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Track Distance with the Best Bike Computer

A bike computer can be one of your greatest training companions but not all cycling computers are created equal. The prices are almost as varied as the functions. You can find computers that offer just the very basic information and measure your speed, distance and time. If you want to invest more, you will find computers that measure your cadence, wattage, heart rate, calories burned, and give you a map of where you have ridden. If you want to go all out you can opt for a GPS version.

Cycling computers are a matter of personal preference and how much you are willing to spend. Do you want a wired version or a wireless version? Again, the choices are endless.

Some are easier to install than others and some are easier to use. It is sometimes easier to get your local bike shop to install whatever computer you decide to buy. If you opt to install it yourself, follow the instructions carefully.

The best bike computers in 2021 on this list were chosen for their features, wireless installation, and cover a variety of cycling needs. There is something on this list for everyone from the beginner to an advanced rider.

Best Bike Computers Worth Considering in 2021

Cat Eye Padrone Stealth Bike Computer - Best Bike Computer Overall

The CatEye Stealth 50 offers wireless technology combined with ease of use and multifunctionality. It is GPS and ANT+ enabled. Along with tracking all your basic cycling data it also tracks your power, heart rate, and cadence allowing you to meet your training goals. The backlight is programmable for auto on and off according to your riding schedule. It is 100 percent waterproof, USB rechargeable and because there is no sensor necessary, it is easy to change bikes. The upload feature is an amazing way to view your ride online and see a map of your ride. The CatEye Stealth 50 is a great computer for the rider who wants GPS technology without a GPS price tag.

Cateye Strada Slim Wireless Bike Computer - Runner Up

If you are looking for a no frills wireless bike computer that is great quality and will give you the information you want while on your ride, this is it. The CatEye Strada is a simple, easy to use, wireless, 8-function computer. It tracks speed, trip distance, a second trip distance, your average speed, trip time, the time of day, your top speed, and your total distance. Wireless to me is always a much better option, it keeps your bike looking clean and is easier to maintain. The Strada comes in three color choices to match your style.

Sigma BC 9.16 ATS Wireless Bike Computer - Honorable Mention

The Sigma Rox 8.1 is a great training companion. This is packed with features that many of the other computers don't have. It has 5 on-board available languages, has auto-recognition of a second bike, LCD backlight and more. It has PC interface capabilities. The Rox 8.1 is a great bike computer for someone wanting to step it up a notch from just riding to truly training.

Garmin Edge 530 GPS Bike Computer - Consider

If you are on a tight budget, this is not the computer for you. If money is not something you concern yourself with, and you want one of the best GPS enabled bike computers, take a look at the Garmin Edge 510. The Edge 510 has live tracking, the ability to send and receive courses, social media sharing, and weather tracking. It gives you all the basic information you want and more. The live tracking feature allows your friends and family to follow you in real time while you are out riding. This is a feature packed bike computer.

Planet Bike Protege 9.0 Bicycle Computer - Best Bike Computer

The Protege 9.0 is a 9 function wireless computer. It will track all your basic information and can be switched between two bikes. This is a good computer for the beginner, someone who might be looking for their first bike computer and wants to test the waters before investing too much money. It has a back-lit display for those early morning or late evening rides. The Protege 9.0 won't break the bank.

Buyer's Guide

Bicycle GPS systems have traditionally been used by cyclists who wanted 'pure,' unadulterated navigation and path guiding. However, the way these devices are used has shifted dramatically. They now combine navigation with standard bike computer features, as well as connectivity to other devices like blood pressure monitors and power metres, into a single unit.

The GPS is no longer just a navigation device; it's also a dedicated training tool and ride tracker. Check this shopping guide to buy the best bicycle computers.

Why should you buy a bike computer and what to look for?

Navigation and maps

On-screen mapping is available on most riding computers. Most let you preload routes that you need to follow, and a few even let you renavigate while you're in the middle of them.

Smart notification

When you link your computer with your mobile phone, you'll get notifications right on your phone. Most will give you text messages and phone notifications, so you don't have to dig around in your pocket to see what's going on.

Power

If you're going to spend a lot of time in the saddle, you'll want something with extended battery life. Even when used sparingly, most cycling computers have a battery life of up to 18 hours.

Compatibility

Check the computer's capacity to connect to sensors and devices before purchasing an external power meter, heart rate monitor, or other devices to connect with it. It's possible to connect to more than one device at a time with ANT+ in most cases, but not all.

Screen's display and dimensions

In general, the more screen area you have, the easier it will be to read the content. Additionally, you won't have to scroll to see more information because of the larger screen display.

Larger units, on the other hand, can be bulky, encroach on your handlebar space, and add extra weight, which may irritate those of us who are weight-conscious.

What are different types of bicycle computers available?

Different types of bike computers have emerged in tandem with the evolution of bike computers' many functionalities. Types of bicycle computers today differ in terms of connectivity, analogy or digitality, GPS availability, and other characteristics.

Learn more about some of the most popular bike computers by taking a look at some examples.

Data analog bike computers

The market share of analogue computers is actually quite small. In comparison to digital alternatives, they're more expensive, large, and limited in functionality.

Basic wired and wireless computers

Common bike computers include wired and wireless basic models that are purchased and used by most cyclists today.

Because they are small and low-profile, they have little impact on a bicycle's appearance. Data is collected in many ways, with some being more comprehensive than others, but they all cost no more than $50.

If you buy one of these entry-level bicycle computers, you can count on getting speed, average speed, top speed, distance, time, and odometer as standard features. The cadence and estimated number of calories burned can also be seen in more complex versions.

In contrast to wireless bike computers, which do not require any wiring, wired cycling computers connect the main unit to the sensors using cables.

ANT+/GPS bicycle computers

Cycling computers with built-in GPS and ANT+ are available for a premium price and are aimed at serious cyclists and professional cyclists.

In addition to using the GPS receiver, you may download your route to another device and compare your time with other riders using an app like Strava.

Aside from that, you may use your computer to plan routes, which you can then transfer to your bike computer. It enables you to conveniently follow the path and alleviate the chances of you getting lost.

What role do computers play for bicycles?

Cycling computers collect and display valuable data using a simple but innovative technique. Their primary components are magnets, sensors, and processing units, and they typically come in three different sizes depending on the application.

The computer’s magnet is fastened on the front wheel, while the speed sensor is affixed to the fork's front end. To calculate other data, it uses information that is collected by the sensor each time a magnet passes through its path in front of it.

Bicycle computers require accurate wheel and tire diameter measurements to display accurate data. The distance and speed are calculated by multiplying the number of wheel spins by the circumference.

Sensors are available in two varieties: wired and wireless, but their working principle remains the same in both cases.

To get useful riding data, GPS-enabled bicycle computers make use of satellite-provided GPS information.

Which bike computer should you buy and how much does it cost?

Several factors must be considered when estimating how much money you should spend on a bike computer. One of the most critical factors to consider is your cycling style and the reasons for your desire for a bike computer.

Commuter/non-professional cyclist

You can get by with just a basic bike computer if you're a casual cyclist who commutes to and from work or school and enjoys easy weekend trips. If you want a bike computer with cadence, expect to pay at least $50 for one of these devices. Basic data like speed, distance, and time can usually be seen on these bike computers, so they're more than adequate for your purposes.

Dedicated cyclist

If you want to use your bike for exercise or touring, you'll want more features than the basic ones. A bike odometer will show you how far you've ridden your bike in total, as well as other useful information like your average speed, how many calories you've burned, and your top speed.

You'll have to go with up to $100 if you want these extra features on your bike computer.

Cyclists who compete professionally

A high-end GPS and ANT+ compatible device cost $200 or more if your goal is to use cycling to achieve fitness goals or compete. All of the features listed above are integrated by product engineers in the majority of cycling computers.

Bike Computer FAQ

Q: Is it worthwhile to invest in bike computers?

A: There is a specific use for cycling computers. They're designed to withstand crashes, be impervious to the elements, and be more aerodynamic. However, if you want to save money while also reducing the number of devices you own, opting for a smartphone is the best option.

Q: Is there a life span to bike computers?

A: Even with satellite navigation and ANT+ connectivity active, the battery life of most bike computers is at least 15 hours. Another thing to be mindful of is what kind of battery your device will require.

Q: Can I use GPS on bike computers?

A: Rather than relying on cables or magnets, GPS cycling computers use satellites to track your location and calculate your speed, distance, and time correctly. When you use one of these devices, you may submit your route and performance data (such as heart rate, cadence, and power) to a ride-logging service to see how well you did for fun or training.

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