iBike Dash

Photographer:

Andy Shen

After giving private previews at Interbike, iBike have finally announced the release of their new product, the iBike Dash + Power (there’s also a basic model that doesn’t do power). The Dash is essentially an iBike head unit which houses an iPhone or iPod Touch in a waterproof and shockproof casing. The unit takes advantage of the iPhone’s many capabilities and supplements it with a wind sensor, barometer, accelerometer, and spare rechargeable battery tucked under the phone.

What you get with this (un)holy alliance is a GPS power meter head that can generate its own power readings with iBike’s algorithms (based on measuring resistive forces), or receive direct power numbers from any ANT+ power meter. Thanks to the iPhone’s touch screen, the Dash promises to be much more intuitive to use – you don’t have to remember which button to click, click and hold, or double click, or which two buttons to press simultaneously. You’ll instead scroll through a number of user configured screens. For example, you can have a map, power, weather, and interval screens, each with editable lines of data. Data can be displayed numerically or graphically, in case your brain is bad with numbers when oxygen deprived.

The Dash app is a free iTunes app, so iBike can easily add features as they’re dreamed up. I was very pleased to see some of the suggestions I made at Interbike incorporated in the app. Firmware updates will go through iTunes like any other app updates.

Battery life is 4 hours with a fully charged phone and the supplemental battery. You can carry a spare battery for longer rides. iBike are unsure how much more battery life you’ll get out of the iPhone 4. The unit mounts on an aluminum bracket that replaces the headset top cap, so it should fit just about any bike with a 1 1/8” no threadset. Uploading ride files is dead simple – the Dash emails it to you or your coach with the touch of a few buttons.

Bring the Hate

As much as I love innovation, the negatives have to be addressed. First of all, it’s big. I know some purists who think Garmins ruin the lines of their bike. I don’t even want to know what they’ll think of the Dash. Secondly, the screen will be hard to read in direct sunlight. Come wintertime, you’ll need special gloves if you want to use the touchscreen. And finally, the price. The basic cyclometer version retails for $299, and the power version for $849, which puts it between offerings from Garmin/Saris and SRM. If you thought the Dash would be cheaper since you’re supplying the iPhone, well, think again. The Dash, with its array of sensors, is more than a simple iPhone mount, and all that R&D ain’t free, either.

And the Love…

To be realistic, I think the touring crowd will embrace the Dash quicker than the racing crowd – a touring company can send their clients out with turn by turn route maps while tracking each rider’s whereabouts. So then what’s the big deal? For me, having only touched the Dash without using it, it’s all about the potential. After all, we’re talking about strapping a PC to your bars and feeding it speed, power, HR, cadence, slope, acceleration, wind speed, and location data. The possibilities are endless.

For example, you can add a GPS elevation plot in Aerolab to further refine CdA measurements (Aerolab presently uses a barometrically derived elevation plot). The Dash’s ability to sense braking forces could further refine Aerolab data, eliminating a previously unfixable error in virtual elevation calculations. I’m also hopeful that the Dash will eventually be able to crunch an approximate CdA figure on the fly (perhaps even graphically a la Aerolab), a feature that could make field testing different positions and equipment very quick and painless. Heck, maybe someday we’ll be bragging about our max G’s in a sprint instead of our max wattages. Or maybe we’ll have instant VAM or w/kg readouts.

As good a job as iBike seems to have done with the Dash, I’m looking forward to what’s next. The hardware’s in place, and it’s on a platform that anyone can write an app to. I’d love to see this thing get some traction so that brainiacs like Robert Chung and Andy Froncioni jump on board.

38 Comments

Lorenzo Rivnut

The functionality looks really good. I’d like to see a better mounting system. The current one looks clunky. A 4 hour battery life is also awfully short. The case is already pretty big, making it a bit bigger and giving it a longer run time would be a good idea. Are there provisions to get files out of the device besides email? Can you clarify the difference between the two units? Does the basic Dash do power calculations the way the iBike does? I assume the +Power unit does do the calculations as well as having ANT+. If the basic unit does not do power calculations ala iBike, this is a very expensive battery and waterproof cover for your iPhone. :)

Reply
Andy

If it’s like other iBike products, the basic and the power are probably the same unit. The power model will have features unlocked. Basic would be a GPS cyclometer w/o power, I’m guessing $299 is the least you can pay.

Reply
Rune Tracknut

does it come with the serotta and Di2 attached, and what about the Cancellaromotor???
Enough gadgets!!!

WE RIDE BIKES! Reduce your footprint! ride by feel, mile markers, intuition, technology DOES NOT improve ride quality!

BULLSHIT! This sucks, especailly when people can’t even figure out NOT to wear underwear with their cycling shorts!

Reply
schmalz

And we hit the equipment review comment trifecta before 11 am!

The trifecta is:
Shut up and ride (or a variant of the same sentiment)
It’s ugly
It’s expensive

Reply
schmalz

And yes, Andy and I bet on these things, the over under on the “shut up and ride” comment was set at 11 am, but the trifecta before 11 is unheard of.

Reply
Gabriel Downtube

and, how to corner, actually riding yer bike…

oh wait, you stopped at fckn BARTAPE!!!

LAME, sux cat3/4 racing
LAME, sux TT rider
LAME, gadgets to show how much you sux big BH seat pipe!!!

Reply
Rup Murd

Team principal Dave Brailsford is pleased with the balance achieved by his line-up. “We have a blend of Tour experience and young talent that will help us to perform this year and continue to develop. The aim is to perform well, make a positive contribution to the Tour and help to get more people enjoying the sport. We want to inspire. And these nine riders will help us to do that.”

Reply
sophist

hopefully they will keep at it… this is cool but the drawbacks kill it. compromises with battery life and screen brightness and functionality are just too much at this point, especially for that kind of money.

the aesthetic issue seems easy to improve upon – why don’t they mount the thing in front of the bars, like the SRM computer? it would look much less hideous that way, in my opinion.

Reply
Andy

I asked them about that. The stem mount is universal, the SRM location doesn’t work for TT bikes. Also, it can’t be landscape, as Apple has maps functionality built for portrait.

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Alessandro Tigweld

I can’t figure out whether that quote from Brailsford is BS or real. The sport of cycling defies parody.

Reply
Deeda

So I guess I’ll need to get some VHS tapes for that VCR. Gonna need a long extension cord to plug that bad boy in.

Reply
Power Dork

Would the CdA on the fly, and other cool features be possible with the lower cost version (and an ANT comp. powermeter)?

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villageidiot

cool, an app that will allow me to tweet the world that i rode around central park over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over…

Reply
sir crashalot

… Maybe he’ll stop all the annoying foursquare tweets. Nobody cares that you’re at Engineers gate or Brooklyn Boulders in the middle of the day!

Reply
Matthias Ergopower

You obviously care enough to call him out on it. Perhaps you should just unfriend him on TwitBook and you can get your panties out of a bunch.

Reply
inquiring mind

that app looks pretty good. The article says you can’t make calls or text while using, do you happen to know if an incoming call screws it up? that would be a problem.

Reply

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