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If multiple cyclists share a household but do not share bicycles, the conclusions are evident.

  • Each bicycle must be fitted with its own speed/cadence sensors and its own cyclometer mount. It's a pain to move those parts, and it would otherwise be quite inconvenient to keep track of mileage for each bike.
  • Each cyclist has his/her own cyclometer, which they attach to whichever bicycle they will ride that day. When the cyclometer is turned on, that specific bike will be selected, and subsequently that bike's sensors will be automatically connected to the cyclometer.
  • At the conclusion of a ride, each cyclist's cyclometer loads ride data to their own account on their preferred (AllTrails, Komoot, RideWithGps, Strava, ...) cloud account.

But what if two or more cyclists share a bicycle? That bicycle would still have its own sensors, but is there a good solution for the cyclometer? Getting one cyclometer per shared bicycle would be wasteful. Disconnecting bluetooth from the sensors of one rider's cyclometer and reconnecting to another's would be a pain.

Does this problem have a reasonable solution? How to track ride data for a shared bicycle?

Clarification

In the absence of a compelling solution, this question probably has approximations to a solution that depend on whether the bike is the oldest bike in your stable — the hybrid bike you still use to get to a store or a tennis court nearby, and the one you would not really care much if you lost it — or the nicest bike in your stable — the shiniest one that you glance at lovingly and the one you pamper with careful cleaning. My present problem is indeed the latter. I have in the past purchased a $10 gadget with quadruple rubber bands that pull around a smartphone. That solution is just adequate for the first problem, provided you remember to take the smartphone with you.

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    Are you after an electronic solution? Would a notebook hanging in the bike shed be an acceptable analogue process for each rider to make a note with a pen ?
    – Criggie
    Commented May 17 at 3:02
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    "Disconnecting bluetooth from the sensors to each rider's cyclometer would be a pain." Why would you need to disconnect it? In my experience you can just keep the sensors paired to multiple cyclometers. it should be even easier if you use ant+ sensors
    – Yalla T.
    Commented May 17 at 9:28
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    @YallaT. only if you talk about actual sensors and cyclometers. The OP's modus operandi is to imagine things until he runs into an imaginary problem and then ask a question about it.
    – ojs
    Commented May 17 at 10:18
  • @YallaT. My bluetooth headphones will indeed connect, and remain connected after restarts, to multiple devices (computer, tablet, phone), but my mouse and trackpad will not only refuse to connect to multiple computers, they will stubbornly refuse to connect, even after resets, to another computer unless their connection to their present computer has been specifically removed. I'm not sure whether my bike sensors, or bike sensors in general, fall in the first or the second category, but I vaguely recall a few attempts that are reminiscent of the latter.
    – Sam7919
    Commented May 17 at 13:15
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    @Criggie I have a chain measure tool and so maintaining mileage would be nice, but is not the main factor here. I'd like the ride data to be available during the ride.
    – Sam7919
    Commented May 17 at 13:23

6 Answers 6

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Each user has a smart watch or phone for recording rides. You can rely on GPS for speed/distance, or if one or two riders want better accuracy, attach Bluetooth/Ant+ sensors and one user connects to Ant, the other to Bluetooth (Could always fit two sensors for four riders). I expect at least some of the people using a shared bike will be happy with the accuracy of a GPS based watch or phone.

If the users want speed/distance/time displayed on the bike while riding, even a cheap cycle computer would work.

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One solution could be phones or smart watches. There are secure phone mounts - Quad Lock being perhaps the first one but now not the only one. You do have to get a case for your phone. But, from there, each user could just run an app like Strava. Or one could track distance using a general purpose smart watch, which many people have these days.

Garmin computers do support multiple activity profiles, but as far as I can tell they are designed for one user to have multiple profiles, and their IT infrastructure is designed for one user to have multiple Garmins. The reverse isn't in their design. Wahoo doesn't even have differing bike profiles.

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A phone mount on the bars would be enough, subject to the users having suitable phones for the conditions. You could consider using a Quadlock, or some other mount that will take a variety of devices and cases (though I'd hate that - my phone is waterproof and rugged to start with, and Quadlock don't make a big enough case - but the back is too textured to trust a glued-on mount even if I wanted that the rest of the time).

Wahoo do a cadence sensor that can go on your shoe. If riders want cadence, tell them to get one of those (or another make, but it becomes their problem). GPS is good enough for everything else with a clear view of the sky.

Tracking total mileage per bike could then be done with the cheapest wired battery distance sensor (a CatEye Velo 5 can be had for £10 so about $/€12). You could mount the display on the fork to avoid cluttering the bars, as you don't need it while riding.

But honestly I don't think it's worth it. Even if you have high-end bikes, maintaining them to a strict mileage schedule only makes sense if the riding conditions are consistent. One dusty or muddy ride, either long or not fully cleaned afterwards. Better to check chain wear every so often, and use that as a metric for when to do other maintenance. For example I change the RD cable on my Topstone whenever I change the chain, because with internal cable routing I really don't want to snap the cable. On my tourer I've changed as many RD cables at the roadside as at home.

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Stick a cheap wired cyclecomputer on each bike and leave it there. The odometer will record total mileage for that bike. Remember to re-set it when a service is done

Each rider has their own strava account which uses a phone or a head-unit, and that moves with the rider.

Downside, sensors on the bike would need to be re-paired with the head unit.

So the "proper" answer is at least one bike dedicated to each rider.

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Here we divide the cyclists sharing the bicycle into one primary cyclist and (multiple) secondary cyclist(s).

The answer becomes a lot simpler if you admit that one cyclist is more important than the other(s). Perhaps one cyclist is racing, or one cyclist is training following a specific program, ...

The solution then becomes to install the sensors for the exclusive use of that cyclist. The other cyclist(s) can still save and upload ride data directly from their own cyclometers, and since heart rate monitors are most likely not shared, those data would continue to be tracked, and an estimate of the speed from GPS data will be calculated by the cyclometer, but the secondary cyclist(s) would not have access to cadence (or power) data streams. Matching a speed sensor to the primary cyclist's cyclometer may also mean that the speed data obtained by that cyclist is more accurate.

All in all it is a reasonable compromise. The saddle must still be shifted up and down, which is a separate issue (but note that a beam torque wrench is then more handy than a click torque wrench).

Notice also that you'd have to commit to a household brand of cyclometer, since the mounts for those are almost surely guaranteed to be different. Sharing one set of front/rear lights means one set of mounts for each shared bicycle (but then any "smart" features of these lights will again have to be used exclusively by the primary cyclist).

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Linking the computer to the bike rather than the rider makes more practical sense: as you pointed out, it would also allow to have a full functionality of the sensors and lights.

This computer is linked to a bike account. After each ride, the rider can export the ‘.fit’ file from the bike account and import it on their account, if they want the full data, or use another tracking method that doesn’t capture all parameters (doesn’t need to be a cycle computer, a sport watch/smart phone can be as relevant in this context, as pointed out in other answers).

The bike computer can also be linked to the main account of the main user, that exports the ‘.fit’ file and erase the activity after the ride.

That requires a bit of work, but having an extensive tracking system is tedious unless it goes exactly within the boundaries of the company that develops it.

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