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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 BikeCommuters.com reader, Jane Johnson . Read on!
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.
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.
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