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 !

My Take on Cyclemeter 6.0

Anyone that reads my blog should know that I use my iPhone as a bike computer and my favorite app that I use is LiveCycling 1.12. That app is a solid bike computer but it does have a few shortcomings that CycleMeter 6.0 addresses. For me, LiveCycling has a major flaw, it is extremely hard to read the ride time and the distance because they are located on the task bar on top and the bottom. Using that area of the phone causes the data to be too small to read, especially during the day when the screen gets washed out.

In the field of ANT+ compatible bike computer software, LiveCycling is king in my humble opinion. There are others in the field such as iMapMyRide and Wahoo Fisica Fitness, but to me, LiveCycling stands out above them both. That is, until now. CycleMeter has been around as a GPS only bike computer, but in version 6.0 CycleMeter now includes ANT+ sensor support. Included with the support for ANT+ sensors are the necessary screens to pair with the sensors and the screens to configure your wheel size.

What I really like about CycleMeter is that you can configure the main screen with the data you want to see. With six quadrants to customize, that provides a lot of flexibility. This is where CycleMeter out shines LiveCycling. I can configure the app to display the Ride Time as well as the Distance. Yes! Gone are the days of squinting to see how far I have gone. It is a simple concept, allow the user to customize the screen to their liking and you have a winning product.

Besides the problem of not being able to see the Ride Time and Distance on LiveCycling, the app is a battery drain. One way to combat this is to turn off the biggest drain on the battery, the screen, If I do that then it has a problem with the distance and time. From the moment the screen was turned off to the time it was turned back on, it messes up the average miles per hour (mph) as it now sees a new GPS location and calculates a new super high mph. This is not the only app that has this problem, iMapMyRide and Wahoo Fisica Fitness also exhibited the same problem.

CycleMeter doesn’t have this problem and as a result, battery life is excellent. I kill all background apps except for the bike computer, shut off wireless, bluetooth, notifications, data along with auto turn off display set at 30 minutes it enables me to go on long rides without worry of running out of battery juice. I did a 23 mile round trip  CU ride along as 1.5 hrs where I paused the timer while we looked around and got something to eat. At the end I still had 75% left on my battery after a total time of about 3 – 3.5 hrs of use.

ANT+ support is not the only enhancement that was made to CycleMeter. Here is a rundown of all the changes:

  • ANT+ support
  • Interval Training
  • Target Announcements
  • Zones
  • Lap Button
  • Splits

I like the idea of the announcements combined with the zones you can configure. I haven’t used those features, but monitoring my heart rate and staying in a certain zone would be useful. This is something I need to explore and figure out how to take advantage of it. Other than that, I really like this App and highly recommend it to others. I recommended it when it was a GPS only bike computer as it was excellent at that, but the addition of the ANT+ support makes this my over all favorite bike computer.

I’ve used many bike computer Apps for my iPhone, but I would like to hear from you. What’s your favorite program and why? Do you agree with my take on CycleMeter?

Additional Photos

Do you know your VO2Max?


Slipgrip 1.5″ Bike Mount 4 iPhone 4 Otterbox Defender

Some news on the Slipgrip Bike mounts for us cyclists, I found a webpage for the Slipgrip products. On that page I found several new mounts that look interesting. Both do away with the ball and cup joint (although that is still available to order) and just go with straight bar. They also have them in versions that depend on the thickness of the handlebar, ranging from 1 inch to 1.5 inches. I chose the 1.5 inches as it gives me the flexibility to move it to another bike easily with the scissor type clamp that it uses. I hope to have it before the weekend as I have a long ride that I can use it on. Look for updates to this posting sometime next week.

Their new webpage can be found at SlipGripCarMounts.

Update: 09/08/2011

I finally got my new mount in on Tuesday. Upon opening the box, the first thing that I noticed was how big the clamp is. It’s huge! It looks like a crab claw. This is one beefy clamp and should quell any complaints about a flimsy clamp. There were no instructions that came with it, just the receipt. Installation is a simple process of adjusting the clamp width by spinning the cam lever until you reach the desired width. Place the clamp over the handle bar or t-bar and flip the lever. If too tight the undo the screw a little and try again. Keep adjusting until you have a nice tight grip. No need for any rubber shims either as the clamp jaws have a serrated rubber liner that grips pretty good.

The following day, I took the bike out for a spin and chose a route that takes me over several railroad tracks as well as some rough roads. I purposely placed the unit at a 45 degree angle from a horizontal position to see if it will slip. Nope. Not one bit. I am going to like this very much.

Other features includes being able to rotate the unit 360 degrees that is set on a spring tension ratchet. Just turn the unit to any spot you want and it stays there. It also has the cutout for the camera, although I don’t find it useful. I suppose you can mount the camera perpendicular to the road and use it to take pictures or videos as you are riding. I just don’t see me doing that. The case is the same as the original, but attached to a huge claw.

I paid $29.94 plus $4.95 in shipping for USPS First Class Mail, directly from their website and it took about a week to arrive.

My conclusion, it is definitely better that the original. No ball and cup joint and a much stronger method of mounting to the bike. I would definitely recommend this unit to other users of the iPhone and have the Defender series of the Otterbox.

Drop a comment if you have one yourself and share you’re experience with it.

Update: 09/16/2011

It just dawned on me that I can mount the Slipgrip on the handle bar stem. I am no longer limited to only one size of bar to mount it on, so I took it off the t-bar, opened the jaws some more, mounted on the handle bar stem and turned the case holder 90 degrees. Presto! A nice snug fit. Now I can take off the extra t-bar and declutter the front of the bike.

It has been several weeks since I’ve installed the new mount on the stem. I love it! It’s no longer in-my-face as it was when I used the T-Bar.

Update: 02/08/2012

It’s time for another update on this mount. It has been about fives months since I bought this mount and I am happy to say that I’ve had absolutely no issues with it. No wear and tear, no jury rigging, no breakage … rock solid!

Update: 05/24/2013

Some recent news has come to my attention as to the sturdiness of the bike mount. One individual had an accident with a car and the mount snapped off at the joint. Another reader has had problems with the phone popping out if he hits a jarring bump on the road. Read the comments below this post for additional details. Support from the vendor has been sketchy at best and that is a shame.

I like simple homemade solutions to problems that I have. If I had the problem of the phone popping out I would look to see if a rubber band on the top and bottom will keep it in place. It’s a simple solution that I would use as a temporary fix as I look for a new mount.

My current recommendation as been altered now because of the feedback you have provided. I recommend the use of this bike mount for leisurely rides at a slow pace (10 mph or less), for a baby stroller, or anywhere you want to mount the phone to jam to some tunes. For faster rides or rides on bumpy roads I do not recommend it.

Not to leave you hanging as to what else you can use, here are some options to consider (in no particular order).

1. iBike – Phonebooth products for both the iPhone 4 and 5 series that are water-resistant with secure mounts. I have used the iBike Dash case and like it.

2. Wahoo Fitness – They have several bike mounts worth looking into as well as the remote display called RFLKT. The RFLKT is an interesting product. You mount it to the bike and sync it with one of many cycling apps. Once synced, ride data is displayed on unit and you can put your iPhone in your pocket or bike bag.

3. LifeProof – Not only a pretty solid case but they also have a bike mount too. Not sure if it will survive an accident with a car, but how often is that? Other than that, it looks like the phone won’t be popping off if you hit a hard bump.

4. Quad Lock Mounting System – Something that came from a KickStarter project that looks pretty good. Neat locking mechanism that can be used in multiple ways. Take a look at the video of them mountain biking with the iPhone mounted.

If you have had any experience with the four suggestions above, drop me a comment and let us know what you think of it.

Update: 06/27/2014

I’ve been using the Quadlock Mounting System on my bike for a while and love it. Check out the post about it: Quadlock Case for iPhone 5 Yes, the Quadlock supports other phones.