Our favourite mountain bike apps for iPhone and Android

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Jon Woodhouse

Jon is the editor here at off.road.cc. Whether it's big days out on the gravel bike or hurtling down technical singletracks, if it's got two wheels and can be ridden on dirt, then he's into it. 

3 comments

5 months 4 days ago

shufflingb wrote:

 

I'd add a slight note of caution about the Viewranger service and the GPX files it produces and alternative recommendations for GPS navigation.

When I saw the Viewranger app and the web service last summer I got all excited. The best maps for the UK outdoors activities (OS 1:25000), Openstreet Map for towns, a decent app you could plan with and, unlike OS, full autorouting on the OS maps across the whole of the UK. What's not to like?

The problem is/was Viewranger's autorouting algorithm.  Specifically, it puts very few waypoints on the tracks that it is following. Consequently, the straight lines marking the route between these waypoints only corresponds roughly to the actual tracks on the basemap. As you could reference the basemap, this was fine for planning and was fine if you had the app open on your smart device when out riding.

However, the problems came if you tried to use the GPX files on a standalone GPS device without reference to that basemap, such as a Garmin. In the field, the paucity of waypoints meant the route that the Garmin would attempt to lead you on was frequently on the wrong side of hedges, ditches, roads and was, as might be imagined, next to useless where there was a decision about multiple track options. You either ended up flattening your phone's batteries because you had to keep the app open. Or putting up with going off in the wrong direction and having to retrace your steps. I ended up giving up on it.

fwiw, I think the Ordnance Survey maps app and premium service are good value https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop/os-maps-mobile.html. The apps have offline maps capability for planned routes and the patchy autorouting capabilities are not a problem if you're doing short rides or are riding in a national park. For longer days (I've done out to 120km gravel/all-road routes), then I've not found anything better than the combination of the rather excellent RideWithGPS to generate the GPX files and the OS maps service and app for reference during the planning and for offline maps when out riding (should I need them).

 

That's really interesting - I'll have to try that combination out. I've not tried Viewranger > Garmin yet, so not experienced that issue...

5 months 1 week ago

I'd add a slight note of caution about the Viewranger service and the GPX files it produces and alternative recommendations for GPS navigation.

When I saw the Viewranger app and the web service last summer I got all excited. The best maps for the UK outdoors activities (OS 1:25000), Openstreet Map for towns, a decent app you could plan with and, unlike OS, full autorouting on the OS maps across the whole of the UK. What's not to like?

The problem is/was Viewranger's autorouting algorithm.  Specifically, it puts very few waypoints on the tracks that it is following. Consequently, the straight lines marking the route between these waypoints only corresponds roughly to the actual tracks on the basemap. As you could reference the basemap, this was fine for planning and was fine if you had the app open on your smart device when out riding.

However, the problems came if you tried to use the GPX files on a standalone GPS device without reference to that basemap, such as a Garmin. In the field, the paucity of waypoints meant the route that the Garmin would attempt to lead you on was frequently on the wrong side of hedges, ditches, roads and was, as might be imagined, next to useless where there was a decision about multiple track options. You either ended up flattening your phone's batteries because you had to keep the app open. Or putting up with going off in the wrong direction and having to retrace your steps. I ended up giving up on it.

fwiw, I think the Ordnance Survey maps app and premium service are good value https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop/os-maps-mobile.html. The apps have offline maps capability for planned routes and the patchy autorouting capabilities are not a problem if you're doing short rides or are riding in a national park. For longer days (I've done out to 120km gravel/all-road routes), then I've not found anything better than the combination of the rather excellent RideWithGPS to generate the GPX files and the OS maps service and app for reference during the planning and for offline maps when out riding (should I need them).

1 year 1 month ago

Found some useful new apps on here - great stuff!