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There are tons that are out there for recording routes, and such. There's also the physical mounting. Is the iPhone actually good/useful for bikers?

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13 Answers 13

A lot of the jogging apps will work well for on the bicycle as well, since most of the data collection is done via the GPS. As for the mounts, I've seen this one used a bit and it looks fairly sturdy. Not sure about the attachment to the bars, though.

I would just be careful with the kind of riding you're doing. An iPhone costs $400 to $600 dollars if you aren't signing a new contract, so if you're doing mountain biking, I would stray away from it. Anything mounted to your bars needs to be able to take a beating. If I take my iPhone on a mountain ride, I usually have it tucked way deep in my Camelbak.

For my bikes, I use a simple bike computer (for mileage, time moving, etc), and an iPod Shuffle (first generation) for music. The Shuffle actually attaches to the back of my helmet quite well, keeping it and the headphones cables out of my way.

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Attaching your shuffle to your helmet - excellent idea –  Duncan McGregor Dec 3 '10 at 21:54
    
+1, although I do use my phone to log rides, I keep it in a zip-lock bag in my jersey pocket. Phones are good AT BEST for logging short rides-- anything longer than a few hours and you have to worry about draining the battery (and that's if you don't even use the display). –  Angelo Jan 9 '12 at 15:24

I use http://www.everytrail.com/ service. They have blackberry and iphone apps. I stash the iphone under the seat (in a under the seat pouch) and it records all my movements and then I can upload it to the server and facebook share ;-)

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I use runkeeper app for iphone. The app has an option to pick which type of activity and cycling is an option.

I keep the iphone in my running armband. I didn't want to buy a mount just because of my luck with riding in poor weather and the running band does provide a small amount of protection

The one catch is batter power. On my old 3G I had to turn off wifi and make sure I had a full charge before heading out. I haven't done any long rides with the iphone 4 but in general the battery last much longer.

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I also use RunKeeper with my armband. One setting I find useful for cycling is under Settings change the Primary Display to Speed. This will show you miles per hour for the activity timeline instead of minutes per mile. –  Mark Robinson Aug 8 '11 at 19:32

I've tried Runkeeper also but I'm much happier with Runmeter: http://www.abvio.com/runmeter/

It does the same GPS tracking that other apps do, but its interface is the nicest I've seen (especially important when you just want to start riding!). It has nifty data export features, too -- you can get all of your data as a CSV file if you want. Because I'm a nerd, I've written a few tools to plot the data and visualize my improvement offline -- I'll share them if anyone's interested.

The developer has three apps with slightly different names, but I think that's a marketing thing. As far as I know, all three work identically (allowing you to track any kind if activity).

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There is a great article on MTBR about their best iPhone apps, here is what they found:

5 - “The Bike Computer” ( http://www.everytrail.com/iphone.php) FREE - Provides a large display of speed and distance based on your iPhone’s GPS. Also contains a bunch of other GPS based features, but the clean and simple bike computer is the best part.

The Bike Computer

4 - iTunes - keeps you rockin’ in the woods! It’s already on your iPhone, just load it up with your favorite songs and go.

iTunes

3 - “Clinometer” ( http://www.plaincode.com/products/clinometer/ ) $.99 - For measuring head angles, seat tube angles, etc… (thanks to Scot Nicol for the tip on this one)

Clinometer

2 - “MotionX GPS” ( http://gps.motionx.com/video/ ) $2.99 (free lite version also available) - For biking and almost any outdoor sport enthusiast. This is a well developed application with tons of features but is still easy to use. Very slick user interface.

MotionX GPS

1 - “Bicycle Gear Calculator - Bike Gears” ( http://www.jpmartineau.com/iphone/bicycle-gear-calculator/ ) $4.99 - A classic bike app, use it to calculate gear ratios, gear inches, and more.

Bicycle Gear Calculator

Have a look at the original article on MTBR.

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Cyclemeter is my favorite ride tracker. If you are a bike commuter, you will appreciate seeing your splits and daily times.

Endomondo is also a nice app, and runs on a variety of other smartphones. It's free, but more web-based, whereas cyclemeter is more phone-only.

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+1 for Cyclemeter, take a look at the feature set. I especially like the export to KML or GPX so you can import it to Google Earth or some specialized rout planning site for detailed analysis. –  muerte Aug 30 '10 at 13:52
    
thanks for the tip, just downloaded it :) –  fady Oct 18 '10 at 23:01
    
cyclemeter is by far the best app i've used to date. –  fady Oct 20 '10 at 17:46
    
I've switch from Strava to Cyclemeter, I love the information it provides while riding. After each ride, I have it e-mail the gpx file to Strava. Strava has the best social features. –  Ryan Gibbons Jul 23 '13 at 3:52

I love the strava app (and the strava.com website)

The app will record your ride and map the route via GPS and upload to the strava website for further analysis. Strava will auto-detect any significant climb and mark it as a segment, or match sections of your ride against already existing segments.

Once you upload a few rides and see how cool the segments are, you will love their segment explorer on the website to find new routes that are popular in your area, or search for new areas to ride while on vacation.

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The strava app is very nice. I especially like that you can compare your performance with other riders on categorized hills. –  Angelo Jan 9 '12 at 15:19
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Strava app is definitely the way to go. It is one of the things that keeps me riding. You can find lots of cool little segments and hills through their website as well. Strava Website –  Dale Wright Jan 12 '12 at 3:53
    
I like the ability to find segments, it has helped me plan new routes because I can see what other cyclists in my area enjoy doing. Also I love seeing when I have achieved a time on a categorized climb and seeing my times improve when I ride. I also like the ability to create my own segments. –  robthewolf Oct 11 '12 at 9:48

With reference to the physical mounting, I use the Breffo Spiderpodium to grip my smartphone to the handlebar stem.

At first I was sceptical that it would hold, but was impressed that it stuck for a number of 80+ mile training rides and was inexpensive. It also didn't judder the phone, and was flexible enough to absorb vibrations along the way (although this was on a touring bike, so I wasn't off-road).

Without wanting to expand the scope of the question (my phone is an Android) and with reference to the app, I used Google My Tracks to log my route. It had all the profiling I needed and tight integration with my Google Maps account (ask for link, I can't post a 3rd until 10 rep), but isn't available for iPhone.

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This was the sample link: maps.google.com/maps/… –  Craig Foot Jan 9 '12 at 14:13

I add another app to this question : CoachMyRide

CoachMyRide is an iOS (iPhone and iPhone Touch) application dedicated to improve your training.

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i have really been liking the garmin app. It tracks the best for my area, maintains solid connection, and seems like its accurate overall. Also good on battery.

Garmin Apps

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The MP3 player feature is great. I love listening to music while I am cycling.

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Mapmyride/run is cool. You can track nutrition and equipment mileage, as well as other forms of excercise.

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I have tried many apps on my phone-- MapMyRide, MyTreks, Endomondo, Strava-- and there are pros and cons associated with using an iPhone in this capacity.

Basically, it boils down to ride duration. If you're riding for a short distance/time, you're probably going to be satisfied with a variety of apps, depending on what you want them for. You like to compete with others? Try Strava. If you like just recording your route, speed, elevation (not very precise), try Endomondo or MapMyRide.

If you ride for longer distances/times, you're probably going to find the iPhone is rather limited. The battery is drained rapidly by the screen, so if you like to use your phone in place of a cyclocomputer for speed, heart rate (requires additional hardware), you will find that your phone will die on you, unless you have an external battery of some kind.

I usually do a 50-ish mile ride about 3-4 times per month, and it takes about 3 hours. I've tried using my iPhone to record the ride, and it died on me before the ride was over. It was in my jersey pocket-- I have a cyclocomputer, so I don't use the phone in that capacity-- and it was probably 95% charged at the start of the ride, but it was still dead before the end of the ride. I know I can make it work-- quit other apps that are not being used, make sure the app is not displaying my position on a map, so the screen can go dark and save some battery-- but for longer rides, say, 70 miles, the phone simply does not hold enough charge in the battery to permit me to record the ride. A 70-mile ride for me is around 4.5 hours on the bike, plus stops.

There are a bunch of various cases/mounts which allow you to put your iPhone on the cap of your steering tube or on your stem/bars, some of which are waterproof, some which are not, some with an external battery, some without. Personally, I can't use that kind of a case unless it is waterproof, equipped with an external battery, and easily removed (I don't want my phone getting stolen when my bike is parked). Too, if you typically carry your iPhone in a case-- I use an Otterbox-- you need to remove it from that case before you put it into your handlebar/stem/steering-tube-cap-mounted case. Taking an iPhone out of an Otterbox Defender case is a hassle.

What works best for me, riding around 2500 miles per year on/off road, is a Ziploc bag. I put my phone into a Ziploc bag, and carry it in my jersey pocket or my Camelbak. If you ride a decent amount and want to get data from your rides, you should get a Garmin. You'll get enough battery life to record a century, and then some, plus you'll get a device which is actually designed for the job of recording the route/helping you navigate, recording heart rate, cadence, elevation, grade, you name it. Everyone I know who has a Garmin loves it.

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