Category Listing: Bikes and accessories

Stuff about bikes and accessories. For example, good and bad purchases. Bike reviews.

Set up OsmAnd & online tracking on Android

OsmAnd is a mapping, planning and tracking app for smart phones. It has a number of benefits:

  • The app is free
  • You can download up to 7 maps for free (England is one map) and costs for additional maps are low
  • Maps are downloaded to your phone so you don't need internet access to use them
  • Maps can be downloaded to an SD card (useful if your device has an SD slot and limited main memory)
  • You can track your route, and/or follow a pre-planned route
  • Includes route planning
  • Includes a feature to interface with our online tracking service
  • Lots of features and options

Several Portsmouth CTC riders use it already including Me and John Rosbottom - could you get a higher recommendation?

Note that you do not need the app to monitor where people are on a ride. For that you just need an internet-connected browser.

This article explains how to get OsmAnd onto your phone and - if you want - how to link it to our online tracking service. The notes and screen shots are from the latest version of Android at the time of writing, Marshmallow. They should also apply broadly to previous versions although there will be some differences.

The following sections include some Android screenshots. Click any one for a larger version.

To install OsmAnd, click any of the following for more detail:

If at all possible, connect to wifi (rather than mobile data) before you start. Installing OsmAnd and maps involves a lot of data, using wifi could save a lot of money and/or a big hit on your monthly broadband allowance. If you use wifi, try to get as close as you can to the router box - it could significantly improve download speeds.

Look for the Play Store icon on your home screens:

PlayStoreIcon

Tap the icon. If you can't find it, click the apps icon at the bottom of any of your home screens:

AppsIcon

You should see the Play Store; in the alphabetic list of apps, tap it to go to the Play Store.

In the Play Store, enter "osmand" in the search box at the top:

PlayStore

Tap the entry for OsmAnd (the first entry in the screen shot above - note the icon should be the same (unless OsmAnd has changed it since).

Now tap 'Install' at the OsmAnd screen and follow the prompts to install it on your phone.

To put an OsmAnd icon on one of your home screens, go to the home screen where you'd like it. Tap the apps icon:

AppsIcon

Find OsmAnd in the list. Press the icon until you see the home screen and drag the icon to the position you want.

Tap the OsmAnd icon to run it. You'll see a display like this (although you won't yet be able to see a map):

OsmAndMain

Tap the 'three lines' menu icon at the bottom left to see this menu:

OsmAndMenu

Now tap 'Manage map files' to see a screen like this:

OsmAndManageMaps
Tap 'Europe', 'United Kingdom', 'England' to see something like this:

OsmAndEnglandDownload

Tap the download icon to the right of 'Standard map' to start downloading your map of England.

You can use the above mechanism to download detailed maps from around the world.

Start OsmAnd to see something like this:

OsmAndMain

Tap the 'three lines' menu icon at the bottom left to see this menu:

OsmAndMenu

Tap 'Plugins' to see a list of plugins. Tap 'Trip recording', then 'Get' to download the plugin.

To connect to our online tracking service, click any of the following for more detail:

To connect to our online tracking service, you need to be able to connect to the internet via mobile data. There's no issue using wifi where it is available, but while out on the road, mobile data will be your main means to connect.

If you already use mobile data while you are out and about, you won't notice the extra data used by the tracking service - it is very frugal.

If you have mobile data switched off so that you connect to the internet only via wifi, switching mobile data on can lead to nasty surprises as other apps pile in to use mobile data while you are not using wifi. If you are a pay-as-you-go customer, you might see your balance quickly drop to zero. If you pay a monthly connection fee, you might see your data allowance disappear.

Before you switch mobile data on, you should therefore consider installing a firewall app like NoRoot Firewall (my preference) which allows you to control which apps can use mobile data. I've found, though, that even this doesn't fully control use of mobile data since Google code is allowed to by-pass the firewall. I plan to produce a tutorial (or find one on the web) to cover this when I have time.

Start OsmAnd to see something like this:

OsmAndMain

Tap the 'three lines' menu icon at the bottom left to see this menu:

OsmAndMenu

 Tap 'Plugins' to see a list of plugins. Tap 'Trip recording' to see a screen like this:

OsmAndPlugin1

Tap 'SETTINGS' to see...

OsmAndPlugin2

I'll be honest, I don't know what effect your selection has here. Having experimented a bit, the settings seem to apply regardless of which option you choose. I always choose the cycling icon, and have the same icon selected on the main OsmAnd screen.

You will then see the trip recording settings...

OsmAndPlugin3

It's worth going through them all. For the time being, though, swipe down to the bottom of the list to see the online tracking settings...

OsmAndPlugin4

Tap 'Online tracking' to tick the checkbox (as shown above). You will automatically start logging your position to the web site any time you are tracking your route and you have mobile data switched on.

Tap online tracking web address to see a screen that allows you to specify how OsmAnd should talk to our web site. Enter the address exactly as you see it here...

OsmAndPlugin5

... except that you should put your web site user name (the id you log in with) instead of xxx and the tracking password you set in your profile (more about that here) instead of yyy. The password is case sensitive so make sure you enter upper and lower case characters exactly as you entered them in your profile. Note that the address does not contain any spaces or newlines.

Finally, tap online tracking interval to see:

OsmAndPlugin6

We suggest you select a 5 minute tracking interval, as shown.

It's worth checking that online tracking is working before you use it for real. To do that, go outside to make sure you have a decent GPS signal. Make sure mobile data is on (via Android settings: Data usage). Start OsmAnd and, on the main screen...

OsmAndMain

Tap the 'GPX' icon at the top right so it turns red. After 5 minutes, check the online tracking page to see if your position appears. If it does, you're ready to go. If not, check the following:

  • Online tracking web address - it must be exactly as specified above
  • The online tracking check box in the trip recording plugin is ticked
  • Mobile data is switched on
  • You have a mobile phone connection
  • You have a GPS fix (I find an app called 'GPS Test' useful for that)

Stuck Seatpost

The seatpost on my Dawes Galaxy had been stuck for over 2 years. I couldn't move it and neither could the bike shop. At first I wasn't too bothered but when I was fitted for my new bike I realised that the saddle on the Galaxy was too low making it less comfortable and inefficient. I searched the web and methods of sorting it looked rather extreme and risked damaging the frame. Then a club-member suggested the Seatpost Man. He (John Lee) is based in Chorley, Lancs so not local but on the way to the North. He was very good at agreeing a time to suit me. I left the bike with him and in 2 hours it was done. Cost £60 but cheaper than a new frame and the bike is now a pleasure to ride (as well as being easier to pack up for touring!).

I'd definitely recommend him to anyone who has a similar problem. And what an excuse for a trip up North - cycling or otherwise!

Using a tyre boot

Figure 1A tyre boot is a piece of material used in the temporary repair of damage to a bicycle tyre such as a cut to the tyre sidewall. Figure 1 shows a typical sidewall cut. You can see there is a danger that the inner tube will pop through the cut and burst. A tyre boot temporarily covers the cut to prevent the (repaired) inner tube from further damage. The method described here is not suitable for tubeless tyres.

There are a variety of methods and materials that can be used and the following description is but one of them and successfully used by the author.

Material

The material needs to be strong and thin without any sharp edges – strong enough to prevent the inner tube from poking through the cut whilst thin enough to 'wedge' unobtrusively in place, and of course have no sharp or irregular edges to damage the inner tube. Candidates for this include a piece of inner tube cut from a spare, a piece of leather, a £5 note/$1 bill or similar, and so on. In this article I use a piece cut from a toothpaste tube. The tube is plastic on the outer with a thin metallised covering on the inside. Figure 2 shows three pieces cut from one toothpaste tube.

Figure 2

Applying the Tyre Boot

Figure 3First, replace or repair the punctured inner tube, put a small amount of air in the inner tube and fit back under the tyre leaving one side of the tyre 'unhooked' from the wheel. Take one of the tyre boot strips and place it between the inner tube and the damaged part of the tyre wall, leaving the excess material protruding for the moment. Figure 3 shows this: note the yellow marks on the tyre which are used simply to show the location of the cut.

Fully fit the tyre back into place by easing the tyre bead over the wheel rim, trapping the tyre boot under the wheel rim bead hook and preventing the tyre boot from moving out of place during and after inflation. Figure 4a shows the tyre fully inflated with the metallised side of the tyre boot showing through the tyre wall cut. Using a sharp blade, cut the excess tyre boot away (cut down onto the wheel rim, NOT toward the tyre wall!). The trimmed result (Figure 4b) is a neat finish which at the time of writing has done 60 miles plus with no sign of weakening with the 700c x 25c tyre inflated to 7 Bar / 100 PSI.

Figure 4aFigure 4b

Finally, the tyre boot, wrapped around a hobby knife blade weighs about 2gms, costs pennies and fits neatly into the average puncture repair box. To include a tyre boot 'kit' into your repair outfit may well save you or a cycling buddy a long walk home!

Alan Morgan

Checking/replacing a derailleur hanger

Until I saw this video, I had no idea what a derailleur hanger was, or what it did.  It turns out to be a useful part to know about and is easily replaced if necessary...

Checking/replacing a drailleur hanger

Making gear adjustments

These two videos describe how to make adjustments to your gears:

Set your derailleur limits .  Note this video makes no mention of the 'half cock' position that some bikes use to allow the full range of rear gears without the chain rubbing against the front derailleur.  If your bike has that feature, you'll need to use it to check all combinations of gear positions work OK.

Adjust your indexing .

Fitting a Marathon Plus tyre

I have just purchased a new marathon plus tyre which are notoriously difficult to fit. But I came across this video by Spa Cycles, which may be of interest...


Show the video

Dr Bike videos

I've volunteered to help with Dr Bike sessions being run by the CTC for the Prudential RideLondon event.

To help prepare for the event, I've been sent some links to YouTube videos.  I thought they might be of wider interest so I've included them below.

Quick check for road bikes

DrBikeRoad

The 'M' check for MTBs

DrBikeMTB

Attaching rear lights

Click any of the images in this article to see a larger version

I have three rear lights on different bikes, all Cateye:

TL-LD 600 (costing about £15) is quite an adequate light with five LEDs

TL-LD 650

TL-LD 650

TL-LD 650 (about £25 and also known as the TL Rapid 5) has five LEDs. The centre LED is so bright that when set to continuous only the centre and two outer are lit; all are used in flashing mode and in pulse mode the centre LED is dimmed to avoid dazzling following cyclists.

TL-LD 1100 (about £32) has ten LEDs in two rows of five of which three face to the rear and two are angled towards the side.

All can be switched to steady and flashing and maybe several other modes I haven’t discovered.

I can’t compare light output, lumens, candela because I don’t understand things like that, but the 1100 is the one about which I get most comments on how bright it is.

But my intention is not to write just about the lights but to consider how to fit them. Manufacturers seem to be under the impression that all cyclists want to attach their rear light to the seat post and they only supply a bracket which will clamp around a seat post. That is no good to me because I have a saddlebag.

I have two solutions. The first is on my Flying Gate. Trevor Jarvis, who built the frame, also made the detachable pannier rack and his contribution to solving the rear light problem is to braze half of a hinge to the rack. This of course has two convenient holes in it. All that is needed now is to cut a piece of L-shaped steel or aluminium and drill the necessary holes, two to attach it to the half hinge and a third on the return through which is bolted a Cateye bracket (available from many sources for a couple of quid).

The half hinge

The half hinge

Bracket attached

Bracket attached

TL-LD 600 attached

TL-LD 600 attached

The second is on my Hetchins on which I have a Blackburn pannier rack. I cut a piece of handlebar (I think it was, but any suitable tube will do), cut two slots in it to fit snugly over the rack tubing and drilled a hole through it. Others will no doubt be able to do this more neatly than I did.

This bit of tube slides over the pannier rack tubing and is held secure by a bolt through the holes. I can now use the bracket supplied with the light to attach the light to this piece of tube.

Tube section

Tube section

Fixing attached  to the tube

Fixing attached to the tube

Attached to the panier

Attached to the panier

TL-LD 1100 attached

TL-LD 1100 attached

 

Adjusting cable disc brakes

Ever since I bought my Specialised cross bike with cable disk brakes, I've been on the look-out for a good way to adjust them so the rotors don't touch the pads and - at the same time - not having too much play in the brake levers.

This video shows a fairly simple method.  I suspect it can be improved on, but it looks like a good starting point...

Show the video