Guest Article – The Best Bike Commuter Apps for your Smartphone

Hello Smartphone-using Bike Commuters of the world! For all of you who have data plans and phones with fun-fun apps for bike commuting, check out this guest article submitted by reader, Jane Johnson .  Read on!

somewhat relevant photoshop madness presented by Mir.I.Am

Great apps to make your commute safer and more enjoyable

Bike commuting is a great way to be self-reliant, get in shape, and help the environment; and with music, GPS, and bike computer apps, smartphones can offer the “modern conveniences” of a car without the headache and expense. Whether you commute for ethics, exercise, or economics, these apps for Android and iPhone can make it easier and more fun.

1)  Endomondo (Android, iPhone)

This is a general fitness tracker app, but the cycling functionality is superb.  In addition to the basics that all the above apps track, Endomondo also monitors calories based on your reported fitness information. It also has support for external heart rate monitors, if you want to go crazy with it. Where this app really shines, though, is the social support to which it connects you. If you’re not competitive, it might not have much to offer you—but if the chance to beat your friends in endurance or speed challenges excites you, Endomondo’s a great way to get motivated. Get a couple buddies signed up, and compete to be the Champion of a given route or trail (sort of like being Mayor of a location on Foursquare), or try to top each other’s personal best. Like Cyclemeter, it also offers voice feedback as you reach milestones, and it tops this list because it’s comprehensive, attractive, and free.

2)  Bike Doctor (Android, iPhone)

This is a great repair primer for any bike commuter. If you depend on your bike to get to and from work, you’ll wear out parts faster than the average weekend warrior, and obviously you’ll be in a tougher spot if you have a breakdown. Fortunately, repairs on a typical workhorse road bike are relatively simple and inexpensive. With this app and a good multi-tool handy, you can walk through 24 of the most common repairs your bike might need, with step-by-step written instructions and a video tutorial. If you like the independence and affordability of commuting, this app can help you be even more self-reliant.

3)  Cyclemeter (iPhone)

If you commute for the fitness benefits, this app will help you better track and record your performance. It monitors your distance, elevation, and speed, with charts that map your performance over time. As your strength increases, you can watch your progress in speed and endurance—a powerful motivator to continue improving. Similar apps are abundant, but the kicker here is Cyclemeter’s safety feature: to keep your eyes on the road, you can set the app to make periodic voice announcements for anything you want to track—for instance, you might set it to report every mile traveled, or every five, or let you know when you’ve hit your target speed. If you’re not too out of breath, you can also request an update on the fly.

4)  Move! Bike Computer (Android)

This app is designed to make your smartphone a handlebar-mounted bike computer, with GPS, odometer, and speedometer in large, bold text so you can easily keep track at a glance (here’s an example of a cheap handlebar mount for LG phones). With your phone snapped into the mount, you’ve got constant access to the basics (speed, trip duration, distance traveled, etc.) as well as more specific readings like pace (in minutes per mile), idle time, total uphills and downhills, bearing, maximum speed, and more. It has attractive virtual gauges and an easy to use interface. The only real concern for this one is safety—it’s loaded with features, but wait till you’ve arrived to play around with it.

Bio: Jane Johnson is a writer for GoingCellular, a popular site that provides cell phone related news, commentary, reviews on popular providers like T-Mobile.

Thanks for submitting your article, Jane.  And to our readers, if you have used any of these apps, tell us what you think!  Any other Bike Commuter specific apps that are helpful, fun, or an absolute necessity on your daily rides?  Let us know in the comments box below.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.


  1. Mir.I.Am March 21, 2012 9:15 pm 

    Oh Man, if only I had a smartphone, I would be into testing some of these out! I wish there was a bike commuter app that would track when the bike racks on the bus are empty or full – so on rainy days I could decide ahead of time if I want to bike it home in the rain or what for the bus!

  2. minimumwage! March 22, 2012 12:29 am 

    I have been using a program for my Android phone called Runkeeper. Pretty tidy little program that maps your ride using GPS, counts your calories burned at the end, lists all sorts information like avg speed, avg pace, current speed, pace etc at the conclusion of your ride. The best thing I like it for is that it has a voice promt that you can set to tell you these informatics as you ride. I have mine set to tell me my avg speed, current speed and distance as well as my current pace every 5 minutes.
    Has an online portion that allows you to store all your rides and view your progress and share the routes and info with others. You can use it for just about any activity, hiking, cycling, running, walking and i even used it last summer to track my lawnmowing.

  3. Steve A March 22, 2012 3:21 am 

    I don’t use any of those reviewd apps for my commute, nor some similar ones that are on my phone. However, one I DO use almost every day is Weatherbug. It helps me decide how much of the morning ride clothing needs to be put on for the ride home, as well as warning me of extreme conditions that may be coming my way. It’s good to know if you need to put that smartphone in a waterproof bag while you are somewhere warm and dry.

  4. Murali March 22, 2012 5:08 am 

    Thanks Steve A. I just installed Weatherbug, and it definitely looks like a must-have for commuters.

  5. Paul G March 22, 2012 6:33 am 

    I use the weather channel app every morning and afternoon to know what to expect and what to wear. I then use Map My Ride to track distance, speed and calories burned. I also have a CyFi Bluetooth speaker mounted on the stem for music. I’m going to check out the bike doctor app. maintenance is always a weak spot.

  6. Dial Tone March 22, 2012 7:02 am 

    When I had a Droid Phone I used Mytracks. Now that I am on an iPhone, I used either Mapmyride or Strava.

    All three are simple and easy to use and all of them have the basic features including elevation and map overlay and graphs. Strava even calculates (estimated) power output in watts. Strava, like the other app mentioned in the above article has a social function in which gets uploaded to the site. You can see other people’s statistics based on the same path/trail you’ve taken. You can also choose to follow people in their routes or allow people to follow you.

  7. BluesCat March 22, 2012 8:03 am 

    I haven’t found a handlebar mount (yet) which instills enough confidence in me to put my Droid in it and use my phone for a bike computer.

    The Weatherbug app is an absolute necessity for me (I check it BEFORE I start riding). The Bike Doctor app looks intriguing.

    Mostly, though, I hate the idea that my phone will be right there, at hand, and I might get an incoming call! Ugh! My bike is my church, and the time I’m riding it is some of the ONLY time I have during the day which is EXCLUSIVELY mine; I can be alone with my thoughts, and I have solved ALL the world’s problems during my bike commute.

  8. Mike Myers March 22, 2012 10:01 am 

    I use AllSport GPS. It’s a pretty basic GPS tracker. Shows distance, avg speed, elevation change(not needed here in FL), and overlays my route on a map. My iPhone sits in my pocket, and the app can run while I listen to music.

    I don’t want to put my expensive smartphone on my handlebar. I’d much rather lose or damage a 60 dollar bike computer in a crash.

  9. Ghost Rider March 22, 2012 10:16 am 

    @Blues — you don’t HAVE to answer your phone, you know. People should subscribe to my personal mantra: “this phone is for MY convenience, not yours”. That being said, I rarely answer the phone anywhere, landline or cell, and definitely not when I’m riding. If it’s important enough, I’ll call back when I feel like 😉

    @Mike — you could roll over on your phone in a crash, too. It’s probably no safer in your pocket.

    I have a review for a phone mount coming up if I can ever get off my ass to write it. Prettty sturdy and secure.

  10. Bokchoi Cowboy March 22, 2012 10:57 am 

    On my Android Samsung phone I use Weatherbug for the obvious, and for tracking my riding I use SportyPal Pro. ( Free app with a free associated website account. Integrates rather well with my needs and phone, using the website I can easily export GPX files of the rides into DailyMile. This app has flavors for Android, iPhone, and even Windows phones!

    As far as the phone being a phone and needing to answer or not answer when I am on a ride, I turn on an app called AutoAnswer by EverySoft ( This app controls answering, and has been a boon when on a ride where I can’t get the phone out of the pack or want to keep my hands on the bars. You can tell it to answer from all callers, only callers in your contacts, or starred callers. You can set a delay before automatically answering, forcing speakerphone, only use it when connected to BT headset, and other settings.

    The way I have it set up, if the phone rings when I am on a ride, usually hooked to the phone listening to VeloBeats on my Onegoodearbud, and it is someone in my starred contacts I want to talk to (usually my wife and daughter) it will answer after two rings and I can talk hands-free through my Onegoodearbud’s integrated microphone. If it is not someone starred in my contacts, then the phone rings the set amount I have the phone set for before taking a voicemail. I know that if it is just ringing (4 rings) then it is someone I don’t want to talk to until I am done with the ride.

  11. Mike Myers March 22, 2012 12:49 pm 

    @Jack—I carry mine in a Ballistic HD case. It’s safe. Manufacturers demoed throwing it against a brick wall. LOL

  12. Matt March 22, 2012 1:11 pm 

    Bluescat – with you on finding a mount you like. I tried one not dissimilar from the one linked above and never felt like it was totally secure – the ball and pivot joint never got tight enough to survive any significant bumps, and the whole thing just felt a bit too plastic-y. I just found out that Topeak has what looks like a great one for the iPhone – but not any other phone yet…

  13. Mir.I.Am March 22, 2012 1:44 pm 

    @Steve A – Thanks for the tip on weatherbug! Checking the weather in the a.m. before you head out on two wheels is always a must. Especially if you live in a place where it could be cold in the morning and hot in the evening or vice-versa…

  14. Rob March 22, 2012 2:00 pm 

    I’m in the unique position of being a weather nerd and a bike commuter, so you might not want to shell out for some of these apps. Still I’ve found these to be most helpful on my iPhone:

    RunKeeper (free) – previous poster nailed all the points. More accurate than MapMyRide, the only other app I’ve used. Excellent web integration.

    WeightBot ($1.99) – when I’m actually good about logging my weight daily, this is the easiest app to do it with. If/when I ever get a Withings scale, I won’t even have to worry about manual input (which I tend not to do when I haven’t been biking, cough, cough…)

    RadarScope ($9.99) – Shoot. I can’t go on about this app enough. Accesses the Doppler radar nearest to you automatically. Uses Level 3 data, which is another way of saying it creates seriously detailed images from radar info. And recently they added terminal Doppler radar information, which is like 1080p HD for radar, so long as you live near a busy airport (O’Hare and Midway come to mind for me). On-the-fly updates regarding severe thunderstorm, tornado and flash flood warnings… things I as a commuter would like to know about before riding into them. 😀

    Boltmeter ($1.99) – Helps answer the all-important question, “How likely am I to be struck by lightning on the way home?”. If the surrounding sectors are lighting up and radar shows a few hours of thunderstorms to come… I’ll call the wife, thanks, since most of the way home I’m usually the tallest object in the immediate surrounding area.

  15. Steve A March 22, 2012 4:01 pm 

    Boltmeter? I shall have to investigate that one. Lightning is the one weather condition that scares me out in the open.

  16. Cam March 22, 2012 6:19 pm 

    I use the free mapmyride app on my droid and have been pleased with the accuracy – I can even see when I change lanes or pause for a crank stand at a cross walk. It also has features for posting your route and times to facebook, challenging friends, calories burned, etc.

  17. Raiyn March 22, 2012 9:54 pm 

    Apparently (or so I’ve been told) I’m a freak for not owning a cell phone for the last 10 years or so, much less actually wanting one.
    @ Ghost:
    Your mantra is a good one, but try this reworded version: This phone is a lifeline, not a leash.

  18. Ghost Rider March 23, 2012 3:27 am 

    @Raiyn — I love it, and I also love that you don’t have a cellphone.

  19. Jane Johnson March 23, 2012 6:51 am 

    Thank you all for commenting on this piece and letting us know what apps you guys use. I’ll be trying some of these for sure. Can’t believe I missed out MapMyRide, that should have been an obvious one for me, I already use MapMyRun.

    All these apps are distractions and you really should exercise caution if you use them. Answering the phone while riding got me thinking, if there is any cool Bluetooth enabled gear designed specifically for cyclists. This seems to the cat’s whiskers as far as a headset go

    And from the sublime to the ridiculous. You’ll be wondering how you ever managed to ride without these Bluetooth enabled MP3 shorts

  20. Rob March 23, 2012 8:11 am 

    Yeah, I should have been providing links to these. Here’s the website for Boltmeter:

    I used it this morning… sort of. Radar showed yellows and reds (heavy rain) approaching but Boltmeter wasn’t showing any lightning in the area (within 30 miles in the last 6 minutes). ***Although the lack of past lightning doesn’t preclude future lightning***, I haven’t heard thunder then or since then.

    Thunderstorms were in the forecast through the morning though, and they’re still in the forecast for the afternoon, so I ended up driving to work.

  21. BluesCat March 23, 2012 1:50 pm 

    GR – I’m such a superstitious nit, I just KNOW that if I even HEAR my cellphone ringing — in the handlebar bag or back in my pannier — I better answer it: when I answer my voice mail, I’m SURE I’m gonna hear “Ohh! We’re sorry we missed you! This is Publisher’s Clearing House calling, and I guess we’ll just have to give YOUR million dollars to somebody else!”


    If my cell phone is turned off, that superstition is eliminated.

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