Bicycle Computer Buying Guide

Cycle computers provide the cyclist with statistical information on their riding. Alongside the usual features like a speedo and odometer, other details they can provide you with include temperature and wind speed, heart rate, cadence, calories consumed and altitude.They can even provide you with directions.

Cycle computers are useful in particular to athletes, who can use the data provided in order to improve their training.

Bike computers used to work by having a magnet on your wheel and a sensor on the fork to pick up the speed and distance, but the newest systems now work using GPS and a seperate heart rate monitor.

What To Look For In A Cycle Computer?

  • Large, clear display with illumination for night riding
  • Accuracy
  • Long Battery Life
  • Heart Rate features are helpful for athletes, or those interested.
  • Ability to print out from your home computers. If you are using your bike computer to challenge yourself to new goals or to chart your progress as a cyclist, you will want this feature.
  • Waterproof/Durability
  • Big Buttons for use with cycling gloves
  • Simple Menu
  • Easily removable if you leave your bike someplace

Some cycle computers even let you transfer statistical information to a laptop or desktop computer at the end of the day to log your progress.

If you ride more than one bike, consider a model that can be swapped between bikes.

Feature Overview

Current Speed: This common function displays your current velocity, in mph or kph.

Average Speed: Shows you the average speed of your journey. Useful for athletes wishing to increase their anaerobic threshold.

Maximum Speed: Displays the highest speed reached. This is useful to let you see how fast you go down the hills without having to constantly look at the computer which can be dangerous.

This feature measures the number of pedal revolutions per minute - it is useful for athletes.

Distance: Lets you know the distance covered so far on this trip.

Odometer: Lets you know the distance covered since the computer was set up.

Altimeter: This function records the altitudes reached in your ride.

Wired or Wireless Bike Computer?

Some say wired cycle computers are ultimately more reliable, but wireless cycle computers have the obvious advantage of being easier to set up. This depends on personal preference.

Popular Models

Cateye were one of the first manufacturers of cycle computers and have a good reputation. As do Specialized, Sigma and Hactronic. Polar cycle computers also have a good reputation - specifically the Polar S725 AND S720i.

A good cheap simple model that provides time, speed and distance along with a few other simple features is the Cateye Velo 5 CC-VL510

A more refined model that includes more features and GPS is the Garmin Edge 200 GPS-Enabled Bike Computer

When you set up your bike computer you will need to find your wheel circumference. This should be written on the rims and tires.If it's not, try painting a white dot of paint or correction fluid on the tire and then ride in a straight line and measure the distance from the centres of the dots.