As the joke goes, “Once you’ve bought the bike, cycling is a cheap sport.” There seems to be a never-ending list of accessories and upgrades. One optional item is whether to use your phone to record your ride or buy a bike computer.
Simplicity – You already have a phone, so you only have one device
Cost – All you need to buy is a bracket to hold your phone
Versatility- Easy access to maps, the closest store, and the web
Risk – If it is damaged and doesn’t work, you’re in big trouble
Battery life – Constantly searching your location drains the battery
Wear and tear – Exposing it to heat and humidity shortens its life
Right tool – They are designed to do one thing, and they do it well
Battery – Long battery life. Some computers claim to last 17 hours
Environment – They operate over a wide range of temperatures
Cost – They can cost hundreds of dollars
Details – One more thing to charge and put on your bike
Limited – They don’t have all the features of a phone
I’m sure you can come up with many more. I finally bought a bike computer after years of phone failures. Here are a few.
I hit a bump on the Five-O Ride, and my phone flew off my bike. My protective case exploded when it hit the ground and the phone was run over by a truck. Incredibly, it was still working, and I just needed to replace the screen.
With constant exposure to the weather, I had to have my phone repaired at least once a year. It wouldn’t charge due to corrosion.
I had to bring an external battery to charge my phone on long rides such as New Bern. Also, on hot days, the phone would shut down due to overheating.
Phones are better now, but exposing them to the weather for hundreds of hours a year can’t be good. Also, they can be a significant distraction. Therefore, I highly recommend investing in a bike computer such as a Garmin or Wahoo.
Here is a cycling tip on what to consider before buying one:
Also, here is a video that compares the two: