Cycling has long stopped being a heroic sport, where bicycles with only one gear and weighing half a ton had to be pushed uphill to get over the toughest obstacles. This is not to say that today’s cyclists are not top-notch athletes, but they undoubtedly have the benefit of having years and years worth of technological development at their disposal. Aside from new and improved materials and advances in aerodynamics, the best bike computers are now available to give you detailed information about your ride.
By using a cycling computer, like the ones we have described in the article you are about to read, you can know more about your speed, the distance you have traveled and even, on the more advanced models, details about your heart rate and the power you are outputting. Thanks to the information they deliver, the best mountain bike computers quickly become valuable allies of those serious cyclists that want to up their game and improve their training sessions. Read on if you’re looking to find the gear that will help you take your skills to the next level and attains even higher goals.
How To Choose A Bike Computer – Buying Guide
Bike computers come in numerous shapes and sizes, but the best indication of what features you can expect from one of them is their price. The cheapest models are also the ones that, as you would expect, predominantly show only the basic information such as speed and travel distance, although there are several valid options in this category nonetheless. As the price tag rises, you’ll start to encounter mid-range models such as Bluetooth bike computers with bigger displays, that are also ANT+ and WiFi compatible. At the top of the lot sit those computers that start to closely resemble a smartphone, and are priced accordingly. These have advances navigation capabilities, can send and receive messages, share your progress on social media and are widely customizable so you can plan your training sessions in detail. They are the models that pros use to help them keep track of their progress and plan new routes to explore.
Having a bike computer with excellent connectivity will depend on your skill level and how intense and monitored you need your training to be. The most basic ones, which are also the cheapest, usually only give you USB connectivity. For the more serious riders who are ready to invest a bit more money in the purchase, ANT+ and Bluetooth capabilities are available. These allow you to gather data from power meters or heart rate monitors you might want to use to better evaluate your performance, or simply to connect to the Strava app and discover routes or compare yourself to other riders. The final decision will come down to your specific needs and budget, since your level of commitment to the sport will also determine how much money you’re ready to use for it.
Needless to say, but having good battery life on your bike computer is a crucial feature, since having it die in the middle of a ride completely defeats the purpose of bringing on along. The best models can even last for years and can switch on and off as they detect movement, saving a maximum of power when you’re not riding. More advanced computers that have a bigger screen are likely to drain your battery faster, but these models usually come with an additional battery pack that is perfect to prolong their life. In any case, it’s a good idea to always set out with a few more batteries alongside you, they don’t take up too much space.
As with any technological item, bike computers also come in versions that are full of features and others that only have a few. What is crucial here is to identify which ones are the most important to you, so you can have a good idea of how much money to invest in your purchase. If you’re a beginner, you probably won’t need much more than a speed and distance indicator, and you can opt for one of the more basic models without worries. For the more experienced riders or even the pros that need information about altitude, heart rate or power output a more advanced, and expensive, model is needed. You also have to evaluate how important to you is access to social media, to get information about new routes or share your progress, since this will also help guide your research towards a computer that can satisfy your needs.
The simplest bike computers can be operated by the simple press of the button, which lets you toggle through all the functions that the device puts at your disposal. Some models, to remove any possible doubt, don’t even give you that option and just show everything on the screen, so you can concentrate fully on the road ahead. As you move further up the price range, however, you’ll encounter more and more options just as you would with a smartphone, so it is crucial that you understand how to access the most important features quickly, without having to fiddle with your device whilst on the road. Take some time to understand what you have in your hands and how to make it work best for you, so you’ll know how to find what you need with the touch of a button.
We haven’t made big distinctions in our bike computer reviews, but riders can easily find themselves in all sorts of different scenarios, so it’s important to have a computer that can follow in all those situations. Something that is certainly very useful in this regard is the ability to store information about multiple bike on one device, so you can simply toggle through profiles if you need to change setup. Another feature that we recommend watching out for is the possibility to customize the information that is shown on the screen or to arrange the layout of the menus you can have access to. This is because different environments or training situations may call for different information to be read. Finally, one also has to consider all the navigation options that the bike computer offers, to understand if it can be used as a constant check of the road ahead or simply as a map without any tracking to go with it.
Interface and Ease Of Use
As you have no doubt understood by now, personal preference plays a huge part in the choice of a bike computer. In particular, one has to feel confident that they can find all the information they need quickly, because taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds can greatly increase the chance of something going wrong. If your computer feels to complicated and overwhelming, feel free to return it and buy another one. Your comfort is paramount, and it is crucial that your devices work to push you further along the road instead of slowing you down.
Q: Should I get a bike computer?
If you are serious about cycling and want to keep track of your performances, then a good quality bike computer is something you will want to have on your bike. This will provide you with numerous details about your efforts so you can analyze them and understand where there is room for improvement. For beginners or just casual cyclists, a computer becomes less of a necessity and more of a fun gadget to have with you on your rides.
Q: Do I Need Cadence And Speed Sensor?
A speed sensor will be needed if your bike computer does not come with gps since there would be no other way to calculate your speed. A cadence sensor is something you'll end up wanting if you start training more and more seriously, since the information it provides may only be interesting to pro and semi-pro riders.
Q: Can I Sync The Bike Computer With Smartphone?
Yes, you can, but you need to make sure that your bike computer is able to do it. For this, WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity is needed, and you'll also need to install some specific apps. Once you've done this you'll be able to receive calls or text messages directly on your bike computer, which is a handy feature to have since it saves you from having to go reaching for your phone.
Q: Can I Use A Bike Computer On An Indoor Trainer?
Yes, but again you have to check that your bike computer is compatible. What you need is the ANT+ FE-C protocol, which simply means that the computer is able to effectively communicate with your indoor training equipment.
Globo Surf Overview
A good bike computer can be a valuable ally for your training sessions or a complete nuisance if you have to deal with too much information. In our article we have presented you with the best options on the market for all pockets and skill levels, so you can quickly select the one that best meets your needs and hit the road.