What Is Komoot & How Do We Use It?

What Is Komoot?

A route planning and navigation app. Now, I use it all the time. Originally, that came about because it’s free, and then, also, because it plays really nicely with the Wahoo head units that we use. And now, two years after I first heard about it, Komoot actually also sponsored GCN, which is super cool. Anyway, I’m gonna talk you through how you use it. There are three layers of functionality to Komoot. Firstly, planning. Secondly, during ride recording and navigation. Either using the smartphone app or synced up to your head unit.

And thirdly, post-ride. So, uploading photos, sharing, that kind of thing. Now, I’m not on a bike, as you can see. I also haven’t been for a ride yet today, so we’re gonna start with the planning phase. You can use the smartphone app for that, both pre-ride and indeed, during the ride as well, if you wanna change course, but for in-depth stuff, I’d use the desktop version. There are a bit more space and a bit of added functionality, as well. The first step will be, of course, to set up an account.

although you Komoot

As I said, it is free, although you  Komootcan make purchases in-app of maps, easy for you to say, that you can download and use offline. So, if you don’t have any phone signal, you’ve got the data already on your phone. The first screen that you see, is a log of your rides or other people’s rides that you’ve chosen to follow. But we will go swiftly on to the route planning page. Now, you start by entering a start point and a finish point, either by clicking on the map or entering an address. And then you can choose to either have a one-way route or a round trip.

Now, if you know where you’re going, that’s fine, but if you don’t, and you’re looking for some inspiration, you’ll notice there are loads of little red bike icons dotted around the map. Now, these are actually highlighted other people have left to help you with your route planning. It could be anything from a beautiful view, to a fantastic little cafe. And if you click on them, you can very simply and quickly add it to your route.

I’m planning is one Komoot

Now, the route that I’m planning is one Komoot I’m hoping to do this summer with some mates. It’s starting from here on the south coast of the UK and going back home. Now, I will enter the start point, Weymouth, finish point, Bristol! And then, I can click to add in a few highlights along the way. Cider, I’ll take that one, and then maybe a great road I already know about.

To do that, I can just simply click on the map and add it as a Waypoint. We get several different routes generated by Komoot’s algorithms, and that depends on what type of ride you choose. So, it could be a super fast road ride, it could be a scenic back road touring route, it could be gravel, it could be mountain biking, it could even, actually not riding at all, but hiking, or running. Although, I’m not entirely sure why you’d wanna do that.

A particular one, Komoot

Anyway, for this particular one, I’m gonna go for a trendy gravel ride by clicking on this icon. As you can see here. So, this is our gravel optimized route, based on what Komoot thinks is the best choice of routes for me to ride from here, to beer. I mean, Bristol. We got all the stats for that route. The ride length, the amount of climbing, the amount of descending, even an estimation of how long it’ll take, just as long as you don’t have to stop all that much to take photos, like James, or perhaps lie down.

And one particularly cool feature is the surfaces and Waytypes summaries function. So, because Komoot uses open cycle maps or open street maps, then it’s got a detailed community contributed information about just about every meter of the route. Whether that’s a road or trail, it will know exactly what type of surface you can expect. And so, in this instance, if we change it from a gravel ride to a mountain bike ride, we can suddenly see that the amount of off-road has jumped, we’re on Singletrack for 27.3 kilometers, and in total, about 35% of this route is now unpaved.

You can also, then, see, Komoot

You can also, then, see, on the interactive elevation profile at the bottom, exactly what surface you can expect to see on either a climb or a descent. For the control freaks among us, you can, of course, get a bit more control over the route, by adding in more Waypoints to force it in the direction that you want to go. And to get more information to help your decision making, you can toggle through different types of maps.

So, from the Komoot map, to open street maps, open cycle maps, where you get information on cycling infrastructure and mountain bike trails as well. Now, the usual caveats do apply with deviating from Komoot’s actual specified route. Their algorithms are based on data, so what it knows about the road surface type, and the elevation, things like that. So, if you do choose to go away from it, then, well, that’s up to you.

You can, of course, Komoot

You can, of course, choose to ignore Komoot’s algorithms altogether, and, in fact, ignore all trails and roads at that with the off-grid planning function. Probably more useful for hikers and runners, I would have thought, than cyclists. But that said, I did use it, actually out in Morocco last year when we were able to see from the Google satellite overlay, that there was, indeed, some kind of path over the Atlas Mountains, it just hadn’t been mapped yet.

Also worth mentioning, as a final point on the planning phase, you can, of course, upload a GPX, a TCX, or a FIT file very easily. And you can either save it as a completed activity or import it into the route planner where you can then tweak it and modify it as you fancy. Now you’re out, there are a few ways in which Komoot can help you navigate on the fly, either by linking up to your head unit or by using the app directly on your smartphone. Now, we touched earlier on buying maps and then downloading them to your phone, this is perfect if you’re going abroad, and you don’t want to pay for additional data.

It’s perfect if you want to Komoot

It’s perfect if you want to Komoot save battery because you can actually navigate whilst your phone is in airplane mode. Or, of course, it’s essential if you’re gonna be going off the beaten track, beyond phone signal. You could make do with the free version, but then you have to rely on your own ability to actually get yourself out of trouble if you get lost.

Whereas, if you download the appropriate maps before you go, should you stray off course, it can then help to get you back on track. If you’re gonna use your phone only to start navigation, to start recording, you simply hit the giant Start Navigation button, and away you go. It will give you turn by turn instructions, both audio, so you can stick your phone in your pocket, and visual, so you can also strap your phone to your handlebars if you so wish. Now, I tend to use mine synced up to my head unit. So, Komoot has advanced integrations with most of the major GPS head units out there.

In the case of this Wahoo one, Komoot

In the case of this Wahoo one, I’ve actually synced my Komoot account in the Wahoo app, and then all my rides automatically download to the head unit when it’s connected to WiFi. If, when you’re out riding, you wanna change your route for any reason, if you got a mobile phone signal, doing so is super easy. You simply click wherever you wanna go, additionally, on the map, as if you were planning it in the first place and hey, presto, it will reroute it for you. (exhales sharply) Phew, what an epic.

Now, once you have completed your ride, it will automatically save as a private completed tour. Now, that’s whether you’ve been using your phone to record it on or, indeed, in this case, the Wahoo, that’s automatically synced up to it. Then, you can click into that activity and you can give it a title, you can also upload photos, share it with your mates, tag in whoever joined you along for the ride. Now, it’s super easy to upload photos. If you geotagged them at the point that you took them, they will automatically upload them to exactly the right place on the map. If you didn’t, then you can just drop a pin, and upload it from there.

You can also, of course, Komoot

You can also, of course, upload your own highlights, which we touched on earlier on. So, that could be a place, or it could even be a segment of trail or road. You click on the point on the map, and then you upload your own photo, give it a title, give it a description. If someone’s got there first, then you can either upvote or downvote their highlight and add in your own tip or description and your own photographs as well. So, there we go! Hopefully, you have found this little snapshot about how to use Komoot rather useful.

I definitely encourage you to give it a go. If nothing else, you could head over to the GCN profile that we’ve got on there, because we’ve actually got loads and loads of routes that we’ve been doing over the past few weeks and months. Including things like North Coast 500, and our English Epic Ride.

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