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GPS vs mileage computer vs iphone/android

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GPS vs mileage computer vs iphone/android

Old 08-09-12, 10:30 AM
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black.damon
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GPS vs mileage computer vs iphone/android

I recently bought a LHT and I'm gearing up to do more touring (I've only done a couple of over-nighters so far).

Anyway, I've been biking for fitness regularly for the last year or so, and I've been using a wireless Bontrager mileage computer. It's been somewhat erratic and recently quit working altogether, so I'm looking to replace it.

The thing is, I've also been considering the usefullness of some kind of GPS unit, or an equivalent set up on an iphone or android mobile device.

My question is this: Can I take care of mileage tracking, average speed, etc.. AND my navigation on one device? In other words, if I buy an android, or a nice GPS in a month or two will it make a new mileage computer redundant?
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Old 08-09-12, 11:03 AM
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There are a lot of threads on the topic and the field is split pretty even. I use an iPhone 4 and don’t have any other devices electronic except a few methods to be able to recharge the phone on the road. The major drawbacks to the phone will be battery life (charging) ability to see the screen in bright light (GPS units are better) and being not hardened to the elements (GPS units are) The iPhone on the other hand is also a phone a camera and a camcorder, a fairly powerful personal computer for internet use, I have over 3000 songs on mine, it will give you weather warnings, it can be used as a eReader holding books, it plays games if that’s your idle time thing. And about a million other apps that you may find handy to have around such as going on BikeForum and asking questions. I had mine mounted to my bars for a year and came to the conclusion it doesn’t do me or the iPhone any good being there. The combination of sun and a distraction I now keep it inside my top flap on my bar bag. Out of the elements and not being banged around as much. I find its just as easy to pull over and put my reading glasses on and access the mapping take a call or whatever else I need to do. The battery lasts much longer if I’m not keeping the display on watching my inch by inch progress. It’s also easier to see if it’s shielded a little by the cover. Some people have all 3 with them but if I have to have just one I like the iPhone idea. Others will tell you otherwise. If you go with the phone method then come back and ask or search there are 100 of posts talking about bike and mapping apps and also charging methods.
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Old 08-09-12, 11:06 AM
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Depends on what you believe in. I believe in a magnetic compass and a wired bike computer. Nothing else is reliable, though those things may be useful and fun.
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Old 08-09-12, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by bud16415 View Post
There are a lot of threads on the topic and the field is split pretty even. I use an iPhone 4 and don’t have any other devices electronic except a few methods to be able to recharge the phone on the road. The major drawbacks to the phone will be battery life (charging) ability to see the screen in bright light (GPS units are better) and being not hardened to the elements (GPS units are) The iPhone on the other hand is also a phone a camera and a camcorder, a fairly powerful personal computer for internet use, I have over 3000 songs on mine, it will give you weather warnings, it can be used as a eReader holding books, it plays games if that’s your idle time thing. And about a million other apps that you may find handy to have around such as going on BikeForum and asking questions. I had mine mounted to my bars for a year and came to the conclusion it doesn’t do me or the iPhone any good being there. The combination of sun and a distraction I now keep it inside my top flap on my bar bag. Out of the elements and not being banged around as much. I find its just as easy to pull over and put my reading glasses on and access the mapping take a call or whatever else I need to do. The battery lasts much longer if I’m not keeping the display on watching my inch by inch progress. It’s also easier to see if it’s shielded a little by the cover. Some people have all 3 with them but if I have to have just one I like the iPhone idea. Others will tell you otherwise. If you go with the phone method then come back and ask or search there are 100 of posts talking about bike and mapping apps and also charging methods.
Can you get accurate mileage info (avg/speed, etc...) with the iPhone apps?
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Old 08-09-12, 12:44 PM
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If all you want/need is speed, distance, time, and some averages of those, it boils down to

$15 for a bike computer, $100+ for a good GPS with good detailed maps, or phone @ $??? + service expense
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Old 08-09-12, 01:43 PM
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Almost all Android phones allow you to carry spare batteries. I use Endomondo, a free sports tracker application. It is wonderful. It puts my route on a map, announces each mile split-time. Records time-per-mile, top speed, average speed, calories burned, how much water I need to drink (what a dumb thing to include, but Americans love that stuff) -- everything I could want. It can automatically upload to my facebook page. I can opt to let others see my routes and workouts if I want. It shows cumulative mileage month by month and total calories burned and equivalent in hamburgers consumed. Excellent app. I can turn my phone onto AIRPLANE MODE and keep the GPS on and use the app and it is very easy on the battery that way.
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Old 08-09-12, 01:55 PM
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Thanks to everyone for the info. After looking around, and given that I'm not quite yet ready to pop for a nice GPS or mobile device, I think I'm just going to get a cheapy wired computer for my current mileage tracking needs and go for either an iPhone of an Android when my bank account rebounds from my LHT purchase.

BTW, really love the LHT. I got it with big ol' Salsa Woodchipper bars and a stem extender for a very comfortable ride. Oh, and a Brooks saddle, which I'd been warned takes a while to break in, but felt good right out of the gate.
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Old 08-09-12, 02:05 PM
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If you decide to go Android, I bought a Samsung Exhibit 4g for about $199, unlocked, from Amazon. I then bought a TMobile prepaid, no-contract card to pop in the phone. I pay $75/month for unlimited talk/text/data at 4g for the first 5 gigs (after 5 gigs of data it gradually throttles back the speed from 4g down to 3g -- but 5g is a TON of data). Amazingly good deal. Nice, rugged, better-than-average phone. And I love Endomondo app for biking and kayaking and backpacking. I also use Backcountry Navigator app (it costs $5 or something small). You can upload GPS routes to it and also use it in airplane mode so it is very gentle on the battery.
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Old 08-09-12, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by motorapido View Post
If you decide to go Android, I bought a Samsung Exhibit 4g for about $199, unlocked, from Amazon. I then bought a TMobile prepaid, no-contract card to pop in the phone. I pay $75/month for unlimited talk/text/data at 4g for the first 5 gigs (after 5 gigs of data it gradually throttles back the speed from 4g down to 3g -- but 5g is a TON of data). Amazingly good deal. Nice, rugged, better-than-average phone. And I love Endomondo app for biking and kayaking and backpacking. I also use Backcountry Navigator app (it costs $5 or something small). You can upload GPS routes to it and also use it in airplane mode so it is very gentle on the battery.
That sounds tasty. I have a Samsung Tab 10.1 that I like a quite a bit. Might give that phone a shot.
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Old 08-09-12, 02:49 PM
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Bike computer is more accurate in mileage than gps and probably last longer in my opinion.
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Old 08-09-12, 03:29 PM
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I've realized that I don't need the GPS feature. I'm currently using a Cateye Q3 multi-sports computer that I can use on my wrist or on the handlebar. It tracks what I need in terms of speed, distance, heart-rate, calories, and cadence. Not sure how popular the Q3 is, but I do like it.
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Old 08-09-12, 04:55 PM
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I own an iPhone 4 and a Garmin Edge 705 bike-specific GPS unit. I take both of them with me when touring. The iPhone makes a decent phone and internet device, but for mapping and bike computer usage the Edge 705 is much better, IMHO.
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Old 08-10-12, 02:44 AM
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I use my phone for Internet access and making calls for bike related needs it's a Garmin Edge 800. If you want absolute accuracy use a wheel sensor, measure your exact wheel circumference and plug that number into your bike computer or GPS.
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Old 08-10-12, 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by black.damon View Post
Can you get accurate mileage info (avg/speed, etc...) with the iPhone apps?


There are half dozen apps that are bike related and some of the better ones have been listed above. Yes the distances are very accurate. With a bike computer you are actually measuring how many times the wheel goes around and putting in a conversion number based on wheel size. When I look at my map after a long ride I will see my path going down one side of the road and might see a little blip out into the road and I will think back and that’s right where a car was parked I went around.

As to buying a smart phone because you need a way to measure distance on your bike that I wouldn’t do. I fought the technology for a while and I’m not a huge fan of all the gizmos out there and owning a smart phone with all the stuff in a cell plan can get expensive. I am really hooked on all the things the phone does for me daily and mapping bike rides is only a small percentage of it.

I don’t know a lot about the other devices like the iPod touch but I think they can do most everything except be a cell phone. That might be a way to go also. I know if you have a lot of access to wireless internet for free I have several apps that let me use my iPhone with only wireless and place calls for free and I think the iPod will do the same.
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Old 08-10-12, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by black.damon View Post
I recently bought a LHT and I'm gearing up to do more touring (I've only done a couple of over-nighters so far).

Anyway, I've been biking for fitness regularly for the last year or so, and I've been using a wireless Bontrager mileage computer. It's been somewhat erratic and recently quit working altogether, so I'm looking to replace it.

The thing is, I've also been considering the usefullness of some kind of GPS unit, or an equivalent set up on an iphone or android mobile device.

My question is this: Can I take care of mileage tracking, average speed, etc.. AND my navigation on one device? In other words, if I buy an android, or a nice GPS in a month or two will it make a new mileage computer redundant?
I used an i-Phone on tour this spring. I use the Motion-X app for tracking and I used a handlebar mounted computer. The i-Phone was great for navigation, although sometimes the phone would direct me to routes that weren't all that suitable for riding. The Motion-X worked well for tracking my route but I don't know that I would depend on it for logging miles nor for tracking speed. There are times when it would lose the signal and stop tracking. It also chews through the i-Phone's battery rapidly. I carried an external battery pack and I had to use it often. I tried using the airplane mode to save batteries but the Motion-X app wouldn't work in the mode.

Originally Posted by black.damon View Post
Can you get accurate mileage info (avg/speed, etc...) with the iPhone apps?
Yes and no. If you lose the signal, you have nothing. I also found that the phone would give incorrect speed measurements. On one downhill, the Motion-X said that I hit 55 mph but my computer said my max speed that day was 48. Since I was coming off New Found Gap in a driving rainstorm and while, I'm crazy I'm not that crazy, I'm sure the computer speed was the correct one.

A bike computer seldom loses the signal and it may give erroneous speeds but those are rare occurrences.

The cost of the phone and service is more than a good map but the information that you can get from a smart phone is far better than any good map can provide. I use an app from Allstays called Camp & Tent which lists campgrounds that are tent friendly. The amount of information that you can get for campgrounds from that app is astounding. The app allows you go directly to the campground's website (if they have one), gives the phone number, gives reviews and, finally, links to the i-Phone's on-board Google map app. It also shows grocery stores.

I'm convinced that smart phone is a great touring tool...and this is coming from an electronic luddite.
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Old 08-10-12, 10:29 AM
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What do you want an odometer or entertainment?
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Old 08-10-12, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
What do you want an odometer or entertainment?
Both, of course!

For now I just want something to keep track of my mileage and average speed - for rudimentary training purposes (weight lost mostly). Later I'd like to have some nav ability - but I've been pretty content so far to just wing it. If I get into heavy-duty touring I'll probably get a GPS or some fancy mobile doo-dad.

Thanks for all the responses! Lots of good info from what I can tell.
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Old 08-10-12, 11:58 AM
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I like my Cateye wireless(strada I think) except it eats batteries compared to my wired version.I'm going back to wired on my touring bike.

I like maps and a compass,no batteries.

If I need to be entertained,I just ride through a city......
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Old 08-10-12, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by black.damon View Post
For now I just want something to keep track of my mileage and average speed - for rudimentary training purposes (weight lost mostly).
Rudimentary indeed. Average speed can be affected various factors to the point that it is/may not be much of an indication of your output. I find average speed wholy useless for touring, particularly since I slow or stop to take photos, read road side markers, soak in the views, etc. I use a simple wired computer that doesn't calculate average speed. If I really want to know, I can do the math myself.
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Old 08-10-12, 01:05 PM
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On the iPhone the app I use cyclemeter pauses every time your GPS location stops so when the report is done it gives you truer ride time but also tells you total time. The graph of elevation change matches the speed graph and gives you a better picture. That and being able to store a route and get split times ride to ride. These apps are always getting updates getting more features.
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Old 08-11-12, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by black.damon View Post
I recently bought a LHT and I'm gearing up to do more touring (I've only done a couple of over-nighters so far).

Anyway, I've been biking for fitness regularly for the last year or so, and I've been using a wireless Bontrager mileage computer. It's been somewhat erratic and recently quit working altogether, so I'm looking to replace it.

The thing is, I've also been considering the usefullness of some kind of GPS unit, or an equivalent set up on an iphone or android mobile device.

My question is this: Can I take care of mileage tracking, average speed, etc.. AND my navigation on one device? In other words, if I buy an android, or a nice GPS in a month or two will it make a new mileage computer redundant?
Smart phones are quite ubiquitous now, they have neato features yet though I upgraded my 3G Verizon phone to 4G it still has problems with connection reliability. Even in populated areas with plenty of towers. Garmin e-trex GPS never had those issues though small screen was sometimes tough to read. Garmin & other GPS could be better at following pre-programmed routes yet AFAIK smart phones are no better there. Garmin once saved my butt after getting temporarily lost after long hot day of riding yet stupid "smart" phones often fail at local car navigation. GPS devices can be turned off when not needed for long battery life...sure smart phones also but most folks like to stay in constant contact. Using GPS/navi features on smart phones drains battery quick. If you don't want to buy a new phone I'd say get a decent GPS device & use it along with a new bike computer. Basic cycloputers are very cheap with ultra-long battery life--I don't have one with a nifty altimeter yet that's only a luxe option. So IMHO having all 3 is nice (plus even some paper maps) yet if I was choosing between a smart GPS phone vs a dedicated GPS device + simple phone I'd choose the latter. GPS navis don't have problems connecting in open areas even if you're out in the country.
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Old 08-22-12, 07:27 AM
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Maybe have a look at this android phone. [h=1]Huawei Ascend G300[/h]Should be able to get it for sub-100 price sim free, and it seems like a great touring phone (I'm going to get it.
Has GPS, 5mp camera (with Geo-tagging!), plays music, can get spare batteries for it from Amazon for 5.

It's even supposed to get ICS update soon.


http://www.gsmarena.com/huawei_ascend_g300-4594.php
-specs-
http://community.giffgaff.com/t5/Blo...w/ba-p/5597410 - Review-
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Old 08-22-12, 07:57 AM
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I like to use a regular bike computer and supplement it with my phone for finding services, evaluating route options, and so on. I do not want to have to keep a phone charged while having it on all day, so I only turn it on when using it. The battery lasts a long time if you only turn it on once a day for 10 or 20 minutes.

I advise against GPS with built in battery and will only use one that takes replaceable batteries. I do use a GPS on some trips but not most of trips. If I am planning to be off road a lot either riding or hiking I am more likely to use a GPS on a road only tour I do not. When I do I carry a few extra AA batteries.

I also advise against wireless bike computers. I know that the folks I rode with who used them seemed to constantly be finding that they had logged miles while they were parked near a neon sign or other interference. It did kind of even out with the times interference from power lines or whatever caused them to lose mileage while riding, but was still annoying. I'd just go with a nice wired one. I like the Planet Bike models, but have also had good luck with Cateye.
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Old 08-22-12, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by black.damon View Post
Thanks to everyone for the info. After looking around, and given that I'm not quite yet ready to pop for a nice GPS or mobile device, I think I'm just going to get a cheapy wired computer for my current mileage tracking needs and go for either an iPhone of an Android when my bank account rebounds from my LHT purchase. ... ...
I like to use both a basic cheap wired computer and a GPS.

One advantage of some of the dedicated GPS units is that many of them use AA batteries. I never worry about my GPS battery running out of power because I carry about a 5 day supply of rechargeable AA batteries and a recharger. (Also carry rechargeable AAA batteries for taillight, bike headlight and for camping headlamp.) If I am unable to recharge my batteries, I can buy some non-rechargeables until I camp near a power outlet or stay at a motel.



Pictured, note that I also use a heart rate monitor - think of it as my engine tachometer. But, the heart rate monitor is not really necessary.
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Old 08-22-12, 10:55 AM
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Some Sony Android phones support Ant so you could sync it with a wireless speed/cadence sensor for accurate speed measurements.
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