A female runner opens the Strava mobile app on their iPhone 11.

Credit: Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
  • Strava has released Beacon to non-paying users.
  • Athletes can choose who they want to share their location with and when they want to share it.
  • Devices with particularly complex integration will still need to pay for the feature.

Solo rides just got a little bit safer. Strava, the popular fitness app among runners and cyclists, has made one of its top features free to non-paying users. Whether or not you are a subscriber, Strava’s Beacon lets you hit the trail with peace of mind.

Beacon is now free for all users

iPhone 11 Pro Bike Trail

Credit: Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Behind many distance-training athletes is someone wondering when they’ll be home for dinner. With Beacon, users can share real-time location updates with trusted contacts, making ETAs accessible and helping athletes stay safe. Before today, this feature was only available to paid subscribers. Now, any of the 90 million athletes using Strava can utilize Beacon at no cost on the mobile app.

As a safety measure, it seems like a no-brainer that Beacon would be universally available, and we’re happy to see Strava agrees. This news follows recent updates to Strava’s Edit Activity and Edit Map Visibility functions, all of which emphasize Strava’s commitment to athletes’ safety.

We haven’t been thrilled with how Strava managed its membership features in the past, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

How Strava Beacon location sharing works

Runner uses Strava's Beacon location sharing to manual text a safety contact.

Credit: Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Beacon allows athletes to let loved ones know they’re safe and sound while training. The idea is simple. Chosen safety contacts check-in on a cyclist or runner’s location and make sure nothing seems amiss. For example, if a workout is taking longer than expected, they can use Beacon to determine whether they need to reach out. Are you possibly hurt, or did you just make a pit stop at the drug store? Does your location show you stalled somewhere odd, or are you nearly home?

Beacon eliminates the guesswork. It generates a randomized URL that will work on any web browser and allow loved ones to keep tabs. Strava users choose up to three safety contacts who will be notified automatically each time they record, or they can choose to send out the URL manually via text message. Either way, the beauty is that recipients don’t need to log in to Strava or install the app. They can simply open the link and instantly access live location sharing. That means even your least tech-savvy friend will likely be able to manage.

Depending on cell service, your location will update every 15 seconds or so, letting your friends or family where you are and how your activity is progressing.

Read also: The best fitness trackers

Who still needs to pay?

There are still a few exceptions to the freebie. While Strava’s Beacon location sharing is now free to all users on the mobile app, it will remain a paid feature on devices such as the Apple Watch or Garmin bike computers. If you want to use Beacon but are committed to working out without your phone, you may still need to spring for that Strava subscription after all.