Once upon a time computers were relegated to the home and office, but today you will find computers in every aspect of our lives.
Mountain biking is a sport where computers are becoming widely used, for a range of reasons! You have some people using computers to find their location when they got lost on trails, because computers come with GPS.
Additionally, you have people using computers for training, as some computers come with sensors for heart rate, time, distance, and calories burned. With the rise in demand for best mountain bike computer, there is a lot of models by dozens of companies.
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Why Do You Need the Best Bike Computer Around?
If you don’t know, bike computer is a device that calculates your average and top speed while riding a bicycle, the time you take to complete the ride, the distance of your current and overall trip, and many other things. Some computers also show the heartbeat rate of yours depending on how much money people spend on these things.
I know many who’d say, “A smartphone is more than enough for the job,” but I beg to differ. A smartphone can do a lot of things. If you put the machine to it, then it can even give you different data about your ride too. But while doing that, the smartphone will drain valuable charge. Also, not many low-budget smartphones handle multitasking too well.
So, if you are using your phone for the task, it might hang for a period or stop working altogether. The easier way is to put a specific computer to the job. There are a couple of reasons for this:
First, a bike computer is solely made to track these stats for the rider. So, it will be more accurate than your smartphone.
Secondly, you can count on the fact that majority of the best bike computers around are cheap. In fact, they are cheaper than your average smartphones. So, without really spending “Too Much,” people will have accurate data that’ll help them compete and keep fit.
As a passionate rider, I have had the chance to use a number of mtb computers over the years. Additionally, I spent hours of times researching, testing and discussing with industry experts, and built this final list. The 5 computers that have stood out the most to me are reviewed below.
The CatEye Velo 7 is a cycling computer that is basic and simplistic. Unlike other computers that have complex features and functions, the Velo 7 has simple features and basic ride data.
It will provide data regarding speed, distance, and time. The computer works via a wired speed sensor which is mounted to the front fork, as well as a spoke magnet for recording speed.
When you begin moving, the computer will automatically turn on and start recording data. Alternatively, when you are inactive for over 10 minutes, the computer will go into power saving mode.
This feature will extend the life of your battery. This extremely affordable cycling computer provides you with all of the essential data you need, and it is incredibly simple to use.
The CatEye Velo 7 has a tactile button on the front of the unit, which allows you to flip through time, distance, maximum speed, average speed, and odometer.
When it comes to your current speed, this information is constantly displayed at the top of the screen. Therefore you will always have two data points (current speed and another of your choice), and you can use the display to compare these points.
As you can see, this top of the best mountain bike computer is simple, efficient, and easy to read. You can’t find better at this price.
Another great mountain biking computer is CatEye Strada Wireless Bicycle Computer.
Unlike the unit above, this function-rich bike computer does not have any wires. The result is a sleek and elegant unit that looks good and performs even better.
The lightweight bike computer comes with 8 modes, which you can switch between by pressing the bottom of the computer.
These modes include current speed, average speed, maximum speed, trip distance, second trip distance, total distance, elapsed time, and 12/24 hour time.You can then use these modes to determine the efficiency of your workouts, and to plan for workouts in the future.
The CatEye Strada is also simple to use, as it has a touch screen interface. Your current speed is displayed at the top, while your desired mode will appear at the bottom.
There is also an up/down arrow which compares your current speed to your average speed. Additionally, this computer has an inbuilt digital wireless system that communicates with the wheel sensor.
When it comes to mounting the computer, you will use the tool-free bracket to secure the computer to the bike stem or handlebars. Other features that you can take advantage of include, an integrated clock, a programmable odometer, an auto power-saving mode, an auto start/stop function, a programmable speed unit, a pace arrow, and support for 2 wheel sizes.
The Garmin Edge 810 is the ultimate GPS bike computer. This computer has been built for the cyclist who is looking for an advanced device, which can cater to training and navigation alike.
This GPS bike computer has been ruggedly built, and it comes with a waterproof shell so that you can use it in wet conditions.
The computer also has a 17 hour battery life, meaning that you no longer have to worry about your computer going off mid ride. When it comes to the touch screen of the computer, you will be happy that it is easy to operate even with gloves on or when wet.
This Garmin Edge 810 offers you a range of features via your Android or Apple device, and some of these features include social media sharing, live tracking, and weather updates.
You can also use the computer to access Ordnance Survey maps, making it perfect for commuting, touring, and other extended activities. Few computers provide such precise and versatile navigation capabilities.
Continually, this model comes with advanced training capabilities, as it can record your speed metrics, distance, ascent/descent, and grade. Additionally, if you use it with ANT+ sensors, then it can measure your heart rate, power, and speed.
As if that is not amazing enough, the computer allows you to create profiles, and then tailor them to your cycling activity e.g. road, touring, and mounting. You can create multiple profiles, and then switch between them depending on your ride.
Once all of your data is connected, you can analyze it and send it to your phone or computer via Bluetooth. You can also use Garmin Connect to share it with your friends and family. Garmin Connect also comes with a tracking page, so that your friends and family can follow your ride, training, or race in real time.
Another great mountain bike computer is the WolfRide Cyclists Wireless. This affordable computer is similar to the CatEye Velo 7 that we reviewed above, in the sense that it provides riders with basic data.
This mtb computer is highly accurate, and it will relay data regarding your current speed, average speed, maximum speed, elapsed time, total distance, temperature, and clock.
The data provided will make your life much easier, and you can use it to determine how good your performance was. You can read this data on your LCD screen, which is clear and straightforward. Additionally, the WolfRide computer has been designed with waterproof properties, allowing you to use it in the rain.
However, it should not get soaked. This computer is also lightweight, compact and durable, and it can easily be installed on your handlebars or stem.
The popular mountain bike computer also has a sleep mode for power savings, and an automatic wake-up for convenience. Sleep mode is activated after 300 seconds of no activity
Last, I have the Garmin Edge 500 GPS computer on the top 5 list. This highly popular computer has been designed with the performance-driven cyclist in mind.
Each of the features of the bike computer is geared towards helping you improve on your performance, so that you can become a better rider.
The Edge 500 is great for training, as it tracks your speed, distance, location, calories burned, ascent, descent, and elevation, using GPS and a barometric altimeter. And if you add an ANT+ sensor/power meter/HR monitor, you can track your heart rate, speed/cadence, and power.
Once you have all of this data, you can fine-tune your ride so that you get better results with less effort. The computer also has a Courses feature, which allows you to compare different rides over the same route.
There is also an integrated Auto Pause, Auto Lap, and temperature readings, for a more efficient ride. This bicycle computer promises to take your riding performance to a whole new level.
Mounting the computer is a piece of cake, as you can easily attach it to the handlebars or stem of the bike. And when it comes time to analyze your ride, you can use the USB cable to send the data to your computer. And if you’re interested, you can share your ride data to other cyclists using Garmin Connect.
When it comes to a bike computer, we want it to show as many stats as possible so that we can evaluate our riding skill and environment better.
CatEye does exactly that with the Padrone Bicycle Computer. This model comes with different types of readings. And, not to mention, a large display so that we can see things better.
In fact, CatEye has the largest display screen when it comes to bike computers available on the market. Thanks to this, you don’t have to pull your glasses out to make sure the readings are correct.
As there are different products in the CatEye Padrone Bike Computer lineup, they display different readings. But the average one shows total trip distance, trip distance, current speed, and average speed.
Some of the devices out of several models under different prices come with the stop watch facility too. So you can even monitor your own sprint speed and waypoint to waypoint traveling time.
The odometer is programmable. That means you can do different things with it if you so choose.
If you want a budget-friendly computer, you can get your hands on Sigma BC5.12. Don’t let the price fool you, it is a bike console that exceeds the expectations of the avid bikers by a long shot.
This thing displays full readings and text based on the format you choose. Without compromising for the price point, you get the best stats. Also, the digits are easy to read.
You don’t have to pull your glasses out even if you have poor eyesight. On top of that, you get to operate this thing with a single button. Yes, I do mean a single button On/Off system. Then you can cycle through all the functions with the same button as well.
The “Single Button Operation” makes this thing easy to program as well. People won’t even need tools to install this thing. Just hook it up to your bike and you are done. This little computer is waterproof to support you round the year.
This little unit shows you 5 different stats that you need to keep track of during your bike rides. Riders get to monitor their speed, distance, total distance they traveled, total time, and the regular clock. Impressive, right?
The best news is; riders can download these stats using optional USB docking station that comes with the product.
Magellan Cyclo 315 GPS Computer is for those who want the Best Cycle Computers without worrying about price as they want to leave nothing out.
It is a high-end machine that features a lot of cool perks that we’ll get to know in a moment.
Magellan Cyclo 315 series comes loaded with maps of various places where you can go for a ride or two. The maps range from Open Street Maps to Crowd Sourced Maps. You have over 35000 lanes visible as parts of those maps that are solely cycling tracks.
Also, out of those cycling lanes, over 5000 tracks are from the USA alone. You can also find bike shops and restaurants along the way. Recently discovered a route on your own? You can even share that online!
If you have wandered off the course, you can rely on Cyclo 315 to tell you where you are. Interestingly, this GPS/Cycling computer is able to tell you the location thanks to “Where Am I feature that it comes with.
I am discussing the Magellan Cyclo 315 and 315hc models together. Because the latter only has a heartbeat monitoring mechanism as an extra. These models come with speed and cadence sensors. It shows time, the distance of the trip, and total distance covered.
An interesting feature is that these models come with 3-inch touch screen and large buttons. These buttons help you with different functions that you need to access. The machines are water resistant as well. So, that is a definite win.
The best thing about these devices is that you get to, put in the distance and the time you have in your hands to get to a destination. The device will show you three possible routes to get there are you’ll choose your own.
Also, you have six different profile slots so that multiple people can use this machine. Or you can track six different goals of your own. Possibilities are endless.
Who needs a single bike computer when you can have it as a part of a bundle? That is right! Planet Bike Protege 9.0 9-Function Bike Computer comes as a part of a headlight and tail light package that you get at under $100 price.
Cool, eh? Wait till you hear about the features.
The Beamer headlight and binky 3 taillight keep you safe while riding through a dark path. The duo of lights makes the way bright and serve you for an extended period of time.
Now we come to the 9 Function Computer itself. That’s right. The Planet Bike Protégé 9 shows your vital stats like average speed, maximum speed, duration, distance, temperature, and more. You can view 5 statistics at a time thanks to the 4-line display. No, the display won’t cause you any problems since it is an LCD and has a convenient size.
You have three options or packages to choose from. One package delivers Wireless unit of Protégé 9.0; the option is to buy the wired version which features a mounting kit for the monitor. The third option is to buy the complete headlight, taillight, and bike computer package like me.
This little thing underwent ultrasonic welding. This makes the computer waterproof.
I saved the best of the best bike computers for last. Yes, it is CatEye CC-MC100W Micro Wireless Bike Computer with as many as 10 different functions. You also get 12 features as a part of this machine.
That is what makes CatEye CC-MC100W so popular. Thanks to the universal mount system, this thing attaches very well with mountain bike suspension forks.
Also, you can mount it on the stem or the handlebars with the mounts that come with this thing. The device shows you the total distance you traveled, individual trip distance, total time you spend on the bike while riding, and more.
By more, I mean it shows two different times for two trips and also distance counts of two trips separately. It allows riders to compare the outcome of two ride sessions.
Riders have both 12 and 24-hour clock format for their convenience. You can switch between any of these two. The bike computer runs on batteries and has an auto power saving mode. Also, this thing is small and lightweight. This feature makes it super convenient to have it around.
The answer to this question is different for different people. It all depends on what you want from your cycle computer. Nevertheless, you’ll find the following factors helpful in deciding what type of cycle computer is right for you.
People who go on long rides need more battery for the device to be active and record the stats. This helps them tracking long-term fitness goals. If you are one of those guys, you should consider shorter and lighter cycle computers. These conserve very little battery and stay operational for a full day or possibly longer period of time. Of course, people need to recharge the batteries often.
Let’s just think for a second that you are not one of those guys who need the hassle of recharging the battery every time it runs out. People have to rely on wired computers. But remember, installing them is a drag and most often than not they’ll malfunction or tangle the wires.
Mapping, Navigation, Collecting Data, and Heartbeat Monitoring System Are Cool Things to Have
Believe it or not, you can even have your cycle computer map out your tracks, roads, cycle lanes, and mountain terrains for you. Some computers can guide you through different routes as well. Then there are other systems that show different sets of data and have multiple profile slots for multiple users.
The data can include trip distance, overall distance, trip time, average speed, top speed, and more. Expensive models come with straps to tie around your hand for heartbeat monitoring. While these things are cool, the models can be on the expensive side. Plus, they are bigger than conventional bike computer models.
If the answer is yes, the basic solution for you is to get a wireless and wi-fi enabled device. If you are willing to go further, go purchase those with Ant+ connectivity.
With this, you can transfer your findings to the Bluetooth enabled devices, the smartphones, and even fitness tracking apps.
If you want your bicycle computer device to calculate data when you are using it with other forms of sports, there is a way. Simply purchase those which have a “Wrist Mount” system. This system allows you to play a different form of sports while the device keeps track of the data.
Well, these things aren’t “Mandatory,” but having these perks on board can really take your device to the next level. These are:
- If you prefer, you can get bike computers that come with touchscreens. These are expensive but easy to operate.
- Also, there are “Single Button” bicycle computers that do the job. Pushing a single button takes care of different functions as you cycle through them.
- Try to purchase the bundles that are available as a computing device, a headlight, a taillight, and/or anything else. For your convenience, I even included one in my picks.
Mountain bike computers are accessories that you should buy, in order to help you navigate and improve on your riding performance. As you can see, the best mountain bike computers given above offer different features, and they also range from twenty - forty dollar making them suitable for people with different budgets.
I am proud to be the go-to guy among my circle for bike advice. I take it personally when someone I know buys a new bike without consulting me first!