Strava just made some popular features paid-only - and that's a good thing

Strava, the fitness app made specifically for cyclists and runners, has rolled out a big change to its business. While anyone can still download and use the app without paying on iOS and Android, certain popular features are now locked behind a paywall. Users who want access to the segment leaderboards and analysis will need to sign up for the new subscription, which is a way of ensuring the app can stick around in the future.

The Strava app works for both cyclists and runners; it runs on the user's phone and is compatible with Wear OS smartwatches and the Apple Watch. With the app, users can track their run or cycling sessions using the GPS from their handset, join challenges made by others, follow friends who also use the platform, share photos with other people, and more.

The app boasts more than 55 million users, many of whom use the free version of the app. While that won't be going anywhere, the company has said that its more expensive and complex features are being moved out of the free tier and made exclusively available to subscribers. All users will still be able to see where they placed on the segment leaderboard, but only those who pay will be able to see an analysis of the placement.

As expected given the nature of this change, third-party apps with Strava integration will no longer be able to show leaderboards to free users.

Alongside this business model change is a simplification of the subscription process — Strava has ditched its Summit model and is now offering a single subscription option at $5/month. Though the addition of a paywall is never exciting for customers, the low rate makes it feasible for most people and there's an upside to it all — the company can potentially sustain itself and make a profit without having to resort to selling user data.

Assuming you pay for the subscription, you'll notice that the former Summit tab is now the Training tab, which offers an improved look at your overall weekly activities and efforts. Users can filter the info based on things like distance and elevation, plus paid customers now also have access to Route editing features and more robust desktop tools.

Strava is giving its existing members access to all of these features for 60 days, after which point they'll need to start paying to retain access to them.