gps for mtb’ing

After a lot of to’ing and fro’ing on the subject of gps for the bike and debating the pro’s and cons between iPhone apps and a dedicated unit like the Garmin Edge series …. I have finally made a decision.

Prompted mainly by the fact that I could get a Garmin Edge 305  incl HRM belt and cadence meter for £129. It’s older has no colour screen and can’t take maps but none of that is important for what I want it for.

PRO’s (the reasons I went for it)

  • Waterproof and tougher than my iPhone
  • Has dedicated HRM (almost no iPhone app has this)
  • Simple clear display
  • Attaches to stem – securely
  • Barometric Altitude (more reliable than the flaky GPS signal I sometimes get)
  • Good Battery Performance

Cons (only the one)

  • Cost more than a 59p app

I know I cant play music – well I never have so I don’t think that is something to worry about.

iPhone GPS running and bike apps tried, hated, liked but none loved

*UPDATE Endomondo is a very good option Bluetooth HRM belt will also give you heart rate and online it is like a facebook of exercise – in a good way*

I know the iphone is not a dedicated gps unit and won’t replace something like the Garmin Edge …. but i have one and apps are relatively cheap ince you have the phone. But so far I have to find one that I actually love.

What I want on my bike Screen is:

Distance / Time
HR / Calories (or elevation/slope/Direction)

These are screen grabs from the garmin Edge 305 (with a smaller screen than the iPhone)

But then the iPhone must have an app as good or as versatile ….. No such luck – here is a run through


1. BikeMate

This looks promising although I haven’t tried it yet.


– Trip –

This is the speedometer function.
Current speed, maximum speed, average speed, travel distance, travel time, altitude, and calorie information are displayed. You can save your riding progress using the save button.

– Route –

Current location and travel path are shown using Google Maps.
You can read the saved route and photos using ‘Load’ function, and you can ride along the loaded route.
When you take a photograph, the location where the photograph is taken is displayed.

– History –

With calendar function you can check saved rout

e information organized on daily bases.

You can check total distance, total riding time, and total consumed calories for all previous rides (only with the saved route data) to get an idea about the amount of total exercise.

– Taking Photographs –

You can take photographs with an iPhone camera, and the location where the photo is taken is saved with the photo image so that they can be checked against the photographs from the route data.

– DATA Management –

You can check/delete/edit the riding paths and photographs, and you can send them by email and MashUp.

You can modify the functions related to BikeMateGPS to your preference.

1. MotionX

(their blurb) MotionX-GPS is for your outdoor life:
That’s Walking, Hiking, Running, Cycling, Biking, Sailing, Skiing, Flying, Racing, Geocaching.

MotionX is committed to constant improvement. We listen to our millions of MotionX users and continuously add the most requested features. Recently added user-requested features include:

Map Storage Interface: Downloading and storing maps is faster and easier than ever.
MotionX Terrain and Road maps can be stored for worldwide use and no data fees.
High contrast skin style for easy daytime viewing.

Support for GPX file import enables wirelessly importing of GPS tracks and waypoints from any source, anywhere.


criticised in comments now tried and very swiftly deleted Not a great app for mtb’ing

(blurb) Monitor your speed, review your path, and share your travels. TrailBlazer lets you monitor and record where you are and how fast you’re going:

– see the route you’re taking on a map and monitor graphs of your speed and altitude

– review and share your paths.

Create colour-coded paths according to speed so you’ll know how fast you were going at any point along your track.
Create animating Google Earth files so you can watch your journey unfold in Google Earth and know exactly where you were as time progressed.
You can wirelessly download your track information from your iPhone directly to your Mac or PC using just a web browser!

3. The BIKE

Having a bicycle computer is one of the most fun (And geeky!) gadgets you can have on a bike. This one is similar but larger than a standard bike computer. None the less, this is a great little free app to have and I recommend it to all cyclists as long as you don’t want altitude and HRM functions.

4 GPSies


GPSies is the most easy to use iPhone Application that allows you to geo track your sports and leisure activities. Recorded tracks can be stored locally for later reference or uploaded to with one tap. is the leading platform and community for GPS recorded tracks and is used by thousands of outdoor enthusiasts around the world.


  • Record tracks. Pause and resume any time.
  • View elapsed time, current and average speed and pace.
  • View covered path and altitude profile.
  • One-tap upload to
  • Export to all major formats and applications through
  • Store tracks in the iPhone for later reference.
  • US and metric system support.
  • Recording interval adjustable to suit activity type.
  • Pocket mode for optimized battery life.
  • Edit tracks with map on

This is pretty close to what I want apart from HRM functions

5. Trailguru

More of a cross sport web based app – for trails and paths.

(blurb) Use your iPhone 3G to do more than just listen to music while you run, bike, or hike. Download Trailguru and capture your outdoor activities using the iPhone 3G’s integrated GPS.


Although more of a running app it could be used for mtb’ing. Basic functions and displays though

7. B.icycle

I have not tried this as spending £6 to try something out that could be a bit pants is a lot …. their blurb promises a lot …..


B.iCycle is a next generation cyclometer for your iPhone!

It provides all the information you need on the bike. Our stylish user interface combined with maximum ease of use create a new experience on the bike.


  1. – Accurate values for current speed, average speed, maximum speed, total distance, trip distance, current altitude, climbed altitude, burned calories as well as trip time
  2. – Watch your bike automatically move on the map and zoom in on your trail
  3. – Receive your trips via email (KML und GPX) and review them at home (e.g. with Google Earth) or share them with other bikers
  4. – Suspend, pause and resume for trips allows you to receive calls or take a break
  5. – iPod function can be used together with B.iCycle

Based on countless test drives and refinement we calculate all values with maximum precision of the built in GPS. In contrast to standard cyclometers you do not have to calibrate B.iCycle to your bike. It just works – out of the box.

For the full experience we recommend to use a bike mount.

“Bicycle Mount Pedestal with Swivel-head” from provides solid mounting as well as fair pricing.


A MAP! Including bike trails! Even offroad you will not get lost while biking:  Somebody from the huge OpenStreetMap community has already been there and mapped the trail for you! A community of more than 70.000 people is constantly mapping bike trails around the globe!

This really brings biking to the next level! B.iCycle makes perfect use of what the iPhone can do with GPS, connectivity and the amazing screen resolution.
And watching your tracks at home is more fun then ever, especially after a hard workout!



Why you need this and why you would pay for it beats me – A free download like Evernote makes much more sense



iphone app or garmin/suunto gps for running.

fancy dress breast cancer run

if you’re thinking about starting to use a GPS to track your runs you’ve probably heard about Garmin’s wrist-watch type GPS units like my 405, Suunto’s T6C and some of the new iPhone applications. Both options are great, but there are some things you should consider before you spend your money.

Ease of use: while running
looking at your wrist is a lot easier than using your iphone esp if you are mainly checking pace and heart rate.  iPhone applications need to conserve battery life and also need to make sure that being in a pocket doesn’t cause accidental keystroke input – a sweaty leg works like a finger as well. So most apps dim the display and lock the input. A Garmin GPS won’t dim the display or lock the input. The wristwatch format is much better for use while running.

Battery life
Using the GPS feature and display on an iPhone uses the battery very quickly. Most of the iPhone GPS applications claim to get 3-4 hours of battery life (see comment below – states up to 7 for some) but this entails switching off 3gs and wifi. By the time you get home the battery is nearly dead. My Garmin ForeRunner 405 records data for more than 4 hours on an mtb ultra-marathon. If you “go long” you’ll want battery life that goes as long as you do. Garmin wins again. *since this I have an Edge 305HRM dedicated for bike use*

Garmin fitness GPS devices can be used with accessories including a heart rate monitor, a bicycle cadence monitor, and a footpod for indoor use. I haven’t seen any fitness accessories for the iPhone yet. The HR ones always seem to be using the mic on the iPhone so no ease of us there. The new one I previewed earlier HERE might be great (when it comes out)

The iPhone applications are getting more sophisticated, and are not far behind Garmin (except for HR). I set up the display screens on my Garmin 405 like this:

Main 1:
Time (running)
Average Pace

Main 2:

HR graph

Screen 3:
Time again
Last lap pace
GPS accuracy


Defined workouts

I haven’t seen any iPhone apps that allow you to create pre-defined workouts to guide your runs. I generally don’t use mine on the 405 but you can ….

Training log Software
The iPhone apps work with web-based training log applications. Map my Run has some nice features and their iPhone application works very well. Garmin GPS devices come with Garmin Training Center and also work with motionbased, garmin connect, and many of the web-based applications.

If you already own an iPhone 3G/3Gs you’re in luck. and their iMapMyRun iPhone app are both free (for the basic service). You can get started using a GPS to track your runs by downloading the iPhone app and signing up for the service. Trails / walkjogrun / MotionX are all good – I’ll go through them all another time. Motion X, Runkeeper and Runmonster are the best app I have used on the iPhone

If you don’t own an iPhone 3G/3Gs and are serious about logging your training (runs) get a Garmin. (or Suunto / Polar)

The bottom line
I’m a big fan of the iPhone and am in most cases a strong proponent of web-based software. I’m also serious about my training and want to take advantage of of the full capabilities of the GPS technology. For me, there’s no question, Garmin is much better than the iPhone for GPS Running. The iPhone advantage in price (if you already own one) is an important consideration. If it was only HR training/cycling without the need to export tracks then I would get a Polar HRM but that’s a whole new post …….. (not anymore)

NEW * A review of some other running apps for the iPhone




NOTE – I have since got into more robust HRM analysis and sold the 405 to a pal and bought a Suunto T6C …. the best of both worlds. Compatible with mac, good HRM software like Polar and a gps like the Garmin ….

U=I have reviewed the Suunto T6C here now at


new Garmin 405 and using trailrunner software on MAC

Got a Garmin 405 to replace older forerunner 205 gps and polar 625x Heart Rate monitor.

ALSO check out Trailrunner
Nice thing is being able to view training info on mac …. polar is crap on macs unless running windows or alt software. Still evaluating it but will buy it for sure I think – excellent freeware – CHECK IT OUT.

About TrailRunner
To boldly go where you haven’t been gone before
Although the TrailRunner is perfectly suitable for runners, bikers, inline-skaters and hikers, let’s focus on how this piece of software could totally change a runners habits.

Motivations for running
There might be several motivations you start running. Just to get fresh air several times a week, to loose weight or to exercise as a semi professional for races and honor. Either motivation needs goals you define in a training plan and methods to check up your progress, like measuring your burned calories and weight loss, your improved heart-rate, your speed and ranking in a competition or just being able to master a marathon in a given time.

To achive this, most people have like three standard routes they run over and over. Depending on your ambitions they might have distances like 10 kilometers, 13 and 20. It seems like the only goal you have is to accomplish your “training duty” — and the hardest part of it is to stand up, put your shoes on and just leave the house. But then what is the motivation all about? For that reason many people like to make appointments with workout-partners, run in groups or feel happy to watch (mostly pointless) statistics. But what, if you have the genes of an explorer and adventurer? Then your dream might be to spontaneously run say 16 kilometers in a well known and hand-picked collection of endless routes you could choose from.

This is where the TrailRunner could meet you and your motivation, with the potential to totally change your habits with one simple addition: You look forward to run the route you have affectionately crafted for this sunday morning: Imagine you take your car, drive into the woods, run through the small valley with the dabbling stream, head up the hill, enjoy the brilliant view, speed down your favorite single trail, cross the big water meadow and return to the parking place. This all with one important background: Your training plan decided on you that you have to run 16 kilometers today. And you did.

Exploring new routes
So how will one get to the point where choosing a route is like to click your fingers? It starts with the three standard routes you already know. As soon as you have inserted them in into the TrailRunner you will start exploring: While you’re running, you notice this small very nice looking alleyway on the right, that you where always wondering about where this might lead to. You just add it to your TrailRunner map and next time you insert this piece of track into your route. That must not add any kilometers, as you could choose a shortcut somewhere else instead. After a while you will notice that you start adding more and more loops and long ways round that will give you an endless choice of nice alternatives.

Standard routes with tentacle-like alternatives means that extending and expanding an existing route is very easy. You just take an old route and tell the TrailRunner to adjust this route to a variation that is almost the same but 2 kilometers longer. The finer your weaved web of tracks is the better this will work.