Biking stands as an odd form of exercise for me. Not that riding a bike is strange, but I rarely (if ever) cycle anywhere for any reason other than to… well, get there. It is a means of transportation, and I can’t think of a time in the last 15 years when I have ridden anywhere just for fun. Because of this I never really considered how it may be benefiting me. So, when I spotted Runtastic Road Bike I thought it would be the perfect way to squeeze a little extra, quantifiable exercise into my day.
So, day one of my test saw me hopping on a city bike to ride the 7km home. And I was impressed – initially.
Beginning to ride I was treated to a voiced countdown that made me feel far more sporty than I had any right to. At zero I took off – straight into a red light (a pattern that would be repeated more than once on my journeys). A few moments later and I was properly underway. At the 1km mark I was politely told that I had been going for three and a half minutes – useful I thought, as the city bikes begin to charge for use after 30 mins of use and I am always worried about making it home in this time.
Then, as the 2km mark rolled around, Runtastic announced if I wanted to continue my aural updates I would have to pay for the Pro version… predictable but annoying. And, in all honesty, at $5.99 it isn’t unreasonably priced.
Making it home with four minutes to spare, I closed down the app and got my results – nearly 200 calories burned, and 7km ridden in 26 minutes. Not bad, and nice to see the various metrics available, including elevation, max speed, minimum speed, and average pace. I could even add notes about my general condition for the ride.
Day two rolled around, and off I went again. Very little changed – which is to be expected – but I started to notice the problem that was going to dog my interactions with Runtastic Road Bike – red lights. It isn’t that they affected my training as such, but they put a limit on my pace, based on pure safety. Put simply I couldn’t go much faster without blindly riding through traffic. Cycling as fast as I possibly could still resulted in me having to stop at regular intervals, making it impossible for me to improve my time more than a few minutes. This rendered the app pretty much pointless to me, because I would never see a real improvement on my ride home, and I had no intention of ever riding for fun.
It’s a shame, because Runtastic is certainly a well thought-out app and (especially if you pay for the premium version) the list of features would become incredibly useful for actual cycle training. The audio split-time counter, route tracker, music player, and other extras, create a comprehensive way to enjoy and record your sessions.
So, Runtastic Road Bike is good but not for me. It is conceivable that when I drop a little more weight and fancy running on roads rather than treadmills (got to be careful with my knees) the original Runtastic could be worth a revisit. Until then, however, it’s going back in the app cupboard.
Next week I will be back on the diet tracking apps with Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal. It will have big shoes to fill after Noom (which I am still using) but it certainly seems to have a winning feature set. Check back next week to see how it fairs.
Follow me on Twitter: @DoFuss