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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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752 Comments

  1. Alan Bailey

    How will this if at all affect the way or the data that TrainerRoad pulls from Strava to record the data of outside free rides to incorporate into your training calendar?

    • PeterF

      In case Strava did break that too, TR can also sync outside rides from Garmin Connect. (no such feature for Wahoo)

    • ChrisTexan

      I tried Strava recording (directly) years ago a few times on MTB rides, along with my Polar v800, and quickly realized how far off Strava GPS distance, and elevation, averaging is. If you are relying on your Strava data as an “input” source, I’d recommend rapidly finding an alternative. I also saw then (many years ago now) that Strava was a fickle partner, so didn’t trust them long-term with my data.
      All that to say, record with “something else” that syncs to Strava (many things do) AND to TR, Training Peaks, etc (ditto).
      You do have to decide which you want passing through the data, my recommendation is use your source recording device (Garmin, Polar, ride-along-cartographer and monitoring nurse, whatever) and use that to feed them both, independently. (Yes, when I sync my watch post-ride/run, I get about 6 notification alerts from all the services that update as a result, LOL, can’t image what Ray gets!). I even have a Garmin account although I don’t own a Garmin device, LOL, just in case (and to be with the “in” crowd, LOL)

  2. Iv K

    Instead of listening to user problems, Strava changes fonts and maps. Lol.

  3. Liz

    I keep an xls of my rides aside from recording on strava; but i like to see where I’ve been on the map and getting performance medals for pb’s etc. Non Paying Member.

  4. freegeek

    majority of people use Strava as some sort of Facebook for their activities. These free users don’t care about segments and they also never going to pay for Strava. That would be like paying for a Facebook subscription, not going to happen. A minority use segments etc… , this change is clearly focused on them. Asking this group $60 / year now for what they basically had for free for years will be a tough sell, also don’t see it happen

  5. Sabina Hickmet

    Just subscribe – what’s the fuss for a few pounds/dollars month?

    • ArT

      Remember that not everyone comes from rich countries. 5 $ is quite a lot if I am only interested in the strava live segment. Keidyś was conceived for 3 subscriptions was ok.

    • ArT

      sorry 8 $ / month

    • Dan G

      Because £48 a year is actually a substantial amount of money for many people, and it’s very unclear that it’s value for money.

    • Tomáš Beránek

      If you compare what Strava offers with their competition (Polar Flow, TP for training metrics; Mapy.cz, Komoot for routes), then in everything except big user base and Segments is Strava one hundred years behind the monkeys. Segments without comparsion with my friends (if they decided not to pay) are useless.

      In the other hand – in this times there are a lot of virtual races using Strava API. They are cut off – practically without time even to tell participants whats going on? That is really unfair and I will not support anyone who did it. For $7.5 per month I can get full city-bike-sharing subscription in Prague.

    • Mike

      Will you send me a “few pounds/dollars month?” Why not, what’s the “fuss?”

      Your comment demonstrates a strange attitude I have seen in recent years. Don’t question, don’t utilize critical thinking or analysis….just pay. If Strava’s management was smart enough they would have figured out how to be profitable a decade ago. They can’t even offer a free premium trial with a new Garmin or other watch. No one seems to want to touch them (for reasons that are becoming obvious I think).

      I would rather donate to an animal rescue or food bank. I spend $9.99 (CAN) a month on Spotify, $16.99 on Netflix, $15 to Adobe. I don’t need any more subscriptions especially when a service is removing previously free features. It’s bad form and doesn’t create trust with the brand.

    • Pawel Chalacis

      “Just stop using apps that Strava just broke, what’s the fuss?”

    • Allan

      Love how some people have no principles. I’m not paying though I could easily afford it. Their customer service is terrible, they never address bugs or functionality issues, and they sell my data as it is. You can be a sheep if you want, and “just pay” but I have those pesky principle things…

    • Matthew Pollard

      And what calculated timing, lots of people furloughed, out of work etc with lots of spare time who want to use it for good reasons then Strava takes away a chunk of what they have had for free and ask for money if they want it back whilst at this time many people are not as well off as they were before Covid. Come on Strava appreciate you’re a business but how about some human decency.

    • Stock Photo

      Ok sure Karen

    • Nuno Fernandes

      This is the point. Most people that are complaining about paying aren’t because of the money, but because Strava customer service is terrible.
      There are some bugs/issues that they never addressed that could easily be implemented, like, for example, having an algorithm that would instantly flag an activity when the activity type is wrong. For example, I go for a bike ride but I choose “run”, I do a segment at 50km/h beating all the competition in that segment and Strava won’t automatically flag the activity.
      It’s so simple to implement some changes not allowing anyone to “run” faster than Usain Bold does, but the truth is that you can even go out for a ride in your car and beat any segment, you will only lose your KOM if anyone flags your activity.
      Once I flew from Portugal (Porto) to the Netherlands (Amsterdam), and I recorded all the plane trip (yes, you can catch gps even in an airplane”) and I beat all the segments that were in the plane’s route, even if most of the time it was going at 800+km/h. I was on the leaderboard of all those segments and I only get flagged because people did it manually.
      Of course than I deleted the “activity” after that, but I wanted to know if Strava had any algorithm to track that… It hasn’t.
      This being said, how can you pay for an app that doesn’t implement simple changes like that?

    • Michael

      Caffe Latte Tall $2.95 at Starbucks.$767 per year. Venti $4.15, $1,079 per year. Not counting weekends. And line is out the door day in and day out. In US at least.
      $5/month!!! That’s expensive …if you do not need it. And nobody does. It’s a luxury.
      Sabina is right. Really, what’s the fuss?

    • gabe

      michael – starbucks is terrible coffee..

    • roberto

      sabina. you are ignorant. 5$ is much money here. maybe not in your country. privilege blind.

      there are many free apps do same. I will not use strava any more and consider closing account

    • Fran Char

      Strava is very popular here in the Philippines among cyclists but most of people cannot afford to pay for the subscribers version, don’t even have credit or debit cards (transactions mainly with cash).

    • Alexander

      Are any of those who mentioned has “matched runs”? Seriously, it`s the only reason I was on Strava before the Day of Doom. It seems that Runtastic or Endomondo or Suunto Movescount or Sports Tracker hasn`t.

    • Chris

      That exactly is the fuss 🙂

    • Philip W Martin

      Sabina,

      Totally agree…

      I think the main problem is that so many people expect this kind of stuff for free. I personally hate Freemium as a concept. I understand the model and even why it can work for a business: but I dislike this expectation of “I deserve this for free”. I’ve always paid for Strava myself because of that, even when I didn’t ‘need’ to.

      I actually think their mistake was providing too much capability for free and for turning themselves into what Freegeek above describes as a “Facebook for activities” – the problem is people put up with FB adverts & FB data revenue in return for what is offered: but, let’s be honest, Strava was never going to get the same kind of traction from in-App or in-site adverts, nor the same kind of data value to marketers. I’ve commented on it being a corporate misstep for years – I think they should have gone subscription-based years back (probably tiered with a really low cost basic package) and only given really limited tracking access for free, if they felt they had to.

      However, maybe they would have got less investment in that case, so who knows really? Still in my head, I’d prefer 10M folk paying $36 per year than 54M non-payers and 1M payers… I’d prefer 5M thinking about it… especially if there isn’t a clear way to monetize the non-payers…

      And seriously, let’s get over the economic barrier issue on this – if Strava is a global tech company, then it can tailor pricing for the local market. If $5 per month is way too much for the Philippines (as suggested above), then they won’t get anyone signing up and, if they have a brain, then they drop it to the equivalent value locally that $5 per month is in the US or UK. Paying for the service shouldn’t be the issue – paying the right amount for the value given should be the issue (& that likely goes by locality – even if you get a few folk, who subscribe by VPN through the Philippines Strava geo-located sign-up page to save themselves a few dollars in that scenario.)

      Admittedly, this is a situation of their own making and they have built a 55M user base and a decent portion of active users… and that is something that too many folks (including the legendary DCR, himself at times) take for granted. It is a bloody phenomenal achievement when you stop and think about it for a moment… and (for all the complaints on here) it is a flipping amazing system to have.

      So, even if they have made commercial missteps, kudos to what Strava represents and I appreciate the pleasure it has brought me tracking my own and my friends activities all over the world…

      Which brings me back to the original point – Strava is a commercial service, not an athlete’s right.

      Let’s have them making money through them delivering value to their customer base. If it isn’t worth that money, then customers won’t subscribe… and then it is their own fault. Trying to live in the flawed economics of Freemium loss-making expansion doesn’t really serve anybody in the long run!

      [Also, I am not saying that they are going about this exactly the right way, not that they aren’t making a load of customer service mistakes at the same time. As usual, I agree with DCR on his comments on the situation – I just think it is high time everyone stopped expecting tech platform services like Strava for free and companies like Strava stopped offering them (NB does not include trial subscription periods!]

      {{As ever DCR remains the most relevant athlete site on the Interweb!}}

    • Andrew JENKINS

      It’s just too much for building routes & comparing segments. – If you use more of the features then maybe you can warrant the cost. If it was half the price for the features I actually use then I would subscribe.

    • Steven Addy

      They’re accumulating and selling the user data so the claim about it being free is not entirely accurate, unless your point is to dwell on that and wag a finger at those on fixed budgets that are impacted by cost increases.

      My big complaint was about the stupidity of the move (sudden unannounced) and what was done. Instead of adding additional value to the system they expended significant resources to take something away from people.

      When the product becomes this much of an issue I tend to go on to other things and just say what ever.

      I never wanted nor asked for a social media site for athletes, that’s not what I’m interested in, and based on the survey it sounds like a lot of others aren’t all that interested either TBH. FB is bad enough and just about as worthless as they get. You think you get a skewed view of what people’s lives are like on FB…just wait for the social media version of Strava…eeek!

      But what gets me is that the only real feature of Strava that others don’t have is Segments, but with the known GPS system slop the inaccuracies are so great that even +100 watt increase cannot be guaranteed to change your time in a segment…which is a load of crap.

      And that’s really why I’m not having much to do with Strava other than just let Garmin Connect transfer my rides and walks over so my few friends can see what’s going on.

      Steve A

  6. VanDrum88

    It’s actually shocking… Instead of creating more accessible options for users, you’re either in, or out. I think the packages idea was the way to go… I’d gladly pay for segments only and drop a lot of the other features of being a subscriber or whatever, but at a discounted rate. Now the joy of strava begins to be diminished…

    Most folks that I introduced to cycling and strava was with the idea of “Hey, your training isn’t meaningless…just try beat me!” Now all those perks are down the toilet and the average guy won’t be motivated to shell out cash on something he doesn’t see immediate value to… 60 days isn’t long enough to build up meaningful fitness anyway…

    Maybe a rant… But your idea of stick instead of carrot is spot on.

    Thanks for the article.

    • Mr Gavin Park Weir

      Interesting. I would probably pay $2 per year for segments but now I’ll just disconnect my Garmin account from Strava.

    • Nathan Vincent

      Spot on, my thoughts exactly. I do not want or need all the bells and whistles but a package plan would of kept me on-board.

  7. Daniel Cameron

    I have summit but only pay for one of the packages – $2.99 i think. What will happen now? They wont just upgrade me to the higher amount will they?

    • ArT

      There is no more split into packages. If you opt out of the old package you will pay for everything.

    • ChrisTexan

      Ray did an article on that a few weeks back (I think)… ultimately you are currently in a “grace period”, they’ve already begun that transition, after which you’ll have to pay the “full-price” but get “all features”. Or nothing and get, “not-much”. Think that ends this month, maybe next, not sure.

    • MP

      What about if I have a yearly single-pack subscription?
      I.e. I paid in advance for 1 year of certain features?

      Are these features going to be taken away from me mid-year?

  8. Gerald H.

    I was a paid subscriber to Strava for more than a year, then cut back on yearly subscriptions to only monthly options – and only when I am really using them. So I tried Trainerroad, Zwift and now Rouvy (first premium, now standard).
    5 EUR/month does not seem a lot but multiplying by 2 or three yearly subscriptions gets adding up. I got a Polar watch, and Polar Flow is sufficient to follow up training levels. I user cycle.travel for planning routes on the go – perfect.
    In terms of social, I am spending more time in the GCN app than in Strava I have to admit. For me Strava becomes just a data repository and to collect photos of memorable rides. I’ll pay 2 EUR/month for that or accept somme commercials.

    • ArT

      There used to be a subscription to three parts. It was ok. Payment for the whole is unnecessary if I am only interested in the strava live segment.

  9. Danny

    I understand that if they don’t get more income then Strava might go bust but I don’t know if this is going to help their cause.
    It might work but it might also create some competition which could do them more harm than good.
    They have such a big customer base they could easily use advertising to drum up some income. As a start just simply having a pro app which had an upfront fee with ads and all the current access and then a free app with no segments.
    I’m not paying $120 per month for my wife and I, especially when 99% of my friends also won’t pay it, and half the fun after a group activity is comparing times.

  10. HarryB

    Strava was giving away too much for free IMO, so this is a reasonable move from them to increase subscription. I don’t agree that this negatively impacts premium members at all.

    And strava premium is cheap. So don’t be cheap. Just buy it.

  11. amico

    I have been a paid subscriber on and off for a few years, most recently of Analysis pack in Summit which actually met most of my needs. Now with this option gone and full subscription still providing fewer insights vs. Garmin Connect, I see no point is further subscribing.
    In my view last 3-4 years of “improvements” as mostly marginal, cosmetic or of no use to me. As primarily a runner I see no need for Segments.
    Routes functionality in running is meaningless as the underlying data/heatmaps is so polluted with races on public roads, rides/walks mis-classified as runs or old data including closed roads (which I let them know multiple times in public forums and with direct tickets). Actualy Garmin route creator is much better for runners.
    So all in all Strava seems to have lost direction and resulted to some hectic moves.

  12. Eric

    What is everyone using for the best free route builder? Is it worth the Strava price for those features, or is Garmins built in feature or the free version of ridewithgps better?

    • Dr. D

      Check out Trail Router (web, Android, iOS). No affliation here – I came across it in the comments.

    • Luke

      After this news broke I went to ride with GPS (RWGPS) and tried replicating a route that I’d made in Strava to see how RWGPS worked, the route came out all wonky. Makes me anxious about ditching strava when my subscription runs out shortly (which I want to do because this news pisses me off)

    • Blake O

      Ride with GPS has amazing route builder

    • Doug

      I have been on ride with gps for years and I love their route builder it is the only online cycling service I pay for … be interested in hearing what you do not like about it.

    • Luke Selby

      Admittedly I haven’t used it much, tried it for about the 3rd time after this post came out, but found it much harder to work with that the strava route builder, which is about the only strava “service” I’d really miss.
      Is it easy (seemless) to get RWGPS onto a garmin edge?

    • Doug

      I don’t know – never had a garmin – I use lezyne – steps are download route from RWGPS – upload to lezyne interface website – then start navigation (on phone) linked to device- once transferred to device turn by turn works without phone

    • Jochen

      That’s easy: link to komoot.com is the best route builder.

    • Jeff S

      Luke,

      RwGPS is actually a very good route building tool (in fact, I laughed for the last few YEARS at Strava’s tool in comparison). RwGPS did JUST release a some new route building tools the other day and some changes that seem to (currently) negatively affect building new routes. Specifically, I see it it taking some very roundabout ways to get from one point to another point, and it does not typically do that. I’ve seen this more with the RwGPS map layer rather than the standard map layer, so I would first try changing the map layer. Beyond that, adjust your zoom levels in and out when it gives you a bad re-route, utilize the undo tool and give it a few more way points on the path that you want.

      RwGPS has always been a tool that you have to know where you want to go and how you want to get there, and not an automatic route builder like the Strava route tool. There are benefits to both and as such I am a paying member for both. I used the free RwGPS for almost as long as they have been around, and I finally became a paid subscriber this last Christmas.

    • ChrisTexan

      I’ve had struggles with Strava’s route builder, in areas I live (particular challenges, not “common” ones)… at least 2 “trail systems” I ride/run on have entrances/exits onto sidewalks or trailheads. Strava has the “trail” and has the “sidewalk” but adamantly refuses to “connect” the 2, by clicking a point on the sidewalk, it routes all the way back 6 miles to get to the point 50ft away, LOL, so have to use the “manual” mode and that aggravates me as much as anything.
      I don’t do it often (never now, LOL, if it’s not free), I actually use Google Earth a lot for mapping, it’s not the friendliest (and obviously not ride/run/athlete oriented, just general-purpose), but very flexible and accurate, and doesn’t fight me when I tell it I want to go from “A” to “B”, LOL.
      I have RwGPS, never have built a route on it though (haven’t opened it in years, LOL) may have to take another look based on this discussion.
      I think that’s what Strava is risking here… it’s been the “easy” choice, and with a large base, “competition” has been indirect, since it was clear they were the gorilla in the market… I think this weakens them down to “large chimpanzee”, and maybe someone will now step up to say “we can do this too/better”. So many services offer more than Strava in athlete-specific areas, but lack the social portion, this may be the time to test the waters anew…

    • Tom Fuln

      bikemap.net is pretty decent. I used to switch back and forth between strava and bikemap.net for making routes. They give a bit different results. But I guess I’ll just be using the latter now.

  13. Struggling

    More people are out of work than ever before and we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Companies are stepping up all over the world to help people.

    What great timing Strava. Very disappointing to say the least.

    • Realist

      To be fair Strava is also struggling. They are not profitable and are taking steps to continue to be in business. If they fail everyone on their team will be out of a job as well. You can’t just keep going while losing money over and over. Strava is not a charity and you’re not entitled to the services they provide. They have employees that are entitled to a paycheck though.

    • Nuno Fernandes

      Why don’t they add ads for the free users? It’s simple to do, they’d make a lot of money, and they could leave things as they were?
      This is how every app works, they have 50+ million users, most of them are free, can you imagine how much money could they make with ads?
      They have been complaining on facebook that they’re a small team, that they don’t profit at all…
      What the hell? They are the most popular fitness app, by far, why didn’t they grow as a company?
      Is the CEO too dumb or I’m missing something here?

    • Honest

      I thought profit is what’s left over after all business costs and everyone’s (including directors) salaries have been paid. Charities often don’t make any profit but keep lots of people in well-paid jobs.

      I wonder how much the directors take in salary?

    • Fran Char

      Totally agree with you

  14. What will Zwift and the Zwift Insider/Veloviewer communities do?

    I understand that the data is flowing; Zwift or [Garmin/Wahoo/etc product] -> Strava -> Veloviewer.
    Strava is acting as the aggregator and the data transaction point between the collection device and VeloViewer and other platforms, but as Zwift data is all recorded in Zwift (and Garmin data is all captured in Connect), can Strava be bypassed anyway; Zwift/Garmin -> Veloviewer?

    If anything, I think there’s space for a rival aggregator or development point for VeloViewer. Why have Veloviewer as the focal point for Strava transacted data from hardware providers and Zwift when either VeloViewer or a new kid on the block could open up the input api’s from Strava, Garmin, Zwift, Wahoo, Sufferfest, RunKeeper, MapMyRide and all the others. An aggregator of all these different platforms providing data can then compile and compare. I then can view my Strava time on a road compared to my friend who may use MapMyRide or someone who’s connected direct via Garmin.

    These days it’s expected. Reddit has an entire business model based on aggregation of web content and a user community.

    • Paul

      Interesting update from VeloViewer — link to blog.veloviewer.com

      1) He was prewarned about this, checked and hasn’t had his API restricted ( I can’t tell if this is because he is a valued 3rd party and got special or that the API changes didn’t affect his code )

      2) 70% of Veloviewer paid users are Strava subscribers (me included) so for 70% of his users there is no change at all

      3) For the remaining 30%, the changes are listed out and 99% works as before

  15. fneuf

    What is the neatest way to export all your data FROM Strava ?

    Figured with how the wind is turning there, it couldn’t hurt to have a backup of my activities somewhere else.

    I was using SyncMyTracks apps for that, but I’m just getting errors from it right now (even if we have not yet passed the 10 AM PST deadline from Strava).

    • KH

      You can export all your personal data in a zip:

      – Settings
      – My account
      (Now it gets confusing, they make it sound as if you would delete your account)
      – Download or Delete Your Account: get started
      – Download Request (optional): request your archive

      Note: they only allow you to export this data once a week.

    • Tim

      I use tapiriik. It syncs to your Dropbox account. I know what you mean about SyncMyTracks, it can be really slow and freezes regularly. With tapiriik, all the heavy lifting happens in the server side, so I can just set up the transfer and let the website do its thing.

  16. Rick

    Ray I am a paid supporter of DCRainmaker. Why, because I value the service you provide and I want to see you survive.
    I don’t get anything more for my money than people who read your posts for free.
    I do the same for Strava.

    • Peter Z.

      Rick, that makes sense. The crux of the matter will be whether people like it enough to support or just stop using, right?

    • Sesa

      Excellent point, Rick. I’ve been using Strava free for years, it’s been great to feel connected with my friends and be inspired by my favorite athletes.

      Employees should be paid for their work. I’m glad Strava is being upfront about its needs. If people don’t want to pay, continue using the free app with limited features. Most of the features don’t interest me, but I’ve enjoyed the app for free for years and am happy to subscribe.

  17. JR

    When I look at my own behavior with regard to Strava, I think this makes sense. It’s probably one of my top-5 websites. I’m on it several times a day, and I get a lot of value out of it. On the other hand, I was an on-and-off subscriber because I didn’t value the premium features at all. To me, it would be a no-brainer to pay for Strava if that were the only way I could get on it. But the big catch is that it would lose a lot of value if my friends weren’t on it, and many of them probably wouldn’t pay a cent for it. That’s the dilemma of a lot of social network and app companies.

    Ultimately I started subscribing again last fall out of a feeling of moral obligation: I like Strava a lot more than I like $60/year (which is really a tiny fraction of what most endurance athletes spend on their sport), I want them to succeed, there’s no guarantee that they will, and they’re definitely not gouging anyone.

    Anyway, while I get that some people might think this is not a smart move, I don’t get the anger. Why do people think that they’re entitled to have a couple of hundred people work full time to provide them a complicated product for free?

  18. Megazine

    This all sounds like great news. How else will this company make money. They’ve been struggling since they launched and had to resort investors. We want everything to be free because of how it’s become accustomed in the tech world. But at what cost, ads? Free to play but with micro transactions? No thank you! We all got to enjoy Strava free for years, I think it’s time to give back for all the great work they have done—yes with a few bumps.

  19. Niels

    To me, as one of the few people acually subscribing to premium… I can’t help but like this… Now, I finally feel I’m paying for features I’m actually using. Let’s face it, they were giving away all the good stuff for free and then had some niche features they wanted you to pay for, in the long run (ie. when venture capital runs out) that is not a sustainable business model.

  20. I personally think this is over-aggressive towards Strava. Premium is great value. There is still a lot to be had from the free access. They have turned a corner and are now adding lots of great new features. The route builder is superb. This is classic entitlement culture. Strava need to make premium more attractive to survive – it will always need to be a combination of adding new subscriber only features and making some existing elements subscriber exclusive. The majority of users use Strava to log all of their activities and to keep track of their friends, and give kudos. Segment leaderboards stands out as a premium feature.

  21. Andy

    A lot of rationale comments here. Good to read.

    Strava made many mistakes, and they will continue to do so. Companies make mistakes. Strava being funded as they were never quite figured out how to do it and now they are turning to its users for help. It feels good to help them although I don’t get much (if anything) from the paywall features.

    If something better comes along, and people mass migrate, then I will follow the crowd. I guess Strava just needs to be grown up enough to accept that too.

  22. Jay Batson

    Ray, your post is out of touch with reality, and insular. I cannot speak for Strava management, you are writing as-if Covid-19 were not present.

    Why does that matter? Because Covid-19 wracked the venture capital market. Strava’s ability to raise capital during lush times provided the luxury of being able to burn investor cash until it slowly tweaked the product to figure out how to make money.

    Overnight, that disappeared. Strava instantly has much less time to twiddle with little product packaging / pricing changes until it finds the magic combo. And *every month* that it continues to lose money puts it one month closer to *completely collapsing*. It now needs to act as fast as possible to see if it can survive on a subscription model. Do one change as fast as possible to get a subscription bump, and focus on people who pay. Remember: Thus is a Freemium model, and a vendor needs to have “just enough” value in “free” to get people to try it, then make it hard to stay on the free level and convert people to paid.

    If it cannot get subscribers to pay, the only other business model is the advertising model, introducing ads from third parties into your stream, and make you (the athlete) the product it sells to other “customers” (advertisers). If that is needed, you (the Strava user) should presume a feature freeze for you for quite a while, until the Strava engineering team finishes developing features that serve the advertisers (vs you). And be prepared for your feed to start to look like FaceStagram with an ad every third rider post.

    Virtually every startup with whom I work is going thru this same internal reality check about burning cash, and the need to make bold decisions fast. It’s life or death time, baby.

    Compared to switching to an ad-based model, changing segment access shows faithfulness to us as users. It doesn’t change who the customer is. And frankly if people aren’t willing to pay for Strava, maybe it deserves to die.

    I have long resisted subscribing to Strava. I got what I want for free. But the Segments-for-Pay change was enough to get me to pay (and I did it before I read Ray’s post). Strava’s decision had its desired effect on me. And I’m not bitter; it’s time I pay. It’s time others do, too, and this was the right call my management.

    • Jay Batson

      Edit: Left out “but” after the comma in the 2nd sentence; “my” in the last sense should be “by”.

    • “Ray, your post is out of touch with reality, and insular. I cannot speak for Strava management, you are writing as-if Covid-19 were not present.”

      COVID-19 impacts every company.

      However, the core of Strava’s issues isn’t this year. The core of Strava’s issues is that for the past 3-4 years (until 2020, when in Nov 2019 they replaced their CEO), Strava acted as if users weren’t the priority. They wholly admit that now. They made virtually no changes to the product that benefited users.

      As a result, they saw stalled growth of Premium/paying users. That’s on them. That’s not on users. Nor is on COVID-19.

      Strava’s success *IS* because of those free users. They make up 96-97% of their user base. Without them, Strava would be empty. And the appeal would largely be lost for most. There’s nothing insular about what I wrote – that’s reality.

      Look, I have zero issue supporting/paying for Strava. I do it myself and have for many years. My issues is how they handled this. That’s all. Re-read what I wrote.

    • Jay Batson

      Thanks for replying.

      I’m fully aware of your bottom line issue. In fact, I acknowledge – and somewhat agree – that *how* they handled this could have been better. I’d have (a) announced the anticipated change, (b) had a more stepped-plan to migrate the entire set of 3rd-party apps, (c) had a stiff backbone when the inevitable user blowback happened, and (d) rolled out this change in 60 days, not “today”.

      So please accept my harsh words as the product of reading your post immediately after waking. Maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly yet.

      Nonetheless:
      – I’m willing to give them slack for the speed at which they did it. The capital markets just changed; lack of access to cheap cash to burn just got real. Every business coach (like me) is advising companies to Not. Waste. Time. Act fast.
      – I remain unconvinced that free users are Strava’s path to long-term success IF they want a non-advertising business model. I’d have planned to get to 80% paid, 20% free if it were me.

      I note that a blended business model is out there; ad-based for “free” users, and let users pay for a subscription to nuke the ads. If I were the CEO, I’d “test” that with 5% of the free user base, and see what the economics look like. Data speaks louder than words.

      Thanks again for replying.

    • Bruce Burkhalter

      Jay –

      While I think you make some valid points, I think covid and access to venture capital is less relevant than you portray. First, it is hard to call Strava a “startup”. They have been in business for 11 years. Second, they have taken *6* rounds of funding (the last, Series E, in 2017).

      link to crunchbase.com

      At this point, investors have more than enough info about Strava to decide if they want to throw more money into it. Is their investment going to give them any sort of return? Strava has had a decade to become profitable and hasn’t been able to do it.

      Strava also missed out on getting bought when a lot of fitness apps were acquired. As Ray has pointed out, Strava is not a great acquisition target as they are too costly and don’t add much to Garmin, Wahoo, etc. It is also unclear why Facebook, Google, or Apple would want Strava at this point. And even if Strava were acquired, would the price even generate a return for the current investors? Lastly, going public seems totally off the table (even before covid).

      Given all that, why would a VC pony up for a Series F round? Those rounds are pretty rare to being with. While covid isn’t helping, it is looks to be way down the list of why Strava would have a hard time getting VC money. Or getting it on terms that were not onerous.

      A couple things. This is just speculation on my part. I have no inside info and am interested in other views on this. Second, I am a huge and long time Strava. Paid member since they added it. I really want them to succeed.

  23. M

    Maybe they are still struggling with the technical challenges from their aws talk:
    link to m.youtube.com
    (Tldr: leaderboards are extremely resource intensive and have driven some moderately interesting architectural decisions at strava)

  24. Pete

    I’m a subscriber and think the removal of leaderboards for free members is a bad idea, It not only removes the incentive for free members to improve their fitness and compete on the segments, it will lessen the competition for paid members on the same segments because the free members aren’t incentivised to better their segment times.

    I subscribed to Strava *specifically* to get Strava Live Segments on my Garmin Edge 830. Now the leaderboard’s going to be full of old PRs belonging to athletes who have little visibility how those PRs stack up against their followers.

  25. Data Religion

    It’s pretty simple really, Strava uses Snowflake as their datawarehouse solution, a solution well known for ‘price explosion’ with high query counts.

    They are probably going insane from their query bills, and see this as the only way out

    • usr

      “Freemiuming” features that are actually expensive to provide, per click, would certainly be a smart strategy when they are forced to act. Perhaps increase subscriptions, definitely decrease costs.

      Still sad to see then with their back against the wall like this, I was gladly paying not for the marginal subscriber benefits but for the keeping the platform inviting to those who would never subscribe, either for lack of money or for being on the fence about uploading their rides at all. More “stick” could easily ruin that

    • Wut

      Lol what a bizarre place to assail snowflake. I think you might be obsessed.

  26. Tom

    Ray – do you have any past pieces on platform reviews/platform comparisons e.g. Strava vs Training Peaks vs Garmin Connect Vs Golden Cheetah etc.? Or plans to do such an article? Appreciate a lot will be apples vs oranges but think it would still be very interesting and no doubt you’ve spent enough time on them to know where they excel/suck.

    My (unoriginal) two cents, with any software you drive users to premium tiers by adding features to that tier not removing from the lower tier

    • Nothing that’s focused on training platforms (I did one for trainer apps of course).

      The challenge I find with training platforms is they change so quickly (as Strava has showed this year). So a post quickly becomes out of date, and even more so because anything I mention I don’t like I find companies tend to fix…and then immediately ‘demand’ I update my post to reflect it’s been fixed/changed/tweaked. It becomes death by a thousand cuts.

      I think there are aspects of this I’d like to focus on – such as data portability, privacy, etc… But I’m not sure about a straight feature bake-off.

    • fneuf

      Would also be interested in such articles, and I belive privacy, data portability (and the like) orientation would be great writing angles.

    • Nick

      I hope Strava does keep changing quickly and doesn’t revert to their old ways. It’s great you have a voice they listen to because the Strava user forums are full of frustrated users with ideas/bugs/requests that have gone ignored for years.

      Another good category to include in such an article would be the ecosystem around each platform. Do they even have a public API, are there any interesting 3rd-party extensions out there, etc.

      If you do write something about privacy be sure to mention Strava’s 2019 API changes where they crippled a chunk of their API (again, no notice and their online documentation STILL hasn’t been updated to reflect the changes a year later) in the name of privacy. Just try using the half-baked Clubs API. It now only returns a handful of fields and crucially doesn’t include any sort of identifier (neither athlete ID or activity ID) so it’s totally useless!

    • Dr. D.

      Ray – would a Product Comparison Table style format be a better alternative? Thanks for your work.

    • Robert

      In the simple words, for the past 11 years they didn’t do anything for the users that they where asking for . Those free users build their company and now they showing them middle finger by taking away free stuff that they offer.
      With the 55 million users if they would say ok, no more free accounts everyone is paying $1/month ,in my opinion they will make tons of money and no one would say anything.

  27. SB

    “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.”

    Strava has been doing this for years, and is now betting the farm on being the “only game in town” as they have been since 2009. Beating us into paying fees instead of using the tried and true method of using ad dollars, and offering levels of subscriptions to go “ad-free” or unlock other premium features.

  28. Silva

    I think this will kill Strava as people will start to use garmin connect routes and segments, if you have a high end watch and paid for it why go for strava too, the same if others provide such options.

  29. Blurg

    They are killing themselves. Everyone I know does check his/her segments and like to see how they did today, or this year. Especially comparing with people you know. It is that competition that drives a lot of people, and when that’s taken away, I’m not sure but I think they do themselves way more damage. I think segments are the most poplular feature of Strava, and when you take that away after 10 years, the community will shrink. It becomes less interesting for other to pay, when the community shrinks. That’s why I think they do themselves more damage. It is better to find other things and put that in the paid version.

    Note
    I’m a paid user, it’s not about me not wanting to pay. It is about that a community gets big when the core functionality is free, and you gater a ring of paid member by having added value in paid packages.

    • usr

      Pretty much agree with your points, but perhaps the damage will not be quite as big of maybe a lot of people hardly ever drill down in leader boards that much.

      It’s also not clear for me from the article, do they at least kept some of the non-individualized boards, “this year” and “today”? Technically I think that those exist as mini-boards and they are also not individualized (no filter unique to your user ID) so they are probably much cheaper to provide. This might provide enough reading material to keep users engaged

    • josh

      i agree as well with all of your points, and to tag along with the other reply, i think the whole leaderboard should be visible for free. if you want to search through all the pages go for it. the sorting by age, weight, following, day/month/year should be a pay feature. probably should be able to always view your efforts though. if i’m just browsing through strava i love to look at random peoples profiles and rides. some are real inspiring, and i learn a lot of new routes etc. but if only 10 people and 10 rides are available to look at, that gets boring real quick

    • Mr Gavin Park Weir

      I agree with your points and add that I use the matched run feature to see how I am improving (or not). I won’t pay $60 for something I can get from Garmin.

    • Gavin Park Weir

      Agreed – part of the fun of using Strava was to go and see which of my friends are exercising and encourage them when they go long, hard, fast etc (they are killing the segment PR feature so some of this being killed). I also used like the matched run (ride) feature – there are 8 common routes I do from my house and i liked being able to see how I am improving (or not) each time. I’m not prepared to pay $60 for this and they are devaluing the social element.

      I won’t remove from Strava yet but I don’t see why I should share my data if they don’t provide value.

  30. Oskars

    Is any other company doing something similar to Segments?

    • Grant

      Garmin has a segments option

    • Fred Stig

      Ride With GPS has a segments feature as well. It’s not quite as polished as Strava but rankings are there and it works pretty much the same way.

      – nick

    • dan

      Yeah, but they are pretty bad. If Garmin would step up and make their segments stuff actually work they might be able to seize an opportunity here.

  31. Greg Franks

    Hello Ray,

    Maybe it’s time for a route planning buyers guide. Garmin, Strava, ride with GOS, map my ride, and so on.

  32. Theo Wissen

    So, I have downloaded my archive from Strava via the link they have send me. Just in case Strava is going offline. Received a 500 mb zip file with pdf, zip, pictures, etc files. Can someone explain to me what I can do with this zip? Is there a way to upload it in 1 go to another platform? I have around 900 sessions and 1200 pictures in the zip, would be impossible to upload manually.

  33. Adam

    Well, to be honest I was a paid member only for Beacon. Segments don’t really interest me as I prefer to do trails and seeing as I can use LiveTrack instead there really isn’t much left to interest me, save for posting the odd FB type post and checking on friends.

    With Komoot’s new sync’ing I can use that for route planning (and TBH I’ve found Strava’s route planner terrible) and for analysis Runalyze offers much more useful stuff and I’ll probably subscribe to them instead (and it’s much cheaper too)

  34. Martin Paul Hoff

    You are overly negative, yes! 🙂 The key value proposition within Strava is the leaderboards, and always has been. Everything else has always just been coating. Why should the company provide this free of charge to 95 million freeriders is beyond my comprehension. They don’t even show ads! Losing free shit always ticks people off, but keep calm and look from this at a business angle. The paying users cannot continue subsidizing all these cheapskates. Not to mention letting 3rd parties make money off them.

    I also view the transition as being pretty well planned and executed as they have significantly improved the service offering over the past few months and offering more value to paying users.

    • Gman

      Boom, there 8t is. High 5 brother from another mother!!

    • Chad

      The issue is that their free user base exists because of leaderboards. Taking those away means the majority of their free users will leave, which will eventually leave the leaderboards empty. They’re gutting their biggest feature that pulls in new users.

      Additionally, they’re destroying 3rd party apps, which are a HUGE part of strava. The lack of transparency is pretty disgusting, tbh, and shows that developers can’t trust Strava to warn them of upcoming changes.

      Also, why not put a few ads in the feed? Nobody will care if they’re targeted correctly.

      This just reeks of a disconnect between management and users. It basically removes the MAIN reason folks use strava.

    • You’re misguided

      I paid for Strava for over 8 years. I did it to support them. I couldn’t ever have cared less about their leader boards. I used routing and it built community. I tracked long rides.

      I hoped they would leverage the large user base to do great things with cycling. They did not. That’s cool. That’s their prerogative.

      But Leaderboards were not something most of my very active cycling friends cared about. Everything else just coating? Please. That’s a very shortsighted take of the user base.

      I stopped paying because it brought no value to me after trying to help fund their operation for years. Feature requests unanswered, noise on feeds amplified, routing a mess.

  35. The Real Bob

    I read bunch of comments here and can’t help but think people don’t understand business in the new era. I think Strava doesn’t understand where their value is. Their value is getting millions of people to upload data for free and give it to them.

    They should be looking for away that will get every cyclist in the world to upload to their platform for free. Then they should find every way to monetize that data. That is the value of this company going forward, not some route builder or segment leaderboard.

    I can think of a million ways they can make revenue of that data. Figure out where cyclists are riding mostly and sell that data to companies looking to by billboard space on the road with adds that target cyclists is just one dumb idea. I am sure if they hired some real big data analysts they could figure out interesting ways to make money off that data.

    I think they are going the wrong way, they should be looking for a way to make their platform completely free and monetize the data.

    I think companies like this are underestimating the amount of people out their that are sick of monthly fees. I know myself I don’t want anymore monthly fees. NONE.

    In the US, just look to all those people that are “cutting the cable”. Their is a move away from monthly payments and a return to just the basics.

    • Peter Z.

      Depends on how much you want your data used for various purposes. Maybe anonymized data, but look at all the things Facebook or Google does.

    • Sam

      Strava already do monetize their data – e.g. transport departments all over the world buy it to look at the number of cyclists on their routes. It’s very expensive, and clearly it’s not making them enough money to support the other features, so they are looking for alternatives.

  36. Nick

    It also turns out that Strava have decreased their rate-limiting for new API users. They used to allow 30,000 requests per day and they now only allow 1,000 requests per day. This will be a real problem for some API users and the “Developer forum” already has reports of people hitting it. Fortunately existing developers seem to be keeping their original 30,000 limit so that’s something.

    Note, there has been no notification about this and it isn’t listed at link to developers.strava.com, the number was silently changed at link to developers.strava.com

  37. jww

    My advice as someone that pays premium for 3 months of the year (peak summertime, solely for Segments):

    Just put ads in the damn feed, Strava.

    It’s 2020. Everybody and their mother understand the quid pro quo of the internet. We get free stuff, you display ads.

    Facebook’s 3 billion users don’t mind.

    Come on. Get it over with.

    • The Real Bob

      This!

      Monetize the data, make the platform free. Fee based services like this don’t really have a future or at the bare minimum limit their growth. The amount of people wiling to pay a monthly fee is limited. Strava is not training peaks or HBO like people try to compare it to. Quite frankly its a gimmick, but a really cool gimmick.

      But gimmicks are not necessary. I think its cool to look at a leaderboard, or segment, but I am not paying for it. Quite frankly, every cyclist I know wont pay for strava. My elite friends use training peaks and coaches, my non elite friends either strava free stuff or nothing at all.

    • Sanjai

      Precisely. Those willing to pay would get an ad free experience. An ad banner at the top or bottom would pose no issue for me if I didn’t have to pay.

  38. “They’re using the stick, instead of the carrot”

    I agree 200%, I used to pay for a summit account, mostly to support them despite the lack of new features, and despite I use garmin connect for analysis. Then they banned relive, removed more and more things for free accounts instead of introducing killing features for summit ones (just my opinion). This was a so stupid move the relive thing, I never renew my subscription since then.

    I would clearly like to renew my account and support them, but I don’t see any carrot so far, and their attitude with third parts developers is so poor :(.

    I’m afraid that If one day Garmin decides to open their connect platform, and introduce more “social” features they will kill Strava

  39. Gman

    I think this is absolutely the right move, no questions. I’ve come from a corporate background and the amount of “free/included” features for the freeloaders was unheard of.

    I’m sorry, but if your interested in the benefits of tech, then you have to pay for the tech, full stop no quarms.

    It’s not a lot and to almost every nation that will be the target audience, more than affordable. Disney, £60, Netflix, £120, etc etc.

    If you have the energy to moan and groan and list all the competitors you already use then that’s cool, bye bye.

    Sick it up, get back on the saddle and if you can do better, do better, create your own infrastructure, create your own api’s. I honestly don’t know a Dev op that would whom at this even remotely.

    The biggest issue is ppl have got used to a good service with a great interface and a good customer base and don’t want to pay for it. Fair enough, now move along and moan somewhere else!

    Peace out, stay safe or dont get caught. P.S. noticed the included “subscribe for £20x to dcrainmaker, that’s expensive for secondhand knowledge and a fairly single minded attitude.

  40. Tor

    You have been given something for free for almost a decade but not you have to pay for it. The result is a huge rant?! I really was expecting more from you DC Rainmaker.

    • See, this thinking is fundamentally wrong and a misunderstanding of how mass-user platforms, including Strava work.

      Free users were not ‘given’ something. They were part of the financial and corporate equation that made Strava what it is today. Without the 97% of users that don’t pay, there would be no Strava. There would be nobody on the platform and it’d be one of the countless has-been other apps out there. But it’s not. It’s not because of volume. Strava needs those people, else the foundation of almost any social platform fall apart.

      Strava used those free users (and paid users too) for the past decade to market to you from various industry companies (where they got paid for all assortment of things), to market your data to municipalities (where they got paid), and to market the platform as a thing worth beingon to paying users. If only 3% of attempts ever existed on Strava, Segments would become a lot less interesting. If only 3% of your friends existed on Strava, your feed would be a lot less interesting. And if only 3% of Segments existed on Strava…well, actually, that part would probably be fine.

      Fun fact: I just went through my Strava feed (people I follow) for activities uploaded today. Only about 30% of those are from paying members. My feed is a blend of real-life friends and some industry people – I don’t follow a ton of people (57 in total).

      As for my post, my point is simple: Strava made changes that significantly impacted the developer community with zero notice. They took away features that for a decade have been branded as free and core to the Strava experience.

      I have zero issues with Strava finding ways to shift features to paid subscribers, or to have all new features being paid-only. The problem is they effectively just pulled a bait and switch. Whether that ends up making business sense for them we’ll have to see.

    • Tor

      A guy in the neighborhood is giving away apples for free every day from his garden. Not the fancy apples from the tree (you have to pay for those) but the ones that are on the ground. The guy also lets business have free apples and soon there are juice bars all over the city using his apples.

      After 10 years the guy (out of the blue) decides to charge people for all apples – even the ones on the ground. Business can only pick up apples that are damaged.

      Now what? Should you just start paying for the apples? Should you be happy for getting free apples for 10 years? Should you write sarcastic blog posts about it? Should you plant some apple trees to get a better feeling for the work your neighbor has put in over the last ten 10 years?

    • Jeffrey F.

      The phrase you’re looking for is “critical mass”. Without it, leaderboards are useless. In this space, only a free low-friction app can have any chance at critical mass.

    • Dave

      The “bait and switch” is a perfect summary.

  41. Peter

    Great post DC. Thanks for the info. I don’t disagree with STRAVA. It’s like investing in stocks. Whatever business you support on a daily basis, MCard, Telus, etc. That is what you invest in also.

  42. Paulo Valdivieso

    So why am I still seeing the leaderboards and using the route planner (on the website)? These changes are to take effect when?

  43. George Darden

    $5, dude. You don’t think that the things that you get from Strava are worth five dollars a month?? I can appreciate what you said about their not giving app developers enough notice, but to suggest–as you did throughout this piece–that a company around which a significant portion of the endurance sporting world revolves should continue to be unprofitable is ridiculous. TrainingPeaks, Spotify, Sufferfest, Fulgaz, Zwift, DownDog, and TrainerRoad all cost at least twice this much, and I pay for all of those without hesitation because I value the product that they create. I don’t understand why we are willing to pay thousands of dollars for bikes, gear, and entry fees, but we think that we should get Strava for free.

    • “You don’t think that the things that you get from Strava are worth five dollars a month??”

      Where did I say that?

      “that a company around which a significant portion of the endurance sporting world revolves should continue to be unprofitable is ridiculous”

      Or where did I say that?

      “I don’t understand why we are willing to pay thousands of dollars for bikes, gear, and entry fees, but we think that we should get Strava for free.”

      Or that?

      C’mon folks – at least read the darn article before commenting and making up things.

    • George Darden

      I did read the article. From the outset and then throughout the piece, your irritation with Strava is clear. The obvious suggestion is that you think that they’re moving to a model that opens certain features to subscribers only is the wrong thing for them to do. Am I reading between the lines? Yes, of course I am, but my deductions based on the tone of the piece are not off-base.

    • Nope, you’re incorrectly reading between the lines.

      Literally the last few lines of the piece explicitly says that.

    • George Darden

      I went back and re-read the last section based on your suggestion here. I don’t see anything that counteracts the tone you set in the opening paragraph and then substantiated throughout the piece.

      Your irritation is clear, and that’s fine. And like I said, I agree with you that they should have given app developers more grace. But don’t pretend that you don’t understand your clear implication here.

    • Random Task

      Well George, your reading comprehension is lacking to say the least then. You should probably stick to tricycles rather than comment here.

    • Luke

      “$5, dude. You don’t think that the things that you get from Strava are worth five dollars a month??”

      Remember, that Strava’s users are not based in US only. $5 a month is a significant amount in Eastern Europe for example, not to mention other areas of the world.
      I’m not saying I wouldn’t be prepared to pay for the service, but I think there should at least be a few different options at different price points.
      Btw. Endomondo is cheaper 😉

  44. SeanH

    e-bikes have made the segment portion of Strava worthless anyway, at least for MTB. Yes I am a MTB’er that reads this blog 🙂

    I think this move was to aggressive and shows their style. What if they want to change something for the premium users in the future? No announcement or warning just do it, to Machiavellian for me 🙂

  45. I always think it’s amazing how much people think they should get for free. If everyone was prepared to pay, the subscription could be very low. Tech companies put huge resources into getting this tools to us, they deserve to get paid. Or put ads in! There, I said it!

    • The Real Bob

      you are not getting it for free. You are giving them your data and rights to use it. DATA has value. I don’t understand how people can’t see this. Look at how much money facebook makes of your browsing history.

  46. Mr. T

    So glad that I left Strava years ago. I think it will eventually be sold along with the user’s data.

    I never understood the value of it and it was kinda confirmed that it hasn’t been profitable.

  47. Neil Jones

    All the comments on here touting Garmin Connect as an alternative or successor to Strava – are people forgetting the fact that GC only works with Garmin devices? So:

    a) You’ll only get people using Garmin devices on there
    b) It makes shifting away from Garmin to a competitor’s device in the future a bigger issue
    c) Even if Garmin did open its doors, would it really be a good situation where a manufacturer owned and controlled the go-to fitness app?

    I’m happy piping my data through GC as a secondary repository, but I still want it hosted on a quality independent platform.

    • Meredith

      You can manually upload a gpx/fit file from any device to the Connect website.

    • Peter Z.

      Yeah, but that’s way more effort than most people would want to bother with, plus then does everyone agree on using Garmin?

  48. While I think it’s a pretty unfriendly what Strava has done here to its partner ecosystem, I feel like most of that “partnership” is a one-way street. Strava provides a lot of value to its partners for little in return as far as I can tell. Personally, I think it’s crazy to build a product around another company’s proprietary API and data services. But there’s still a nicer way to cut people off and at least a month but probably more like 3 months would have been a better way to sunset that API.

    Personally as a Garmin and Training Peaks user, I just don’t see any value from paying for Strava. I wouldn’t be particularly sad if it went away. It’s fun to see my friends’ workouts but its not exactly a critical part of my life. Garmin Connect already has all of the safety features for when I’m out riding for my wife to follow me and Training Peaks integrates so well with so many platforms that it is where I run my training plans from. I’ll never be competitive on a segment and have never purposefully tried to beat anyone on them.

    The only way I could see ever paying for Strava is if they had all of the training features of Training Peaks. Then it would be worth it to have that platform instead since it has all of the other stuff. I don’t begrudge them for trying to turn a profit but nothing about their offering is very exciting.

    • The Real Bob

      I think your comment hits the nail on the head for any serious cyclist.

      “Personally as a Garmin and Training Peaks user, I just don’t see any value from paying for Strava. I wouldn’t be particularly sad if it went away. It’s fun to see my friends’ workouts but its not exactly a critical part of my life.”

      I feel the same way and I don’t have 1 cyclist friend that pays for strava but plenty pay for training peaks.

  49. christinet

    It’s May 19th and I was still able to use Route Builder (Beta) on my desktop – I’m a non-subscriber at the moment. Is it just a case of a rolling phase-out, you think?

  50. Tony G

    Strava Feature Suggestion/Request

    Would anyone else that uses TrainerRoad and Strava find the following useful?

    In the last ~8 months TR released a new feature that gives you the option to perform your indoor workout outside.  (To make it easier to find a route that fits the workout, they simplify the intervals somewhat.) 

    So, I’m now often looking for a road segment that is say 0.5 miles in length with an average gradient of 2% with a standard deviation of no greater than X.  Or, a segment of 1.2 miles with an average gradient of 1% with a standard deviation of no greater than Y.  I currently use Google Maps for this but of course there is no indication there of the segment’s gradient variance. When I get to that segment of road, I start my intervals, going up for the effort then soft pedaling back down during the rest period then back up.  Rinse and repeat per the TR instructions shown on my Garmin Edge head unit.

    The feature I want is to have Strava search my local area for segments that meet specifications related to length, average gradient and consistency.

  51. Shawn B

    The Article Writer hit some things on the head.

    1. Elitism: You can’t be an elite athlete app and make money. 99% of users are not elite. Elitism kills apps. You have to focus on the social to make revenue.

    2. Group Ride Beacon: Put a feature like Live Beacon in a ride group and instantly your App becomes a friends and Family favorite. People on rides get lost. Then what do they do, open Trailforks and go solo, and feel left out.

    3: Tiered Membership:
    – Free. Self Record and post pics friends can follow.
    Athlete: Tons of Metrics and Leader boards.
    – Individual: Leader boards
    – Family and Friends: Leaderboards and Live Group Beacon

    4: Integrate Trailforks (or like function) somehow so you can see not only where you went, but where you can go. Figure out pay tiers to add this too.

  52. Carter Terry

    Frankly I think this is a load of crap from Strava. I just went and looked, I uploaded by first Strava activity on February 27, 2012. Pretty much every activity that I have done since that time has been uploaded to Strava. Really the only reason I use Strava is for segments, and that is what I have been using it for for more than 8 years now.

    I have paid for membership from time to time, but never found any value in what it was giving me. There was a time when I used Strava to analyze my rides, but TrainerRoad has since added that ability and done it with significantly more success than Strava ever did (without an increase in cost to my membership I might add). I have used it to map routes, but found it more trouble than it was really worth. And as someone who is more on the “clydesdale” side of the bike racing world I have always liked the weight class leader board, but again I couldn’t see paying a monthly membership fee just for that. One feature I have used forever is the matched runs feature…so thanks for that Strava.

    As Ray discusses in his wrap up, if they had added value I likely would have paid for a membership (I love the idea of using beacon to track group rides). I was a poor grad student with a new baby when I uploaded that first run, so paying for Strava was out of the question. Now, all these years later, I have a successful enough career that I am lucky enough to have a little disposable income to spend on “toys” like Strava. But since all they have done is strip away the features that I have used for 8.5 years, while still not really adding any value that I can’t get elsewhere, they are dead to me. I’m an engineer, not a business person, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say that if your on the brink of bankruptcy in the next 12 months the best move is not to alienate long time users. Maybe instead of withholding features that have been a core of your business for a decade, try thinking outside the box a bit about how you can leverage the power you have with such an immense existing user base.

    Startups take note: If you want to start an app that leverages GPS data to create virtual races now is the time. Advertise it well and you could poach about 55 million users without breaking a sweat.

    In the meantime, if people are looking for an excellent platform to analyze rides (and a whole lot more) get a TrainerRoad membership. You can’t imagine the value for money that you get. Also, their business plan ADDS features for users, which is nice…

    • KitKat

      Thanks for that. I am looking for ideas to move away from Strava. Totally agree that if another app can add the segments feature and manage the business side of things properly, there are a lot of pissed off people who would switch. SOMEBODY PLEASE DO THIS! Personally, I’d PAY another app for this and NOT use Strava for free totally based on principle and the fact that I would now be ashamed to be associated with an app that works in this underhanded way. My issue is 100% on HOW Strava handled this. There are actually a lot of bugs within Strava that I put up with (and shitty customer service when it comes to feedback or feature requests) because I enjoy the segments and leaderboard competition with my friends. When they take that and everything else I valued hostage and call it ‘asking’ for support, I already have such low trust in them that it becomes not worth it.

  53. portemat

    I get a great deal out of Strava. Be it seeing my friends rides & runs (which I find really motivating), or just keeping track of what I am up to. I have been a paying member for years, on the basis that if I get value from something, then I am happy to pay for it. Certainly, I would rather give up Netflx than Strava.

    It seems to me that the main mistake Strava made was to give away too much in the free level years ago, hence lots of people don’t really value it.

    I see lots of comments that “data has value, Strava should just use that”. I think they’ve been trying to do that, and apparently data about where people cycle and run is just not that valuable. Certainly, not enough to keep Strava afloat, anyway.

    The new route creation tool is great, IMHO. It has had me exploring plenty of new routes in an area I have been cycling around for >5yrs.

    It is clear they should have treated the 3rd party apps better – as Ray said, they should have given people some notice period.

    But, my guess is that they don’t have much funding left. Running out of cash will certainly focus the minds of a start-up… They have been honest. They need to make a profit.

    Either enough of us (cyclists / runners) pay for Strava to turn a profit, or it goes. I really hope enough of us pay.

    • Gavin Park Weir

      I think that strava are missing a trick on subscriptions and also when then had the tier model. I would pay $2 per year for matched runs, segments and leader boards. If they put the price low enough to be a no brainier the mostly social users might subscribe. $60 per year is far too much.

  54. Kyle

    Ray, is Strava doing a gradual rollout on the new desktop route builder? Using the link from my routes page still takes me to the old version…?

  55. Thanks Ray, its a shame that they are slowly becoming a subscription only service, especially since the recent changes taking away the tiers of subscriptions. I don’t currently subscribe and will miss the segments, it was always good to compare myself to friends, but not so much as I’d want to pay for it.

    • josh

      i think many people are on the same page. i like segments and seeing all my results and my friends. but even if i pay for it to keep going, what if my friends don’t? how much would it matter to me (beating my friends or rivals) if they don’t care in the first place?

  56. Johan Kruger

    I have had a paid membership from time to time but have become pretty frustrated with Strava not listening to user feature requests. For example, Iam a triathlete and would like to have seperate heart rate zones for cycling, running and swimming. Not possible so for training analyses you have to look to other platforms like TrainingPeaks. That makes Strava just a Facebook for sporters en not a tool for them. As soon as they change that I will renew my membership, come on Strava, take my needs serious.

    • Gavin Park Weir

      fully agree with these. I would pay $2 per year though… could they get 10 million people for basic features?

  57. I have almost certainly spent too much time and energy thinking about this, but it bugged me that I couldn’t articulate exactly why this announcement affected me emotionally. I think I’ve finally figured it out, so I’ll share it, for what’s it worth.

    I never subscribed to Strava, but I felt guilty that I didn’t. Multiple times a year I would see that little subscriber symbol next to a friend’s name and think, “I should do that.” It’s the same feeling I get when the annual NPR membership drive would come on. I would think of the value to myself and my community and think, “Yeah, I really should be supporting this.” I’m a regular supporter of my local NPR (National Public Radio, non-profit and listener-supported for those not in the States) station, as well as my local food bank and local Meals on Wheels provider and so on. I wish I would have subscribed to Strava before they rolled out Summit, a product line that pushed me further away from paying for the service. I say all of this because it explains the relationship I had with Strava.

    As many comments have pointed out, Strava isn’t a non-profit and needs to make money. But many who were subscribers paid for it not as a product (i.e. “This is worth $60/year value to me”) but as a non-profit (i.e. “I believe in this and I want to see it continue.”) This doesn’t apply to everyone, but I think it describes a number of people like me who are having an emotional reaction to this news.

    But Strava isn’t a non-profit; it isn’t NPR and it needs sustainable revenue. So they are changing the value proposition: instead of paying for Strava because I believe in it and want it to continue, I now need to determine if the service they provided is worth $5 (US)/month to me. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is. It might be, if (as I think their letter to athletes is meant to suggest) they double down on “investing in athletes” by improving the functionality of their services, addressing long-standing bugs, speed up their development process, respond to concerns in public forums, etc. They’ve now set themselves up to prove their worth, whereas before I felt that they were worth the cost and knew I was taking advantage of the fact they weren’t making me pay for it. Their announcement changed my emotional relationship with the service, and that’s why I can’t stop thinking about it.

    Tl;dr: It feels like Strava broke up with me.

    • Martin

      Exactly same here – I think about subscription as a support for Strava, not that I would get back any value. While in the past I really liked Strava, now they are not the love-brand anymore.

      Especially their approach to 3rd party apps is absolutely disrespectful. They should have announced such news a few months in advance. If they don’t care about other developers, I can’t care for them. They could also try to charge 3rd party apps and figure out way how to get some funding from them while not ruining those apps. Instead, they just destroyed so many interesting projects and made angry almost all their users. Not the right thing to do.

    • ArT

      not $5 (US)/month
      7,99$ / month

    • It’s $5/month if billed annually. I’m not sure many people would really do the month to month option for a platform like Strava.

    • barry

      >> It’s $5/month if billed annually.
      sorry to be a pendant, but there would appear to be no $5/month service, only $60/year.

  58. KC

    Removing the training log is such a killer for me. It has been my training log since 2014. Removing that section/functionality from free hurts those who have been on Strava the longest and have invested the most time in the product.

    I was looking at subscribing but I really hate the guilt tripping/messaging being put forward by Strava, especially during a pandemic.

    • usr

      I also hate that Strava isn’t in the comfortable position anymore to donate service from deep venture capital pockets. But that free lunch is over and going even deeper into funding (of it was available) wouldn’t have been a winning move anyways – those lost years when they completely feature-froze their core users were already a result of too much funding.

      There are only four moves left, besides just closing down:

      a) increase subscription fees
      b) increase number of subscribers
      c) decrease cost through layoffs
      d) decrease cost through lowering server bills

      I wish they wouldn’t need to do any of those, but they do and I really can’t fault them for trying b) and d) first, particularly since they combine so well (all the axed free features have one thing in common, they cause high per-use server load)

  59. Jeremy

    What is the URL for the new Route Builder site? I still see the beta version.

  60. Marc Diede

    In my opinion this is mainly a bad decision from a communicative point of view.
    From one day to another, you can’t remove so many functions that made the service unique.
    I’m sure they made survey in advance and they knew about the shitstorm that was about to come.

    Why didn’t they make the chances in two or three steps,
    e.g. start with limitation of route creation to max. 50 km/80 miles and leadboards to max 20 or 30 total+ followers…
    There were so many options to make the transition more “soft”, but they decided to shut the door – at least this it how it feels.

    • Theo WIssen

      Hi Marc, indeed: ‘start with limitation of route creation to max. 50 km/80 miles’. Would have been a better idea.

  61. Chris Capoccia

    I’m generally happy with the new focus from Strava on subscribers. It wasn’t that long ago when everyone wondered who was really Strava’s customer since they were paying very little attention to actual users. I hope they continue the trend from this year of building more cool stuff for subscribers

  62. James

    Ray, thanks for the write-up. It’s an interesting conundrum, and I don’t know how I would have addressed the revenue issue if I was them. I don’t think I would have changed the core features of my product with no notice.

    I subscribed to Summit for a few months. I liked the analysis features, although they never were explained well-enough to me to be anything more than number candy (is my fitness vs freshness absolute or relative? What is a good number? How do I get Strava to think I’ve rested more? etc.). When I ended my subscription, I didn’t miss it since the things I actually cared about were free: Segments and estimated power.

    I just went over to Garmin Connect, which I’ve used for years, and checked out their segments. There is one segment in my town, and in five years it has been crossed 24 times. I live in a small town, but there are a lot of good Strava segments here (one of which I KOM’d last week!), and I had a lot of fun chasing them. What concerns me is that the only reason Garmin Connect Segments isn’t fun for me is that nobody uses it. If Strava is going to remove 95% of their users from segments in the future, that effectively makes it Garmin Connect segments. A KOM doesn’t mean as much if there’s no risk of someone stealing it from you.

    I’ll have to decide if I want to pay for Strava. As a Garmin user, part of the price of the devices I already own includes Connect. Apart from estimated power, Connect offers everything that Strava offers (that I use), and I’ve already paid for Connect.

    I guess I’m off to import the Strava segments I care about into Connect. Then, I can go out and beat myself. Whoops. I mean, “Beat Yesterday”.

  63. Stephen Langley

    Any idea when the new Route Builder will roll out to all Subscribers. I am still seeing the old beta version. Personally I find the route surface choice fantastic. I have been using the Builder to map out randonneur routes and invariably they have included gravel sections that I missed before loading the route to my edge.

  64. Fat_Aero_Dude

    Strava took something from paying members as well today. Our ability to compare ourselfs to our non pro athlete friends. This change in my view may drive non paying members away as they now get very little value for handing strava their data. And less data from everyone makes popularity routing useless. Heatmaps, training data and even segments. As a paying member I have no intrest in competing again a Pro Athlete(who will get better value from training peaks).

  65. Chuck

    Ray – I’m a Strava freeloader and at least as of 1700 EDT today 5/19, I’m still seeing full leaderboards. FWIW, I can live with Strava making full leaderboards and the route builder part of paid premium features. I don’t pay that much attention to leaderboards (although it is nice to look every once in a while), don’t use the Live Segments feature, and have become a fan of Ride With GPS for building routes. But can you confirm that Strava ride data (speed, distance, power, HR, etc.) will still download/connect to third party training apps? It did today for me (I’m a Xert user). My understanding is that Strava is only breaking certain features of connecting to third party apps, right? Thanks and cheers, Chuck

  66. Matt

    Great article DC Rainmaker.

  67. Dan Mc

    As you said, they should have rolled out way more positive features to counter the backlash they knew had to be coming. The gaping hole is with teams being able to create challenges and other virtual options as we continue to train on our own and need some sort of competition.

  68. Tim

    Strava just broke their USP. I don’t get it.

    It won’t change how I use Strava. Everything syncs to Strava so it will continue to be the hub for my data (much to their relief I expect), and I’ll continue to enjoy seeing my club mates’ swims, rides and runs.

    I will miss segments a little. But not enough to pay £48 a year. There’s a long list of websites I’d pay a subscription to before Strava, each of which will provide a better insight into my data than they can manage, and some of which are considerably cheaper.

  69. Bernard Koekoek

    I strongly agree with your suggestions. In fact, now that I’m paying for the routebuilder I would expect more capabilities. I like having everything in one place, but the added functionalities of GPSIES (more detailed, add new starting point, reverse direction, select multiple markers) had me leave strava frequently. I didn’t mind since there is only so much you can expect from a free service, but they will need to step up their game now. Soon.

  70. Bernard

    I strongly agree with your suggestions. In fact, now that I’m paying for the routebuilder I would expect more capabilities. I like having everything in one place, but the added functionalities of GPSIES (more detailed, add new starting point, reverse direction, select multiple markers) had me leave strava frequently. I didn’t mind since there is only so much you can expect from a free service, but they will need to step up their game now. Soon.

  71. DJ

    I’m fairly certain that DC Rainmaker pays for Strava…

    • Yup, I’ve been a paying Premium…err…Summit…err…Subscriber for 8 years (in two weeks actually) – pic attached.

      I’m happy to pay Strava as I personally get good value out of the features I use the most. That doesn’t mean I can’t criticize when they do shortsighted things, or praise when they do good things.

    • DJ

      Yes, sorry, this was meant to be a reply to user Tor who was suggesting you don’t want to pay.

    • 8 years subscriptions aside, you have tons of unread notifications! Aargh my OCD…

    • Paul

      Haha haha!!! Loved your comment, except please don’t claim OCD if you don’t really have it, as that’s misguided against those who have OCD. If you are diagnosed as such, then you have my respect.

  72. Ian

    Strava needs a family plan

  73. Daniel

    Ray is right. Every company needs to earn money. But i also don´t like the idea of cutting of non-paying members from features, that have been free to everyone since beginning.
    As an innovative company, they should acquire paying members by the rollout of new features instead of preserving the old ones…

  74. Beka S.

    I am a total Strava newbee and I feel bummed and confused about this change. I don’t know what I am going to do, but I’m surprised how much I care.

    I only downloaded Strava because I participated in a virtual 6K about 3 weeks ago that required it. After the 6K provided cool details info about my run, I was motivated to continue running.

    I only discovered segments a few days ago. I loved it! I loved receiving the after-the-fact notification that I had placed in a competition I didn’t even know I was in! I had run on a 1/3 mile obscure segment and placed 12th. Because of Strava I returned to that same place and “raced” two days later, pushing myself much harder than I otherwise would have. It was wonderful. I then began exploring segments and marking them, preparing to go race strangers. The last few days I’ve spent substantial energy trying to get my husband and brother to try Strava, because of the fun I’m having with the segments part.

    Now, I don’t know what to do. Do I consider myself enough of a runner to subscribe? No…I don’t consider myself a runner. I played soccer in college, which required running, but I am not a distance runner. I don’t train for races. I have no bibs hanging on my wall. But did I experience motivation because of the segments leaderboard? Yes, definitely. That was the only reason I was telling other people to try Strava after only experiencing it for a few weeks! Am I a competitive athlete? Yes…I love games and competitions. I like the pretend trophy and I was motivated by improving my rank. It was really fun! After learning about segments, I definitely spent time looking at the leaderboards, staring segments, finding them, and setting more goals.

    I will need to think about this a while. I think it comes down to what I see the value of the segment leader board. I don’t plan to train for anything spectacular, I don’t need advanced athletic analytics or maps…but I love to play and compete, especially with friends.

    • josh

      EXACTLY and strava is missing this huge point. there is a bit of addictive physiology here, some dopamine released each time you get to see your segment placement whether its a KOM, top 100, whatever you are shooting for. by taking this this away from the free users, you’ll never get them hooked in the first place! drug dealer 101

  75. Fly4aWhiteGuy

    I’m a casual MTB rider and avid walker.
    I heard about Strava from friends, and it was Strava’s popularity that brought me there.
    I like to compare my time over segments with other riders.
    I’ve even created a couple of segments.
    Being able to expand the leaderboards on segments is fun for me, but I will never be KOM.
    I will never be in the top 10, unless it is a segemnt that’s off the beaten path.
    I’m in my late 50’s, and not an athlete.
    I would probably consider paying a one-time cost of 10 to 20 dollars for premium membership.
    But $60/year is not gonna happen, and if the app doesn’t have the things that I use it for, I’ll just find another free app – the reason I prefer Strava is because I see so many people I know on it, and I enjoy camparing with how they did on segments.

    Someone will see this change as an opportunity, and will offer an ad based “free” alternative.
    Strava will go the way of so many other forums that didn’t appreciate their “free” users.

    If Garmin is smart, they will open up Garmin Connect to other fitness trackers uploading data.
    It would be one more reason to choose Garmin over the other brands – the fact that their products work seamlessly with their app.

    I bought a Garmin because my Samsung smart watch didn’t work with Strava.
    I found that as Garmin refined Garmin Connect, I use it as much as Strava now.

    A lot of users will leave Strava, and the one thing that made them KOM will be gone.
    Strava’s biggest “selling point” is the vastness of their user base. When that fades, so will they.

  76. Allan

    It’s pretty clear what they’re doing, and it’s the most lazy way out of their own poor decision making. They damn well know segments is one of, if not the number one reason why a lot of people use it. So what’s a quick way to scheme up money? Take the most popular aspect, and hide it behind a pay wall. It’s like they have no ability to innovate new ideas. Then if that wasn’t insulting enough, let’s take away users’ ability to view their own ride log and segment times. It’s like insurance in case their first lazy scheme didn’t do the trick.

    I have the money to pay, but I’m not going to be threatened or guilted into subscribing, just so I can see my own damn data! This really is a low class move.

    • Gavin Park Weir

      Would you pay if it was $2 per year?

    • VintageRider

      At this point I would not, I’ve been thinking of deleting my account for a while. When I first joined you could link up your BTLE or ANT+ sensors and everything was tracked in a single application. They removed that functionality a year or so a go, and I only used the segments to compare how I was doing on each ride, not to compare against others. So with that moving behind a paywall that removed any reason to pay. Being 50+ I will never be the fastest nor every “Go Pro”. For couple of years subscription I can just get me a good head units and track my own segment data. Already have the sensors, and a smart watch with will be more useful in my eyes.

  77. giorgitd

    I see some suggesting that Garmin Connect segments might replace Strava segments. But GC segments are unpopulated and lame compared to Strava. But wait…maybe not for very much longer as former Strava users pivot to GC? Shouldn’t this be Strava’s biggest nightmare – that users stop uploading rides/runs and making the whole site…stale? If both of the paying Strava users want to keep paying to see each other’s results…shrug…

    • usr

      Do they even exist anymore? I got my garmin just when they tried to displace Strava with segments, so I know those well, but these days I can’t find any mention of them in the Connect app.

      Anyways, I doubt garmin would even be up to the task of dealing with that data deluge, e.g. Watopia segments that are done by tens of thousands of users on a strong day. Even Zwift themselves don’t really tackle that data like Strava does, they purge everything after the months…

  78. Adrian

    Ha Ha, isn’t it amazing what happens when we are asked to contribute to something that we assumed would be “free” forever. Perhaps prioritize all those other subscription. How often do you use them? Easy to set and forget. Imagine if there was no Strava what would you do for a social cycling network? Perhaps setup a Strava User Group to provide input and direction to what users want to see.

  79. AndreA

    They used to be a very innovative company. Great UX, early use of algorithms, maps and geo reference applications (it was very difficult to do what they did when they started, they were unique) and then the concept itself of a “segment” which was only a part of a line, until Strava came..

    I’m not sure if and how much they charge for their APIs consumption, but if things did not turn out fine they probably kinda missed the API economy.

    Now, if your ability to transform data into information heavily relies on data, you want data for the cheapest: taxing 95% of your providers is very short lived, as you will sustain the cost, in their case it will be expressed in lower interactions (which I’d track accurately now) and churn.

    Segments, specifically, do not exist unless users actively define them, so you really want people to fully engage with them. Certainly not stepping away.

    And more if you consider that they were, and still are, the unique selling point of the Strava social service, the feature they engineered so well that it protected them from Garmin’s attempts at replicating the concept.
    So now, they are in a way lowering that barrier.

    Flybys also qualify as a strong differentiator, even though they never came out of the labs. But now we know if they did, it’s be premium.

  80. Peter Z.

    I’m totally on board with your opinion on the crappy way Strava Is treating partners. No excuse for it. I haven’t used routes before, but was just about to try since I got a new Garmin computer . I agree the main reason I sync to Strava is to share activities with friends too, not to place on leaderboards

  81. Barry Evans

    Strava’s segments were the one and only reason I signed up many years a go. The rest of their web and particularly their apps were unremarkable and done much better by the completion. Like many others have noticed, for many years there have been numerous bugs unattended to and features randomly added and taken away. One that I miss most is the ability to sort segment leader boards by age AND weight. Time by age and weight really is a meaningful comparison. So what if a 20 year old weighing 50 kg beat me up Mt Ventoux! And its the closest you get to a proxy watts per kg within an age group. It was there for many years and then, puff, gone with no explanation (that I saw).

  82. Andrew

    Since the Strava community created all the segments they can also delete them right?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if disgruntled customers deleted all the segments they’ve created since they can’t see the leader boards for free anymore. Obviously Strava could undelete them but that might involve resources that they can’t afford?

  83. The REAL Tim

    Can I add new shoes from my phone yet?

  84. No Strava 4 Me

    Strava has always been arrogant and non responsive to their customers. First, they had no ability to upload photos from a computer desktop for the longest time. Second, they got rid of google maps, so no one can recon the routes with street view. Then, the changed their UI and basically screwed up the use of the BACK button on the browser—a fundamental usability web design flaw. The company is runned by complete imbeciles.

  85. zscs

    Strava is not the only one.
    Today morning I was totally shocked when my Fitbit account told me, I have to pay to access e.g. my sleep pattern or steps counter, etc. All my data is hidden now! >:-( …after buying Fitbit HR, Fitbit 2 HR, Fitbit 3 HR and having more than 4 years of data, I cannot access them anymore ‘for free’, out of the blue! (…or I missed a previous Fitbit communication, can happen…)

  86. has anyone else seen the new route builder pop up in their Mac/PC side of things? Mine still leads to the beta. Would love to play around with these new route features..

  87. Pau

    Here s a change.org to protest for that

    link to chng.it

  88. Steven

    Ray, I think you mentioned somehwere at some point that Strava doesn’t want to do advertisement. I think Strava has a fundamentally flawed business plan. They have to decide whether they are a social network (e.g. twitter) or a service provider that people are willing to pay for (e.g. dropbox). If they are a social network, they have to find a way to monetize free users (aka. ads). If they are a freemium service, they have to actually build compelling features.

    They aren’t investing effort in building customer demographic data and selling ads (this is not simple). They are not building new killer features that customers pay for. All they seem to do are bug fixes and trying to charge for existing free service. They are not even announcing plans for new features.