Best Bike Speedometer

From the mayor of basecamp to the sheriff of the foothills, to the King or Queen of the Mountain, all cyclists have things they want to achieve. And while riding is there for the joy of the course, it can help to have all your information. Cycling is difficult to quantify at times; you can measure how long it’s taken you to travel a distance that you’ve planned on a map, but checking your progress overall needs some specialized equipment.

Bike speedometers come in a couple of main forms – the simple and the high-tech. You’ll see them described as bike computers much of the time, mainly because they’re capable of tracking much more than just speed, and are constantly being developed. Your smartphone can do a lot, but measuring cadence, power, heart rate, calories, temperature and much more will always be more accurate with a this device.

We’ve put together a guide to take you through the best of what’s out there, from the basic roadrunners to the devices which are like another member of the peloton. Read on to up your game.

CatEye Strada
  • CatEye Strada
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • One-touch scroll
  • Dual-tire programming
  • Price: See Here
Garmin Edge 520
  • Garmin Edge 520
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Text notifications
  • Color screen
  • Price: See Here
Lezyne Enhanced
  • Lezyne Enhanced
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Backlight
  • Good battery life
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Bike Speedometer

 

 

Cat Eye Strada

The Strada Wireless is a firm favorite and comes up time and time again as a popular all-rounder which ticks all the boxes in its category, rather than just including the bare essentials to call itself a bike speedometer.
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Measures
Time, speed (current, average and maximum), distance (total and trip), pace, and clock.

Connectivity
As the name suggests, the Strada is wireless, using its inbuilt sensor to connect to its magnet. Sadly, there is no data transfer functionality.

Visibility
Very large display for such a tiny (1.8 x 1.2 inches) device. Two main stats displayed so this allows them to take up most of the screen, increasing visibility.

Ease of use
The Strada Wireless has a few fun tricks up its sleeve. Firstly there’s auto-stop, so you don’t have to worry about pressing anything or your stats getting thrown off when you pause. You can also program two different tire sizes so that it can be used on another bike. Be careful here when checking your tire size, as it can be tricky to work out the codes and reference numbers on your tires. As you’re not here for smartphone-like features, why have to navigate like you are? The Strada Wireless is controlled via a one-touch scroll through the features. CatEye’s online quickstart guide is very useful for setting up.

Durability
The Strada Wireless is weatherproof, slim and light, weighing just 0.78 oz, and only half an inch thick! It’s a great choice for any surface - mountain, road or urban cycling - being easy to mount with all fixings included.

Battery life
A massive one year on a replaceable battery - based on one hour’s use per day. Beware, the odometer will reset when you do eventually have to replace the battery.

Summary
One of the best if you need to check all the stats you can without extra sensors and monitors, and for the price, it can’t be denied. Of course, they can do many more things the higher the specification, but in its class, the Strada Wireless is on top.
Pros

One-touch scroll

Auto-stop

Small and light

Dual-tire programming

Up to 1 year battery life

Cons

No data transfer

Garmin Edge 520

As you’ll see, Garmin dominates the high-specification bike devices market, and deservedly so. While we didn’t want it to dominate our list, we want to provide a fair representation of the best of what’s out there and what’s popular with users. We’ve tried to give a decent spread of Garmin’s offering across our picks.
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Measures
Time, speed (current, average and maximum), distance (total and trip), pace, clock, elevation, altitude, power, heart rate, cadence, calories, gears, temperature, sunset time and workouts.

Connectivity
GPS and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System), along with a Barometric altimeter for increased altitude measure accuracy. The Edge 520 will auto-sync to Garmin Connect, and includes a USB cable for data transfer and charging.

Visibility
A high contrast, 1.3 x 1.8 inch color screen with up to seven stats visible at once on the action screen, as well as other screen functions like altitude graphs and maps. Included maps aren’t the most detailed, but you can download others, subject to purchase and storage space.

Ease of use
There are seven peripheral control buttons, which sound like a lot at first, but they’re fairly intuitive in practice. As well as upload and download, the sync to Garmin Connect allows in-ride challenges and call, text and social media notifications from your smartphone. Among the maps functions we really like is the ‘back-to-start’ for route overview. There’s also a nifty ‘asses recovery’ feature.

Durability
For its functionality, the Edge 520 is relatively small at 1.9 x 2.8 inches, and 0.8 inches thick, and weighs only 2.08 oz. It’s waterproof against rain, splashes or snow, and has a maximum immersion time of 30 minutes at less than three feet, which should see you through trips in the heaviest of weather.

Battery life
Approximately 15 hours, rechargeable.

Summary
The Garmin Edge 520 has been described as a ‘reliable stalwart’, and while certainly not the highest specification model around, it’s great value for its mid-range position. You’ll notice a jump in price if upgrading from the basic speedometers, but it’s fairly standard for this level of technology and you won’t get much more within this bracket.
Pros

Comprehensive range of measurements

Seven stats to view

Color screen

Multi-channel connectivity

Call and text notifications

Cons

Not touchscreen

Lezyne Super

Lezyne is a lesser-known and underrated player but has an increasingly wide range, snapping at the pedals of some of Garmin’s lower specification models. The Enhanced Super is like a hybrid between a basic speedometer and a fully equipped bike device.
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Measures
Time, speed (current, average and maximum), distance, pace, clock, distance, elevation, altitude, power, heart rate, cadence, calories, gears, temperature, sunset time and workouts.

Connectivity
It’s GPS-ready and syncs to the free Lezyne Ally mobile app via Bluetooth. This allows upload and download of ride files, sync to other riding apps, heart and power monitors and receive call and message notifications. Also connects via micro USB.

Visibility
Despite displaying a lot of information - six stats per page, the details are fairly small. However, there is a handy backlight for low light conditions. The Lezyne can show your phone’s battery as well as the time, date, GPS signal strength and its own battery level, which is handy.

Ease of use
Because of its simple design, the Lezyne connects to GPS quickly and is reliable. It also features turn-by-turn navigation, which is a great addition.

Durability
The shape of the unit itself isn’t as sleek as some, with the side-buttons protruding somewhat. Overall though, it’s only 1.69 x 2.67 inches, which makes up for this. It’s also water-resistant

Battery life
The battery life is around 24 hours, rechargeable via micro USB.

Summary
The Lezyne definitely sits somewhere between categories. It’s got a bit more than a basic speedometer in the form of GPS, but is by no means a smartphone-like device. The price might be the deciding factor here, offering many of the features of a Garmin for almost half the price, yet for not much more than an entry-level product.
Pros

GPS and many bike features

Backlight

Good battery life

Cons

Not sleek design

Small font size

CatEye Velo 9

CatEye Velo 9
It’s back to basics with another of CatEye’s popular speedometers. They can’t be beaten for low prices and great reliability in their category. CatEye offers a few products in its Velo range, this being the latest wired model.
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Measures
Time, speed (current and average), distance (trip and total), pace, clock, distance, calories. An interesting feature here for such a budget model is that the Velo 9 has an estimated carbon offset meter. This measures how much you have reduced your carbon-footprint by taking your trips on a bike.

Connectivity
It’s wired, which makes sense for the price.

Visibility
The screen takes up most of the tiny 2.1 x 1.4 inches body, which is great as there’s no need for much else around it. The display shows two stats, nice and large, as well as the pace arrow.

Ease of use
Very simple, with a one-button scroll through. We liked that it spans almost the width of the device, so there’s no fiddling trying to find a tiny button while you’re on the road. Be careful when hooking up to the sensor magnet and then to your handlebars - make sure you have enough to reach them before you attach each all the excess wire.

Durability
The Velo 9 comes with all the kit you need for a super-simple install, and CatEye’s online quickstart guide make it really easy. Zips ties pull very tight so make sure you’re happy with the position before you tighten! Does very well in wet weather.

Battery life
An amazing three years! A definite bonus of a simpler model if you only need basic functions. However, it is of course via a replaceable battery.

Summary
No frills, no bells and whistles, just stats and a reliable speedometer. An undeniable price for an essential piece of kit.
Pros

Auto-stop

Carbon offset

Massive battery life

Cons

Wired - more initial setup

No data transfer

Wahoo Elemnt

Wahoo Elemnt
The Wahoo ELEMNT is a good-looking, mid-to-high-range model. Fans are loving this alternative to Garmin, surprised by its ability to compete with the well-known brand. Read on for what’s got users hooked.
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Measures
Time, speed (current, average and maximum), distance (total and trip), pace, clock, elevation, altitude, power, heart rate, cadence, calories, gears, temperature, sunset time and workouts.

Connectivity
It’s GPS, Bluetooth and wifi compatible, as well as connecting to monitors and sensors. It will hook up to your smartphone via the ELEMNT companion app, which you can use to easily and instantly control features such as route-mapping. Needless to say this allows tracking, social media and mobile notifications.

Visibility
ELEMNT are proud of their screen, and rightly so with some cool features like zoom and five different numbers of data fields. It’s also got a 2.7 inch Daybright display, which will be a clincher for those that want to combine the monochrome simplicity of a basic model with the clarity of a high-end one.

Ease of use
Some more proprietary features here, such as the textured buttons, spanning and molded into the front of the unit - no hunting for a tiny toggle. ELEMNT also include something not seen on any of our other choices, their Quicklook LED Indicators. These can be programmed to flash in a variety of situations such as notifications, drops in heart rate, or detours.

Durability
There are three mounts included for attachment to different areas of your bike. It’s also waterproof up to five feet. It’s a nice size and weight for its functionality, at 6 x 5 inches, 1 inch thick and 3.5 oz.

Battery life
Up to 17 hours, rechargeable via USB.

Summary
So, the ELEMNT appears to be not just a hybrid but a real alternative to Garmin, with a few unique features in its own right.
Pros

Unique features such as LED indicators and ergonomic buttons

Large, customizable screen

Long battery life for functionality

Cons

Relies heavily on smartphone for functioning

Not touchscreen

Garmin Edge 25

Garmin Edge 25
For some, the Edge 25 cannot be replaced and despite the leaps and bounds in developments, this will always be the speedometer of choice for some riders. It takes size and simplicity to new levels whilst incorporating great functionality.
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Measures
Time, speed (current, average and maximum), distance (total and trip), elevation, heart rate, cadence and calories.

Connectivity
The Edge 25 is actually the smallest GPS computer in the world! It connects well and fast to GPS and GLONASS for location accuracy - your smartphone can’t save you if its battery fails. It does, however, hook up to Garmin Connect via Bluetooth for all your smartphone notifications.

Visibility
The screen is 0.9 inches squared, which with the unit itself being 1.5 inches squared, is relatively massive. In turn, the display itself shows two large, or four small stats on the activity pages. As well as full screen display of direction fragments.

Ease of use
Four side-buttons, one of which is brightness so the functions are easy to navigate once you get used to them.

Durability
It’s truly tiny, genuinely the size of a watch, and should fit just above the stem of your bike if you choose. It also has one other sensor to attach to either wheel hub for ease. The other advantage of its size is that it needs minimal mounting, just small, discreet elastic bands. It’s also water-resistant.

Battery life
Only about 8 hours, rechargeable via USB cable, but for its tiny size and high functionality, this is forgivable.

Summary
It might not look like much, but the Edge 25 is another option if you want to hide mega-specification under the looks of a basic speedometer. You’re paying slightly more for an unbelievably tiny unit that’s packed with technology, but nowhere near as much as some of the high-end models.
Pros

Second cheapest Garmin in range

Smallest GPS computer in the world

Easy to mount

Cons

Short battery life

Might be too small if you prefer a larger display

Magellan 505

Magellan 505
Another one in the alternative camp if you want some of the specifications without the high price, or just want to try something other than Garmin. Magellan are pretty small, only stocking a few models, and mostly known for in-car GPS, but they’ve gained popularity for their smartphone-like UI and features.
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Measures
Time, speed (current, average and maximum), distance (total and trip), pace, clock, elevation, altitude, power, heart rate, cadence, calories, temperature and workouts.

Connectivity
GPS-ready, and connectivity is via Bluetooth and wifi. It will also connect to the standard heart rate and power monitors and cycling apps. Hook up to your smartphone is quick, so much so that it can be done while stopped on the road - no sitting next to the wall charger and wifi needed.

Visibility
The Cyclo 505 has a color screen, and despite its mid-range price, is visible in sunlight. It measures 3 inches, so can live up to some of the pricier models in terms of visibility. What’s different here is the smartphone-like look and menu.

Ease of use
It’s a touchscreen, and as we’ve mentioned, navigates like a basic smartphone. Some of Magellan’s fun features include ‘Surprise Me’ for suggesting routes and a database of off-road tracks from experts. This is useful as downloadable maps tend to carry an additional cost. There’s also wireless sharing with with your fellow riders via ‘Shake-n-Share’.

Durability
It’s good for road and off-road, and comes with two types of mount for your handlebars. It’s water-resistant and has a two year warranty.

Battery life
Twelve hours rechargeable, which is decent for a device in this class.

Summary
It says a lot that with Garmin’s dominance, die-hard fans are defecting to the Magellan. To be fair, Magellan themselves describe it as a “bicycle navigation device”, so they’re not trying to be the latest high-specification device. It’s a well-priced option if you want to move into the user-friendly, connected space but without the price tag.
Pros

Fun proprietary features

Touchscreen

Quick connectivity

Cons

Doesn’t include some of the most up to date technology

Garmin Edge 1030

Garmin Edge 1030
And now for the jewel in Garmin’s crown, the Edge 1030. However, that’s not to say it’s the best or only device you should consider, the price alone will certainly exclude it from many cyclists’ wish lists.
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Measures
Everything and more! Not only does it track all the stats imaginable, but it will analyze and feedback information like ‘Training Load’ - a measure of your effort cumulatively over the last week; and VO2 Max for tracking optimal oxygen use over time.

Connectivity
Again, it will connect pretty much any way you need it to - Bluetooth, Wifi and to Garmin Connect, of course. As well as GPS and GLONASS, there’s also a barometric altimeter sensor for checking altitude more accurately and an accelerometer.

Visibility
Overall, the screen is 3.5 inches diagonally, which along with the color display makes for great readability. A neat feature here is that the background can be changed from white to black for different light levels and ease of visibility.

Ease of use
Well, what can we say? The Edge 1030 can do pretty much anything you want to enhance the tracking of your rides. We might joke about it being like a smartphone, but there really are pre-written texts that can be sent when hooked up to your mobile, and rider-to-rider messages between those in your group. Other fun features are ‘Trendline’ for finding popular routes, and remote control of your VIRB camera if you have one! What’s more, for all the functionality, it’s set up and ready to go within minutes.

Durability
Unsurprisingly, Garmin have given the Edge 1030 their highest level of water protection, which is similar to some of our other picks at water exposure of up to one meter for 30 minutes. It is impressive for a device with this level of technology. Garmin’s clever mount also keeps the Edge 1030 in line with your handlebars so it won’t obscure your view.

Battery life
A very impressive 20 hours, which, among other features, is an improvement on their previous models and again, a lot for a computer with this many functions.

Summary
It’s almost a smartphone in its own right, the Edge 1030 is like an extension of your mobile; like having it strapped to your bike. Yes, it’s got a price to match and probably even costs more than some smartphones, but if you’re serious about your cycling it really can do it all.
Pros

Supreme functionality

Impressive battery life for its class

Many unique and proprietary features

Cons

Expensive

Planet Protégé 9.0

Planet Protégé 9.0
Another simple, well-liked model, the Protegé covers the basics and for an almost unbeatable price. If you just need something to track your stats, this fits the bill.
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Measures
Time, speed (current, average and maximum), distance (total and trip), pace, clock and temperature.

Connectivity
The Protegé is wired, and there is no method of data transfer. There is the magnet, a sensor and the computer itself.

Visibility
The screen is large, taking up pretty much all of the 1.5 x 2 inch unit. Five stats can be displayed on the LCD screen, which means they’re really clear and are large enough for a quick glance. However, the lack of back light is a shame.

Ease of use
The large screen is made possible by the fact that the Protegé is ‘buttonless’, so there’s no space taken up with a toggle. It’s not a touchscreen but a tap of the unit will let it scroll through the functions, which is great news for a quick change on the road. The Protegé can also be configured for two wheel types for moving between bikes.

Durability
Attaches via a handlebar bracket and front wheel mounting kit. Mounting is pretty simple, but Planet Bike will also provide further help in addition to the instructions if you need them, which is great. It’s done pretty well in rain and low temperatures without showing signs of damage.

Battery life
Up to a year or about 9000 miles with a replaceable battery.

Summary
The Planet Protegé is a reliable model, giving what you need and for a decent price. As an extra tick in its box it is made and manufactured using sustainable, environmentally friendly materials and processes.
Pros

Large screen

‘Buttonless’

Long battery life

Cons

Large wheel magnet

No backlight

CatEye Padrone

CatEye Padrone
Back to CatEye for our last pick, with the Padrone boasting similar features and functionality to some of their other lower-end models like the Velo 9. However, it’s a popular product from a trusted brand and at a low price so it’s worth a mention.
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Measures
Time, speed (current, average and maximum), distance (total and trip) and clock.

Connectivity
It’s wireless, which is a bonus at this price point. However, there’s no GPS or data transfer.

Visibility
A larger (1.7 x 1.2 inch) screen. It was actually developed in response to customer feedback, which shows that CatEye really are listening to what real cyclists need, not just filling up on cool features. It’s also backlit, which is a plus.

Ease of use
The Padrone itself is the button, which allows for the larger screen in a small unit; just press down on its lower half to change functions. It has auto-stop and a programmable odometer, which means that you can manually enter your distance when you replace the battery and the records are reset.

Durability
The Padrone is water-resistant. Using CatEye’s FlexTight technology, it can be mounted and then adjusted by hand so it can be easily changed on-the-go.

Battery life
The replaceable battery will last for up to a year, which is a big bonus.

Summary
Described as simple and stress-free, the Padrone is a ‘get up and go’ model that does what you need. It’s also available in six colors,
Pros

Very long battery life

Large screen

Wireless at a low price point

Cons

No data transfer

Limited measures

Criteria Used For Evaluation

Categories of device

Bike speedometers fall into several categories. There are the very basic, wired, cheaper models, which measure a few stats and don’t have any data transfer; there are similar wireless versions; there are wireless devices which have a bit more functionality via Bluetooth and WiFi sensors which connect to a smartphone. Then there are the GPS-ready products, which cover all of the above and have some navigation functionality; and the top-specification ones, which have it all – color touch screens, mapping and communication capabilities.

The type you choose will mainly depend on how much you want to track and whether you like to have it connected on-the-go or are happy to download and analyze later.

Wired or wireless

This will be a major factor for some riders. It needn’t put you off or be the deciding factor, but the convenience of going wireless might be enough for some. It’s more likely, however, that it’s actually the range of functions, typically wider in a wireless model, is what actually makes the decision for you.

There are pros and cons to both. Wired devices have the hassle of securing wires safely out of the way and looking untidy, but are cheaper and don’t require a separate sensor battery; whereas wireless devices are much more ‘mount and go’ but require charging or replacement batteries in more than one element.

We’ve included it as a major element as it does tend to characterize the type and as we say, will sort the pack for some riders.

Transmission of data

Related to the wired or wireless element is how the device communicates. Often, wired devices will only send and receive information from the sensor, whereas those with WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity open up a whole new range of apps and analysis. This really will be a deciding factor for those that want to do more than just track their numbers. If you want to chart your stats over a long period and view them in a range of ways, hook up with other riders, or even use the device as an extension of your smartphone in some cases, you’ll want to get one which has a more sophisticated mode of communication.

 

It’s certainly worth thinking this through, not least because of price, but it’s also easy to get seduced into buying a complex device you don’t actually need and will become more of a burden in terms of shorter battery life. If you take shorter rides, or in rougher conditions, you may not want the pressure of an extra smartphone on your handlebars.

GPS

GPS clearly takes bike speedometers to the next level in terms of navigation and maps, as even smartphones won’t have signal everywhere. Another measure you might find is GLONASS – Global Navigation Satellite System. It’s an alternative to GPS but working together they basically enhance each other as more satellites are made available to both. Another high-specification feature which adds to positioning accuracy is a barometric altimeter. It’s a more accurate measure of altitude. GPS isn’t the best at this at it relies on triangulation of signals so isn’t as precise when you need to know how high up you are.

What can be tracked

This is definitely something to think about – after all, the whole reason you’re getting a device is to measure your rides. The extent of the data you collect is up to you. Luckily, pretty much all devices track basic functions like speed (including average and maximum), time, distance (total and trip), pace and have a clock. Low-end models will even track temperature and calories. It’s then a clear jump to devices which measure cadence, power, heart rate, workouts, have maps, communicate with other riders etc. So it really is a clear distinction and it’s likely you’ll fall into one camp or another.

 

Some of the more sophisticated measures are power and cadence. Cadence is, at a basic level, wheel revolutions per minute, so it’s related to speed, but gives an idea of how hard you’re working. Power is a delicate measurement and proper sensors measure the actual effort you’re exerting, rather than anything compromised by a hill or diluted by a tailwind pushing you. Despite sounding sophisticated the equipment isn’t as expensive as it used to be.

A note on heart rate, power, and cadence: these measurements will require other sensors and monitors attached to either yourself or the bike. These are mostly compatible with ANT+ being the most common power and heart rate sensor. We recommend attaching it to the bottom bracket for an accurate reading and protection from the weather. However, the consideration here is how much equipment you want to have and attach. While a simpler speedometer will have wires, it won’t need as much kit as you do to collect some of the more in-depth statistics. What you certainly want to avoid is getting an expensive device only to find yourself not using its functions because they require equipment you aren’t prepared to set up.

A neat function you’ll find on most devices is auto-stop, which means that it knows when you’re moving. You’ll only track your stats when you’re moving, not stopped at the lights or walking your bike to the start line. This is a massive bonus over a smartphone, as the ‘start-stop’ process will always be more manual on your mobile.

Usability

Small or large, they are usually capable of tracking more data than they can display on one screen, so you’ll have to configure it to your specifications. Some displays are easier to scroll through or modify on the road, whereas some you’ll need to set up the screens beforehand.

There are two main modes of operation – buttons, and touchscreen. Within this, the buttons may be around the edges like a stopwatch. This can be easier to use as the buttons have a specific function, but more difficult as you have to get used to them. Otherwise, the button or buttons will be within the face of the device, the most simple of these being a one-touch or single-scroll. This means that you push it once and it scrolls through the functions, or keep pressing it to scroll through manually.

Touchscreens work as they do on a smartphone, with a similar look and menu. However, they won’t be as responsive and you’ll obviously pay more for this.

How easy it is to see the information

Visibility is undoubtedly important. Weather, low light and keeping your eyes on the road will all play into this. Color screens can provide a better viewing experience if you’re prepared to pay for it, but a simple LED with a backlight might be fine. Do be careful and sure if you get any device without a light that you won’t need to see it in the dark or have an alternative light source that you don’t mind using.

 

In terms of actually scrutinizing the data, text size and the amount per page varies greatly. Some tiny devices have given over most of their size to their screen, but may only show three large-sized stats, whereas those more like smartphones will be packed with data. If you know there are a few things you like to see at one time, check if a simpler device might work for you. If you’re confident flicking between functions and even using the communication functions, go for something which can show you more detail.

Overall, from a safety as well as a comfort perspective, if you’re checking information on the go, you don’t want anything that’s going to distract you or obscure your vision, so think about how you ride and when you’ll need to look at the device.

Setup

There often isn’t much choice with where to mount the device, and clearly, it’s going to be within a relatively small range of places on your bike as it needs to be visible to be useful. Some devices come with brackets to support a range of positions. Most commonly they’ll attach to the handlebars, so think about where’s comfortable in terms of your hand and arm positioning. If you do place it on one side, think also about where you’ll naturally tend to glance for the least time taking your eyes off the road. Another common placement is ‘up front’ in the center of the handlebars. Some models even engineer a special mount so that it stays in line with the handlebars and doesn’t protrude into your field of vision.

For actually mounting, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. It’s important to get this right for your safety, especially if you’ve got a wired device, but also for taking care of your equipment. Cycling can be rough and you want your kit to be securely attached. If you need extra instructions or help, lots of manufacturers provide extra guides on their website, or you can even contact them directly. In general, they provide a great service for their customers.

Related to the instructions, do check the guidance on system setup and wheel size etc. Bike wheel circumferences aren’t standardized against sizes so it’s important to get an accurate measure so that distance and speed can be properly tracked. Bike sizes themselves are coded, and developments have been made in the area of standardization, but there is an abundance of these as well and take some decoding so tread carefully!

Durability

As with the majority of gear, bike speedometers are going to spend a significant, or most, of their time outside. While we’d like it if this meant a constant environment, there’ll be rain, wind, snow, heat, and mud to contend with. The majority of devices are water-resistant and don’t seem to have much trouble, some can even survive incidental immersion. High-specification units can also handle more than you’d expect, and this is one area where your smartphone is unlikely to make the grade – and we doubt you’d want to test it!

 

FAQs

Q:   Where is best to mount the speedometer?

The main three areas that you can mount the speedometer are the handlebars (on either side);  in the center, which is called ‘up front’; or lower down just above the stem. Where you position will depend a lot on what is provided with the device, but some products do come with mounting kits which allow you to choose the position. There is no optimum position, it’s down to the user, the device, and the mount.

The suggested positioning will depend a lot on size; for instance above stem mounting isn’t going to work for some models because that space isn’t big enough for the mount you’d need, or sometimes even the device itself.

However, we would let positioning determine which device you buy as there isn’t too much difference once you get used to them and there are more important factors which should influence you. If you really don’t like looking to the side you can consider that in your decision. Some brands also engineer their devices and mounts so that they don’t protrude into your view of the road, regardless of their size, but you’ll likely pay more for this.

Q:   Where do the sensor and magnet go?

The magnet is attached to the wheel itself and the sensor to the fork, so that the magnet can pass it when the wheel turns and give a reading. We recommend that the magnet goes near the center of a spoke, between the hub and rim. Usually, this is on the front wheel, but there are some rear wheel devices. However, for all devices, positioning should be checked carefully as the sensor will have a maximum distance it can be from the device, wired or wireless. Check that the device is picking up the movement before you fix anything in place more tightly by turning the wheel a few times.

Q:   How do I determine wheel factor?

As with many products in the gear world, bike wheel circumferences are not standardized. While there have been efforts made to standardize wheel sizes and their coding, it isn’t absolute in terms of the wheel. This means that the circumference of two tires of the same size will be different depending on the brand.

For bike stats, circumference is called ‘wheel factor’. Manufacturers might provide it, but another way to measure or check it is to roll the wheel once fully and measure how far it has traveled. Put a mark on the wheel and on the ground (perhaps do this outside!), match up the marks, roll the wheel until the wheel mark is back on the ground, make another mark on the ground and measure the distance between the two marks. That’s the wheel factor.

Q:   How do I keep the wires out of the way?

Once you’ve installed the device, magnet, and sensor, manually turn the wheel a few times to make sure that the computer picks up the revolutions. Once you know it’s all working, run the wire up to the brake line, securing as you go with zip ties. Wrap any excess wire around the brake line. This may be a fair few loops depending on the length of the wire but it’s important to keep it out of the way. Then, zip tie the last length of wire to the handlebars or wherever the device is to be positioned.

Q:   How much should I spend?

It’s true that they fall into a few categories in terms of specifications, which could possibly actually come down to two in terms of price. There’s a threshold you cross once it comes to wireless, GPS, feature-heavy models. It’s really your decision if you want to go that extra mile and get something super-technical, but a good tip is that even with the price jumps, simple yet wireless models aren’t that much more expensive than their wired cousins. It could be worth a little bit more for the ease of wireless.

Q:   Which type is more accurate?

With the money and development lavished on them, the high-specification models are going to be more accurate, and GPS, in general, will make the device more accurate than those without it. However, being precise and definite about your wheel size will bring a wired device close in accuracy to that of a GPS one. Above all, any of these devices will be more accurate and reliable than a smartphone.

Q:   Do I need a bike speedometer?

If you want to measure your trips and performance, it’s true that there are a few options. There are GPS watches or your smartphone itself as other options. However, they have been specially designed for the job and often these other devices aren’t as accurate. You can get a mount for your phone but stability and water-resistance are concerns – regardless of what you’re willing to spend, most people have spent hundreds on their smartphone! It will also use up your phone battery faster than simply connecting to an app in the background. Some watches can double up with a special mount, but otherwise, it’s on your wrist and not in front for quick glancing and ease of use.

Remember that smartphones will take up more room and the screen may not stay on when not in use. If you do configure them otherwise, bike apps will drain the battery. A phone is still an important piece of equipment, especially if you have a less sophisticated device and have no other form of communication.

If you can’t see why you need all of the functions in a high-specification model, then the very reasonably-priced basic models will suit you fine.

 

Final Thoughts

Overall, making the decision on which bike speedometer to buy is actually fairly simple. Once you’ve decided which category you’re in, that is. As we’ve seen, you can go for the very simple, the simple and a bit more convenient, added functionality, or ultimate-specifications. The price points you’ll find for each of these categories are fairly clear-cut too, which helps decide. In general, you’re either likely to spend and get something which can do everything, or spend a lot less for something which does the basics.

Whichever bike speedometer or computer you go for, make sure it works for your bike and your ride, as you don’t want to find yourself wasting or lacking functionality on the road.

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