Cycling in Melbourne Australia
I must point out from the start that I am a nerd - telephony & computers are my business and I love great quality electronics gear. And I love bike riding so I recently completed a three month process of combining my two loves, and I reckon that I now have a fantastic bike computer.
The first stop was an iPhone 4. After breaking the screen for the third time on my 3GS I decided to contract an iPhone 4. Yes I like Apples products, but the ease of use and reliability of this phone places it streets ahead of anything else.
This then lead me to needing a new phone carrier for my bikes. After hunting the interwebs I found the Biologic Bike Mount for iPhone 4. A water-proof unit that still gives you full access to the phone when it is in the case. Look at the YouTube videos for this unit to see all of the features. I purchased it online from the US and it arrived very promptly. Packaged in cardboard (NO plastic), and with a holder for a 3GS as well as the 4. Very very easy to mount the holder bracket on the bike especially when the necessary tool is provided as well. I purchased two extra brackets so that I can mount the phone on all of my steeds, spending a total of USD$100.
Next was tracking my rides. I have tried ALL of the available apps from Apple's App Store for tracking rides and none of them really gave me the nerdy satisfaction I wanted. However a recent tweet from RunKeeper drew me back to their product. They were giving away their very good RunKeeper Pro for free during January (don't worry they've now decided to make it permanent). The way this works is that prior to starting off on your ride you start RunKeeper Pro on your iPhone and then head off. It tracks your progress in so many different ways, sending the information to your RunKeeper account on their web site when you've finished your ride. But wait theres more...If you purchase a RunKeeper Elite account the tracking data refreshes on the web site every minute, you then tell your partner/friend/children to go to your web page and they will see all of your data and where you are on a map live. As an example my page is here, select one of the rides and you'll see a row of information with the major statistics, a map showing the route, and a line chart displaying elevation, pace, speed, and heart rate (more on that in a minute). Place your mouse over the chart at any distance and see a summary of the stats for that point, and where it is on the map. Move your mouse along the line chart and watch the pointer on the map follow you. To see RunKeeper Live working I am most likely doing a ride from Abbotsford to Sassafras via the Devil's Elbow this Sunday 20/2/2011 from 10:30am until about 1pm.
One other feature the RunKeeper Pro app has is that taking a photo from within the app will place the photo into the timeline of the ride. Watch the video here to see the features of RunKeeper Elite.
The last "toy" I decided to get was a heart rate monitor I had seen advertised again from a tweet from RunKeeper. This tiny unit from Wahoo attaches to the base of the iPhone where the power/sync port is and the Garmin HRM1G unit goes around your chest. It was incredibly easy to set up. Plug the Wahoo unit in, put the heart rate monitor on, start RunKeeper Pro and there is my heart beat. So I now have heart rate monitoring as part of the stats recorded at RunKeeper's web site. This unit cost USD$150, and arrived within two days but there was too much plastic :-(
The only downside is that the iPhone with the Wahoo unit attached only JUST fits into the Biologic Bike Mount.
But I love the set up I now have. Next on the list is the Withings body scale that send weight, % body fat, and other stats to RunKeeper....one day soon.
I have NO affiliation with any of these products - just love the nerdy capabilities offered to me while I ride.
All the best.
I used my iPhone for a little while as a bike computer, but it annoyed me that it made all of its other features useless while it was being the bike computer.
I've since bought a Garmin Edge and love that, and my phone can be my phone and not sit there eating its battery while I ride.
Some of the iPhone peripherals like the HR strap though are awesome. It's a fantastic platform for that sort of thing, they just need to figure out true multitasking....and maybe solar battery charging :)
The drain on battery life is the killer and one I need to address pretty soon.
Lots of people rave about the Garmin units especially the 800, and the data that is output by them.
iOS3 didn't multitask, iOS4 does on 3GS and higher. I'm running a 3G, my wife a 3GS, both with iOS4, so I can say with confidence that RunKeeper or any other tracker don't make 3GS or later iPhones "useless," you can run a few other apps other than iPod at the same time. GPS startup/fixing can slow an iPhone down for a few minutes, but this settles down.
Battery management tricks for longer life while out and about on longer rides include...
There are some external battery packs which connect to the dock, some even allow other devices to dock on the back of them for those who want HRM accessories as well. Here's a 3G and 3GS compatible one found by simple google search. Here's one for iPhone 4. They're the case variety, so no external peripherals, but I have seen external batteries that have a Dock "tail" on the iPhone end and a dock on the other end of the battery box.
Same but on a 'droid phone.
I start RunKeeper, then go to camera (for quick snaps) then turn everything else off.