Biking Applications Review – Part 2

Well folks, I am continuing on the quest for the 'perfect' application for my smart phone to implement a bike computer.  This weekend I decided to try out the next one BIKE BRAIN.  Downloaded the application from the iTunes application store.  As usual it is offered as a free version with some baseline features.

Side note:  You can check out Part 1 of the reviews which covers some additional applications – here)

Here is a graphical view of Bike Brain:

bikeBrain7 150x150 Biking Applications Review   Part 2

Bike Brain Dashboard

bikeBrain 150x150 Biking Applications Review   Part 2

Bike Brain Stats

bikeBrain4 150x150 Biking Applications Review   Part 2

    

The application has some good features and more importantly allows you to view the dashboard throughout the whole time – i.e. it does not allow the screen saver on iPhone to come on.  It burns more battery but then you want to see the dashboard as you are biking, right…

I give it two thumbs up!

 

Bike Racks – How to Choose

One of the key decisions a bike rider needs to make sooner or later is how to transport the bicycles to and from the trails or any other biking location.  In some cases you may be fortunate enough to have good trails or bike path that allows you to hop on your bike and head on the trail directly out of your home, but the chances for that are usually very small.

Given that fact, you would need a safe and convenient way to transport your bike(s).  There are a number of questions you would need to answer and decide on in order to get the optimal for you solution.  Some of those questions are:

  • What are the options for a bike carrier given the vehicle I have?  
  • What to consider in evaluating the options?
  • What is the best option I can get?
  • What is the cost of the selected option?

I am currently in the process of deciding on the bike carrier myself, so here is my assessment:

I am going to provision a bike carrier for our recently purchased (within the last year) SUV.  Given the fact that the vehicle is a SUV, we need to consider the pros and cons of both safety and ease / convenience of mounting the bikes and taking them down from the carrier we select.  

Here is a table with the analysis I did:

Style Useful for Pros   Cons  
Roof rack                   Bikes, boats, surf boards, ski, canoe, kayak       

very versatile and flexible for multi-use purposes;     

Allows for relatively easy access to doors, trunk, rear hatch

potentially difficult to access due to height; impeding access to low clearance areas

Increased wind resistence

Hitch Rack

 

Bikes, skis, snowboards        Easy to load and access bikes          

Fewer usage cases – no option to load bikes and a kayak for example; Not as secure / stable – the bikes may sway when traveling at high speed; 

Requires the installation of a hitch subsystem which adds to the overall cost

Trunk Racks    Bikes are the only item to carry with those 

relatively low cost

can be used on multiple vehicles without complex disassembly and subsequent assembly 

Not permanently attached to your vehicle

interfere with the use of the trunck or vehicle hatch;

Bikes not as stable during transport; 

bikes could rub against each other during transport causing potential damage

Spare Tire Racks   Bikes primarily Relatively low cost; Provide for east access, mounting and dismounting of bikes; allows for access to hatch Not as stable as roof mounted – bikes may sway during travel; limited number of bikes that could be carried

Truck Racks

 

Bikes, canoe, kayak, ski Easy to use – load and access the bikes; allow for higher weight; allow for more secure transport  Impact the storage space in the truck bed

 

Biking Applications Review

A week ago I decided to pull together a listing of the applications that are available for free for iPhone to make your phone a biking computer  / tracking device.  Here is the link to that summary posting.  Today, I will provide a summary review of several of the applications.  I have been using each of the ones I have for a week at least in an effort to assess which one(s) I would like best.

Here we start with a couple of reviews:

  • TPCycleLite — available for FREE from the iTunes Applications Store; This is a relatively easy to start application. Clicking on the Go button initiates the tracking software.   Here though also lies the problem — the stop button is very tough to find.  The other bad aspect of this application was that the dashboard (image 1 below) did not want to stay on — the application kept allowing the iPhone to dim the screen — you go and unlock the iPhone screen with a passcode while you are bikiing on a trail …!  Not a fun option!   
    • Overall rating – marginal – I won't keep it

TPCycleLite Map 150x150 Biking Applications Review     TPCycleLite Stats 150x150 Biking Applications Review   TPCycleLite Info 150x150 Biking Applications Review

  • The second reviewed application is BikeComputer;   Also a FREE application – available from the Apple store for download;  Launching the application was easy and contrary to the TPCycleLite application – this one stayed with its dashboard screen running and not allowing the iPhone to "sleep the screen";   So is there something I did not like about the application?  Well overall it was very simple – not enough statistics and definitiely not one of the best ones;
    • Overall Rating:  Easy to use but not enough functions; I will not keep it.

BikeComputer Sessions 150x150 Biking Applications Review   BikeComputer Session1 150x150 Biking Applications Review    BikeComputer start 150x150 Biking Applications Review

Bike Computer iPhone Applications

Earlier in the month  I was writing about the items you need to start in mountain biking.  One of those items – which brings you a feel of accomplishment — is a bike computer.  You could purchase a purpose built bike computer (for several hundred dollars) or you could opt for an application that is running on your iPhone and allows you to leverage it as a large screen computer.

To start on the path of getting your iphone in the role of a bike computer you need to take the following steps:

  1. Figure out how to get your iPhone on the bike in a most secure fashion.  One option for that is leverage my personal experience described here (in earlier blog articles);   There is always the danger that the iPhone can suffer some damage on your bike, but I personally have taken a good tumble with my mountain bike which resulted in bending the rear wheel of the bike but NOT damaging the phone which stayed securely in the braket.
    • NOTE:  you need to replace the cord that came as original on the caddy with a stronger elastic cord – I bought mine from REI
  2. Review options for iPhone applications to install on your phone; 

In this write up I will provide the list of iPhone applications I have tried;   Here is first the list: 

Application Assessment Cost
BikeFree   Free 
Cycle Watch Lite   Free
Cyclemeter   Free
Cycle Log   Free
iBike   Free
iBiker Easy to use; dashboard stays on; Review Free
TheBike   Free
LiveRider   Free
Mountain Bike   Free
TPCycleLite

Easy to use; some quirks; Review

Free
BikeComputer Limited capabilities; Review Free
BikeBrain Good capabilities; Easy to use; Review Free

Stay tuned – I will provide an overview of these applications – starting with iBiker first and continuing with the rest of the list over the next few days

Interesting Gadgets for Bike Enthusiasts

Well folks – I thought I had seen most gadgets and then…I saw the pizza cutting tools in the shape of various bikes.  Then it dawned on me – of course – the shape of a bike is perfect for the purpose.  It offers big wheels, which is what the usual pizza cutter looks like anyway.  So here you go – a set of pizza cutting tools for your home:

 and then here is one from the UK: fixie pizza cutter Interesting Gadgets for Bike Enthusiaststhe Fixie Pizza Cutter available here

Both of those actually give you the ability to have the tool be an item you can display rather than hide in a drawer and risk of being cut when you try to find it…

So – go ahead and pick up one…

Truly Believer in Bike Helmets Now

Well. folks, this morning went on a bike ride.  My wife and I did about an hour and a half both on the road and off-road through some single track country.  This all went well until we came back close to home.  I was riding pretty fast – wanted to make the climb up our drive-way as usually without dismounting from the bike.  But this is where my bike brakes failed me.  I braked – and the brakes locked up — apparently a 'feature' of the fluid operated disk brakes.  The fluid absorbs water from the air and cause corosion and in sme cases locking up of the brakes and of course the wheels

Needless to say I took a nasty tumble over the handebars of the bike and hit the pavement really hard.  At the end I was very glad that I had my bike helmet on — my head struck the pavement once as I rolled on the ground and then a second time 'thump' as I hit and came to rest….My bike was a few feet away from me and most amazingly – my iPhone was mounted on the bike in a Delta Smart Phone Caddy holder attached to the stem of my handlebars.  Well – the phone survived 

My helmet faired not so well — it will be replaced.  But it did its job – I was able to survive the hit with only minor scrapes on my hands and arms and only a brief headache…Having gone through this experience I also wanted to post here the link to an organization that further promotes bike safety and use of helmets – the organization is Helmets on Heads.

As the title of this blog entry states – I am a TRUE believer now – I will not ride without a helmet, EVER!

How to Get Started in Mountain Biking

Last week I had a summary of the new mountain bikes coming up for 2014.  There are a number of interesting machines available for you to use.   But, for some folks new to the experience, there is also the mental block of how do I start…?  What is the kit I need to have in order to get started with mountain biking.  So, with that in mind, I decided to post a brief list of the basic and extended necessities for a beginner in the sport.  

  • A good mountain bike – there are multiple options
    • On the higher end for a beginner: Marin Rocky Ridge 
    • In the mid-range: Specialized Rockhopper
    • In the entry level: Trek X-Caliber 6 (will write about this bike in my next posting)
  • Biking helment – lots of controversy and opinions on what makes a good helmet and how important they are, but at the end of the day, yes, you need one…For many reasons…
  • Water bottle 
    • If your bike was not outfitted with a water bottle cage – you need to get it done – either get one from your bike store or any of the camping stores may carry it; They are fairly universal 
  • spare tube for your tires
  • pump – you can look into both portable and/or full size ones
  • Combo tool kit – those come in a form factor that fits like a pack under your seat
  • Next we go into the nice to have things:
    • bike computer

                 — OR —

This kit should get you going on your first mountain bike ride – if it is just in your local park as a start!

Transporting Your Bike on a Plane

If you are traveling and want to use your bike on the road, then chances are you really would like to bring your personal bike with you.  If that is the case, then read further the information in this blog posting to figure out what options you have and how to accomplish the task of getting your bicycle where you need it.

The good options for transporting the bike are not the cardboard bike boxes some airlines offer, but the specialized baggage from the companies like Biknd and their Jetpack.  The Jetpack is brand new for 2014 – demonstrated at the Taipei International Cycling show. 

102766 1 Transporting Your Bike on a Plane

Features

  • 360 degree opening for ease of packing/unpacking
  • Lightweight 15.4 pounds (7kg)
  • Aluminum frame
  • Allen key set will be provided in the case
  • Air bag protection
  • Exterior dimensions 31.5" tall 51.2" long and 10.25" wide (80cm x 130cm x 26cm)
  • Convenient stowaway down to 12" x 14" x 50"

 

You need to know what the rules / fees are for the airline you plan to take – below is the info for some of the more significant airlines:

American Airlines

• $150 for each bike bag.

• Maximums: 70 pounds and 126 dimensional inches.

• If under 50 pounds and 62 dimensional inches, $25 regular baggage fee if it's the first bag.



Delta Airlines

• $150 charge for each bike.

More New Mountain Bikes for 2014

Here we go with the second installment of the recent / new mountain bikes that are out this year.  You see more and more bikes with full suspension — and that functionality is appearing even in mid-range bikes.  But the hardtails are still the way to go for 29ers and 27.5" machines.  I believe the lack of not properly tuned and designed (i.e. cheap) suspension actually helps the performance of those bike models.  With that in mind, lets take a look at some additional models you should consider:

  • Pivot LES 27.5:  This is a good bike with the maneuverability of a smaller bike with compact frame and the great hardtail capabilities of a 29er.  Additionally, this model comes with small and extra-small frames making it a well fitting bike for smaller riders;

 More New Mountain Bikes for 2014   LES275 03 300x200 More New Mountain Bikes for 2014

  • Marin Rocky Ridge:  Since we are talking about hardtail bikes, here is another 27.5" model.  It comes outfit with a good front fork 120mm RockShox and Shimano Deore shifters and brakes and is certainly light weight for this type of bike – 27.4lbs; 

rocky ridge 7.6 1152 648 80 s 300x168 More New Mountain Bikes for 2014 as usual this style of bike combines the agility of a 26" one with the speed and stability of the 29er – so all in all a good choice for trail rides especially;

  • Next, here is a link to a new bike I just added — the Fezzari Timp Peak (which comes in several models) Fezzari Timp Peak XT S 300x180 More New Mountain Bikes for 2014

 

New Mountain Bikes for 2014

Well folks, we are well into 2014 already, so I thought that I need to take a look at what are someo of the new and promising mountain bikes for this year.  My usual recommendation still stands — if you want to buy a new bike, you can research quite a bit on-line, read postings on this and that forum, check out blogs like this one, but at the end of the day, it is best to head to your local bike shop and test ride the bikes you are considering.

Why?

Because no advice and review will come close to the experience you will have test riding the bike by yourself and then once close to the decision, getting the recommendation and adjustments from the pro-shop….

OK, so with that in mind, lets look at the new bikes – in this posting, let's look at the best options for a 29er all around bikes — for those of us (me included) that want a bike that can ride well on the trail and downhill….

  • Specialized Camber 29

 New Mountain Bikes for 2014 Solid built bike from Specialized.  The price tag has gone up with the entry point for the Camber 29 being at $1850 but for that you get a dual suspension 29er with hydralic brakes and very good Shimano shifters — which could be very important when on the trails.

  • Kona 111 DL

‚Äčprocess 111 dl New Mountain Bikes for 2014 This Kona bike appears to be a very good all around bike

c14 650m trg29 a4 blu 1 New Mountain Bikes for 2014 And this is the best of the bunch — very solid bike with a good option availabe on the front fork – the ability to select between 80mm and 130mm travek on the fork availabe to you on a flip of a switch;

For the more versatile, cross country 29er – please check out the recommendations:

  • Scott Genius
  • Santa Cruz Tallboy:  this is definitely a bike to consider!  Why?  Becase you wll make it to the big league with such a proficient bike – period!
  • Niner RIP