Health & Fitness

Gear: A test of 4 new bike computers

HealthFitnessComputer HardwareApple iPhoneGarmin Ltd.

Bike computers get better and more complex every year. The trick now becomes simplifying the experience, from easily accessing the fancy data to being able to attach and move the hardware quickly. These four new models offer tons of data at different prices.

iBikePhone

Wahoo Fitness Bike Pack for iPhone: A handlebar-mounted water- and shock-resistant transceiver case mount and speed and cadence sensors that turns your iPhone into a full-featured ANT+ touch-screen GPS cycling computer. The Wahoo app is free through iTunes.

Likes: Works flawlessly, including a clear phone connection and heart rate data. The dashboard data is easy to read at the right angle. Swipe your finger across the screen to switch among five screens of data: speed, distance, cadence, power and course. It reads any ANT+ device (power meter, HRM or cadence sensor) and is compatible with many fitness apps. There's a lot more it can do that we didn't have time for. Rubber liners let it work with all third- and fourth-generation iPhones. The case by itself is $119. An aerobar time-trail mount is $19.99. A Wahoo Bluetooth heart rate monitor ($79.99) can communicate with the iPhone.

Dislikes: The hassle of zip-tying the case and attaching the speed sensor seems a bit archaic compared with the simpler Garmin setup. Also, reading the screen was impossible at times through the sun glare. A couple of testers did not like exposing their iPhone to the elements and potential crashes.

Price: $149.99. wahoofitness.com

Idiot-proof beauty

Garmin Edge 200: Handsome GPS-enabled weatherproof bike computer with real-time mapping function.

Likes: This economy Garmin model, stripped of ANT+ capability, retains fine graphics and is simple to set up and use. Just strap it on your handlebars in seconds with a couple of burly rubber cords; no magnetic sensors required, so you can use it on multiple bikes. The screen gives you the basics — speed (current, max and average), distance, time, calories, elevation and total climbing/descent — in an easy-to-read, at-a-glance font. I loved seeing the map of my route, having on-screen arrows lead me back home and the ability to show people what I just did. The "Courses" feature uses a tiny digital cyclist to let you race yourself on your old routes. You go to the Garmin Connect website to upload a map of your route and analyze the ride. Includes an AC charger and USB interface for charging and data transfer. Screen size: 1.125 by 1.425 inches.

Dislikes: It uses old-fashioned buttons on the side of the unit rather than a simpler, safer touch screen. As an economy unit, there's no ANT+ compatibility (heart rate, cadence, or power monitors).

Price: $150. http://www.garmin.com; (913) 397-8200 or (800) 800-1020

One-Touch Basics

Cannondale IQ300: Wireless bike computer with simple one-button, pressure-sensitive touch interface that works with gloves.

Likes: Data-packed with easy screen changing; just lightly poke a button icon, which is safer at speed than pushing old-fashioned tactile buttons. The 1.2-by-0.8-inch screen is small but legible. Metrics include current, average and max speed; distance (trip and 24 hour), odometer, time (trip and clock), temperature, calorie estimator and a backlight. A clean design and good deal for a low-cost wireless cycle computer.

Dislikes: Had trouble mounting the wheel sensor on bladed spokes. I hate the low-tech zip ties, which are used for the computer and the fork. The temperature reading uses up too much screen space; the other numbers could have been made bigger.

Price: $65. http://www.cannondale.com; (800) BIKE-USA

Data GaloreTimex Cycle Trainer 2.0: Bike computer with five screens of data provided by GPS, ANT+TM power sensors and a heart rate monitor (chest strap included).Likes: Data freaks will love having every imaginable metric available on the customizable screens. After the ride, upload it all for your map and analysis on a free Training Peaks account. Also, it includes a bike mount that can rotate 90 degrees and a night light with a constant-on option. Screen size: 1.185 x 1.3 inches.Dislikes: No map is displayed on the screen. Mounts with zip ties, so you're stuck on one bike. Includes a slow-charging USB cable, but not a faster wall-plug. Not touch screen, either.

Price: $250. http://www.timex.com; (800) 328-2677

Wallack is the coauthor of "Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100" and "Barefoot Running Step by Step." roywallack@aol.com

health@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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