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Old 03-01-05, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by 53-11_alltheway
So far I've been able to find the Ciclosport-CM434. It looks a little pricey $150 and it's got a bunch of stuff I don't need. Anybody try it?
Yes, well more accurately it's predecessor the CM414Alti. Great device with 2 year warranty; I bought ours in Aug of '02 and haven't had a lick of trouble with it. Sampling rate isn't optimum (20 sec) so you lose about 10% of your actual vert. gain/loss if you ride in rolling terrain, but it's no big deal... everything is relative, don't you know. 900' is less than 5,000' so 1,100 vs. 5,500 isn't that much of a jump. Other features are actually pretty good to have, e.g., inclinometer (how steep is it), re-settable odometer lets you adjust your trip mileage if you get off route or have multiple legs without impacting daily totals, etc. Nicest feature is the forward-backward scrolling and speedo with 1/10th mph increments. Cadence is also good to have, etc... Although I never used it with the Hactronic Interface / computer download, that's really the nuts when it comes to maintaining a training log or doing analysis of your performance. It's the same software used by HAC4. Not for everyone but... The capability is in the watch.

I also tried Specialized's SpeedZone Pro which, interestingly enough, uses the same transmitter as the Ciclosport (head unit likely made by the same company) which allowed me to have both the CM414alti and SpeedZone Pro on the bike at the same time running off the same single pick-up. The SpeedZone had a better (5 sec?) sampling rate so the vertical gain was a bit more accurate; maybe +/- 5%. However, while the watch does have the inclinometer, it didn't have as many functions as the CM414 and the scroll-through was a bit of a bother compared to the Ciclosport in that if you missed a function you had to go all the way around again. Also, not as many reset features and no ability to download the data to a computer if you later decided to go that route.

We have also owned and use an Avocet Vertech II altimeter. It has no cycling functions but it is a very accurate altimeter. The other functions are useful if you alpine or XC ski, hike, mountain climb, etc... For alpine skiers, it will collect your downhill vert. feet and keeps track of the number of runs you make down the slopes. This was purchased before there were too many other Alti. watches on the market back in '98 (noting the Avocet 50 was around as far back as '91). It's been a great watch and it's what we use to keep the other altimeters honest.

We also ride with a HAC4 (mine) and a Polar S720i which have altimeters. The HAC4 does what the CM414Alti does but the HAC4 has the USB interface which is what makes keeping the training logs accurate a breeze. The Polar S720i's Altimeter is pretty accurate; probably the closest to the Vertech II of the bunch.

So, based on all of that...

The cheapest cycling computer with "altimeter" you can get remains a few of the NOS Cateye AT100's that sell for about $70 ['3207-00']. Simple and pretty accurate.

The Speedzone is a slick little device, but if you have a few more bucks in your pocket you get a bit more bang out of the CM434 family, out of the box and with expandability, i.e., computer interface if you feel so inclined later on.

HAC4 and Polar S-class are the nuts for all-in-one devices with HRM.
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