What is the point or benefit of a bike computer (rather than an iPhone)?

Slick

Guru
I usually tend to fit a cheap basic cycle computer to whichever bikes I use most. I'm not interested in average speed or anything like that, I just want to record my mileage so I always get cheap basic ones. I suppose I could use my phone I'm sure but I don't always take my phone when riding, battery life is a concern - especially if touring and I suppose it's partly just habit as I was using cycle computers before I ever had a mobile phone never mind a smart phone.

I always plan my routes on a paper map as I can get to see the whole area I will be passing through in a way you can't with GPS.

On my pre-war Elswick I have one of these little babies to record my mileage :becool:
View attachment 537606
Yeah, remember it well and winding one up to all the 9's. Kept it on anyway as a badge of honour. ^_^
 

RichardB

Slightly retro
Location
West Wales
I bought one of the 'new, improved!' versions once, where the peg and star wheel had been replaced by a pair of pulleys and a black rubber band (and a nasty, plasticky body instead of the steel one). You lost the 'tick-tick' but gained a world of pain in perished drive belts and an inability to work when wet. Made by Huret, I think. Progress.

Have to say, I have a neat, bar-mounted wireless computer on all my bikes and I love them.
 

gunja99

Well-Known Member
Location
Cheshire
I'm currently trying to use an old galaxy S4 (sin free) using OSMand to navigate. It was slow at points last night where it kind of locked up. Also it rained lightly which made it think buttons were being pressed. I track everything on my watch but want something to navigate. Navigation is very important to me. All my stats etc on the watch (FR945) attached to handle bars and use a HR strap.

I don't want to pay hundreds for a navigation computer but looks like I might need to. New to riding and don't know many/any routes. If can waterproof the phone somehow I have my main phone in my bum bag for emergencies. Thinking of starting phone navigation putting in a small sandwich bag to waterproof it. Shouldn't need to touch it en route...
 

the_mikey

Legendary Member
I want my cycling computer to be small enough to be mounted onto the stem , a clear always on display, and long battery life, my mobile phone on the other hand doesn't tick any of those boxes, so would be quite annoying, I did try to record a walk/run with it once and it just depleted the battery prematurely.
 

PaulSB

Legendary Member
A lot of riders have a specific bike computer on the bars, rather than an iPhone or similar - why?

If I get a mount for my phone, I can have maps on to know where I need to go, can track speeds, distance and even heart-rate. And thats just the Apple fitness thing, let alone looking at dedicated bike apps.

Things like a Wahoo one I have seen sync with your phone for maps and stuff so aside from this falling onto the road and smashing (setting me back ~£200 rather than up to £1000 for an iphone) I just dont see the point. What am I missing?
I use a Wahoo and have had a Garmin in the past. What are you missing? For me I get pleasure from having my Wahoo record the bits of data I'm interested in and providing me with navigation. Like others I enjoy planning on a map, especially for tours, but I far prefer having a device which shows me when to turn etc. than the constant stopping needed with maps. It's just fun and useful as simple as that.

My view is I think different from yours. I paid £200 for my Wahoo Elemnt which supplements my enjoyment of my hobby. Others are happy to pay £1000 for an iPhone which does what? Makes calls, sends email, browse the web, navigation. My Moto G6 does all that for £150. What is the point of an iPhone and why risk smashing it on a bike ride would be my question?

The big point though is this is a purpose designed device built for the rigours of cycling which an iPhone is not. All the benefits have been outlined by others so here is one more. One time I failed to attach my Garmin properly, it fell off and the lady behind me rode over it. The screen was smashed, the display shot to pieces. Garmin charged me £85 for a replacement...........try that with Apple. :blink:
 
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Julia9054

Guru
Location
Knaresborough
Mine cost £35. It tells me how fast I'm going and how far I've cycled - that's all I'm interested in.
Bought a Garmin to help me with navigation a few years ago. Really awkward to use - I gave up on it. Al uses it to record rides but not for navigation.
 

Mark pallister

Senior Member
A lot of riders have a specific bike computer on the bars, rather than an iPhone or similar - why?

If I get a mount for my phone, I can have maps on to know where I need to go, can track speeds, distance and even heart-rate. And thats just the Apple fitness thing, let alone looking at dedicated bike apps.

Things like a Wahoo one I have seen sync with your phone for maps and stuff so aside from this falling onto the road and smashing (setting me back ~£200 rather than up to £1000 for an iphone) I just dont see the point. What am I missing?
the phone battery won’t last long and it’s massive are the main drawbacks
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
My Garmin 705 is still going strong so I use that. Replaced the battery a few years back. Main reasons is they are much more robust than a phone, and the battery lasts longer.
 

DSK

Senior Member
All good points!

I like @PaulSB ' s post. Its all relative in a way, some people get more out of a state of the cycle computer whereas other get theirs from the latest smart phone.

I get the use a phone use perspective, as I considered this option when staring at £150-£300 devices at Evans, thinking looks great but, I don't need maps, I just was a USB based GPS device that tells me my speed and may be one day I'll care about other stats. However, I'd never use my main phone for such duties but, I did consider buying a cheapo £50 new smart phone and downloading apps to that. I think if one buys a secondary phone for cycling duties then fair play if that's what suits. Luckily the thought of searching used classifieds for a used Garmin cycle computer made a good used unit the perfect choice, giving you a dedicated and robust device for the money an average joe would happily justify spending.

This thread will be a great reference for anyone with the same question arguably justifying why a dedicated cycle computer would mostly likely always be a better choice.
 

tyred

Legendary Member
Location
Ireland
I don't want to pay hundreds for a navigation computer but looks like I might need to. New to riding and don't know many/any routes. If can waterproof the phone somehow I have my main phone in my bum bag for emergencies. Thinking of starting phone navigation putting in a small sandwich bag to waterproof it. Shouldn't need to touch it en route...
Buy the OS map for your local area for about a fiver, study it and built up a mental picture of the area and learn about things and places you never new existed right on your doorstep.
 

Paul_Smith SRCC

www.plsmith.co.uk
Location
Surrey UK
I have a relatively inexpensive Sony Xperia L1 that does all the things I want from a phone, sadly navigation on a bike not being one of them. I did try to get it to do what I needed when I was composing customer routes for the store for when they ride our hire bikes, it worked to a point, but the battery didn't last anywhere near long enough especially as the apps and mapping are a drain plus I simply don't want something that large on my stem or bars.

All I really need is to plan then follow a course with turn by turn directions on a relatively small neat device where the battery lasts as long as typical bike ride. I also like the convenience of a dedicated GPS, I keep my phone in a leather wallet, I'd have to take it out of that to fit into another case for the bike to keep it weatherproof and then swap it back again; I prefer it being in my pocket for quick use as a phone, camera especially.

I invested in my Garmin 810 (click for my Janet and John review) back in 2013 and it's still giving me good service; which for a peace of tech' I personally think is more than acceptable. It was quite an investment at the time but as you'd expect modern units are cheaper, if buying now I'd choose a Garmin Edge 830 or the older Explore, the latter has an RRP at £219.99, if you get as many years with that as my 810 again I'd be happy; although I confess the 830 RRP £319.99 would be what I'd actually buy.
 
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