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Cycling with a POS Computer; Why I Love Mine…


I was chastised the other day, in a comment on a post, for having a cheap computer on my exceptionally well decked out and expensive race bike.  The acronym used was “POS”.  I cop to it unapologetically.  I’ve got five grand into my race bike and my computer is about the cheapest wireless computer that Specialized makes at just $40:

There’s really not much to it.  My computer gives me two readings on the display and one depends on the mode I choose.  The first one is not changeable, current speed.  The second is optional and I always go with distance traveled.  I use current speed to keep a good pace with the group I’m riding with and distance so I know how far I’ve pulled before heading to the back for a bit of a rest.  No GPS, no mount for the back wheel, no turn by turn direction, and no guesstimation for power or current gear.  Plain and simple is how I like it.  My rain bike, a Trek, has the Bontrager equivalent:

While I do understand the STRAVA crowd and the Garmin lovers, it wasn’t too long ago I was in those ranks with Endomondo, I simply don’t need anything more than the bare minimum on my bikes – to put a $300 computer on either of my bikes would be an utter waste of money.

The explanation for this deviation from false decorum is simple; my cycling style changed enough that the numbers just don’t mean what they used to.  Knowing that I climbed a hill this week at 24 mph instead of 22 the week before has absolutely no bearing on the way I ride and there is a reason for this.  In years past I used to ride solo 80-90% of the time.  The only gauge I had centered around the numbers.  Nowadays I ride solo less than 10% of the time.  In fact, other than indoor training sessions, I have ridden solo only one time so far this year – and even that was just an after work second ride of the day, just to get out and spin for ten-ish miles to enjoy the fresh air.

Some people use their numbers to gauge their fitness.  My fitness is just fine.  Enough said about that.  Some people use numbers to claim superiority.  I have no such goals – I’m fine with where I am in the pecking order of cyclists, right in the mix with my friends.  I don’t care about KOM’s or segment records or anything that an expensive computer can give me.  I certainly don’t want directions!  What’s the fun in not getting lost every now and again, eh?

What I do care about is not burying my friends (or myself!) by pushing the pace too high.  I do care about having a bunch of laughs along the way, getting from point A directly back to point A in as many miles as possible in the time allotted.  I care about spending time with my wife out on the road, staying fit, happy and young…  I care about riding hard, but not hard enough that it’s closer to work than fun.

There isn’t a cycling computer made that can give me that so I go with nothing more than what I need.  Hopefully we can all forgive me for using a cheap computer.  If not, well I can live with that too.

Oh, and I almost forgot.  One other fantastic reason for using a cheap computer:  My computers actually work.  I don’t have to spend fifteen minutes waiting for my computer to find the sensors or other such nonsense.



  1. elisariva says:

    Now let’s set the record clear my friend. It wasn’t chastisement and I didn’t call it cheap. I suggested more of an upgrade to meet the high status of the Venge! 🙂

  2. agree. no matter my next steed, the computer will be simple. speed, cadence (because i’m still learning to maintain), and distance (ride/total). everything else seems incidental, not integral.

  3. Thank you again my friend. I always learn something new from you. Again appreciate the time and effort you put into your posts.

  4. Manu Stanley says:

    Great post as usual, my friend. This time you’re making me feel guilty. I too recently bought one (will fit it this weekend, and shall post photos) but not exactly the cheapest one in the sports store. But I can’t help agreeing more with you – I too have been quite well used to Endomondo which is indeed a good tool, but eats up all the juice in the smartphone. I finally had to give in – if I need to go out riding for 4 or more hours, the smartphone-based apps wouldn’t cut it. So I finally gave in to the plain vanilla solution of the PoS (as you said it!). In my case I’m more interested in the overall distance (my target is more aligned to the distance) and hence the PoS device I bought would measure the speed and distance. So I’m also coping up with that. LOL 🙂

  5. bonnev659 says:

    I was looking at a cheap one when I first started but good thing, I poney up for one with maps on it… as i use it for my car gps as well now…. but still pretty nice to have any bike computer. i sometimes put it on while riding and do not look at the screen instead just focus on the road and go by feel. it is an awesome experience to do that

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