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 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.
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.
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.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.