A bike computer is a must! No doubt about it you have to have a bike computer.
Whether you want to track how far you’ve been, how long you’ve been out, your average speed, your top speed, the height you climbed or compare any of this data to how you did last time or if you need a map to check your location or find the way. Every cyclist will want some of this data at some point, I love my gadgets so I bought the best I could at the time, the Garmin Edge 800. 2 years later here’s what I think…
My main reason for buying was to navigate my local countryside. Going off road and off piste can be a little daunting at times, but having a good old OS map at your fingertips makes this so much easier. Having a map that isn’t going to be blown away by the wind or turned to pulp by the rain is also an advantage. There have been many occasions where this has helped locally but its also a great tool for getting out and riding less familiar places or trying to follow vague instructions by other riders.
For a longtime I was attaching the Garmin 800 to the bars and simply using it to see how far I’d ridden, or if i was going to be back home in time for tea; it was interesting on group rides to know how far through the planned 25 mile route we had to go for instance. Eventually I became more interested in seeing much I had climbed or what my average speed was. It became more important to know that I was improving.
Recording this data on the Garmin Connect website is useful as you can set distance goals etc or simply collate all the info to see how far you have ridden in a month or a year etc.
I don’t yet use a heart rate monitor or measure cadence but I’m think the former is something I will get quite soon, this might help to improve my fitness but I must admit it is something I don’t fully understand and I don’t want to gather data that will mean nothing to me.
The emergence of Strava has increased my usage from a training perspective as now I can upload my rides to Strava and compare my performance with other riders or check that my time around a trail is at least somewhere near what the masses are doing. Look out for a future post on Strava.
The recording of route data is useful for my mountain bike club (www.mbswindon.co.uk) as we record and upload routes for discussion as potential club rides and for sharing after a ride to show those who didn’t attend where we went.
Many people are happy just collecting data and have a simple GPS device, but if you are like me and ride a fair bit on your own and like to ride new spots, my advice when buying a bike computer is buy the best you can and to get one with maps. Garmin have a great range and I am considering upgrading to the newer model with some advanced sharing and uploading features.
When I purchased my Edge 800, I bought a bundle with an OS map on for UK exploring, when traveling abroad these maps can cost you a lot for short trips – don’t worry there is an open source community out there that uploads and updates maps from around the world and I have used these for Spain and France with great success. If you are interested in learning about this please get in touch and we will post some info here.
This weekend I gave the Garmin a good bit of use riding two new spots in South Wales. The first was with a friend of mine and I was able to record the route so I can go back again without a guide; and the second was a solo ride on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. After creating and downloading a route GPX on www.BikeHike.co.uk I was able to upload to me Garmin and follow the guidelines on a route that I had planned and detailed from the comfort of a desk and a computer. Two half days of riding were possible on one charge of the internal battery – with plenty left for another ride or two of similar lengths.
The screen can be configured to show you whatever data you are interested in – speed, distance, temperature, coordinates etc – or a map or chart showing height gained. You can even set up a virtual partner and see visually how far behind or ahead of a defined pace you are. The possibilities and data are endless.
Its no understatement when I say that I think this is one piece of gear that I am not sure I could manage without – for all of the above reasons.
If you want to take a look at some of the more technical details and specifications visit the Garmin site here.