Bicycle computers give a large amount of available knowledge about cycling. Although the use of a smartphone for data acquisition is becoming increasingly popular, it makes sense to purchase a bike computer, especially if you are trying to get as much useful information as possible.

That should be noted:

  • What information do you need and how will you use it?
  • What other features do you need? The ability to connect to a computer? Ability to use on multiple bikes?
  • How much are you willing to spend?

This information will help you choose the appropriate type:

Ordinary cyclists want to know the distance, speed and time: How far did I drive? How fast am I going? How long does the trip take?

Cyclists enthusiasts prefer a large number of functions, such as measuring the distance traveled, odometer, calculation of average and maximum speed.

Athletes tend to want all of the above functions, plus measuring pace, heart rate, increasing workload and power consumption.

Types of Cycling Devices

Bike Computer: a special device for athletes that is attached to the bike. This article is mainly about this device.

  • Pros : Compact, weatherproof, easy to install on a bike, has little chance of being damaged in an accident. 
  • Cons : Cannot be used for other purposes.

Fitness watch: a sports watch with GPS mode can be installed on the steering wheel using an adapter.

  • Pros : The ability to use one device for several activities, is protected from the weather. 
  • Cons : Less compact, higher, so it is easier to damage it in an accident. Most likely to lose during the trip.

Smartphone App: Use your smartphone to launch an app for cyclists.

  • Pros : Large screen, which is easy to read information. Provides the ability to display maps, collect data and display them on the screen. 
  • Cons : Requires a special bracket on the bike. An extra cover is required for weather protection. Due to the constant bright screen and the GPS function, the battery is quickly empty. The large area of occupied space increases the risk of damage in the event of a fall.

How do Bicycle Computer work?

Cycle computers provide information in several ways:

Types of sensors

Magnetic: A magnet is mounted on a wheel needle that rotates past the sensor on the front fork. To measure the rate of the magnet mounted on the steering wheel, and the sensor on the rear rack.

  • Pros : Cheaper, longer battery life. Don’t need to recharge constantly
  • Cons: No GPS function.

GPS: Uses a satellite receiver to convert GPS signals into travel information.

  • Pros : More opportunities to obtain information that can be transferred to a computer; adjustable screens. Can easily be installed on another bike.
  • Cons: Higher cost, rather heavy, requires constant recharging.

Data transfer methods

Wired: Magnetic sensor with a wire that transmits a signal to the screen.

  • Pros : Cheaper, easier to use, easier.
  • Cons : Usually not reinstalled on another bike. Transmitting cable can catch and tear.

Wireless: Magnetic sensor transmits a signal to the screen. GPS sensors are predominantly wireless.

  • Pros : Easy to install, no wires, looks better. 
  • Cons : Higher price – especially GPS; heavier.

Other features of the bike computer

These features may also affect your choice:

Backlight: Do you ride in the park? The backlight function will make you more visible on the road.

Battery life: GPS bike computers use built-in rechargeable batteries that last up to 20 hours; Smartphones with GPS function and an application for cyclists can work 5-8 hours. The magnetic modules use 1 or 2 batteries, most often the CR2032, which can work up to 2 years.


A large number of screens: Data can be displayed on one or several screens that can be viewed by pressing a button. Screen features can be set or customized.

Data transfer: Do you want to add data to your workout software or share achievements with friends? GPS models, including smartphones, will help.

Easy reading: Is it easy to read the data on the screen? Magnetic modules have a fixed font size. GPS models may have an additional feature – changing the font size. The fine print is easy to read, while the usual font may vary, depending on the vibration when driving on the road.

Extras : Available for devices on multifunctional bikes; extras will help install the computer on the steering wheel. This is very useful for cyclists with hyperopia. They are less distracted from the road or track, just glancing at the screen.

Use on multiple bikes : Some devices, mainly higher-end GPS models, can be mounted on 2 or 3 bikes, and they store data for each bike in a separate file.

Frequently asked questions about cycle computers

What type of bike computer is more accurate?

Special GPS computer for bicycles are more accurate and reliable compared to a smartphone with GPS function and an application for bicycles. Magnetic cycling computer are close in accuracy to the GPS device, provided that the tire size code is correctly entered into the setup menu.

I have a magnetic bike computer, but I lost a wheel magnet. Can I purchase another?

Yes, you can order one on the interenet or visit your local bike store.

If the battery stops working, will I lose all the data?

No, you can recharge or replace the battery without losing information.

My cycle computer doesn’t work anymore. What can I do?

There are several ways to fix this:

  • Sensor Position: The wheel sensor may have been moved. Check the level and distance between the wheel sensor and the magnet on the spoke. (Applies to magnetic models)
  • Battery: Wired magnetic models have a battery in the display unit. Try to replace it. Wireless models also have a battery in the transmitter mounted on the wheel fork. Replace it along with the battery in the display unit.
  • Mounting the holder: The display module may be installed incorrectly in the holder. Unplug it and put it back in place. (Applies to wired models).
  • Wired connection: A cable may come off the bracket or be damaged. Check the cable integrity. If it is damaged, you may need to replace the bike computer.

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