1. Types of Cycling ComputersBasic
These only have basic displays with speed, distance, ride duration and time. It’s unlikely they’ll feature much connectivity beyond USB support. But again, it shouldn’t be much of an issue if you just need basic data. A good basic one to begin with would be the Cateye Padrone.
You’ll get a bigger display, a customizable color screen, navigation, connectivity options (BT, Ant+, WiFi), and instant upload to your favorite online applications such as Strava. The Wahoo Element Bolt and Garmin Edge 520 Plus are some examples.
Premium ones take the features of mid-level computers and amplify them with advanced navigation, training modes, increased storage options, long-lasting batteries, sharper displays, bigger screens, and much more. The Garmin Edge 1030 is probably the most feature packed.
Mid to high end ones tend to come bundled with various accessories such as the heart rate monitor, speed sensor and cadence sensors. These are optional extras. but if you’re a data geek, you might want to seriously consider getting them.
3. Screen, User Interface and Ease of Use
Some models come with fully customizable screens with various data fields while some aren’t. They also range from full touchscreen to button operated, with some having a hybrid of both. It all boils down to your personal preference and how comfortable you’re with it.
4. Powerful Battery
In general, the more features, the less battery life it will offer. A model with a large, dynamic and color screen with tons of connectivity options may have a shorter life than a basic one with small monochrome displays.
5. Connectivity for Transferring Training Data
Wireless connectivity will either be a make or break feature depending on what you want to do with your ride data. If you’re using apps like Strava or MapMyRide, or sensors like power meters and heart rate monitors, then you’ll want to go with one that has ANT+ and/or Bluetooth capabilities.
6. Mounting Option
In recent years, a far more popular and sleek option is the aftermarket mounting systems that place your cycling computer ahead of your stem. They’re generally referred to as out-front mount. These mounts are popular in large part because of their adjust-ability as they can be tilted up or down depending on your viewing preference.
7. Turn by Turn NavigationIf you’re intending to stay put on roads you know like the back of your hand, then you probably don’t need much, if any, navigation. But, if you’d like to discover new roads, or like to create routes at home and upload them to your cycling computer so that it can guide you along the route, then choose a computer with an advanced navigation.
Quote of the week: “Every man has his limits and I have reached mine.” A rider who I passed walking his bike up the last hill of the BSG race.
Here are a couple of videos that will help you decide the right bike computer for you: