Bike computer guide

Bike computers add an interesting extra dimension to cycling. In their simplest form they tell you your speed and the distance you have travelled. The more complicated ones will give you much more information such as your pedal revolutions. They can be useful for improving performance or simply for curiosity sake to see how many miles you have covered this week or whether one route is shorter than another.

Plus it’s a lot of fun to keep beating your highest speed!

As with all our other guides I’ll take you through what things to look for in a good bike computer and then I’ll pick out some of the latest and greatest bike computers that are well regarded.

What to look for

Ease of use – many come with just one button but often that can make it tougher to use. Other things to look for include well sized and designed buttons so you can quickly tap them while you are cycling. Keep in mind that if you are wearing cycling gloves the buttons will be harder to press.

Setup process – Often where bike computers stumble is in the setup process when you need to input your wheel size for accurate calculations.

Wired vs. wireless – a lot of the newer bike computers are now wireless. This makes them slightly more expensive but is usually worth it for simplicity. Avoid the cheapest wireless ones as the accuracy is likely to not be very good.

Mount – It should be possible to very quickly remove the bike computer when you reach your destination. Also the mount should be easy to fit and not wobble whilst cycling.

Display – You want a clear display so you can check stats without taking your eyes off the road for too long. The larger screens usually mean you can fit in more statistics which is a bonus.

Functions – Checkout the list of functions to see if it provides you with the statistics you need. Ask yourself which ones you are genuinely interested in.

Well recommended bike computers

sigma-bike-computer Sigma BC 906 (Under £20)

At the entry level there is a lot of competition but the Sigma BC wins out thanks to its clear display, accuracy and good range of basic functions. It is wired so you will need to securely strap down the wire so it doesn’t cause problems. On the plus side this means there isn’t any interference with other similar devices. The only problem that really plagues this device is the difficult instructions that make the initial programming tough. Once you manage to battle through that though this is a reliable little device that will serve you well.

Click here to check it out

cateye-strada-bike-computerCateye Strada Wireless Cycle Computer (£40)

Towards the higher end of the bike computer scales is the CatEye Strada. You’ll fall in love with the nice slim design, the ease of use and the big clear screen. Rather than fiddly buttons you simply press the body of the computer towards the base of it. This ends up working really well, even with cycling gloves on. The setup process has been well thought out and is easy to do. On the downside the lack of backlight means in the dark it is tough to read the display. Whilst the list of functions will be perfect for most, more advanced riders may be looking for more.

Click here to check it out

knog-nerd-bike-computerKnog N.E.R.D 12 function wireless (£45)

This is likely to be the easiest bike computer you will ever use. The simplicity begins at the installation stage. Thanks to the silicon casing it takes no time whatsoever to attach to the handlebars. Setting the computer up involves a quick input of your wheel size and you are good to go. In terms of operation you simply press down on the entire unit to change to the next screen. There is a clear display and you even get a graph comparing your current and average speed. The Knog is a little on the pricey side but no doubt its simplicity will appeal to many.

Click here to check it out

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15 Responses to Bike computer guide

  1. Joby 05/02/2010 at 11:59 am #

    I had the Knog Nerd on my last bike before it was stolen – excellent piece of kit despite price.

  2. Andreas 05/02/2010 at 3:22 pm #

    Thanks for giving it the thumbs up Joby. Unfortunately a lot of people get bike computers nicked

  3. Joby 05/02/2010 at 3:24 pm #

    Ah no – my bike got nicked from my garden and my Nerd was still on it. An enclosed garden… And I left it 10 minutes…

    Robbing sods.

  4. Joby 05/02/2010 at 3:24 pm #

    But I did get a Garmin Edge 705 out of it.

  5. Andreas 05/02/2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Tsk tsk the lengths some people will go to is insane! Hows the Garmin treating you?

  6. Joby 05/02/2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Mmm.
    I love the equipment. Its very useful – has improved my cycling no end as I always have recorded heart rate, calories (inaccurate of course), mileage and time.

    Shame the GPS is poor – google maps on the iphone is much better… but that sucks battery life.

    Oh to be a cyclist :)

  7. Andreas 05/02/2010 at 3:56 pm #

    It’s true no-one seems to have nailed the “GPS for cyclists” thing. What I tend to do on the iPhone with gmaps is turn off 3G, wifi and put the brightness right down. I find then it usually lasts me a lot longer still not long enough for some of the rides. I’m half tempted to get myself one of those solar re-chargers if only they were a bit cheaper.

    • Thomas 16/04/2012 at 11:37 pm #

      Andreas,

      You should try one of these units from energizer. Prices start from around £20 on Amazon.
      It comes with Cell Phone adaptors for Nokia, Mini USB, Micro USB and there’s an iPhone Charging cable.

      Energizer® XP2000
      The Energizer® XP2000 rechargeable ultra slim portable charger is guaranteed to provide smart phones up to 1 full charge, and cell phones up to 3 full charges! Great for music or portable gaming devices too.

      Easy to Use Just plug it in for instant power
      Stay Charged Maintains charge for up to 1 year
      Green Energy Star certified with full charge auto shut off
      Lightweight No more bulky AC adapters and messy cords
      Rechargeable up to 500 times
      Reliable Longest industry 3 year limited warranty
      http://www.energizerpowerpacks.com/us/products/xp2000/

  8. Joby 05/02/2010 at 4:04 pm #

    Isn’t there some sort of charger on the cards that charges whilst you cycle? Can’t remember the technical term for it, but am sure I’ve read it somewhere.

    I’d be loving that – as I have Tom Tom on the iphone and thats perfect but Google Maps comes a close second.

    Perhaps thats whats needed – thats the killer app?

  9. Andreas 05/02/2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Perhaps, I think you are thinking of that Dahon one that will charge your iPhone as you cycle dynamo style. Pretty good idea

  10. Alex 08/02/2010 at 10:07 am #

    Have used the Sigma BC 906 for quite a while now, including a long bumpy canal-side ride and it looks pretty stable – it’s got one big button on the front to cycle between all the functions, so it’s very easy to press even while wearing cycling gloves.

  11. thereverent 08/02/2010 at 7:59 pm #

    I got a Cateye Strada (Wired version which saved a few quid). its very good and easy to use.
    One good point is the mount on the handelbars is so stiff that you can’t get it off without spending ages. So I normally leave it on knowing that someone will probably give up before getting it off.

    I finally replaced my old sigma which had done 10 years when I got to work one day and it gave my top speed for the trip across London as 99.4MPH.

  12. Dani Riot 22/07/2010 at 10:47 pm #

    ive just ordered my cat eye strada.

    I was wondering though, can you fit the sensors to the back wheel, rather than the front, as i have some hefty forks to contend with.

    Cheers.

  13. dyfed 12/03/2011 at 1:03 am #

    can’t see why not but it depends on the wireless strength doesnt it, plus suitable mounting point.

  14. Rob Barker 22/04/2012 at 7:23 pm #

    I wear a pair of Specialized Elite road shoes, love the ratchet system, I have an old pair of Shimano something or other rather worn and very much in need of a new pair……

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