How to choose your computer
The GPS computer is an integral part of cycling accessories. This small device will allow you to better measure all the variables during your trips, on the road as well as in the forest. First designed to measure the distance traveled during the trip, the GPS computer now has many other features.
The number of features, the product's overall quality and its components, as well as the brand, determine the price of the bike computer, starting at less than 10 euros at entry-level up to more than 500 euros for the very high-end models.
Bike computer functioning
All of your driving data are transmitted to it, according to the technologies: by sensors placed on the fork, a radius, the pedals, the rear hub, the user's thorax or directly via GPS signal. It is necessary to check the various signals' compatibility when transmitted to the wireless computers by the sensors. Indeed, if you have bike computers of different brands, interference could make them unusable simultaneously.
Bike computers with wire
Entry-level models have limited functionality such as instantaneous speed, daily distance, total distance, time traveled or time. A wire connects the bike computer to the magnetic sensor, which counts the number of wheel rotations via a magnet placed on the radius of a rim.
The data transmission between the sensor and the bike computer is wireless. The higher the price, the greater the number of functionalities (speed: instantaneous, average, maximum; pedaling rates: instantaneous, average, maximum; temperatures, altimeter, ascents, heart rate, use on several bicycles, computerized data processing) .
GPS computers are increasingly present on our bikes. Using state-of-the-art technology, these computers deliver unprecedented precision. The data is directly transmitted between the GPS satellites and the receiver.
In accord with you cycling practice
The entry-level models will suffice. Indeed, only the "basic" racing information such as the maximum, average or instantaneous speed or distance to the exit will catch the attention of family outings lovers on weekends.
For more regular athletes
The mid-range models will be perfect to give different speed statistics and distances, as well as the piloting rate or heart rate.
For the most rigorous athletes
A high-end model including altitude and a power sensor in addition to the other models' functionalities will be appreciated.
Data processing on a computer-readable medium in view of an analysis can also be an important element in choosing a GPS computer for professionals.
For smartphone-addicted athletes
It is important to point out the arrival of new connected computers which exchange data in live with the driver's smartphone to display its notifications or informative data (weather, calendar, etc.). Supports for smartphone can also be used to keep your iPhone or Android in full view. GPS applications specially designed for sportsmen are available on the app store.
For long hikes
A counter with GPS map display and voice guidance can be useful for easy localisation and orientation. It is important to differentiate between the GPS devices on which the map is displayed (such as a classic GPS) and the GPS that only allows you to view your route once you have returned home.
The GPS with map display allows you to follow your progress in real time on a detailed map. These GPS systems will be greatly appreciated if you ride on unknown terrain or travel very long distances.
For triathlon enthusiasts
(or those practicing several disciplines on several bikes), you'll have to choose a model able to memorize various bikes or a GPS watch allowing to continue its activity off the bike (very practical in triathlon). This watch will give speed, distance traveled, heart rate and various other options.
Depending on autonomy and other criteria
The meter autonomy can be a second criterion of choice, as a GPS computer's rechargeable battery induces a limited activity duration (often close to 20h), compared to computers without GPS able to last between 3000km and 5000km.
For GPS computers with a map display, also check the country maps included in the purchase of the device (only France, Europe, or other continent).
Many other criteria such as waterproofness, brightness adjustment, compatibility with your current accessories and user-friendliness can be taken into account in choosing to buy a new GPS computer.