A large number of people, myself included, of course, use our smartphones and a bike touring application when traveling or on a daily basis. Why? The smartphone allows you to find your way or a nearby point of interest (café, bakery, etc.) as well as to book a cottage at the last minute in the event of a storm.
And that’s without mentioning that we can record all our cycling performances there. It is therefore a very practical tool when traveling or cycling. To find a bike route, (re) plan, or follow its trail, many applications have been developed for Android and iPhone.
As part of our comprehensive guide to useful cycling apps, in this article we focus on bike apps that make life easier when backpacking and cycle touring.
Which applications to download for a bike trip?
Available on the Apple or Google store, many apps for cycling routes offer maps and e-routes that are clearer and easier to follow than a classic map. Some applications for cycle tourism stand out with many additional features: distances traveled, average speed, points of interest, height differences, etc.
Versatile and easily installable on a smartphone holder for bikes, the mobile phone has replaced many bike computers and GPS. Thanks to it, you can travel by bike more easily and save yourself some stressful moments. Find accommodation, check train timetables…, there are applications that will be particularly useful if you cycle touring and travel by bikepacking.
Find accommodation with Warmshowers, an app for cycle tourism
In the same vein as Couchsurfing, the Warmshowers app allows you to benefit from the generosity of a large community of cycle tourists and hikers. Join the community and thanks to the app, find a garden to pitch your tent or a roof to spend the night during your bikepacking stay.
The Warmashowers cycle touring app works worldwide. It brings together more than 159,000 members, including 97,000 hosts in 161 countries. Perfect when looking for a safe place to sleep or protect yourself from the rain. Or share a friendly moment around the bike and take a shower!
Cycle tourism: an app for getting around by train by bike
Thanks to applications for cycle tourism, your smartphone is a real Swiss army knife. When cycling, it is not uncommon to use the train. Thanks to the Deutsch Bahn’s DBNavigator app, check timetables and plan your train journeys with your bike.
Used by cyclists, DBNavigator also indicates the conditions for traveling by bicycle by train in Europe. The application also allows you to book your train tickets directly.
Cycling: apps to check the weather forecast
Even when you are well equipped and dressed to ride a bike, you don’t really appreciate headwinds and rain when traveling by bike. To adjust your cycle touring gear, review your route, or prepare yourself psychologically, use an app to check the weather.
Use the Weather Pro or AccuWeather app, available on iPhone and Android. To watch the wind, download Windy. This weather application provides precise information on the power and direction of the wind.
Bikepacking: applications to photograph your bike trips
“Last but not least”, your phone is also a… camera. Download a photo editing app like VSCO or Snapseed , the app developed by Google, to edit your photos.
To create short videos of your cycle touring journey, use 1 Second Everyday. The principle? Like a video diary, you record a one-second footage every day. Then rediscover your cycling adventures at the end of the month.
Cycle tourism: create and read your GPS bike tracks on your smartphone
Creating your route via a bike touring application takes time and requires a little practice. To plan the route of a bikepacking trip , ask for help from already experienced cyclists via forums or during your bike rides.
To avoid being surprised, use Google Map or Street View to see the roads you want to take. The OpenStreetMap site is a free cooperative world map and the National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information (IGN) Cartographic Background are also excellent tools for plotting your cycling trip route.
Whether you’ve plotted your bike route or downloaded a track created by another cyclist, now you need an app to read and follow it on your bike.
Strava: find and follow routes by bike
Very complete, the Strava application allows you to follow your track in real-time and to use routes already created by cyclists by following your performances live. In the itinerary tab, you can plot your cycle tourism routes directly in the application and then use them while riding. The Explorer Compass icon at the bottom of the Strava Bike Route App home page lets you find routes near or to specific locations. Then directly save the routes and use them on your bike.
Which app do I need for a mountain bike tour?
In terms of mountain bike routes and trails, one application is doing well (or their thorn in the gravel): Utagawa VTT. Completely free, find your route among the mountain bike routes. Import it and follow it during your mountain biking trip. Find no less than 566,155 kilometers of the path on Utagawa in France.
Openrunner cycling app: find routes and routes
Either on a computer or via the application, find and download cycling routes and routes with Openrunner. The application also gives you the possibility to send the file in GPX format to your Garmin GPS.
The mapping of the application is very precise and uses topographic data from several maps (OpenStreetMap, IGN, SwissTopo, OpenCycleMap…). Openrunner brings together no less than 5 million routes (cycling, hiking, cycle touring, horse, gravel…).
You can also use and follow your track live and add photos to your route.
Komoot: the online and offline cycle touring GPS application
Road, gravel, cycling, mountain biking…, the Komoot app allows you to trace and plan your future cycling adventure. While out, you can also reprogram your track with your finger directly on the application. On the Komoot app, use the maps offline and get voice guidance when you subscribe.
Cycle tourism: which application for voice guidance?
On Google Maps, you can also create a trip and route (foot, bike, car) directly in the tool or import a GPX track. Use your computer to save the map and your route. On your smartphone, find the map you created. Then act as when you want to follow a route by activating the sound for local guidance. The Komoot app in its premium version has detailed voice navigation functionality.
If you don’t have a specific route but are just looking to reach a location, you can simply use the Google Maps app and its voice guidance.
Cycle tourism applications on marked circuits
Some bike tours and routes are so famous and used by cyclists that they have their own app. Many regions have thus invested in a bicycle route application in order to promote their heritage. It is a simple alternative when traveling by bike with the family for example. Using this kind of application is also reassuring when you are not comfortable with the idea of plotting your own cycling route.
On these apps designed for cycle tourism, find local routes that usually pass by points of interest, historical monuments, and panoramic views.
What about you, which bike travel apps have you tested? What is your favorite bike touring app? Leave us a comment on this article