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Road ID iPhone App For Cyclists And Runners

As I was watching the Tour de France last week I saw an interview with Edward Wimmer, one of the co-owners of Road ID (the most essential piece of cycling gear I own). During the interview Wimmer mentioned that Road ID had recently introduced a free iPhone app that would allow your friends or family to track you while you are out on a ride or going for a run. I downloaded the app this past Monday and it has quickly become one of the most important apps on my iPhone!

Road ID iPhone App For Cyclists And Runners

Road ID iPhone App

The Road ID iPhone app is very simple to set up and even easier to use. Once you download the app from the iTunes Store you input your basic information (name, address and email address), then you can select up to five of your contacts who will receive either an email or a text message when you are ready to go ride or run. The contacts you selected with get a brief message telling them that you are going out—and in the message there is a link they can click that will allow them to see exactly where you are at any given moment while you are out (Road ID calls this an eCrumb—an electronic breadcrumb). They can watch you on any smart phone or web browser.

Road ID iPhone App For Cyclists And Runners

Road ID iPhone App Stationary Alert

The Road ID iPhone app also allows you to turn on a stationary alert—if you don’t move for five minutes the app will send an email or text message to your selected contacts warning them that you are not moving. The message does not necessarily mean that you are lying face-down in a ditch somewhere—it just means that you have not moved more than 15 feet or so in the past five minutes. However, one minute before the text message or email goes out the app will sound a loud alarm to warn you so you can cancel the message (the alarm reminds me of a klaxon horn from a WWII battleship). At the moment this stationary alert cannot be adjusted to any other time-frame—it is either set at five minutes or it is turned off entirely. I wish this app offered the ability to change the amount of time before sending the stationary alert because five minutes is not a lot of time if you get stuck behind a few customers buying lottery tickets at the convenience store (personally, I think the lottery is just a tax on people who are really bad at math).

One of the biggest concerns most people are going to have about this app is the impact on the battery life of your iPhone. There is no question that it will drain your battery a bit, but for most people this is not going to be an issue. I’ve gone out for three rides of three hours each (including “standing around” time at stop lights, etc.) and each time I started with a battery that was 100% full. When I got home after three hours the battery had only gone down by 20%—but I was running another app, Abvio Cyclemeter, at the same time! One note: I always turn off the Wi-Fi on my iPhone when heading out for a ride to prolong battery life.

One other feature  the Road ID iPhone app offers is that it allows you to make a personalized Lock Screen—even if your phone is locked emergency responders can see any pertinent information they need and a list of people they can call in case of an emergency.

The Road ID iPhone app just hit the iTunes store on June 13, 2013 and it is still in version 1.0 as of this writing. According to the description on the iTunes store, this app is “compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation), and iPad. This app is optimized for iPhone 5. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.”

As I said earlier, this is one of my favorite apps—I wish it had been available with my sons were teenagers (what parent wouldn’t want to be able to track their kids?).

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Product Reviews

 

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Bike Repair App For iPhone And Android

In the past few months the local bike shop put together a highly customized new Surly Pugsley for me,  completely rebuilt both my Gary Fisher Big Sur mountain bike and a Trek 1200 road bike, and tuned up my Trek Madone. In addition, I rebuilt my old Trek 4300 mountain bike from the ground up. As a result, all of my bikes are in perfect condition and ready for summer. This is really good news because last week I was at the local bike shop and heard one of the mechanics tell a customer that the turn-around time for a bike repair is now seven days. Now that Spring is here nearly every bike shop in the Midwest is busier than a one-armed paperhanger—even if your bike only needs a simple tune-up you are going to have to either wait a week or do the job yourself. The good news is that bike repair is not all that difficult if you have a copy of Bike Repair, an app for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android platforms.

Bike Repair App For iPhone And Android

Screenshots of the Bike Repair App for Apple iPhone

I own four different bicycle repair manuals and they all do an excellent job of explaining how to make almost any repair to a bike. However, when I rebuilt my Trek 4300 the only guide I really needed was the Bike Repair app. Some bike manuals go into excruciatingly painful detail for every repair, and while and I sometimes appreciate such detail, most of the time I just want to know how to get the job done quickly and some illustrations to guide me along the way.

Though I am an avid cyclist, I usually don’t do much work on my own bikes—the mechanics at the local bike shop are highly skilled and they work a lot faster than I can. However, a few weeks ago I decided to rebuild a bike on my own—not only for the experience, but because I think it will help me if my bike ever seriously malfunctions when I am 50 miles away from home. It comes as a shock to most cyclists, bu many of the repairs you need to make to your bike can be done with a simple multitool like the one you probably already have in your seat bag (the Topeak Alien II 26 function multitool is my favorite).

Bike Repair has illustrated guides for the installation, adjustment and repair of most bicycle components. It has sections on: Wheels, Front Derailleur, Rear Derailleur, Chain, Handlebar/Headset, Pedals/Cranks, Cantilever Brakes, Center Mount Brakes, V-Brakes, and Disk Brakes. In addition, there is a troubleshooting section where you can follow a flowchart of questions to identify your specific problem and then see how to get your bike running in perfect shape again. The directions are clear, easy to follow and well illustrated.

Before you buy any bicycle repair manual I would suggest you try the Bike Repair app first. If you need help overhauling and adjusting a Campagnolo hub equipped with an oversize axle, well, this app is not going to suit your needs. Bike Repair has 55 highly detailed photo repair guides and over 70 bicycle problems explained—I’d guess that covers at least 80% of the problems cyclists have with their bikes. The Bike Repair app for iPhone, iPod and iPad is available through Apple iTunes for only $3.99. The Android version is available for download from the Bike Repair Website. This is one of the few products I wholeheartedly recommend without any reservations at all.

 
 

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iPhone Tripod Holder

iPhone Tripod Holder

iPhone Tripod Holder

While not a cycling-specific product, the iPhone Tripod Holder is a wonderful product for cyclists who want to take photos or shoot video with their iPhone. This little plastic device allows you to take incredibly sharp photographs because it reduces the vibration that causes blurry photos.

Your iPhone snaps into the iPhone Tripod Holder and is held securely by 3M Bumpon Pads. You can then mount your iPhone on any standard tripod (not included). I don’t always carry this little holder with me, but when I plan on shooting self-portraits I take it and a very small tripod. There are so many small tripods on the market that I don’t need to say much about them. Just go to any camera store (or even Walmart or Target) and you can find a cheap tripod that will fit in your jersey pocket with room to spare.

If you plan on shooting self-portraits, you will need to buy a camera app for your iPhone that has a self-timer. There are two great camera apps I recommend. First, there is ProCamera that you can download for $2.99. This app has so many features it would take a separate review just to hit the highlights. It is a high quality app that everyone should own. You can adjust the self-timer to anywhere from half a second up to 20 seconds. I use it so much that I put the app in the dock of my iPhone. Another great camera app for the iPhone is CameraPlus ($1.99). I use both of these apps on a regular basis and have moved Apple’s Camera app into a folder full of apps that I no longer use.

The iPhone Tripod Holder retails for $10 (plus $3 shipping). Holders are available for the original 2G iPhone, 3G and 3GS iPhones, and the iPhone 4. You can order the iPhone Tripod Holder directly from the company Website.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2011 in Product Reviews

 

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Abvio Cyclemeter iPhone App

Abvio Cyclemeter iPhone App

Abvio Cyclemeter iPhone App

Last year I bought five or six GPS apps for my iPhone and was constantly disappointed—until I got Cyclemeter by Abvio. It’s not that Cyclemeter is just better than the other GPS apps, but it is so far advanced than the other apps that it doesn’t even belong in the same class.

Cyclemeter is the most user-friendly app you will find and it is easy to customize to suit your needs. I have mine set to “talk” to me every mile—a female voice interrupts my music to tell me my current average speed and elapsed time. You can have a lot of other information spoken to you, but this is all I need while I’m on the road. I ride with an Apple headphone so I can listen to music, but I cut off one of the earbuds (and wrapped the end with electrical tape) so I can still hear approaching cars (and dogs).

As soon as I finish my ride I click the stop button and Cyclemeter automatically sends an email to my wife and best friend to tell them all about my ride (miles, average speed, and a link to a map of my route). Again, there are many other options available, but this is I need. Cyclemeter also sends this information to my calendar application (iCal) so I can view the data on any of my desktop computers (all synced with Apple’s MobileMe, soon to be iCloud). You can also have your information published directly to Facebook or Twitter.

How accurate is Cyclemeter? As far as distance is concerned, it is incredibly accurate. Over the course of a 50 mile ride Cyclemeter will differ from my Garmin Edge 205 by less than a quarter of a mile. Part of this difference is due to the way I have my Garmin set up—any time I am traveling under 5 MPH the Garmin considers me to be stopped (this is a user controlled option). Accuracy for fastest speed is a different matter—the Cyclemeter app is never even close. This is the fault of Apple’s location services, not the Cyclemeter app. If you are really concerned about recording your fastest speed for each ride I would buy a cheap wireless bike computer (like the Cateye Vectra Wireless). If Apple ever fixes their location services for the iPhone this problem would be solved.

I have owned three different Garmin GPS units for my bikes and am certain I will never purchase a Garmin product again. It’s not just that Garmin units are overpriced, but their software stinks. Garmin has always treated Macintosh users (like me) as second class citizens and their customer support is miserable. By way of contrast, customer support at Abvio is among the best I have ever seen at any software company. A few months ago had a problem with Cyclemeter because of a conflict with iOS 4.3 for iPhone (the problem is now resolved). When I wrote to Abvio about the problem one of their tech guys, Kevin Wallace, spent a LOT of time with me getting the problem taken care of. The service was first-class and a lot more than anyone could have reasonably expected.

Cyclemeter requires an iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, or an iPhone 4. The app is only $4.99 and is available for immediate download via iTunes. Folks, if this app sold for $50 it would still be worth every penny. At $4.99 it is a steal!

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Product Reviews

 

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