Important news about Strava... they've shot themselves in the foot.


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If you are a Strava user you will have received in the last few hours an email with this title: "Important news about Strava". An email to announce you important changes for those who are not paying users of the platform, cutting back quite significantly on what you can and can't get from Strava from now on.

Important news about Strava

First I'm going to tell you what changes and how it affects you, and then I'll tell you why it's a shot in the foot.

Strava changes

Listen to it in the podcast

As of today, some of the features that were previously available to everyone are now available exclusively to paying members. Because that's another one, there are no longer different Summit packs and go back to a simple subscription. Now you use Strava free or Strava paid, that's it.

The following functions are affected:

  • Leaderboards in segments. Now non-paying users will only see the top 10. This is in addition to the cuts already made in the past by eliminating the tables by weight, age, etc. for free users.
  • Route planner
  • Matching runs (if you have done the same route before, it tells you if you have been faster or slower)

Segment position tables

Currently this is how we would see a leaderboard in segments, both for those with a free and paid account.

Strava time table

In it I can see the different details in that particular segment, with my position, time, etc. This is the quick view, if I go to zoom in on all the details then 1TP10I would see how I would rank with respect to my age group, my weight group, people I follow, groups I participate in, etc.

Strava time table

All these possibilities will disappear for all non-paying members, leaving you only the data of the top 10 and your position in the table, but without knowing who is between 11 and your position or how your performance is compared to those of your club or your friends.


Strava route editor

Along with the announced changes comes a new route editor. In my case it is not visible yet, I'm still accessing the old one both in my normal account (with premium subscription) and in the one I have to test things (which is free), so I can not put screenshots of what are the changes.

There are small changes in the interface, but the main difference is that now podemos choose the type of surface on which to perform the route: paved, dirt or that we give us the same. Basically the same thing that was implemented in the mobile application a few weeks ago.

I suppose that as soon as my panel is updated with the new features included for my paid account, the possibility of creating routes in my free account will disappear.

However, I understand that the ability to create a route from someone else's activity will still be available to users of the free version, they just won't have access to poder to create a new route. Had you been happy with the inclusion of the automatic synchronization of Strava routes to Garmin from last week? Well, that's a cold shower for you.

Matching careers

Another feature that is missing is the comparison of matching runs when running the same route. This appears when you run a route and then repeat it again, Strava tells you if you have been faster or slower each time.

Strava - Matching races

It's a minor thing, as you usually know if you've gone faster or slower. But it is another possibility that will no longer be present in your free version of Strava.

Third-party applications

Finally, external developers who make use of the API will also not have access to segment data. And they lose such access overnight, without most of them having had prior notification.

Why these changes mean Strava is shooting itself in the foot

I totally understand that Strava needs to make money, because they are still a company and every company must generate profits. Especially technology companies that have received funding from venture capitalists who only understand profits. And naturally, the patience of those investors (and their pockets) is limited.

However I don't think that cutting features to users is the best way to get them to stop being free users and become paying users. Mainly because instead of encouraging you to become a paying user, what they are doing is making you angry.

I repeat, it is totally legitimate for Strava to want to make a profit, everyone wants to do it. But it should do it in a smart way. What would be that way to incentivize free users to switch to the paid version? By offering "cool" new stuff. Something that entices you to pay to use it, that gives you a plus.

I can think of many possibilities: Organize group rides that are published on Strava as a route, which you can join. Create a specific competition for clubs and poder perform it in a certain period of time and go seeing classifications, without having to run all together. From the Beacon function you can have real-time information on where your friends are training, in case they are nearby and there is a possibility to join them. Or a selection of interesting routes for a specific club...

These are things that are not present on Strava at the moment and have come out of my head in a matter of two minutes. With the nearly 200 developers they have on the payroll it shouldn't be too complicated to get it done.

The problem with this decision is that it not only affects users of the free version, but also those who pay the subscription. Imagine that you are paying for your subscription, so you have access to all your segment data, etc. But your friends don't, so they will simply see that neither you nor they are in the top 10. You may still have the incentive to compete against them in a segment and take away the best record in your group, but if they don't see it... they won't compete.

So, if in a group 20% is paying and the rest are not, the range of users who are going to participate in that personal "competition" is going to be drastically reduced. That remaining 20%, if their primary use of Strava is segments... will they still pay? Well, maybe not, and instead of expanding the paying user base, they will end up reducing it....

All in all, that's my opinion. Maybe I'm wrong and Strava is right. Time will tell who is right.

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. In short, they want to charge for offering the same service that 2 years ago was free, something very common in apps and services of this type, they use techniques to attract users and now they want to channel revenue. More than one of these changes will cost them to go to the broken roof. Personally I have noticed many changes in strava in the last months and I was not aware of them.

    Thank you for explaining it so clearly and easy to understand, it's a pleasure.

    A salute.

    1. It is totally legitimate to want to make money. As a company that's what they should do. But as I say in the article... to do it by forcing you to pay for things they were already giving you before? It's clear that you were getting a free service for nothing, but I don't think it's the right way to go.

      1. No app is free, even if it is free. I mean, they are using your data to be sold to third party companies, which use it for market research, customer segmentation, etc.
        For example, it is estimated that by 2021 Facebook will be earning more than $225 per user, while Instagram will bring in more than $125 per user to the company's coffers.
        Port what we have already paid with more than the use of the service ....

  2. Since Strava was born they have always said that they were not making profits, but losses, which is not very credible for a company that has been working for more than 10 years. In light of this, they must do something to become profitable or they will disappear. They have always given up advertising, which leaves the users' subscription fee as the only source of income. The question is: why should I, as a user, pay for something whose free version more than meets my needs? Until they find something to offer subscribers that is worth paying for, the number of subscribers is not going to increase significantly. In my case, when the live segments came out they convinced me to checkout, but I have now lost interest and have unsubscribed. Of the features that are now removed from the free version, I don't think any of them are worth paying for because they are either not very relevant or can be obtained from other free apps. So I think they are not going to get new paying users and they are going to lose some annoying users with the change.

    1. Indeed, live segments is a good example of a feature that may be worth paying for. At the time it was launched no one cared that it was a subscriber-only feature. It's the concept of doing "stuff that rocks" that I refer to in the text. And that should be the path they should follow to try to seek profitability and get more paying users, not by cutting features (and angering potential customers).

  3. It's not just a shot, I think they've cut off a whole leg. I definitely consider that subtracting from the free version is the worst way to attract or even keep the same users. The excuse of, "the subscription costs, what 3 energy bars are worth to you- monthly-" doesn't do them any good, as energy is totally necessary to ride a bike, but not Strava.

  4. What you say above is that you are miserable. But great.
    I'm sure you're on good bikes and with a good Garmin.
    I repeat. MISERABLE!

    1. Why miserable?

      What we have said is that Strava does not offer a paid service attractive enough to pay for. Since they have not come up with any ideas to attract new customers what they have done is to move certain features that were hitherto free to the paid version in the hope that a good number of free customers will switch to the paid version. We have been of the opinion that, in most cases, this will not be the case. I doubt very much that a free version customer, having lost those features, will switch to the paid version. Likewise, I also doubt very much that a customer of the paid version will decide to unsubscribe when they see that those of the free version are being deprived of features. What they have done is legitimate and no one is criticizing it, it just does not seem to us to be a good strategy.

      And yes, I have four very nice bikes and three Garmins 😉 Oh, and a bunch of pairs of sneakers,

      1. hahahahahahahaha...I love your answer, you have put a lid on it and not just against the coronavirus!!!!

  5. In the end the temptation to monetize the app is very strong and they have chosen the worst way. How long will it take for another app to appear that offers us what Strava has taken away from us?
    It may also be a move by Garmin who seems to be pulling the strings at Strava. Maybe they will beef up Connect and absorb functionality.
    For me, it was certainly a blunder.

  6. Another of the incongruities of Strava is that they only have an equal rate for elite athletes that for Sunday people who go out to do a little sport, if the price range was wider maybe many would be willing to pay a little candid a year.

  7. What is going to happen to subscribers, who only pay a part, I keep putting in August will be renewed with so much (23.99), I in my case I will not pay the new subscription.

    1. A few months ago they reported that they were eliminating partial subscriptions and everyone was going to have the full subscription, in fact, you will have seen that you have all the features, including those for which you have not paid. When it's your turn to renew you will have to pay the full subscription.

    2. Well, I was paying for a single package and although they eliminated the packages and podia had all the features, I have continued paying only 2.99€ per month. Now it says that the next bill will be €2.99 as before. Let's hope it stays that way.
      I sincerely believe that it is very legitimate that they want to charge for their work although perhaps I would have looked for a formula of smaller amounts. They could have removed from the free version the segments, the routes and the security issue and then make a package for each of the functions at a lower price. Each user has different needs and probably does not need everything.

  8. Good morning
    I see this new topic in a different but similar way, and in addition to what you say about encouraging the client... I see the price as excessive!
    imagine they do like whatsapp!!!! first year free to capture... and then a euro year! well something similar but for example 1 euro per month and not 7€ what it costs a month of Netflix that you can pay between 4!!!! have stuck one noo 2 shots in the foot!

  9. Thank you for explaining everything that is happening in estrava.... You are absolutely right so you are not going to get new user you are doing it wrong just look at the businessmen money. The idea that you propose is a good idea. For my part I am unsubscribing and will continue with my suunto app and au.

  10. Yes, indeed. I am outraged and will probably unsubscribe and look for other applications.

  11. It seems logical to me that they want to earn money for their work, I don't see it as working for free, but for me what they offer is not really convincing and then there is something that bothers me, they have now taken out the ROUTES, thanks to the mega database of routes that have been compiled thanks to millions of people, we have done the work and now they take this only for those who pay, bad.

  12. I think they should improve the application for people who pay and those who don't should continue as they have been doing so far, as people will feel betrayed.

  13. and what would be the problem of keeping it as it is adding some advertising or as you say packs that attract attention, maybe many would pay if they gave us something different, but to take away what they have offered you for free, taking advantage of segments, routes created ... etcc and now pay, at least I do not see it.

  14. We want everything and we want it for free. Surely for beers in a terrace or other things there are but this app is totally free. For what it gives it is cheap so if you are interested and support this project that gives you so much you pay for it. I have always been premium because I wanted poder see details of my training. And Strava has no advertising ... because then on top of not paying you go and complain about the banner on duty. These improvements are proposed and we'll see but Strava deserves those two energy bars per month.

  15. So far, there are two types of customers:

    - Those who pay, who will continue the same but with some extra features that have been added in recent months. Will they stop paying? I don't think so, after all, they get the same as before plus a little more for the same money.

    - Those who do not pay, they can continue the same and lose some functions or start paying and recover those lost functions plus a few additional ones. Will they start paying? No idea, Strava hopes so. In my opinion no because they don't lose any important features for them. Routes can be created, for free, on Garmin Connect, Wikiloc, RideWithGPS, Komoot, Google Maps... Segments were not excessively important for them, if they were they would have already paid a premium subscription to have them live. The overlapping races don't look very accomplished to me either and I don't think they invite anyone to pay to watch them, it's much more interesting to create a private segment of your usual route and you have the same thing.

    Honestly, I don't understand where the problem is in the changes Strava has made.

    1. And you forget a third customer, the one who paid less for a subscription that offered him the services he needed. And now they are forced to pay more for more features that they probably do not use, because otherwise they would not have chosen a subscription with fewer services, and would have gone for a more expensive one. And I believe that not everyone will continue to pay.

      1. Right!

        Perhaps that's where Strava wants to play in order to increase its revenue, i.e. convert reduced option subscribers to full subscribers.

        In any case, Strava is free to offer what it considers and the customer is free to decide whether to pay or not.

  16. Well, it was an incentive that had me hooked this last year, the segments and I speak from the point of view of an amateur that I don't even go to races or anything and with 60 years old... I agree that you have to pay for a service but this particular one was already free.
    I really believe that it will harm them more than benefit them, if we all lose, I hope they will reconsider. Greetings

  17. I also do not see well, that they remove the different types of subscription. If for the free minimum I had before they tell me to pay 1€ or 2€ per month, 1TP10I would do it. But paying the full pack for things that I have never used, I do not see it logical. Maybe this would also convince more people.

  18. I agree with your assessment. Strava seems to have lost its way in recent months. I was Premium for a couple of years and stopped just before they put out the summit packs because I realized that I hardly got anything out of it that Garmin Connect or third party add-ons didn't give me.

    I think it will remain as a sports social network where to give kudos and comment, little more. I don't want to become Premium again and also I don't like the fact that "they have taken away" features.

    I'll miss the overlapping races, but since they are regular routes I'll do some private or Garmin segments or look for an alternative.

    We live in a time where a lot of things that were free become premium and cost as much as a weekly beer... But between music, streaming TV, online newspapers and running apps like Strava or Relive you need a budget....

  19. Thanks for your article Eduardo. I personally ride an average of 10,000 to 15,000 km/year on the road, I've been cycling for 35 years and I use Strava since February 4, 2015 in the mobile app in free mode. I don't wear a potentiometer, heart rate monitor or cadence meter, I always go by feelings... For a few months now I've been using a Bryton 15 and then I upload the activities to Strava, but with these changes the "fun" I saw in Strava to see how I'm doing compared to other cyclists I know and others I don't know, disappears for me. If I've been cycling without Strava for 30 years, I think I'll podré do it again without Strava ;-). For me, in my particular case, it does not compensate to pay anything for it for the use I give it. I saw Strava as a tool to democratize and customize the sports stats of any user for "free", a la Google, but now I no longer see it that way. Although I fully respect your decision. Everyone with their capital does what they see fit.

  20. From my point of view the most attractive thing about Strava is undoubtedly the segments and the social network that comes with it, Garmin also has segments in its app but it is limited to those who have Garmin and obviously it is not the same.
    Strava is free directly if you want, yes, but indirectly it feeds on sample routes and segments created by users. If users stop uploading routes and creating segments, and even in anger decide to delete the ones they have created, how attractive is it compared to other apps?

  21. Totally agree.
    The "capos" who walk a lot but without reaching the top 10 do not podran brag with colleagues who have not subscribed to the paid version.
    And many of us are now happier without the pinch that in the end apoderaba from you even though you wanted to avoid it.

  22. When people talk about free applications, do not know what they say, as they have said our data cost a lot of money, and if it were not for the users who create segments, and that we contribute with our routes, and feed the strava database, this type of platforms would have no use, or sense, the only thing we are not aware of what is worth today the information and even more confidentiality.
    Those who are premium users and criticize those of us who are not, do not understand that the resources that underpin the Strava world come in a 90% from free users.
    So anyone who doesn't want to pay for strava premium should look on the net, there are many ways to access what strava hides from you in the free version, on alternative sites.

  23. Well, it's been almost a year now. How is it going? How many users who didn't pay now pay? Did strava really shoot itself in the foot?


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