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  1. #1
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    Choosing a cycle computer?

    I'm thinking about getting a cycle computer. What should I look for?

    I commute 6 miles each way, about 3 days a week, mostly on a paved MUP. Starting to venture off-trail a little bit for errands. My bike: a 700c Trek 7000 hybrid.

    A friend gave me a used CatEye, but the plastic that forms its mounts had grown brittle with time and snapped apart before I could install it. Can't really use it unless I can rig up a dependable mounting system, which I don't think will be likely.

    I've never used a cycle computer. What features have you found helpful? What doesn't matter, or what should I avoid? I do commute after dark this time of year, and I understand backlights may be hard to find.

    How do you use your computer?

  2. #2
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Just get a new mount. Performance sells a couple of different kinds, heavy duty, extra long, stem, etc.
    Here is the page for the Extral Long Mount
    I just use mine to know how fast I'm going, how far I traveled, average speed and what time it is. Really, I only use it as a clock on the commute, the other features, I use when I am out on a fitness ride.

  3. #3
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    For commuting? I just wear a watch. I found my computer utterly useless for commuting. One more thing on the bike, too.
    Mike
    Quote Originally Posted by cedricbosch View Post
    It looks silly when you have quotes from other forum members in your signature. Nobody on this forum is that funny.
    Quote Originally Posted by cedricbosch View Post
    Why am I in your signature.

  4. #4
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    I personally like the Sigma BC1606. Why?
    1- I was able to get an extra rear wheel mount to use the same computer on my trainer (it has an auto bike 1/bike 2 feature)
    2- It has all the standard features of most bike computers
    3- It has an LED backlight
    4- It comes on automatically
    73 Raleigh 20
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  5. #5
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I like my PB Protege 9.0

    2 bike memory
    current speed
    avg speed
    max speed
    trip distance
    odometer (2 bike memory and total)
    temperature (not accurate at all. More of a joke than anything.)
    clock

    I use it to keep track of what time it is, my daily and total mileage, and I like to know my current and average speed because I compare myself day-to-day on the same sections of my commute.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  6. #6
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    I always get a basic model- 5 functions.
    Just want to know how fast i'm going,
    how far i've been and what time of day
    it is. Plus a total distance odometer.

    Have used several Sigma 500 series units,
    the last one was 504 or 505, put it
    on my wife's bike. The more recent
    models are much more difficult to adjust
    wheel size and adjust time, etc than
    previous models. Too difficult to
    fiddle with.
    Earlier this week Installed a Cateye velo 5
    to replace a Sigma unit that i broke. it was
    easier to adjust than the Sigma, but I could
    not set the odometer to an already traveled
    distance (as one can with the Sigma). Not
    sure if I like it yet, or not. The Cateye speed
    digit appears larger than the Sigma unit,
    not sure they are any easier to read. Clock
    and odometer digits are smaller on the Cateye.
    Both units were less than $20.

  7. #7
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    Go to cateye's small parts page and order a new mount. Maybe $7 ish.

    I use a garmin 305 for all my bikes. Each one has a mount on it. It is a wee bit expensive but I like it.
    My other computer sitting on my work bench in a cat eye astrale 8. Very affordable and has many features.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
    Go to cateye's small parts page and order a new mount. Maybe $7 ish.
    Good idea; I didn't realize this was an option. Are mounts interchangeable across brands and models, btw? I would guess not.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
    For commuting? I just wear a watch. I found my computer utterly useless for commuting. One more thing on the bike, too.
    I agree. I ended up taking mine off. I don't care how fast I'm going and the rest of the stuff is not necessary. I have a clock that is a stem cap so I use that to determine if I'm ok on time. My regular road bike has a computer, but I use that for different purposes.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by knobster View Post
    I agree. I ended up taking mine off. I don't care how fast I'm going and the rest of the stuff is not necessary. I have a clock that is a stem cap so I use that to determine if I'm ok on time. My regular road bike has a computer, but I use that for different purposes.
    I don't like to wear a watch when I'm riding but I do want to know the time. Could you tell me more about the stem cap clock you use?
    TIA

  11. #11
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    For 6 miles every other day you really don't need a computer unless you're interested in tracking useless data.
    If you start riding more days and miles for fitness and recreation, then look at a low cost bare bones computer that gives you trip distance, max speed, average speed, ride time, etc. You should be able to find one for under $20.
    My bikes: 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2015 Cannondale Supersix EVO carbon 105

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    For 6 miles every other day you really don't need a computer unless you're interested in tracking useless data.
    I guess I'm just curious. From timing my trip, I know that start to finish I average somewhere around 10-12 mph (including time spent stopped at lights, etc). But I know that can vary a lot; I don't know data like cadence, and I don't know my actual speed while in motion.

    I'm not going for high performance, but I figured knowing some of this useless data might be useful in learning how to be more efficient (technique, etc). I don't trust my "sense" of speed, etc.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Pig_Chaser's Avatar
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    You just gotta go with what you want, and if it's useless information that you want, then so be it. Personally i'd hate to ride without all that useless information and i enjoy trying to beat max and avg speeds. It adds some fun to the commute. You might look into a new mount though, it's good to get a cheap unit until you know what you want in a computer.

  14. #14
    Reeks of aged cotton duck Hydrated's Avatar
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    Pretty much the only thing that I use the computer for on my commuter is to monitor my cadence. It keeps me from falling into the knee-trashing habit of mashing...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by savethekudzu View Post
    Good idea; I didn't realize this was an option. Are mounts interchangeable across brands and models, btw? I would guess not.
    They are not interchangeable.

  16. #16
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    General Features I like:

    Big Numbers
    Backlight
    Big, Easy to hit buttons

    The above are kind of universal good features. The ones below are more particular to my situation:

    Cadence
    Two bike mounts
    Settable Odometer

  17. #17
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    For 6 miles every other day you really don't need a computer unless you're interested in tracking useless data.
    I guess it depends on what you consider useless. Sound like the opinion is that if you're not training or going on fitness rides, the data isn't valuable, but that really depends on what you use the data for. I like knowing how many miles are on my bike, and, more specifically, on certain components. Knowing how fast your tires wear may help you decide which tire to use. Knowing how far you've gone on a given chain may remind you to check for stretch before you've damaged your cassette. And depending on how fast and where you ride, you may find that a speedometer will help you remain in compliance with the speed limit.

    But that does bring up the question of what you want the computer for. Even the cheapest will do the basics, and I'm not aware of anyone saying that they've had a computer that doesn't measure properly, which would seem to be the biggest deciding factor. I'd love GPS route-tracking and other fancy stuff, but I'm not ready to plunk down the cash, so I find that my Topeak computer does all the other basic stuff. Mostly I use the total miles traveled, the current speed, the time, and the miles traveled today. Get an idea of what you want to know, and that'll help you figure out which computer you need, although they're all very similar at the lower end. I have considered going wireless, though. It might be useful if someone discussed the pros and cons of that. I'm guessing that it creates an extra battery to change, but other than that, I don't know if there are any downsides other than being more expensive.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    General Features I like:

    Big Numbers
    Backlight
    Big, Easy to hit buttons
    These are all good points. My speedometer is useless after dark if I want any information while I'm on my bike. Sometimes it'd be nice to be able to read it after dark, especially the time.

  19. #19
    Body By Nintendo Psydotek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    I like my PB Protege 9.0

    2 bike memory
    current speed
    avg speed
    max speed
    trip distance
    odometer (2 bike memory and total)
    temperature (not accurate at all. More of a joke than anything.)
    clock

    I use it to keep track of what time it is, my daily and total mileage, and I like to know my current and average speed because I compare myself day-to-day on the same sections of my commute.

    +1

    I have the Protoge on my commuter (Cateye Astrale 8 on my other two bikes). I use it mainly to keep track of my annual mileage though all the other functions are great to have (at least for me). The thermometer is useless in direct sun mostly because it reads anywhere from 5-10 degrees higher than the actual air tempertaure, but it's accurate in the morning/cloudy days. I find it most useful on cold days to gauge how many layers of clothing i need to wear (well, not for that moment but for future reference. did i feel too hot/cold with this many layers at this temperature?)

    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    A girl once asked me to give her twelve inches and make it hurt. I had to make love to her 3 times and then punch her in the nose.

  20. #20
    Senior Member greenstork's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hopperja View Post
    I personally like the Sigma BC1606. Why?
    1- I was able to get an extra rear wheel mount to use the same computer on my trainer (it has an auto bike 1/bike 2 feature)
    2- It has all the standard features of most bike computers
    3- It has an LED backlight
    4- It comes on automatically
    To clarify, the computer lights up anytime that it's dark out or do you have to press a button to light it up and it cycles off after a few seconds? I'd love to be able to actually see my computer in the dark, but my backlit computer light turns off after a few seconds.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by aubinmg View Post
    I don't like to wear a watch when I'm riding but I do want to know the time. Could you tell me more about the stem cap clock you use?
    TIA
    Well, I've looked around on Google and can't find it. I bought mine at my LBS. It's pretty cool. Instead of a stem cap, there is a little white faced clock. Works great.

  22. #22
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Psydotek View Post
    +1

    I have the Protoge on my commuter (Cateye Astrale 8 on my other two bikes). I use it mainly to keep track of my annual mileage though all the other functions are great to have (at least for me). The thermometer is useless in direct sun mostly because it reads anywhere from 5-10 degrees higher than the actual air tempertaure, but it's accurate in the morning/cloudy days. I find it most useful on cold days to gauge how many layers of clothing i need to wear (well, not for that moment but for future reference. did i feel too hot/cold with this many layers at this temperature?)
    I've got a big thermometer mounted outside on my patio and I look out the sliding door before I take my dog out in the morning.
    I do think it's funny in the summer when I leave my bike in the sun and I come back and the computer says it's 115*F (when maybe it's high 80s or low 90s).
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  23. #23
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    For a commute like that I think tracking basic data is motivating.

    I'd suggest:
    -trip distance to hundredths of mile (i.e. 0.00)
    -auto timer mode to only record moving time
    -clock
    -odometer
    -ability to set wheel circumference to four digit accuracy

    It will be hard to find one that doesn't also calculate and display average speed and records top speed, however these are less useful or can be calculated.

    A backlite is nice, but not a must. I don't watch stats while riding, but only look after trip is over.

    Al

  24. #24
    Senior Member mijome07's Avatar
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    I have a Sigma BC1606L Wireless Computer and it works great. With shipping, I paid below $60. I've never had any problems. It also has a backlight which is similar to Timex Indiglo [my watch]. Check out the link below and try the demo. It's really cool.

    Sigma BC1606L

  25. #25
    Laid back bent rider unixpro's Avatar
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    Personally, I like my Topeak Comp 140. It didn't cost very much, but it has cadence, which I really like. I'm trying to improve my cadence, so I keep that displayed. It also does speed, distance, average speed, average cadence, etc.

    I really like going down a hill and glancing to the speedo to see it tracking at 29 or 30 MPH .

    The only thing it lacks, IMHO, is a backlight. However, I wear a helmet light, so I just shine that on the display when I want to check things after dark.

    I've had it on my bars for over 1.5 years and haven't had a problem. Rain, shine, snow, ice, whatever. My bike lives outside, and I don't take the 'puter off when I go in. Tough little device.

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