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Guide to Bicycle Computers
& GPS Navigation Devices

Guide to Bicycle Computers & GPS Navigation Devices

We have a huge selection of bicycle computers available here at bikester.co.uk. Let us help you find the right bike computer or optimal navigation device for you and your bike. There's something for every type of use and budget – we can promise you that!

Price: usually determined by function

Bike computers range dramatically in price. For little more than ten pounds you’ll get a wired device with a small display that has most of the basic functions you’ll need. At the other end of the scale, you’ll find high-end GPS navigation devices and smartwatches. All of these are wireless and offer numerous functions: you can evaluate your data on your smartphone or computer, they offer training support, have touch screen functionality and much more.

Overview

Bike computers from £10 to £45

Devices in this price segment are usually simple LCD devices with a limited number of functions (and without navigation assistance). They can be divided into wireless (most often transmitting information by radio waves) and wired. Cyclists new to using bike computers or who require minimal data, ride less frequently or ride more on-road than off are like to find a perfectly suitable computer in this price class.

  • Advantages

  • Affordable
  • Small, light and easy to store away
  • Easy to operate
  • Reliable data
  • Long battery life
  • Drawbacks

  • Displays are usually smaller
  • Limited functionality
  • Only provides correct data if the wheel circumference is set correctly
  • Rarely compatible with heart rate and cadence sensors
  • Rarely possible to switch computer over to a second bike

Bike computers between £45 and £180

The more often you use your bike and the more interested in data you are, the more features you’ll want from your bike computer. Functions such as GPS, altitude, cadence, heart rate and temperature are available for as little as £45. Most of these devices transmit data wirelessly and additional sensors can be connected via radio, Bluetooth or ANT+.

Bike computers at the upper end of this price segment can also help you navigate to a specific destination by using their displays. Furthermore, stored data can be conveniently evaluated at home on a smartphone or computer.

  • Advantages

  • Clear display
  • Extensive functions
  • Easy to use
  • Often compatible with external sensors for pulse and cadence
  • Simple routing possible
  • Can easily be transferred to another bike
  • Drawbacks

  • More expensive
  • External sensors can be lost
  • Radio transmission can be susceptible to interference

All-rounder bike GPS navigation devices: from £180 upwards

Bike tourists, mile collectors and ambitious cyclists place higher demands on their cycle computers and often use devices with integrated GPS functionality.

Among other things, these differ from normal bicycle computers because of their numerous integrated sensors and high level of compatibility with additional equipment. In combination with device-specific software and compatible apps, you’re able to stay on top of all performance data before, during and after training, competing or touring.

Anyone considering buying this kind of device will need to put aside at least £180, but the investment is worth it!

  • Advantages

  • Large, clear, often colour display
  • Large range of functions
  • Extensive routing options
  • Pre-installed maps
  • Numerous performance evaluation functions
  • Tools for training optimisation
  • Many integrated sensors (e.g. barometer, ANT+, Bluetooth, temperature)
  • Often compatible with external sensors (e.g. cadence, speed, pulse), power meters and electronic groupsets
  • Smart functions
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to mount
  • Drawbacks

  • Expensive
  • Time consuming to learn how to use all functions
Most popular

Sports Smartwatches: trendy yet fantastically useful

These small wonders of modern technology offer tremendous functionality for their size, with sensors including GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, barometer, acceleration, temperature, pulse, and a compass. They’re compatible with many devices, apps and smartphones and, in addition to cycling, can also be used for many other sports or leisure activities without any problems. As anyone who has ever worn one knows, once you’ve got one you may never want to take it off!

  • Advantages

  • Small, robust & very light
  • Many integrated sensors e.g. for heart rate measurement
  • Completely portable
  • Great battery life
  • Waterproof
  • Layout individually customisable
  • Ideal for endurance sports
  • Drawbacks

  • Expensive
  • Small display
  • Limited navigation functionality
  • Pulse measurement less precise for short, high intensity/repetitive activities
Most popular

E-Bike specific displays

Most modern e-bikes come already supplied with a display. This is used to turn the system on and off, regulate the level of support you receive from the motor as well as monitor speed, distance and battery level. For cyclists who want a more extensive (or possibly reduced) range of functions, we have various displays, controls and brackets in our range, which can be easily installed in place of the supplied computer.

Smartphones & Accessories

Modern smartphones come installed with all the technology they need to be used as bike computers and navigation devices. Combined with a suitable app, their range of functions is enormous.

Smartphones can be ideal for short journeys of up to a few hours. However, smartphone batteries can quickly run out of power, meaning that if a trip lasts several hours or even stretches over multiple days, you run the risk of losing important data or not accurately recording your trip. In addition, smartphones are often less robust, rarely waterproof and much more sensitive to dirt. They also don’t come with a mount for the handlebars.

However, with the right accessories, your smartphone can be adapted for serious cycling use. You’ll find the perfect mount for attaching your smartphone to your bike’s handlebars in our web shop. To protect your smartphone from water and dirt, we recommend a waterproof and transparent case.

We also have power banks to make sure your smartphone doesn't run out of juice while you’re on the go. These handy portable, compact batteries provide enough power to charge your smartphone while you're riding.


FAQs

What functions are available on bike computers and GPS navigation devices?

Basic functions

  • Current, average & maximum speed
  • Current, daily & total kilometres ridden
  • Total trip duration
  • Time
  • Start/stop function
  • Date
  • Battery status

More advanced features

  • Calories
  • Elevation gain
  • Gradient
  • Pulse
  • Cadence
  • Backlight
  • Performance measurement functions
  • Lap functions
  • Temperature
  • Export/import data
  • VO2
  • Audio announcements/directions
  • Routing features
  • Compass
  • Smart features
  • Strava compatibility
  • Automatic start/stop function

Which navigation satellite systems are there besides GPS?

The best known and most widely used system for wireless positioning and navigation is the American NAVSTAR GPS (Global Positioning System). For even more accurate data, more and more cycling computers and bike navigation systems are being equipped with sensors that can access the Russian GLONASS satellites, European GALILEO and Chinese BEIDOU navigation systems.

Wired or wireless?

Even though cables are used less and less for transferring data these days, ‘wired’ cycling computers are still very popular. When the sensor and spoke magnet are correctly attached, the cable properly routed to the handlebars and the wheel circumference correctly set, this system provides very accurate real-time data.

A wired system also works free of interference, which can be a problem with certain wireless systems. When it comes to power consumption, wired computers are unbeatably efficient – only very rarely does the battery need to be recharged or changed.

It’s important to note, however, that should a fall occur, the cable may break, thus rendering the computer unusable. Also, if the cable is fastened too tightly, the steering can be affected – and may also cause the cable to snap.

Wireless bicycle computers and bicycle navigation devices transmit data via radio, GPS, W-LAN, ANT+ and/or Bluetooth. There’s no risk of cables breaking, installation is easier, and the cockpit looks much tidier. On the other hand, the power consumption of these devices is much higher. In addition, the sensors, which can be connected to the bike computer via radio, ANT+ or Bluetooth, also require a battery.


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