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BikeBrain REVIEW

April 2012

I got a BioLogic Bike Mount for my iPhone 4s (yep, it's a fancy phone which I find very useful for a lot of things I do). The Bike Mount is great (you can read my review for that item here). Reading through their literature they mention that they have a free app for the iPhone that turns your phone into a bike computer. I'm sure this isn't the only app that does this, it just didn't seem so useful to me before I had a way to mount the phone on my handlebars so I hadn't actually looked for one before.

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After a little more than a week of using the app, I'm impressed. It works very well, doesn't seem to use a lot of battery, the screens are clear, with good options, and it keeps useful and interesting data. I paid the $1.99 in app upgrade when I got to 12 rides so that I could store more than 12 rides. That would also allow me to share the data with friends (which I probably won’t ever do), and it also allows me to see how much ascending and descending I’ve done on a ride, which is super interesting. The features I find most useful are average speed and ride times right now, and that's what I've been using it for. I'm trying to figure out the details of delivering vegetables by bike and so I need to know how long these things are taking me, and it's helpful to have a little data behind that, especially when I’m comparing different bike options and different routes.

The app uses the phone's GPS to map your route (kind of nice to look at after the ride, and could potentially help determine turns to make while you're riding). It also keeps track of your average speed, your instantaneous speed, and then you can also go back and look at a graph of speed vs. distance, or speed vs. time, both interesting but not so useful. It will also give average speed for while you're traveling, vs. for total elapsed time, which is useful if you forget to stop the computer while you're having lunch.

One of the features I really like, while I'm trying to figure out my delivery routes and times it being able to go back to every ride and recover all of the data, including route and paces. If I were really conscientious I could change the "bike" I'm riding if I ride different bikes (which I do) and it would keep track of my total distances for each bike separately. I don't think I can edit any of the data after the fact - at least I haven't figured out how to do that.

There are several features I don't really understand (and aren't really important to me). There are screen sections for heart rate and pedal cadence, but I'm not sure what you'd have to have to connect these features to your heart and pedals. There's also an interesting little piece of data that's not clear to me how they get, but must be some kind of average - your carbon offset for the trip. I'm guessing this is comparing a similar ride in a car to the one you just rode. Can I get paid for these offsets?

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I don't actually use the computer displays while I'm riding, much. I've been using it to log my rides and then I look at the data after I'm done riding. The app has several different screens viewing options that you can watch while you're riding (and they’re easy to switch on the fly), if you don't want to pay attention to the road. They're all good in different ways, and one is actually customizable, which would probably be good if you were doing something like intervals (any farm athletes out there?) Mostly I want to be able to tell what time it is while I'm riding to see if I'm late, and since I don't wear a wrist watch anymore the phone is an expensive time piece, made even more expensive by the case to hold it on the handlebars. I admit that I also like to know when folks call me while I'm riding, and occasionally I do need directions. Being a typical guy I don't like asking people directions but I don't mind searching on my phone.

One thing I haven't tried yet, but I'm tempted to, is to put the phone in my pocket, and start the "ride" at the beginning of my farm day. Then maybe I could keep track of how many miles I walk on the farm. Not particularly useful, but very interesting perhaps. I'll let you know if I do it. Theoretically I could use it to log milages for car business trips as well.

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