We know this is an incredibly tough time for our community. However, Strava is not a profitable company today and it’s never been more important for us to become self-sustaining. We can only do that by putting subscription at the center of Strava.
— Strava (@Strava) May 19, 2020
Another criticism levelled at Strava over the winding down of features on the free version of their platform is the sheer poor timing during a global pandemic; friends of road.cc staffers have reported that their parents, aunts, uncles and cousins have been signing up in droves to record their daily exercise since the lockdown began.
A lot of these casual new recruits could now be put off, especially Android and desktop users who will no longer be able to keep a training log. Strava maintains that they simply have to become profitable or there might not be a Strava; plus, they need to think about their own employees too...
What about the people who work for Strava? If it doesn’t make any money they won’t have jobs either. Companies don’t exist in a vacuum - they have employees who are going through the same stuff we all are.
— Kate Carter (@katehelencarter) May 19, 2020
In response to allegations that the changes will have 'shut down' many third-party apps, Strava deny this and say the overhaul "only changes how segment information is displaying."
We're offering a 60-day trial so athletes can give the subscription a try. Our recent updates haven’t shut down any Strava Apps – only changed how segment information is displayed. With @VeloViewer specifically, we worked together to keep everything going: https://t.co/IvY8dTWbmI
— Strava (@Strava) May 19, 2020
👍 a lot of people see ‘5 miles’ and think I can’t do that every day. We should start talking only in journey times not distances. https://t.co/xBpV4LMxOb
— Chris Boardman (@Chris_Boardman) May 19, 2020
It might seem daunting to those new to cycling/cycle commuting who work out the lenghr of their commute in miles or kilometres, and then think of having to do that every day; but it might sound a lot less challenging to talk of journeys in how long they will take, rather than how far according to Chris Boardman. What do you think?
BBC News report a bike accident - it was a motorist collision, a driver knocked Carol off her bike. Yet headline is misleading https://t.co/RYgzdsUS3Z
— Vicky Sponge (@Noonkemp) May 19, 2020
Carol Kirkwood injured by driver in road traffic collision whilst cycling.
Too accurate for the BBC? https://t.co/CQwiLoQjNE
— IBikeHorsham says 'Join a union.' (@ibikehorsham) May 19, 2020
The BBC have been accused of playing down the details of an incident in which their own weather presenter Carol Kirkwood was knocked off her bike by a car driver. The article states in the first paragraph that Kirkwood was "knocked off her bike by a car", but some have accused the headline of being misleading.
Colleagues and friends from the media have been sending their best wishes to Kirkwood throughout the day, who returned to screens this morning after spending three weeks away to recover from her injuries.
There is a lot of love for @carolkirkwood this morning. She is ok, a little battered and bruised after her bike accident, but it’s wonderful to have her back.
Long may she reign 🙌🏻 #BBCBreakfast pic.twitter.com/9zdOeYnZY0
— Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) May 19, 2020
Shocking footage shows the moment a cyclist was viciously assaulted on Chesser Avenue #Edinburgh #Cycling campaigners @SpokesLothian have urged the man to come forward in order for Police to identify and prosecute the teenager @CyclingSurgeon #BikeRage https://t.co/Wy2tldHrnl pic.twitter.com/uJPkXpjsOv
— SWD Media (@SWDMedia) May 19, 2020
The incident in Chesser, Edinburgh was caught on camera by a driver, who arrived at a red light during an altercation between a man and two youths. When the light goes green the man is knocked off his bike by the youth in the blue hoodie while the other rides up on the left hand side.
The cyclist in red has been urged to come forward to police according to SWD Media, with Professor Chris Oliver of the Spokes Cycle Campaign commenting: "'Cyclist to cyclist 'bike rage' is very uncommon and is related to other explosive outbursts of anger such as road rage. With such a young person committing this act of violence, one wonders if he will later go on to car road rage later on in life."
To replace the Wold Top sportive that would have taken place this year, Yorkshire brewery Wold Top are holding a virtual event instead. Participants have to log 60km over the course of five days to complete 'The Lockdown 60', then £10 of each £15 entry fee will be donated to charity. Thoe who complete it then get a 10% discount code for online orders at woldtopbrewery.co.uk.
Let's hope participants who want to indulge in some of Wold Top's beer to get into the spirit of things do so after the virtual miles, or at least sip gradually until it's over... you can enter here.
An app developer has been in touch with road.cc to give their opinion on the Strava updates that has seen the segment leaderboard been reduced to the top 10 for non-paying users, plus a whole host of other changes that put subscribers first.
Our anonymous source confirmed that the changes don't affect their app, but said:
"I'd be pretty annoyed if they did. I feel bad for all the 40,000 or so apps it will affect. I understand why Strava did it and I know they needed to do something to become profitable, but I don't really agree with the way they have gone about it.
"I woke up this morning to stories all over my news feed about it but didn't hear anything from Strava until after midday. I think Strava should have given developers much more notice. To just cut off some API endpoints like that out of the blue is not a nice move.
"But I get why they are doing it. As a developer I often feel like people don't understand the effort that goes into making apps and the cost of running them. There will be huge costs for Strava running databases and backing up those databases, and data transfer costs, and hosting costs and API costs. I'm a paid up Strava member now and I feel happy to pay for apps and services that are well developed and useful. The problem is that we as a society have seem to become stuck on the idea that everything online should be free.
"Facebook is free, Gmail and Outlook are free... so why can't Strava be? The answer is you pay for facebook and gmail by forgoing your privacy. I'd happily pay a small subscription to keep my privacy."
Do you agree?
We’re a small team that can only focus on making a few great things each year. Implementing ads would take away from the time we could spend making Strava better for athletes.
— Strava (@Strava) May 19, 2020
Like Facebook, YouTube and other internet giants who still operate a service that is largely free to use, adverts surely would have filled a huge hole in Strava's finances; after all, they admitted last night that the company still isn't profitable. Why is this? As they state above, with a small team of just 180 and operations focussed on development, this would have taken much valuable time and effort away from improving the platform.
The free version of Strava is, and always will be, high quality and useful for athletes. All athletes can still record efforts on segments, see if they got a PR, and view the top-10 overall and top-10 women.
— Strava (@Strava) May 19, 2020
Taking to Twitter to defend the changes this morning, Strava insist that the free version will always be "high quality and useful for athletes", as users can still record segments and see the top 10 on the leaderboard.
Surely that depends on what aspects of @Strava you use?
Golden Cheetah, Training Peaks, Komoot, Ridewithgps they all offer some of the Strava functionality better than Strava, but none are direct alternatives
— Daniel Rootes (@RootesRacing) May 19, 2020
Garmin Connect? Records your rides, has connections, does route planning, has segments. What am I missing?
— Rich (@BikeRider365) May 19, 2020
Ordnance survey map
— Kie Foster (@ZuluEleven) May 19, 2020
We had a number of shout-outs for Komoot, Golden Cheetah, Garmin Connect and the Ordnance survey maps; although for the majority of you there isn't an alternative, and Strava is four quid a month well spent...
Just pay for it! Amazed at the outrage because something isn’t free - if you don’t like it design your own platform to use or shut up and pay up! #moaners
— Tambini_Bikes (@Tambini_Bikes) May 19, 2020
If you can afford £3.99 a month to support a small business that has given so much to so many, there’s nothing that comes close.
— Darryl (@Juppopovic) May 19, 2020
One less Costa a week and keep strava?
— Tim (@Priceyt) May 19, 2020
The best alternative to free Strava is the less-than-a-pint per month subscription Strava. Simple.
— Ben White (@BenWhite5) May 19, 2020
For those who are reading about all the changes to Strava and are confused about what they actually are, here's a brief summary - you can also find a more detailed breakdown on off.road.cc:
- For non-paying Strava users, only the top 10 of the leaderboard will now show on Strava segments
- The segment leaderboard soon won't show on most third-party apps
- You can no longer use Strava for route planning unless you pay for a subscription
- Non-paying users on an Android device or desktop can no longer view their training log
- Strava's subscription model is no longer called 'Summit', you're now just called a plain old subscriber
- 'Sponsored integrations' (essentially paid content) have ended
Over 70% of VeloViewer PRO users are already Strava Subscribers so won't be affected at all. Non-Subscribers will no longer be able to see their placings in VeloViewer but 99% of the site will work just as before. See that link in the tweet above for full info of differences.
— VeloViewer (@VeloViewer) May 18, 2020
As previously mentioned, it's not just Strava users who will be hugely affected by the sweeping changes to the platform, as many third-party apps based around segments will be hugely impacted, or at worst will cease to function at all. Veloviewer - an app that provides visuals of Strava data - are one of the few that will come out of this relatively unscathed, as a good proportion of their users pay for Strava and the claim 99% of their site "will work just as before."
Veloviewer have summarised the changes here; essentially non-paying Strava users will no longer see segment placings on Veloviewer, and the 'Veloviewer Score' - which estimates your 'prowess' across all your Strava segments - won't be available to those who aren't paying for Strava either.
— Siglov Freudivan (@DerangedRadio) May 18, 2020
The latest one to join our growing archive is this chap, who was seen pootling along near junction 25 of the M25 this morning. The Daily Mail's headline reports that the cyclist was riding along the hard shoulder 'without a helmet', although we're not sure that's entirely relevant...
Take part in our poll. No subscription required...
Global pandemic? Economy collapsing? It all paled into significance at some point last night when Strava announced a whole host of sweeping changes to their platform that means the full leaderboard for segments are no longer free... a devastating blow for the casual KOM hunter.
Local master rider on $17,000 Pinarello Dogma F12 outraged about changes to Strava. pic.twitter.com/g8Ux7X8zRh
— Lockdown Cycling Snob (@thecyclingsnob) May 18, 2020
Cycling Twitter: I DON'T CARE ABOUT STRAVA SEGMENTS ANYWAY I ONLY RIDE TO FEEL THE WIND IN MY HAIR
Also cycling Twitter: pic.twitter.com/U3YG7rZMFs
— Cobble King of Calderdale (@JohnBaker1975) May 18, 2020
If it's not on Strava....
....it's because you didn't pay for it.
— Daniel Lloyd (@daniellloyd1) May 18, 2020
I’ve happily been paying a small annual @Strava subscription to get some basic functionality. Now they want to jack that price up 250% and give a load of features I don’t want. I’m all for Strava making money, but I won’t bother renewing. Wonder who else is like me?
— Colin Lynch (@FormerTTchamp) May 18, 2020
Cue furious responses across social media; and perhaps even more devastatingly, the changes have now made a whole host of third party apps essentially useless overnight (for free Strava users anyway), because the ones that are based around segments without the Strava Live Segments feature (such as Wahoo or Garmin computers) have just had that functionality removed.
1st world issues today. £1000+ bikes✅, £200+ trainers✅, Netflix✅, Amazon Prime✅, NowTV✅, £50-£200 race entry✅, Cheap medal and t-shirt✅, Sprint 1/4 mile sections for Kudos✅, etc, etc...
Pay £4 a month for Strava❌.
How very dare you start charging to pay people's wages! pic.twitter.com/hJTWxNNMgQ
— Mark Highland (@Lost_Pirate21) May 19, 2020
For 8 years I've gotten way more than $5 / month of value from @Strava. There's nothing wrong with charging a little money for a good product.
— Fat Cyclist (@fatcyclist) May 18, 2020
As you can see above plenty have leapt to Strava's defence; at the end of the day, the company needs to make money. Last night founders Mark Gainey and Michael Horvath also sent out a refreshingly honest email explaining their reasons for the changes. Here it is in full:
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.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.
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.
"A monthly subscription costs as much as a couple energy bars, and we think that’s 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."
Been off following an accident. Got knocked off my bike by a car and got injured. Biggest thanks ever to the Police (Chris and Faye), the Ambulance Crew (Miranda and Stewart) who tended to me and took me to Hospital. And especially Peter Foskett-Tharby at Wexham Park Hospital ♥️
— Carol Kirkwood (@carolkirkwood) May 19, 2020
The presenter announced live on BBC Breakfast this morning that the reason she's been away from the show is because she was knocked off her bike by a car driver.
It is with deep sadness my wife Cath and I have decided to separate. Our two children remain our priority and we ask for privacy at this time. Brad & Cath
— Brad Wiggins (@SirWiggo) May 18, 2020
Wiggins took to social media to announce that he and his wife Cath have split after 16 years of marriage.
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.