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iPhone as cycle computer?

Old 12-05-19, 05:31 PM
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FloridaDave
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iPhone as cycle computer?

I probably would have posted this in the "Dinosaurs" group if there was one -- I still use a Cateye wired cycle computer. I've tried wireless computers of different brands and found them unreliable. However my Cateye Velo 7 has always met my needs. Yes it has wires, but it's small and has been a rock-solid device that told me what I needed to know. Until now...

Today as I started my ride it completely reset itself as if I'd put a new battery in. Odometer mileage? Gone. Wheel size? Gone. So I rode using the old fashioned method of distance and time (riding a rail trail that conveniently provides mile markers every tenth of a mile!!).

Now I'm looking for a new solution. I don't want to spend big bucks on a GPS. Do I want another low-tech Cateye? Or should I just start using my iPhone and one of the many apps available on the Apps Store? I have a FitBit with a GPS, but that provides ride summary info, not real-time distance/time/pace info which I find myself relying on.

Please let me know if you use an iPhone-based solution, and how you have that big iPhone 6/7/8/10 mounted on your handlebar (or top tube?). If you have a favorite app or mounting bracket, please share. Or if you have other ideas that pull me into the 21st century let me know. TIA.
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Old 12-05-19, 06:14 PM
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Most people who do this leave the phone in a pocket where it can't fall if you hit a pothole. Or but an older used phone. If you do long rides you'll need a separate battery.
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Old 12-05-19, 06:25 PM
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I have a couple bikes with wired computers, very reliable and very accurate. My wireless computers do not automatically start when I start rolling and they go through batteries faster with less accuracy.

I often use a GPS too, but not always. Even when I use a GPS, the wired computer is more accurate so if I am tracking distance for some purpose, the computer is the distance I use.

My wired computers are from a company that went out of business a few years ago, so unlikely you would be able to get the same ones I have, Sports Instruments was the brand.
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Old 12-06-19, 02:12 PM
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I use an iphone and the ridewithgps app. Sometimes my phone is in my pocket, and sometimes it's mounted on my handlebars. If I'm riding for a good amount of time, I connect an external battery to prevent discharge of the battery. It's not a perfect solution, but it costs less than getting a dedicated bike computer. It works for me.
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Old 12-06-19, 02:27 PM
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I log my rides with Cyclemeter. As Seattle Forrest suggests, I keep it in my pocket--I'm not using it to monitor my progress so much as to record it; it can also give spoken updates at regular intervals if you want. Free to use, but I pay for a "premium" subscription.

There are secure stem mounts for iPhones--check out Quadlock's products for starters.

The potential downside to tracking your rides strictly with GPS is what I call "GPS freakouts" where your device loses its GPS lock and you discover when you review your ride that you hit 700 mph for a brief period. iPhones have gotten a lot better about maintaining GPS locks, and Cyclemeter will keep track of how long your rode with a poor GPS signal. The real solution to this, if it matters to you, is to get a bluetooth wheel-rotation counter, which Cyclemeter (and presumably other apps) can hook into, along with HRMs and the like. iPhones cannot pick up on ANT+ signals. Wahoo used to make an adapter, back in the days of 30-pin iPhones, but most of these performance trackers emit bluetooth anyhow now.
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Old 12-06-19, 05:27 PM
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Before I replaced my Garmin I rode for a couple of months with the Strava app and an iPhone. Never had battery problems and my longest ride was 7.5 hours. (It was an iPhone 5 or 6.) The only difference between the Garmin and iPhone for me was, of course, the lack of cadence or HR on the iPhone. However, all other data was accurate although the algorithm estimated power varied between the Garmin and iPhone for the same ride and or segments. Overall the iPhone tended to show more power. However, the Garmin has always been clearly wrong on estimated power for descents. It way underestimates.
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Old 12-06-19, 11:09 PM
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How do you estimate power with a Garmin?
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Old 12-06-19, 11:41 PM
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I second the RWGPS thought. Been very happy with it so far and have found GPS Freakout to be quite rare. In fact, when I had it on 2 of my early rides, I contacted RWGPS. They got back to me a 7 AM the next morning and had already gone into my 2 errant rides and made appropriate corrections. Brian of RWGPS then suggested a couple of possible causes of this Freakout, which I won't bore you with . Anyhoo, he was exactly right. I fixed the one thing and--Presto!!!--no more GPSFreakout.

I had a QuadLock connection fail going over a train track and trashed a spendy phone. Very disappointing. Now, I use a rather inexpensive LG, which works great, and it is mounted with the ridiculously reliable, $14 NiteIze Phone Mount, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...k_ql_qh_dp_hza. A couple of people told me I would be bothered by the straps across the screen, but I don't surf my phone while I am riding--I just look at the screen to see what's going on when necessary. If I need to make a call, I stop. If I am lost on my route, I stop. When I am riding my bicycle, I am riding my bicycle. I try to practice a bit of very unskilled but still energetic mindful riding, when I can. Consider me the Anti-Multitasker, after decades of senseless multitasking. And the data now are beginning to suggest messing with one's phone while trying to get from one place to another may be risky-completely forgetting about what we already know about cars and texting.
https://www.nbcnews.com/health/healt...-says-n1096391
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Old 12-07-19, 03:28 AM
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I also like RideWithGPS. The more I use it the more I prefer it over my Garmin.
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Old 12-07-19, 11:05 AM
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bpcyclist which Quad Lock mount failed for you? I have both the stem mount and the out front. The stem mount can fail if the rubber band fails. Stupid design. The out front seems pretty foolproof unless you flip your bike and it lands on the phone.
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Old 12-07-19, 01:06 PM
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My Wahoo Bolt is dead accurate and does not use a lot of power. It never falls off the bars and starts immediately when I start a ride. It also swaps seamlessly between bikes and when on the trainer, all automatically detected. If there's a wheel sensor it sees it, if there's a cadence sensor it sees it. It displays my power meter. It records all data accordingly. All data gets stored offline in multiple places so it is never lost. There are more display modes than I can even count and so many stats that I can't keep up with it all, but you pick what you want to focus on.

I just don't understand why people say they are not accurate or are unreliable. I tried using a phone for a while but it always ran out of power on a long ride, and only recently did I use it with a separate battery which did make a difference.

But yes, they are a bit expensive.
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Old 12-07-19, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
bpcyclist which Quad Lock mount failed for you? I have both the stem mount and the out front. The stem mount can fail if the rubber band fails. Stupid design. The out front seems pretty foolproof unless you flip your bike and it lands on the phone.
Oh, the truth is, I am almost positive it was my fault. I think when I twisted it to attach, I didn't make sure it was firmly on the actual mount base attachment. I didn't get a firm connection, so, when I hit some rough stuff, it just sort of twisted/bounced right off. It was the stem, though. But again, almost sure it was me that failed to get a good, firm connection.
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Old 12-07-19, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
How do you estimate power with a Garmin?
You have Garmin Connect connected/synced with Strava.
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Old 12-08-19, 07:13 PM
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Thank you to everyone for suggestions and feedback. This morning I rode with both my iPhone running RWGPS and using my Cateye Velo cycle computer. RWGPS is an interesting app, and maybe I'll continue to investigate it. I had my phone in a jersey pocket, so I couldn't get real-time updates, but my little wired Cateye always has that info available. I have prescription single-vision sunglasses, so reading text on my iPhone with dark, polarized sunglasses is nearly impossible anyway. All in all, while using RWGPS may give me a wealth of information about my ride, the fact is, I'm an older rider who rides to enjoy the outdoors and stay on the green side of the grass. Being able to track time and distance on my Cateye is really all I need. I don't measure a ride by watts or anything like that.

Today was a beautiful, if breezy, sunny and warm day in Central Florida, and my ride along the Indian River Lagoon was really nice. Most days, that's all I need. So I'll stick with my dinosaur Cateye solution for now.
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Old 12-09-19, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by FloridaDave View Post
Thank you to everyone for suggestions and feedback. This morning I rode with both my iPhone running RWGPS and using my Cateye Velo cycle computer. RWGPS is an interesting app, and maybe I'll continue to investigate it. I had my phone in a jersey pocket, so I couldn't get real-time updates, but my little wired Cateye always has that info available. I have prescription single-vision sunglasses, so reading text on my iPhone with dark, polarized sunglasses is nearly impossible anyway. All in all, while using RWGPS may give me a wealth of information about my ride, the fact is, I'm an older rider who rides to enjoy the outdoors and stay on the green side of the grass. Being able to track time and distance on my Cateye is really all I need. I don't measure a ride by watts or anything like that.

Today was a beautiful, if breezy, sunny and warm day in Central Florida, and my ride along the Indian River Lagoon was really nice. Most days, that's all I need. So I'll stick with my dinosaur Cateye solution for now.
Note that one of the things about GPS use and RWGPS is you can create your own routes, then download the route to the device to navigate. Really useful and fun when exploring new area's where you are not sure of the turns.

Last edited by Steve B.; 12-09-19 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 12-09-19, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Note that one of the things about GPS use and RWGPS is you can create your own routes, then download the route to the device to navigate. Really useful and fun when exploring new area's where you are not sure of the turns.
That's a key point, Steve. For organized rides that provide cue sheets and rides you're not familiar with, that would be a big help. I plan on doing some organized metric and half-centuries in the spring and that'll be helpful. I am going to continue exploring RWGPS but have to find some kind of mount to display the iPhone, and I have to get rid of anything that blacks the screen or pops up prompts that interfere with RWGPS. Oh yeah, I may need an external battery. I don't anticipate a ride going longer than 4 hours but I'll have to see how quickly the GPS depletes my battery. Thanks!!
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Old 12-09-19, 09:05 PM
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I've been using iPhone running MapMyRide for years. Works fine.

Only issue is battery power on longer (Century) rides. It can be done. Just swich to Battery Save mode and don't get crazy with pics, video, Google, Google maps.

I also just got a Goal Zero Flip 12 power bank to eliminate all worries of running out of juice before end of ride.


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Old 12-10-19, 09:27 AM
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this will come down to what you really are comfortable with. I am NOT comfortable putting my $1000 cell phone on my bike where I can break it. I am much more comfortable putting my $250 Garmin for that. If I had an crash or whatever I would rather upgrade my Garmin.

BUT if I was going to use my phone I would put it in my back pocket and ride.
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Old 12-10-19, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by adamrice View Post
The potential downside to tracking your rides strictly with GPS is what I call "GPS freakouts" where your device loses its GPS lock and you discover when you review your ride that you hit 700 mph for a brief period.
I had an episode of that recently, I use Wahoo Blue SC for speed and cadence and my Samsung S10+ on a silicone band to my stem. It showed a 1 mile stretch in less than 2.8 seconds... Although, for the entire ride it showed the proper distance, just not the right TIME for that section.
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Old 12-10-19, 01:31 PM
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RidewithGPS screen capture, now that was fast. And I really was going that fast on the ground and NOT on a plane. Planes don't go that fast on the ground anyway. This was the Maglev in Shanghai.

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Old 12-10-19, 02:13 PM
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some other info here
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Old 12-10-19, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
RidewithGPS screen capture, now that was fast. And I really was going that fast on the ground and NOT on a plane. Planes don't go that fast on the ground anyway. This was the Maglev in Shanghai.

Did you by chance ask RWGPS to go in and take a look at this for you? I have found them to be quite speedy and helpful in similar situations.
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Old 12-10-19, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
Did you by chance ask RWGPS to go in and take a look at this for you? I have found them to be quite speedy and helpful in similar situations.
No need, this was real. I was going 269mph on the Shanghai Maglev. The map couldn't repaint fast enough to keep up, that's why it looks like that. The red line trailing behind is the tracks. Even the display inside the train said 268mph, 430km/h
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Old 12-11-19, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
No need, this was real. I was going 269mph on the Shanghai Maglev. The map couldn't repaint fast enough to keep up, that's why it looks like that. The red line trailing behind is the tracks. Even the display inside the train said 268mph, 430km/h
Oh, zacster, you know what?--thank you very much for that. I was just having a very difficult morning and you actually made me laugh. That doesn't happen very often, unfortunately. I needed that. Thank you.

I have spent a reasonable amount of time in Pudong for work over the years, but I must say, I never really did get on a bike there. DId that in Beijing, though, just because you can't go to Beijing and not ride a bike at least once.

Of course, I was laughing with you, not at you...
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Old 12-11-19, 04:27 PM
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269 mph. That's pretty amazing. I rode a train in France that went about 160 mph. It was weird seeing the countryside move by so fast. I can't imagine 269 mph.
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