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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One thing that has irked me since I started riding (only a little over a year ago tbh) is the redundancy of bike computers and lack of sensor support to connect smart phones.
My background: I ride about 2x/ week — once for fun about 40mi or so, and once to commute to/from work about 13.5mi each way. When I started, my moving pace solo was a slow 16-17mph but I’m up to 19-20mph now. This morning I had no problem keeping up with a group at 23mph on my 2007 Specialized Sequoia which was by far the oldest and least expensive bike there.

What I’d love to see: is a smartphone app that can connect to a power meter, cadence or speed sensors, shifters, rear view radar, heart rate monitor, etc.

What we have: bike computers that can connect to all these things using the same tech smart phones have built in. We still have to carry our smartphones though.

Excuse I hear: smart phone battery life sux

Reality: smart phone battery lasts many hours using gps as well as the rest of the day. Bluetooth tech has also vastly improved in its range, reliability, and power consumption.

Maybe it has to do with smart phones actually having relatively short battery life until recently and tech just hasn’t had reason to catch up? Maybe Garmin, Wahoo, etc sell enough hardware they have no interest in losing that business?
Strava has so much potential but it’s developers don’t seem interested in development; they’re content with status quo and have no real competition. The app is great for sharing a ride afterward. What would be great? Having useful data displayed DURING a ride. If it would connect to all these sensors and let the rider customize the data displayed during the ride it would replace computers in a heartbeat! I don’t really care much about my average pace;$ I want my current speed and I want a map. These things shouldn’t be so difficult. Currently I mount my phone to my handlebars and I run Strava in the background, monitor my heart rate and distance on my Apple Watch, and run Waze to keep the screen awake and show my current speed with a map.

Apologies for going on a little rant there. I’m genuinely interested in hearing others’ thoughts on the subject and/or solutions you’ve found and use. A local bike shop guy said he could talk me into buying a bike computer; I have my doubts.
 

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I cannot visualize a smart phone, no matter how well it’s mounted either falling off the mount or damaged by a crash or something simple like my bike falling over while parked. My computer is way less expensive if stuff happens to it.

I tend to live life not focusing on a cell phone.
 

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Phone's lack ANT+ sensors, so always will be comprised in this role. Not everything uses Bluetooth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Phone's lack ANT+ sensors, so always will be comprised in this role. Not everything uses Bluetooth.
You’re right, phones don’t have ant+. But that’s part of my point. Bluetooth is better; it’s more compatible. Ant+ only exists because Bluetooth has only become decent in the last 5 years or so.


I cannot visualize a smart phone, no matter how well it’s mounted either falling off the mount or damaged by a crash or something simple like my bike falling over while parked. My computer is way less expensive if stuff happens to it.

I tend to live life not focusing on a cell phone.
I get that. Still feels outdated to me though. Why not use what we already have?
I use a quad lock mount so there’s basically no chance of it falling off. Even if I crashed and my phone was destroyed, which isn’t likely with the quad lock case and screen protector, it’s $200 to replace my phone whereas even the cheapest decent computers start at $300.
 

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The demand for such a device is much smaller than I think you believe.
If there were the demand, someone would develop it.

Not many people want to strap their expensive tablet sized phone to their handlebar. Especially those concerned about power, HR, cadence etc.

I don’t really care much about my average pace;$ I want my current speed and I want a map.
The Strava app shows your current speed and a map.
And the RWGPS does too. With the paid RWGPS, you can follow a route on your phone, and record bluetooth power data.


The Strava app can record HR. And they're working on adding power and other data
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The demand for such a device is much smaller than I think you believe.
If there were the demand, someone would develop it.

The Strava app shows your current speed and a map.
And the RWGPS does too. With the paid RWGPS, you can follow a route on your phone, and record bluetooth power data.

The Strava app can record HR. And they're working on adding power and other data
That first point may be the key to my discontent! The cycling community just isn’t big enough to support the development I prefer.

From what I’ve seen Strava shows the map or data but not both. Am I missing something? Mine doesn’t display current speed… is there a way that I’m missing to change the displayed data?

I saw the Strava discussions on adding sensors like cadence and hr. It’s been years since it was first mentioned and it’s status quo.

I tried rwgps once. Not a fan of the interface which is why I mentioned Strava had no decent competition
 

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That first point may be the key to my discontent! The cycling community just isn’t big enough to support the development I prefer.
No. The cycling community is HUGE. There are multiple companies making money developing and selling multiple GPS models.
Your discontent is that there aren't many in the cycling community that want what you do. This is akin to being mad at car companies for not selling fluorescent pink cars, because that's your favorite color.
Companies aren't in the business of developing products that the vast majority do not want.

I tried rwgps once. Not a fan of the interface which is why I mentioned Strava had no decent competition
So there's one option that does everything you want but still not good enough.
Beggars can't be choosers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So there's one option that does everything you want but still not good enough.
Beggars can't be choosers.
It didn’t do what I wanted. That’s why I stopped using it. It was useless when the screen turned off while riding.
Anyway, you’re right, I realize I’m in the minority. I can deal with my current setup until technology catches up… think walkmans and cd players 😂
 

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Your problem isn't with bike components, it's with smart phones. Just leave it at home. You already walk around with it stuck in your face 18/24 and can't have it more than 3' away when your sleeping.
...or take your problems to Tim Cook, he can fix it the smart phone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Your problem isn't with bike components, it's with smart phones. Just leave it at home. You already walk around with it stuck in your face 18/24 and can't have it more than 3' away when your sleeping.
...or take your problems to Tim Cook, he can fix it the smart phone.
Too useful to leave behind even without its cycling sensor compatibility. It’s nice to have a camera available too… do cycling computers double as cameras?
Sky Ecoregion Light Nature Road surface


Tim Cook would just tell me to upgrade to the newest iPhone 😂
 

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“it’s $200 to replace my phone whereas even the cheapest decent computers start at $300.”, says xydadx3.

A $200 phone that, must not have been bought new with all the functions? Got a picture of it? I might consider it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
“it’s $200 to replace my phone whereas even the cheapest decent computers start at $300.”, says xydadx3.

A $200 phone that, must not have been bought new with all the functions? Got a picture of it? I might consider it.
My fault — they raised the deductible to $229 for an iPhone 13 Pro Max since the last time I made a claim about 4 years ago. The $29 is pretty irrelevant here.
 

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Cadence, speed and heart rate bluetooth devices are out there and I think power meters as well. And you can find apps that will support them. Some of those other things, not so much. A lot of those apps require a premium subscription to unlock some of those features. Most apps will support HR monitor for free. But no single app will do everything. There are web sites (SourceForge) that will allow you to suggest an app and, if there is enough developer interest, the app may get created and do just what you want. Software radio (amateur radio) was developed this way.
 

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To the OP, you partially answered your own question.

I work in the 'phone' industry...

No 'phone' is going to have sufficient battery life to keep your screen on, and run battery hungry apps that have to maintain multiple constant data connections to channelized paired bluetooth devices, as well as run your GPS. No way this scales beyond just a short ride around the neighborhood. If you consider the battery life of a modern Wahoo/Garmin device, and people still complain about these.

Additionally, there are literally millions of variables when it comes to 'phones'.. old, new big, small, screen resolutions, chipsets, variable OS, etc.. and that's just in the US. Now lets talk about Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world. Apps would have to constantly be updated to support new hardware and OS updates.

Did I mention that battery life is a deal breaker?

If it was feasible to do this, hardware makers and app developers would have already done this. Why do I say this? The metadata they could harvest and re-sell with this kind of app would be worth a fortune (they would give away the apps for free for access to your location, connected devices, etc...). Don't believe me? Ask Strava....
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
To the OP, you partially answered your own question.
Did I mention that battery life is a deal breaker?
Considering the smart phone market as a whole you may be right. I’m confident my iPhone 13Pro Max can handle all that for a long enough ride but my wife’s iPhone 13 probably wouldn’t do as well.
If battery life continues improving the way it has it’ll be nice to see some support in these areas to go with it.
 

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a used Garmin 530 (or pick an brand/ecosystem you prefer) will always be the better, cheaper, more capable choice for anyone who rides more that a few miles or occasionally.
 
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