We've rounded up a selection of the best iPhone and Android apps for mountain biking and general off-road riding fun. Most people now own a smartphone and it's an incredibly powerful tool that can help you out in myriad ways when riding, as long as you have the right apps.
This is a list of some of our favourites, in no particular order – it's not exhaustive by any means, so if you're got any apps you find invaluable, then let us know in the comments.
Price: Free, with in-app purchases
Format: iPhone, Android and Amazon
While Google Maps is a pretty good app for pottering about, Viewranger is our favourite 'proper' mapping app by some way. It's packed with some really powerful features that make it easy to plan, explore and navigate riding routes. The free Open Cycle Map is surprisingly useful, with loads of bike-specific routes and features marked out. The really good bit is that you can download super high detail topographic maps for pretty much all bits of the world for a fee. In the UK, that means you can fill your boots with high-quality Ordnance Survey mapping. As the maps download to your phone, they still work even without a data or phone signal. A recent update has added the 'Skyline' augmented reality feature that overlay peaks and points on interest as you pan with the camera. For find points of reference, it's super fast and easy.
It's possible to to record, follow and create routes in the app or on a computer, as well as being able to add points of interest. A neat feature is the 'Buddy Beacon' that allows you to share your location with selected friends, so they know that you're safe – or know where to find you if something unfortunate befalls you.
Price: Free, with in-app purchases
From: Dirt School
When it comes to learning some new skills on the bike, a bit of coaching is a very effective way to get faster and have more fun. The only issue is that it's pretty pricey. The Dirt School app gets you proper coaching advice without having to cough up for anything or go anywhere. It covers a number of basic bike skills and gives you a video example of how to do it correctly and also another example of how not to do it for you to compare and contrast techniques, along with written tips and tricks. The basic skills are included for free, but you can purchase extra 'bundles' of skills for around £1.99.
If you want a bit more specific input, it's possible to upload a video of you riding a section or trying a skill so the Dirt School coaches can give you some personalised advice. Their input on one video costs £35 or you can get their feedback on a trio of uploads for £90 if you want to fix multiple issues or just want repeated feedback on the same skill or section.
Dark Sky Weather
Format: iPhone, Android
From: Dark Sky
The weather can make a huge difference between a fun spin or a slog-tastic death march, so know what the conditions are likely to be and planning accordingly is a must. The Dark Sky app does all the usual multi-day weather forecasting stuff you'd expect, with proper weather radar so you can see anything that might be on the way, plus temperature maps and so on. The really neat trick is the fact you can get it to send you custom alerts. That means it'll give you warning if it's about to rain where you are or if the temperature is due to fall below freezing in the morning. Armed with that sort of information, it's much harder to get caught out with the wrong clothing, plus if you're about to get stuck in a torrential downpour you can scurry to shelter before getting soaked.
Price: Free, though Premium costs £44.99 for a year
Format: iPhone, Android
When it comes to apps for cycling, there are few that draw such strong opinions as Strava. Loved by many for the way it records rides and training, it's hated by an equal number who hold it to blame for corner cutting trail destruction and all manner of riding rudeness as users attempt to become King or Queen of the Mountain. We're not going to get sucked into those arguments here, but we do think it's worth giving a go even if you don't care about being fastest up, down or along anything.
A really cool feature of Strava is the fact that you can use it to find new trails near you by using 'Segment Explore'. That'll show you any riding segments in a specific area and it's great for showing you whether that bit of woodland you're wondered about is bereft of any trails or is in fact a secret warren of singletrack delights.
If you cough up for the Premium subscription, that unlocks a whole host of other neat things, with loads more analysis of your training possible. It also gives you the 'Buddy Beacon', which allows you to let up to three people track you in real time as you're riding, so they know whether you're okay or not. Premium also allows you to see how you're doing on a segment in real time, though we'd suggest you keep that for the climbs rather than the technical descents...
First Aid by British Red Cross
Format: iPhone, Android and Windows
From: British Red Cross
Riding bikes off-road is an intrinsically risky activity and sometimes it does go quite badly wrong. Even if you've been wise enough to attend a First Aid course, it can be very reassuring to have this app to hand, as it will guide you through what to do in a number of situations, with everything from bleeding to broken bones taken care of. As well as written instructions, there are videos and animations to help guide you and you can test yourself on your knowledge as well. The app also has built in checklists that are meant to help you prepare from everything from a heatwave to a terrorist attack. It's an app you hopefully won't have to use much, but is invaluable when you do need it.