12/10/2006

Review of bike route websites

In previous posts I mentioned a website, routeSlip, that allows users to document bicycle routes. I recently discovered a second website that does basically the same thing, called Bikely. These sites have some differences, so I thought a review of both sites would be helpful to other cyclists who may want to document their routes.

Overview




The routeSlip home page is pretty simple and intuitive, with the essential options and login at the top of the page. The Home page also contains a sample of the Newest Routes that have been entered as well as the Most Active Users.






The Bikely home page is very simple, maybe even Web 2.0 to the extreme. It also has the essential options along the top of the Home page and a list of the the Most Recent Routes.

Features

User Profile

routeSlip has a user profile that allows you to set certain preferences that are used later (such as default city, units of measure, etc). Bikely doesn't currently have a user profile, just the basic login, password and email address are saved when you join.


Creating and editing routes

routeSlip and Bikely have similar methods for creating new routes, (based on Google's map API) although I found routeSlip to be easier to use. For example to start a new route in routeSlip, just login and click on Create, you're taken to your default city (from the profile data) and directly into the route edit mode. You can start by clicking the left mouse to start setting down route points or hold down the left mouse button to move the map around. Also, routeSlip has popup dialog boxes for the route points that have been preloaded with actual ride actions, such as "Left on" "right on", "becomes", etc. With Bikely, you login then click on the Main page Submit, then select "Draw..." or "Upload a GPX file...", then enter a city and finally click on the Create Route button. Once you've done that, the actual route creation is similar to routeSlip, except that in Bikely the comments for the route points are always available in a section of the route drawing window. Both sites have the ability to add comments to the route set points, but currently (as of this review) only routeSlip has the ability to print cue sheets or RouteSlips as it's called in routeSlip.

routeSlip and Bikely differ in the route editing capability, Bikely has a feature that allows route points to be moved or inserted, which is very handy if you want to change or alter an existing route. This would be very handy in routeSlip, because routeSlip allows for cloning (duplicating) an existing route which would make for a quick method to extending or changing an existing base route.

Once a route is created both programs offer similar views, with maps of the route and an elevation profile. Here's a view of a route in routeSlip and the same route in Bikely.


Tagging

Bikely has a route tagging feature that helps to categorize routes by type, difficulty, and traffic level. Currently routeSlip does not have this capability.


Training Journal

In routeSlip you also have the ability to log your rides and it pulls the data from the route(s) that you select, so you can track distance and climbing for each ride. It also charts this data for you in a graph in the Training Journal summary page, Bikely currently doesn't offer a similar feature.

Forums

Bikely has an onsite forum (based on the Vanilla 1 open source project), routeSlip uses a Google group as its discussion forum.


Miscellaneous

Blog

routeSlip has a link to a blog by its developer that is used for major website changes and announcements.


Summary

For my needs, routeSlip is the clear choice. I can document my routes, share them with other users and I can print out the cue sheets for other riders to use during club rides. I can also log my rides and have a graph of my ride history.

1 comment:

Doug Curtis said...

CORRECTION: According to the bikely forums, cue sheets will be announced today, so this feature makes the choice between the two a little narrower. Now if I could export from one (via GPX format) and into the other, I'd flip over to Bikely to make edits to my routes.