Have you ever tried to look at a map while riding your bike or wondered how many miles you can ride now compared to when you first started? Or maybe you just want the same options as a machine in a gym without being cooped up indoors. Those are just some reasons why people are investing a little (or a lot) on a best mountain bike computer.
The most basic function of a bike computer is to record data from your ride, which can be a great tool for tracking your progress. Even the most basic computers feature useful functions, including current speed, average speed, time of day, elapsed time, and distance covered. More advanced models up their game with features such as heart rate monitor, cadence, GPS, bluetooth capabilities, and more.
Here are some things to consider before you start searching, and as usual it all depends on what kind of rider you are and what you’re looking to get out of owning a bike computer. If you are using cycling as a way to get fit and need to track your progress, you might want something more basic. If you’re a professional cyclist and need a more detailed analysis, you might be in the market for something more pricey.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some broad categories to help you determine what your needs are:
Unlike best mtb computers, a basic bike computer does not have GPS and is usually a lower priced computer that records data such as distance, speed, and time. They usually use either a wired or a wireless sensor which is placed on the front and records the passing of a magnet that’s on the front wheel. The data will also only be stored in the computer and can’t be transferred to your computer, but it will store your data as long as the battery life lasts. These types of computer usually have a disposable battery that needs to be changed after some time.
ANT+ is a managed network that uses device profiles to define how to send data over the network. These computers get data from wireless sensors that use ANT+ which covers other fitness accessories and opens up the data collection beyond the basics. Available sensors include cadence and heart rate. It also allows for transferring data so that the data can be analyzed further on your other devices.
GPS and ANT+ Enabled
These types of computers are on the higher end of the computer spectrum and can receive data from ANT+ sensors as well as track your position using GPS. You can transfer your data to your home computer, analyze your time or speed on a particular hill, and get up to date GPS assistance on your ride. Although more expensive, they are more powerful and can be customized to fit the rider’s needs.
Now to find the best mountain bike computers for you:
Let’s start simple. You want a bike computer to improve your ride, but you don’t want to deal with a complicated piece of equipment that’s hard to set up and decipher.
CatEye Velo 7 is a popular choice among the riders that want the basic features without the hassles. A few things to note, it doesn’t have backlight so not for riding in the dark. Great price for a basic, first time bike computer.
This 9-function bike computer comes with a 82-centimeter wire-mounting kit for the front wheel, and has a four-line macro-monitor LCD display which holds up to 5 pieces of data at a time. Navigating the Planet Bike Protege has been made easy, to switch the screen you only tap the screen, which is a huge help during rigorous rides. The 9 functions include speed comparator, speed, average speed, maximum speed, ride time, distance, clock, dual odometer, and temperature.
3. Schwinn 20 Function Bike Computer
For you Schwinn fans out there, this beloved American brand has designed a high quality bike computer that mounts directly onto the frame. It has a no-contact sensor which is beneficial because it doesn’t interfere with wheel performance. The screen is nice and large with an LCD screen. While it can be slightly difficult to install, it is a popular choice because of the quality, accuracy, durability, and the price.
Schwinn 20 Function Bike Computer
4. Garmin Edge 500 Cycling GPS
This computer is for serious cyclists who want to track every element of their performance. It’s easy to setup, it’s small and sleek, comes with advanced features such as ANT+ wireless technology, barometric altimeter for precise climb and descent data, zone training data, a calorie counter, a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, and has an easy-to-read color display. You can also analyze your data and share it with others by uploading the data to your computer. You pay a little more, but you’re paying for quality and advanced technology.
Garmin Edge 500 Cycling GPS
5. PowerTap Joule Cycle Computer
Another GPS bike computer that’s in the advanced category. This computer is a great option for those who want a more in depth analysis of their performance. A lightweight and compact design, this GPS integrated, ANT+ enabled product packs a lot of power. The display is customizable and can be tailored for each rider’s needs, you can choose from 35 functions, and although on the expensive end of the spectrum it’s perfect for those who want all the bells and whistles.
PowerTap Joule Cycle Computer
Safety Tips: For ultimate safety we recommend fox mountain bike helmets.
If you’re in the market for a bike computer, you’ve already decided that you want to track or improve your performance. These products will all help, and now that it’s all been laid out we hope you have a better sense of what will work for you. These tools can be a good motivator, help with setting goals, and achieving progress. For a simple, lower commitment bike computer, the CatEye Velo 7 is the winner in terms of value for the price. If you’re looking to make bigger leaps towards your cycling goals the Garmin Edge 500 wins for being the most customer-friendly even with the advanced features