If you are a cyclist, then you know the necessity of a bike computer in your life. Even if you are an occasional rider, you will face difficulties like keeping up with an unknown track or running out of phone charge.
All of this is solved by a simple monitor on the handlebars called the bike computer. It has gained its popularity for being a super device that literally can do anything.
And it solves the problems of carrying a phone, map, health tracker, etc. by putting them into a small device.
There are plenty of bike computers available on the market. So it might make you wonder, “which bike computer should I buy?” Here, we will discuss with you the types, features, and brands with their reviews to help you choose your desired computer.
What Is a Bike Computer?
A device that monitors and keeps track of your trip information is known as a cyclometer or bike computer.
The monitor is usually placed on the handlebars of the bike. They have a liquid crystal display similar to a hand watch, and it enables the cyclist to see desired information.
Since the beginning of its invention, it has been modified frequently. With the advancement of technology, the device has undergone modifications according to the cyclist’s needs. Till now there are three types-
Analog Bike Computers
These are the first ones to be invented. They ran out of business pretty soon for several reasons.
These showed the basics only like speed, elevation gain, distance, and elapsed time. They lost their place in the markets pretty soon after the launch of the next-generation products.
Basic Wired and Wireless Bike Computers
These two have mostly the same features, but the wireless one is a little more advanced.
Wired computers have all the features, and it can track current, maximum, and average speed, total distance, elapsed time, and total calories burned.
It also has a long battery life, thereby reducing its chance of performance failure. The only hassle is that the wire has to be connected to the main sensor.
They are also cheaper than other varieties. Wireless computers do not have any trouble of putting wires through the bike as they work via sensors.
These sensors are usually placed in the front wheel sometimes on the pedals too.
And they have all the similar features like a wired one. These computers are a little costly and also have short battery life. Therefore they are not much favorable.
GPS-Enabled Bike Computers
Now, these are the most advanced ones and leading in the markets now. They are intended for pro riders or data freak cyclists who like to keep track of everything.
They are GPS and ANT+ enabled and keeps a record of speed, distance, altitude, heart rate, cadence, calories, heart rate, gears, time, temperature, workout counters, and more.
And they are connected via USB or Bluetooth to your phone and works hassle-free. They have a long battery life, so there is no chance of losing records.
Suggested Guide: Garmin Edge 520 vs 520 Plus
How Do They Work?
They all work in a similar way using magnets, sensors, and processing units. In order to get the correct information at first, some inputs are given on the computer.
The circumference of the front wheel is given so it can calculate the distance by counting rotations per minute.
A magnet is attached to the front spoke, and there is a sensor on the fork. The sensor creates an electromagnetic field, so each time the wheel rotates, it passes from the magnet.
By this, speed is counted and showed on the screen on the handlebars. Also, a sensor on the pedals will measure the cadence, thereby your heart rate from that cadence power. These are the basic principles of wired or wireless computers.
The GPS bike computers, on the other hand, uses satellite information to track your speed. They can also be connected to heart rate monitors to show you their health status.
Features in a Bike Computer
A bike computer provides a variety of features some are listed below:
These are all available in the latest models, while some basics were available in the wired and wireless bike computers.
Setting up a Bike Computer
Step 1: Place the sensor on the front fork and secure it with cable ties. It should be easily accessible.
Step 2: Pull the sensor wire up the back and outer part of the shock absorber. It should be placed in plastic tubes to secure from possible damage.
Step 3: Fix the computer display on the handlebar.
Step 4: Attach the display with a sensor wire and bind everything with cable wire.
Step 5: Then, the magnet is attached to the spoke close to the spoke wire.
Step 6: Enter your bicycle’s tire diameter and give it a spin.
Step 7: Look for the result on the display, do a mile test if necessary.
Should I Spend So Much?
Buying a bike computer can be luxurious to some. At the same time, this is a necessity for the pro riders.
If you belong in this group and interested in some record-keeping, then choose a less expensive model.
Wired bike computers are made according to your preference, and they cost within 50$. So this serves your purpose properly.
If you are a competitive cyclist, then you need a bit more than basic. Spending money on what you desire is never a waste.
GPS bike computers are designed for pro cyclists like you. They will keep all your records and help you compare to ride to perfection.
Which Bike Computer Should I Buy?
In modern times, GPS-enabled bike computers are available everywhere. Below is a list of computers available now:
Among these Garmin, Wahoo and Lezyne bike computers have outrun most of the other brands. We will be discussing in brief about these three brands to help you choose your device.
Garmin Bike Computers
For the roadies out there, Garmin has been a constant companion. Till now, they have released more than 10 models of Garmin. The latest one is Garmin Edge 530.
It is a modified and cheaper version of the Garmin Edge 1030. Thus making it available to the mass.
It has a unique feature of dynamic performance monitoring that helps review your performance and speed.
And it provides insights on your VO2 max. It has the highest battery life up to 40 hours without GPS.
Garmin Edge provides cycling safety features and popular routes. It has a turn-by-turn navigation system and works like an assistant in your road rides.
The only problem with this model is that it has no touchscreen and requires manual setup, which is very time-consuming.
For this, Garmin Edge 830 and 1030 are more popular among users. They have full-on Wi-Fi support and has a built-in contact system with other riders.
The latest addition to the Wahoo family is Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT. It is a fully aerodynamic GPS bike computer.
This uses the ELEMNT app on your phone to complete its’ setup. The features are almost as same as Garmin computers.
It has a dual-band ANT+ and Bluetooth technology for user convenience. And it has a rechargeable battery system with a battery life of 20 hours.
It can automatically download routes and give turn-by-turn navigation. This device is comparatively cheaper than Germin, so it is preferred more.
The Lezyne device can connect to all information on your smartphone via Bluetooth. Its setup is easily done via the Lezyne mobile app.
And it has an excellent battery life and can create routes using the phone app. It is cheaper than both Garmin and Wahoo.
But this device is not very popular as you need your smartphone to set up Lezyne, and also routes are not automatically downloaded. So there is still controversy between these 3 devices.
In today’s data-driven world, technology has to be updated according to human needs. The roadies out there who love to keep track of everything they do, bike computers are a must-have for them.
Although there are a lot of models to choose from, we discussed the latest ones for our readers’ preferences.
But the users must choose their bike computers keeping in mind about their needs. We hope this article helps the riders choose their desired mini computers.