3 new cycling iPhone apps

The iPhone has become my partner in crime while cycling around London. Not only does it tell me statistics such as my average speed but it also helps get me around. Meet me at Grand Bazar near Bond Street says my friend Rob. No problem. Tap it in on Google Maps and I know exactly where I’m going.

The last time I covered iPhone bike apps was over 8 months ago and since then some great new cycling apps have been released that have been topping the fitness charts in the app store. I’ve also grown frustrated at some of the flaws in the existing apps that I’ve been using. My old favourite Trails uses a lot of battery and keeps crashing.

(See also: If you’ve spent £500 or $700 on an iPhone why not get the full use out of it?)

Cyclemeter

  • Bike computer functionality including speed/distance/time
  • Store your route and display it on a Google map
  • Export routes and share them on Twitter etc
  • Calendar feature to keeps track of your cycling with the option of manually adding a ride if you were not tracking it with GPS
  • Store the routes you frequently do and use it to improve performance
  • Voice control and voice announcements for hands free use

iPhone cycling app Cyclemeter the main screen showing statistics   iPhone cyclemeter showing the calendar view that tracks your rides

Cyclemeter is fantastically easy to use. Say you are cycling home and you want to track your speed and distance. Load the cycling app, hit the start button, lock the screen and away you go. When you reach your destination. Hit the done button and it is automatically added to your calendar.

This works well because battery is not been used by the iPhone trying to load your route map and keeping the screen lit.

Another great feature is for anyone wanting to improve their cycling performance. Say I know I cycle every day into work 4 miles and it takes me 18 minutes. I use the app to track it and store it as a route. Then the next day when I do the route again I can compare the two.

Overall Cyclemeter is a well designed cycling app that I highly recommend. I particularly like the way all my cycling is displayed in the calendar.

iphone-app

(See also: Using GPS coordinates for cycling)

RunKeeper

  • Bike computer functionality including speed/distance/time
  • Integrates nicely with RunKeeper.com which is free and without adverts
  • Free version and pro version with main difference being no adverts and headphone announcements
  • List of previous routes you have done

iphone-cycling-app-runkeeper iphone-cycling-app-runkeeper-map-view

I tested out the free version of RunKeeper because I thought the pro-version was a little bit too expensive for my liking. This app will appeal to anyone who wishes to keep track of their cycling mainly online. This is due to the limited functionality on the iPhone itself.

The App automatically uploads your trips to RunKeeper.com. This is a well designed website that gives you plenty of useful statistics including a graph that shows you elevation and speed.

Overall for simplicity and reliability the app cannot be faulted. Similarly to Cyclemeter it is as easy as pressing go and stop to track your route. It does however lack some of the extra features of Cyclemeter including manually adding a ride that was not GPS tracked. The choice really comes down to whether you want to have access to all the data on your iPhone or whether you are happy with the integration with a separate site.

iphone-app

(See also: How to mount your iPhone to your bike handlebars)

Outdoors

  • UK specific
  • Uses Ordnance Survey maps
  • Maps pre-downloaded with the application thus saving battery
  • Can choose the region you want to download. I went for South-East
  • Can download routes from EveryTrail.com and display them on your screen
  • Expensive at around £15

IMG_0447 IMG_0449

Unlike the other two cycling iPhone apps this one is for route finding rather than tracking your cycling. When I cycled from London to Chichester the app managed to last the entire distance. I did this by turning off 3G, Wifi and putting the screen brightness to the lowest setting.

For a long route such as this it is really useful and a real contender against GPS devices.

The cycling app has the ability to download coordinates from EveryTrail.com and then overlay them on the map. There is even the ability to edit the route waypoints.

Whilst the accuracy is not always spot on and it would be nice to be able to zoom in more to be able to see road names this has become my main route finding application. The killer benefits are the low battery use and the reliability of the application.

iphone-app

Cycling iPhone Apps Conclusion

Overall I’m really happy with all three applications. For GPS tracking I would go with the free version of RunKeeper to see if that has all the functionality you need. If it doesn’t then switch to Cyclemeter.

For following a pre-set route use Outdoors or the previously mentioned Trails.

If you want to get more out of your iPhone for cycling

I’ve written an entire eBook that covers over 60 applications for the iPhone that are useful for cyclists. If you really want to get the full use out of that expensive iPhone purchase then I recommend checking out: The iPhone Cyclist

See also:

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32 Responses to 3 new cycling iPhone apps

  1. Duncan 15/02/2010 at 1:58 pm #

    I’ve used both Runkeeper (free version) and cyclemeter. Runkeeper was ok with the website integration, but I found the GPS tracking was dodgy and intermittent often failing to track my routes accurately. I’ve just started using Cyclemeter and think it’s a much slicker app, which tracks my activity much more accurately and the option of comparing a regular ride is very useful. I would say that Cyclemeter is definitely worth the money over RunKeeper free.

  2. bathory 15/02/2010 at 2:23 pm #

    I use cyclemeter and I love it. I really like that I can compare rides and speeds and will store the routes. It’s a slick interface too.

    My other half is happier seeing the tweet it sends out when I’ve arrived at my destination, knowing I once again made it without being hit by a bus or angry driver. :)

  3. Andreas 15/02/2010 at 7:23 pm #

    Thanks for adding your feedback to the post guys. Looks like there is a lot of support for cyclemeter. I really like it too :)

  4. Wayne 16/02/2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Been using Cyclemeter with Vodafone. My friends on O2 has had some issues with loss of tracking, but not had any myself. I’ve found it very useful, not a drain on battery and for general commuting goodness its been exceptionally useful. Funny that your friends can tweet you has you ride too. (which was quite unnerving to start with)

    Not used my phone on a bar mount yet due to the weather but will definitely do it in the summer.

    Not tried any of the others, that’s how good this has been.

  5. wari 16/02/2010 at 5:30 pm #

    You might like to try BikeMateGPS as well. I loved the speedometer display. It also posts mashups of your ride and photos to facebook, something that other apps don’t do.

    There are many problems with using the iPhone as your bike computer, as opposed to using my Garmin Edge 705, or a general purpose bike computer.

    * Battery don’t last long – my 3 hour ride yesterday with cyclemeter left my phone with 2 minutes of battery life left before shutting itself down. Not good when I want to make a call.
    * Does not display real time speed – due to nature of the GPS sampling rate, your speed will lag from 1 to 4 seconds. I might be at a stop but cyclemeter announces that I did 30km/h at that moment. A bike computer would calculate as soon as the spoke magnet is detected.
    * iPhone is huge to mount on the handlebars. I put mine on a dedicated pouch on the bag I carry with me.
    * Poor quality GPS plots. Lets face it, iPhone is a convergence device, and includes an adequate chip that is good enough for walking.
    * Due to GPS also, you can’t really get a good moving average speed value.

    But there are HUGE benefits to using the iPhone as well:

    * Geotagging your tweets
    * Getting tweets @replies that is spoken to you while you ride
    * Auto post to facebook or twitter when you start of finish your ride depending on the application you are using.
    * Ability to scan traffic information, before proceeding to your preferred route.
    * Announce you your average speed while you ride, giving some clues on how you are doing.
    * Immediately post your route (runkeeper, cyclemeter) on the net once you are done. Garmin devices, can only be posted once you are at your computer.
    * Ability to keep a diary, when you are actually on the ride, unlike doing it after the fact with a Garmin.

    So, I use the iPhone to complement what I’m already recording on my Edge 705. But the GPS and realtime speed averages, laps, heart rate, performance, etc), will be from my actual GPS unit. Other informational items (tweets, avg speed, internet access, phone and social aspect), I leave those to the capable hands of the iPhone.

    • Fcount 03/11/2011 at 2:08 am #

      BikeMateGPS.

      Speedometer looks great!

  6. Andreas 17/02/2010 at 10:22 am #

    Wari, thanks for recommending BikeMateGPS, looks quite good. Like the big display with the speedometre that is a pretty cool feature. Agreed the accuracy with the iPhone will never be 100%

  7. Chris aka KarmaCycle 19/02/2010 at 4:01 pm #

    So obviously the thing we need next is a dynamo which charges the iPhone as you cycle along – surely the bright chaps in cycling technology must be able to come up with that? Or better – what about a universal charger which could be powered by the movement of the pedals or wheels, which could charge up anything – laptop, phone … hey, even your bike lights!

  8. Carlton Reid 23/02/2010 at 12:05 pm #

    Dahon has one on the market.

    http://quickrelease.tv/?p=959

    I tried it at Eurobike last September. Great product, and will be available for other bikes, not just Dahon’s.

    This is a pic of Dahon’s iPhone mount/case:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/carltonreid/4351225412/

    I’m using it with Map My Tracks iPhone GPS app.

    Also worth checking out is The Plug, from Tout Terrain of Germany. I also played with this recently. It’s neat and tidy.

    http://www.tout-terrain.de/2/products/components/the-plug/index.html

  9. Natalie 23/02/2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Is there anything similar for Google’s Android operating system?

    • pete 01/06/2010 at 12:55 pm #

      Try Sportypal. Does much the same as the apps for iphone.

  10. Wari 23/02/2010 at 3:21 pm #

    @Natalie, the Android, you can use Sportypal (available on the iPhone and others as well) Runkeeper may come out for the Android. There’s the excellent CardioTrainer (love the weight management plugin) If you are from the Windows Mobile World and using Run.GPS you can also use it for the android (possibly hung the Sam license key too) and have the ability to use a Bluetooth heartrate monitor

  11. Wari 23/02/2010 at 3:26 pm #

    Sheesh, about the license thing what I meant is that you can probably use the same license key that you have for the Windows Mobile.

    I have the nexus one and I am quite impressed with the GPS performance compared to the iPhone

  12. Nic 28/02/2010 at 11:52 am #

    Hi Andreas,

    I was hoping to buy a route finding application – would you say that the routes suggested by ‘Outdoors’ are with cyclists in mind? I.e. does it tend to recommend the quickest route, or rather would it suggest quieter, smaller roads?

    Thanks for your advice,
    Nic

    • Liz 02/12/2010 at 2:32 pm #

      Hi there is a route finding app its called cyclestreets available on iphone. It will plan a route for you either the quietest or balanced. It showed me a route to work that i never would have thought off.

  13. Andreas 01/03/2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Hi Nic, I think you have misunderstood these applications. They don’t have the ability to suggest routes to you (similarly to how you may use Google Maps). Instead they allow you to download routes you or others have created on the computer. Unfortunately as far as I’m aware no one has yet come up with an application where you can say “I want to get from A to B” which is the best way by bike.

    Hope this helps!

  14. Nic 01/03/2010 at 1:12 pm #

    Oh, oops. Many thanks for pointing this out! The app I’m looking for will have to stay as an unobtainable dream for the time being then…

  15. Andreas 01/03/2010 at 2:09 pm #

    Sorry Nic :-( that app would be extremely cool and I’m sure someone is dreaming it up as we speak!

    • Anthony White 06/04/2010 at 10:19 am #

      That’s what I’m looking for also.

      So here’s my idea for some iPhone app developer out there.

      TfL have a good cycling route finder that you can use on a standard laptop. Not much use when you’re cycling, but good for recommending a route in advance, printing it and carrying it in your pocket. If seems to select quieter routes and routes with cycle lanes.

      Now on my iPhone, I have an app that provides a front end for the TfL journey planner that uses all the modes of public transport. It’s called LJP, or London Journey Planner. I understand that it is a front end, and the processing power is left with TfL itself.

      If someone could put together an app that provided a front end for the cycling route planner, that would be awesome. I’m happy to do some testing if anyone comes up with something.

  16. goxmail 24/05/2010 at 5:24 pm #

    when comparing apps, including their price comes in handy.

  17. Jeff 18/06/2010 at 12:47 pm #

    Used most of the tracking apps (GPS Tracker, runkeeper, trailguru etc), and recently tried Endomondo, I like it more than the others, and I’ve kept using it. Auto posts to facebook, and allows live tracking if you want your other half to see whether you’re sneaking another lap of Richmond Park in on the way home.

  18. Andy 27/06/2010 at 10:21 am #

    I’ve just checked out the reviews for CycleMeter on the iphone app site, many of the latest comments are highly critical stating that “It just doesn’t work” and constantly loses GPS signal.

    I was going to buy it … changed my mind.

  19. Mila 26/07/2010 at 2:56 pm #

    Testing the new SportyPal Bike specialized version
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sportypal-bike/id369557863?mt=8

  20. LCrystalSea 24/09/2010 at 10:03 am #

    Hi

    Thanks for this helpful blog about iphone apps, I have just got one and downloaded a few from these recommendations.

    This may be the wrong place to put this and if so I apologise, feel free to move it somewhere more appropriate.

    Although not a iphone app but internet version. I work in london but live in Suffolk and I was searching for something like tfl’s website, and came across this one which I have used and found quite useful especially for places nearer to home. Hope others will find it useful

    http://www.cyclestreets.net/

    Thanks

  21. Ramon 29/09/2010 at 11:44 am #

    Has someone tried the SportyPal Bike, looks nice but i want to know about its funcionality

  22. Jeff 29/09/2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Check out the Bike Hub Journey Planner, it’s an iphone app for cyclestreets.

    Anyone got recommendations for iPhone 4 bike mounts?

  23. Fred 04/10/2010 at 8:44 am #

    @LCrystalSea:

    CycleStreets now out as an app. It’s excellent. :)

    Fred

  24. Jon 25/04/2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Hi all,

    i went for BikeMateGPS. It looked cool and cheaper than the rest …

    • Fcount 03/11/2011 at 1:53 am #

      agree with this opinion. unique design and interface it has.

      most of all, speedometer is excellent!

  25. iPhone 4 Case 20/05/2011 at 9:20 am #

    Awesome post! Used this, it was satisfying, and the hints are helpful :)

  26. Steve 06/07/2011 at 3:42 am #

    If you and your fellow riders have iPhones, check out the app MyStream. It lets you listen to music another rider nearby is streaming from their iPhone during a ride! Uses Bluetooth so no internet connection required.

  27. Ronald 15/07/2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Adding GPS has completely revolutionized the app market. I talk with friends on my PhoneTag app literally daily. I also have a driving directions app that’s been a lifesaver so far.

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