Tracking Bike Rides With Your Fitbit

I believe in wearable health devices they do so much to help keep me on the right path helping me to balance my activities so that I can stay healthy. I couldn’t have lost weight, mastered my insomnia or kept track of my food or exercise without them. They are meant to be a tool in helping us get an idea of how we’re doing not a medical device but if used correctly they are very useful.

Recently I bought a Charge 2 Fitbit band and I love it. It gives active (during exercise) and resting heart rate, sleep stages (REM, deep sleep, etc.) it tracks diet, has a Relax (deep breathing) mode, gives you a Cardio Fitness Score and more. It’s put together well and easy to wear while sleeping.

Fitbit has a good community of users behind their products. They have many groups one can join to exchange information and share your ups and downs with on your journey to good health. One such group I joined was Cycling and it was clear that some of these people needed my help.

The first few times I tried tracking my rides on the Fitbit it was a trial and error period for sure. My Fitbit uses my phone’s GPS to track rides, meaning I need to have my phone with me to work and has a feature where it will automatically track cycling after so many minutes of riding. It sounds so simple but it wasn’t.

I was already using Mapmyride and Myfitnesspal so when buying my Fitbit I made sure the app connected and shared data with them. The food data worked flawlessly but the cycling was another story.

The first time I used Mapmyride everything was good until I synced the Fitbit app. The Fitbit mapped my ride, I couldn’t enlarge the map and the info was limited. The info from Mapmyride did not show up. The data had not exchanged and I was stuck with 2 different versions and maps of my bike ride in 2 different places. I wasn’t happy with that.

After some thought, I went into the Fitbit exercise tile and changed the bike ride setting to not track my rides automatically. So the next time I biked my Mapmyride data was right there under my exercise tile on the Fitbit app and I was thrilled.

Looking closer, I noticed something. It said that the data came from Myfitnesspal, not Mapmyride. Just to see I took Myfitnesspal out of the equation and sure enough, I was missing my cycling data again. So, if you don’t have Myfitnesspal connected even if you don’t use it, your data won’t show up like this.

Myfitnesspal is all about nutrition and how many calories you can eat for the day adding and subtracting calories from what you burn (or don’t) changing many times in a day.  I think because of this it’s more active in sharing data between Mapmyride and the Fitbit app so I’m thinking that’s why it works this way. It’s just a guess but if it’s not broken I’m not fixing it.

What does all this mean? If you have a Fitbit and cycle outdoors it’s very easy to get your ride turned into steps, see your normal ride stats and have it all show up under your exercise tile on the Fitbit app if you just follow these simple instructions. Also, many people talk about putting their Fitbit bands on their ankle, shoe or other places while biking. I don’t know what started this nonsense but you can keep your band on your wrist.

Get Your Cycling Data Here

  • download Mapmyride and Myfitnesspal
  • fill out the profiles on these apps
  • make sure all 3 apps are connected to each other
  • on the Fitbit app press the exercise tile
  • under the Exercise Goals settings, tell the Fitbit to IGNORE Outdoor Bike.

turnoffautoWhen IGNORED it will look like this (above)

Next Time You Bike

  • log your ride using Mapmyride
  • when finished, sync with the Fitbit app under the exercise tile
  • your workout will be on your Fitbit

20170601_101252

When finished and synced your ride will show up under your exercise tile like this (above)

Your maps will be stored on the Mapmyride app and site, they’re enlargeable and detailed unlike what the Fitbit offers alone. I can go and look up my past rides, log a ride I forgot, edit my workouts and much more than can be done on the Fitbit. All changes will be on the Fitbit after syncing.

If you want these results you must follow my instructions to the letter including using Myfitnesspal in the loop. I don’t use Strava, or other biking apps so if you do, experiment using them instead of Mapmyride. I’d be interested in the outcome if you do.

After riding my bike I can’t wait to pour over my statistics about my ride and find out how I did. The easier it is the better. Enjoy your rides!

My hope is this helps the many friends I’ve made in the Cycling Group on Fitbit. I have written these instructions too many times in comments on posts asking for help so this is a selfish attempt to save time and my hand from cramping.

For detailed info on what Mapmyride can do for you follow the link and read my post on what the free version can do for you.

You Got To Hit It To Get It!

Author: Bekkie Sanchez

I was brought into this world wanting to describe it and poetry chose me. I live to create, read and ride my bicycle. Music keeps me grounded. If you like my work it makes it all worthwhile.

15 thoughts on “Tracking Bike Rides With Your Fitbit”

  1. Hi Bekkie,

    I came across your blog post on how to automatically get the steps equivalent for a cycling activity into Fitbit. Thanks very much for making this available to the cycling community!!!

    I followed your directions as best as I could (my Fitbit Charge doesn’t show Exercises for turning off auto-recognition), and your method does work for me. But, the # of steps in my Fitbit log that I get for my cycling trips seems to be considerably lower (~ 1/2 the # of steps) vs. what one would calculate from a “cycling steps equivalent” table.
    (e.g. see http://www.pehp.org/mango/pdf/pehp/pdc/step conversion chart_FFB805BB.pdf ).

    In my cycle commute to work this morning, I biked 4.65 miles in 19:47, which from the table would be the equivalent of about 3950 steps. However, the Fitbit entry for my cycle commute tallied only 2291 steps. Can you give an example of what # of steps you get for an example cycling trip that you have logged into Fitbit with your method?

    Is there a “conversion factor” in MyFitnessPal that can be adjusted to get a better estimate of the equivalent # of steps into Fitbit? If you don’t know, perhaps I can ask the MyFitnessPal folks my question….

    Thanks for any help or insight that you can pass along, and stay fit with your cycling!!!

    Steve B
    Plano, TX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you do it the way I wrote about, MapMyRide is responsible for calculating the ride stats and sending the info to MyFitnessPal and MFP just passes it onto Fitbit who then converts the information into the step equivalent. It depends on who you use for the first stats. I have used Strava before and did notice a difference in the calories burned verses MapMyRide. I decided to stick with MapMyRide (for my personal reasons.) If you try calculating ride stats with different methods you will get different results. Who are you using for your ride stats? I had a Charge 3 and now have a Versa 2 but there should be no difference in that. I did notice that ride miles aren’t always correct on the Fitbit after a bike ride (miles traveled) but the steps are always pretty close. I’m serious about my health but found you just have to pick one way to track your rides and stick with it so the end result is something you can live with. As you know the Fitbit isn’t meant to be a medical device so may not always be right on. I have lost weight and tracked my rides for 4 years now this way and found it works for me so I’m happy using it. Again, MyFitnessPal is only receiving the stats and passing them to the Fitbit app, it’s MapMyRide and Fitbit that is crunching the numbers. Sorry I’m late returning your answer (I was so busy) and hope it helps. Let me know if I can answer anything else I promise I’ll be faster about it. Good luck and stay safe!

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      1. Hi Bekkie,

        No problem on your delayed replies. I understand how life gets busy sometimes. And, I wasn’t checking for your reply on your blog as frequently lately, so because of that I’ve been a bit slow on the trigger to respond myself…. 😉

        The issue with the link to the PDF of the Exercise Steps Converter chart is probably because the link text has spaces in it. To get the PDF, you’ll need to select and copy all of the text from the link – starting from the “http://” all the way to the “.pdf” text. Once you have copied the text, just paste it into the Address Bar of your web browser, and once you hit Enter your browser should open up the PDF.

        Basically, the Exercise Steps Converter indicates that – when you cycle at a 10 mph average rate (a little slower than your recent Bike Log indicated – thanks for sending a link to it!) – you are effectively Walking at a Steps rate of 133 steps/minute. So, if you take the time that you cycled in the log that you passed along (149 minutes) and multiply that by 133, you effectively had 149 * 133 = 19817 steps – which is a LOT more than the 9288 Steps that your automatic method with Fitbit/MyFitnessPal/MapMyRide gave you. And, that’s the problem I ran into when I tried your method, and why I contacted you about it.

        The “big deal” is really how many Calories that are burned during exercise, since that is what is helping you & me to manage our weight. Based upon the Calorie burning formula I use (it uses an MET value that depends on the exercise activity type), the 1063 calories with your method looks spot-on. But, the Steps value you are getting is short-changing you by at least a factor of 2X.

        Maybe the accuracy of the Equivalent Steps isn’t such a big deal for you. But, for me, it IS a big deal, since the Equivalent Steps count is how my work’s fitness program is “rewarding” us with exercise Points, which we can eventually redeem for gift cards (i.e. $$$ cha-ching!).

        Since the automatic Equivalent Steps method doesn’t work well enough for me, I just created a spreadsheet to do the calculations, and then I can manually plug the numbers into Fitbit and sync it with my work’s fitness program. I’m just disappointed that the conversion from Calories Burned (MapMyRide calculates the Calories Burned properly for you, and which works properly for me too) just isn’t being properly converted automatically into the Equivalent Walking Steps by MyFitnessPal/Fitbit. It shouldn’t be that difficult to get correct, since the conversion formula is pretty simple actually.

        Oh well. If you want more details on how to convert the Calories Burned into Equivalent Steps, just let me know.

        Thanks again for replying, and continue to Enjoy Your Rides!!!!

        Best regards,

        Steve B
        Plano, TX

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Very interesting, Steve! If you are that particular with your step conversations I understand! It’s not MyFitnessPal but Fitbit that is calculationg wrong. Fitbit doesn’t change the stats, calories burned, time exercising, etc. after getting it from MapMyRide but it is calculating the step equivalent because MapMyRide isn’t about steps. You would think Fitbit would have that figure correct I agree.

          In my years of losing weight and working out I didn’t mind the step count being off because I used the figures and the end result worked for me. I do believe in the daily step count Fitbit comes up with when walking, etc. It’s been accurate enough for me to rely on to get in shape.

          I’ll try your link again they way you said and see for myself but I believe you. Fitbit’s (or any stats) we get are not meant to be used as medical readings but I think trackers are very important in watching my health.

          What fitness program are you using at work? That sounds like a great thing to have at your job!

          I’m glad Fitbit isn’t over calculating steps as that would be terrible! Lol!

          You have a great weekend! I’m going riding of course. I also need to write a new post. I don’t do it in a weekly or timely manner mainly because I don’t get many comments so thank you for yours! Stay safe!

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    1. Yes. However, you should check your stats after your ride syncs. Then it will show you how many steps were from your ride. At the end of the day it will only show total steps. I don’t know why but I’m not Fitbit. Also, you have to have MyFitnessPal in the loop or MapMyRide won’t pass it on to Fitbit. You don’t have to use MyFitnessPal. The system works I’ve used it for years now. Let me know how it goes and sorry for my late reply.

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  2. Hi, great post.
    I’m thiking about to get a fitbit charge 2 as well and use with map my Ride. I have a doubt. Fitbit shows the data during the bike Ride? I mean, distance and and ride time from map my Ride app? I’m giving up my Old pebble Classic because this feature is not available anymore. Thanks in advance!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, the Fitbit doesn’t show you detailed ride information that’s why I also use MapMyRide. A lot of people use Strava but Strava doesn’t have the option to hear your stats out loud while riding. I love that feature! You set how often you want to hear them and you don’t have to look at your phone or bike computer. I can hear (out loud) my average speed, the time, whether it’s paused or not, how many calories I’m burning and more depending.

      As you can see (above) by using this method it will pass the info to your Fitbit like it was supposed to do but your detailed ride stats stay on MapMyRide (which I think is a good thing.) You MUST include MyFitnessPal in the loop or it doesn’t work. For some reason, that’s the way the Fitbit reads things. Maybe that will change in the future?

      I’ve been mapping and riding this way for 2 years now and MapMyRide has kept every ride, maps and all. I think you’ll love your Charge 2 and it’s smaller than the Iconic. The Iconic is the newest wearable from Fitbit and I still think (for the money) the Charge 2 is better and it’s on sale now.

      Keep me posted and if you have any more questions let me know! I’m so happy you asked.

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      1. Hi Bekkie.
        Thanks for your answer.
        So, that I was wondering: Fitbit Charge 2 does not show on the watch screen. For me would be better to see not listen the stats. But it´s ok, I still want to gbuy a Charge 2 as well. I think will be a good replacement for my Pebble Classic. Thanks for sharing your experience, I appreciate that! Cheers from Brazil. Regards!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. What do you mean the Charge 2 does not show on the watch screen? It does have a clock screen (some models don’t) with different faces.

          Or do you mean, you can’t see your ride stats or maps on the watch screen? If so, that’s true. With the Iconic, you could. But do you really want to spend the extra money when you can look at your phone for that anyway?

          You can disable the voice feedback on the MapMyRide app no problem it’s customizable.

          Happy you came by! If I can ever help again I’m here. I love Brazil! Cheers!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I mean, I can’t see your ride stats or maps on the watch screen, that’s I was talking about. My Pebble Classic used to have this feature, to show the ride stats on the screen. Unfortunately map my ride removed the support. So, I started to look for another watch or HR monitor to do the same thing. But it’s ok, I’m now considering to buy a fitbit to measure my health as well. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

        2. One last word. While I ride I can see my stats on the MapMyRide app if it’s opened. I got a phone holder for my bike so now I can watch my stats and map while I’m riding. You may want to try that. MapMyRide is a fine bike computer to use for free. Stay safe!

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