Cycle computer

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
Alan D
Posts: 1665
Joined: 27 Mar 2008, 1:29pm
Location: South Oxfordshire

Cycle computer

Postby Alan D » 11 Sep 2015, 3:08pm

I'm thinking of buying a cycle computer and, quite frankly, don't have a clue where to start looking.
I'd like to have the display of a map, e.g. Ordnance Survey style, with a marker that shows me where I am.
I'm guessing that recording of metrics e.g. time, distance, elevation, speed etc are a given.
It would also be neat if it displays where to turn at the next junction for following a pre-set route or for reaching a pre-set destination.
Interfacing with my PC for download/upload.
Do these things need the taking out of a pay subscription to access maps?
Where to buy, how much I can expect to pay?

So any suggestions as to where to start looking? What's worth looking at? Any lemons to pass by? What sort of specifications are important.
I'm going to the Cycle Show in 2 weeks, so this will be an opportunity to see whats there, but it would be helpful to know what I'm looking at.

Also, is one of these suitable for doubling as a car sat-nav?

Any suggestions gratefully appreciated.
Alan

mercalia
Posts: 10559
Joined: 22 Sep 2013, 10:03pm
Location: london South

Re: Cycle computer

Postby mercalia » 11 Sep 2015, 5:39pm

I really wonder whether those that display a map where you are are worth the money, IF you have it mounted on the bike. question, how easy is it to see the display of a smartphone in daylight especially bright sunlight? I have a simple cycle computer that just gives me the basic odometer info that uses a transreflective screen ( kindle like), cost £4 from ebay. For maps etc I have an old pocket pc for that that also has such a screen that gets better the brighter the sun is that I keep in a bar bag.

Psamathe
Posts: 9791
Joined: 10 Jan 2014, 8:56pm

Re: Cycle computer

Postby Psamathe » 11 Sep 2015, 9:50pm

A lot must depend on your budget and functionality.

Personally I like the basic cycle computer (speed, distance, av. speed ODO, etc.). You can pay a bit more and get things like altitude, cadence, etc.

I've been through many wireless ones and I've found them all to be "pretty rubbish" and eventually gone back to a basic (decent quality) cabled one - easy to route the cable neatly. Main issues with wireless ones are duff readings on both analogue wireless and digital wireless (riding alone). One used to record phantom miles when off the bike. So I'd take it off the bike and wander round Waitrose and come out having done some extra distance rather slowly so my av. speed had dropped significantly. One digital wireless model had me going at over 50 mph at one point - except I was actually stationary waiting at a road junction with the sensor magnet well clear of the sensor !! One (again, digital) would read e.g. 12 mph so I'd pedal harder and speed-up and still 12 mph and after a bit I'd give-up and slow down agin and the speed would increase to 14 mph - basically very very "laggy". Cabled one does not suffer such issues.

But you can pay a lot more for GPS based ones - and I've never used one (I use my phone) so cannot comment on such devices.

Ian

Tangled Metal
Posts: 5231
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: Cycle computer

Postby Tangled Metal » 11 Sep 2015, 10:02pm

I use ALDI wireless one. Simple speed, distance and average speed. Then I use Strava on smartphone tucked into a topeak top tube bag. Start Strava, tuck phone away (Strava pauses after 10s if you take awhile to get going) then ride. Cheapo computer shows me what I need when.riding even if inaccurate it is close enough. Top speed I never trust but then I use Strava for the actual records so the ride computer is only for average speed, current speed and distance. It's accurate enough with these IMHO.

I'm thinking about something better with a reliable HRM plus other sensor compatibility. Mapping is paper maps for me but I've the phone if GPS navigation is needed. Plus I'm not too bothered if I leave the cheapo ALDI wireless computer on the locked up bike and it gets nicked.

bainbridge
Posts: 205
Joined: 26 Oct 2014, 7:19pm

Re: Cycle computer

Postby bainbridge » 11 Sep 2015, 10:04pm

A simple wired or wireless bike computer can be had for a fiver and they're great for recording and displaying speed, distance, the time of day etc.

If you want something with navigation that's different, you'll need a GPS unit and they are massively more expensive.

We bought Garmin Touring GPS units for £125 each for a tour across Europe earlier this year. WE bought them in Feb and by the time we went away in April we'd sussed them out along the way and they're fantastic. Took a while to learn the limitations of the device but once that's established we learned to operate within those limits and it performed superbly, one of the best bits of touring kit I ever bought.

Once purchased you don't have to pay any subscription fees or anything, just the electricity to charge the thing up.

The fat commuter
Posts: 292
Joined: 12 May 2014, 7:54pm
Location: The hilly side of Sheffield

Re: Cycle computer

Postby The fat commuter » 11 Sep 2015, 10:38pm

Psamathe wrote:Main issues with wireless ones are duff readings on both analogue wireless and digital wireless (riding alone). One used to record phantom miles when off the bike.

Magnetic fields cause phantom speed readings. Place it close to the hard drive of a laptop and it would do almost 50mph. One of the lifts at work gives a reading as the lift doors close.

Wired computer used to give the same reading day on day. In fact, it would tell me when to pump the tyres up as it would record an extra couple of hundredths of a mile. My wireless computer could be out by quarter of a mile or more. The only reason I no longer have a wired computer is it jumped off my bike and a car ran it over.

Anyhow, back to the OP and the original question - sorry, don't have the answer.

maxcherry
Posts: 664
Joined: 22 Mar 2011, 5:53pm

Re: Cycle computer

Postby maxcherry » 11 Sep 2015, 10:51pm

I do well with good ole Garmin 800 (discontinued) Got all the bits and bobs so it makes me happy.
Cruse the online cycle stores and look at YouTube and see what takes your fancy.
As for phones, battery life and dropability (think that's a word) plus rain and what ever the uk weather has may be a drawback.
Honestly chaps, I'm a female!

Alan D
Posts: 1665
Joined: 27 Mar 2008, 1:29pm
Location: South Oxfordshire

Re: Cycle computer

Postby Alan D » 12 Sep 2015, 10:41am

Most of the time, I'd just stick to a few 'standard' routes around my way. I'd get the bike out with absolutely no plan, but then find myself doing the same old route again.
Occasionally, I'd pick somewhere that I have not seen before, and have to take my OS 1:50K scale map in my pocket, stopping to open it out at just about every junction once I'm on unfamiliar ground.
Keep promising myself that next year I'll do some Audax'es; thought that it would help if I don't have to keep stopping to check my route.

I saw someone with a Garmin device on a ride once and thought that it looked pretty neat. I don't have a smartphone or tablet, just a basic phone and a PAYG SIM. As for budget, I was thinking I could afford up to £150.

Flinders
Posts: 3010
Joined: 10 Mar 2009, 6:47pm

Re: Cycle computer

Postby Flinders » 13 Sep 2015, 1:41pm

mercalia wrote:I really wonder whether those that display a map where you are are worth the money, IF you have it mounted on the bike. question, how easy is it to see the display of a smartphone in daylight especially bright sunlight? I have a simple cycle computer that just gives me the basic odometer info that uses a transreflective screen ( kindle like), cost £4 from ebay. For maps etc I have an old pocket pc for that that also has such a screen that gets better the brighter the sun is that I keep in a bar bag.



I find all electronic displays can be difficult to read in strong sunlight. Being an old git these days I can't read gadgets like the Satmap without my reading specs, either, which would be inconvenient on the bike. :cry:

beardy
Posts: 3382
Joined: 23 Feb 2010, 4:10pm

Re: Cycle computer

Postby beardy » 13 Sep 2015, 1:52pm

Have a look at the Garmin Etrex 20.

It is within your budget and does what you ask, free mapping is available.

I think that it does the .tcx files as well as the .gpx files that Audax orgainsers often provide.
The .tcx files contain the little on screen instructions that the route's author can add, I think.

mercalia
Posts: 10559
Joined: 22 Sep 2013, 10:03pm
Location: london South

Re: Cycle computer

Postby mercalia » 13 Sep 2015, 7:15pm

Flinders wrote:
mercalia wrote:I really wonder whether those that display a map where you are are worth the money, IF you have it mounted on the bike. question, how easy is it to see the display of a smartphone in daylight especially bright sunlight? I have a simple cycle computer that just gives me the basic odometer info that uses a transreflective screen ( kindle like), cost £4 from ebay. For maps etc I have an old pocket pc for that that also has such a screen that gets better the brighter the sun is that I keep in a bar bag.



I find all electronic displays can be difficult to read in strong sunlight. Being an old git these days I can't read gadgets like the Satmap without my reading specs, either, which would be inconvenient on the bike. :cry:


you probably havent seen the likes of the old pda ( pocket pc, hmm 2006 I think last?) displays as no smartphone have their type of display - they get brighter the more sun there is, dont need to use a backlight at all, can use the sun light reflected back. Who said the latest is the best? I got my Fugitsu Loox N560 from ebay for £10, Memory Map software still works on them - mine also has gps that I rarely use

pickerd1
Posts: 36
Joined: 31 Mar 2014, 5:05pm

Re: Cycle computer

Postby pickerd1 » 15 Sep 2015, 1:21pm

Hi all,
I have a Garmin Edge 1000 for which I paid too much. It was on offer from Wiggle or Halfords I think.
It has wireless cadence and speed sensors, and also a heart rate monitor.
Features wise it is fully loaded: maps, satnav guidance etc
It also interfaces nicely with Strava and Garmin connect so that you can see all your ride data on your PC / smart phone.

Ok so how good is it?
Initially it was quite poor: it crashed when navigating and the speed reading often dropped to zero for a period.
After a few free firmware updates it is now very good and reliable.
The display is very good - with maps being just about big enough for me to read without reading glasses from a riding position.
You scroll between customisable screens that display the data / maps you wish to see.
The hard controls are easy to use.
The touchscreen is a little more awkward but after a while you get used to it.

I use it in 3 basic ways:
1 - where I know the route - I simply use it to display and record speed, cadance, distance, time etc. It is good for this application but it's too expensive if this is all you want it for.
2 - where I am following a pre mapped route - the Edge gives turn by turn guidance. This mode uses more battery charge, but it will last all day. The route can be downloaded from www sources or created on line, a gpx or tcx file is downloaded into the Edge. I have used this mode when touring and now the firmware has been updated it is very good.
3 - where I follow the map - this is a new way of going for a ride for me - I just ride away from home on roads I know, then take an unknown turn down any old lane and see where it leads. With the Edge I can then navigate around through previously unknown territory without getting too lost and I can do this interactively (without stopping at every turn to look at a map). By selecting the right zoom of the map you can see ahead sufficiently to plan your route on the fly. This is a great way of riding that I would not feel confident doing without the Edge.

I have bought an additional speed and cadence sensor kit for another bike. This too was expensive.

Overall the Edge 1000 does everything I want it to do plus it has added a new dimension to my riding experience. It is therefore worth the money!

freeflow
Posts: 1190
Joined: 29 Aug 2011, 1:54pm

Re: Cycle computer

Postby freeflow » 15 Sep 2015, 3:41pm

If you have a smartphone it will likely do all that you require.

ipbike for displaying map, route and stats from any ANT+ or BTLE sensors you have for power, cadence, speed etc.

osmand running in the background for voice instructions.

Both apps use downloadable maps so don't need a data connection.

Sony Xperia phones have good waterproofing. Some Samsung phones are also waterproof.

I've just replaced my Xperia Z Ultra with Another Xperia Z Ultra after 18 months hard use (over 6000km strapped to the handlebars). The reason, I dropped it on some stairs. Its a late 2013 phone but an absolute steal at £220.

http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/p ... 495204.htm (Usual place www.expansys.com don't seem to have stock any more).

You will need an external battery for rides over 100km. If you don't like that have a look at compact versions e.g. Xperia Z3 compact.

pickerd
Posts: 104
Joined: 22 Mar 2015, 7:01pm

Re: Cycle computer

Postby pickerd » 15 Sep 2015, 3:59pm

I agree with 'freeflow'. I have tried this way forward.
The problem I had was my phone's battery life wasn't good enough to operate on GPS all day and it wasn't waterproof.
I tried a waterproof mount and external battery but it was a faff.
I also agree with the app choice - probably better than Garmon, definitely better than other more commercial apps out there.
It worked but was not great for long days and touring - just mine findings.

freeflow
Posts: 1190
Joined: 29 Aug 2011, 1:54pm

Re: Cycle computer

Postby freeflow » 15 Sep 2015, 4:12pm

I tried a waterproof phone mount with an earlier Sony Xperia Arc S. Topeak make. Very good design except that the see through part for the screen was too shiny so I couldn't see the screen due to reflections. My Xperia Z Ultra is waterproof so just needs a holder. I also use a matt screen protector which slightly dims the display but makes it much much more usable outdoors.

Bright sunshine can be an issue but if you are desperate it's usually possible to find a degree of shade.

I also regularly use my phone with google maps for 'Get me to X' type navigation. This requires the phone to be plugged in to a charging socket in the car as Google maps if very inefficient and very heavy on the battery.

The battery pack I use takes 4 replaceable 16850 lithium batteries and has usb and light connector outputs. I can do a 200km ride on one spare set of batteries but a 300km will require 3 sets due to the lighting drain. However the three sets would probably get me well into the early 400kms but I haven't tried that yet.

For normal cycling I just create or download gpx routes and copy them to the relevant track or route directories in whichever apps I want to use. Ipbike also has facilites to upload to a wide range of tracking/fitness sites.

I have used garmins (306, 705) and Brytons (50) and would not go back to them. I'm looking forward to next March when the Xperia Z5 Ultra is rumoured to be launched.

It is a slight extra faff doing the battery management but my understanding is that you'd have to do something similar if using a Garmin 810/1000. If I were regularly doing DIY by GPC then I'd probably also have an etrex alike to act as a backup. I've occasionally used my old Bryton 50 for this purpose but the rubbes for one of the buttons perished so its no longer waterproof.

As a tip, if you do use a smartphone and need external batteries, then start your ride with the battery connected. Then if it starts to rain you can disconnect knowing you have a fully charged phone (5+ hours riding at least).