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The Benefits of a Cycling Computer for Biking

Updated on May 21, 2009

For cycling enthusiasts and those who enjoy distance bike riding for fun or competition, as well as individuals seeking to continually improve their skills, a cycling computer is essential. This biking computer gadget will basically eliminate the guesswork in the distance covered by a bike workout particularly if the bike training route has no reliable markers to accurately indicate how far a cyclist has pedalled.

Advanced features are also offered in newer bike computer or cycling computer units. Some of these have evolved into multifunction devices that can give readouts on altitude and compass directions, monitor the cyclist’s heartbeat rate, and provide cadence guides among other functions. Global position system (GPS) capability is also an enhancement that enables the cyclist to navigate strange trails or routes taken for the first time.

cycling computer for distance biking
cycling computer for distance biking

Cycling Computer For Serious Bike Riders

Serious bike riders, therefore, would want to have a cycling computer in much the same way that they would meticulously look for the right clipless pedals and other biking accessories in order to further improve their riding. Dozens upon dozens of cycling computer models are available offering diverse features and price ranges. Before purchasing a unit, it is first necessary to determine which features are most important to the cyclist and which model is within the buyer’s budget.

A careful evaluation of the bike computer should include its installation mode. There are wireless units that are easier to install, but could malfunction on the trail. The safety factor for the unit should also be considered, for which computer mounts that could be securely clipped but easily and conveniently removed would be advantageous to avoid the possibility of theft or accidental loss.

It would also be helpful to first understand how a cycling computer works. For distance measurements, this gadget usually depends on tracking the wheel rotations. The complexity of the information provided would depend on the sophistication of the computer which could also be designed and programmed to gather other additional inputs.

About The Cycling Computer

Common for a cycling computer is a magnetic attachment installed on the front wheel’s spokes with a sensor attached to the fork. Wireless units, which are quite fashionable but also pricey, also work through front-wheel magnetic attachments and fork-attached sensors but differ in that the information is sent to the computer via radio frequency. Through this wireless design, the unsightly wires running up from the fork to the handle bars are eliminated.

The same measurement principle applies though in both wireless and wired cycling computer setups. The wheel’s circumference is programmed into the computer to which an electric impulse is sent with each wheel rotation. The faster the wheel rotates, the more frequent the electrical impulses are sent to the sensor. Sensors from other locations are installed for more advanced computer units to provide such information as cadence or pedalling speed or gear position that would be helpful to monitoring cyclist performance.

The basic information that a cycling computer could deliver include average and maximum speed, as well as total distance covered. Other useful pieces of information that could be derived from more sophisticated units are laps covered and lap time in circuit cycling. This particular type of stopwatch function makes it necessary for the computer controls to be conveniently located for easy use. Preference should also be given to a cycling computer with large buttons because it is dangerous to set settings while a cyclist is moving at high speed.


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      clipless pedals 7 years ago

      Wow, what a useful tool. I definitely need to get one of these as I go on leisurely rides that end up turning into very long rides...I would love to know how long I have gone. thanks!

    • Montana Farm Girl profile image

      Montana Farm Girl 8 years ago from Northwestern Montana

      Wow, I had no clue these were available!! We have the old standby pedometers... I will have to check these new gadgets out!! Great hub!