In the past three years I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the saddle and cycled for thousands of kilometers, bikepacking style. I use Komoot to plan my tours and to navigate during rides. Especially when I explore forests, single trails or gravel roads in the middle of nowhere (which I love to do).
After using Komoot for lots and lots of hours, both the web app and the iOS app, I’ve noticed some things I’d wish the team at Komoot would improve.
What I love about Komoot
- It makes planning biking tours easy.
- It allows me to configure different types of surfaces by switching between touring, gravel and mountain biking.
- I can see how different places look like with the help of the highlights shared by the community.
- I can download a route for offline use.
- I can include food, camping grounds or small guesthouses along the route. That is particularly useful when I cycle for many days.
- See existing cycling routes in an area.
Things I would improve
I’ve prioritised them based on how much they impact my experience in planning and riding.
- App speed and reliability
- UI interactions
- Contextual information
- Visual details
- Navigation reliability
- Flexibility of regions to download
App speed and reliability
- App feels super slow on an iPhone 10 with the latest iOS version. I’ve done so much cursing and swearing like a pirate during some rides. It’s one of my biggest complaints.
- First I thought that the API calls take a while to get and process, but even in offline mode, the iOS app still feels super slow. In particular loading the profile tab and showing the planned rides, including the downloaded ones.
- After riding for some hours with navigation, the app crashes. It may be iOS related, but compared to Strava and Google Maps, it feels Komoot crashes more often.
- Maybe I’m using it wrong, but sometimes some portions of the tour are not saved during a ride. In particular when I’m adjusting the route along the way or when switching between tours after I’ve gone half way through. This forces me to use Strava for recording the tour, but that drains my battery so I’d rather not.
- Say I’ve almost done a planned tour, but when I reach a city, I want to get a route to the train station. When I hit the “use current location”, it doesn’t take my location.
- After the iOS app speed, the next thing I’d improve are some of the interactions.
- Some of the interactions I’d improve are: finishing a tour, searching for a location, viewing details about a place, making it more clear what can be tapped, taking a photo.
- Finishing the tour takes too many steps too many steps to finish.
- Why do I need to choose the sport after I’ve planned a tour? It’s true that I mix terrains a lot, changing the route, but I’d expect the app to use the sport from the planned tour. I can change it later if anything. I’m enjoying the Strava interaction much more for this. I can save the tour in 2 taps. I can assume there are deliberate decisions about capturing the right sport, getting photos and highlights, but most of the time when I complete a tour I’m in a hurry, trying to catch a train, metro, entering a restaurant or entering home and need to place the bike, get my gear off and so on. I will spend time afterwards to add photos.
- When I tap search on the iOS app, I need to tap the search field two times, which is not very practical when I’m trying to reroute a planned route. I know that the search view also includes the option to select ATMs, highlights, hotels etc, and that’s where the problem might be. I search more often than I select a hotel. These two can be separated, having dedicated views.
- Animations could also be improved around search. The views come from different directions, creating a sense of confusion rather than helping.
- Make the details preview of a (random) place easier to dismiss/hide. In the winter, I use thick gloves and sometimes I tap random places by mistake, which then shows me details about that place. That takes up the screen and is hard to close because the close “x” button is small and is also close to the direction arrow. When I ride gravel, cobble stones or with thick gloves, I struggle to close the details. A swipe left or swipe down would feel more practical then.
- I’d love to see the selected ATM/food/accommodation places when I download a planned tour, without having to include them on the route manually. Not all, only the types I’d select. I usually do 2 days tours and look for food, camping or guesthouses. And because I like to eat or sleep where the moment finds me, I don’t plan in advance where I’m going to eat or sleep. And one of the big reasons why I’d like those to be saved with the downloaded route is because I travel in many places where there’s no internet signal. Travelling in many places in Branderburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommen, Saxony Anhalt or Bayern, you’re lucky to have phone signal, let alone internet.
- When I search for a place, I’d love to see places near me in the search results. For example, sometimes I search for a train station nearby and as I type I see results of places from Vietnam or Thailand, even though I’m in some village in Germany. I’d expect it to see places near me. I find it that Google Maps does a great job at this, combining places near me with a places faraway on the planet.
- When I start a tour, or planning to start one, I’d like to see the approximate time at which I’d arrive the destination. This would help me to know whether I should skip a detour, cycle faster to catch a train or avoid darkness. I know I can see the number of hours, but that’s not the same as the actual time, because one requires me to look at the time now, calculate the arrival time which is not as practical when cycling.
- When I’m cycling and I select a place along the route, maybe a highlight, a place to eat, I’d like to see an approximate distance to it, to get an idea of how faraway it is.
- I’d like to see my ride data overview when I pause a ride. Now the only way I know is to resume navigation and then swipe between the details to see the time and distance elapsed, remaining time or the average speed.
- When riding and I select to see eating places nearby, sometimes I don’t see any place highlighted on the map. I have to zoom in for one to appear. And this is made hard the fact that no village or town name is visible at some zoom levels, so it’s hard to orient myself. I’m really liking how Google Maps treats the problem, where eating places are highlighted visually, I can see the names (so I can guess the type of food, which matters when cycling), I can select only the open ones, I can see an estimation of distance until that place and so on.
- Overall I feel the use of space can be optimized by playing with where the info is placed, how it is displayed. I know that just enough simplicity is hard to achieve. I’m gonna refer to Google Maps as a good example here for a balance of that.
- Visual hierarchy could also be improved by playing with text shades, spacing and font sizes in the iOS app when viewing details of a tour, in the different lists.
- When I select a place that has no photo, a photo placeholder still shows up and takes up space on the small phone screen. I’d prefer to show only details if no photos of the place exist, so it doesn’t take space from the route on the screen, especially when I have the navigation on.
- Names of villages/towns are placed under the route, which makes it hard to read sometimes. This is a problem when I try to search for a place along the route, but I can’t see its name. And with slavic names with specific characters, that’s even harder.
Navigation reliability for turns and distances
When I navigate with Komoot, I find it a bit tricky to fully rely on its indications for when to make a turn or when how long until the next turn.
I used voice for a while so I can watch the road with fewer distractions and to save phone battery, but I had the impression that many times the voice would tell me to turn right a bit too late, so I missed the intersection sometimes.
And then this feeling transferred to my impression of the screen indications. I noticed I look at the map most of the time and not as much at the sign telling me to take a left in 300m. I have the impression there’s a 10–20 m delay or difference between the screen and the reality. I don’t have the same feeling with Google Maps for example.
Flexibility of regions to download
I have to confess that I don’t understand the logic behind the way Komoot downloads (region) maps that much. But I’d love to be able to have more control over what part of a map I can download.
For example, if I want to ride the Rennsteig in the Thuringian forest from west to east, I’d love to be able to center the map on that region and hit download. At the moment I have to download multiple regions which are outside of my control.
Despite the observations above, I continue to use Komoot a lot because it feels practical for my cycling habits. And because I live in Berlin and they’re based in Potsdam near Berlin (with a distributed team) — that’s more a of sentimental thing :)
I’m curious about other people’s experiences with using Komoot, how they plan and ride.