Strava Free Vs Paid: How Much Is Strava Subscription, And Is The Upgrade Worth It?

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reviewed by Ben Gibbons
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If you’re into cycling – or almost any other sport – then you will certainly have heard of Strava.

The app allows you to record and track your activities against a variety of different metrics to help you view your training progress, share your activities with your friends, or compare your metrics to comparable data from athletes around the world.

Strava comes in two “flavors”: Strava Free vs Paid.

The price of a Strava Subscription account varies depending on where you live:

  • In the USA, a Strava Subscription costs $11.99 per month or $79.99 per year.
  • In the UK, a Strava Subscription costs £8.99 per month or £54.99 per year.
  • In the EU, monthly prices vary from €7.99 to €10.99.

After years of using Strava’s free version, I was lured in by the additional features on offer and finally decided to take the plunge and upgrade to a premium Strava subscription.

But what’s the difference? How much is Strava premium? And is the upgrade worth it? Well, based on my experiences using each of them extensively, I’ll be walking you through:

  • Strava Free Vs Paid: What Features Are Included?
  • Strava Free Vs Paid: Is The Upgrade Worth It?

Let’s get started!

Strava Free vs Paid: Title Image

Strava Free Vs Paid: What Features Are Included?

Strava comes in two versions: Free and “Premium”.

The free version kind of acts like an “intro” to Strava. You can still use it to track your rides, view your metrics, and share your activities with your friends.

Strava Premium is aimed at those who are going to use Strava very regularly and want a detailed analysis of their training.

So, what’s included in each version of Strava?

A man holds his arm up to record a sporting activity on his watch.

Strava Free Version

So, is Strava free? The free version of Strava is perfectly sufficient for those looking to track their training and share their activities with their friends.

Although there definitely are some useful features on Strava’s Premium Subscription (which some may consider essential), in truth, Strava Free includes most of its functionality.

Here are four key features you’ll get included in the free version:

#1: Tracking Your Activities

The most basic and essential function of Strava as an app is to track your activities, which is included in the free version.

If you don’t have a head unit or a sports watch, you will need to have your phone on you with the Strava “Record an Activity” function running (which, be warned, will drain your battery).

Strava will then record your distance traveled, your current speed, your average speed, your elapsed time, your time moving, elevation gain, and even your power output and time spent in each power zone.

If you don’t have a power meter, Strava will estimate these metrics.

The app also has GPS tracking, which allows you to view your complete route after your ride and see your location within either a 2-D or 3-D map during your ride.

This GPS tracking also comes in handy when using the Strava Beacon feature, which allows you to share your live location with up to three contacts from your phone as you ride. This can ease the mind of those who like to cycle on their own, in case of an accident.

None of this requires a Premium Strava subscription.

#2: Connectivity to other devices and apps

The free version of Strava can also be connected directly to other fitness and activity tracking apps, such as Garmin Connect, Wahoo Elemnt, or Fitbit.

This means that you can use your head unit or smart watch to record your activity as you go, even if you don’t have your phone on you.

When the ride is automatically uploaded to the app of your head unit, it will automatically upload to your Strava account, featuring all of your metrics.

Even without a head unit, you can connect your Strava account to up to one sensor at a time, for example, an HR monitor or power meter, and the metrics will appear on the screen live as you ride.

However, to take advantage of such sensors, it’s best to use a head unit or smartwatch so that you can record many things simultaneously, such as your power output, heart rate, temperature, and cadence.

All of these metrics will be automatically uploaded from your head unit to your Strava account after the ride, regardless of whether you’re using Strava’s free or Premium versions.

A strava segment is recording, showing the queen of the mountain time.
Credit: Strava

#3: Segments

One of Strava’s most unique and popular features is segments.

Segments are shorter subsections of your route that you are automatically timed over by Strava. You can then compare your time on that segment to other riders who have completed it.

Segments are defined by the users, and anyone can define a segment. So, if one of your favorite stretches of road or trail is as of yet undefined, then you can make sure your time and speed will be recorded as you ride it every time.

The segments can vary in length from just a hundred or so meters up to a few kilometers in length. It’s a particularly useful feature in cycling for categorized climbs, as it allows you to view your metrics on the toughest climbs in your local area.

Another excellent feature to come out of Strava segments is the KOM or QOM records and Local Legend records.

The KOM or QOM is the “King/Queen of the Mountain” on a particular segment or the person with the fastest time. Despite the name, this applies to all segments, not just mountains.

The Local Legend is the rider who has completed a particular segment the most times in the past given unit of time.

In Strava’s free version, you can view your metrics for any given segment and a list of your best times on each segment, view the times of the top 10 leaderboards for K/QOM and the Local Legend of each segment, and see where you place on that leaderboard.

#4: Social Features

One of Strava’s biggest draws is that it’s not just a fitness tracking app – it’s also a social media platform.

You can follow your friends, pro cyclists, and anyone you know to view their activities, compare your metrics with theirs, and view their profiles.

Your activities are recorded on your profile in which all of your activities appear as a list in time order. Each activity could be likened to a “Post” on Instagram or Facebook, and your followers can give you “Kudos” for your activity or write encouraging comments on it.

Each activity can be accompanied by uploaded comments or photos so your route and ride can be annotated. This means that your followers can see any helpful hints you leave on your route or where each of your photos was taken.

You can also view your feed, in a similar way to Instagram or Twitter, and see the most recent activities from those that you follow on Strava. Of course, you can also give them Kudos and write comments on your friends’ activities!

But, of course, cycling is not just a solo sport, and if you’re doing a ride with your friends or your club, you can post it as a joint activity; even if your friend didn’t record it, it would show up on their activity profile and their followers’ feeds.

Strava also allows you to join or create clubs, with club leaderboards on segments, routes, distance, elevation gain, etc… You can also log club rides in a similar process as you can with friends.

Again, all of these features are included in Strava’s free version. You don’t need a Premium subscription to access Strava’s social elements.

Data from Strava premium showing acitvity on the website.
Credit: Strava

Strava Premium

Strava’s premium version offers a number of additional features that some cyclists would consider to be essential, but others might not use to the extent to which it would be worth the upgrade.

There are actually many, many additional features included within Strava Subscription, but here are my three favorites in my experience as a Strava Premium user.

However, if you want to view a complete list of the additional features included, you can find that here.

Screenshot showing the route planning functions within Strava's premium subscription.
Credit: Strava

#1: Route Planning And Creation

This is one of Strava Premium’s most universally helpful features among cyclists.

In the free version of Strava, you can re-ride a specific route that you have done before, but you can’t create a route in-app or search some nearby suggested routes that you might want to do.

It’s easy to get stuck in a bit of a rut. You cycle as much as you can, but you just do the routes that you know, and it can get a little boring, particularly if you’re riding the same routes multiple times a week.

Strava’s route planning feature allows you to draw a route, telling you how far it is and the elevation gain as you draw it. This is helpful for those who want to be able to mix it up with their routes or include your favorite roads into one single loop.

Strava also allows you to input your desired metrics of a route, such as distance, difficulty, hilliness, and terrain. Strava Premium will then generate a circular route from your location for you to satisfy those metrics – which I think is a pretty neat feature.

Sometimes, it just takes too long to plan a route, and if you’re feeling a bit lazy, it can be so much easier just to go on a loop that you already know.

Strava’s route generation feature is something I’ve personally used a lot in this scenario, and it always results in a fun new adventure without the effort of actually planning it.

You can upload your routes to your head unit to follow the directions live by saving them to your Strava account, “Starring” the route, and syncing your device with your head unit, and it will automatically appear in the courses section of your head unit.

#2: Live Segments

This is another of my favorite features that is exclusive to Strava Premium.

You can see your segment times live as you ride them, and even race with your personal best (PB) or the K/QOM time on that segment, with the icon for each appearing on the screen of your phone or head unit with your relative progress to that time.

This is a feature I particularly enjoy for racing against my own PB, but if you’re going out and trying to bag a K/QOM on a certain segment, then it’s pretty much essential.

Think of it as the live “time gap” that appears for a breakaway when you’re watching the Tour de France. It essentially works in the same way, showing the gap (positive or negative) to your PB on that segment or the K/QOM.

To view live segments, you have to “Star” a particular segment and turn the feature on in the settings of your phone or head unit.

Two screens show the fitness data tracking capabilities of Strava.
Credit: Strava

#3: Fitness Progress

Strava’s paid subscription allows you to track your current and past fitness levels as a function of time.

In my experience, this can actually serve as a real motivator for my training. It might sound silly, but your fitness graph rising as you start feeling fitter can be an excellent source of validation for those who want or need it (like I do!).

Strava measures your fitness using the metrics from your heart rate monitor or power meter. If you don’t have one, then it uses your description of the ride’s difficulty from “easy” to “difficult” to evaluate your fitness gains.

Of course, it’s not particularly accurate unless you have a power meter, since “easy” and “hard” are subjective concepts. But as someone who uses a heart rate monitor, I have found this to be a useful and interesting feature of Strava Subscription.

Strava Free Vs Paid: Is The Upgrade Worth it?

Ah, the big question. Now you know what’s included in the free and paid versions of Strava, should you make the upgrade?

Well, first of all, how much does a Strava Premium Subscription account cost?

How Much Is Strava Subscription?

So, how much does Strava cost for the Premium version? The price of a Strava Subscription account varies depending on where you live. But here are some of the prices for the most popular locations:

  • In the USA, a Strava Subscription costs $11.99 per month or $79.99 per year.
  • In the UK, a Strava Subscription costs £8.99 per month or £54.99 per year.
  • In the EU, monthly prices vary from €7.99 to €10.99.
A glass jar full of cash with the words bike money labelled on to it.

Is it worth it?

Now you know the answer to, “How much does Strava cost?” The question of whether it is worth it really all comes down to how you’re going to use Strava.

If you use Strava regularly as your main source of tracking and progress records, then in my opinion, a Strava Subscription is probably worth it despite the fairly high pricing.

This is especially true if you plan on using the app to track your fitness progress, race your own times, and create your own routes. Note, however, that you can also create routes on alternative platforms and upload them to your head unit, for example, Komoot.

For those to whom those features aren’t particularly appealing, or if you’re just starting out with Strava and cycling, then there’s no reason to upgrade just yet.

All of the metrics and features will likely just be a little overwhelming and not as useful as later down the road.

What’s your experience with using Strava Free vs Paid? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jack is an experienced cycling writer based in San Diego, California. Though he loves group rides on a road bike, his true passion is backcountry bikepacking trips. His greatest adventure so far has been cycling the length of the Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia, and the next bucket-list trip is already in the works. Jack has a collection of vintage steel racing bikes that he rides and painstakingly restores. The jewel in the crown is his Colnago Master X-Light.

1 thought on “Strava Free Vs Paid: How Much Is Strava Subscription, And Is The Upgrade Worth It?”

  1. Now that I’m retired I intend to downgrade to the free version.
    Garmin seems to have most of the stuff for free, started way before Strava but for some reason their social media aspect seems a lot less popular.


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