The bicycle computer cycle becomes the heir nurtured and very, very modernized of the old odometer. And technological advances in this sector have not been limited only to the bicycle but also to its accessories.
Consequently, we are faced with a small device that is great in performance. More or less numerous depending on the models and almost always on the price.
In principle, a cyclo-computer (a word commonly used although it does not yet appear in the Rae dictionary) measures speeds (current, average, or maximum), distances, and times. And it also memorizes data to know the evolution of cyclists.
The embryo of all the information it provides is the total travel that a wheel makes in a complete turn.
From this data, all the others are calculated.
And the more data, of course, the cycle computer will be more complete and, typically, more expensive.
The most basic model adapts to single wheel diameter and usually offers the speed at which the bike is circulated, the distance, the total kilometers, and the clock function.
Other more complete alternatives add, for example, the average speed and the maximum speed. The measurements are not limited to single wheel diameter, so its accuracy opens up to more bike models.
But there are also more advanced ones, which are adapted to connect to a computer and download data and, above all, maps.
The cartographic option dramatically improves the performance of the cycle computer and increases its price.
In the semi or professional field, the added possibilities are more specific and go through the cadence of the pedaling or the pulsations.
We chose Garmin as the leader, a high-performance cycle computer at a mid-range price from the selection that follows.
Need or whim?
The answer is predictable: it depends on the use. But if you buy it, it is good to think that it also adapts to use later, not to purchase several times. Of course, if you don’t need a lot of data, there are cheap alternatives that may be enough.
The use of the cycle computer is more widespread in sports cycling, whether mountain or road and very little in urban areas.
This trend does not mean that the cycle computer is redundant in the city. But for urban use, the usual thing is that a very sophisticated device is not necessary. Any basic model accounts for the kilometers traveled to be aware of maintenance could be enough.
But if we will take the bicycle a little more seriously, we have decided to take it frequently. We are excited to be doing new routes, controlling our rhythms, seeing the evolution we can maintain. We should go up the cycle computer category, and we will see that he becomes the best accomplice of our sporting activity.
Much more if our level with the bike is high, it will be an almost essential tool for us.
What does it bring about the Smartphone?
If the data you need are few and general, even a smartphone could be enough. But bear in mind a critical caveat: cycling computers are designed to withstand inclement weather, and the phone is not.
Another advantage of the cycle computer over its extended competitor is that the battery lasts longer.
Most are above ten o’clock with GPS active.
As is known, GPS is one of the sources that most consume the battery of mobile phones. Worse in cycle computers, the same does not happen because they are already designed precisely, considering that it is an essential service in its benefits.
If we want to use the Smartphone, we must not forget the purchase of accessories to fulfill its mission.
For example, the bike support or a band if you want it to control the pulsations. And although it is not ideal, it cannot be ruled out either, as it shows that smartphones have efficient social networks for bicycles such as Strava, the most widespread, which is a GPS tracking application.
The mobile phone case is no small matter since it has to be very resistant to face meteorological mishaps for which the cycle computer, as noted, is already prepared.
In any case, we will not give much thought to using the mobile phone as a bicycle computer because neither by performance, nor by weight, nor by the resistance the comparison is sustained.
What to ask a cycle computer?
All the variables that it offers derive from the two primary parameters that it must have: the measurement of the distance traveled and the time spent on it.
To these two essential functions, it is advisable to add that of the pedaling cadence. It is known through a specific sensor that can be already integrated or added later (you have to check that it really can be done).
The pedaling cadence indicator makes it easy for the effort to be proportioned. Neither excessive nor insufficient. Knowing your number of strokes per fraction of time is essential to rationalize the use of muscles.
If the love of cycling grows, the next step would be to include a heart rate monitor that allows you to monitor your heart rate in real-time.
And in the field of technical characteristics, the wireless connection with the computer is already ubiquitous to dump all the accumulated information.
Connectivity with other terminals is, therefore, a point to take into account.
With or without GPS?
A cycle computer is undoubtedly more complete with GPS than without it, although it is also more expensive if GPS develops its full potential.
Because there are low-end models with GPS, but in those cases, its only task is to record speed data based on distances.
However, they do not show you informative maps of your routes on the screen. Those that do go to the high range and their price as well. Without a doubt, these offer a comprehensive report of the entire route with specifics such as the height you ride or the slopes.
The connection through satellites also allows the routes to be recorded and then plotted on maps thanks to applications such as the Strava, as mentioned earlier.
For the adventurous cyclist who risks new routes, it is more than advisable to carry an integrated GPS and with the option of maps. There are brands in the sector such as Garmin and Polar that incorporate it in all their models, although with different benefits.
What should we consider?
In addition to what has already been stated, there are other essential factors to make a final decision:
Maps .- If the cyclist’s usual practice occurs in the mountains, it is highly recommended that the computer include cartographic references to guide and fix the route. Therefore, the hill is almost synonymous with high-end.
On the road, it is less critical because of the signs, and in the city, this service is practically unnecessary.
Battery life – As also noted, it is well above that of mobile phones that use a lot of battery with GPS.
Around 20 hours of use. And curiously, the charges of the basic models last longer than those of the more complex ones.
Typically, the charging cable is usually compatible with mobile terminals, but it is worth paying attention to it.
Screen – Obviously, its size must be adequate to read the data well in situations of movement on sudden occasions if you are rolling down the mountain.
As important as the size is the legibility of the digits (the screens with GPS allow to configure them) and what data is offered simultaneously on the net.
Some models offer multiple parameters simultaneously, which can be confusing, and others require pressing options.
Garmin Edge 520 Plus, the best value for money
One of the best-valued models of the leading brand in the sector. Mid-range for the price but with high-level features.
Its extensive connectivity allows direct access to Garmin IQ support and thus download applications as widespread as the Strava, as mentioned earlier.
It has highly valued advantages such as its size, the excellent reading of the data, and the easy handling (it is not tactile) since it is very intuitive. Customization is also relatively easy.
GPS offers an optimal service with a temporary satellite location that avoids long waits. Comes with maps as standard. And the ease of navigation and the simple use of cartography are two of its primary qualities.
Its memory capacity (12 GB), which is adequate, and the battery life of around 15 hours, are also essential virtues.
Besides, this model combines four factors to consider when deciding: it is light, compact, easy to use and the price, for its performance, is reasonable.
As particular objections, the measurement of slopes is questioned in some instances, and the number of waypoints it admits is considered scarce (250).
A waypoint is signs that accurately identify a place. That is, if you go with your bike and you like a site, you should be able to register it on your cycle computer.
iGPSport iGS20E, ideal to start
This model is in the low range by price. But it is a small device that offers good features, including its GPS that detects in a reasonable time and effectively fulfills its essential functions.
It is recommended for amateur users without exhaustive pretenses. For example, it does not control the pulsations, and in the most technical aspect, it does not have a Bluetooth connection either.
But you can synchronize the data with the Strava, and you can upload data of the routes, see the partial and total kilometers, as well as the temperature, the speed, the percentage of the slopes, and the calories consumed.
Installation is simple. It comes with several replacement rubbers to adjust it to the handlebar of the bicycle and has the virtue of allowing two bases to be prepared on different bikes. It is also noteworthy that once it is placed and turned on, it takes just a few seconds to capture satellites.
As specific objections, we would highlight all the excess data displayed on the screen, which sometimes makes it difficult to see the digits (you cannot choose which ones appear on the screen). It has backlighting.
And the instructions do not come in Spanish, although they can be downloaded on their website.
It is an optimal choice if it is clear beforehand with what data you are satisfied with. The more information is provided, the more expensive it with even more routes and maps on the screen. It is recommended if you are looking for a GPS bike computer to load routes to.
For example, it is instrumental in keeping a reliable record of routes in numbers of kilometers and in the time taken to travel them.
TwoNav – Trail 2 Bike, so that the family is calm
Resistant, very reliable, with a large and attractive screen (3.7 inches) and the ability to handle any map with ease. With these precedents, it is taken for granted that its price is high.
In addition to its already excellent features, it includes a security mechanism that must be considered.
The Scheme function that this model has incorporated allows you to broadcast the exact position in which you are in real-time. That is, it guarantees your safety and the tranquility of families without the need for a mobile phone.
It is a cycle computer aimed at high-demand users with a very high autonomy (around 20 hours). This quality, together with its many functions, makes it very suitable for long mountain routes.
It is effortless to see even in bright sunlight and is very accessible from the handlebar, a ‘pro’ of great importance since it is customarily used in orographically tricky terrain.
The large number of providers the brand works with makes it possible to choose from more than 30,000 maps to complete routes.
Garmin Edge 1030 1,1, a luxury item
One of the highest-end models of the leading brand. Consequently: the price not suitable for all pockets.
In return, many high-quality services. Excellent screen visibility, easy handling, maximum quality of the maps, also highlighting the one that comes standard for almost all the tracks and trails that it brings-
The battery life allows for long night rides with the Garmin turned on. It has good visibility of the screen and speed of handling of the map.
As specific objections, although ensuring good visibility has a price in the design, particular difficulties in connecting to the mobile and that the indications are made through beeps and not through the speaker, especially considering its price.
Boblov, limited, but very cheap
From the most expensive to one of the cheapest. Whoever seeks to know their bike rides or races’ primary data with a more affordable expense has an ally in this model.
It’s wireless, it installs easily, and it counts the kilometers, the speed, the calories that are lost. All data looks good as its size is correct for it. But let’s not ask for more because it gives what it gives, and it is in line with its price.