I've decided to take a look at some of the apps that are available on the iPhone for riders, so tonight I gave BikeTrip a test run.
BikeTrip is free for the first 20 trips, after which time you need to buy the full app via in-app purchase. At the moment it's priced at US$1.99 which, based on my experience on the ride home this evening, I will be spending without any hesitation.
First up, this application is battery hungry. In fact it isn't the app itself, but rather the GPS chip that chews the battery, and if you want to poll the GPS system often for accurate readings, you're going to pay for it in juice. I consumed approximately 30% battery in the one hour trip home. I think that using this app on a long trip requires the ability to plug your iPhone into your bike to charge as you ride, but I anticipate that any app in this genre is going to have this same limitation. I'm looking at a waterproof case for the phone with a mount and charging kit on eBay for about $100, and I'll review it if/when I get my hands on it.
In addition to showing you the map plot of your route, it lists all the bends that it detected in your trip, along with the lean angle, speed, and turn duration in degrees.
From this list of bends (which can be sorted either in chronological or lean angle order) you can then click through to see that bend on the map.
For this test run I "mounted" the iPhone in the pocket on top of my tank bag. Some of the apps I have previously looked at wanted to be calibrated in terms of the direction of movement it should expect, presumably due to a heavy reliance on the device's accelerometers to determine or measure lean angles. There was none of that with BikeTrip, it just appeared to work. Whether that is because the accelerometer information has improved (I think the last time I was using an iPhone 3, I am now on a 4) or whether it is because BikeTrip is more heavily reliant upon the information from the GPS and less on the accelerometers I don't know, but it was certainly nice to just slip it into the little pocket on top the tank bag and watch it do its thing, and come out with angles that on the face of it seem pretty reasonable. Certainly the tightest leans that it recorded (31 and 27 degrees respectively) correspond to 2 of my favourite corners. I'll review this data when I have the phone mounted to the bike just to confirm it is consistent.
Two features I would like would be the ability to export the data, and the ability to step through the bends in the map view rather than selecting the corner from the list to see it on the map, then click back to select the next one. It would be ideal to have a previous & next button available to walk through the bends, so to speak. But for the current price of US$1.99 I am delighted with what this app delivers, and I'll be very surprised if any of the other contenders convince me not to pony up for this little gem.