Battery Life While Navigating

Eli Post


Riders using cell phones for navigation are ubiquitous on Club rides. While the RidewithGPS app gets wide applause, there are some gripes about the phone battery not holding up on long rides. We are empathetic to that issue as a dead battery in the middle of the ride can leave you stranded or worse. However there are steps you can take to avoid such a catastrophe.

First, battery life varies by phone. I have a four-year-old iPhone (a baby in human terms but a technological dinosaur) and get about three hours use before the battery goes kerplunk. One step you can take that costs you nothing is to go to settings on the app and uncheck “Keep Screen On”. The screen will only come on when approaching a turn, and you will save precious battery life. However, this option is not for everyone, as there is a certain comfort in always knowing where you are. You can try out the “no screen” option and decide whether it works for you.

A more elegant and reliable solution is to acquire a power backup unit, which will power your cell phone even for the full length of a century ride. There are many such units on the market and multiple methods of securing them to your bike, but I am sharing only the solution I adopted. Note this was not an arbitrary choice, but was made after consultation with numerous friends who did considerable research and had practical experience. You are of course free to choose your own accessories but this is what I did, and it works just fine.

Backup Battery We ordinarily don’t sponsor specific companies but it’s easier to name a unit that works well for cyclists. It’s relatively inexpensive, small and light. The Anker PowerCore 10000 is available on Amazon, as of this writing, for $25.99.

Top-Tube Bag sits on your frame close up to the handle bars. They are available from a variety of sellers and you need one large enough to hold the battery (most will do just that). See accompanying photo.

Connecting Cord You will need a cord specific to your phone to connect the battery to your phone. Any short cord will do but you should consider a heavily insulated one as the cord gets a lot of wear while riding, and will eventually wear out. Also, if you use a top-tube bag, a short cord of 1 foot or less is recommended.

If your cell phone drains rapidly when navigating, stop griping and reach for a working solution so you can enjoy care free riding.





Absolutely. In fact, I wrote a blog post on that very subject
Mike Barry's picture

Good Tips! On iPhones you can also download the route prior to the trip and turn wifi and cell data off to save some battery. Also try low power mode and darken screen to the lowest level you can see it. A more expensive solution is to use a real GPS unit. I use a wahoo element and it lasts about 1.5 days of biking.