My new Garmin 510 is a dream. The incredible bluetooth features allow me to feel safe knowing that my ride can be live tracked. I can even have a coach or my spouse call me on my ride and know where I am and how I am riding! The ability to transmit all my stats from my rides and races enables me as well as my coaches to watch my heart rate, speed, cadence and mileage just to name a few. The battery lasts for longer than I can ride and definitely outlasts my iphone battery transmitting the ride info. Switching my computer to a different bike is also a cinch. This is, hands down, the finest computer I have ever had for cycling."
- Heidi Johnson-Fry
Bike Computer Technology - The Rapid Evolution Of Power and GPS
Bike computer devices that can help take your cycling to the next level.
Bike computer technology has evolved a great deal in the past few years. Garmin is preparing to launch the revolutionary Garmin Vector power pedals and the data detail when combined with a Garmin Edge 800 or Garmin Edge 500 is beyond compare, including the new metric of left/right power balance.
Of course bicycle computers come in a lot of different configurations including cycling watches. Some people prefer cycling watches because they can also double as a heart rate
monitor for exercise off the bike and therefore you don't need to purchase two separate devices. Biking watches like the Polar RCX5 Bike, Garmin Forerunner 610, Garmin Forerunner 910XTand Suunto Ambitcan offer riders an extraordinary amount of data and are better than 90% of all the cycling computers on the market today.
For those looking for less expensive cycling watch alternatives with good basic data try the Polar CS300or the Suunto M5with a bike pod.
Cycling watcheshave smaller screens, that is the one downside, so they can't offer as big a screen as the bike computers for displaying metrics. Thus for those cyclists who have joined the reading glasses section the bike computer is probably a better alternative because the screens are larger and easier to read, but for younger folks a cycling watch can workout great because it eliminates the need to buy a separate heart rate monitor for the gym.
Some of our favorite bike computers following the past several years of testing are the Garmin Edge 800, Polar CS500, and Garmin Edge 500. Timex also has a new GPS unit out that is a lot like the Edge 500.
Nearly everyone on the Heart Rate Watch Company sponsored bike team, Team Rockford, is using the Garmin Edge 500. This is a favorite for racers because it can do power output, gets
speed, distance, elevations, cadence, altitude and is very minimalistic in size and weight. It serves up metrics data by the ton and has lots of really cool features like auto-scroll for
seeing multiple screens hands-free, auto-pause so you don't pick up meaningless data at stoplights, and a level of mapping metrics and detail in Garmin Connect that is second to none.
Being able to use a player function where you can drag an icon to any point on the course, like the top of a climb, and see exactly what your heart rate, speed, cadence and other metrics
were right at that precise moment is awesome. This visual display and a mountain chart of heart rate over the entire workout can show you exactly how you responded and recovered from
specific events, like a big climb.
For tourers riding in foreign countries or places there is nothing, and we mean nothing, like the Garmin Edge 800 with CityNav. It's like having a car GPS on your bike ride that can deliver
turn-by-turn directions and gather all your data for the ride. It can completely eliminate the possibility of getting lost on the road or with a Topo card, on the trails as well.
Polar bike computers also deliver with their new Polar CS500 and the new CS600 as both devices will pair up with the new Polar Look/Keo power pedals. The Polar CS500 has a great mounting
system with a second barrel bolt that secures the bike computer like no other mounting system we have ever seen.
SIMPLER AND MORE AFFORDABLE ALTERNATIVES
Garmin makes a great little GPS cycling computer called the Garmin Edge 200that does speed and distance, without heart rate, and it also provides you with great maps. For people that don't want heart rate or just want some simplicity it is a great option and at under $150 it is the least expensive Garmin GPS unit.
Polar also has their CS100 and Polar CS200cadwhich are less expensive but still deliver great cycling data.
HAVE AN IPHONE? MAKE IT A BIKE COMPUTER
Bluetooth technology in the new iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 make it possible to turn your iPhone into a bike computer if you have the right set up. Fortunately, at the Heart Rate Watch Company we have searched high and low and feel the folks at Wahoo Fitness make the best iPhone bike computer tools for the time being.
Our iPhone 4S Ultimate bike pack includes a Bluetooth low energy chest strap, an auxiliary battery for the extra juice your iPhone will need on longer rides in GPS mode. The other key component is a Protector case to mount your iPhone to the handlebars. This case has a thin film cover that leaves the touchscreen accessible. Just add a good cycling app to your iPhone and it can do everything a normal bicycle computer can do. The GPS is perhaps slightly less accurate on the iPhone then on a Garmin unit but its not a real big deal because most people using their iPhone for a computer aren't really serious racers so the little bit of extra weight is irrelevant.
If you have an older iPhone, like a 3GS or iPhone 4 you can get our iPhone ultimate bike pack. This pack uses an ANT+ dongle to receive data from ANT+ heart rate straps and cadence sensors.
WE KNOW BIKING
We sponsor a bike team and Rusty has competed in multiple US National Championship road and mountain bike races, finishing on the podium. He was the State champion in three different States - Maine,
Vermont and Montana and competed in several international tours. When we say we know biking, we mean it - we even shave our legs but don't tell the girls that :).
TALK TO THE EXPERTS
If you'd like to talk to some real experts, people that ride bikes and test all these products, then simply call the Heart Rate Watch Company at 866-586-7129.