iPad Secret Bike App to Debut with Team Sky at Paris Roubaix

Apple iPad world's largest bike computer

Somewhere on a secret test track in Germany, Apple engineers are putting the final touches on an application that didn't make it to yesterday's iPad launch. Rumor has it that Jobs was uncharacteristically restrained from pressuring the team to deliver the project, code named Colossus for the main stage presentation. Charles Forbin Jr. who heads the Colossus team is part of Job's trusted inner circle and a good friend of Bradley Wiggins.

This rendering leaves little doubt that Apple is about to dramatically change the landscape (or portrait) of cycle computers; its a frontal assault on Garmin, who Jobs has been annoyed at ever since his Garmin eTrex malfunctioned during a lunch hour hike to Hidden Villa.

Artist rendering of iPad to scale

Details are starting to emerge about Colossus and at least two pro teams have been seeded demo versions of the iPad and Colossus in recent weeks. Sky is reportedly one of those teams. With the iPad's public debut, expect to see the test unit on Wiggins Pinarello very soon.

Wind tunnel testing has shown that the low profile iPad has impressive drag numbers despite its size. Deda has fabricated several prototype stems with a revolutionary vacuum mount that channels low pressure behind the headtube via a specially ported fork. Amazingly the vacuum is strong enough to secure the unit on the worst pave Belgium has to offer. Perhaps we'll see it make it's first race appearance at Paris Roubaix if it passes the UCI's technical review.

So here's the lineup of features slated for a release late March. As the world's largest bike computer by a factor of 20x, the iPad's 1024 x 768 pixels can display an astounding amount of data. In other words why wait to analyze ride data until after your ride, when you can do it all, "so simply and easily on the iPad" while you are riding. All the basics are covered: speed, distance, time, vertical speed, vertical distance, grade, and power of course. Colossus goes much further, leveraging the iPads accelerometers to provide critical data about acceleration and deceleration vs. power in the peloton. With the potential demise of team radios riders will increasingly be left to their own devices to decide race tactics. Precisely what Job's engineers have in mind.

With an iPad running Colossus mounted on the bike, that device will provide an unprecedented flow of decision support data... data that may mean the difference between getting in the move of the day or getting back in the team car. Complete local weather, rendered in stunning detail on the touch sensitive screen, including critical cross wind alerts (Alberto will order three). And it will respond to several cycling-specific gestures being developed by a disgraced former member of the Italian national team.

Is the picture getting clearer; the iPad and Colossus are going to change cycling forever. Need to know how much water, exactly, you are carrying back up to your team, Colossus will calculate weight to a tenth of a gram. Imagine a journeyman pro having this data available when his contract comes up for renewal.

Cycling specific iPads will indeed have the back mounted camera expected by so many pundits. By projecting an image of the road and front wheel on the screen with a data overlay (Apple refers to this as a heads down display mode), much of the unit's apparent mass is rendered invisible. In the interest of safety an emergency zoom mode is automatically triggered in the event of a front tire blowout, giving a rider precious extra seconds to watch the tire come off the rim. I'm going to reserve judgment on whether this will make the iPad's bezel look even bigger.

Expect to see three accessories during the second quarter. iPans, an ingeniously designed set of front panniers that connect to the iPad, the iProw mount that allows the iPad to be mounted vertically on the front of aero bars (the camera now fires directly forward meaning a rider can stay tucked longer); and finally a rear mount compatible with Fizik's ICS system so that team members in the draft can see exactly what gear and speed their lead out man has dialed in.

Given the fantastic video capabilities of the unit I'm already imagining Cavendish running his iPad behind the saddle. Visualize an afterburner animation as he lights it up... it's sure to scare whatever crap is left in the peloton every time he gets out the saddle.

Some features that were part of earlier prototypes will not make the initial launch, most notably the fish finder. The unit will ship with an ebook entitled, the Rider's Guide to French Brothels. Now that's an immersive experience. I'll be lining up to buy one, unless Steve reads this and sends me one for evaluation.

Mark Cavendish looking forward to Colossus ICS mount

17 Responses to iPad Secret Bike App to Debut with Team Sky at Paris Roubaix

  1. Jon Moss says:

    WOW. This is looking just amazing!

    I’m sure with the solar power iSun module, there is going to be significant opportunities for 3rd party manufacturers to offer pedal-boost conversion packs (for those climbs where you just don’t have anything left).

    I’m hoping all the features make it over to the UK version.

    • Jon,

      I can see that happening in v2… solar power will be critical for the fish finder. Of course, the pros won’t be able to use pedal boost assist, but they will get a great facial tan.


  2. I’m developing an app that links in with the Di2 kit… it’ll tell you exactly what gear you’re in, what you should be in and why you’re not climbing as fast as you thought you were. It’ll then twitter your exact location, speed, climb rate, gear settings and gradient as well as send a live video stream of your ride to your Facebook account.

    I’m selling it via the app store – when you buy the app you get a complementary set of coloured bevels for the iPad so that you can play matchy matchy with your bike’s colour scheme.

  3. Kim,


    As per Jon’s post re: the iSun module, if your app can control Di2 remotely over 3G, it may be possible to have the bike go out for rides without you. Think what that’s going to do for our mileage numbers each year.

  4. kurt says:

    Still laughing….

  5. McComber says:

    I confirm all rumors in this article. As a matter of fact, my group has been selected by Apple’s developpement section to test several features related to iPad’s exiting cycling applications. Of course we tested the next models with bigger flexible displays (up to 40″ cinema letterbox) that double as a canopy and retractable roof. But the most promising project is clearly the iCockpit software, originally designed for iPhone, which replaces all commands (gear shifting, steering, braking, even turning on of lights) with an intuitive, easy to use multi-touch interface.

    Stay put, this is big as all hell.

  6. I’m already suspicious that my bike goes out for rides without me… I don’t want Ny more reasons to be jealous!

  7. BR says:

    Excellent. :-)

  8. willy in pacifica says:


    Solar power means limited battery life so only daylight rides.

    Does this run off of GPS or do you need a big ass magnet on the fork?

  9. Truth Serum says:

    Yeah, but where is my light going to go?

  10. Jim T says:

    With a name like iPad you think they would find a way to mount it inside the cyclists shorts for even better aerodynamics. Perhaps ChamiosTech would allow for a soft pliable case so that it could be sewn into the short and serve two functions at once.

  11. LOL! Just needs some strategically placed vortex generators for
    improved aerodynamics!

  12. Byron says:

    Check out the new improved iPad with all the camera lens, now imagine if those were Speed Holes!


  13. Dave Wyman says:

    Imagine the iPad had out before the iPhone or the iPod. The iPad would have made it onto our bikes; maybe inside a pannier, or maybe in a daypack or a messenger bag for commuters/tourers, etc). But cyclists would grumble about the size and the obscene number of grams, and wonder why it didn’t have a camera or maybe even some way to connect by voice.

    We’d be asking for an iPod Touch and an iPhone. The day the iPod was released would have been the day cyclists would have relegate the iPad to the scrapheap of cycling history.

    Of the cycling apps on my iPhone I’ve tried so far, the capability to correctly record elevation gain is missing. Forget the iPhone (except as a phone). I’ll stick with my Garmin 500, especially since Garmin is coming out with snap-on, a 9.7 inch magnifying screen to actually let me read the thing while I’m on my bike.

    • You’re so right Dave. I was thinking of installing a 150mm stem to put the 500 far enough away so I can read it. Pretty soon I’ll have to attach my watch to my ankle, my arms aren’t long enough.


  14. W.icked T.im F.an says:

    As they say in the Guinness commercials: BRILLIANT!