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The best e-bike app: How to find it | 15 apps in comparison
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.
Tipp: Do you want to know more about the differences between many cycling apps? Then have a look at our article “The best bike apps 2021 and what makes them so special”.
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.
Info: Especially in cities, Google Maps can be a great navigation aid. However, Google Maps is not aimed at e-bike or bicycle riders. Therefore, it can hardly be described as a “cycling app”, even if it likes to appear in the corresponding “best cycling app lists”.
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.
You want to know in detail why the smartphone is the better e-bike display and how the smartphone-e-bike connection is established? Read the article “Use phone as bike computer – why your smartphone is the best e-bike display.“
Tip: If you use your smartphone while cycling, for example for navigation or to collect performance data, you will usually need a suitable holder for the handlebars. You want to know which mobile phone holders you can rely on and which we would rather advise against? Read the article “E-bike phone holder: e-bike, road and smartphone at a glance“.
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:
1. Bike Control
An important feature of many e-bike apps is the ability to manage your bike and customise the settings. For example, you can set support levels and switch the lights on or off. The application also informs you about your current speed thanks to speed sensors, battery status and other details. The extent of the customisation options depends on the provider.
2. Bike Maintenance
Regular maintenance of components prolongs the life of e-bikes and prevents accidents. That’s why apps remind you, for example on the basis of kilometres ridden, when a part should be professionally checked or replaced by repair shops. With a digital maintenance diary, you can keep track of everything. Find out how to monitor your e-bike maintenance, find dealers and get tips from DIY apps in this article.
3. Theft protection
E-bikes are very popular with thieves. A good bike lock is important, but it is not enough to stop professional thieves. That’s why GPS trackers in combination with a corresponding app have become the new standard for theft protection. But in order to really prevent theft and get stolen bikes back, they have to meet high standards. For example, they have to alert you as soon as someone moves your bike and provide seamless live location tracking.
Find out what else is important when buying GPS trackers and why many models on the market are not very useful in practice in our article “Best GPS tracker for bikes: test 2021 – how to find the best device for you”.
4. Personal safety
Especially if you like to go on longer tours alone, a safety feature that calls for help in an emergency – without human involvement – is a good idea.
The principle behind it is less complicated than you might think: As soon as a crash sensor reports a fall or collision and you no longer react, the application alerts predefined emergency contacts.
You can read how fall sensors work in combination with apps in the article “Bike crash detection: bike apps can also provide first aid“.
5. Bike Experience
Now we come to the most well-known features of cycling apps. Thanks to route planning and navigation features, cycling apps help you to plan routes and find the most efficient route from/to your current location thanks to more advanced routing options. In addition, they inform you about POIs (points of interest) such as petrol stations, restaurants or sights and provide you with live weather forecasts. Depending on the application, you can benefit from offline navigation or offline maps.
In order to get you from A to B with your e-bike, an e-bike app should have a special navigation feature for e-bikes. Unfortunately, leading navigation apps like Komoot are aimed at everyone: cyclists and e-bike riders. In these apps, you don’t get any information on how to reach your destination with enough e-bike battery or at which assistance level you have to ride to reach your destination without running out of battery power. What a smart navigation app should be able to do specifically for e-bikes you can read in the article “E-bike navigation app – this is how smart e-bike navigation works“.
6. Find charging stationsn
With an overview of charging stations, you can avoid running out of power on a long trip. This article tells you how, where and with which apps you can do this.
7. Fitness and health
If you see your e-bike not only as an everyday aid, but also as a piece of sports equipment, you will particularly benefit from the fitness functions. Such apps collect training data, including your speed or calories burned. Depending on the app, you can even adjust the motor support to your heart rate. If you record rides and document your successes, these apps can also motivate you to exercise.
This article explains which different fitness trackers you can use for your e-bike rides and what is important when using them.
Most things are more fun if done in a friendly community. That’s why many cycling apps allow you to share routes you’ve ridden, arrange group rides or compete with others – without meeting in person. In dedicated forums, e-bikers can also share their “tips and tricks”.
In this article we introduce you the most prominent community apps and explain you how to use them for more riding fun and community experiences.
In Europe, electric bike motors are allowed to support you up to a maximum speed of 25 km/h, in the USA it’s 32 km/h. However, some cycling apps offer you the option of switching to a USA mode or bypassing the speed limit in another way.
It may sound tempting, but we strongly advise against it. Because currently, e-bikers enjoy the advantage that their e-bikes are treated as bicycles. This means, for example, that they do not need a licence plate or their own insurance like an S-pedelec. In addition, you can ride a regular electric bike on cycle paths and forest trails. The more e-bike riders use tuning functions of apps, the more these advantages are at risk. This article explains for you the consequences and guidelines in detail.
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.
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.
Tip: Remember that apps consume power. With a power bank, you can avoid running out of “juice” when you’re out and about. Alternatively, you can use charging cables to charge your smartphone directly on your e-bike. You can find out exactly how to do this and which e-bikes require you to use other means in the article “E-bike phone charger: keeping your smartphone functional during a bike tour“.
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.
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 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.
In this article, we took a closer look at the Mahle app My SmartBike and examined its practicality.
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.
If you want to know more about the app: we took a closer look at the Bafang Go app and its functions in this article.
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.
If you want to get detailed knowledge about the functionalities of the Mission Control app then you find further information in this article.
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.
Do you want to know more about why Bluetooth tracking á la Apple helps you find lost keys, but is no good as anti-theft protection for e-bikes? You can find the answer in our article “Apple AirTag: Bike tracking solution to rely on?”.
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.
Want more details? Then read the article “Haibike eConnect – what is the app with theft protection good for?” to find out what the eConnect Hub is all about and what users have to say about the app.
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.
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.
Do you want to know more about how the PowUnity app and the BikeTrax GPS tracker set new standards in theft protection?
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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