Author Topic: Computer Recommendations  (Read 659 times)

Computer Recommendations
« on: March 21, 2017, 08:55:45 am »
Hi folks. I am brand new to the forum and fairly new to cycling in general. I only started cycling regularly and semi-seriously early last year as a means to keep fit. I started by cycling to and from my office job and it has kind of developed from there. I’m learning and improving, but I'm still very green behind the ears. Anyway, I was just wondering whether anybody could recommend a good cycling computer. I’d like to start tracking my rides and stats a bit more accurately than I am currently doing with my iPhone. You can’t manage what you don’t measure as the saying goes. But I'm not really sure what I need at this stage in my cycling journey and don't want to overspend. At the same time I don't want to waste money on a cheap Chinese import that will only last 5 minutes before breaking. I did an Amazon search and came across Bryton, who appear to offer a good range of products and price. I also found a few for sale here: http://www.for-sale.ie/cycling-computer But I guess there are others on the market. Any recommendations folks? Thanks in advance for any pointers.


PaulF

  • "World's Scariest Barman"
  • It's only impossible if you stop to think about it
Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2017, 09:08:39 am »
Personally I use my iPhone to track my rides, seems accurate enough to me. You could then get a a case to mount it on the bars or use something like a RFLKT to mirror what's on the phone.

What statistics do you want to capture? And what do you want to do with them?

The "first generation" computers will simply measure distance/time/speed and little more and can probably be found for less than £20. Then there's a big step up to GPS enabled devices (including smartphones) that can measure the same things but also track where you've been, speeds etc. over the ride and also provide navigation to tell you where to go. If you add additional sensors you can also measure heartrate, cadence etc.

caerau

  • SR x 3 - PBP fail but 1090 km - hey - not too bad
Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2017, 09:16:23 am »
Why is your iPhone not accurate if you don't mind me asking?


When I started like yourself four or five years back I went off an bought a Cateye thing as I read on cycling forums that it was desperately important to measure cadence. So I got the kit for that.  I found that after about 5 rides of that I could just tell my cadence from memory really by then, plus it wasn't remotely important for what I was doing which was essentially pootling at my own pace and building up distance.  I cared about speed though and slope gradients, overall time and once I got to longer distances, navigation.
In the end it was decided for me when my brother bought me a very overpowered Garmin Edge 800 for Christmas (a most overly generous present at that)


As said, what do you actually want to know?  That is what defines it. 


This is a good place to be.  Other cycling forums will tell you need to know heart rate, cadence, power blah de blah.  This place right here is much more sensible.


If you want to race, then yes, those things are important, if not then probably you won't care after a few tries at it...
If you want to do audax which is the general perversion around here then they may or may not be of interest, but you will probably want a navigation function.


Personally I think your iPhone is just fine unless you are going long distances and battery is an issue.  Plenty of accessories for your iPhone to do all of the above but a dedicate computer does have advantages such as being waterproof and having a much longer lasting battery...
Look out here I come!

Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2017, 09:18:41 am »
Hi, and welcome, someone will be along in a moment to move this over to "Knowledge" ;)

If you can afford one, something with GPS that lets you upload to Strava and the like will be far more fun, but a simple computer showing speed, average speed and distance that you can leave on the bike and costs flumpence ha'penny is probably the place to start, something like this

caerau

  • SR x 3 - PBP fail but 1090 km - hey - not too bad
Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2017, 10:11:13 am »
Personally I think the iPhone will be more accurate than that.  And free, seeing as you've already got one.
I found with my Cateye that it only took the various sensors a wee bump to be knocked away so nothing was measured unless I stopped and fixed it and it was sensitive to low temperatures and such so didn't work during winter training.
Look out here I come!

Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2017, 10:33:23 am »
Phones work just fine - but they are expensive things, do you want to take the risk of them being destroyed in bad weather or an accident?

You can put them in a waterproof bag, set them to record and plug in an external battery pack. That will record your ride for when you get home.
Then stick a cheap cycle computer on your bars to give you current speed, average speed and distance while you are riding. Cateye are ok, any of the bottom of the cateye range work just fine.
Wired cycle computers can suffer in the rain (water buildup on the contacts), a smear of vaseline helps. All of the wireless models seem to be vulnerable to interference from RF from passing cars.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2017, 11:20:22 am »
I'd just get a basic Garmin. If you're not needing mapping, something like a (used?) Edge 500 or 25 should be fine, and you can always add HRM/cadence/power later on if you wish (personally I like having numbers, but I realise not everyone does!). I used to have a basic cycle computer but wouldn't go back to one, having had an Edge 500 for several years now.

Karla

  • car(e) free
Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2017, 12:46:44 pm »
If you just want the basic numbers and a recording of your track, the Garmin 200 can be had for £58 here.  There are some other low-cost options from other manufacturers listed on road.cc.
Latest tour journal: Bucharest to Berlin

Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2017, 03:14:24 am »
Thanks for the replies everybody. I think I may have been over-thinking this from the outset. I just assumed that an iPhone app wouldn't be as accurate as an actual stand-alone computer. But if this isn't the case and my iPhone will work just as well (as most of you seem to agree on) I think I'll just continue using it. I'd always have it with me when I cycle anyway so it makes no difference.

Kim

  • An appetite for the epic, but no real stamina
Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2017, 02:10:56 pm »
My eTrex 30 *is* a better GPS receiver than my phone (2nd generation Moto G).  It has GLONASS capability (which means it has more satellites available, improving performance in urban areas), and a barometric altimeter which greatly improves the accuracy of elevation readings.  It's also waterproof, easy to read in bright sunlight, runs for about 24 hours on a pair of AA batteries and is relatively unlikely to break if you drop it.  But if it's just for logging shorter rides, a phone in a pocket/bag is a valid option, and will out-perform the dedicated GPS receivers of a few years ago.  I'm not keen on handlebar mounting phones, but YMMV.

I have traditional cycle computers on my bikes too, mainly because I don't always want to bother with a GPS[1] but like to keep track of mileage, sometimes find it useful to have a clock visible, and because it maintains individual bike-specific odometers without any active effort.  Having a traditional computer *and* a GPS allows you to display more things at the same time.

I prefer wired computers, because they're more reliable.  People make a lot of fuss about water getting to the connections, which is a problem I've literally never had, while wireless ones are either expensive ANT+/BluetoothLE ones, or crappy nearfield induction based, which makes them finicky about range and susceptible to interference.  I don't know how typical it is of the species, but my one wireless computer[2] requires you to remember to press a button to wake it up before riding, which is rubbish for maintaining an lifetime odometer on a utility bike.


[1] Typically, I use a GPS for Bike Rides™ where I'm vaguely interested in logging performance and don't bother when using a bike for transport, unless I need it to navigate to somewhere unfamiliar.
[2] A relatively posh one with accelerometer-based Ant+ sensors on a low-racer recumbent where the magnets and wiring for traditional sensors would be impractical.
Watching the TV without subtitles is like riding up a hill without using the gears :)

Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2017, 02:23:47 pm »
I've also got a wireless comp which requires you to wake it up. It's a Cateye Velo (such an inventive name) but I don't know if it's typical of all Cateyes. There was nothing on the box to indicate this would be necessary. I've never had any interference or range problems.

One of the advantages of a conventional computer over a GPS is that I feel I can leave it on the bike all the time. I wouldn't want to leave a Garmin on the bike outside a shop or wherever, cos it's an item that's obviously sellable. But to my mind they serve different purposes; comp is for speed, distance and so on, Garmin is simply to tell me which way to go.
Pleasure spreads out on the map and the knapsack is full of joy.

Kim

  • An appetite for the epic, but no real stamina
Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2017, 02:36:00 pm »
One of the advantages of a conventional computer over a GPS is that I feel I can leave it on the bike all the time.

Absolutely.  Back when I lived in That London, I'd habitually remove the computer (along with battery lights, etc) when locking up my bike.

I re-thought that after losing a computer due to it falling out of my pocket unnoticed.  Since then I've just left the computer on the bike, and never had one nicked.  It seems that's the safer option.  I wouldn't leave a GPS attached unless I was stopping at a rural cafe/pub/petrol station or similar where the bike wasn't going to be out of sight.


Quote
But to my mind they serve different purposes; comp is for speed, distance and so on, Garmin is simply to tell me which way to go.

This too, although the OP seems interested in logging rather than navigation.  I don't see much point in GPS-logging utility trips[1], because a GPX file dominated by traffic light timings and the accumulation of motor vehicles doesn't really tell me anything more interesting than a distance and average speed.


[1] Other than if your objective for the data is uploading to Strava (or similar), logging a ride using the app is easier (or at least less error-prone) than transcribing the numbers from a bike computer at the end of the ride.
Watching the TV without subtitles is like riding up a hill without using the gears :)

Re: Computer Recommendations
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2017, 10:07:42 am »
I used to log all my rides on mycyclinglog.com. Utility rides I'd amass and enter as one amalgamated total every fortnight or so, while "rides" were entered individually. This meant tours fell between the two, as I would get home with a total for that tour and not really be able to split it into separate days. But sometime last year I gave up logging them at all. About the same time I gave up on monthly distance targets, probably! In fact, I really enjoyed riding a bike without any data whatsoever for a couple of months, but I've added a comp (wireless) to that as well now. Horses for courses and attitudes for platitudes and all that.
Pleasure spreads out on the map and the knapsack is full of joy.