Biko App Test Drive in Toronto

There's a new app for cyclists in Toronto, and it's called Biko. I installed the Biko App on my Android phone last week and have been using it to record my rides.

The key benefit of Biko is the digital reward points you collect for each kilometre you ride. These points are called "Bikos" and they can be exchanged for goods and services. New businesses are joining all the time and after a few rides I already qualified for ten free cold brews from Jimmy's Coffee, a free six pack of beer from Amsterdam Brewing or $40 off a tune up at Urbane Cyclist.

In addition to collecting Bikos, which is a whole lot of fun, the app measures your average speed, carbon emissions saved, and calories burned while recommending safe paths to ride. It couldn't be easier to use.

This valuable data on urban biking behaviour is shared with city planners looking to increase bike lanes and facilitate safe cycling. This cyclist thinks that's awesome.

For those interested in getting the Biko app, you can visit your phone’s app store or visit Bikoapp.com.

Here's my current home screen after my first four rides.

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Here's my current list of my rides.

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Details of each ride are easily accessible.

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And redeeming your Bikos is fun and easy.

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Comments (22 - click here to join in!)

Douglas

Not a bad idea/application. Not being a resident of the City of Toronto, I don't think it would be as beneficial for me as for you.

For many of a certain age and appreciation of music, I definitely did not read the name as BIKE-OH, and now I have an earworm of a great Peter Gabriel tune playing in my head.

May 16, 2017 @ 4:01 PM


Beatts

Glory hole donuts ???? lol that's legit ??

LMAO wow. Tell them you want donuts but none glazed.

May 16, 2017 @ 4:27 PM

@Beatts

Glory Hole is legit! I've been there three times now and each time - its closed hours early because they are sold out. Wildly popular. HAHAHA

May 16, 2017 @ 7:18 PM

markosaar

Something about this rings very much "too good to be true" to me. Doesn't make any sense how this is economically feasible.

May 16, 2017 @ 7:33 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@markosaar

Knowing when and where cyclists are travelling is worth a great deal to urban planners.

May 16, 2017 @ 7:59 PM

markosaar

@Toronto Mike,

I've mentioned before I am a die-hard Strava user.

The City of Toronto released its own app for these exact purposes, and their FAQ's very first point explains why they don't use Strava (or Map My Ride) data: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=adafbd1172026410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

Nothing about Biko makes sense to me. I don't understand why this upstart's data would be suddenly more valuable or legitimate than long-term players. I don't understand how they can afford to make these generous pay-outs.

At the beginning there was outcry about the app demanding access to your phone's contact list. They patched that out shortly. But it makes me wonder what else is going on. All I can say is it sounds too good to be true.

As an addendum, I almost don't even give a crap about my "personal information" being sold ... like I'm nothing special or unique and it's basically all aggregate anyway. But I find this company's business plan extremely suspect and I'd rather just avoid the whole mess.

May 16, 2017 @ 11:16 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

For me, a big part of measuring my rides with an app is the gamification of exercise. Now that I have over four years of data I can do fun year-over-year comparisons and target milestones, etc. This is enjoyable for me, competing with myself.

But I could see for some collecting points that could be redeemed for goods and services in the city would really gamify cycling for them. I've already heard from a few people that they biked instead of driving because they wanted the Bikos. I think that's very cool.

So I'm glad this app exists and hopeful it gets more of Toronto on their bikes this summer.

May 17, 2017 @ 8:48 AM

mrmojorisinca

only works for biking? how about running?

May 17, 2017 @ 9:03 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@mrmojorisinca

From the Biko press release:

"While Biko is geared towards cyclists, it can also be used when walking or running."

May 17, 2017 @ 9:39 AM

James Edgar

Cool idea but i do share markosaars concerns a bit. It does have a too good to be true smell.

having said that I'll download the app once we get going on cycling, which i have been told will be soon LOL. My 12 year old wants me to get off my fat ass.

Speaking of that the bikes need some TLC , where can i get decent tires for a decent price?

May 17, 2017 @ 10:30 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@James Edgar

I'm not sure where you'd get the best price. I talk to my local shop as I'm friendly with the owner and we negotiate.

I did switch to puncture proof tires last autumn because I was tired of patching tubes all the time, and I haven't had a flat since. I've lost a few KMs/hour, but I'd gladly make that trade for fewer flats.

May 17, 2017 @ 10:42 AM

markosaar

I can also vouch for puncture-proof tires. They really work. Put over 6000 KM on a set with never a flat. Pricier but so worth it.

May 17, 2017 @ 12:35 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@markosaar

I'm going to try and beat that 6000 km record. I'm at about 4000 km now... not a flat yet?

May 17, 2017 @ 1:21 PM

Rob J

I sense an "anti-Biko" editorial in the Tor Sun any day now. Potential sample excerpt: "Those lefty tree-huggers use that deplorable app to gain points, but hypocritically use their car to visit the stores to cash in their rewards. Here at the Sun, we call for a return to the Mike Harris Common Sense Revolution, when sainted car drivers earned points to run down the effete downtown cyclists."

May 17, 2017 @ 2:51 PM

Daniel

I sense "pro Biko" editorial in the Tor Star any day now. Potential sample excerpt: "Those angelic, brilliant geniuses who ride bikes develop amazing App to try and convince those cave dwelling ogres to stop driving their devil cars"

Here at the Star, we all live downtown, and we're better than you. So we demand a disproportionate amount of benefits ie bicycle lanes to the rich vocal minority, who can afford to live 5km away from where we work downtown. Screw what makes sense to the most amount of people, we want ours!

May 17, 2017 @ 5:01 PM

Rob J

It's great to still have different perspectives within print media! (for now)

May 17, 2017 @ 6:38 PM

markosaar

@Toronto Mike,

Hahhhhh ... mine was over about five years.

May 17, 2017 @ 10:24 PM

Broni

Have you noticed whether or not this app chews up your data?

May 18, 2017 @ 11:45 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Broni

It doesn't use data or wifi to log your activities.

I've been using it for one week and it's used 1.95 MB of data so far. By comparison, MapMyRide has used 6.41 MB.

May 18, 2017 @ 11:54 AM

Dagmara

It seems the sweet beer deals are now gone! Too many people redeeming? I'm just really curious about how this works? Are companies offering the freebies getting anything in return?

May 23, 2017 @ 4:00 PM

Fraser

This app isn't too accurate, on my Ride yesterday my fancy bicycle computer read 42km 22.6kmph avg while the Biko app read 31km 36kmph avg. I wish I was that day but I'm not, and lost out on ten bikos :/

July 17, 2017 @ 12:56 PM

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