We continue our guide to ten of this year's best bike computers for triathletes...
Sigma Rox 10.0 GPS
Price: £189 from www.todayscyclist.co.uk
GPS units, like the 77 x 50mm Rox, tend to be bigger than computers that rely on wheel sensors. But being bigger means there’s more room – not only for more buttons but also (perhaps more importantly), labels that say what those buttons do.
Thanks to the labels, using the 67g Rox is an absolute doddle. You simply charge it up, switch it on, format it, give it a moment to tether to a satellite and then off you go. After that your speed, distance, time, route, altitude and temperature readings take care of themselves.
It’ll also track heart rate, cadence and power data with additional Ant+ sensors. It’s a bit bigger, heavier and more expensive than the Cateye, but it’s a lot easier to set up. Its speed readings do tend to waver a little, though, especially when you pass under trees.
Verdict: GPS route and performance tracking in a user-friendly package, 89%
Bontrager Node 2.1
Price: £99 from www.bontrager.com
The first, and most important, thing to point out is that, on its own, the 34g Node 2.1 isn’t a bike computer. It’s a heart rate monitor. You can turn it into a bike computer, but to do so you need ANT+ speed, cadence and power sensors or a Trek bike with a Speedtrap or Duotrap device.
All of which are sold separately and will need to be synced to the Node in order to work. You do get a chest strap, though. Pairing sensors to the device and setting up its functions are mercifully easy thanks to big, friendly buttons on the unit and generously-sized digits on the screen.
But it’s worth pointing out that many of its functions, such as inputting heart rate settings or reconfiguring the display, aren’t covered in the instructions and require the tutorials on Bontrager’s website.
Verdict: A basic heart rate monitor on its own. Extra info requires additional sensors, 52%
Garmin Edge 200
Price: £109 from www.garmin.com
Despite being one of the cheapest and most basic GPS units, the Edge 200 still manages to impress. It provides speed, distance and time data but little else, since it can’t be paired to heart rate, cadence or power sensors.
That said, it does have a ‘virtual partner’ facility that allows you to race yourself on routes you’ve previously ridden. The 70 x 48mm computer adds just 64g to your bike (including the stem mount and rubber bands) and is ludicrously easy to use.
Naturally it comes with an instruction booklet but, chances are, you won’t even need to unpack it. Battery life was barely dented by a two-hour ride and it remained tethered to its satellite signal throughout – even passing under a tunnel. If all you want is the basics, it’s difficult to look beyond this little cracker.
Verdict: Easy to use, easy to read, dependable and doesn’t drain its battery, 87%
Sigma BC16.12 STS CAD
Price: £57 from www.todayscyclist.co.uk
At 55g, including the mounts, magnet and fork-mounted sensor, Sigma’s BC16.12 unit is well within range of the lightest wheel-based computers here. It’s also one of the cheapest and for £16 more you can add cadence info to the speed, distance and time readings that the 41 x 55mm wireless computer will display.
There’s no option to add heart rate though. It relies on rubber bands, rather than clamps, to attach to your bike, which makes fitting it a breeze. Setting it up and operating it is equally simple, despite none of the four buttons being labelled in any way.
The screen’s not that big and it only ever displays two metrics at once (as well as a pace-indicator arrow), so the digits can be kept big, bold and easily visible. It’s a basic unit, but there’s nothing to not like about it.
Verdict: Cheap, small and simple, but in the best way possible, 88%
Price: £39 from www.cyclingsportsgroup.co.uk
At 52 x 34mm, the IQ300 is the smallest device here. It’s also the cheapest, lightest (48g for the display, mount and sensor), most basic and by far the easiest to use. It only has two buttons – well, one really because you flick through its functions using the touchscreen, which works even when you’re wearing full-finger gloves.
The single button on the back you only press to input your settings or wake it from sleep mode. As well as the usual speed, distance and trip readings, the IQ300 also approximates the calories your ride has burned off, tells you the temperature and can be configured for two bikes.
It’s fine for a budget item, yet there is a but… although it’ll display speed in either mph or km/h, it seems to only show distance in miles.
Verdict: Cheap, simple and perfectly fine if you want your speed/distance in imperial, 69%
You can split the computers on test here into three groups: computers under £100, computers under £200 and the Garmin Edge 810. At the lowest end of the price spectrum, the Cannondale IQ300 is a decent enough unit, provided you’re happy with imperial measurements. If you want metric units for speed and distance, and the option of cadence info without nearing three figures, your best bet is the Sigma BC16.12.
At the 100-quid mark, things start to get competitive. The VDO M6 is a nice device but, aside from altitude and temperature data, doesn’t offer anything that cheaper computers don’t, unless you shell out extra for the heart rate and cadence sensors. Which leaves only the Garmin Edge 200 and Sigma Rox. And as nice as the Edge 200 is, there’s a lot more functionality to be had if you pay the extra £80 for the Sigma Rox.
Once you’re up at that price notch, Polar’s V650 computer is a strong contender on paper and represents great value compared to the Garmin Edge 810, but is big and bulky and let down by a truly useless mount. The Bryton’s fine, but a bit clunky given its high price. The Cateye’s okay, but a hassle to set up (and expensive when you consider you have to buy separate power, cadence and heart rate sensors).
The Edge 810 is by far the most expensive device here. Yes, you get a lot of computer for your money, but it doesn’t really have or do anything that sets it apart from its rivals. There are others with a touchscreen, others with a colour display, others with heart rate, cadence and power options and, of course, others with GPS route tracking.
But what makes the Edge 810 different is that there’s nothing that lets it down. It’s ridiculously user-friendly, its mount is secure, and it never loses the GPS signal. It’s not just a high-class package, it’s the complete package.
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