Whats the deal with all the bicycle computers? Are these just high tech overkill for all but the serious racer? Is it really nececssary to have a computer to tell you when you are pedaling at the right rate, exerting yourself enough, or going fast enough? Are these gadgets just kinda fun, and a way to make your bike ride more interesting?
Cause the thing about my bike that I really like... is that its pretty low tech. Pedals, wheels, gears, chain.
Computer are really good for many many reasons!!!! THink about it.
1) most importantly how far you've ridden, in a ODM and per trip.
2) how fast you are going. Why do cars have them? To keep a constant speed. This can be really helpful when riding up hill or when your tired, it lets you know if you are pedaling slower or faster, and helps you keep a constant rate.
3)Finally it can help set personal bests and are used much for people who are riding for training.
They're not just fun, they're very smart, strong, accurate and small way to keep records and help you on your rides. Now something that has been invented for bikes that is plain stupid and is really JUST FOR FUN is electronic brakes!
I know how far I'm riding by using landmarks around the city. And I know how hard I'm working because I feel it. But if you take different routes every day, and you train to the point where you have to stop yourself or you will overtrain, then I guess I can see how a computer would be helpful.
Computers obviously aren't totally necessary -- we got by for many years without them (i didn't get one until about 1992) -- but they provide some extra amusement on those, hard, boring rides. It's not as if they're expensive, either.
As a couple of the other people have mentioned, they're are great way to let you know if your average speed is improving or not. They also take the guess work out your "perceptions", as does a heart rate monitor. Quite often you can be grinding along, thinking you're riding hard, then you look down at your computer and monitor, and you realize you're slacking off!!
Speed and cadence are a curiousity - useful, but not essential for me.
However, my wife and I did some touring this Fall, and her having an accurate mileage device was a tremendous help in following directions (i.e., "go for 1.3 miles and turn right..."). Also having a way to tell how many miles are on components seems like it would help in maintenance issues.
Hmmm...well let's see. Mileage is definitely the biggest help. Unless I want to predetermine the mileage along my route in my car, I definitely need that. As long as I have a watch, from there I can figure my speed; I can count cadence and figure my heart rate without too much trouble either. I found out pretty quickly that I was already pretty accurate on my own dead reckoning at figuring altitude and ascents.
So yeah, in those respects I would have to put my HRM and bike computers pretty firmly into the gadget category.
On the other hand, the advanced information that I can get from my HRM once downloaded to my PC has been really helpful. When I analyze that detailed information in comparison to the techniques that I am using during that a TT or on each interval, it is really pretty interesting what I can learn about what works best.
Even so, there is still a huge gadget factor in all of that as well I guess.