Cycling with an iPhone

As many may have figured out, I’ve been using my iPhone as a bike computer since I’ve had my 3GS phone and now my iPhone 4. I choose to use it while I’m cycling for several reasons, mainly I find it a lot more flexible compared to a dedicated unit. I now have upgraded the iOS to version 5 and look forward to see how the new features affect various cycling apps that I have used in the past.

Part of the problem I’ve had with iOS4 was the notification system and the affect it had on the bike computer apps. Usually it would cause havoc with the app such as stop recording or exiting the app. All are bad while you are riding as you end up fiddling with the phone and not paying attention to the road. In iOS 5, the notification system is a passive system and should allow the apps to keep on running.

What I plan to do is to go back and build a comparison chart all the bike computer apps I have tried in the past. This is the list of Apps that I plan to do the comparisons on:

  • iMapMyRide
  • CycleMeter
  • LiveCycling
  • Wahoo Fitness

I selected these apps because they support ANT+ sensors and I already have them installed on my iPhone. So, if there is a specific app that you would like me to add to the list drop me a note and I’ll see about including it. Keep an eye out for the new posting on this sometime this weekend.

Keep pedaling !

Slip Grip bike mount

Well my new bike mount for my iPhone came in last night and I couldn’t be happier with it. This mount is specifically designed to hold the iPhone 4 in an Otterbox Defender series case. This eliminates having to take the phone out of the case when I ride and putting it back when I’m done. In addition, I feel a lot better knowing that if I wipe out, my phone stands a good chance of not being damaged.

Out of the box, it comes with no instructions but non is really needed as it is a simple hinge, shaped to fit the handlebar, with a nut at the other end. I disassembled it and took a picture of the parts. Assembly was just as easy, open hinge, find a spot on your handlebar to mount it, use rubber shims and tighten. It does come with two rubber shims and I used one for my T-Bar. About the only problem I had installing the mount was getting it to clamp enough around the T-Bar, so I can thread the nut at the bottom. I ended up cutting the rubber shim about a centimeter so that it would fit on one half of the clamp. After doing that, it had enough clearance to clamp it and tighten it with the bottom nut. After testing to see if I can move the mount, I found that it has a tight grip on the bar and will not budge.

It does a swivel to adjust the angle any way you see fit and you can lock it in that position. That along with the camera hole, on the mount, allows you to use it to take pictures or videos as you ride. That’s a nice feature that didn’t cross my mind until now. You also have full access to the iPhone volume, headphone and data port all while it is securely held in place. Mounting the iPhone with the Otterbox Defender series case is as simple as snapping it on. It is held in place with a large tension lever.

The Slip Grip, made in the U.S.A. and they do make them for other phones and cases such as the iPhone 3GS and the Otterbox Defender for that phone. I bought this unit on eBay for $35.95 plus $4.95 for shipping. I searched Amazon but they only had the 3GS version, so I went with eBay. Would I recommend this to my friends? Yes I would. The iPhone 4 is expensive and I want to take good care of it. Using this bike mount that allows me to keep my protective case on while cycling is important to me. Combine that with easy installation and a secure non slipping mount make this a good buy.

Update: 06/17/2011

Just a quick note to let the readers know that I still use the Slip Grip and love it. On a group ride, one time, someone with a Samsung Android phone was able to secure their phone on the same mount. Not a perfect fit, but it snapped into place and was secure in the mount. So, for those cyclists with Android phones this is a good alternative to securely mount your phone and use it as bike computer. Just an idea …

Anyone else use the Slip Grip? Post your comments and experience with it.

Update: 08/20/2011

After six months of use, the bike mount broke, sort of. I noticed that the phone was starting to turn sideways, so I figured I would tighten the knob at the joint. Doing so, I stripped the screw to the point where it would tighten only to a certain point then would loosen its grip again. I took the whole thing off the bike so I could take a closer look at it and see if I could fix it. I could not figure out how to take apart the ball joint, but I did come up with an idea. Insert some shims between the ball and the cup, so I found the double sided tape that is used to mount a third eye mirror to the helmet and decided to use that. It was no longer sticky with glue, so I didn’t have to worry about gumming up the joint. Cutting it half and inserting it between the ball and joint seemed to be the right thickness as I was able to tighten up the joint, but being careful not to over tighten it.

I went out for a 14 mile ride to test out the repairs. For the most part it seemed to work. About the half way mark the unit did start to droop down. I nudged it back into place and kept on riding. Going over some bumps and jarring the bike produced the droop back again. This time I adjusted the unit more perpendicular to the stem and that seemed to do the trick. The rest of the ride was uneventful as the unit stayed in place.

Not satisfied with the results, I was thinking of a better shim to use and the thought came to me as I was riding home. Use the rubber of an old tube! That should provide the needed friction to hold it in place. Once I got back home, I dug up my heavily patched spare tube and started cutting. I cut out several strips about an inch long and 1/2 inch wide. Loosening the elbow screw the max, I inserted the shims on either side of the ball joint. I folded one shim and left the other straight. Initially, tried to fold both shims but could not insert both of them, but you may be able to yourself. Aligning the bracket to where I wanted it, I then tighten the elbow screw being careful not to over tighten it. At this point the cup/ball joint looked to be solid.

I went ahead and mounted the unit back on my bike and took it out for a 14 mile spin and found that it was a much better solution for the problem. Now, I just need to ride and see how long this works. It would be nice if they made one without the ball joint and used a clip on bracket like what is used for the bike lights.

Drop me a comment if you had problems with this mount and what you did to fix it.