Cyclemeter iPhone App Version 5.0.4 Review

Cyclemeter iPhone App 5.0.4. – now at release 7 and going from strength to strength.

Update for below the first version that I used.

Hi All

Just thought I would add in my comments on this app. Cyclemeter V7

But first off the short version “you have to get it” as the guys at Nike say “just do it”. If you ride a bike and have an iPhone with GPS its a must have.

OK what it will and will not do for you and what is my story.

I bought this app based on seeing one of my friend’s fumbiling about with his iPhones at a Club Sportif ride here in Sunny Perth Australia, he said it did everything!!

I’ve just got my new iPhone and thought I would have a look at what was available as I was looking at upgrading my heart rate monitor, cadence and odometer from an on board wire computer and Polar wireless heart/odo to a Garmin 705, GPS with Cadence, add in Wattage and coffee making… or a similar Polar watch.

Then I thought if I could buy something for the iPhone and save $700 that would be useful.

But does it do everything. No not yet…

It does not do heart, cadence or wattage.

But and this is a big BUT. So what.

Not wanting to rush into a new Gadget, which I do all the time only to use only one tenth of what they do. I thought I would ask around about what the better cyclists around me use, and used to get there.

I asked a few who had the Garmin 705 what they really used it for. All of them said “as an odometer and heart rate” that was very easily moveable from bike to another bike with GPS maps if they got lost. One and all were happy with their purchase. But none had seen Cyclemeter and were very impressed when I showed it to them. One or two said when they were traininng up they used a wattage meter a bit but were more focused on time intervals and using standing bikes.

So currently I have not gone to buy the Garmin 705 but have been putting Cyclemeter through its paces to see what I can get out of it and the iPhone.

So what will it do.

OK I use the Cyclemeter in two ways. One going to work and short rides – on my mountian/road bike set up and secondly on my Real road bike doing training rides and road rides/races. My trips to work and around are normally shorter than an hour and I like to have a view of lots of info. My real rides and training are basically spent making sure I do not go lactic with maybe speed and time of day added in – I’m normally in a team or group. In my real rides I want all the data but not nessisarliy as I am riding. This is where Cyclemeter really comes into its own.

What iPhone and other technolgy does Cyclemeter utilise…
Cyclemeter uses all of the iPhone technology, firstly as a computer storing info such as wieght and rides, then calculations using speed, distance and elevations to calculate calories. The GPS gives you those speeds, distance and evelvations to a high degree of acuracy. It also adds in maps, graphs of speed and elevations. Taking that another step forward it gives you the ability to race/pace yourselves against past rides and uses the GPS to give you route so far traveled against those past rides. The same is true of the graphs for speed and elevations. On top of all of that it has the facility to send your location and your data to twitter, so you and your coach, friends and family can track were you are. This is where the app then uses the text to talk technology. Not only will the thing twitter your ongoing ride and results, it can talk messages you recieve from twitter back to you. You can chose who’s twitters you get so you can say only choose your partner or coach. You can also respond using that same technology. This same technology lets you access your stats via the iPhone ear piece that can be used to control your Cyclemeter app whilst riding. It can let you know what your data is, about 18 bits of it, at given intervals whilst you ride. With your ipod app turned on at the same time if you wish.

But how does it perform when the rubber, and hopefully not bits of me, hit the road.

Firstly the app is bound to the iPhone, so it comes with a few features and restrictions that are just iPhone, network and technology related.

Screen – screen is bright and easily seen (even though glasses, I have perscription mirrored poliroid glasses and use the iPhone sat in a Dahon cycle mount and can see the screen in bright Austalian sun light) – however if you have the app ON in this bright mode it burns power like Los Angels on New Years Eve.
(If anybody/thing can come out with a function that can turn the iPhone black on grey and save battery like I would buy it today.)

GPS – If the GPS is working fine then it works fine on the App. I currently work on contract for a Telco and the building I am in seems to put out enough microwaves to cook passing sea gulls (the guys will not fix the air con on the roof without the whole mobile phone system in this area being turned off). Therefore on some of my rides here I start from a very strange place and do 5km in 6 seconds!! But most others rides this works within feet of where I actually am standing.

Network – if the newtork is connecting then the twitter thing and “email me my rides” works fine.

Storage – I think the iPhone could store every ride I do for the whole of my life and never even get to the end of the first block of a memory used chart.

Maps – As long as there is connection the maps work great and only load around where you are. (the routes look really god on screen)

Battery life – As stated in the sreen section above battery life can be short if you choose to have the display turned on. Currently I am seeing how far I can extend a single ride with the Cycle meter App turned on the background, with the iPhone in sleep and working just with the normal iPhone battery.

Currently I am up to 4:00:57 – the phone lasted another 38 mins but I pressed the wrong button and messed up my ride time. (I had just ridden through Perth’s Death Valley ride and was a bit dehydrated – that’s my excuse) I think I could get more out of it as I think I had bluetooth turned on and the brightness turned up high. As I understand it the screen turns on when it Twitters so that could make a big difference. Also the phone was on for 30 mins before the ride unpowered. So I think 6 hours should be do able. The Garim will do about 10 hours – not sure if that is with GPS turned on.

Head phones – I have not used this mode yet. On short rides where the iPhone is mounted on my bike I just tap the screen for start and stop. If on more serious ride I carry it in my pouch in a case. I switch on about 30 seconds before I start and after about 30 seconds when I finish. NB I use my old polar for KMs/hour and heart rate. In the next few weeks I will start to use the “announcements” to talk my stats on my ride. Up until now I have been training on staying under my lactic levels. I will also be looking into using a bluetooth ear piece on longer rides rather than the white wire. Not sure if this will work but I will update this either way.

OK those are the features and issues with just using an iPhone and related technology what about just the Cyclemeter app.

View – the view is clear and clean, not sure if the colors etc change when you change your iPhone look and feel mine in just vanilla.

Display – In Stopwatch mode – used for riding you have Route name (you name these before or after ride), Activity (cycling, walking etc – could set up standing cycle and recovery rides if you wish), Ride Time, Distance, Speed KM or MPH, remaining km or Miles, AVg speed and then a choice of Calories, Elevation, Climb and Fatest Speed.

Display when turned to the left from portate to landscape – show maps, route, distance traveled so far and KM markers.

Display when turned right from portate to landscape Speed Graph and Elevation Graph.

Other views used mainly when not cycling = Maps, Calander, Routes and More (settings).

Looking back at rides…
I must say I love looking back at all my rides. Cyclemeter allows you to put in notes, add rides that you forgot to record or in my case I add in Standing cycle rides. All this data is added up in the calander for ride, day, week, month and year calculations.

For instance Week commencing 22Feb I cycled 9 times, total distance of 275.14 kms, total climb 2954 meters, 13169 calories burnt, average distance of 30.57 km average climb of 328 meters and average speed of 26.60 km/hr (I live in the hills). This log is great, used with a paper based or iPhone based training log it can be invaluable for meeting your goals and training targets – and there is very little chance to cheat if you are using the twitter part of the ap as your coach can check up on you!! (see mine at twitter.com/georgeslater NB there are lots of rides there, as I have been trying this out, look for the different URLS.)

Looking at your rides and sharing with rest of your group…
Its great if you have fast connection or the cafe you stop at after your ride has wireless to show everybody where you have been. I know that sounds a bit geeky but if you are cycling with a group you’re going to ride/race with then it can really help you see where you can improve and share that info with others. Emailing the ride to others in your groups who cannot make the ride the same day as you also allows them to pace you to see if they are comming up to or in a number of cases exceeding your/your teams level. I have not worked out yet if you can import these rides between Cyclemeter uses yet but it is a question I will be asking.

Leting your partner and others know where you are…
Using the twitter mode you can let others know where you are on the ride. I’ved now used this a few times to allow people to see where I am on a round robin route. Different riders join on the way around. Now they can see where we are as we are coming around. OK they probably would have just left there house at a certain time to join anyway, but now they can see if we are held up or going well. Also I have set up for a 235km ride I am doing this coming Sunday for people to cheer me on and hopefully throw some food my wayon the way around. It will be interesting to see how that goes. I think it is also a very good safty feature. I have turned my twittering to 10 min intervals (unless I am in a group and going for longest battery life), if you are stopped in one place for 30 mins the app stops, so if you are in one place for 20 mins and somebody is looking out for you they coulc either call to see if you are OK or send out help. I can tell you cycling out the back of Perth in Australia this can be quite a comfort if you are alone.

Traininig at a distance…
I am on the verge of going to cycling classes to help me get from Group B to Group A – I am sure that this app will allow any coach a lot of scope to look back at your current cycling (bit like recording all your golfing shots) and then see where and how you can use your current cycling profile to train better and use the twitter funciton to help you train whilst on rides. It would be easy for a coach to monitor 10 -15 riders from the comfort of their own home and send detialed short messages to each rider as they train at the same time in different parts of the World. Not sure you could do this with any other technology on the market that all the 10-15 rides may have available.

What is annoying…
Still trying to get the app to stay on all the time on short rides (sub 2 hours) – I’m getting there and I am sure its more user error than the app, phone or mount. Currently I am trying to get this right. Screen stays on then turns off and then turns back on. I’m just working though all the settings at present. But when on works well. I will update as I get more info…

Mounting the iPhone on the bike…
I use a mounting on my souped up War Hourse Mountain bike – 15 year old aluminum GT Backwoods All Terain, with 26 wheels fitter with Conti 1 1/8th Gators. I’ve purchased a Dahon iPhone cycle mount ($55 US plus shipping from HK). The mount can be adjusted on the fly allowing for rotation that in turn allows you to incline left of right to move from “stopwatch” to Map to Graph Mode in the Cyclemeter app. The screen is smoked finish miromebrain whatever and allows for “water risistance” whilst still giving access to touch screen, ear phones and video. The shell has a doulbe clip in and did not come of the bike when I dropped it the other day. Very impressed. It rotates 360 degrees. I looked at all other options and this seems to be the only one that I would trust my iPhone to. It says not for rough terrain, but I would suggest that tracks and the od bumpy bits were fine. Downhill over boulders I would carry it in my backpack or give to my support crew.

Use as a cycle computer…
Once you have a mount and you are in stopwatch mode you have a basic cycle computer with GPS. Currently I would suggest this is great if you are just using Cyclemeter on a communitng bike or doing recovery rides and distance and speed is all you need. Just this is well worth the money for the app and set up. On a full road bike without the heart, cadence and wattage if you wanted to go this far I think its not currently the go. I would suggest you still have a Polar or similar for Heart, KMs and cadence and wattage if fitted. However you should also have Cyclemeter running on iPhone in your pocket. Running just the normal system without the email and twitter function turned on is well worth the effort. As this will record all your ride data and lets you easily move it to a pc with the export CSV funtion.

Moving forward…
If Cyclemeter ever intergrate this with exsitng wireless heart monitors (as opposed to pulse meters), or even find better and cheaper modles- if they do that I the other wireless ads ons for speed, candence and Wattage are just extra data streams as they all use the same wireless signal – then this will be a monster app for cyclists, triatholon and runners. Added to that if Dahon or similar can intergrate battery extenders to their cycle mounts then you could totally replace the need for the Polar or Garmin headsets. OK the set on the bike is a little bigger and not as neat, but for what you get its worth the extra size. And as almost all riders carry a phone with them anyway you are really losing wieght overall and probaly saving $hundreds on the technology. But I suppose we will have to wait and see. But for my money for under $6 there is no question “just buy it” and swithc it on for every ride you do.