More and more bike tourists are now carrying iPhones, so when one of our monthly newsletter readers suggested a list of the most useful apps for bike touring, we started hunting.
Since we don’t actually own an iPhone ourselves, we asked a few of our tech-savvy friends and readers for recommendations. Here’s the result of our research. All are available for iPhones. Some also work on platforms such as Android and Blackberry. Enjoy, and let us know which apps you find most useful by leaving a comment.
This app got more recommendations than any other, when we asked on Facebook and Twitter for the most useful bike touring iPhone apps. MotionX allows you to download maps and view them offline. Here’s what one bike tourist had to say about using it while travelling in the Middle East:
“I had had the MotionX app for the iPhone for some time, but I was still astonished when I was able to use it to download clear and detailed maps of the region. I loaded all of these at varying levels of resolution (Zoom setting from 6 to 15, for those of you who use the app) to store on the phone. That way, I would not need to be connected to the network to look at the maps. All the maps together took up a few gigs. The built in GPS was then able to project my location on the maps, and do all of the things one normally expects a GPS to do. It worked brilliantly: the maps showed even alleyways and dirt roads.” – Joe Cruz
This app was created by a bike tourist, to give us all an easy way of sharing our bike tours with friends and family. It doesn’t track your tour in real-time but instead gives you the option to put waypoints on a map, showing your location. You can also add photos and short diary updates.
“Because of this “bread crumb” method of plotting your route, you are able to conserve the iPhone’s battery life considerably. TrackMyTour also lets you save the waypoints you’ve created and submit them later when you have access to the Internet.”- TrackMyTour review by Russ Roca, PathLessPedaled.com
You can embed the map created by TrackMyTour on your own website, and you can follow other people’s bike tours. (For an Android alternative, take a look at BreadCrumbz, which lets you add photos of waypoints along your route and share your route with others).
Here’s another app created just for bike touring. It links into the fabulous WarmShowers community of cycling hosts and allows you to search the database from your iPhone. You can also mark hosts as ‘favourites’ so it’s easy to find them later.
Amazon’s Kindle is one of the most popular eBook readers (see our Kindle review) and Amazon’s suite of Kindle apps make it easy for you to read Kindle books not only on their eReader but on just about every mobile device going, from your PC to your Blackberry.
If you don’t have the actual Kindle, these free apps are a great way to read Kindle books, and if you do have the Kindle eReader, you can use the apps as a back-up way to access your books on the go. Make sure you register any apps you download on the same account as your Kindle eReader because that way your books will be synced across all devices.
Tailwind or headwind? With the WindGuru app, you’ll never have to guess which way the wind will blow you and your bicycle. This app also gives weather forecasts for locations around the world. They also have an Android version.
#6. Bike Doctor
This bike repair guide is available for iPhone and Android users. It includes step-by-step instructions for fixing all the parts of your bike, and big photos to show how you should be doing the repair. At $4.99 U.S., it’s the most expensive app on our list but definitely useful if you need a little help with repair and maintenance of your bicycle.
The Camera+ app looks like it would really help improve photos taken with your iPhone. It costs $1.99 U.S. and gives you a range of options including exposure control and a grid to make sure your horizons are level.
After you take a picture, you can make your photos look even better with the many editing options, including a crop tool, a ‘digital flash’ to lighten up dark shots and several frame effects.
This app puts a complete copy of the contents of Wikipedia on your iPhone, so you can look up Wikipedia articles anywhere, without needing to be online. We can imagine it being very handy for general information about a country as you travel, and of course answers to those random questions that seem to appear while you’re pedalling.
There are literally 1000s of apps out there, and we can’t cover them all in one short post. In addition to the suggestions above, you’ll also want to make sure you have some of these popular apps.
- Skype (for making phone calls and instant messaging)
- Facebook and Twitter (for updating your social media accounts)
- XE Currency (for checking exchange rates)
- Hostelworld (find and book hostels around the world)
- Active8 (lists campgrounds right across Europe, including free paal camping sites in the Netherlands)
If you’re wondering how to mount your iPhone to your bicycle, check out this sturdy RAM mount.
We hope this helps to get you started. If we’ve missed one of your favourite apps, leave us a comment and share a link!