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What's wrong using an iPhone as the bar mounted bike computer?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

What's wrong using an iPhone as the bar mounted bike computer?

Old 04-03-15, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Sito
I test smartphones for a living and have used many of them to run Strava in my back pocket. Battery life is really not an issue there, all-day riding should not be a problem with any modern phone. However, mounting it on the bar only makes sense when you can see the screen and that's where battery life can become problematic. Also, many of the screens don't offer very good visibility in bright light which means you have to turn the brightness up, using even more battery.
Yep, that's my point, screen on and bright enough to see on a sunny day, your battery will not last long. My wife picked up a Garmin instead of using her iPhone because of accuracy too. I think issue was specific to her phone, not all iPhones, but it was terrible at tracking our routes.

You can get a cheap Cateye to mount on the bars and keep the phone safe in a pocket. I bet the simple Cateye is about the same price as the waterproof iPhone bar mount.

However, if your rides are short in duration, go for the bar mount for your iPhone. I see a lot of recreation riders do this.
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Old 04-03-15, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
Any experience with phone in a saddle bag with RFLKT?
Works great in my experience. This is actually recommended for people who have issues with it being in the back pocket.

Good tip on the mobile data switch, thanks! Does this disable receiving texts though?
It disables iMessage, but not regular SMS text messages and phone calls.

This brings up another topic..maybe best for another thread -- that has me a bit confused. Do the main apps out there use GPS and Mapping data for the metrics reported (speed, climbing, distance), or the sensor's readings? Eg. If I have a Wahoo Blue SC sensor mounted, and run either Strava, Cyclemeter, or the Wahoo fitness app, is my distance and speed coming from the sensor or the app/GPS ? I'll have to check again, but from what I remember, eg. for Cyclemeter, there isn't a way to run this app if GPS is turned off on the phone, even if a sensor is linked to the app, right? I don't understand this.

Cyclemeter will use your speed sensor for speed, and the iPhone 6 barometric altimeter for elevation. However, when you import to Strava, it ignores those and just uses the GPS data. It's annoying because a speed sensor is much more accurate at determining whether you are stopped. Obviously the do this because a badly calibrated wheel size can lead to bad speed readings, and it puts everyone on a level playing field. Strava apparently throws out elevation data too for phones, but not for Garmin. This explains why my elevation gains are always different (usually smaller) than others in my group using Garmins.

FYI you can run Cyclemeter with the GPS turned off I believe, and it will record speed from the BlueSC. I've done this on a trainer only though.
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Old 04-03-15, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
Phones may be worth more than $.99, but if that's what I'd have to pay, that's what I'd have to pay. Of course I'd have to renew my verizon contract, but doesn't change my monthly fee anyway. Refurbed 5 and 5Cs go for $280 without contract, not the $6-700 others are talking about. I don't need the size of a 6.
I paid $80 for my phone and because I bring my own phone I get unlimited talk/text/data for $40 a month, with no contract. I think it's the first 3 gigabytes a month at 4G speed. No one is giving a $600 phone away to affluent people as charity.

I don't know what you pay a month for service, but consider the difference over the term of the contract. Might be more than the price of a bike computer!
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Old 04-03-15, 04:13 PM
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There's nothing wrong with putting a phone on the bars. I don't like to, though, because I think it detracts from the clean appearance of my bike. Most of the people I ride with - none of them, actually - mount their cells on their handlebars either. Plus the screen is difficult to see in daylight and for a long ride there will be battery issues with the screen turned on.

If I were touring, or a more casual rider than I already am, a bar mount might be an option (I already have one, a gift, which I've yet to use). When I'm riding, though, I like to imagine I'm chasing down Merckx or even my younger self. Neither they nor I put much on the bars other than tape and brakes back in the day, so I don't now.

From the link proved by the OP, lots of people like their phones on their bars. And so do people on the forum. So if you like the idea, OP, go for it.
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Old 04-03-15, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha
But we all ride with our phones on us anyway, and most of the time stuck in a jersey pocket, where it's quite like to fly out and get damaged if you crash. Most handlebar mounts I've used have had very sturdy cases built into them to mitigate this issue.
I haven't had my phone fall out of my pocket in a spill. I have been riding with a phone since somewhere in the 90's. Today's phones are so flat that I doubt there would sustain any damage in a fall. On the bars, if you do a header over a person who fell in front of you, the phone might be the first part of the bike to hit the ground.
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Old 04-04-15, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by rms13
I must need a new phone. Before I got my Garmin I was using my Moto G to run Strava. With a full charge, I would have 10-20% left after a 3 hour ride
you should consider that I would need to look it up but maybe the original Moto G did not support low energy Bluetooth. I want out for more than 5 hours today with the HR-belt and Strada Smart connected to the 2nd Gen Moto X and had about 50% left when I got home, and the Moto X is not actually great in terms of life. Got much more out of the 6 Plus I used before.
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Old 04-04-15, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha
But we all ride with our phones on us anyway, and most of the time stuck in a jersey pocket, where it's quite like to fly out and get damaged if you crash. Most handlebar mounts I've used have had very sturdy cases built into them to mitigate this issue.
How much riding have you done?

Something falling out of a jersey pocket is RARE. And it's usually because it wasn't fully in the pocket.
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Old 04-04-15, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
Vast majority of posts I come across for dealing with a smartphone, talk about putting in waterproof baggy for jersey pocket, special wallets that hold the phone plus other accessories, etc.. Just wondering what the conventional wisdom is for just not mounting the smartphone in a handlebar-attached case to do your bike computer duty. If you're going to carry it anyway, why have a separate unit for bike computer duties/gps etc?
I do use mine, in a very Fred-like top tube bag. I like it. Reasons NOT to, since you ask:

-battery life. Should be fine as long as you start out well-charged. I started a 2.5-hr ride @ 50% charge the other day and the phone died before I finished.

-screen visibility. You'll have to see what you think. My 4 can be marginal.

-rain. iPhones are amazing things and can handle some wet, but they have limits. I've hit mine skiing, elk hunting, and cycling as far as moisture. Nothing permanently broke- testament to a good design- but it got funky.
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Old 04-04-15, 11:23 PM
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Bike computers are $30, one time. iPhones and contracts... way more than I'm willing to pay.
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Old 04-04-15, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
What's wrong using an iPhone as the bar mounted bike computer?

As long as you either bought Applecare and/or some 3rd party accident insurance for it.
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