I finally took the plunge and purchased an iPhone. The main reason why? All the great cycling related apps that are available. In this post I will take you through the all the bike applications so that you can compare them and choose the best apps for you. If you really want to get the most out of your iPhone for cycling then I’ve written an eBook called the iPhone Cyclist that covers over 65 applications.
Bike maintenance on the iPhone
When you are out cycling the chances are you don’t carry big heavy bike maintenance books with you just in case something goes wrong. Technology or more specifically the iPhone comes to the rescue. The Bike Doctor App has 20 repairs that you can easily follow step-by-step. The repairs are written in such a way that even a complete bike maintenance beginner can understand them. There are big plans for this App with version 2 promising more emergency style repairs and bike safety check functionality.
If on the lookout for great places to cycle in London then the London Bike Rides iPhone app will appeal. It contains 30 routes through the capital and out into the surrounding area. From easy 6 mile routes that help you discover new parts of London to longer 25-30 mile routes that road cyclists look for. It’s a great little app for London cyclists.
Bike route tracking on the iPhone
The below comparison table gives an overview of the functionality of the route tracking apps:
The limitation you need to be aware of with most of these apps is that they will rapidly run down the battery and are heavily dependent on GPS signal quality.
The EveryTrail app comes in both free and paid flavours. I paid for the full version which meant I could track an unlimited number of trips. In the free version you are limited to three. The best use of the Everytrail bike app is for following cycling routes as you can import any rides listed on the EveryTrail website. You can also track your route and tag any pictures along the way. One of the most useful functions is the ability to download offline Open Cycle Maps which is great for saving battery or for using the app abroad when you don’t have access to a 3G network.
Trails allows you to record, import and export your bike routes. Of all the apps I reviewed this is the one that does this best. When importing routes you simply search on popular croute tracking sites or you import a GPX file. When exporting, you can either export to EveryTrail or to an email address. This makes it perfect for sharing with others.
When tracking your cycling the iPhone screen is locked so that no buttons are pressed by mistake. Also, battery life is conserved as the map is not being constantly loaded unless you ask it to. There is also functionality to edit waypoints and listen to music/receive call whenever. Trails is very well designed and is the bike app I use most often. There is also a lite version available with more limited functionality.
This is my new favourite bike app for tracking my cycling and it’s the same for lots of people out there as it consistently performs highly in the iPhone app store (plenty of 5 star ratings). Cycle Meter for the iPhone by Abvio is a complete solution that works very simply. When you are at the beginning of your bike ride you tap the start button, the timer begins and you get a load of stats such as Ride Time, Distance, Speed and Average. At the end all your rides are stored on your iPhone and can be viewed again.
There are two versions of MotionX available - I took a look at the lite version. Tracking your bike route is simple. You simply tap the start button and set off then tap the stop button to stop. Thankfully there is a lock button on the bottom left that stops you tapping buttons when the iPhone is in your pocket. Similarly to the Trails app there is a variety of map formats to choose from. In MotionX you can also control your iPod at the same time from within the app.
iMapMyRide is an okay app, the problem lies with iMapMyRide.com. It is so full of adverts it is impossible to use. The GPS signal quality was also a little variable. It is a useful bike app for anyone that uses iMapMyRide.com frequently.
Cychosis works in a different way to the rest of the iPhone bike applications. You manually enter your ride details into the application. Therefore you need a separate bike computer. The app then keeps a history of all your rides. This works well for those that don’t want their route tracked by GPS which can be a heavy burden on battery life.
More iPhone bike apps!
Drivers have their Tom Tom and the UK’s cyclists have their Bike Hub. Great bike app for the iPhone where you pick your starting point and destination and follow a bike friendly route. Oh, and it’s completely free!
London Bike Shop shows you the nearest bike shop if you are in London. It also includes listings of bike cafe’s and mobile bike repair services.
Having a bicycle computer is one of the most fun (And geeky!) gadgets you can have on a bike. I’m always spending way too long looking at my bike computer trying to break my speed record.
The problem with porting this great gadget over to the iPhone is that the GPS function can work with varying success which can obviously skew your results heavily. None the less, this is a great little free app to have and I recommend it to all cyclists.
Great application to have on your iPhone though you can just as easily use Sheldon Brown’s Tool. It allows you to calculate gear ratio and gain ratio. It costs $4.99 (£2.99).
Hook it up to the back of your bag and you get a bicycle brake light for $1 (£0.59). Novel idea but it is probably ten times more useful to buy an actual bike light!
Using your iPhone for cycling: Taking it to the next level!
The applications listed here are just skimming the surface of all of the capabilities of the iPhone. If you wish to get the most out of it then I recommend taking a look at the iPhone Cyclist eBook.