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Cycling software for Android

Old 07-29-21, 09:59 PM
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Question Cycling software for Android

Hi.

If you use a smartphone (esp. Android) as a bicycle computer, what cycling software do you use?

I want the app to display basic information such as current/average speed, distance, time, etc.., preferably digitally. I'd prefer freeware, but if a very good app costs a few dollars, I wouldn't mind paying for it.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 07-30-21, 07:51 AM
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I sometimes use the Ride With GPS app.
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Old 07-30-21, 08:03 AM
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What distance is your typical ride? Apps are available but they all eat battery life using the GPS to track it. You are better off with a dedicated cycling computer.
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Old 07-30-21, 10:28 AM
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I used Oruxmaps a long time ago just for a comparison to my Edge 500 and to use when just walking. It did a lot back then circa 2012, but I haven't used it since. It was completely independent of the need to have a cloud presence to view all your metrics. Though Strava, RWGPS, GarminConnect and other have gotten better at showing you stuff on your phone about your ride. But not so much while you are actually doing your ride as Oruxmaps did.

Oruxmaps at the time did way more than just cycling and the UI was sometimes complicated to navigate. But that was years ago. Don't know about current which apparently is still going strong.

I still prefer not to use my phone. One reason is that I"ve never had a phone that I could see well in sunlight. And the other reason is that I'd rather have my phone somewhat safely tucked away in my pocket so if I crash and get separated from my bike, I won't have to hope that I can crawl back to the bike and find the phone still on the bike.
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Old 07-30-21, 10:46 AM
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I've used Strava and Ride with GPS on an Android.

(both free versions)
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Old 07-30-21, 10:05 PM
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Thank you everyone for the suggestions.

I have a Cateye wireless bicycle computer, and I'm still deciding whether to stick to it or switch to using my smartphone. I tried Strava today to see how it worked. I immediately ran into an issue one of you mentioned - I had a hard time reading the numbers on my screen in the daylight. There, the Cateye computer is the clear winner. I'd imagine battery consumption can become an issue too if I ride a long distance.

One major reason I'm considering using my smartphone instead of a dedicated bicycle computer is that a smartphone has a lot of nice features, such as GPS map navigation, music player, and ride recording, that my simple bike computer doesn't have. Not having to wear a shirt with a big pocket to carry my phone while riding is a plus, too. (I have a small porch attached to the toptube for my keys and wallet.)

I will try the smartphone method a few more times to make the final call.
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Old 07-31-21, 04:46 AM
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Wahoo Fitness has been my go-to Android app for cycling and running for a few years. It's free, logs (but doesn't display) complete data, and is more reliable and less resource intensive than the Strava app. I use Wahoo Fitness for almost every activity and transfer the data later to Strava, usually a seamless, quick and trouble free process, automagic once I've set it up to sync with Strava as soon as I finish an activity.

You won't see much data in the Wahoo App, but it's there. Just depends on the target app or software to display the data.

It's free, you don't need to buy any Wahoo products, and it isn't adware, nagware, spyware, etc. Wahoo updates it periodically, which usually provokes users into bouts of mini-rage because ... something changes, and change is bad for creatures of habit. But it's almost always an improvement, or at least a glitch fix. If an update causes more problems Wahoo usually sorts it out within a week.

***

Elite HRV -- I use this app to check my heart rate variability almost every day, sometimes twice a day, before and after workouts. Google around for explanations of heart rate variability. There's a bit of science, a bit of voodoo, but it's generally useful as a guide to how hard or easy my workouts should be, or whether I need a rest day. It uses my Wahoo Tickr. Elite HRV sells their own heart rate monitor (a finger device, I think), but the app is free. I'd be willing to pay a reasonable fee for the app alone if they decided to go that route. I don't really need another heart rate device.

I used to use Wattson Blue, another HRV app, but prefer Elite HRV. Wattson Blue can use the phone's camera light/flash to detect heart rate -- basically like those ET glowing finger sensors work in the doctor's office. But my current phone, a Moto G Power, has too much separation between the lens and flash/light, so the Wattson Blue app doesn't work with it. It was okay with my older phone because the lens and flash were in close proximity. However some camera phone lights/flashes are so bright and hot they'll literally burn your finger if you're not careful.

***

Strava -- I use the app or browser version almost daily but I don't use the app much anymore to record rides or runs. It's less reliable than Wahoo Fitness. Most of my friends who still use Strava as their primary app (iPhone and Android) report frequent crashes, data loss, etc. The last straw for me and many others came a year or so ago when Strava discontinued support for sensors. It turned out to be temporary while they sorted out some security problems. But by the time they resumed sensor support I'd given up on Strava for recording activities. I still use it often to check activities I've recorded with Wahoo Fitness and then uploaded to Strava.

Strava often crashed when I'd switch to use the camera for photos or videos. Other friends still report the same problem with Android and iPhone, even the newer and more powerful phones, so it's not just an issue with low end phones.

The main problem with the Strava app, besides the unreliability, is that certain edits such as cropping are irreversible. If a crop goes wrong, we're out of luck. With Wahoo Fitness as my recording app, I still have the original log in case a Strava crop or other edit goes bad. I can always delete the Strava file, reupload the Wahoo Fitness original, and start over with cropping, correcting distance, elevation gain, recalculating segment achievements, etc.

***

Map My Run/Walk is my main foot-stuff app when I'm wearing Under Armour running shoes with built-in Bluetooth sensor (usually right shoe only). Currently I'm using the UA Hovr Sonic versions 1 and 2. Both are nearly identical, although the Hovr Sonic 2 midsole feels very slightly firmer. These are bargain trainers for folks just getting back into running, as I did in late 2020 after not running in nearly 40 years. My form was terrible, but the shoe sensor combined with realtime voice coaching from Map My Run helped sort out my form and helped reduce injuries. There are separate meters but they're much more expensive, and usually fastened to the top of a shoe. As with power meters for bikes, I'm a long way from ever needing anything like that.

The app records pace, stride length, cadence, ground contact time, and foot angle. Most of this data can be set to relay audible updates at preset intervals. I usually set it for 1/2 or 1 mile, depending on my workout plans and distance. It can also share my Wahoo Tickr with Map My Run and Wahoo Fitness simultaneously, which is a nifty trick for Bluetooth -- some Bluetooth devices and apps don't play well together, unlike ANT+ which can share data with two devices (maybe more, I haven't tried). The Wahoo Tickr has both Bluetooth and ANT+, and when I use my XOSS G+ bike computer, the XOSS defaults to ANT+ while the phone is Bluetooth only, so they share the same heart rate monitor, no problems. But not all of my Android apps will share the Tickr via Bluetooth simultaneously.

And the MMR app and website display a lot of data, great for evaluating a run later.

I've tried Map My Ride but for some reason didn't find a use for it. But if Under Armour ever produces an affordable pedal/sensor like their shoes, they might become the most popular power meter for amateur cyclists.

***

Cyclemeter was a terrific app when I was using an older iPhone 4s. I had a subscription for a year and it offered plenty of data, and was customizable, with voice prompts, etc. Reportedly now the Android version is just as good. I haven't use it for awhile. Unfortunately Abvio changed their trial version policy. It used to offer a full featured version for 30 days, I think. Now it offers a free trial with no expiration, but it's so badly crippled it actually risks alienating some potential customers. The trial version is utterly useless. Anyone who tried it, hoping to test the customizable features, would be disappointed -- everything is blanked out and inaccessible, so you'd get no idea of how useful it might be. Abvio would be better off going back to a full featured version with a two-week or one-month cutoff.

***

I've tried various navigation and route planning apps and didn't really have a need for any of them. But some folks love 'em.

Ditto, maps. I still mostly use Google Maps. I used to use a free alternate open source mapping app for iPhone but haven't used it for awhile. And I have Komoot for Android but have never used it. Folks who do more exploring of new routes, especially mountain bikers, hikers, etc., would probably get more use from these navigation and route planning apps.

***

For bike rides I mostly use a XOSS G+ computer, a very affordable, minimalist but good GPS computer. Check Amazon reviews for info. The XOSS app can be used along with the computer but I never bother. I sync rides to the app afterward. From the XOSS app I can sync my activities to Strava.

It's not full featured like Garmins, Wahoo computers, Bryton and others. No navigation aids. But for $25-$50 it's a bargain for a GPS wireless computer that's compatible with Bluetooth and ANT+ sensors.

Last edited by canklecat; 07-31-21 at 04:52 AM.
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Old 08-01-21, 09:40 AM
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I tried a phone with a few apps and then bought a bike computer.
That's how "good" I found them
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Old 08-01-21, 10:14 AM
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I just use Strava since that's what almost everyone else is on.
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Old 08-02-21, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by daihard View Post
Thank you everyone for the suggestions.

I have a Cateye wireless bicycle computer, and I'm still deciding whether to stick to it or switch to using my smartphone. I tried Strava today to see how it worked. I immediately ran into an issue one of you mentioned - I had a hard time reading the numbers on my screen in the daylight. There, the Cateye computer is the clear winner. I'd imagine battery consumption can become an issue too if I ride a long distance.

One major reason I'm considering using my smartphone instead of a dedicated bicycle computer is that a smartphone has a lot of nice features, such as GPS map navigation, music player, and ride recording, that my simple bike computer doesn't have. Not having to wear a shirt with a big pocket to carry my phone while riding is a plus, too. (I have a small porch attached to the toptube for my keys and wallet.)

I will try the smartphone method a few more times to make the final call.
The screen being on and the gps being used for either recording or navigation are the two biggest things that will eat the battery. Add playing music at the same time and it will only get worse.

Get yourself a Garmin or Wahoo device that has built in maps and long battery life.

If you have a cycling jersey with back pockets you don't even notice a phone in there.
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Old 08-02-21, 02:14 PM
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Currently liking Jepster. No embedded invasive trackers either.
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Old 08-02-21, 07:27 PM
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Smile

Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
If you have a cycling jersey with back pockets you don't even notice a phone in there.
That's actually the biggest reason I'm still considering attaching my smartphone to the handlebar. I don't always wear a bike jersey. In fact, I wear everyday clothing most of the time. Riding with a phone in my jeans (or sweatpants) pocket can be pretty awkward. (Yes, I can put it in my backpack, but then it won't be easily accessible.)

For now, I will stick with my Cateye computer.

Thank you again for your advice, everyone.
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Old 08-03-21, 07:45 AM
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You wear jeans and sweatpants while riding a bike?

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Old 08-03-21, 09:54 AM
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Wink

Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
You wear jeans and sweatpants while riding a bike?

Yes when I only need to ride a few miles for errands, grocery shopping, etc. I do wear bike gear for long-distance rides.
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Old 08-03-21, 09:59 AM
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I can't imagine. That's the type of clothing liable to get caught in the chainring.
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Old 08-03-21, 10:21 AM
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My setup (seamless and effortless if you like viewing your ride details in Strava):

Garmin >> Bluetooth >> Phone >> GarminConnect App >> Garmin Connect uploads data to Garmin Website >> Garmin website uploads data to Strava website

The Garmin allows you to fully customize what data fields are displayed on the screen, I believe I have 10 fields showing (3 or 4 of them are power meter related)

The Garmin allows you to connect to peripherals like a cadence sensor, heart rate monitor, power meter, or Di2 telemetry quite easily. I don't think the Strava app allows for that anymore.

The Strava app is never used for recording on the phone (except in rare cases where I forget to charge the Garmin), and in those cases the phone is in the right rear jersey pocket, where it always is, whether it's recording or not.

Upon ending the ride recording on the Garmin, the data transfer from the Garmin computer all the way to the Strava website is completely effortless and silent in the background. Why do it any other way, unless you wanted to save money by not buying a Garmin?

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Old 08-03-21, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
I can't imagine. That's the type of clothing liable to get caught in the chainring.
I'm sure you've seen these before.

https://smile.amazon.com/EFORCAR-Bic...%2C323&sr=8-15
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Old 08-04-21, 12:51 AM
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Yep, riding with long pants and regular clothes is no big deal, even on a road bike. Commuters have done it for decades. I did in the 1970s when I commuted to and from the Naval bases where I was stationed. Usually I'd wear cycling clothing and change at work if it was possible, but at some stations or on short notice I had to wear my uniform or street clothing.

A strap around the right ankle keeps the trousers out of the chain. Depending on the weather I might need to go easy to avoid getting too sweaty, so I'd leave early.

On some casual rides with friends and pub crawls in cold weather I'll wear skinny leg jeans, so I don't need an ankle strap to clear the chain. While most places we stop welcome cyclists I don't always feel like suiting up in Lycra and Spandex for a dinner or pub ride.

Occasionally my baggy shorts would snag the downtube shifters on my old school steel bike. Not a problem with my other bike with brifters.

My commuter/errand hybrid has springy reflectors that snap around an ankle, or the seat post, and come in reflective yellow or red. Very handy.
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Old 08-04-21, 12:55 AM
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Incidentally, regarding data privacy, Abvio -- the maker of Cyclemeter -- says all data is private, stored only on the user's phone, never on any Abvio site. It's our choice if we want to upload our data from Cyclemeter to Strava, etc. But by default Cyclemeter is intended to be private, or shared only at the user's discretion.

It's possible that using the optional voice activation through Siri (not sure about Google on Android phones) might compromise security. There were some concerns about that with older versions of iOS but that may have been resolved by now.
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Old 08-20-21, 06:46 PM
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I've used IPbike on my Androids before I was assimilated by the Borg (iPhone). That app is one of those that causes me to miss my Android phone. Battery endurance was an issue for longer rides, but handled easily enough with an external battery and cable. Very powerful and configurable app.
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Old 09-13-21, 09:31 AM
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Strava.

I used it in lieu of a cycling computer for almost a year. The reason I stopped was that it would overheat and shut off and hence stop recording when riding in the sun during our summer months, which get really hot. Otherwise I had no problems, it connected to my HR sensor via Bluetooth, no issues. Still, a dedicated computer is a superior solution.

Now the phone goes in a jersey pocket if training or backpack / pocket if commuting where I wear everyday clothes. Yes, the phone is less accessible but talking while riding isn't my cup of tea anyway.
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Old 09-21-21, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrisWagner View Post
Currently liking Jepster. No embedded invasive trackers either.
Thanks for posting this. I gave it a try today and was able to pair my Polar HRM to the app via Bluetooth.
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Old 09-22-21, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by leftthread View Post
Thanks for posting this. I gave it a try today and was able to pair my Polar HRM to the app via Bluetooth.
I have a repurposed Samsung S5 with IP67 protection and ANT+ capabilities that meshes well with all the dynamic functions Jepster provids. Definitely worthy of donation support.
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