CatEye's Strada Wireless Computer
Dedicated road cyclists can point to maybe half a dozen must-have accessories: helmets come first, followed by gloves and padded shorts. A cycle computer ("cyclocomputer") almost has to come next. That’s especially true if you have an obsessive streak about your exercise; like this cyclist does: I wrote my own software for a runner’s / biker’s / walker’s log, and I’ve been keeping a record of one or all of the above for more than 25 years. I freely admit it: obsessive...
My bike records only go back fifteen or sixteen years, but I’ve had a computer mounted on every bike I've owned since the ‘80s. When my previous model started acting up not long ago, it was off to the store for a new one. I’ve had good luck with CatEye brand (plus the store didn’t have much else), so I opted for a newer model, the CatEye Strada Wireless, model CC-RD300W. Here’s my thoughts.
The Good Stuff
The CatEye Strada Wireless has lots of features for something that only measures 1 x 1¾ inches and weighs just 19 g (2/3 ounce). Besides a half-inch tall current speed display, I can cycle through other on-screen displays just by pushing the base of the bezel. CatEye calls this a “ClickTec Interface.” The other displays are: time of day, elapsed time, distance, distance 2, average speed, maximum speed and odometer. If I hold the case down for two seconds, it all resets except the odometer and distance 2. The Strada is auto on/off: the computer "wakes up" and starts timing when the bike starts moving, and ceases keeping time when it stops. It goes to sleep – showing only the clock - after ten minutes, and shuts down all displays after 14 days of inactivity.
Strada Wireless is A/B capable, so you can mount the sensor and receiver on two different bikes, even if they have different wheel diameters - one for a training bike, the other for a competition bike (or more likely, one for your road bike and one for your mountain bike). The second bike will require a second set of mounts, at additional cost.
The Strada Receiver
The receiver can be mounted on either the handlebar or the stem with CatEye’s improved mounting FlexTight Bracket Band; meaning there are no cable ties involved. The computer itself slides into the mounting bracket with a friction catch, and easily slips out for security. The sensor has a "universal" mounting bracket with a pair of cable ties, which CatEye says can fit any front fork. Both brackets have sticky tape for added security. If you want to switch from bike A to bike B, remove the sensor and computer but leave the mounts in place.
When you’re moving, the display includes a "pace arrow" pointing up if you're exceeding your average speed and down if not.
The computer is easy to install and fairly easy to program - you have to set clock and odometer (if you care), choose between metric and English units, and set tire diameters for both bicycles.
The Strada Sensor
The Indifferent (Or The So What?)
- It may well be too easy to reset: holding down the “ClickTec” interface for two seconds can happen when you’re removing the bike or just leaning on your handlebars at a stoplight; I did it once while standing next to the bike and supporting it by the stem.
- There’s no cadence function, which competitive riders find essential but recreational/fitness riders (like me) don't.
- The Strada can’t tell the difference among sensor signals - in a tightly-packed peleton, who knows whose sensor the computer is actually reading (though since you're all going the same speed, what difference does it make?). The sensor off my old Micro Wireless talks to this computer, in fact.
- CatEye is headquartered in Japan, which is where the box says “Made in...” I wonder why it has an Italian name instead of being called the ninja, the ronin or something similar…
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Not Everything is Perfect
- The Strada’s receiver can’t be more than 70 cm (27.5 inches) from the sensor. Unless you have a tiny bike, this means you have to mount the sensor on the front wheel; rendering the computer useless (except as a clock) on indoor trainers. There is nothing on the packaging, however, that mentions this limitation.
- The installation instructions are two double-sided sheets about the size of a newspaper, printed with at least twenty languages. The operating instructions are reduced to a crappy icon tables that look like the diagram for one a Rube Goldberg device.
- Changing the computer's battery erases the odometer and both tire sizes. You'll need to record their values (assuming you noticed them before the battery died) before re-programming by hand (my software keeps track of the odometer).
Yes, It's Tiny!
I had thought of using my new Strada to track mileage on an indoor trainer during cool seasons, but that can’t happen unless I mount the computer on the top tube. I wish CatEye would make this limitation more obvious on their packaging. I also wish that the owner's manual were a little less cryptic. There are larger, better-illustrated English language installation instructions on-line; why can't they do that with the operation instructions?
Other than these quite minor quibbles, I'm very satisfied. The accuracy is - as I expect from CatEye - superb, the sensitivity is good, and the installation was easy (after I pulled out the magnifying glass). Our household history with the manufacturer suggestswe'll have above-average longevity and durability. Cyclocomputers are an essential for the obsessives among us, and this one is a basic, yet very good wireless model.