t pay and haven’t noticed a difference or don’t pay because it’s buggy. People don’t want to pay and Strava pretty much provides the full service for free.

    If we want Strava to continue to exist we need to pay for it. They don’t do ads so a subscription is the only way to go forward.

    I’m viewing this more as a last gasp than anything, sounds like they are desperate and will fail sooner than later with the revenue. This might be quite a negative but clearly Strava is desperate enough.

    They have a marketing problem, there has been no reason to pay unless your intentionally trying to support a service you love. Frankly DCR, you should emphasize well with that, it’s a model you survive on yourself after all.

    I guess Strava are finally growing up and realising they are too big to survive on altruism.

    • “Frankly DCR, you should emphasize well with that, it’s a model you survive on yourself after all.”

      Not sure I follow?

    • Joel M.

      You provide pretty much all your content for free. We support you via your few programs but as a whole there is an active choice to support your work and business model. Either buy purchasing an active subscription, using your referral links and turning the Ad blocker off. (Although, I’ll admit I don’t know what percentage of people out there aren’t using an Ad blocker by default)

      Strava is very similar, at least from a general consumer point of view, in my opinion. Pretty much the entire product that people want is provided free and consumers have to make a very active choice to support them. Many people do not as it’s “just facebook but for athletes”. Their free product is just too damn good and cover off too much of what the average user wants. It’s hard to justify subscribing for most people without wanting to actively support it.

      These few changes do sway the balance towards there being a reason to pay for it to many rank and file users who generally just want to show off their latest effort and compare themselves to everyone else. Which is most people on Strava.

    • I think it’s all about setting expectations. For me, the expectation I’ve set here is that all my usual content is free.

      There are some things that are paid extras – for example, the DCR Analyzer is a paid subscription. Or, the DCR Supporter is a paid subscription which removes ads and gets folks some extra tidbits of content.

      I don’t disagree there are similarities (CyclingTips made such an argument today in a post). I think the core difference though is expectations. If the analogy were sketched further, it’d be akin to me saying that some significant aspect of reviews were behind a paywall as of today. For me, and my ‘business model’ that actually doesn’t work (because it lowers viewership/etc which is the inverse of what I want).

      I’ve also got the slight advantage that my model is a bit more diversified – YouTube, DCR Analyzer, DCR Supporters, generic ad revenue, affiliate revenue, etc… Like any business, it’s rarely a perfect and equal blend – but it’s far more balanced than it was a few years ago.

      As I’ve been saying for months now – Strava has tough decisions to make. I was simply hoping they’d make most of those tough decisions on new features going forward, rather than from the base of the users that made the platform what it is till now.

      Thanks for reading!

  67. Mike

    Strava was great because of segments, this was it’s USP, but overtime they have become less important, segments are rarely used in anger these days by me or my friends, the last time I tried for a segment time was years ago, whilst I appreciate some cyclists still gun for them I feel they are not important and so at face value this change doesn’t matter… but it does for lots of other reasons… the social side, which is what makes Strava different now, and this will be effective.

    Will people suddenly change from free to paid to get the leaderboards ? not a chance, so this change will not really increase subscribers, but it will for sure reduce overall usage. I feel this is the start of the death of Strava, it is a shame as the last few months it looked awesome, but they have turned to the dark side again…. and I am a paid subscriber, but as soon as my friends stop using it because there is nothing for them, I will stop paying and using it… and this is the reality of their decision, it has the potential to not drive up paid membership but to reduce it.

    And also… who the hell is interested in the top 10 overall, literally nobody, 99.99999% of us can’t get near a top 10, it is some random 10 people who I don’t know, why even bother, this shows even more lack of thought and clarity.

    Can’t create a route for the club anymore… more social side gone, it isn’t just segments they are shutting down, it is the social side as well…. so what is left ?

  68. Geoff Thorensen

    > But I’m not clear why they had to burn the house down to do it today at 10AM Pacific Time. If they didn’t breaks apps for 30 days, would that have really been such a big deal?

    Because a third party app would siphon the data they are putting behind the wall. No notice means no recovery.

  69. Fastasasloth

    Article states changes are effective immediately. I have the up-to-date version of the Android app released today, and I am a non-subscriber. However, I can still see efforts on segments from those I follow, and from clubs i am a member of. Mobile version only let me see the top10 anyway, since no scroll feature…. can others still see the efforts of those they follow? Dcrainmaker stated one shouldn’t be able to…

  70. I was getting a little bit of success with link to brevets.bike , a post COVID challenge based on efforts done during this special time.
    They f****d it all.

  71. Dave Stohler

    I have paid for Summit for years and I’m okay with that. But, Strava doesn’t do much to activate “subscribers.” Why don’t they send a Strava t-shirt when you reach, say, 20,000 miles? Why don’t they have Weight Class/Age Group KOM markers? Why don’t they offer discounts to me if I “recruit” a rider or two to become a subscriber? Why don’t they have better “Riders You May Know” algorithms? Anyway, you get it.

  72. Theo WIssen

    I’m in shock. No more route building for free users. I fully understand their decision but this really hurts. To be honest, I’m not going to pay 60 euro’s a year for using their route builder. That’s just too much. Will keep the free Strava account for uploading training sessions and to stay connected with my friends. And I will try to find a good alternative for making routes.
    Btw, I was so happy this week with their new feature of easily syncing Strava with my Garmin Edge….

    • Mike

      That is so true… we will finally give you syncing and then take it away the following week

    • Dan G

      The Garmin Connect route builder works as well as Strava’s. Realised that this morning. You can use Google Maps as the base map as well as OSM, so it actually has advantages.

      You don’t need a Garmin device to use Connect.

  73. John

    A website/app will come along that does everything stava/training peaks do. Is free. And makes money from ads like facebook/twitter (which works a business model). The subscriber pay model does not work.

    • Sanjai Patel

      I couldn’t agree more with that. Even better I’d prefer to carry on paying nothing with small ad banners

  74. Heiko

    oh no – route building was the only feature i still used and especially because of the heatmap. this was for me the killer feature because it helped me find countless of nice routes.
    Any ideas where to move to? The garmin version of a heat map looks very odd and has apparently much less data as a basis.

  75. Phil

    Why didn’t they look at a very basic 5€ a month user charge that many would have gone for and then unsold from there? Weird!

  76. I really dont see a problem here. When I find service or app I like, I want to try support the developer so the service / app has a decent chance of staying around. Last I checked they weren’t running a charity. I think it is pretty generous of them to even offer a free tier. I have been a subscriber since day one and plan to be until they go out of business from giving away everything for free.

  77. Matthias van der Hallen

    DCR, please consider updating the post with a reference on how to download all of your historical data from strava. Given the sweeping changes with little to no notice, I do not think it is opportune to entrust Strava as a ‘forever’ storage.

    Safeguarding your data is easy, and free. Just go to: link to strava.com and click on ‘get started’ under the section header “Download or Delete Your Account”. Disregard the ‘delete your account’ part. It is totally safe to download your data, you can do so without actually deleting your account.
    After clicking ‘get started’, click ‘request your Archive’ under step 2 “Download Request (optional)”. Your data will be provided to you after a few hours via a link through mail.

    • Matthias van der Hallen

      I’m saying this as a longterm subscriber of strava. I like the platform, despite of the bad choices… I would simply hate it if many people lost their cycling history, and given the way that strava communicates with their user base and with third party developers, I think people should take measures.

    • Theo WIssen

      Smart, would hate to loose 4 years of training data. Thanks for reminding me

  78. Keith G

    I would pay $1/month. They have 50 million users. Everyone pays $1/month, that’s $50M/month or $600M/yr.

    • Alan Bailey

      That was my first thoughts as well.

    • inSyt

      Plus ads for when your gear reaches a certain mileage, a tab for allowing events to sell entries, etc.

    • mazswojejzony

      This!
      I’ve got so many bills to pay, but I would subscribe right away if it was $1/month. I do not even need all the paid features – just give me back what I had before.
      And if you add the beacon for extra $1 I will get it too.

  79. dodger

    Also to remind you all that Strava don’t sync all segments to Wahoo/Garmin users, if the segment goes slightly downhill then you won’t get live updates on your device. This is another nail in the coffin for Strava. See the current community discussions here link to support.strava.com

  80. Tony h

    I have been getting great value from Strava for years , I can’t believe it’s taken them this long to actually try and make money . The alternate to paid subscriptions is ads and I know which I’d chose if I was them . We’ve all been using this game changing free service For a long time , it’s about time we all paid up !

    • Fred Lee

      This is my feeling. I get the impression that people don’t remember the landscape before Strava. The notion of segments totally revolutionized the market and, in my opinion, single-handledly drove the mass-market adoption of bicycle GPS computers. DCR probably owns a big part of his success to Strava turning a bunch of cyclists into data nerds.

      They’ve made a lot of mis-steps along the way. Claiming they own your data was a big one that almost lost me until they mostly reversed it. But on the whole I think they’ve been a decent steward of their position in the industry.

      So now they want to be profitable. I have a hard time faulting them for that. I would hate to see them be acquired by a big company. Acquisitions seldom turn out well for the users of the product — I worked for Intel and saw first-hand all the innovative fitness companies they bought… and then shut down. I’m sure DCR saw the same thing at his previous employer.

      Who might buy them? Garmin obviously. And what would happen then? Within a year they’d start crippling non-Garmin devices. Then they’d merge it with Garmin Connect. Within two years the service would be dead.

  81. Because every time I visit Strava it tries to get me to upgrade I have considered paying and my actual thoughts were … nope I don’t choose to pay for that.

    I then took a few moments and thought to myself how in the world does this company make money. Turns out the answer to that is basically – they might not.

    Also as a side note … they might really have the worst public relations/advertising team in the industry.

  82. Matthias Marquardt

    Hi,

    If you miss a route builder (mainly dedicated to road bike cycling) Let me know, if https://route.emacberry.com/  would work for your needs – to store/save a route you can simply make use of the bookmark feature of your browser – export to gpx, tcx and geojson is also available. [available as it is for a couple of years – all for free – no commercial interest]… Stay healthy!

  83. Ed

    I’ve been a summit member for years. Time for all the free riders (and runners) to pony up to keep Strava ad free (or at least big ugly ads in your feed).

  84. I built a virtual challenge app that a few clubs are using now and I planned on expanding it to other clubs after I get through The beta phases and ensure it can handle the load. I currently integrate with strava but I dont use leaderboards or segments or anything like that. I only use it to sync a user’s activities from strava (using their web hooks) so they dont have to enter it manually into my app.

    I just finished testing my strava integration using paid and unpaid users and the integration still works for everyone. So I am not clear if that will stop working for non-paid Strava users eventually – the email they sent indicates they already cut it off. And your article seems to say the same thing — I.e If user is not a paid user the /api/v3/activities is not gonna work as of now.

    Can you clarify this for me? Will it stop working in 30 or 60 days for unpaid users?

    • jk

      I’m wondering the same thing. At the moment I can still get /api/v3/activities/ for non-paying but the above implies that this isn’t the case?

  85. Ben Roberts

    I’ve been a subscriber since 2012, just cancelled based on these changes.

    Several reasons why but, I’m a developer, the idea that some poor devs have had their livelihood, thousands of hours of work destroyed on a whim, without notice, is puke-worthy. Shame on you Strava.

  86. Brian

    Garmin gives more detailed information from power meters and provides live tracking without Strava’s fee. Komoot is less expensive for their full world plan and at least as easy, if not easier, to build routes in. I’m having a hard time seeing a reason to keep paying Strava once this year’s subscription ends in a few months.

  87. For a few months I thought Strava had got their sh#t together. Android beta app was being updated every week. They got rid of all the Summit mess and went back to single Premium. Added some new Training analysis features. Damn I even got motivated to create a new service (https://strautomator.com) using their API some days ago.

    Now I spent 3 days coding some new features using the Leaderboards via their API… and boom! Leaderboards will be gone soon. Back to unhappy customer.

    I guess they haven’t changed their mindset afterall.

  88. John

    I would likely pay if they’d group my triathlon / brick Training activities together!!!

    • max

      +1
      I payed the strava subscription for 5 years waiting for promised feature! After that I quit frustrated.

    • Dan

      +1
      and I still can’t understand why a swim can’t be assigned race status and given the number of triathletes using the platform.

  89. David

    I love to pore over the segments – ahead of a Zwift race or ride ill look at where I stand compared to my “friends” (for a recent Greater London Loop I was close enough to the Llama to target his time.. I don’t think he knew he was in a race). As I understand it, I won’t see anything different, but I suspect removing leaderboard access will remove much of the reason for using Strava for most people. If Strava loses the critical mass and customers start voting with their feet, my leaderboard becomes meaningless, because at that point not all my friends and influencers will be there to compare myself too… frankly they would have been better coming up with advertising based model or finding a cleverer way to hide results and data…

  90. Sherpa Dave

    I love to pore over the segments – ahead of a Zwift race or ride ill look at where I stand compared to my “friends” (for a recent Greater London Loop I was close enough to the Llama to target his time.. I don’t think he knew he was in a race). As I understand it, I won’t see anything different, but I suspect removing leaderboard access will remove much of the reason for using Strava for most people. If Strava loses the critical mass and customers start voting with their feet, my leaderboard becomes meaningless, because at that point not all my friends and influencers will be there to compare myself too… frankly they would have been better coming up with advertising based model or finding a cleverer way to hide results and data…

  91. Like Ares

    One more thought: Don’t we all pay STRAVA with the data we give to them? I thought STRAVA uses all our data in a commercial way, such as heat maps for urban development and routing? I thought that was part of the deal?

    • Fred Lee

      I know right? It’s so ridiculous. If they’re having trouble making payroll, they should just pay their developers with that super valuable route data we’re all giving them.

      Seriously though, it would always be interesting to get a peak at the financials of startups. My guess is trying to fund yourself solely by trying to charge city governments for heatmap data is a tough way to go.

    • Like Ares

      Of course the data is not paying everything, but some of it. Moreover the data of the non-paying users is also adding value to the features for the paying users.

    • JoSt

      Sorry, the data is not worth much. Just commutes are worth a little bit and they are not recorded much. Google has much better and valueble data on momement/speed/route choice etc. nowadays…

  92. Onno

    I think you’re being too negative. Nobody likes features being restricted and yes, it’s annoying that it’s happening immediately, but then again.. I can’t really blame them, it makes sense to have people pay for the most unique features they’re offering. It’s always been difficult to explain to people why they should pay for Strava, because all interesting features were free.

    I have no problems with paying a few euro’s a month for their service, because it’s a service I use and like a lot, and they are actively improving it. (okay, that only started very recently, but still)

    The alternative features you mention they could use to attract paying members.. well.. they’re sure nice-to-haves, and maybe even important to some, but are they features that will make a significant amount of members pay? I doubt it.

  93. jk

    As many others have said, Strava IS segments, so this is sad to see. In terms of route planning, Suunto movescount still has the best roue planner of anything that I’ve come across, but it seems like Suunto are slowly ditching it in favour of their mobile app (which is no place for serious route planning).

    So on that note, does anyone have good suggestions for websites for serious route planning? Features of movescount that are especially good are the elevation profile, the heatmaps, and the integration with many different types of mapping (especially mapbox which shows small trails not on other maps).

  94. Hi Ray

    I thought you got carried away on this piece but my (strava) app developer has just contacted me and said the endpoints are the ones that in simple terms ‘get the basic workout data’

    Surely this can’t be right? it means that no 3rd party will be able to get even the basic hr and gps data

    if so I think there could be a few thousand strava app developers/owners who think you are UNDER egging the significance.

    I’m trying to clarify the exact meaning of the last 3 of these

    /api/v3/segments/:id
    /api/v3/segments/:id/streams
    /api/v3/segment_efforts [Updated]
    /api/v3/segment_efforts/:id/streams
    /api/v3/segments/explore
    /api/v3/athletes/:id/segments/starred
    /api/v3/activities
    /api/v3/activities/:id
    /api/v3/activities/:id/streams

    • Yeah, I’m not clear on that piece. It wasn’t till about 30 mins ago they sent over some additional cuts and details, specifically saying:

      “• The segment effort API in question that got “individual effort detail” has only worked for the authenticated athlete (themself) for years. That is still around and only for subscribers.
      o This would include PII, HR, power, cadence, etc…”

      I’m not clear on this yet, and asked for more clarifications. This would be well beyond what they had detailed was going away previously in numerous e-mails and details back and forth and pretty substantial – and would be a significant pile of crap if so.

      But again, more details/confirmations first.

    • OK, got confirmation back on that one, specifically:

      /api/v3/activities
      /api/v3/activities/:id
      /api/v3/activities/:id/streams

      The last three were incorrectly included by Strava. They’ve since updated their API document to reflect that. I didn’t focus on those in my post (which, Strava got lucky on I suppose), but instead the other API calls. In any case, their final listing is here: link to developers.strava.com

    • Sam

      They still have this call :

      /api/v3/activities/:id

      set as member only, I guess we (devs) will be able to list the users activities but not have details on it

    • Sam

      Here is a comparaison of all route planning websites: enjoy!

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Yeah, I can get further clarity, but in an e-mail last night with respect to which calls were changed/not changed they stated: “Activity data is unchanged. Your own HR, gps, etc is all unchanged regardless of subscription.”

  95. Fred Lee

    I’m probably in the minority here since blog comments tend to be an echo chamber that take on the sentiment of the post, but I guess I don’t have a big problem with this.

    There are a lot of people who can still benefit from the ‘free’ strava. My 80-year-old mom is trying to maintain her streak of riding her bike 6 miles every day. She doesn’t give a hoot about segments but having a strava account is a fun way for her to track her miles and to keep tabs on my brother and me who are both premium members.

    If you’re spending a bunch of time on Strava tracking segments and competing with your buddies then stop being a cheapskate and start paying money. Stuff costs money, it’s not rocket science. How many of you offer your employer a month of free labor so they can try it out? Yeah, Strava’s programmers probably don’t do that either.

    So there’s a balance to be struck between offering enough free service to pull people in to being paying members and running a profitable business. I see posts from people who are outraged because they’ve been using free strava for years and now they’re going to lose the features they care about.

    IF YOU’VE BEEN USING STRAVA FOR YEARS, THEN PAY FOR IT.

    Crikey.

    • Fred Stig

      I did. And for years. And over those years all of the feature requests for functionality fell on deaf ears. So I stopped paying. I agree, if you use a service you *should* pay for it. But in return I expect it not to be a dumpster fire run by incompetents (the former company leaders). At this point Strava is going to have to improve their route planner so it’s better than RWGPS (where I now send my money) or Komoot (good luck against both of those, especially for mountain bike routing) and implement semi-private (friends only) segments for me to even *think* about paying again. And for the love of Jeff, just license the use of TSS already, instead of your own, foolish ‘relative effort’ crap.

      Stupid decisions by management *should* hurt. I wish Strava the best of luck but there’s a steep hill they’ve now got to climb.

      – nick

    • JM

      This might have been inevitable, but damn, PR much?

    • Stephen Wilson

      Hi Fred i was paying but live really close to a mtb centre and all of the strava leaderboards were being swamped by electric bikes. At which point i asked strava if they could sort which they didnt, secondly the mapping element was poor. At some point sme other app will spring up and i will move.

    • Maarten

      I paid for Strava for years.

      Then one day I forgot my Garmin, so I pulled out the Strava app to record my ride. And spent lots of time trying to figure out why my phone wasn’t picking up HRM data. Until I googled for answers and discovered they’d yanked heart rate monitor integration from the app.

      Now there’s a feature I’d pay for…

      …but instead I canceled my Strava Premium, because I don’t want to be paying for that kind of surprise.

    • Allan

      It’s the bugs, Fred. I’m not going from free to pay just for something that they used to provide for free, but at the same time, do NOTHING to address years-old problems. Sorry, when they start to concern themselves with bug fixes and actual improvements, then I’ll pay.