What’s Your Best Effort? See how it Compares

Imagine you and your friends just wrapped up a spirited run in the park. Friendly banter ensues. A common question might be: Who was the fastest down that long stretch on Ocean Avenue?

We already make it easy to answer that question via segment leaderboards and filters, but absolute times don’t tell the full story. Enter the Effort Comparison on Strava: an improved way to compare athletes on a segment – one that can help highlight that finishing kick that won the race, or the brick wall that lost it.

Try it yourself! Click here to see how Strava Pro Laurens Ten Dam set the KOM on Rock Store in the 2014 Tour of California.

Now it’s easy to compare a recent effort to your personal best, or your personal best effort to the Course Record-holder or King/Queen of the Mountain. A map displays the athletes climbing on the segment. A roster details second-by-second stats (speed, heart rate and power) for each athlete, while a chart graphs the time gaps and oscillations between them. A click of the Play button and you can sit back and watch the action unfold.

Tim vs. the competition!

Time gap analysis for athletes “competing” on Maroon Bells.

The tool is even more powerful for Strava Premium members, who can customize and compare up to 5 athletes on any given segment. Interested in comparing your personal best effort on Box Hill to the efforts of your closest friends? It’s quick and easy to add them to your view. Better yet, want to compare your five best efforts on Box Hill to see where you need that extra push to snag a new PR? You can do all of this and more with the Effort Comparison tool.

You can also compare the efforts of Pros or other athletes in key races and climbs. For example, we can look at Tim Johnson’s effort on The Maroon Bells and see where he gains and loses his lead. In Tim’s own words…

It’s kind of like getting an MRI of your ride. You know your knee hurts but an MRI shows you the reason. And that’s what this does. You know you hurt really badly during that segment but you don’t know why or how you got beat and you can dig in and figure it out. It will either confirm or motivate you to change things next time around.

Athletes tackle Maroon Bells

Who finished first? And how far behind was the competition?

It’s easy to see what happens between the start of a segment and the finish, whether you’re comparing Tim Johnson against his closest rivals or yourself against a handful of club mates on Heartbreak Hill. We asked Sage Canaday how he found it useful for reviewing his winning activity and here is what he had to say:

I think it’s an awesome feature! I just plugged in my Pikes Peak Ascent race and compared it to Andy Wacker who was ahead of me and then faded exponentially. I like how the curves show what happened, and the real-time display is awesome.

Sage's Effort Comparison

Sage overtakes Andy in the twelfth mile!

Effort Comparison can be accessed on the web from any segment page by clicking the Compare Efforts button, or any Activity page by clicking the Compare button within the segment detail view. Once you’ve got it all set, you can share the comparison you built with friends. Give it a try!

More on Strava

  • bashir_de

    This is a awesome feature. Is there the possibility to compare to different rides (activities) – with this feature it would be possible to see where on the road I lost the most compared to my best effort on my (afternoon) route. Thanks.

  • Roger_C

    Does this include the Virtual Partner download for Garmin, which was provided with this feature on raceshape? I found it to be a very valuable tool and wouldn’t want to consider upgrading to Premium without it.

    • OlegS76

      well, strava provides plenty of amazing features for free accounts, and then even more if you sign up for premium.
      I think a lot of us do support the company for doing great innovative and user-friendly development work even regardless of premium features it offers. It’s nice that you want to suggest some fairly obscure feature (like virtual partner download from raceshape compare by Paul Mach) but come on – are you really that much of a cheapskate to refuse to support strava (and use their free account, for sure) because of this? I don’t know why, it’s a free country, but this just rubs me the wrong way.

      Are you really going to delete your free strava account if they don’t have immediate plans for “virtual partner” support? The assumption that everything must be free by default, and we all becoming so used to being freeloaders and have a constitutional right to demand for something really really ultra-special and unique that only one or two users want or need and it must absolutely happen right now right now right now for users to start paying for services is really troublesome.

      • Pone7777

        He didnt say he’s delete his account, he said it would make him think twice about upgrading to premium. Also calling VirtualParner niche is selling it short, I think. If strava offered this feature, millions of garmin users would make use of it. And I would happily pay for it IF (and its a BIG IF) raceshape hadn’t already offered the service for free.

        • Guest

          race shape is part of strava now
          This website will close its doors on October 1st, 2014.

          • Pone7777

            Precisely .

        • QPM

          I’m with you on this one. The possibility to have segments downloaded in Garmin and constantly visible on my map when biking trail is awesome. And it would downright suck if Strava purchased Raceshape only to cripple it and then charge people money for a lesser product. Also, if Strava considered moving over to a micro payments, I’m pretty sure they would get more paying users and eventually get better revenue. Most of my friends would use the preium one if it was cheaper. It’s a huge difference of paying $1-2 bucks per month compared to $6 bucks for extra functionality that’s not THAT thrilling.

      • Roger_C

        As Pone7777 rightfully said, I said absolutely nothing to suggest deletion of my existing strava account – you chose to make that false assumption all on your own. I’ve tried the premium subscription before, some time back, and unfortunately didn’t find the extras of benefit to me personally. That’s not to say they aren’t useful additions to many many others. I was merely indicating that the Virtual Partner option would be something I’d consider going Premium again for, and I’m sure I’m not on my own with that opinion.

        As for the cheapskate/freeloader comments I’d like to point out that I would happily pay for the Strava service even if they decided to charge for their basic account as well, as I do enjoy it. I’d therefore suggest in future you read other posts thoroughly before jumping in with a misguided rant.

        • Henrdry251

          some alternatives:

          Virtual partner was very useful, but it can be done manually too – if studying the Effort Comparison, and working out the speed (kmph) required to steal KOM its possible to do it without the automation.

          Star the segment to your favourites – and use Strava App to signal approach and live real-time KOM timings.

          • Roger_C

            Thanks for the tip Henrdry251 – much appreciated. I’ll have a look at that.

        • gero

          I really hope too that there will still be the chance to upload segments to my Garmin… such a great future!

    • Kurt_Kortner

      If youre an active cyclist Strava Premium is absolutely worth it IMO.

  • lukwe

    great stuff, I’d love to also have a graphical view of the leaderboard, i.e. a ‘number of riders in time intervals histogram’ much more revealing that the simple rank/position table

  • ave

    Cool. But of course it was a free tool on raceshape, and now it is premium on Strava. Not happy about this.

    • OlegS76

      should everything that is software based be free forever? Would you work for free, forever, if your customers demand it? What about time and efforts spent by software engineers who trouble shoot this feature and many others? Do they deserve to be compensated? The feature is still free for comparison of two riders for cheapskates who think they are entitled to extra features for free. If you want more you have to sign up for strava paid plan. I really wish they would make it premium-only feature. Why not?

      • Pone7777

        I think the argument is less about strava’s implementation of Effort Comparison and more about strava shutting raceshape, which offered more comprehensive features.

        I think the features strava offers for premium members are fairly priced, but to shut down raceshape and NOT implement some of the features it offered, (even for premium members) leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

        You can call people cheapskates all you like, and you can give strava as much money as you like, but in its current form, that money WONT buy you the ability to compare >5 riders simultaneously or download to garmin virtual partner.

        • OlegS76

          I suspect the technical issue is about scalability for what has become a huge user base. You don’t just want to offer an unlimited rider comparison tool if it will be crashing 90% of the time.

          I used Paul Mach’s raceshape comparison tool quite a bit in the past, and it was an obscure feature used by very few of us who knew about raceshape – and even then the script would get stuck trying to compute the comparison for just a few riders. To implement it site-wide on strava where you have hundreds of thousands if not more users is, as I would imagine, quite challenging, computation intensive and requires substantial effort in both software and hardware (additional servers etc.). I am not affiliated with strava, but I suspect that’s why they suspended the original comparison tool, and Paul Mach stopped raceshape, and started working full time for strava to implement it there.

          Nonetheless, it is amusing how many of you think just about any feature should be offered to you for free, and that just because something existed as a side beta project hosted on a tiny server able to serve just a few users at a time, strava is now obligated to scale it up to hundreds of thousands of users and make it free in perpetuity while adding more and more features.

          I think strava would have been totally justified in moving this feature and many other features, like flyby, into premium-only category ENTIRELY. If you are the type of, let’s face it, strava “power-user” who uses it regularly, you should be able to cough up $5 a month or so to pay for the service.

          Complaining about something you get for free is ridiculous. Refusing to contribute financially to the company in any way while adamantly demanding specific features (do you REALLY need >5 riders comparison at once?) and making statements along the line:For me to even consider to pay $5 for your services you first need to do A, B and C, is also quite ridiculous “bargaining” position.

          • Pone7777

            Whats upset people is that a service (raceshape) which was free and, prior to 2012, independent of Strava is being closed down so Strava can monetize it. Its like free drinks refills in a restaurant. If one day they begin charging you for those refills, it looks very mean spirited, even if the business model of “charging for drinks” is perfectly (financially and ethically) sound.

            Irrespective of your free/premium Strava status, the features will (in their current implementation) be LESS that what they previously were. I’ll concede that comparing more than 5 riders was a rare thing for me to make use of, but the VirtualPartner download was VERY useful. For this alone, I’ll be sad. I doubt this feature makes significantly more API calls than displaying the speed/distance graph, and the code from raceshape worked very well. Every Garmin user I’ve told about this feature was thrilled, and I hope they (re?)implement it.

            I also don’t think it too unreasonable for a person to say “I won’t pay you unless you do A, B and C”, this is how commerce works. If all that strava offered with premium membership was a star next to your name, then people would rightly say, “I want more features before I pay”. Now, Strava don’t HAVE to implement these features, of course, but as the feature ALREADY EXISTED, then its difficult to see why it couldn’t be implemented. Obviously these additional features would encourage more people to pay, and that would help cover costs of any additional server usage/bandwidth.

            I don’t want to make this a heated argument, rather a discussion. Using language like “freeloaders” I feel is inflammatory and serves only to anger and alienate.

            The crux of the matter is that it’s very difficult to remove a free service and start charging for it without some ill-feeling.

          • GreenCentury

            This discussion is missing 2 key points in that RaceShape could not ever have existed without Strava, and that developing and hosting RaceShape was not “free.” Like many add-ons in open market software someone created a cool tool that he let others use, but once it becomes popular enough (meaning demanded to be available by more people than could be handled on the cheap) there is no choice but to either charge users or dry up and blow away. Think big picture here. When one person is taking a free ride on the back of another person’s labor it is only a matter of time until the laborer will want a little compensation. You can apply this concept to virtually any situation in life on earth. It is un-reasonable to believe the free ride should last forever.

          • Henrdry251

            that’s true, and since Paul has been working with Strava in the last year, Raceshape’s functionality has struggled – as a premium member i can see pretty much all the main race shape functionality, i don’t mind a limit of 5 rides comparison in the graph – – anymore than this on raceshape and it would crash anyway!

          • ave

            Well, I’ve plans to recreate the Raceshape tool, and it will be free. So: “would you work for free”. Yes.

  • ifbikes

    Why did this feature disappear for 2 years…?

  • Peter Broesen

    Great, that’s finally back again.

  • emersonfn


  • Malaprop

    Can’t work out what the speed references are. Clearly the fastest is not the average speed.

    • James D

      I think there’s a bug, the speeds are appearing the wrong way round for me.

  • jcb

    Awesome, thanks!

  • Mark Rando

    It’s back! I love it! Thank you!!

  • jflam42

    Can you add a feature to overlay HR data for the rides being compared as well? That would be really helpful in understanding how hard the effort was. Power is probably less interesting for climbs because you can generally infer that based on the time gap.

  • Mark

    What a great development. I’m all for a bit of “something for nothing” but Strava gives me more than £4 of entertainment so its an absolute bargain. Come on cheapskates, make sure you go premium to secure future developments.

  • ghporras

    Wowwww.. Very cool!!!!!

  • Shelleyraynes

    I like this and it help me do my exerise and love exercising

  • jb

    This is nice, but… it still lacks what I want to call “race replay”. Most road races are rarely in Strava as a single segment–and crits or circuit races are multiple laps of what is usually a Strava segment. I just went to a recent road race which had the finishing climb and sprint as a single segment. The first problem you discover is that the race had a break and a chase in addition to the peloton. I was in the chase group but the compare feature has each of us starting the “segment” together. Why tie this to a segment and not allow any activity with multiple Strava athletes to provide a compare feature of our collective activity?
    On another note, the elevation profile isn’t sync’ed with the map displayed above for the race I tested.

  • Dustin D.

    Does this take into consideration solo vs group ride?

  • Greg Winters

    I’be been a premium member for several years now but still bridle at Strava’s action regarding raceshape. One week they do good things by connecting with GArmin and the next they pull the shut down of a very ahndy tool.

    Strava is getting harder to use and they need to incorporate the training features of raceshape they hanve killed. I am still tryong to find a way to run comparison segments on myslef.

    Does OlegS76 work for Strava or is he just a Republican?

  • jagilby

    I’m a premium member and gutted that, now Raceshape is shut down, the virtualpartner functionality doesn’t exist.

    Hugely disappointed.

  • Is there now a place on Strava that you can just *look* at the heat maps? I understand that to have your own recorded, you have to upgrade to Premium. But one of the things I really liked about RaceShape was that you could look at the accumulation of everybody’s heat maps in any area to find a good route. If all you want to do is look at the heat map to find or plan routes, it seems pretty crappy if you have to upgrade to premium to do only that.

  • Chris Mac C

    Am all time flaggend… End Strava help my NOT people one make this all my rides flaggend end den have I M block…. Strava… Help not not…

  • nathan ong

    is strava snap disabled for good? as of this morning 5/21 i couldn’t get a functioning page

  • Martin Hart

    Is the Virtual Partner downloader ever going to be part of Strava – I want to be able to race against my previous best on a particular segment but can’t seem to do this. I can create a course out of the whole ride where I set a PB for the segment but I want to be able to have that segment as a course so when I get to the segment I can select the course and race against my previous best effort. Is the possible to do any other way?

  • Cervelo Paul

    where did VPU go? Looks like Strava closed it. Is there another way to put a segment on Garmin 800 as a Course to use with Virtual Partner?