So Is Strava Premium Worth It?

I did a post awhile back on Strava, and how it is becoming a bigger and bigger factor amateur cycling. A couple of months on, and some new features have been introduced to the premium package, with more promised later this year. I knew you’d all be dying to hear what’s new, so here’s a follow-up post to summarise whether or not Strava Premium is worth it.

 

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Strava’s biggest news of late is their hiring of Paul Mach, the founder of Raceshape. I’ve mentioned this website before in my KOM Sniping post. Essentially, it uses data from Strava but offers services that until recently Strava itself didn’t. For example, the option to export a course from the website straight onto your GPS. Another unique feature of Raceshape was to track any number of different performances on a given segment over the map; on Strava you can only do this to compare your performance with the KOM’s performance – a comparison which may well not be of any use.

As you can see, the graph represents five separate efforts at once - a feature coined by Raceshape

As you can see, the graph represents five separate efforts at once – a feature coined by Raceshape

In view of these features, it’s very wise of Strava to employ him. He said on the website that:

“Recently I quit the cycling game and joined Strava! Over time, I’ll be working to get some of the cool Race Shape features integrated. Stay tuned.”

He will keep his site up for the foreseeable future, so you can still use these features free of charge. This means that Strava want to integrate his features into their premium package, which would definitely enhance its value. However you’d think that eventually he might take down his site, which would mean paying for previously free services.

Anyway, aside from their new recruit and the wealth of knowledge he will bring, they have been working to revamp their premium side in recent months. So here’s a summary of what you get!
  • Strava are very keen on the progress goals feature. A very simple idea, you input time and distance goals for each week and it tells you how close to your target you are. They say longer term goals are also coming in the near future. Though important to set goals, the basic version tells you what you’ve done so far in a week, and you probably know what figure you intend to reach anyway, so this isn’t really necessary in my opinion.
  • The suffer score has been for premium users for a while, but now they’re offering customisable heart rate zones. This means that for whatever training system you’re using, it’ll present you with HR data showing clearly how hard you’ve been working. This is important, as if you train by HR, different sessions are based in different zones for different results. This is a very useful feature as it really gives you a more accurate idea of how you’ve been performing.

strava suffer score

  • For users with power meters, there are a whole host of new features to interpret your data. I’m not going to go in to them all, but some, like the power zone distribution are very useful for seeing how much time you spent at each level of power. The power curve lets you also examine your best average power readings for different time periods over a ride, and these can be compared with other rides, to help track progress. Strava are very keen on their Weighted Average Power too – they say this is a much more accurate value than a standard average power for the ride.
  • There are many more power related features, and they are fast developing more which will come out later in the year. In fact last week they introduced the new ‘Segment Intensity Score’. This shows your effort level on a particular segment as a percentage of your maximum power over the past 6 weeks. Therefore you can see exactly how hard you worked on a particular hill, or use it to analyse interval sessions.
The much talked-about power curve

The much talked-about power curve

 

  • The filtered leaderboards for segments have been around a while, but they are also useful for some people. They allow you to compare yourself with similar athletes in terms of age and weight. This is an advantage as it will often mean you’re not comparing yourself to superhumans!
  • The two Raceshape features I mentioned earlier have now come to Strava Premium.
    • You can now compare your segment performances with anyone else’s – be it the KOM or someone in 500th place.
    • It’s now dead easy to transfer a ride from Strava to the courses folder on your GPS device – something extremely useful. And it’ll probably encourage you to be more adventurous with your routes. However, you could just plot the route out on your usual course creator e.g. bikeroutetoaster.
  • ‘Surprises’ also await premium members, as well as discounts on other products.
The new features are good. Before they came out at the end of last year, I definitely would’ve said that premium membership wasn’t worth it. However it’s now a different equation. At $59 a year, it’s not cheap, but it’s hardly going to break the bank, seeing as if you’re reading this you probably already have a GPS device, be it a Garmin, iPhone or whatever else.
Useful power distribution

Useful power distribution

Thus I’d say if you have a power meter, with all the features available, you’d be stupid not to go premium. If you don’t have one then I can forgive you for not getting it. However it’s still not a bad idea – you do get more useful features, and at the very least it’s a way of supporting the organisation. Strava is a small company and is still young – it needs support, and seeing as it provides such a good free service, many would agree that it’s a nice gesture to support them by getting premium membership.

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Now we just have to wait for this year’s new features. Some of them Strava have mentioned already, like a widening of the already large power analysis section, while some will no doubt come as a surprise. It has been suggested that new features could be made available to premium users to trial, prior to going live as an actual feature. I think this would be another nice benefit of Premium, though I’m not sure it’ll happen.
Regardless, when they do start appearing, I’ll of course update and write a post detailing them, so keep your eyes peeled!

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