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North Hills Monthly

APPreciating the Ride: Best Bike Apps for Cycling Enthusiasts

May 31, 2018 08:20PM ● By Jennifer Monahan

Not everyone is cut out for the Tour de France, but riding a bike offers both a fantastic workout and also a way to get outside and explore the great outdoors. Whether cycling enthusiasts are in it to win it or just want to enjoy the ride, a variety of bike apps can improve the experience.

Remember how the Brady Bunch kids were always fixing their bikes in the backyard? With the Bike Doctor app, even the least handy rider can channel their inner Greg Brady. The app’s designer markets Bike Doctor as an alternative to complicated, frustrating and lengthy bike repair manuals; the app offers easy-to-follow directions and helpful photos. Basic bike maintenance such as yearly tune-ups, replacing brake pads, checking tire pressure, cleaning the bike and adjusting the saddle position are explained clearly. The app shows how to fix a tire puncture and replace gear cables as well as other more complex repairs. While the app has a small fee, the cost is significantly less than a trip to the bicycle repair shop. As a bonus, the creator maintains a website and blog (bikedoctorapp.com) that are free and offer tips and insights about cycling and bike maintenance. ($4.99; available for iOS and Android)

Bike Computer is a GPS cycling app that tracks metrics such as time, distance, elevation and speed. Less expensive than actual bike computers, the app does most things a bike computer would do. For anyone whose longer rides are typically under three hours, the app is a fine substitute for a bike computer. Beyond that timeframe, smartphone battery life becomes an issue. Users laud the app for being simple and straightforward, and for providing accurate data on an easy-to-read screen. (Free; in-app purchases and paid premium subscription options; available for iOS and Android)

Map My Ride has been around for a while and remains one of the best fitness trackers around. With the ability to calculate distance, speed, elevation, pace and calories burned, Map My Ride give both casual riders and more serious athletes ample information to analyze their workouts. The app keeps track of the user’s routes, allows riders to save and name regular workout routes, and lets users search for new routes shared by the app’s 40 million other users. Map My Ride provides audio feedback throughout the workout and allows cyclists to post their workouts and get encouragement from the broader online community. It plays nicely with all the popular wearable devices such as Garmin and Fitbit. One caution: using a GPS device to track the ride drains battery life quickly; while a 45-minute workout should not be an issue, Map My Ride is probably not the best app for a daylong trek. (Free with in-app purchases; available for iOS and Android)

Cyclemeter not only tracks all the usual stats (time, distance, speed and calories), it automatically excludes and deducts the cyclist’s stopped time from the workout and offers interval training, zone and target training workouts. Users may choose to analyze their splits and intervals via spreadsheets, charts and graphics. The app records unlimited workouts, meaning that hard-core data lovers could compare, for example, their average mileage during the month of June for the last three years. With maps, graphs, training plans and more statistics than most athletes could ever want, Cyclemeter is among the more comprehensive road and mountain biking trackers available. Reviewers say the app functions better in the iOS platform than in Android, and users report that the app’s customer service is responsive and effective when they report glitches. (Free for basic app; Elite membership is $9.99; available for iOS and Android)

CycleMap offers bike routes through various cities all around the world—including Pittsburgh and a number of areas in the North Hills. The app identifies routes, distances, riding surfaces and elevations, allowing riders to plan accordingly for each excursion. CycleMap also lists restrooms, water stops, bike share stations, bike repair stores and scenic lookouts available along the route when applicable. (Free with in-app purchases; available for iOS and Android)