Top 10 apps for cycle commuters

Cyclescheme, 23.01.2017

Top 10 apps for cycle commuters

Your smartphone is an excellent cycling accessory. Here are 10 of the most useful apps for the day-to-day commuter.

For some of these apps, you'll want your phone mounted to your bike's handlebar or stem where it's visible and audible. Quad Lock is an excellent attachment system but there are lots of others. The map pocket of a handlebar bag works too.

Cyclescheme

1. Google Maps

Google Maps

Free. iPhone and Android

Your default sat-nav app as it might be on your phone already. Choose your destination, select the cycling option, and it'll show you one or more ways to get there – along with predicted journey times. Best of all, when you select a route and press 'start', you get turn-by-turn instructions on screen and through the speakers. (Set the phone's volume level high.) Google Maps routes aren't always as cycle-friendly as those produced by Bike Hub Cycle Journey Planner, but the app is fast and reliable. To run Google Maps on Windows, get the free gMaps app.

2. Bike Hub Journey Planner

Bike Hub Journey Planner

Free. iPhone and Android

This app uses the route-finding engine of CycleStreets. Like Cyclestreets, Bike Hub Journey Planner gives you a choice between three routes: quickest, including busy roads; quietest, favouring cycle tracks and back streets; and balanced. But rather than CycleStreets' staggered itinerary, you get turn-by-turn navigation with spoken instructions. That makes routes much easier to follow while cycling. The Bike Hub app also locates local bike shops and has useful information on cycling and the law, the Cycle to Work scheme, and more.

3. Cyclemeter

Cyclemeter

Free (Elite version £7.99). iPhone

Probably the best way to turn your smartphone into a GPS cycle computer. You can view speed, distance ridden, riding time, calories expended, an Apple Maps map showing where you are, average speed, height gained etc. It keeps the riding data on your phone so doesn't require an online log-in to start up or view afterwards. The Elite version is a full-blown fitness/training tool, including cadence and heart rate, weather data, different bikes, automatic uploading to Strava/social media/your calendar, and lots more. The only downside, as with any GPS app, is heavy battery usage.

4. Strava

Strava

Free (in-app purchases). iPhone and Android

Another GPS route logger for cyclists with an interest in fitness, Strava's ace card is the way it aggregates the data on a semi-competitive social media site. As well as your rides, you can see how your performance compares to that of other cyclists on any given 'segment', such as a local hill. Can you get into the top 10? Can you beat your own personal record? It's a powerful motivating tool. Just remember to respect other road users and your own safety. Windows users will need a client app, such as Striver.

5. London Cyclist

London Cyclist

Free. iPhone

A database app that shows bike shops, cycling cafés, bike rental places, and mobile repair services in the capital, along with maps, contact details and opening hours so you can find the nearest. Unlike some shop finders, it seems fairly comprehensive. You can also use it access free eBook guides about riding in London, repairs, thief-proofing your bike and more. The only real downside is that it's restricted to London.

6. Fill That Hole

 Fill That Hole

Free. iPhone and Android

Potholes and other road defects are a pain for cyclists, sometimes literally. Councils are obliged to fix them but only if they're aware. This app gives you an easy way to tell them. Your phone's GPS pinpoints the road defect on a map and its camera provides visual evidence. The app does the rest, notifying the council on your behalf. It takes moments. Councils have an incentive to fix known defects as they can't claim ignorance in compensation claims.

7. Met Office Weather

Met Office Weather

Free (£2.99 for ad-free version). iPhone and Android

Will it rain tomorrow? How warm or cold will it be? What about wind speed and direction? Visibility? The Met Office Weather app provides all this and more for the next several days. It's more useful than the forecast on the telly because it's tailored to where you are; by default it uses the phone's GPS to locate you. You can also check the weather anywhere elsewhere in the country, as well as around the world.

8. National Rail Enquiries

National Rail Enquiries

Free. iPhone, Android, and Windows

An app for all cyclists who takes their bike by train each day. While you can use it to plan trips and book tickets, the killer feature for commuters is live updates. You can check your train's departure and arrival times, find out where it is, and arrange phone alerts for any disruptions. The app also gives details about each operator's bike policy, which is useful if you travel with a non-folding bike. If only it showed how many of the bike spaces on a given train were booked…

9. Bike Doctor 2.0

Bike Doctor 2.0

£4.99 for iPhone, £2.15 (earlier version) for Android

A maintenance guide that'll always be in your pocket. There are step-by-step instructions with clear photos detailing everything from puncture repair through to replacing a bottom bracket. It's well suited to relative beginners; there's even a section called 'Seven Rookie Maintenance Mistakes'. Make sure you pack some nitrile gloves so you won't smear your phone's screen mid-repair.

10. Bike Gear Calculator

Bike Gear Calculator

Free (full version £1.49). iPhone and Android

Input your bike's wheel size, then for any given chainring and sprocket combination, this app tells you how fast you'll be travelling at a given pedalling cadence - or how fast you'll be pedalling at a given speed. It's most useful for singlespeed and fixed-wheel cyclists but is also handy for assessing top and bottom gears on a geared bike. The full version lets you plot a range of gears at once and can display the gear size in 'gear inches' and 'development'.


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