Strava KOM’s and E-bikes

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strava and ebikes

Strava KOM’s and E-bikes

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Strava is arguably the world’s leading cycling tracking and navigation app out there. Its most basic features are to measure distance, elevation, and your speed, and its developed for both road bikers and mountain bikers. Its free version offers all the essentials an average rider would require to becoming fitter. The paid version obviously offers a bit more than the basics, such as segment tracking, ride analysis and KOM (King of the Mountain) competitive tracking. These features enable all cyclists to compete virtually so to speak, to see who can ride a certain segment faster, and ultimately take the KOM on the app.

I use Strava and would personally recommend it. However, there is a growing concern among riders that use the app – E-bikes. Not that it’s a full-on threat in anyway, but E-bikes are posing as a little bit of an un-fair advantage. The fact that an E-bike can allow you to be faster climbing a trail or cruising on the open road, begs the question of regulation. Shouldn’t there be a regulator on the Strava app to detect if a rider is in fact on an E-bike? Or should not E-bike brands be working with Strava to develop a smart interface between the two systems. At the moment and as far as my knowledge extends, there is none.

The problem that this ‘unregulated’ sense of riding creates is this:

E-bike riders are able to occupy large amounts of KOM’s on Strava routes, without giving ordinary riders on ordinary bicycles – using the simple action of turning the cranks with their muscle instead of a motor’s assistance – any chance of beating them. Some call it unfair, others call it cheating. In essence, you would have to be a ‘super pro’ to try and beat KOM’s set by E-bikes. This leaves E-bikes an unchallenged and unchecked industry in the field of Strava.

Because Strava is such a widely used cycling social platform, with many riders comparing stats daily, should not more be done to eliminate this unregulated way of stealing KOM’s. For me this takes the fun out of riding and challenging friends on Strava segments – knowing I have got almost no chance of taking KOM’s. The app of Strava essentially becomes a playground for any Tom, Dick and Harry on an E-bike, looking for their 5-minutes of glory on the Strava leader boards. Instead of training hard and putting in the effort to beat a KOM, they simply take it without a fair challenge.

I am not here to discriminate against E-bike riders. Heck, I was one of them (and I still enjoy a good E-bike session every now and then)! E-bikes are there for the shear fun of it – yes, to get up a hill with zero sweat and down with a full-on grin. However, and some would strongly agree, that there needs to be a regulating system in place when it comes to apps such as Strava and KOM challenges.

For example, look at what race and event organizers have done. Some have created special E-bike race categories – where just riders on E-bikes can enter. And they seem to be a smash hit, allowing E-bike riders to compete on the same medium. Who knows, maybe then there needs to be a separate app created for E-bikers who still want to share their rides with the world? I am no expert in coding and developing, but my gut tells me there is definite way to detect E-bikes on Strava and simply prevent them from stealing KOM’s.

What do you think?

9 thoughts on “Strava KOM’s and E-bikes”

  1. Now we are paying Strava to see how we perform and compare with the KOM, we should be getting reliable info. Some of the Strava KOM times are impossible on an ordinary bike. It can’t be beyond the realms of programming to flag up an unreasonable time. The programme knows the distants & the incline. There comes a point when a recorded time is just not possible on an ordinary bike. There must also be an easy what to “shop” E bikers to Strava. I know various members of my clubs holding leaderboard positions that only ride an E bike.

    1. Exactly! I totally agree! Let’s hope the team at Strava catch wind of this, and put some action to it. Considering most of the riders will be paid subscription riders by the end of the year, I don’t think its unreasonable for Strava to put something in place for before then.

  2. I ride road, MTD, CX and recently got an eBike basically as a car replacement for shopping and errands. I can absolutely smash my (hilly) route home from the local store, and for this reason haven’t synced any rides from this bike onto Strava because I want my own segments and PBs to accurately reflect my ability for my own sake, but I do want to track hours and KMs on the bike to count to my year totals, and am thinking about creating a manual entry once a month with a combined monthly total (luckily the bike keeps track of it’s own miles). I love my eBike, and love that people who cannot ordinarily get by on an unassisted bike can now ride again (whether through age, injury or infirmity) but Strava should definitely find a way to weed out times set on them. Maybe a simple check on Power metrics is needed, if you don’t have one then that’s pretty much a dead giveaway, as anyone with a KOM round here is usually fully tooled on the tech for metrics.

  3. Well put Dan! E-bikes are there to have fun and like you’ve mentioned, they’re great for commuting. I’ve heard some rumors to this, that Strava will be implementing a feature similar what you’ve described – so fingers crossed!

  4. I live in a very hilly area and ride with my spouse and friends who are very strong cyclists. I found with my regular road bike that I simply couldn’t comfortably keep up and was really discouraged. Last year I purchased an ebike (Cannondale Synapse Neo 1) and it’s been a game changer. I’m regularly riding 100 km+ rides now and I love it. I also use Strava because it does a great job of keeping track of what I’ve done. If users change their activity from ‘bike ride’ to ‘ebike ride’ then Strava ignores all KOM/QOM data. The problem is that this is not a default setting that we can set and forget. It has to be changed every single time I ride. I’ve submitted a support ticket to Strava asking that they tie in an automatic ebike default activity setting when you add your ebike to your gear. I have no interest at all in KOM/QOMs but I do like my data.

  5. I just recently converted a mountain bike to an e-bike which I intend to use instead of my car to commute to work. I don’t have shower facilities where I work, so the e-bike conversion allowed me to ride to work without the need for a shower at the other end.

    Like others have mentioned in this forum, I still would like to track my rides and km’s to challenge my annual number of commuting rides. Having a separate category within Strava to track this would be very useful to me and, I’m sure, many others trying to do their part to rely less on their car throughout the year.

    It would also give e-bike owners more incentive to take the bike to work if they had a way to track those rides alongside their regular Strava activities.

    Now that we’re paying membership fees, should we not expect Strava to evolve with this growing trend?

  6. Flag riders who are recording KOMs on ebikes. Strava should have and ebike option when setting your gear in the profile.

  7. At least where i am from E-bikes are capped at 25 km/h. So if you are an at least decent biker and there are not crazy uphills on the stretch I don’t think they ought to be much of a problem. I regularly outrun them in between traffic lights on my five year old $100 rust heap of a bike and I don’t even consider my self much of a biker.

  8. I ride Road, XC, but also an E-Enduro Bike. I like to push hard also with an E-bike and would like to see my Progres by Power Stages (Uphill) without I still any KOMs of me or other Riders. I Think, it´s not so complicated to make an “E-Bike Strava Mode” which automatically sent the Data to normal or E-Bike Database. It means, if I will choose E-Bike Ride, than I will see my Results just between E-Bike Segments, KOMs etc.

    Sorry for my English 🙂

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