iPhone Cycling Applications

THERE ARE A FAIR FEW CYCLING RELATED APPS AVAILABLE FOR IPHONE. SOME ARE FREE WHILE OTHERS TO BE PAID FOR TO GET FULL FUNCTIONALITY.

Search for ‘cycling’ on Apple’s App Store and straight away you’ll find a plethora of route tracking apps. But there is a whole host of things out there for cyclists 'supposed' to make your life on a bike easier.

We've been testing a range of them over the last few weeks. Marking each out of five, using our Condor bird rating system.
Use our comments section below the blog post to tell us what apps you're using.

A ‘lite’ version of the MotionX app is available to test before you take the plunge and buy the real thing. The lite version has all the features of the normal version but can only record and store one route and the data from it.

MotionX GPS - £1.79 (our rating: 3 out of 5)

A ‘lite’ version of the MotionX app is available to test before you take the plunge and buy the real thing. The lite version has all the features of the normal version but can only record and store one route and the data from it.

Using MotionX is simple – simply click 'Start Track' and then start riding. There is a handy 'Lock' button that will stop you selecting other functions while the iphone is on your pocket. When you get to your destination click 'Stop' and 'Save track'.

Review your start time, elapsed time, distance travelled, average speed etc and take pictures along the way.

We found the recording the route functions simple to get to grips with but not very intuitive and the mapping was slow.

iMapMyRide - FREE (our rating: 3 out of 5)

Just like the other tracking apps iMapMyRide uses GPS technology built into iPhone 3G and 3Gs enabling you to track your riders.

The app records essential metrics duration, pace, speed etc and interestingly, elevation.

Once a ride is complete, click 'Save' and the route is automatically uploaded to MapMyRide.com where you can view a comprehensive workout history which can be synchronised with the online training log on MapMyRide.com.

The clever thing about iMapMyRide is that is super simple to use and features twitter and facebook integration if you want to automatically tweet your workout to friends and family.

We also liked the voice feedback detailing distance, pace and speed though you have to wear headphones for this and not always safe in a busy traffic environment, and being an American product will send you the wrong way round a roundabout.

The mapping is quick to load and most of the time mapped the route spot on.

If you opt for the free version then you’ll have to suffer the small ads that feature on screen. If you don’t want this, but also want at the ability to take pictures along your route, download MapMyRide+ for £2.99.

You will need to register at MapMyRide.com and create an account on a PC or Mac.

CycleMeter GPS - £2.99 (our rating: 4 out of 5)

We really liked the ability of this app to export your rides in GPX, KML or spreadsheets which will allow you to view it on Google maps on your home PC or MAC and share it.

Cyclemeter has an integrated calendar which logs the ride and is handy for keeping a record of your training. Graphically see your speed vs. elevation and review how much distance you’ve ridden each week, month or year.

The app is easy use and the mapping loads quickly. When you turn on the app you have a wait a few minutes for the GPS to ‘warm up’ before you start riding. Most of the time the path it logged was very accurate but on one trip across Waterloo Bridge it looked like the rider went for a quick dip in the Thames.

CycleMeter fully integrates with twitter allowing you to upload you route during and after a ride and while you ride you can hear Twitter replies as you ride.

RunKeeper – Free (our rating: 4 out of 5)

Voted by TIME magazine one of the Top Ten iPhone Apps for 2009 we expected a lot of things from this free app but were left a bit disappointed. There isn’t any twitter integration or ability to log workouts, and ads run along the screen.

We did like the fact it’s free and you can log plenty of routes, plus it will estimate how many calories you’ve burned on the ride which was pretty accurate versus the Polar we tested it against.

The app records your pace minute by minute so you can review where you slowed up and use it to improve next time. RunKeep integrates with RunKeeper.com and you don’t have to suffer a barrage of adverts like on MapMyRide.com.

Brake Lights - £0.59 (our rating: 1 out of 5)

60p gets you a bright red light that you can stick in your bag, or if you dare, attach to your seatpost. It’s handy if you forget your light one evening and need to remain safe in the traffic, but a massive drain on your battery and not that effective.

You should just carry a spare backup light from Knog (£7.99) or Cateye.

Bicycle Buyer - from £0.59 (our rating: 3 out of 5)

Bicycle Buyer is a magazine that is fairly new to market, but the first to fully embrace the digital world and app technology.

The app allows you to read and view the latest content in the magazine on the go.

Interactive page flipping and zoom feature is very responsive and easy to use. The images and text are crisp but we found reading a whole article on the iPhone screen can leave you with square eyes and it’s much better to go and buy a printed mag.

Cychosis – Cycling Journal £1.19 (our rating: 2 out of 5)

Cychosis is a dedicated training diary, allowing you to chart your rides (distance, average speed and time). Optional automatic tweet of each ride. This app requires you to manually enter your data so you will still need a cycle computer.

It's handy because you can readily update after a ride rather than lose a paper diary or have multiple spreadsheets saved across home and work computers.

You have to pay for the app and if you're already using a Garmin or Polar then you can upload your ride data to their online training diaries.

Bicycle Gear Calculator - £2.99 (our rating: 4 out of 5)

This handy app allows you to evaluate current or potential Gearing Ratios, calculate Gain Ratios, Gear Inches, and Development. Use the Skid Patch Analyzer to visualize and minimize your fixed-gear’s tyre wear. Explore equivalent gearing configurations that let you reuse parts you already have.

Pretty smart stuff, but you could use Sheldon Brown’s website to work out your gear ratio’s. Working out the tyre wear is pretty useful if you skid about town, a lot. But at £2.99 its alot of cash to spend when there are alternatives available for free.

Verdict

Being able to record your rides using just your iPhone a clever idea and means you don’t need to carry another gadget. However the battery life is one of the main limitations and while testing the tracking apps on longer weekend rides we found a few other issues.

Using iMapMyRide and CycleMeter for longer than 2 ½ hours will shut your phone down. Not good if you have a problem and need to make a call.

If you’re riding at speed on a descent or like us, had a tailwind riding over Waterloo bridge the GPS plot on the map can vary. A couple of times it put us in the river Thames.

Then there is the sampling rate of the GPS device in the iPhone will mean your speed lags from 1 – 4 seconds. We tested these apps whilst also recording rides on a Garmin 705. The results from the commutes sometimes varied hugely when it came down to comparing average speed.

Next up, there isn’t as much available in the way of mounting your iPhone to your handlebars, but check out RoadCyclingUK.com for a review of the BioLoic mount.

If you’re seriously training and clocking up the miles then the iPhone cycling apps are handy but you’ll get better results from Polar, Garmin or Mavic cycle computers. But if you want to quickly share your short rides, pep up motivation and connect with friends and family then iPhone apps are timing saving handy gadgets that's to their integration of Twitter and Facebook.

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