Which bike computer is right?
The big bike computer test - Find your ideal bike computer
People are motivated by being able to track their athletic progress. For this, the recording of data is essential. Speed, altitude, pulse and time are measured by most bike computers. Thus, they also provide important values while cycling. In addition to measuring conventional data, many modern devices can also navigate and save routes planned in advance, for example. This is especially useful when exploring new routes and long tours. The market has produced increasingly better models for cycling in recent years. Garmin and Sigma are among the most popular manufacturers. At the same time, there are many alternatives from other producers. Depending on the functions you want the bike computer to have, there is an ideal device for you. It's worth comparing models to avoid paying money for features you'll never use. Here you can get information about the features and comparisons of the best bike computers.
- What is the difference between a bike speedometer and a bike computer?
- How do I set up the bike computer correctly?
- What functions do bike computers have?
- What do the bike computer abbreviations mean?
- How much does a good bike computer cost?
- What is the best bike computer?
- Which bike computers do the professionals have?
- What models are available?
What is the difference between a bike speedometer and a bike computer?
If you start thinking about data collection and navigation while cycling, you will encounter two terms: Bike speedometer and bike computer. It's easy to think that these two terms mean different things, but they mean the same thing. However, both mean the same thing. Colloquially, however, a bicycle speedometer is often understood as a device for speed measurement including odometer. Bicycle computers are seen as GPS-based models that can often also navigate. This is not always the case. A look at the available functions is essential before buying a device, no matter what name it bears. An alternative to the bike computer can be a smart watch. Here there are also variants with GPS function and navigation. These are often very expensive. Whether on a mountain bike, e-bike or as a road cyclist, a bike computer provides real added value for the next bike ride.
How do I set the bike computer correctly?
After the purchase, the selected bike computer can be attached to the bike. With the help of a usually supplied bracket, you usually attach the device to the handlebars, above the headset or in front of the stem. On the one hand, it is a matter of taste where the speedometer should be located. On the other hand, depending on the design of the bike, different positions are better or worse. In addition to the bracket and the device itself are usually a manual, mounting hardware, the appropriate battery and, if necessary, spoke magnet and sensor in the scope of delivery. Mounts are usually attached with a so-called O-ring, which is a strong rubber. No tools are necessary for this. Cable ties are also often used instead of the rubber for fastening. Bicycle computers also differ in whether they include a wireless connection. Devices with wireless connection work wirelessly. Mostly they are marked with ANT+. Only the spoke magnet, receiver and the sensor must be attached to the front wheel. For models without radio, a cable must also be laid, which is attached tightly to the handlebars and bike frame. If you have different sensors on the bike, such as to measure the cadence, of course, all must be controlled with the cable. Wireless models are therefore easier to install, but they are often more expensive. In addition, two batteries must be changed here from time to time. If the model is wired, only one battery is needed. Interfering signals can affect the radio transmission, as there are devices that run via standard radio. Many new devices now work via Bluetooth. Wired transmission, on the other hand, succeeds immediately. Many bicycle tachometers require manual input of the wheel circumference for configuration. Based on this, the number of revolutions of the tire can be evaluated later. The best way to measure the wheel circumference is with a flexible measuring tape. Other values that may need to be entered can be found in the operating instructions. GPS-based models eliminate the need to enter the wheel circumference and attach sensors. GPS bike computers therefore also do not require sensors.
What functions do bike computers have?
Most standard models primarily determine the speed. This includes data such as the maximum speed or the average speed. Riding time and kilometers ridden are also standard. Total kilometers are displayed with "odo", daily kilometers run under "trip". Other possible functions are calorie display, altimeter, temperature display or measurement of the crank revolution, i.e. the cadence. Cadence is measured as the number of crank revolutions per minute. A low cadence for beginners is about 50 revolutions per minute. Especially for long distances, the ideal range of cadence is between 70 and 100 revolutions. A frequency that is too slow puts a strain on the musculoskeletal system. Muscles and ligaments are strained, which is particularly noticeable in the knees. The cadence measurement is done by retrofitting a cadence sensor on the pedal crank and the rear. For the measurement of altitude meters, an integrated GPS system is usually necessary. There is also the possibility of a barometric altitude measurement. In this case, the air pressure is measured, as this decreases with increasing altitude. The heart rate can also be measured. To get accurate values a pulse belt or a pulse watch including a sensor is necessary. Pulse measurement is interesting for several reasons. On the one hand, you can better manage your strength and protect yourself from overload if you do not reach too high a value for your pulse. Secondly, you can optimize your training if you know when you are training in aerobic or anaerobic metabolism. Models should also be water resistant. As a rule, models are said to be resistant to splashing water. You can often find out how well they perform in the rain by reading numerous test reports on the Internet before making a purchase decision. Stiftung Warentest, for example, offers high-quality reports. GPS-based devices sometimes have the navigation function integrated. In conjunction with this, routes planned on the computer can be transferred to the device and displayed. Many bike computers offer the option of transferring data to a computer or app. This allows you to keep an even closer eye on your own progress. A very popular app for keeping track of one's athleticism is Strava. There are models that let you turn a backlight on and off. The more functions are used in parallel, the more battery the device needs. For this reason, standard models usually last for months without charging or new batteries. Bike computers with very extensive capabilities have significantly lower battery life and sometimes do not last for a day's ride. While modern models are powered by rechargeable batteries, devices with little function are often powered by button batteries and flat cells. Especially with modern devices, there are always updates that say for the system to run stable.
What do the abbreviations on the bike computer mean?
Since there are limited display options on a display, values are abbreviated. Total kilometers are abbreviated with "odo", daily kilometers with "trip". Altitude meters are shown as "ALTI". If a device is advertised as "ATS", it is a wireless bike computer. The ATS wireless system offers radio up to 70 cm range. The so-called STS wireless system has a greater range of 90 cm, which is additionally less susceptible to interference. "CAD" stands for cadence. Near Field Communication, or "NFC" for short, stands for the function that the bike computer can communicate directly with the smartphone.
|Gesamtkilometer||Tages kilometer||Höhen meter||kabelloser Fahrrad computer||Tritt frequenz||Near field communication|
How much does a good bike computer cost?
The price range for bike computers is enormous. After both very simple devices with few functions, as well as models with high-resolution displays and navigation are available on the market, these large differences arise. Standard bike tachos are already available from about 15 €. Modern devices including a variety of functions can quickly cost several hundred euros. Models for 500€ or more are available on the market. To name a price as a quality criterion is impossible due to the variance between the models. In principle, however, it does not always have to be the most expensive device if a lot of its capabilities are not used.
What is the best bike computer?
Which bike computer is best suited depends on the individual requirements. Depending on what is important to you, there are different suitable models. At the same time, bike computers can not only measure data. One can track a development in one's own form or track training goals better through one's own progress. It is important before buying a device to see exactly what functions it has. The models available on the market differ greatly from each other. Even different bike computers from the same manufacturer can have a similar sounding name and still have big differences in their functions. So before the search for the ideal model starts, some preliminary consideration is needed. Do I want to train more specifically? Then the option of transferring data to a computer or app is interesting in order to have an overview of all data. In addition, the device should be able to be supplemented by a heart rate belt. Do I want to check my performance without pursuing a specific goal? Then an inexpensive model with the standard functions might be enough. Is navigation from A to B important to me? A GPS-based device with the appropriate function is the right choice. Do I drive in wind and weather? Resistance to various weather conditions is definitely one of the purchase criteria here. The bike computer must then be advertised as waterproof. Other factors such as the operation or the display are very individual. Often in the first place is the question of price. Since devices with all conceivable functions go hand in hand with a hearty grip on the wallet, we offer a more in-depth guide in the form of a bike computer comparison in the lower part of the article.
Which bike computers do the pros have?
The purpose of the bike computer is also important for professional cyclists. Here, the focus is often on checking one's own performance. Professionals often receive sponsored devices from advertising partners. Big brands like Garmin or Wahoo equip them. Expensive top models and new releases are usually placed. There is little value in going by these. After all, the needs of a competitive athlete are usually different from those of a hobby cyclist.
What models are available?
Various manufacturers have made a name for themselves on the market because of their bike computers. These include Garmin, Polar, Sigma, Ciclo Sport, Wahoo, FORTRY, ICOCOPRO or Marwi. In the following, some models are presented together with their functions. Whether for daily use, to target training goals planned or to be prepared for weather changes during long rides, the market offers suitable devices for every demand. The prices mentioned are based on the current amount shown on Amazon. Of course, not all excellent bike computers can be listed here. If a model that you are thinking about buying is missing, this does not have to have anything to do with the value of the device.
- Standard models for everyday riding
Sigma BC 500
The most important functions are displayed by this wired bike computer. For beginners, usually rather inexpensive models like this are worthwhile. You can buy it already for about 10€.
ICOCOPRO bike computer
In addition to collecting all the basic values, this model is not only splash-proof, but completely waterproof. Thanks to the possibility of backlighting, it can also be used at dusk and night without any problems. In terms of price, the Icocopro is around 25€.
Sigma BC 9.16
Light weight, standard values and splash water protection promises this device. The indicated calorie consumption can only be seen as an estimate, since no body-related values such as gender, weight or height can be entered. The device can be read out on a computer with an additionally purchasable docking station and free software. Available both with cable or wireless for about 25€.
Sigma BC 12.12
The Sigma BC 12.12 is a good entry-level model. Here, the data collected by the sensor is transmitted to the device via cable. The BC 12.12 measures values such as average speed, maximum speed and daily and total riding time and distance. It is priced at around 20€.
Sigma Sport Pure 1
Standard values are displayed in a three-line function display. Common tire sizes are already pre-programmed, so the appropriate one must only be selected. Easy handling and mounting are further plus points. It is also available wirelessly for about 25 €.
Other popular standard models with the most important functions are, for example, the Ciclosport CM 4.1, VDO M1, VDO M2, or the Sigma Sport 5.16.
Sigma BC 500: Icocopro bike computer:
- Multi-talents with additional functions
Sigma BC 14.16 STS
With 14 functions and radio technology for wireless transmission of the collected data such as speed, distance, slope and average values. The Sigma BC 14.16 STS can be used on two bikes. It is available from 30€.
Both GPS and altitude measurement are available in addition to the basic values. To track their own training goals, analysis functions are integrated. It is available with extended bike metrics for 200€.
The GPS-based computer comes with a large display and barometric altimeter. It works wirelessly and can be paired with external sensors. Price-wise, it comes in at around 50€.
The wireless device includes a heart rate monitor, cadence sensor and can be used on two different bikes. Each has its own memory space. The model is convincing with a particularly accurate measurement of the driven kilometers. For about 50€, it offers great value for money.
Ciclo Sport CM 4.4
In addition to the standard values, the device also measures the altitude and has an integrated tachometer and thermometer. It is corded. Plus points for the accurate measurements and easy handling and clear display. The Cyclo Sport CM 4.4 costs about 20 €.
Other popular bike computers with a variety of functions are the Sigma 16.12, Ciclosport CM 2.21, Sigma 14.16, VDO M6.1 or Sigma Rox 6.
Polar M460: VDO M5: Cycplus M1:
- All-rounder with integrated navigation system
Garmin Edge Explore
The GPS bike computer offers navigation function, touchscreen and a large display. The Garmin Edge Explore comes with a chest strap, so in addition to a variety of functions, heart rate measurement is also possible. It can be connected with apps. A map of Europe is already preinstalled. With this, you are very well equipped. Around 200€ have to be invested for it.
Garmin Edge 130
For a navigation device, this model is very light and has a compact size. It can be paired with the smartphone and is also around 200€.
Tahuna Teasi One4
Wireless, this model offers the most important functions in addition to measuring heart rate and cadence. Routes can be calculated quickly. Sensors can be connected via Bluetooth. A large display including touch screen lets the pre-installed map of Europe appear, also already planned routes can be retrieved. Six different profiles support not only cycling, but also hiking or skiing. For around 150€, a great price-performance ratio is offered here.
Falk Tiger GEO
The Falk Tiger GEO bike computer offers map material for Europe and is suitable for both biking and hiking. It works with a touch screen and is waterproof. The next best model, the "Tiger Pro", also includes a premium map of Germany. The best model, the "Tiger Blu" also works with Bluetooth. In terms of price, the basic model "Geo" is around 75€.
Sigma Rox 11 GPS
There are different models here, the basic model starts at a price of about 170€. For that, you get a powerful computer with classic functions plus a thermometer and altimeter. Navigation is done without a real animated map. Sensors are controlled via Bluetooth. For about 100€ you get a cheap model despite the ability to navigate.
Other popular models with integrated navigation are, for example, the Garmin Edge 1030, Garmin 820 or Sigma Rox 7.
Garmin Edge Explore: Tahuna Teasi One 4: Sigma Rox 11 GPS:
Before buying it is important to think through a few things. In addition to the desired range of functions, one is faced with the decision of whether cable or radio transmission, whether the data should be transferable to a computer or an app, whether navigation is required, whether heart rate and cadence should be measured during the bike tour and, of course, the price one is willing to pay. Manufacturers often offer models with very similar designations. Sometimes a different number at the end of the model name can cause serious differences within the functions. A very close look is important here. If you take all these factors into account when buying, the selected bike computer can bring real added value. Not only does it provide useful support for achieving training goals. It also brings a lot of fun and motivation to monitor its own data. The buycycle team will be happy to help you with any bike-related issues.
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