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BiKASE Handy Andy Handelbar Phone Case For iPhone and Android

I take my Apple iPhone with me on every bike ride—and every time Apple comes out with a new model I have to buy a new case as well. I own an OtterBox Defender case for my iPhone, and while it offers a great deal of protection I never it because it is a royal pain to install and remove (when I am working I wear dress pants and the OtterBox Defender is just too bulky to keep in my front pocket). I was at the local bike shop the other day and saw an inexpensive iPhone case for cyclists and liked it enough buy one to try out.

BiKASE Handy Andy Handelbar Phone Case

BiKASE Handy Andy Handlebar Phone Case

The BiKase Handy Andy Smartphone Case will fit an Apple iPhone 5 with room to spare (as well as most other smartphones). Unlike most other phone cases for cyclists, this unit is soft which means it will absorb road bumps a lot better—hard cases usually transfer every bump and vibration directly to the phone (not good for any piece of electronic gear).

BiKASE Handy Andy Handelbar Phone Case

Mounted on the handlebars

The BiKase Handy Andy case has two large Velcro straps on the back of the case so you can attach it to your bike frame—you can put it on the top tube, stem or handlebars with ease. Most other phone cases for cyclists take a bit of effort to install, but this one takes about three seconds! This case closes with two zippers and seems to be well constructed.

BiKASE Handy Andy Handelbar Phone Case

Large Velcro straps

The biggest drawback on the case is the PVC cover. While the cover is clear, it is also very wrinkled which means that it is very difficult to see through due to the glare (just look at the first two photos). As a result, I will be returning this product to the bike shop and go back to using the JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouch until I find something better (JerseyBin makes great products for protecting your phone from water damage).

The BiKase Handy Andy case retails for $20 and you should be able to get it through your local bike shop. If all else fails you can always find it on Amazon.com (but please try your local bike shop first).

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Product Reviews

 

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WaveCradle Classic For iPhone and iPod Users

WaveCraddle Classic For iPhone

WaveCradle Classic For iPhone

As anyone who has ever worked on a bicycle knows, one of the most important parts of bicycle repair is a comfortable work area, i.e., space for your tools, adequate lighting, and good music. I clean and repair bikes in my Man Cave (half of a two-car garage), but since I didn’t want to put a full speaker system in my garage I bought a WaveCradle Classic for my iPhone 4 and am one happy camper!

The WaveCradle Classic is an iPhone (or iPod) stand that is made of aircraft grade aluminum—it works by reflecting the sound that comes out of the speakers on the bottom of the iPhone. The WaveCradle does not use batteries or electricity. The stand has a rubber grip on front of the stand that securely holds your phone, and there is a rubber cover on the bottom to protect your bench, desk, furniture or work area—and it also prevents the unit from slipping. While obviously designed for an iPhone or iPod, this unit should work with any MP3 player that has speakers on the bottom.

While the WaveCradle Classic is well made, but it is never going to take the place of a real speaker system—but that is not it’s purpose. However, it does increase the volume level by eight decibels and the sound that is reflected off the unit is very crisp. There is no way this unit is going to overcome a lot of ambient noise, but in my otherwise quiet two-car garage it does a very good job—I set it on a workbench located next to the wall and I can hear the music anywhere in the garage.

In addition to listening to your music there are several other good uses for the WaveCradle, i.e., talking to friends via Apple FaceTime or watching instructional videos on YouTube (that’s how I learned to lace the spokes on a new rim).

The WaveCradle Classic is made in the U.S.A. and is available in three colors (Black, Blue and Pink). This product retails for $28.50 and is available from the WaveCradle Website (the price includes free shipping). The WaveCradle comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

 

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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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JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouch

Every once in a while you find a cycling product and you know instantly you must have it. When I saw an ad for JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouches I ordered three pouches immediately, and when they arrived a few days later it took all of 30 seconds to realize they were exactly what I needed.

JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouch

JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouch

JerseyBins are lightweight, waterproof pouches that fit perfectly in your back jersey pocket. JerseyBins are constructed of 10 gauge vinyl and, depending on the size, the vinyl will either be frosty clear or polished clear. They have round corners so they will not snag your jersey, and they close with a zip-lock style zipper. Several sizes are available, including: 4″ x 5-3/4″, 3-3/4″ x 7″, and 4-3/4″ x 7″. The Limited Edition Mini Bin (4″ x 5-3/4″) is perfect for an Apple iPhone because it is not only protects it from the elements, but you can still use the phone while it is in the case (just don’t try to take a photograph through the vinyl).

My iPhone is always in a very thin polycarbonate shell. However, the display is not covered so when cycling I always want to carry it in a weatherproof case. I tried the OtterBox Defender Case, but it is a royal pain to get the iPhone into the case and another pain to get it back out. I also tried several other iPhone cases and all of them made my iPhone sag at the bottom of my jersey pocket and none of them were waterproof. JerseyBins solve both problems—the case is waterproof and it’s designed to keep your back pocket from sagging because it spreads out the weight of the iPhone (or any other cell phone) better than any other case I’ve tried.

I had only been using a JerseyBin for a few days before I got caught out in a heavy rain and I am happy to report that it worked perfectly. This bin is going to be great for winter cycling as well. In the winter I wear a lightweight shell over my inner layers of clothing (I ride in temperatures all the way down to zero). If you carry a phone inside your jacket during the winter the screen will get fogged up and impossible to read because the high humidity level inside the jacket. The JerseyBin will allow you carry your cellphone inside your jacket and still be able to see it when you want to use it.

At the moment I am using a small JerseyBin since I spend most of the summer cycling on the road and only need to carry my iPhone, a $20 bill and a couple of business cards inside the case. In the fall and winter I will use a larger JerseyBin because I carry a few more items with me when cycling off-road and in the snow.

JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouch

JerseyBins Are Available With Custom Imprinting

JerseyBins are also available with custom printing. If you are a cycling promoter (races, bike shows, etc.) I would urge you to consider passing out JerseyBins at your next event. Let’s face it, we all have enough water bottles already and most of the cheap ones cycling promoters pass out are never used anyway. JerseyBins are a product that every cyclist will want and they should last (and promote your event) for several years.

JerseyBins are available from the JerseyBin Website and are extremely low-priced, starting at just $5.25 for the smallest size and up to $6.50 for the largest.

 

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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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Blackburn VIP Zip Bag

Blackburn VIP Zip Bag

Blackburn VIP Zip Bag

The Blackburn VIP Zip Bag is a durable cell phone holder that will you will find useful if you like traveling light. While no cell phone case is going to suit everyone, I believe this product will appeal to a wide-range of cyclists.

There is no way possible to do justice to this case with just a photograph, so let me describe what it offers. First, it has a water-resistant ID holder that remains visible when the case is closed. Inside you will find three small storage pockets that are labeled for a compact bike tool, tire levers and tire patches. There is also a clear zippered sleeve for cash and a credit card with plenty of room left to fit in an iPhone (even if it has a thin protective case). This wallet has a headphone port so you can can listen to your tunes while your phone (or MP3 player) is safely secured in the water-resistant case. The case closes with a water-resistant zipper.

The Blackburn VIP Zip Bag is constructed of 400 denier fabric and is extremely well made. This bag will easily fit into your back jersey pocket. Blackburn products have a generous lifetime warranty materials and workmanship.

The Blackburn VIP Zip Bag retails for $20. If you can’t find it at a local bike shop, Amazon.com has it for $18 (plus postage).

 

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