The Chainlink

I am due for a new smartphone, and I am planning to do longer rides.

Currently I have an entry level Garmin bike GPS, which works well for recording where I have been, but does not allow me to pre-load it with routemaps. I use that in combination with a cue sheet.

Do you think that a current model smartphone, iPhone or Android, can be used a s replacement for a cue sheet? Things I'd be looking for:

  • Ability to load route files published in a common format (example)
  • turn by turn directions
  • track simple metrics like average speed, and distance travelled

What is the impact on battery life when you use it as a navigation tool.What kind of software do you use? Google Maps, or something more specific?

Appreciate any feedback

Tags: GPS, routes

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I think it can.  Anyone else use their phone as a cue sheet?

Using your phone to navigate will put a major drain on the battery. Using GPS to track metrics requires your phone to get a location fix frequently, meaning the GPS reciever is always on and sucking power. If you want to track an all day ride you'll probably need an external booster batery like this or one of the dyno hub phone chargers. When I'm using my low end Andriod phone to track a ride it will last about 3 hours. If I'm not tracking and just occasionally opening a map to look it will last all day.

 

I've found Google Maps to work good for directions if you're someplace with a data signal. I use a program called "OsmAnd" to download map data ahead of time when I know I'm going to be somewhere without a data signal. I use a program called "Move! Bike Computer" on my Andriod phone for basic metrics. There are lots of programs that do this. For some reason I tried that one first and liked it so I haven't looked at any others. There are lots of programs that will handle route files, but I don't have any first hand experence with any of them.

<p>I think it's probably best to have a paper cue sheet.  Tracking on phones tends to drain their batteries quickly and they need a signal to show maps (unless you've downloaded them).  Plus in inclement weather, it's much easier to brush off a paper cue sheet getting soaked than a phone getting soaked. </p>

Yeah, a Cue Sheet should work best when riding to a desired location and can't hurt to have a secondary Cue Sheet for another route. This method should save energy on your Wonderful Smart phone for emergencies. Happy Riding.

I've used my phone to record my HR, GPS track, speed, etc on a century ride before without the use of an external battery. It took us about 6 hours and I had approx 40% of my battery left at the end. (I obsessively record every. single. ride. I do.) I think it will largely depend on the specific phone model.

I do agree that any of the current smart phones out there will quickly drain the battery with the screen on.

Cameron 7.5 mi said:

Using your phone to navigate will put a major drain on the battery. Using GPS to track metrics requires your phone to get a location fix frequently, meaning the GPS reciever is always on and sucking power. If you want to track an all day ride you'll probably need an external booster batery like this or one of the dyno hub phone chargers. When I'm using my low end Andriod phone to track a ride it will last about 3 hours. If I'm not tracking and just occasionally opening a map to look it will last all day.

 

I've found Google Maps to work good for directions if you're someplace with a data signal. I use a program called "OsmAnd" to download map data ahead of time when I know I'm going to be somewhere without a data signal. I use a program called "Move! Bike Computer" on my Andriod phone for basic metrics. There are lots of programs that do this. For some reason I tried that one first and liked it so I haven't looked at any others. There are lots of programs that will handle route files, but I don't have any first hand experence with any of them.

Millage will vary widely across phones. Small size was one of my main criteria when I bought my phone, so the battery is a bit lacking. With all the other things that phones do these days, there really needs to be an update to the outdated talk/standby battery life specs that manufacturers publish. 

Will G - 10mi said:

I've used my phone to record my HR, GPS track, speed, etc on a century ride before without the use of an external battery. It took us about 6 hours and I had approx 40% of my battery left at the end. (I obsessively record every. single. ride. I do.) I think it will largely depend on the specific phone model.

I do agree that any of the current smart phones out there will quickly drain the battery with the screen on.

If you drop a paper cue sheet while riding, it doesn't cost major $$$ for repairs/replacement.

Nice to have the GPS as a backup when you do get off-course, though, especially if you tend to zone out during a century ride like I do.

I do carry an external battery pack for the long rides, since Cyclemeter and the mp3/headphones draw a lot of power. 

So you used your phone as a recording device? Did you have something like turn by turn directions? Maybe audible?


Will G - 10mi said:

I've used my phone to record my HR, GPS track, speed, etc on a century ride before without the use of an external battery. It took us about 6 hours and I had approx 40% of my battery left at the end. (I obsessively record every. single. ride. I do.) I think it will largely depend on the specific phone model.

I do agree that any of the current smart phones out there will quickly drain the battery with the screen on.

Cameron 7.5 mi said:

Using your phone to navigate will put a major drain on the battery. Using GPS to track metrics requires your phone to get a location fix frequently, meaning the GPS reciever is always on and sucking power. If you want to track an all day ride you'll probably need an external booster batery like this or one of the dyno hub phone chargers. When I'm using my low end Andriod phone to track a ride it will last about 3 hours. If I'm not tracking and just occasionally opening a map to look it will last all day.

 

I've found Google Maps to work good for directions if you're someplace with a data signal. I use a program called "OsmAnd" to download map data ahead of time when I know I'm going to be somewhere without a data signal. I use a program called "Move! Bike Computer" on my Andriod phone for basic metrics. There are lots of programs that do this. For some reason I tried that one first and liked it so I haven't looked at any others. There are lots of programs that will handle route files, but I don't have any first hand experence with any of them.

Garmin has provided a firmware update for the Edge 500 and 800 so you can now add cue sheet instructions (simple text) to your route.  The 500 has a bread-crumb-trail like map you can follow, no spatial or road information.  The battery in the 500 is good up to 18 hours.  The 500 has buttons and is not touch screen.  The 800 series has maps with spatial detail.  The Edge 510 has been released has a touch screen and the battery is rated to 20 hours. It is a little bigger, with a color screen.

Cue sheets are very inexpensive!!  But having gps navigation is very nice and it is pretty easy to get addicted to the data.  The Edge is water proof and built to handle a few bruises, especially since the new models don't have glass screens and have a great mounting system now.   

I commute year round (in Chicago since 1994) and have been using the Edge 500 for about 2 months and it is really nice.  The price of the 500 might go down a bit since the 510 as been announced.  The 500 gives me the ambient temperature and has a barometric altimeter (not much help in Chicago +-6 feet).

While I work part time for Garmin, but I have also spent my own money to buy the product and have no regrets, it was a good investment.  It is built for the bike, as opposed to a phone which is .... built for something else.  

I don't have a cell phone, so it made the decision a little easier.  

I have an Android based smart phone. I use Strava exclusively to record my rides (it caters to my analytical and annoyingly hyper competitive sides) . It does NOT, apparently, have an option to follow a a route via a GPX file like a Garmin does.

Duppie 13.5185km said:

So you used your phone as a recording device? Did you have something like turn by turn directions? Maybe audible?


Will G - 10mi said:

I've used my phone to record my HR, GPS track, speed, etc on a century ride before without the use of an external battery. It took us about 6 hours and I had approx 40% of my battery left at the end. (I obsessively record every. single. ride. I do.) I think it will largely depend on the specific phone model.

I do agree that any of the current smart phones out there will quickly drain the battery with the screen on.

Cameron 7.5 mi said:

Using your phone to navigate will put a major drain on the battery. Using GPS to track metrics requires your phone to get a location fix frequently, meaning the GPS reciever is always on and sucking power. If you want to track an all day ride you'll probably need an external booster batery like this or one of the dyno hub phone chargers. When I'm using my low end Andriod phone to track a ride it will last about 3 hours. If I'm not tracking and just occasionally opening a map to look it will last all day.

 

I've found Google Maps to work good for directions if you're someplace with a data signal. I use a program called "OsmAnd" to download map data ahead of time when I know I'm going to be somewhere without a data signal. I use a program called "Move! Bike Computer" on my Andriod phone for basic metrics. There are lots of programs that do this. For some reason I tried that one first and liked it so I haven't looked at any others. There are lots of programs that will handle route files, but I don't have any first hand experence with any of them.

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