Taking a Beeline
Everybody in cycling seems to talk devices these days. Strava has become a pain, yes a pain, Garmin is a close run second and there are a plephora of other devices that cyclists seem lost … literally without. I’m no technophobe, but I do believe that you should first learn to use a map and compass, and in truth, with great devices like Quad Lock which allows you to pop you mobile phone onto the handlebars, Google Maps simply can’t be beaten – or can it 😉
What if we had something like a big compass, something very simple but very effective…
When I first saw the Beeline, what impressed me was the simplicity and design. It reminded me of an old fashion prismatic compass in modern form and essentially this is how it operates. You fasten it across your handlebars with the tough rubber case and strapping, set up the app on your phone and you’re away. You can set yourself a route very quickly, tapping away on the app and mapping it out, then watch as the large illuminated pointer directs you.
As you progress your ride the arrow moves as you approach corners – big wow here, as it really helped on the winding roads of the Yorkshire Dales – and it moves either left or right as you approach junctions! You simply cannot get lost with the Beeline. Several times on a ride I would delete the route and then simply set it again and test it for accuracy and it never let me down.
Wondering how well the Beeline would perform with a mountain bike, I took it into the hills and simply set a ‘beeline’, which allows you the freedom to roam at will, simply pointing to your ultimate direction and telling you how far away it is. Once again this awesome device acted like a compass needle, giving me ultimate confidence to ride freely.
The Beeline is also super tough and rugged, being made of so few parts and being stylishly well made. it’s actually a very beautiful item of kit, simple and stylish – definitely a classic design. The only thing left for me was to hand it overto the I.T. crowd – yes! Having a couple of geek friends who work in I.T. and cycle seemed the ideal test. These guys know tech and would certainly know if the Beeline has merit, so it was off to Sheldon and Co. for this interesting device.
Confessions of a Technophobe
Despite working in IT, I am not easily swung or won over by gadgets as I find many create a hassle to my life, instead of making thinks easier. When you threw me the Beeline to try I was a little excited but also a tad sceptical. Its tiny!
1. The App.
This is so easy and user friendly to use and navigate around. Once downloaded onto my iPhone, the App is clear, bright and engaging, with simple steps to either find a location or to download a route via GPX. This in the past has proved to be a bit of a nightmare with some applications but Beeline handled this with ease. With this being the bulk of my riding, I shall be testing this method. The event is the Tour De Aky. A 106.6 mile group ride from Scarborough to Leeds in memory of a popular fallen colleague who sadly took his own life whilst suffering from Mental Health issues. The route uses major and minor roads across Yorkshire and will factor in several publicity stops. Should be a cracking test.
2. The device
At first glance it seems almost impossible that something so small can be effective. I have shied away from other GPS devices other than my IPhone because every time we go out in a group, someone always has issues. Be it a late call at a junction or a delayed signal. Perhaps I am also a little old school too. I like to know my route in my head and I confess to using a map to do this. I need to get out more.
The case is robust and cleverly designed to wrap back on itself and feels tough to the touch. I would think this will last for a while. The Beeline sits snuggly within the case and can only go in one way so you’ll never have it sat off centre. The screen is simple and old school with its display. The light works very well too. Pairing initially didn’t work as I tried to pair directly to the iPhone. The second attempt worked as I did it via the app first. This checked the firmware etc before connecting.
My Route has been downloaded onto the App and is clear and easy to read. I have followed the instructions to join with my Strava account which again was a breeze compared to my Garmin. A quick test of the route start sees the Beeline fire into life and sync straight away. Bodes well for its first outing.
No issues fitting the device to the bike and I use aero bars too. Started the route via the app and the Beeline easily fired into life with a clear arrow to point the way. Scrolling across gave me the speed data and the light shined brightly, lighting up the display. The weather was horrendous with cold rain lashing down but the Beeline took it on the chin and kept pointing the way.
The first 6 miles I simply followed the arrow and watched for the marker to count down to the next turn. It seems weird not having a map and I’m generally untrusting of these sort of devices but it really is simple and very easy. Unfortunately that’s where the fun stopped. We had to change route slightly because of a diversion near Filey. It was only a couple of street and we were back on course, however where a normal navigation system would re-route, the Beeline just wanted me to turn back around and complete the course as per gpx. This meant for the next 45 miles it just pointed me backwards. Frustrating as it was going well. At the first major stop off at York I decided to stop the route, clear it down and start again from this point. It fired back up and worked perfectly again. I am a happy cyclist again. As we were biking with 80 others it gave me the chance to show off the Beeline and check out what the competition is. The size and clarity did seem to impress others, as does the price.
The thing is that the Beeline does require you to stop, go to the app and press your destination in again from your current location, unless of course you’re riding with it in simple ‘beeline’ mode, where the arrow will always point to final destination. Lots of devices can be like this, but it would improve things if the Beeline was able to auto re-route.