During the Christmas break, I stayed with my family and friends on Lanzarote for a well-deserved vacation. Of course, there was some cycling involved. To write a review, I was traveling with a new type of bike computer. Unfortunately, this review loaner stopped working after one ride for no apparent reason. My trusty Wahoo was still at home. So I decided to use my phone as a bike computer for the rest of the week. How did I like that?
Photo: such an iPhone 14 is quite a beast on your handlebars. By the way, the horizontal lines are not there in reality, this is a side effect of taking a picture of an OLED screen.
Luckily I'm not alone in Lanzarote, and the second ride, fortunately the two of us once again go out together. Navigating we do via my companion's bike computer, I record my ride with my phone in my back pocket using the app Strava. It's fine. The extra battery consumption is nil and also the elevation are neatly registered thanks to the barometric altimeter of the iPhone 14 Pro. But I do clearly miss the data to look at. Also, you can link a heart rate monitor in Strava, but not a power meter. And because navigating with the phone in the back pocket isn't exactly convenient either, I bought a handlebar mount the next day at a phone store for 15 euros. This holder is certainly not the best looking one, but for those few days I can get over that.
The next challenge is the search for a suitable app. If you search on 'cycling computer' in the App store you will find dozens of them, but there are few that can do everything. And by 'everything' I mean:
After some searching, I did find one that met my requirements: Cycle Meter. The app costs a tenner a year, but you can try it for seven days for nothing. Setting up data pages is a snap, and so is linking to sensors. Loading a GPX can be done simply by downloading the GPX with your phone and opening it with the app.
Buy a discount code for €10 through CycloWorld, use it at registration and get €35 off!
So at the end of the day, you save as much as €25.
I have always said that there is a good reason cycling computers exist and I stand by that. A bike computer is made specifically for cycling and you notice that in everything. Except perhaps for the quality of the screen, a bike computer is superior to a phone in every way.
Is a phone a workable alternative? Definitely. With a holder like a Quadlock it could probably be a permanent solution as well, but not for me. The biggest drawback for me is still the vulnerability and being dependent on one device. Moreover, I wonder how the battery life will be as the phone ages. If you still want it, invest in a good, sturdy holder that allows you to mount and detach the phone quickly. Then you can also take a picture on the go, which is especially nice on vacation.