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Cycling Computers: High Tech or Low Tech?


With spring only days away, I picked up a computer for the Trek yesterday and installed it, a black Bontrager Trip 100 Wireless Computer…  I’ve had a great low-end, wireless computer on the Venge for a couple of years now, but it’s become increasingly important to finally get one for the Trek.

It’s a decent wireless computer but it’s only got the bare minimum as functions go but that’s the way, uh huh, I like it.

I don’t use a power meter or a heart monitor or GPS…  I don’t need the data anymore.  I don’t need to relive the routes I ride on the computer anymore.  I don’t need to know how fast I was going at what mile…

I’m free.  Kind of.  Well, for the most part.

I want three stats, maybe four, from a computer, in order of importance:

1.  Current speed.  I have a tendency to pull just a little too hard when I’m with my friends and wife.  Having my current speed helps keep me from blowing up one of my friends, and it also allows me to take longer turns up front because I’m not unnecessarily too “on the gas”.

2.  Distance.  We almost always have a prearranged distance we’re shooting for…  If I know how far I’ve been, I know how much more I have to gut out.  Gotta be careful with this one though.  This information must be used for good.

3.  Average Speed.  It shouldn’t matter but it does, and everyone knows it.  Usually I only look at this after the ride but we also like to use it for those last five or ten miles push that last little bit to beat a time on a route we know.

4.  Max Speed.  Max Speed is pure fun.  It’s always fun to know, “yeah, we bombed down that hill and topped 50 mph.”

This is all I need.  Anything more would be a waste – maybe not for someone else but for me, this is so.  Since coming to grips with the fact that I am good enough, fast enough, and because I chose to quit tracking my rides on my phone, I get just enough to satisfy the stat junkie without wasting time after a ride… Or worse, worrying during a ride.  Oh, and one more thing:  It’s gotta be wireless.  While I may not need a lot of data, I don’t need my computer to be a product of the 90’s either.

More important, I have just enough to be a good cycling bud, something I’ve enjoyed on the Venge for years. Going by feel sounds awesome…  “Speed doesn’t matter, just the breeze through the hair and good times riding with friends”.  I get that, and that works on a 30 mile coffee shop ride, but when you’re trying to push it right to the edge on a century, well that’s another story.

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12 Comments

  1. agreed! “K.I.S.S.”, right? my only challenges is the wireless. *blushes* i do still maintain a “product of the 90’s” on mine. 🙂 baby steps…

  2. Pffft…. Strava or it didn’t happen…. :p Hehe!

    • bgddyjim says:

      You know, I used to think Endo or it didn’t happen…. then I road a ride without it and found that it did! It was all downhill after that. You’re sure to get there too some day. I’m sure of it. 😀

      Dude, that just happened.

      • No I’m pretty sure my bike doesn’t work if the Garmin isn’t attached to it. It’s important that the government can track my whereabouts via satellite while I’m out cycling too. #tinfoilhat

      • bgddyjim says:

        That’s why I’m keeping my Venge, and I’ll build a secret compartment in the floor so I can hide when they start putting tracking chips in bikes I can still go out for a ride now and again without the government’s watchful eye. Chuckle.

  3. ekels22 says:

    I’m breaking down and buying a Garmin for this season. Right now I just have a wireless Specialized computer like yours. I track my rides with Strava on my IPhone but it drains battery pretty bad (I’ve recorded up to 90 miles which is fine if you don’t use phone for anything else). Mostly I only ever look at MPH while on the bike. Will be nice to pre load rides into the Garmin sometimes I do ride far enough where I get lost.

  4. i opted for the lezyne super gps got it on sale for christmas for $160 its got all the bells and whistles, currently I’m using the cadence and HR feature and the display cycles through all the important data, the make 3 different versions the mini, power and super. Lezyne really hit the nail on the head with these

  5. Manu Stanley says:

    Good read. Thank you very much for clearing off my doubts. Buying a cylco-computer was something I have been carrying on the back of my head for quite some time now. As you rightly mentioned, I also need to have a track of my kilometers, speed and possibly altitude, if that is not too much to ask for. I am planning to have something simple to set up and use, and detach from the handle bar when I need to park.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thank you. If you want elevation though, you’re probably going to have to go with something like a Garmin. Check around though, because I really don’t know what I’m talking about – I just want the bare minimum and elevation gets into GPS chips.

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