STRAVA Turns Off Key Features – Welcome to the paywall

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It says 50. It must be true.

STRAVA Leaderboard and more – gone for non-paying users

As of NOW, STRAVA has just taken a dagger to some of its key features and they’re going behind a paywall.

We’ve all long-enjoyed ‘something for nothing‘ from STRAVA. Unfortunately, it looks like that direction of travel is rapidly approaching a dead-end. ie you pay nothing…you get nothing. Well, not as much at any rate.

What Has Happened

STRAVA is releasing some new featurettes and re-announcing some stuff they’ve trickled out recently, in fact, STRAVA claims to have already introduced 50 new features. It’s in the image to the right, so it must be true. Perhaps this will hide from the fact that the following features are now for paying STRAVA users only:

No more web-based route builder – I never liked it anyway.

Finally, the beta ROUTE PLANNER has gone and I see the full glory of the new version where I hope to enjoy a new and better route building experience taking into account elevation gains and surface types. as  you can see in the image above, STRAVA adds in map layers to show the USAGE HEATMAP and NEARBY SEGMENTS, which will be useful for many of you although if I’m interested in HEATMAP info I tend to use the Garmin flavour myself.

The new routing logic can also minimise/maximise elevation and certain surface types…if you want to focus on the steep climbs this will be handy. If you want to AVOID steep climbs it will be equally as handy 😉

EXCEPT you won’t be able to create those kinds of new routes unless you pay for the privilege. Don’t worry, we will all keep the routes we’ve already created, it’s just that you need to be a STRAVA subscriber to create new ones from now on.

There are plenty of free route-building alternatives out there (RwGPS, Garmin, Hammerhead). It’s just the STRAVA-segments and STRAVA-heatmap that are unique to STRAVA.

Here’s an incomplete list of free and freemium route planning tools…if you want to add more, let me know below.

Bike Route Toaster
Google Maps


new STRAVA Training

STRAVA’s ‘Head of Naming’ has cleverly renamed STRAVA training features to ‘STRAVA Training’. S/he probably has several tin cans which have written on the side exactly what’s in them.


This seems to be a nice place for ‘your stuff’ ranging from a log of your activities to how your current intensity/durations match previous levels and the target levels that STRAVA sets you, I’m sure at least some of that was there before? 😉 Couple that with differing, time-based views of the sports formula “training+recovery=fitness” and this is a sweet little rough-and-ready set of tools for the casual athlete-cum-weekend cyclist. But… gotta pay for it.

More serious cyclists & runners will still get all of this kind of information for free, elsewhere eg check out what I wrote here about STRAVISTIX (aka ELEVATE)

Restricted Leaderboards

All the weight-related, age-group related and club-related leaderboard are going behind a paywall. All that’s left for free, public consumption will be the Top 10 Men and Top 10 women leaderboards… that’s it. And they’re pretty useless as everyone reading this is nowhere near the top 10 of any segment anywhere. Me included.

My training club has STRAVA segment competitions so this could be a cunning ruse for STRAVA to drive us all onto their paying tier. Either that or we’ll just do something else instead. Probably the latter.

No App Leaderboards

There were often ways to get certain STRAVA functionalities via apps if you were not a paying user. That’s probably now not possible for leaderboards in apps unless you use Strava Live Segments-like functionality (SLS) on your Polar/Garmin/Wahoo/Karoo/Sigma. Of course, that means you are already a paying customer of SLS and that you can already see the leaderboards in STRAVA…

STRAVA Live Segments – Hammerhead Karoo vs Garmin vs Polar vs Wahoo vs Polar vs Sigma

Matched Runs & Rides

STRAVA sometimes cleverly remembers that I’ve completed today’s training route several times before and handily tells me how I’m slowly getting slower over it as the years go by. Thank you STRAVA, I shall train some more.

This functionality for runs and rides is also destined for the paywall-of-doom.

My Thoughts

If you don’t value something then don’t waste your time using or viewing it. If you see a value in something then pay for it. ‘Value’ is the keyword.

Of course, we all download apps out of curiosity and end up using some of them without paying for the extra bits, or read websites like this without supporting 😉 I don’t know about you, but in those circumstances, I’m perfectly happy to have to watch an ad or two and moan about the ad experience whilst secretly realising it’s necessary.

I think $5 a month for STRAVA is too much for the value I personally get from STRAVA – this website’s use of STRAVA is different and this website pays for STRAVA membership. However, I would have thought the maths behind the STRAVA experience would work far better with an ad model plus a more nominal annual subscription between $5pa and $20pa for the kinds of features we are talking about here.

Don’t kid yourself that your visit to an app or to a website is worth anything much. It will be a fraction of a cent per visit..yet STRAVA has lots repeat visitors and those fractions of cents soon scale to large numbers.

In reality, I don’t think these changes are that earth-shattering to most people’s STRAVA experience. Some, for sure, but not most. I think the danger is that STRAVA will realise that people really don’t value their offering as much as STRAVA think they should. So the revenues don’t come in and then more features go behind the paywall.

Maybe even this will eventually drive the value of STRAVA down to the point where Garmin can buy it, although there’s a very long way to go for that to happen.

A Letter From STRAVA To You

Dear Strava community,

If nothing else, 2020 has been a year of regaining perspective. A silver lining of hard times like these is that they inspire introspection and focus – What matters the most to us? And how do we live up to that?

Our answers to those questions have only gotten clearer in the past few months, and we’re now leading the company with a single purpose: rededicating Strava to our community. We’re obsessing over our athletes – over you – and no one else.

Strava athletes deserve an affordable and constantly improving experience, and we hope you’ve noticed how focused we’ve been this year on delivering that. Our small but mighty team of 180 has released 51 athlete-facing improvements already in 2020, from Apple Watch syncing, to new maps and metrics for snowsports, to a huge update to our Routes features, and a lot more. We’ve also removed some distractions, such as Sponsored Integrations (the closest we’ve ever come to putting ads in the feed). And we returned the option to sort your feed in chronological order. We heard how much that change drove you nuts, and admit it took a really long time to respond.

Dedicating Strava to the community is also a commitment to longevity. We are not yet a profitable company and need to become one in order to serve you better. And we have to go about it the right way – honest, transparent and respectful to our athletes. Our plan puts subscription at the center of Strava.

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.

We think that $5 a month for Strava is money well spent. But we also know, especially lately, that there are athletes struggling to make ends meet and that the free version of Strava must remain high quality and useful. Rest assured that we will always offer a version of Strava for free, and you belong in this community whether you subscribe or not. We’re betting all our chips on you, either way. We hope you’ll bet on us.

We are beyond grateful for your business and your support, and thrilled to recommit ourselves entirely to you, our fellow athletes.

See you out there,

Mark and Michael

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