How to choose the right bicycle computer or GPS sportswatch:
Whether it’s riding for fun, fitness or competition, at the end you the day you’re exercising. To make the most of any form of exercise, you need to be aware of the length, quality and intensity of your activity. Starting at less the $30, there’s a great selection of bike computers and bike speedometers suited to all styles of rider.
A basic cycling computer is perfect for the avid leisure rider, as it records and displays trip distance and speed. This helps you know how far you’re riding and when to service your bike.
As you move up in price, computers and watches are suited to riders with more specific training goals. Bike computers generally become wireless and offer additional functions. No cable means no wear-and-tear and a longer lifespan. More functions include average and max speeds, cadence etc. Cadence is your pedalling revolutions per minute, which aids effectiveness of both constant and interval training.
GPS based computers and watches use satellite technology to accurately track your movements and training. GPS technology enables precise measurements of additional factors such as altitude and elevation, and feature more detailed analytical software. GPS also means no wires, and simple recharging.
Heart rate monitors provide an extra level of insight into your performance and training load. These models pair with computer software for the ability to download and conduct more detailed analysis of training data.
Cadence sensors allow you to measure your pedalling rate, or the number of revolutions of the crank per minute. Cadence is related to, but separate to overall speed. Knowing your cadence can help you with gear selection, and generally working towards improved pedalling efficiency.
A power meter is a device that measures power output of the rider at each pedal stroke. This provides feedback on actual physical output, and is used in training and racing by high performance cyclists.