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Cyclometers: Bicycle Speedometers, Odometers, and Cadence Meters

Updated on August 4, 2012

Cyclometers Allow You to Know How Far and Fast You Go On Your Bicycle

The Cycle Computer, or Cyclometer is a bicycle accessory that is easily mounted to a bicycle and provides valuable information to the rider about his/her speed, distance, time, cadence, etc. If you are starting to ride your bicycle for exercise and fitness, the cyclometer will be a reliable tool that allows you to get the most from your cycling program.

This article is specifically geared to those who are new to to cycle computers and/or may be new to cycling. In a nutshell, this is a crash course in cyclometers for beginning cyclists.

If you are new to cycling, a cycle computer is a must have. The information you can get from your cyclometer will allow you to understand when you are performing well, and determine if you can make simple adjustments that allow you to perform at a higher level.

A Good Beginning Cycling Computer - Wired Cycling Computer with Cadence Meter

This CATEYE Cyclometer - Cycle Computer has the basic functions that a new cyclist needs in order to get a great handle on their performance such as odometer, trip distance, average speed, current speed, and a trip timer. It also includes the extremely important cadence meter that allows a rider to understand if they working too hard or too little which allows you to make the adjustments that will help you to improve your speed and cardiovascular efficiency.

CatEye - Strada Cadence Cycle Computer
CatEye - Strada Cadence Cycle Computer

I chose this cycling computer to recommend for you because I have a CATEYE cycling computer. I have found it to be extremely reliable. The cadence function of this cyclometer makes it worth every penny. Speaking of money, this particular model is very affordable coming in at around the $50 mark.


Cateye CC-RD200 Strada Cadence Bicycle Computer

A Cyclometer is simply a computer for your bicycle that is not really any bigger than the size of a large wrist watch and they are usually mounted to the handle bars of your bicycle. They can be referred to as a cycle computer, cycling computer, bicycle computer, etc., and most people will understand what you are talking about.

Cycling computers are in my opinion the one bicycle accessory that every new cyclist should get to gain a better understanding of how you are performing on your rides. Most cyclometers have basic functions that will give you an overall odometer, trip distance, average speed, current speed, trip timer, and clock. More expensive models will provide more in depth information for you such as your cadence, calories burned, heart rate etc. The Garmin company has even introduced some more advanced cyclometers that include detailed cycle computer functions as well as GPS features.

I recommend that a new cyclist get a basic function cyclometer that with the added feature of a cadence meter. Next to simply getting out and riding on a regular basis, cadence is the most important part of understanding your are performing. Cadence is just a measurement of the RPM (revolutions per minute) of the bicycle's pedals (and your legs and feet). Optimal cadences of 70-90 RPM will allow allow you to burn more calories and put less strain on your body and joints.

Cyclometers can be purchased as wired or wireless. Both are efficient and provide accurate readings, and obviously Wireless Cycling Computers are easier to mount. However, if you put in a little extra work using zip ties, etc. you can make sure that wired cycling computers stay where they are supposed to on your bike.

Here's My Final Take: Get a cycling computer to improve your performance and increase your peace of mind in knowing that you are getting better each week. Even if you only get a basic function cyclometer, it is going to help you get better. You can get a simple cycle computer for around $10-$15 (see below), and if that's what you can get on your budget, that investment will pay off for you. If you can afford it, spend a little more and get cycling computer that will give you a cadence reading. However, try not to overspend on the super advanced features. Invest that money in improving the performance of your bicycle. All-in-All, I think that about $50-$75 should be the cap you put on your cyclometer investment. Once you progress, you will likely invest in a new bike (sometime down the road I'm sure). When you do that, you can re-evaluate the performance of your cycling computer and determine if you want buy a more advanced model and increase the number of functions for your cyclometer.

Really Affordable a.k.a. Cheap Cyclometers

Cheap cyclometers like these will keep track of basic data for you: Speed, Time, Total Distance, Trip Distance, etc. These types of cycle computers will have a wire which runs from the computer mounted on the bicycle's handle bars to a sensor connected to the front fork of the bike. A separate piece is then connected to the spokes of the front wheel so that the sensor can detect it every time is passes by. The information is used to process various types of information which is then displayed on the screen of the cycle computer for you to see whie you are riding.

These cyclometers are great for new cyclists, because they will give you the information you need to keep you motivated and they are easy to install. Really basic cycle computers can be purchased for less than $10.

Tell Us About What You Think

This is a quick poll about Cycling Computers. Let us know what you think by answering this simple question. Anyone can do it.

Is a Cycling Computer Helfpul?

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How to Install - Mount a Cycle Computer

As a beginner cyclist a few years ago, I quickly came to the realization that a cyclometer was necessary and valuable tool to improve on my cycling ability. My cycling computer allowed me to better understand how I was riding and if I could improve in certain areas. That's what I think. What do you think?

Is a Cyling Computer for You? - Tell me what You Think

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    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      I love my cadence monitor and heart rate monitor on the bike at the gym. I love seeing if my heart rate is in the anaerobic range. I'm afraid outside, I'd be looking at my cadence and heart rate instead of watching the road. -great info.

    • ColwoodWheelWorks profile image

      ColwoodWheelWorks 6 years ago

      I used to ride in time trials in the days before bicycle computers. I didn't need one then so I guess I don't need one now either.

      I'm starting to ride again after many years away from my bike. I think having a computer will add interest to my cycling. I'm far too old to race again though.