How to find the best e-bike app for your needs

A good e-bike app is much more than a nice thing to have. It can improve your ride comfort, ensure more safety or even extend the life of your bike. In this article, we will go into detail about what distinguishes e-bike apps, what sets them apart from normal bike apps and how you can make the most out of them. But most importantly, we will help you find the best e-bike app which suits your personal needs. So that you can experience the difference yourself.

So findest du die beste E-Bike App für deine Bedürfnisse

Of course, for the best ride experience with a motorised bike, you need a good e-bike. But the hardware is just half the battle. Only with the right e-bike apps can you fully exploit the possibilities of your bike, regardless of whether you use it primarily as a means of transport in everyday life or as a piece of sports equipment.

But how do you choose the best apps for you from the wide range available for iOS and Android? Well, we can help you with that. Keep on reading and find out what really matters when choosing the right cycling app.

Essential information about e-bike apps

What is an e-bike app?

E-bike apps are smartphone applications designed specifically for e-bikes that get connected with your bike. Their aim is to improve your e-bike experience. Depending on the app, they offer different functions and focus on different aspects. But we will come back to this later.

How does an e-bike app differ from a bike app?

The short answer is: e-bike apps can do much more. This is because e-bikes, unlike normal road bikes, have a motor with a battery and a control unit. When a mobile device is connected with an e-bike, many additional features become possible. Such features cannot be offered by conventional bikes, simply because they have no electric components.

E-bike apps can do more than navigation and route planning

You might know it from your own experience: If you google “best e-bike app” or “e-bike app comparison”, you will almost exclusively be presented with navigation apps such as Komoot, Strava app or Bikemap.

However, this is only a small part of the bigger picture. We want to do better than Google and give you an insight into the many facets of cycling apps.

Comparison of app developers

Developers of e-bike apps can be divided into three groups:

  • E-bike manufacturers: The main advantage that “manufacturer apps” bring is that all e-bike components are often integrated into one app. But of course, they don’t work with competitors’ bikes.
  • Motor manufacturers: Apps from motor manufacturers usually focus on the motor. Components such as an electronic circuit or a digital mechanical lock are not included. Apart from this limitation, good cycling apps from motor manufacturers like Bosch are available.
  • Independent developers: Apps from independent developers can be as comprehensive as manufacturer apps, with the advantage of being useful for different e-bike brands. This way you can enjoy maximum independence. In addition, independent developers are often specialised in software development. They deliver high quality apps, which they constantly develop further. Unfortunately, this can only be said of manufacturers to a limited extent.

How best cycling apps for e-bikes work and what are the trends

How smartphone and bike get connected

The fundamental requirement for an e-bike app to work is that the smartphone and bike get connected.

This can be done in two ways:

  • via Bluetooth sensors
  • via a data logger built into the bike

A data logger is an advanced GPS tracker, which sends gps data and other ride data to the cloud. From the cloud, the data is sent to your mobile device.

The trend towards smartphones as displays

E-bike displays are becoming more and more compact. There is often only one button for switching the bike on and off and a battery indicator. And even though minimalism is “trendy”, it limits the possibilities of providing an enhanced user experience.

That’s why more and more e-bike riders are using their modern smartphones with suitable apps as “extended” hubs. And e-bike manufacturers are picking up on this development. For instance, Cowboy and VanMoof are even touting the smartphone as a central display element instead of a cycle computer.

The advantages of this tactic:

  • No or only a very small separate display is necessary.
  • In combination with the right cycling apps, the smartphone offers a wealth of possibilities.

Perhaps the e-bike display will soon be a thing of the past. Then your smartphone will become the sole control centre.

This is what you should pay attention to when choosing your app

Different functions of apps

The central functions of e-bike apps are the following:

Hardly any e-bike app covers all the areas mentioned. Many combine certain functions and are, for example, a navigation app and fitness app for athletes in one, while some focus on just one aspect. It is therefore all the more important that you consider which functions you need. Is Google Maps enough for you as a bike navigator, do you want an app for route planning or do you want to share fitness data with others? These and similar questions will help you find the best apps for your needs.

Pay attention to interfaces

Since no cycling app can cover everything, integration options are an important criterion for selection. Komoot, for example, is ideal for route planning, while Garmin Connect is a great solution for fitness tracking and the like, especially but not only in combination with Garmin devices.

Therefore, you should pay attention to the extent to which you can export data from one application to another. But don’t overdo it. With 20 cycling apps, it’s easy to lose track.

E-bike sharing providers need a fleet management system like BikeTrax that allows them to monitor the locations of all bikes in real time and integrates easily with existing booking systems.

If you want to use several e-bikes apps with different functions, interfaces could make handling easier for you: For example, the route diary of the PowUnity app can be exported to other popular navigation apps like Strava or Komoot.

Navigation in the app – another important criterion

Imagine you are travelling at a speed of 25 km/h and want to switch from one screen to the next or answer a phone call within an app without “upsetting” the navigation app and yourself.

It sounds exhausting. But it doesn’t have to be if the navigation in the app is simple and clear. Then the chances are quite high that you’ll press the right button at full speed and stay relaxed.

But pressing is not always necessary. Because depending on the software and hardware, there are different ways of operating the application while cycling:

  • via a touch screen
  • via voice control
  • via an external “thumb controller”, such as Bosch offers.

Costs of e-bike apps

If you’re wondering how much best bike apps cost, we have some good news: they’re generally not that expensive. But of course, even small sums add up, especially if you have several apps in use.

Basically, the following models can be distinguished:

  • Free version: Some apps are completely free and most of them offer at least a free tariff. Whether there is a need to pay for premium features depends on the application.
  • Subscription models: As soon as the free rate is not (or no longer) sufficient, you usually pay a monthly or annual fee of a few euros.
  • KPurchase: Sometimes you also have the option to pay once for a lifetime use of the premium version of an app or to make purchases for certain in-app upgrades.

Comparison of e-bike apps

Now it is time for concrete examples: In the following section, we will introduce you to some current apps for e-bikes and discuss their advantages and disadvantages.

Apps from motor manufacturers

Bosch eBike Connect App

The name Bosch stands for high-quality e-bike motors, batteries and computers. The eBike Connect app also goes in this direction.

Once you have connected your smartphone to the Kiox or Nyon on-board computer, you can use it as a bike navigation app, for route planning and fitness tracking. It even comes with theft protection. You can set the application to deactivate the motor support when you disconnect the bike computer. However, this does not prevent thieves from loading your e-bike into a van. Therefore, it cannot be compared to a GPS tracker that can provide live tracking of your bike.

Would you like to know how the Bosch eBike Connect app works? We go into detail in the article “Bosch eBike Connect – the app at a glance“.

Shimano E-Tube Project

Shimano is also a well-known name in the field of e-bike components. Unfortunately, things look different when it comes to software. The app E-Tube Project shows why this is so. It is as complicated as its name. The idea of individually adjusting settings for trail rides and setting up an automatic gearshift is great – if the implementation would work in practice.

Read in this article more details about SHIMANO E-Tube and the corresponding apps. We tell you what makes them different, what they can do and what the app reviews are saying.

Brose

The German motor manufacturer Brose is still in the discovery phase when it comes to app development. However, the first version under the name Brose App is available for Android and iOS. It combines several functions, from operating your e-bike to fitness tracking and route recording. The initial reactions have been positive, while the users have also pointed out that the Brose app still has room for improvement.

In this article, you find out in detail what the Brose app can (and cannot) do.

Mahle

Mahle is primarily known to ambitious e-bike riders and mountain bikers. The company focuses on the development of compact motor units for motorised racing bikes or even the e-mountain bike specialised turbo levo sl bike.

The MySmart Bike App from Mahle does not quite live up to its name yet. Similar to the Brose app, it is primarily used to set individual parameters, record routes and collect performance data from a bike tour. You can manage recordings with the help of a desktop version, a good alternative to the smartphone screen. Currently, however, the app still suffers from “teething problems”. Until these are resolved, it is not recommended.

Bafang Go

The Bafang Go is aimed specifically at owners of an e-bike with a Bafang drive and is supposed to provide fitness data as well as information on speed, riding time and traffic data. However, similarly to many other apps that we mention in this section, Bafang Go often disappoints in practice with constant crashes and connection problems.

Apps from e-bike manufacturers

Giant Ridecontrol App

The RideControl App from Giant is aimed at owners of Giant e-bikes. Users can use it to customise motor settings, collect fitness data and navigate. In addition, recordings are possible and there is a diagnostic function.

At least that’s how it all works in theory. In practice, the app works rather poorly, if reviews are to be believed.

Specialized Mission Control App

Specialized also has its own app on offer. The Mission Control App focuses on settings, route tracking and diagnostic functions. You have to do without fitness functions, as well as theft protection or route planning and navigation. The Mission Control app has also disappointed many users in practice with its limited functionality.

VanMoof App

The Dutch bike manufacturer VanMoof offers buyers of its e-bikes an app to configure their bike and track routes. In addition, your VanMoof e-bike can be unlocked via the app and with the help of the bike’s integrated anti-theft device. With this mechanism, you can even lend your bike to friends and still keep control of it.

You can read in this article about all features the VanMoof app has and how it performs in practice. 

In addition, VanMoof promotes tracking of bikes with Apple’s Find-my-network. However, it cannot be compared with GPS tracking as it does not provide much help in case a bike is stolen.

Haibike eConnect

Haibike eConnect goes a step further than the solutions presented so far. It starts with the fact that it is not “just” an app that connects to the motor of your e-bike, for example.

Instead, there is the so-called “eConnect Hub,” a transmitter unit with its own battery, in which a GPS device is integrated alongside many sensors. Owners receive a message on their smartphone in the event of vibrations or if the e-bike moves away and can track the location of the bike. In addition, the system can automatically send emergency text messages in the event of an accident and saves all routes. Sounds great, but the app’s ratings are mixed.

E-bike apps from independent developers

moofer and BLevo

The app Moofer by “ADEMAGroup” as well as BLEvo are good examples of apps by independent developers that compete with manufacturer apps – in the first case with the VanMoof app and in the second case with the Mission Control app. Although they offer similar services as the manufacturer variants, such as individual setting options and navigation, the ratings indicate that they work better and, above all, more reliably in practice.

PowUnity App

BikeTrax - best theft protection for e-bikes

The PowUnity App focuses on theft protection and route recording. In combination with the GPS tracker BikeTrax, it enables reliable real-time tracking throughout Europe. It offers you the most secure e-bike theft protection currently available on the market.

In concrete terms this means:

The PowUnity app immediately notifies you if your bike is moved without permission. You can also view the live location of your e-bike at any time, make use of live tracking of a stolen bike or even send theft data directly to the police via the app. All important information about your bike can be recorded in a bike passport. And for even more security, you can take out insurance directly via the app.

The PowUnity app can be used across different motor systems and even for e-bike fleets. Therefore, it helps you to stay flexible.

BikeTrax GPS-Tracker Diebstahlschutz für E-Bikes

Do you want to know more about how the PowUnity app and the BikeTrax GPS tracker set new standards in theft protection?

Learn more

In practice, many apps do not deliver what they promise

At first glance, the range of functions of relevant cycling apps might seem promising. But the poor reviews in app stores often prove a big gap between theory and practice.

This is not surprising. After all, there are not only countless different smartphones with different operating systems and drivers on the market. Bluetooth is not just Bluetooth either.

For an e-bike application to deliver what it promises, it must be able to connect to all of these systems. Otherwise, poor connections and lousy user experiences will come about.

Outlook – The digital user experience is becoming more important

To conclude, a provocative statement: Anyone who buys an e-bike today often pays primarily for the brand name and less for the performance.

There is a simple reason for this: the components built into e-bikes, such as the frame, gears, motor and wheels, all come from a limited group of manufacturers. “E-bike manufacturers” often just put them together and market the result.

Therefore, two tips:

  • When buying a new e-bike, pay more attention to the components used and less to the brand.
  • Pay attention to the choice of apps. Because the bikes themselves are becoming more and more similar, digital components make a decisive difference.

So which app is the right one? That depends on a number of factors, from your e-bike to your individual preferences. Depending on your preferences, you might need a good navigation app or a good fitness app. While efficient anti-theft protection using GPS tracking is a must-have for e-bike owners.

We generally recommend considering apps from independent developers. With these you not only enjoy more flexibility. Independent companies are also often better software developers compared to e-bike or component manufacturers. Also, make sure to focus more on user experiences and real tests than on the website descriptions of the providers. Because not everything that sounds good on a company’s homepage works that way in practice.

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