# Thread: What (bike)computer are you using?

1. ## What (bike)computer are you using?

I'm in the market for a new bike computer. What are you using? What's important to you in a computer? I was thinking about something like a Garmin but I don't know if I really need something like this. I want to track my calories and track my fitness level, something for my 29er and road bike. I've used a Cateye Strata in the past, but would like a little more features. Any recommendations? Thanks

2. if you expect a computer to track calories for you, you need to realize that there are multiple ways of doing this and that any reported numbers are not going to be accurate. they'll really only be useful for determining if an activity burned more calories than another, but the absolute numbers won't be that meaningful.

3. Yeah, don't put too much stock into those calorie algorithms. I have this route I've done a bunch of times. Physics is pretty straight forward, to lift a certain weight up a certain hill you'll spend a certain amount of energy. To lift the same weight up the same hill faster you'll need to spend more energy. So the faster I ride a particular route, the more energy I have to spend, yet my bike computer says the opposite.

Lets say you have a bike computer that keeps exact track of how far you go, what speed you do and how much you climb and descent. If it knows the weight of you and your bike, it's pretty regular math to calculate how much energy it takes to move that weight along the route at the speed you did. Moving 250 lbs of me + bike 98 feet up a hill in 85 seconds takes xx calories.

BUT the computer can't tell if that hill is nice, hard tarmac paved or a muddy mess with roots and rocks. Naturally getting up 98 feet of slippery mud in 85 seconds takes a lot more energy that making it up 98 feet of nice tarmac in the same time. It doesn't know about the strong headwind and that hanging brake pad that won't quite release either.

Knowing that, most bike computers just uses a simple algorithm. It looks at what pulse you have and for how many seconds, then look at a table to translate it into "calories". That's why my computer thinks that I have spend more calories doing my normal run slower, because I've had high pulse numbers for a longer time.

If you want to know your level of fitness, pick a "reference route", some stretch of trail you like riding and time how fast you can do it. Next time you want to know if your fitness has improved or not you ride the same stretch again and see if you do it faster or slower. The stopwatch doesn't lie. Forget about those calorie numbers and a computer telling you that you have 3.7 fitness, it's bollocks..

As for bike computers, I started out with a Polar CS200 and changed to a CS500 when I got a great offer. I find them both pretty awesome, they get the job done without too much fuss.

4. Thanks for the feedback. Whats the point of a Garmin Edge or spending alot of money if computers aren't accurate?

5. Originally Posted by trek7100
Thanks for the feedback. Whats the point of a Garmin Edge or spending alot of money if computers aren't accurate?
not for calorie consumption, they're not accurate. tracking ride length/time, they're plenty good. some are good for navigation. get one with power meter compatibility and cadence tracking and you get a much better gauge of fitness because those items are measured directly. calorie consumption cannot be measured directly.

6. I'm currently using an iPhone 4 with MotionX-GPS as my bike PC.

But, I've been looking into purchasing a dedicated or dual purpose bike GPS. Right now I just use MotionX on the bike & when I need a real GPS I use an old Garmin 60c. Ideally, I'd like to have one GPS for everything, Military, biking, hiking & travel but I've been overwhelmed by the many choices out there.

7. If you use Garmin Edge with an HR strap together with NewLeaf profile of your metabolism, the calorie "guessing" is good enough for fitness or general training, in my opinion.

8. I got Garmin Edge 200, it shows calories but I don't think it's very accurate, I bought Edge as an accurate speedometer, GPS tracker and because I wanted to create routes on computer (or use routes creates by others) and download it to Garmin Edge.

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