There’s a wide range of bike computers available today. Almost all of them are wireless but while some rely on sensors strapped to your bike, others need to tether themselves to the signals transmitted from GPS satellites. Some computers display nothing but the most basic speed, distance and time info, while others will alert you to incoming phone calls and text messages, map your route and let you download your data for analysis afterwards. But no matter how many tasks they claim to perform, if they’re not easy to operate, they’re no good to anyone.
How we tested the bike computers
To measure how user-friendly these computers are, we timed how long it takes to set them up. We unboxed each computer, weighed and measured it, then briefly checked it over in order to familiarise ourselves with the device, any associated sensors and fitting method. Once the clock was started it wouldn’t stop until all the necessary sensors had been fitted and the computer had been mounted, switched on, personalised, calibrated, synced with its sensors and/or GPS signals and was ready to record ride data.
The quicker this process took, and the more it could be completed without looking at the instructions, the more user-friendly the device. Each computer was then ridden over the same test route to see how easy it was to use on the bike, in terms of screen readability, mode selection and so on. All of the above along with prices were taken into account to arrive at the final rating.
The Edge 1000 is big. So big that it’s spread beyond bike computer dimensions and wandered into smartphone territory. It’s 56 x 112mm and 115g and wouldn’t look out of place held up to your ear. Indeed, its operating system relies on intuitive swipes and prods of its 3in colour touchscreen. The set-up is ludicrously easy. Personalising the profile, measurement units and screen configuration took 4:24mins and was completed without once having to open the instructions. Fitting it took 54secs using the regular band-on mount rather than 34g ‘out-front’ arm, but would take longer if you were syncing the device to any cadence and power sensors. It’s easy to read but occasionally takes minutes to find a satellite fix. The touchscreen works great but sweat while riding can result
in unintended selections.
Verdict: Intuitive do-it-all device but with a big price and big dimensions 82%
The M450 is the ‘little brother’ to the V650 computer we tested last August. ‘Little’ in the sense that it has fewer features (no colour screen or route mapping) and smaller dimensions – 49 x 74mm compared to the V650’s
63 x 105mm. It’s also lighter (63g rather than 132g), so it stays put, whereas the bulky V650 slides around when you hit a bump.
The M450 is a GPS unit but you can pair it to a heart-rate strap (supplied) as well as cadence and power sensors (sold separately). It took 18secs to fit the mount to the stem and 3:27mins to configure the computer. The only gripe is that all the readings it displays in use are the same size. So until you’re fully accustomed to the M450, it’s not immediately clear what data you’re looking at unless you check the symbols next to the numbers.
Verdict: Quick and simple to set up but no clear hierarchy to display info 90%
With three sensors and three buttons, the M5 covers almost all the bases. Along with the 40g display, you get a speed sensor and wheel magnet (19g), cadence sensor (22g) and heart-rate belt (63g) – and getting them all zip-tied to your bike or strapped to your chest takes 2:32mins. Navigating the display’s functions is a breeze and you can set the clock, calibrate wheel size and zero the odometer in 2:52mins without referring to the instructions. All told, it’s less than five and a half minutes from unboxing to ready-to-ride. Your current speed gets the biggest digits while your HR and cadence use smaller ones in the two top corners of the screen. The rest of the functions are scrolled through and shown in the bottom third. There’s no download capability or GPS but 100 quid for this package is not to be sniffed at.
Verdict: No power readings, downloads or GPS but no problem if you don’t want them 77%
Continue reading our guide to this year's best bike computers (2/3)