Apps for cycling. Does anyone else find them kind of... lacking?

peterh_nz

Active Member
Region
New Zealand
I didn't read the thread. I would say RideWithGPS. It gives you the possibility to study many alternative bike friendly routes. For any of them, the app will inform you on the surface types to be ridden, and a very accurate elevation profile including the grade will be produced. Then the RWGPS can be used for smartphone GPS navigation, or the route can be uploaded to a GPS bike computer.
Ditto OSMAnd!
 

dynamic

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I didn't read the thread. I would say RideWithGPS. It gives you the possibility to study many alternative bike friendly routes. For any of them, the app will inform you on the surface types to be ridden, and a very accurate elevation profile including the grade will be produced. Then the RWGPS can be used for smartphone GPS navigation, or the route can be uploaded to a GPS bike computer.
I don't really have confidence in the grade/elevation of any of the apps. Ride with gps, for example, puts a hill I am trying to avoid at max 8.1% grade. Strava puts the max grade on that same hill at 16.4%. I don't have any way to know the *real* grade other than looking at it and thinking 16.4 could still be underestimating it. But, from a "being able to do this mobile", ride with gps is winning on mobile. It's clumsy, but it lets you do all the things. I feel like this will get truly solved if/when apple decides to make apple maps the premier cycling app.
By the way, your commentary in general and on your specialized bikes is really helpful! It really helped me figure out what I wanted and needed in my bike search.
 

dynamic

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Posted this on the wrong thread. Posting here as well:

So, bikemap for iOS is currently winning. It’s simple, has the most logical waypoint creation and search. It also tracks heart rate via apple watch.

It tracks elevation but not grade. And the route optimizers do nothing for my use case.

So, as long as I am willing to manually plan my route by adding waypoints to avoid certain roads, this is the easiest application so far.

Still trying more as I can.
 

Catalyzt

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I couldn't get OSMA to work. I may not have been on the right website. Can someone please supply a link?

For grade off-road, I am still liking mtbproject. Also, most trails I would want to ride are marked easy, intermediate, advanced-intermediate, which helps. If there are trail that are unrated, it often means they are not suitable for bikes.

Grade is very important to me. Even though I'm in Los Angeles, some of the places I ride are not frequently traveled, and it does seem possible to get stranded in a spot where it would be very difficult to go up or go down. On one hill (fortunately, near my house and I know it very well), I can ride up, but literally could not possibly ride down. I have ridden up only once without stopping, but typically I bonk at the last turn, and have to push the bike up the last 50-75 feet.

Last night, I scoped the entrance to the Las Flores trail in Glendale. It was exactly as mtbproject had said it would be in terms of difficulty. The nasty part was just finding a route there that was scenic, on winding canyon roads, but not too steep-- I don't want to burn too many electrons until I'm on the trail. Canyon roads are sometimes NOT marked on the street the way they are on the map! ("Oh, I thought I was supposed to make a right at Oak Ridge Road, but actually, the right turn is still named for the street I'm on, and it only turns into Oak Ridge Road a couple of blocks later.")

My goal for yesterday was to make sure I didn't have to lift my bike over the gate and explore a few miles of this trail. The wrong turns delayed me so much, and navigation was so slow, that I reached the gate 10 minutes after sunset, at least a half hour later than I'd hoped. But the gate was no problem, and I road about a mile in anyway just to catch the view at dusk = stunning.

And I know how to get back from the gate, which is important: The grade is basically flat most of the way home, I can rip along in ECO at 15-16 MPH hardly burning any juice. I could be at about 1.5 out of 5 bars and still have enough power to get home and make it up the last hill before my house. So I'm pretty sure I should be able to ride the entire spine of the Verdugos on one charge, which will probably involve about 4,500 feet of vertical and about 40 miles.

It will be weird being 18-20 miles from home and having only 30% power left, but it's almost all downhill or flat for the return. Probably will be too hot to do it until the fall, but I'll be keeping my eye open for a good day.
 

dynamic

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Ride with GPS is now the winner. I finally spent time with it on and off bike for an entire trip. And it is easily the "smartest" and best planner while tracking what I need.
Auto-pause that actually works is really nice. It means I can just start a ride to do a bunch of errands, and it just works. Apple watch integration was completely automatic and "just worked". Today I did a 44 minute ride that was really 22 minutes of riding my son to school, and 22 minutes of waiting for coffee and drinking it at the coffee shop.
I don't particularly trust it's grade stuff. But it is at least an indicator. And adjusting way points on this app is *way easier* once you get the hang of it.

I think I am sticking with that (and paying for it).
For the record: strava, I don't understand how it exists. It's flat out the most useless of the entire group. Everything about it is poor ui/ux and inconsistent functionality. I don't get it.
 

bbrebis

Member
Region
Europe
Grade is also very important to me, and I tried all the free versions of apps. Conclusion: none can enable me to use Grade as a parameter when choosing a route. For instance, I want a route from A to B where grades are less than 5% or 10%...

Biking apps are seriously lacking.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Mazovia, Poland
Grade is also very important to me, and I tried all the free versions of apps. Conclusion: none can enable me to use Grade as a parameter when choosing a route. For instance, I want a route from A to B where grades are less than 5% or 10%...

Biking apps are seriously lacking.
Not for me. I just use the apps and ride. RWGPS lets you draw many alternative routes from A to B and find the least steep one. What if there is not any easy way from A to B? Does any car GPS navigation offer Grade in their route planning?

The fact no bike app meets your criteria does not mean they are lacking. Simply your needs are too sophisticated.
 

peterh_nz

Active Member
Region
New Zealand
Not for me. I just use the apps and ride. RWGPS lets you draw many alternative routes from A to B and find the least steep one. What if there is not any easy way from A to B? Does any car GPS navigation offer Grade in their route planning?

The fact no bike app meets your criteria does not mean they are lacking. Simply your needs are too sophisticated.
Ditto again with OSMAnd!

Also as far as I know one can't specify a maximum slope but can chose a preference for a particular type of topography.

With OSMAnd customised configuration files can be used. There may be a parameter in the configuration file that could be edited to specify maximum slope.

Cheers
 

bbrebis

Member
Region
Europe
Not for me. I just use the apps and ride. RWGPS lets you draw many alternative routes from A to B and find the least steep one. What if there is not any easy way from A to B? Does any car GPS navigation offer Grade in their route planning?

The fact no bike app meets your criteria does not mean they are lacking. Simply your needs are too sophisticated.
You did not read my too sophisticated post entirely, I was talking about free versions...
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
I have had the wind too strong 60mph gusts and about 20 to 30mph steady with dust and plant material and branches flying around. it was hard to see sometimes and we got hit by a 60mph gust that about knocked us off our tandem.
 

Treesham

New Member
Region
USA
Once you get on your bike and ride you will find 1-5 miles becomes 10-15, then 5-15 miles becomes 20-30 miles.
Personally, I can barely remember any ride less than 5 miles. I always try to find the longest route to and fro.
No hill is too high, no road is too long, no wind is too strong!
That is the fun of e-biking!
FYI, I use my hiking app: AllTrails to track and record all of my rides.
I was actually thinking this on my ride earlier this morning. I can't remember anything less than 5, anything less than 10 seems a waste, and anything less than 15 is a disappointment.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Mazovia, Poland
I was talking about free versions...
"Free" often means "useless". People tend to pay for valuable things.
I should eventually cancel my Strava license: I hardly gain anything from it for my money. On the other hand, I gladly pay RWGPS for the smartphone based route planning capabilities. An example:

On my long trips, I often discover I need a good alternative return route as:
  • I have unexpectedly changed my far destination and need to return to my car safely and possibly fast
  • I have changed my mind and I need to travel to somewhere else
  • Any other reason to change the route
I could use my Wahoo with the smartphone to set the new destination (I paid for the Wahoo GPS computer once and the route-planning services are free). However, Wahoo often suggests riding in dense afternoon traffic. Or, it takes me off-road even if I specifically set the terrain as "paved roads only". With RWGPS, I can set the destination and then play with many alternative routes then upload the chosen route to Wahoo. That feature alone saved my ass in numerous cases and that's why I pay for the RWGPS.

I was actually thinking this on my ride earlier this morning. I can't remember anything less than 5, anything less than 10 seems a waste, and anything less than 15 is a disappointment.
8 km (5 miles) is my shortest grocery shopping ride. I actually prefer shopping with the round trip of 15 km (9 miles). When riding for a workout, 25 miles is the shortest distance I'm not ashamed of. If I am close to making a Metric Century (100 km, 62 miles), I will make "victory rounds" to achieve that target. Recently, I was on a Imperial Century ride. As my farthest ride had been 168 km, I decided to complete my new ride at 170 km, as it meant an improvement :)