A bike computer is a cycling device designed to track your performance down. Attached to the handlebar of your two-wheeled vehicle, a bike computer can gather a lot of information about your ride, fitness level, heart beat rate, and more.
If you’re new to cycling and want to find out more about these devices, read on. If you just want to find the right bike computer for you, check our selection using the links in the table below.
There is no doubt that a bike computer is essential for most cyclists. Personally, I love using it just to know how far I’ve gone and what was my top speed. However, there are many more information a bike computer can provide.
Ideal for both beginners and expert riders, these devices will make your cycling experience even more entertaining. Read our guide to learn how to choose one.
Types Of Bike Computers
On the market, there are various types of bike computers that can be divided into various categories based on their characteristics. Basically, we can distinguish between wired and wireless computers, or magnet and GPS computers.
Wired Vs. Wireless Bike Computers
The simplest versions of the bike computers, also called odometers, gather data through a sensor fixed on the fork of the bike and that detects how many times a magnet fixed on the front wheel passes in front of the sensor.
These devices can be either wired or wireless, meaning that the sensor can communicate with the computer fixed on the handlebar through a wire or through Bluetooth.
Both types of odometers gather the same information and most of the times they will only be able to display data regarding the speed, distance, and elapsed time. Most of these computers are not able to store the data, although most advanced models offer some storage space.
The main advantage of the wireless odometers is that they can be switched from one bike to another if you want to use multiple bikes. However, wired odometers are less expensive and probably the best solution for beginners.
Magnet Vs. GPS Bike Computers
I already described the two types of magnet bike computers above. However, some of the most advanced models use the GPS technology to track down the same information. These devices connect to the GPS and calculate the speed and distance based on the position and time.
These bike computers provide an accurate measurement of all the desired parameters and can be easily switched between the bikes. Moreover, you’ll not even have to set the size of the wheel or other variables to get an accurate measurement.
Although technologically more performing than the magnet computers, the GPS models are more expensive and often their price is not justified for beginner or leisure cyclists.
The top notch bike computer models use GPS to measure the speed and distance but they also boast additional features. In fact, the high end computers have integrated maps, are able to communicate with your smartphone, store the history of your performance, monitor your heart rate, and more. Useless to say that these are the most expensive models, usually preferred by the professional cyclists.
Bike Computer Vs. Smartphone
With the advent of technology and mobile apps, almost all mobile operating systems offer a wide range of cycling apps that can do more or less the same things as a bike computer. Therefore, the question arises! Why not use the smartphone and save on the bike computer?
Honestly, I can think of only one reason to replace the bike computer with the smartphone. You already own a smartphone. It ends there. Because even the best app can’t do what a bike computer can.
First of all, the battery of a smartphone drains much faster than that of a bike computer, assuming you have a top end bike computer model that needs recharging at all. On the other hand, even if both devices use GPS to gather data, the GPS of a bike computer is always more reliable than that of a smartphone.
A bike computer will also gather data in areas where there is no cell coverage, the maps are also more accurate and stored on the device, and you’ll not need an internet connection to use a bike computer.
How To Choose A Bike ComputerOnce you know why you need a bike computer and what is the difference between the models, you might want to find out how to choose one. Here is what you should consider.
Best Bike Computer To Track Down Your Performance
1. CatEye - Strada Wireless Cycle Computer
The Strada Wireless Cycle Computer is a great bike computer for the occasional cyclists who want to keep track of their daily performance. The computer uses a magnet and sensor system that detects the current speed, while a handlebar display shows the information.
The odometer is ideal to keep an eye on the current, maximum and average speed, total distance, elapsed time, clock, and pace. Moreover, the computer can be configured to calculate the parameters for two different bikes.
The odometer is designed to detect when the bike stopped for a short time, such as at a red light, and it stops counting the time and average speed to provide accurate results.
The computer is easy to install on the handlebar, easy to take off whenever needed, and all hardware needed for the installation is included in the package. The display unit is waterproof and built to withstand all weather elements.
2. CatEye - Velo 7 Bike Computer with Odometer and Speedometer
The Velo 7 by CatEye is a bike computer designed for the beginners but that can also satisfy the needs of more expert occasional cyclists. The computer is equipped with speedometer and odometer and it is able to register the current, max, and average speed, the total distance, elapsed time, current time, and more.
The computer uses a wired sensor to detect and register all information and it is ideal to be used by those cyclists who don’t switch between two or more bikes.
The odometer is also equipped with a sensor designed to detect the small stops and stop counting the average speed and elapsed time when the bike is not moving. This is important if you need an accurate measurement.
The computer, on the other hand, is made to last for a long time. You won’t have to change its battery for up to three years, so you can install it and forget it on the handlebar.
3. Raniaco Bike Computer Original Wireless Bicycle Speedometer
You don’t want to switch between bikes but would like a wireless device? Consider the Raniaco Bike Computer Original Wireless Bicycle Speedometer.
This bike computer is a wireless and waterproof device designed to gather all essential riding data and help you track your performance. In detail, the device will gather and display data regarding the current, average, and maximum speed, distance, time, and more.
The bike computer is suitable to use both during the day and during the night. A convenient backlight will allow you to track your performances even in low light conditions.
Moreover, the device comes with a 24-months warranty and the problems are addressed by a friendly customer support that provides a response to your issues in less than 24 hours.
4. SY Bicycle Speedometer and Odometer
The SY Bicycle Speedometer and Odometer is another fantastic wireless bike computer to consider if you don’t need a top notch device but just something to track down your performance. This computer is designed to monitor the speed and distance, the riding time, and a few other parameters.
The device is built for both day and night use and a backlight colors the display in bright green whenever a key is hit between 6 PM and 6 AM. Moreover, the computer is easy to set up and operate, and it is very intuitive.
Regarding the dimensions, the display is compact and lightweight. It fits well on most handlebars, it is easy to install, and it communicated with the sensor through a wireless system.
The auto wake-up function, on the other hand, is fantastic and designed to switch the device on automatically from stand-by mode, whenever the sensor detects vibration.
5. CatEye CC-PA100W Padrone
The last bike computer we want to talk about is the CatEye CC-PA100W Padrone, a speedometer, and odometer design to track and register all your favorite stats. The display unit shows you the current, average and max speed, the total and trip distance, the elapsed time, and the current time.
The device is equipped with intuitive controls that are easy to press on the ride and switch between functions. Moreover, the computer stores the miles and allow you to keep track of the old data even after changing the batteries.
This bike computer is easy to install thanks to the FlexTight bracket. It is also easy to take off whenever needed.
Another function we like is the fact that the device stops counting whenever the bike is not moving, allowing you to register accurate results.
Conclusion & Final Pick
The bike computer we liked best is the Strada Wireless Cycle Computer by CatEye. This device is perfect for beginners and occasional cyclists. It keeps track of the most relevant cycling information, it is easy to mount to the handlebar and easy to switch between bikes.
The computer is also really accurate for an average device, while all the other characteristics, including the battery’s life, truly impressed us.
Without a doubt, if you’re looking for a great bike computer that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, then this might be it!