Bi­cy­cling Gear

iPhone Life Magazine - - Contents - by Mike Ri­ley

Hit the trails with your iPhone or iPad.

When it comes to bi­cy­cling, there are a broad range of iPhone-com­pat­i­ble hard­ware options avail­able. From de­vices that pro­tect your iOS de­vice from dust and pud­dles on the trail to gad­gets that keep your iPhone fully charged by con­vert­ing en­ergy from a dy­namo (a small elec­tri­cal gen­er­a­tor at­tached to the bike's wheel), the choices are con­sid­er­able. Here, I'll high­light some of the most no­table options avail­able to­day.

Cap­tur­ing Im­por­tant Data

Whether you are cy­cling for fit­ness or re­cre­ation, it is in­ter­est­ing to dis­cover how many times you moved your legs to get from one place to an­other. The Speed and Ca­dence Sen­sors ($69.99) from Wa­hoo Fit­ness pro­vide wire­less bike pe­dome­ter and speed mea­sure­ments via an easy-to-in­stall but­ton. While var­i­ous bik­ing apps for the iPhone mea­sure speed and dis­tance by GPS, these wa­ter­proof sen­sors of­fer much more ac­cu­rate en­gi­neer­ing for pre­cise cy­cling mea­sure­ments. Each con­tains a re­place­able bat­tery so you don't have to re­mem­ber to charge the de­vice be­fore each ride (power is only re­quired when the pedal is in mo­tion). The free Wa­hoo Fit­ness iPhone app pro­vides an ad­e­quate means of re­triev­ing and dis­play­ing data cap­tured by the sen­sors. More­over, be­cause they sup­port the Blue­tooth smart wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­to­col, they are com­pat­i­ble with dozens of third-party cy­cling apps as well as Wa­hoo's own free apps.

For those rid­ers who pre­fer to re­main fo­cused on their bi­cy­cling per­for­mance or fit­ness lev­els, Wa­hoo has also cre­ated the ELEMNT GPS Bike Com­puter ($329.99). While some may feel that a good bik­ing app run­ning on the iPhone could re­place this bike com­puter, there are sev­eral ad­van­tages to us­ing the ELEMNT in­stead. First, it is de­signed for bik­ers and its weather-re­sis­tant hous­ing and easy-to-read dis­play (es­pe­cially in bright di­rect sun­light) are bet­ter than any­thing an iPhone can pro­vide. Sec­ond, be­cause it is a Blue­tooth de­vice, you can pair it with an iPhone to re­lay mes­sages and per­for­mance data with­out having to ex­pose the iPhone to the el­e­ments or the in­tense vi­bra­tions that could af­fect the iPhone on a bumpy road trip. Best of all, the ELEMNT is op­ti­mized to work with Wa­hoo's Speed and Ca­dence sen­sors so all three work in uni­son while still cap­tur­ing all the per­ti­nent rid­ing in­for­ma­tion that can be trans­ferred to and dis­played on your iPhone or home com­puter.

Car­ry­ing Your Gear

While there are dozens of great iPhone bike mounts I could fea­ture here, I'd like to put the spot­light on iPad sup­port for a change. Mount­ing an iPad to your bike gives you the sat­is­fac­tion of having a sub­stan­tially larger screen sur­face to re­view map de­tails, real-time bik­ing sta­tis­tics, and other in­for­ma­tion. TOPEAK, one of the best-known com­pa­nies among bi­cy­cling en­thu­si­asts, has ad­dressed this mar­ket need with its Tablet Dry Bag ($59.95) for the iPad Mini. The bag, which can be an­chored to the bike via Topeak's Quick­Click Fixer 9 Han­dle­bar Mount, is well con­structed and sealed to pre­vent dust and other el­e­ments on the road from clog­ging up and wa­ter­log­ging your iPad.

TOPEAK also makes a rail-sys­tem-based sad­dle­bag called the MTX Trunk­Bag DXP ($124.95) that can ac­com­mo­date larger tablet sizes as well as other gad­gets and items you bring along on your ride. The MTX Trunk­Bag's ex­pand­able and wa­ter-re­sis­tant side pan­els are large enough to con­tain not just an iPad, but all its gear too. There is also plenty of space within the main bag for power adapters, ca­bles, and other sup­plies to keep your de­vice ecosys­tem fully por­ta­ble.

Charg­ing Your De­vices

When I first be­gan look­ing into charg­ing options, I had the hope of be­ing able to use my bike light dy­namo to gen­er­ate enough power from wheel ro­ta­tion to charge my de­vice. Not only would I be do­ing my part to save the planet while stay­ing fit, I would also ar­rive at my des­ti­na­tion with my iPhone fully charged. The de­sign­ers at Cinq5 helped me fully re­al­ize this dream.

The Cinq5 Plug III ($199) is es­sen­tially a power plug that mounts on your bike's han­dle­bars and pro­vides power to any de­vice with a tra­di­tional USB con­nec­tion. Sim­ply wire The Plug III to an ex­ist­ing bi­cy­cle dy­namo and start ped­al­ing. The Plug III cleans up and am­pli­fies the elec­tri­cal in­put, and pro­vides con­tin­u­ous power to your iPhone. Its cor­ro­sion-re­sis­tant alu­minum hous­ing pro­tects it from harsh rid­ing con­di­tions. Rid­ers can pedal at a com­fort­able ca­dence to power de­vices in­stead of the high in­ten­sity re­quired by less ca­pa­ble con­vert­ers.

For those cy­clists who would rather rely on tra­di­tional ex­ter­nal bat­tery-pow­ered charg­ers, but are flum­moxed by the in­abil­ity to mount most of these brick-like en­clo­sures onto your bike, Cinq5 has also cre­ated the Smart Power Pack II ($139). Un­like tra­di­tional ex­ter­nal bat­tery charg­ers, the Smart Power Pack II is pre­dom­i­nantly for cy­clists. In ad­di­tion to the USB charg­ing ports at one end, the cylin­dri­cal shape also in­cludes a bright LED flash­light at the op­po­site end. The de­vice is both a head­lamp and a charger in a sleek, easy-to-mount pack­age, mak­ing it an ideal han­dle­bar ac­ces­sory. The lamp can last up to three days with a full charge; and like the Plug III, the weath­er­ized hous­ing is an­odized alu­minum to keep it safe from cor­ro­sive el­e­ments. The Power Pack also fea­tures an in­te­grated backup rear light to help pro­vide ad­di­tional safety and vis­i­bil­ity dur­ing those late night rides, and the flash­light can even blink an SOS sig­nal in case of an emer­gency.

And while this ar­ti­cle has fo­cused en­tirely on the hard­ware­side of bik­ing with your iPhone, it goes with­out say­ing that there are a num­ber of ex­cel­lent bi­cy­cling-cen­tric apps avail­able from the App Store. One of my cur­rent fa­vorites is the Cy­cleme­ter GPS app (free, with in-app pur­chases). Un­like other bi­cy­cling apps, Cy­cleme­ter doesn't force you to cre­ate a web-based ac­count that ul­ti­mately spams you with un­wanted mar­ket­ing emails. Be­sides, Cy­cleme­ter is an ex­cel­lent, com­pre­hen­sive bik­ing app that uti­lizes the hard­ware ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the iPhone, iPad, and Ap­ple Watch.

Conclusion

iPhones and iPads are nat­u­ral travel com­pan­ions, and the man­u­fac­tur­ers fea­tured in this ar­ti­cle al­low bi­cy­cle en­thu­si­asts to ac­tively use these de­vices while cy­cling and keep them safely se­cured along the way. Whether you're out for a quick ride to the store or bik­ing across a state (such as Iowa's fa­mous RAGBRAI), these iOS-op­ti­mized choices con­vert your iPhone or iPad into a help­ful rid­ing com­pan­ion along the way.

Mike Ri­ley, a pro­fes­sional soft­ware devel­oper and emerg­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gist, is the au­thor of Pro­gram­ming Your Home, pub­lished by Prag­matic Book­shelf. Mike is also a contributing ed­i­tor and au­thor of hun­dreds of tech­ni­cal ar­ti­cles and re­views for a num­ber of pop­u­lar tech­nol­ogy pub­li­ca­tions. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Mike via email at mike@mik­er­i­ley.com and fol­low him on Twit­ter @mri­ley.

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