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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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Ok, okaaaaaaay. So Ghost Rider the Whip has tasked me with the year-end update to all ye mighty Bike Commuters!!! For all you non-daily readers (myself included, no excuses, just the truth yo) consider this the ultimate BikeCommuters.com Cliff Notes of 2011. Be sure to click the extra links, so many goodies embedded in this one. And since I love LISTS as much as tweens love Ryan Gosling and puppies, here is the Top 11 Bike Commuters Highlights (and then some) from the Year of the Rabbit … Let the countdown begin.
11. Helmet on a Diet: Among many products, including the O2 Rainwear’s Calhoun Jacket, Levis 511 Commuter Jeans, and others from Chrome, Planet Bike, Velo Orange, and Ergon, we reviewed this half-weight BMX/skater style melon protector – the Pryme V2 Lite! Removable pads allow for easy cleaning, adjustment, and with 13 vents will keep you less than sweaty. RL even said this Pryme helmet on a diet was so light he forgot he was wearing it!
10. How To’s and Ghetto-rigging: Several articles this year featured DIY and easy commuter tips like how to apply Stealthy 3M Reflective Tape to your bike frame! Check out the before and after shots in this follow up article. We wrote about how to make a Bike Train, last minute tips for carrying groceries home, and a friendly reminder on lubing your chain!
9. Winterize-Me! 2011, the year of the rabbit is also the year of the snow-bunny. All-year and all-weather rider Elizabeth has cranked out some popular tips and posts on layering, waterproofing your getup, and winterizing your manos for the harshest winter climate commutes. Two-wheeled transporting readers like yourselves named this article a top fave in our 2000th post giveaway contest! Check out Layering as Easy as 1 2 or 3! Elizabeth makes us warm-weather writers look like sissy lalas, she’s a BAMF commuter no doubt.
8. Hear Ye, Hear Ye: From you the readers, we had a handful of commuter profiles in the Year of the Rabbit including my posts from Hawaii, Arizona, California, and Illinois. Thanks to Willy Campbell, Karen Voyer-Caravona, Hermes Pagulayan, and Robert Guico for keeping it real. We love to hear from the readers themselves about their best rides, funny stories, tips, and setups…
7. Travels & Adventuretimes: Jetsetting, touring, and leap-frogging through time and space, the BikeCommuters staff writers adventured far and wide including visits to Bike Shares in France, Interbike 2011 in Vegas, vacation commuting in Chicago, and historical Bike Museums in Ohio! I guess we could say we’re bunny-hopping through time and space. We hope to have more Bike Commuters staff travels and adventures next year; maybe we can meet up with you local readers for events or rides!
6. Five-O, Five-O! RL roped his friend, “Officer Ben” into chatting about the DOs and DON’Ts of bikes in the city. For more bike list-lust and Five-O insight, try this article titled “My Conversation witha Cop about Bike Traffic and Safety Tips.” As always with officers, remember your attitude makes a difference!
5. Commuter All-in-One Review –We Reviewed some non-commuter specific bikes this year (like the Xootr Swift and the Redline Urbis) but Jack pulled the lucky straw and got his heine on this Breezer Uptown 8 back in Spring (full-on Wabbit Season)! The Uptown 8 came fully-loaded with all kinds of commuter goodies: rear rack, chaincase, dyno-powered lights, full fenders, internal shifting, bell, high spoke count wheels, water bottle cage, and a kickstand! And all for $999.00 MSRP, a low maintenance sturdy steed for city riding requires only one stop at the LBS. Jack gave this all in one commuter a HIGH FIVE of awesomeness.
4. Planet Bike Superflashy-flash TURBO! Hoo-hoo, you caught me! My soft spot for all things blinky lights and hi-viz leads me to this post by Vince. The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo has 1-Watt a licious power of red LEDs and a attention-grabbing flashy pattern that earned an “A” from Bike Commuters! Read the full article here.
Tis the season of giving and receiving.
My local bike shop is busy this season building up bikes for kids – acting as Santa’s helpers when it comes to the gift of new bike! Since even Santa loves bikes, he’s asking for your help to give the gift of a new bicycle, too, via a contribution to World Bicycle Relief.
My colleague’s passion for WBR (which also happens to be a SRAM organization headquartered in Chicago) has inspired me to expand my concept of “giving a bicycle” to include “empowering someone with a bicycle.” I wouldn’t be better able to express the reasons for giving to this cause any better than my colleague, so I’ll share his words.
Raul Nino has expressed to me that “as a committed bike rider, and someone who wants to do good by others, I think that WBR is a very good way to do so. I know personally how much better my life is because of my physical, economic and psychological commitment to bike riding, it’s heartening to know that by donating a bike through WBR I can help improve the lives of my fellow human beings. The bicycle is a noble machine, and we are ennobled by it through our right actions, and right thoughts. Helping others is always the right thing to do.”
This holiday season I hope we all can experience the joy of giving (or receiving) the gift of the noble bicycle. Whether you donate to WBR, your local bike advocacy group or give a bicycle as a gift to someone in your own life, I wish everyone the richness of a bicycle.
As noted on the WBR donation page, all donations received through December 31st are matched $1 for $1, so your contribution goes twice as far this season!
It’s that time of the year … when I create my annual calendars. All proceeds from the sales of these calendars directly support the Chicago Ride of Silence, especially our efforts to locally promote in the Midwest region. Last year’s 2011 calendar sales were great and I have another batch of three calendars for 2012!
Added bonus — buy 2+ calendars and save 50% with code GIFT4THEYEAR. Bikes Around Town calendar also available via the online retailer BikeSweets.com.
Thank you for supporting safe bike culture…one photo at a time!