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  1. #1
    Senior Member pamaguahiker's Avatar
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    What are some good apps for phones when touring?

    So i am currently looking at some apps to use on my phone when i do day rides, overnights, and, eventually come summer, some long distance touring with my wife. I have a Samsung Galaxy 3, so i use droid operating system. My wife has an apple. I use mapmyrun currently for my runs, rides, etc. It's ok, but doesn't have a speed setting that will constantly display. I am actually thinking i will most likely not even be looking at speed. But what i am considering is using my phone as a trip distance, odometer, speedometer, etc. Or, should i just opt to use a regular speedometer (most likely wireless). Other info that may help with advice. We use external batteries that do very well for keeping us energized if our batteries run down. Has anyone used a solar recharger for devices? if so, what works well?

    thanks

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    the Off switch? solar ? a couple square feet of panel will help charge things if staying in one place mid day for a few Hours ..


    But that is when you wont want to stay on one place , instead of riding ..




    Phone service is a territory around a transmitter-receiver, owned by Your provider ,

    when you run past the edge of the Private company owned transmitter range, the signal is gone.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-26-14 at 07:45 AM.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pamaguahiker View Post
    But what i am considering is using my phone as a trip distance, odometer, speedometer, etc. Or, should i just opt to use a regular speedometer (most likely wireless). Other info that may help with advice. We use external batteries that do very well for keeping us energized if our batteries run down. Has anyone used a solar recharger for devices? if so, what works well?

    thanks
    Just use an ordinary computer (aka speedometer) for the distance, speed, etc. The batteries in those last a long time ... you'll be able to get through a multi-month tour and not have to worry about recharging.

    Use your phone on occasions when you might need it, and turn it off between those occasions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Just use an ordinary computer (aka speedometer) for the distance, speed, etc. The batteries in those last a long time ... you'll be able to get through a multi-month tour and not have to worry about recharging.

    Use your phone on occasions when you might need it, and turn it off between those occasions.
    yes never thought of that smple cateye computer for a few bucks will be perfect.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    batteries in those last a long time
    I get a year out of mine in my simple wired bike computer

  7. #7
    Senior Member pamaguahiker's Avatar
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    Ok, general consensus, get a computer as well. I was just trying to think of a multi-use way to use my phone. I use it a good deal for navigation when we ride. If it weren't for the occasional glance at the phone map, I would miss some very interesting sites! For instance, riding the Allegheny River Trail, I went through an old tunnel, come out on the other side and paused. The map showed a very strange creek but the elevation was a very quick drop. So I decided to head up along the creek that was flowing heavily, and there...no signs to indicate anywhere, was Rockland Station waterfall. It was beautiful. So I was just considering what else I could use the phone for too. I have found google maps to be most helpful when in need. Always nice to have the phone around for this.
    Thanks for the input

  8. #8
    Senior Member pamaguahiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    the Off switch? solar ? a couple square feet of panel will help charge things if staying in one place mid day for a few Hours ..


    But that is when you wont want to stay on one place , instead of riding ..
    Yea, that off switch may come in very handy when we want peace and quiet! My wife has a panel that folds out rather large but is only about 6 inches x 6 inches and she uses it for recharging phone. I didn't know she had one til yesterday when we were talking about it. It would be spread out when stopping for a meal or night when we get to a campground. I am not sure what kind of charge it would hold or provide so I think a mini experiment will need done to see this. My wife has just started cycling within the last 2 years so her experience with long distance riding is all new. So we probably will be doing a good deal of 30-45 mile days, and using the bikes to explore various areas throughout the day when we get to the locations. I believe we are aiming to hit the south Carolina area above Charleston for a starting point.

  9. #9
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    A Cateye computer is the easiest solution to speed and mileage. I use my iPhone for music, reading, maps, email and blogging. So Wordpress, Tumblr, Facebook etc are all useful on tour. As I depend on my iPhone for a lot of stuff I take a 7200mAh backup battery that will recharge it 5 times.

    I wish Adventure Cycling would come into the 21st Century and get an app where you can download their maps to a smartphone.

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    Have you thought about a dyno hub instead of solar? I charge my phone, music box, batteries for my shaver, camping lights with power to spare and it works regardless of sunlight.

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    Heck, I've been thinking of a fun trip sometime this summer. Roughly 4-5 days long. The key secret, no electronics go with me. No camera, no cyclecomputer, no laptop, no wristwatch, no gps unit, no cell phone, nothing that needs plugged in or requires batteries. Leave it all at home and go live life instead of going out and having the electronics dictate the trip for me.

    Gee, talk about a taboo idea. Mankind can't live without all his electronic crap...even though he did fine without all of it 100 years ago.

    Just think about how much weight you would save if you left all that stuff behind and went for a truly freedom ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
    Heck, I've been thinking of a fun trip sometime this summer. Roughly 4-5 days long. The key secret, no electronics go with me. No camera, no cyclecomputer, no laptop, no wristwatch, no gps unit, no cell phone, nothing that needs plugged in or requires batteries. Leave it all at home and go live life instead of going out and having the electronics dictate the trip for me.

    Gee, talk about a taboo idea. Mankind can't live without all his electronic crap...even though he did fine without all of it 100 years ago.

    Just think about how much weight you would save if you left all that stuff behind and went for a truly freedom ride.
    I like tech but a lot to be said for old paper maps & compass. GPS devices can be handy for pinpointing location when off-course but the screen is too small, as with most phones, to make plotting a route easy. Garmin etc invest little in software for the small bike touring market, the software for turn-by-turn routing is pretty terrible even in new models. So to see an adequately large map view one's supposed to tote a tablet which perhaps weighs 3X the paper maps?

    One can combine old/new tech & just use Google Maps on PC to print out maps of route.

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    Depending on where your at you can just wing it as well. I had to do that last year when I ran into several different stretches of limited access highways. The first one in eastern Ohio I knew the road I trying to get was east of me I just had to hunt and pick some of the other roads and make sure I continued to head north and east and I would run into the highway I was looking for sooner or later. It worked just as planned. The biggest thing is knowing your route and knowing if the route you are looking to get to goes both north/south or east/west of where you are currently and if it does and you run into road construction/closures or a case like I did last year, limited access highway you wasn't expecting, then you can wing it and still get to where you are going.

    The biggest problem with gps units or cell phones is the zoom capabilities. I ran into that problem last year, fortunately not while on/around the bike. The other big problem with both cell phones and gps units is they have replaced paper maps. You use to be able to walk into gas station and find a paper map but most places don't carry them anymore, no thanks to technology. Heck, if it wasn't for the stinking technology you could easily go on a cross country trip without ever carrying a map on you. Anymore that is pretty much disaster in the making if you were to try something like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
    Depending on where your at you can just wing it as well. I had to do that last year when I ran into several different stretches of limited access highways. The first one in eastern Ohio I knew the road I trying to get was east of me I just had to hunt and pick some of the other roads and make sure I continued to head north and east and I would run into the highway I was looking for sooner or later. It worked just as planned. The biggest thing is knowing your route and knowing if the route you are looking to get to goes both north/south or east/west of where you are currently and if it does and you run into road construction/closures or a case like I did last year, limited access highway you wasn't expecting, then you can wing it and still get to where you are going.

    The biggest problem with gps units or cell phones is the zoom capabilities. I ran into that problem last year, fortunately not while on/around the bike. The other big problem with both cell phones and gps units is they have replaced paper maps. You use to be able to walk into gas station and find a paper map but most places don't carry them anymore, no thanks to technology. Heck, if it wasn't for the stinking technology you could easily go on a cross country trip without ever carrying a map on you. Anymore that is pretty much disaster in the making if you were to try something like that.
    yes, in flatter areas w/roads laid out on ~grid arrangement it's a lot easier to navigate. I'm not anti-tech but for bike touring the GPS like Garmin fall way short of desirable for one-stop navi. I read all sorts of posts re turn-by-turn, waypoints, tracks, routes etc, very confusing, various workarounds required etc. Garmin doesn't care about bike touring market (despite a new "touring" model) & I've read posts from motorcycle tourers with similar complaints. Hopefully we'll get micro fuel cells soon to power phones/devices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
    yes, in flatter areas w/roads laid out on ~grid arrangement it's a lot easier to navigate. I'm not anti-tech but for bike touring the GPS like Garmin fall way short of desirable for one-stop navi. I read all sorts of posts re turn-by-turn, waypoints, tracks, routes etc, very confusing, various workarounds required etc. Garmin doesn't care about bike touring market (despite a new "touring" model) & I've read posts from motorcycle tourers with similar complaints. Hopefully we'll get micro fuel cells soon to power phones/devices.
    Why take the devices. You don't need them to travel. Why are getting away in the first place...to get away...from what? Leave the devices at home and go enjoy a nice bike trip. I see my trip coming up this summer is going to be radically different from what I've did so far. I hope I don't find myself riding 150+ miles everyday as a result but I think I'm going to have no other option. Too many hours of daylight each day in areas where there isn't anything to do but to get out of the area...err, ride the bike.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    You can actually manage to tour without GPS, phone, internet, etc. etc. Most of my tours have been done with the help of an inexpensive bicycle computer to tell me my distance (and I lost one computer halfway through one tour, so I didn't even have that for a while), a watch to tell me the time, and whatever maps I happened to have from Tourist Information Centres.

    I did 5000 km in 3 months in Australia that way ... plus several other shorter tours.

  17. #17
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    On last summer's tour I used the Motion GPX app. It runs in the background on your phone. It calculated time, distance, speed, feet ascended and descended, as well as max and average speed. It also gave graphs of speed and climbing, and mapped each days ride. I like that because it helped me return to a great hole in the wall Taco stand I stumbled across way off the beaten path. It can hit your battery hard if you leave it on all day like I did. I rode slow, but was still averaging just under 80 miles per day, so my battery got a work out. I carried a good external battery to get me through times I didn't want to sit and wait for a charge. I just kept my phone in the handlebar bag and let it run. I also have a regular bike computer to track mileage all the time, speed during my daily commute.
    Last edited by surfjimc; 05-28-14 at 07:59 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    You can actually manage to tour without GPS, phone, internet, etc. etc. Most of my tours have been done with the help of an inexpensive bicycle computer to tell me my distance (and I lost one computer halfway through one tour, so I didn't even have that for a while), a watch to tell me the time, and whatever maps I happened to have from Tourist Information Centres.

    I did 5000 km in 3 months in Australia that way ... plus several other shorter tours.
    I typically shorten your process slightly Machka but I could easily run into trouble doing if I hit road closures. I just write out a full trip tick and take it with me. It has direction of turn and distance between turns. I just use the cyclecomputer and the trip tick. I don't bother to take maps with me at all. Since, in the past two trips, I haven't been using a regular map bag I have always had the trip tick down inside the standard handlebar bag(and old fanny pack strapped onto the handlebars). I did run into one slight problem when I I hadn't looked closely enough at the trip tick and came up on an intersection and went right through it when I was suppose to make the turn. This year I probably will have a map bag with me...hopefully I'll be smart enough to look at the trip tick this year so I don't miss any turns.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
    I typically shorten your process slightly Machka but I could easily run into trouble doing if I hit road closures. I just write out a full trip tick and take it with me. It has direction of turn and distance between turns. I just use the cyclecomputer and the trip tick. I don't bother to take maps with me at all. Since, in the past two trips, I haven't been using a regular map bag I have always had the trip tick down inside the standard handlebar bag(and old fanny pack strapped onto the handlebars). I did run into one slight problem when I I hadn't looked closely enough at the trip tick and came up on an intersection and went right through it when I was suppose to make the turn. This year I probably will have a map bag with me...hopefully I'll be smart enough to look at the trip tick this year so I don't miss any turns.
    I can't write out a full trip tick for my tours ... because I rarely know where I'm going. That's where maps come in handy. We can spread out a map at the end of a day and decide where we want to go the next day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I can't write out a full trip tick for my tours ... because I rarely know where I'm going. That's where maps come in handy. We can spread out a map at the end of a day and decide where we want to go the next day.
    I'll fess I think my trip coming up in a few weeks is going to be a lot like what you say. I think the first part will be easy to plan ahead of time but the second part??? I have the slightest clue what I'm going to do yet so I don't even have the slightest clue as what to think when it comes to doing any route research. It may be a short out and back trip(1700-2000 miles) or it could considerably longer(4000-6000+ miles). I don't really have the slightest clue what to expect. I know I'm changing quite a few things so its going to be quite a playful trip.

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    I use the free version of Strava on my road bike and mtb; eats the iphone batteries but it tracks exactly where you've been and has the ability to share. That might be fun/reassuring for folks back home.

  22. #22
    Junior Member PMCT's Avatar
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    One of the things we found helpful on our latest tour was an elevation profile app, free from Google Play. https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...evationprofile We were able to map out our route for the next day, see what the profile looked like, and know what time we were going to need to leave in order to make our goal before sundown (I hate riding in the dark). Sometimes the hills look way more intimidating than they are, but if your wife is less experienced with long rides, knowing what the major hills are going to look like might be a big help. I know it was with me! Also, I second most of the other posters- I try to limit the amount of tech on tour. I pretty much only take my smartphone, but leave it off most of the time. And if you want to save your phone battery, put it in airplane when you're not using it. Powering down and back up will drain it more than you think!
    www.pmcycletouring.com

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
    Have you thought about a dyno hub instead of solar? I charge my phone, music box, batteries for my shaver, camping lights with power to spare and it works regardless of sunlight.
    I use endomondo. It will display current speed, but I don't trust it. I use it just for route/mileage tracking. I use my dynohub and a supernova "The Plug III" to keep the phone charged on longer rides. Works great unless it gets dark as I don't have the juice to charge the phone and run the light at the same time. As to the concept of using something other than a smartphone/GPS to monitor speed....#mindblown

  24. #24
    Senior Member pamaguahiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
    Why take the devices. You don't need them to travel. Why are getting away in the first place...to get away...from what? Leave the devices at home and go enjoy a nice bike trip. I see my trip coming up this summer is going to be radically different from what I've did so far. I hope I don't find myself riding 150+ miles everyday as a result but I think I'm going to have no other option. Too many hours of daylight each day in areas where there isn't anything to do but to get out of the area...err, ride the bike.
    I take devices because it requires money to travel. I work as a full time RN supervisor, and along with my wife run FCO with an embroidery business. The embroidery requires constant communication with the clients and when i am away, my cousin who helps run the biz when i am not around. So i do rely on some communication. I am most likely going to opt for a cat eye computer with the options and go with wireless. I personally prefer to use a paper map with gps phone for backup. At present time, most of my riding is done without using electronics. When riding, my wife and I enjoy taking side trips. So we like to look at a map or map app for seeing what is close by to check out.

    My wife is less experienced plus has bad knees. So the bulk of the loads will be carried by myself with very little on her bicycle. I know i can grind out the climbs. So knowing where major hills are is a big plus. I will check out the motion GPX and the google play. Thank you all for the input!

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    I really love ridewithgps.com web application for creating routes. I can easily draw the route that follows bike paths and avoid traffic. Then I export the route to GPS format, transfer it to my Android and use it in OsmAnd app. Which is the best navigation app I have found. And I've tested many of them.

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