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  1. #1
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    Are cycling computers dead?

    I got a sweet eBay deal on a Cateye Padrone and thought I was the tits, then I realized, why do I even have a cycling computer anymore. I use Strava for all my rides.

    Are cycling computers dead?
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkC View Post
    Are cycling computers dead?
    Not at all. I have one on my penny-farthing.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, you can do it all with a phone and app, but hasn't happened yet. You can upload to Strava or virtually any other activity site from most Garmins and other GPS cycling computers. And there are many phone apps beside the Strava app that will do the same. Size, battery life, robustness, usability while riding are all factors to consider when deciding on a cycling computer.
    Do the math.

  4. #4
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    They will probably never die completely, but it'll probably be impossible to find one for more than $50 or so without a GPS and data recording capabilities. And most of the ones sold will probably not exceed $25.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Yeah, you can do it all with a phone and app, but hasn't happened yet.
    What hasn't?



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  6. #6
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    I can see some utility to instantly readable speed, mileage, cadence information while your phone sits safely in your pocket recording the more detailed information.

    I don't find the mapping ability of cell phones, using any of the various apps, to be particularly helpful, as the "snapshots" you get are hard to interpret (as opposed to an ongoing display). Then again, I wouldn't expect most cycle computers with GPS to be a whole lot better because of the tiny screens.

    I actually lost a cell phone recently after digging it out of a sweaty pocket in the middle of a ride and apparently having it stick in the top of the pocket and come out.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    I actually lost a cell phone recently after digging it out of a sweaty pocket in the middle of a ride and apparently having it stick in the top of the pocket and come out.
    A couple years ago, I found one on the trail. Never would have been able to reunite it with its owner unless its owner hadn't called his own phone. With the screen locked, the only thing I could do was answer an incoming call.

    For true wayfinding, I agree that pretty much all device screens are of fairly limited utility. For quick reference purposes, they're generally not too bad. But mostly, I navigate with a paper map when I can...when a decent one is available.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkC View Post
    I got a sweet eBay deal on a Cateye Padrone and thought I was the tits, then I realized, why do I even have a cycling computer anymore. I use Strava for all my rides.

    Are cycling computers dead?
    I'll bet sales of them are way off if comparing bike sales and or bike accessory sales numbers over the years , but DEAD, no I don't think so.
    I use a basic app at times but the simple display of speed, miles and outside air temp is somehow pleasing to me on a Planet Bike $45 gizmo from years ago.
    I'm not intuitive about many things and my mind wanders constantly so maybe it's these traits that make the computer nicer for me.

    Hard for me to explain the value or relevance of a bike computer because any ride is a nice ride and rarely is any one thing the highlight, yet knowing the typical speed I ride, how far I went or am going and the temp outside make it more of an adventure.
    Doing so with these basics and not running down my phone battery or having to mount the phone on the bike to see it all time is really handy in my world.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    A couple years ago, I found one on the trail. Never would have been able to reunite it with its owner unless its owner hadn't called his own phone. With the screen locked, the only thing I could do was answer an incoming call.
    This happened to my daughter a couple of years ago. Lost her phone in St Andrews, thought it was gone forever. I called it a few times and the manager of the supermarket answered. Few days later a box with the phone arrived.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkC View Post
    What hasn't?
    The supplanting of cycling GPS units by the Strava or similar phone apps.
    Do the math.

  11. #11
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    Dead dead.

    I've used Cyclemeter on the iPhone since 3gs days (and never lost a phone). I refused to buy a Garmin all this time and have no regrets. I can't see the screen on anything below a Garmin 1000 without glasses and the damn thinks lockup with regularity (at least for some of my friends who have them).

    I have a Wahoo Rflkt+ that goes on my bars to mirror stats or post directions from my tucked-away iPhone if I really need it... rare occurrence.
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  12. #12
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    Is there a difference between a cycling computer and a Garmin or Wahoo? They're certainly not dead.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by edubfromktown View Post
    Dead dead.

    I've used Cyclemeter on the iPhone since 3gs days (and never lost a phone). I refused to buy a Garmin all this time and have no regrets. I can't see the screen on anything below a Garmin 1000 without glasses and the damn thinks lockup with regularity (at least for some of my friends who have them).

    I have a Wahoo Rflkt+ that goes on my bars to mirror stats or post directions from my tucked-away iPhone if I really need it... rare occurrence.
    How can you see the screen on your Wahoo, then?

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Is there a difference between a cycling computer and a Garmin or Wahoo? They're certainly not dead.
    In reality, they're all bike computers. But OP is referencing old fashioned cyclocomputers that function on a wheel sensor only. No GPS.

    Non-GPS cyclocomputers aren't dead just because they no longer dominate the market in that segment. They still exist, and people still buy a lot of them, because they are significantly cheaper than GPS-based computers. Not everyone has a smart phone, or wants to use it as a bike computer.

  14. #14
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    I have no interest in strapping my iPhone to my handlebars.

    Nor do I have any interest in pulling it out of my pocket while riding to look at data.

    So, no, at least for me, the phone will never supplant the cycling computer for some purposes.
    Death from Below.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post

    In reality, they're all bike computers. But OP is referencing old fashioned cyclocomputers that function on a wheel sensor only. No GPS.

    Non-GPS cyclocomputers aren't dead just because they no longer dominate the market in that segment. They still exist, and people still buy a lot of them, because they are significantly cheaper than GPS-based computers.


    It's sort of like flip phones vs. smart phones, they're both phones but fewer and fewer people are using flip phones, mostly due to the fact that smart phones have a ton more features and the price gap is steadily narrowing. Same with cycle computers, gps ones are under $100 now and it probably won't be long before they're $50. RIP flip phones/non-gps computers.

    So my answer is that cycle computers are more popular than ever.
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  16. #16
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    I believe what the OP was getting at was the Strava app on his phone does everything a Garmin would. That's true. But it's the physical aspects and the dedicated nature of a cycling GPS computer that sways people in that direction. So yeah, you can use for phone instead of a Garmin, but quite a few still prefer a Garmin, and Garmin continues to rake in the dough.
    Do the math.

  17. #17
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    I think a phone is great if you just put it away until the end of the ride but I don't think I'd want to mount one on my handlebars, especially if you want to use power, cadence, heart rate, etc. while riding it seems like a Garmin or whatever gps is the only way to go.
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  18. #18
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    I was talking about these. I don't really know why I have one anymore

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  19. #19
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    for one you do not have to worry about loosing gps or satellite signal with a basic bike computer is the biggest advantage I see

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Mac View Post
    for one you do not have to worry about loosing gps or satellite signal with a basic bike computer is the biggest advantage I see
    Good point

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Mac View Post
    for one you do not have to worry about loosing gps or satellite signal with a basic bike computer is the biggest advantage I see

    If you have a wheel sensor you'd still get speed and distance with a gps computer. I think.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Mac View Post
    for one you do not have to worry about loosing gps or satellite signal with a basic bike computer is the biggest advantage I see
    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    If you have a wheel sensor you'd still get speed and distance with a gps computer. I think.
    I haven't lost gps reception on a ride in over 10yrs. And yes, if you have a wheel sensor, you still record speed and distance.

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkC View Post
    I was talking about these (simple cyclometer). I don't really know why I have one anymore...
    You may not need or want one, and I don't either, but many riders like having a simple dedicated speed, distance and odometer readout on their bike. It's something they're used to in their cars or motorcycles. They don't want to fumble with a phone or expose it to the hazards of being mounted on the bars, and they're not interesting in recording and uploading detailed ride data. And, it'll run for years on a coin cell so you're bothering with charging it. A simple cyclometer meets their needs.
    Do the math.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkC View Post
    I was talking about these. I don't really know why I have one anymore

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    I see what you are getting at. Just mount that somewhere where you can't see it, then you won't even know you have it !
    At least put some tape over the lens so people aren't watching you.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I haven't lost gps reception on a ride in over 10yrs. And yes, if you have a wheel sensor, you still record speed and distance.

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk
    that is good to here because for me it looks like a basic gps is a tad more simple then a basic computer one needing a wheel sensor and the other not needing anything.

    I am only after the basics average speed and odometer trip mileage timer

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Mac View Post
    that is good to here because for me it looks like a basic gps is a tad more simple then a basic computer one needing a wheel sensor and the other not needing anything.

    I am only after the basics average speed and odometer trip mileage timer
    I absolutely cannot recommend a GPS computer on a bicycle without at least a wheel sensor. You can probably get away with it on a road bike, but it makes a significant difference on a mtb. For what you want, your trip meter will be short by 10-20% or so, depending on how twisty your trails are. Your average speed will also be off (higher than it should be, because shorter distance in the same amt of time will make for a higher speed).

    Further, the absolute cheapest of GPS computers frequently have data recording intervals at unacceptably low rates for the speeds you are likely to attain on a bicycle. Those low rates are fine for hiking or for the speeds most people jog, but it will result in the error of your measured distance being at the high end of the scale, so closer to 20% short.

    You are better off with a $25 cyclocomputer, IMO, and a phone app if you want to record your rides for Strava or whatever (a phone app likely won't give you any worse recorded GPS data than a bottom-of-the-barrel GPS computer, and it will probably be a little better).

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I absolutely cannot recommend a GPS computer on a bicycle without at least a wheel sensor. You can probably get away with it on a road bike, but it makes a significant difference on a mtb.

    I think that depends where you are, in my area gps seems to work well. I know that it's very accurate on the road and it seems reasonably accurate on trails. I would recommend one here no problem.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I think that depends where you are, in my area gps seems to work well. I know that it's very accurate on the road and it seems reasonably accurate on trails. I would recommend one here no problem.
    I covered that in my post. Geography doesn't matter so much as the configuration of the trail. A fast, twisty downhill is going to be heavily shorted with a GPS-only computer with a poor recording interval.

    Trails in deep valleys will also be worse than trails on exposed ridgetops, but that's not a necessity. A twisty ridgetop trail will still be significantly worse than a straight ridgetop trail.

    Rides where I live encompass both sorts of arrangements most of the time. I can see the GPS error increase on every twisty section, and I can see the accuracy improve on the straights.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I covered that in my post. Geography doesn't matter so much as the configuration of the trail. A fast, twisty downhill is going to be heavily shorted with a GPS-only computer with a poor recording interval.

    I was only giving an alternate opinion based on my experience, I guess trails around here aren't twisty enough to adversely affect data to any meaningful degree and our trails seem fairly typical for the region. Anyway, again I'd recommend a gps without a sensor and a lot of people I ride with would too. Not saying you're wrong Harold, just a different view from a different place.

    I do realize a sensor would be most accurate and that people seeking the highest accuracy should get one.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I do realize a sensor would be most accurate and that people seeking the highest accuracy should get one.
    That's where my opinion comes from. I didn't always hold that opinion, but I changed it after people repeatedly whined (in this forum) about how GPS is less accurate than their $25 cyclocomputer. GPS got placed on a lofty pedestal as being "the best" for a period of time, with no real discussion about the inherent error and limitations of the tech. So people started getting a lot of unrealistic expectations about how accurate it would be.

    I state my opinion the way I do to make sure that people are hearing that the best accuracy is going to come from using a computer with a wheel sensor ALWAYS, and to minimize the number of people who go into it with unrealistic and inaccurate expectations of the results they will get from it. Because buying a GPS computer is still a fairly expensive endeavor. Plenty of people blame the manufacturer for it for any loss of accuracy for making a terrible product, when it was really their own lack of understanding (which is in part due to marketing departments not telling the whole story) that created the disappointment. It's not an inferior product. Rather, it's that people buy the marketing hook, line, and sinker, and don't continue to research and ask questions.

  31. #31
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    Put my Galaxy Note on the handlebars of a mountain bike? Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope, no effing way!
    It would come off and get broken.
    Besides, there is almost no cellular coverage on our trails.

    I don't do Strava.

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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    Put my Galaxy Note on the handlebars of a mountain bike? Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope, no effing way!

    Me neither but it's relatively safe in my jersey pocket, or camelbak if I used one. I do use strava but personally I don't care much to see my speed or distance while riding. If I had a power meter, heart rate or cadence sensor then I'd definitely want an onboard display.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by andytiedye View Post
    Put my Galaxy Note on the handlebars of a mountain bike? Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope, no effing way!
    It would come off and get broken.
    Besides, there is almost no cellular coverage on our trails.

    I don't do Strava.

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    That's why I have a cheap phone, and its been on my handlebar for over a year on 3 different bikes.

    I only use that phone for riding, and honestly never look at it, except occasionally my speed on the road.

    To take pictures its very handy, and for as much as I fall the phone has held up pretty well.
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  34. #34
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    I like my phone but like to get away from it every chance I get.
    Last edited by 2therock; 3 Weeks Ago at 08:55 AM.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2therock View Post
    I like my phone but like to get away from it every chance I get.

    Heh,
    I just was searching the classifieds here for a no frills budget used bike computer with heart monitor (no luck) and stumbled into here.. So if any of you guys?

    Most of my riding will be on a fluid trainer and I need mostly a heart monitor but speed and distance would be nice too.
    might as well start your own thread with your question so it will get its own attention

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkC View Post
    I got a sweet eBay deal on a Cateye Padrone and thought I was the tits, then I realized, why do I even have a cycling computer anymore. I use Strava for all my rides.

    Are cycling computers dead?
    They will be when I grow a 3rd arm to hold my phone as I'm looking where I need to turn next for "that ride"

    I have used my phone when I forgot my garmin 800 here and there.

    The strava phone app does not do a good job on any trail where you are moving fast and turning a lot.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    That's where my opinion comes from. I didn't always hold that opinion, but I changed it after people repeatedly whined (in this forum) about how GPS is less accurate than their $25 cyclocomputer. GPS got placed on a lofty pedestal as being "the best" for a period of time, with no real discussion about the inherent error and limitations of the tech. So people started getting a lot of unrealistic expectations about how accurate it would be.

    I state my opinion the way I do to make sure that people are hearing that the best accuracy is going to come from using a computer with a wheel sensor ALWAYS, and to minimize the number of people who go into it with unrealistic and inaccurate expectations of the results they will get from it. Because buying a GPS computer is still a fairly expensive endeavor. Plenty of people blame the manufacturer for it for any loss of accuracy for making a terrible product, when it was really their own lack of understanding (which is in part due to marketing departments not telling the whole story) that created the disappointment. It's not an inferior product. Rather, it's that people buy the marketing hook, line, and sinker, and don't continue to research and ask questions.
    Harold

    many thanks for sharing it is greatly appreciated

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    That's where my opinion comes from. I didn't always hold that opinion, but I changed it after people repeatedly whined (in this forum) about how GPS is less accurate than their $25 cyclocomputer. GPS got placed on a lofty pedestal as being "the best" for a period of time, with no real discussion about the inherent error and limitations of the tech. So people started getting a lot of unrealistic expectations about how accurate it would be.

    I state my opinion the way I do to make sure that people are hearing that the best accuracy is going to come from using a computer with a wheel sensor ALWAYS, and to minimize the number of people who go into it with unrealistic and inaccurate expectations of the results they will get from it. Because buying a GPS computer is still a fairly expensive endeavor. Plenty of people blame the manufacturer for it for any loss of accuracy for making a terrible product, when it was really their own lack of understanding (which is in part due to marketing departments not telling the whole story) that created the disappointment. It's not an inferior product. Rather, it's that people buy the marketing hook, line, and sinker, and don't continue to research and ask questions.
    Is that a load of bs. GPS units should always use a speed sensor for accuracy. GPS helps you from being lost and plots your ride very nicely. Some give you turn info, eta and other useful data for some. If the product is bad, do not buy it. My old Garmin 1000 does all I need and in fact is quite accurate. Remember these are not military grade devices. I know a lot of riders and none of them complain about accuracy. GPS has limitations, like all technology. Know how and when to use it.

  39. #39
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    Not going away. My commute bike uses a good old fashion hard wired computer. I don't need all of my data for my daily commute rides and I LOVE not worrying about my battery life or did I remember to start Srava. No batter for my sensor either as It's hard wired....

    Now on my road, MTB and cyclocross bikes it's a different story.....love my Wahoo...
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedalon2018 View Post
    Is that a load of bs. GPS units should always use a speed sensor for accuracy. GPS helps you from being lost and plots your ride very nicely. Some give you turn info, eta and other useful data for some. If the product is bad, do not buy it. My old Garmin 1000 does all I need and in fact is quite accurate. Remember these are not military grade devices. I know a lot of riders and none of them complain about accuracy. GPS has limitations, like all technology. Know how and when to use it.
    what's a load of bs?

    my position has come from spending years on here answering people's questions and helping them out. And yes, some people come in here royally PISSED that their Garmin reports distances 10-20% less than their cheap computer and upset that it cost so much more than their cheap computer and blah blah blah. It doesn't happen more often because I have been doing damage control/prevention in here for years. It happened a lot in the beginning.

    If you're happy not using a wheel sensor, with the results you get, then that's great. You had the right expectations going into it. But the people who get pissed have the wrong expectations going in, and they wind up being pissed that the product failed to meet their unrealistic expectations. They blame the manufacturer for making an poor, inferior product. It's not the manufacturer's fault. As you mentioned, GPS technology has its limitations, and it's important before you buy anything with a GPS, to at least vaguely be aware of them. My advice here helps to set expectations.

    It is absolutely true that if you care about getting the best accuracy out of reported distance, that you should be using a wheel sensor. It also means you should pay attention to the calibration of that sensor. Because a GPS-only distance calculation will ALWAYS under-report distance traveled if the computer is accurately calculating your position. Doesn't mean the computer is bad. The wheel sensor simply accounts for certain limitations of GPS technology.

    For my own use, a wheel sensor measures distance, and the GPS records where I've been. A wheel sensor is a pretty unobtrusive part that I can ignore until the Garmin tells me that the battery needs replacing, which seems to happen once a year or so.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    what's a load of bs?
    ...that he called your post BS, then proceeded to restate your talking points in his own words?

    That guy must be a riot at a party...

  42. #42
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    I wish more people had a fundamental understanding of how GPS works, and how it calculates distance.


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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    I wish more people had a fundamental understanding of how GPS works, and how it calculates distance.


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    Me too.


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    I use the wahoo rflkt+ with the wahoo rpm speed sensor. Most rides show a max speed of 200 or 400 mph. Anyone else experience this?
    I emailed the wahoo folks, the first thing he said was to avoid pot holes and big jolts....he could see from the screen shot I sent that I was mountain biking and could only say that the software was supposed to filter those outliers but obviously wasn’t foolproof.

    WRFB

  45. #45
    jcd's best friend
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    I use a Garmin Edge 520 only on my road bike. It will upload to Strava for me once I am done with my ride. I find it handy to use a bike computer rather than eat up my battery power running Strava on my phone for hours on end. I also use it to display my heart rate, track my watts, and watch my speed. I also installed a Bontrager DuoTrap (linked to my Edge) to give me accurate speed and cadence measurements.

    I thought about using my Edge on my mountain bike, but I find having 2 bike profiles in my Edge computer to be too cumbersome. I just use Strava for mountain biking instead!
    Trek | Octane One | Transition

  46. #46
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    I use a Garmin Edge 520 only on my road bike. It will upload to Strava for me once I am done with my ride. I find it handy to use a bike computer rather than eat up my battery power running Strava on my phone for hours on end. I also use it to display my heart rate, track my watts, and watch my speed. I also installed a Bontrager DuoTrap (linked to my Edge) to give me accurate speed and cadence measurements.

    I thought about using my Edge on my mountain bike, but I find having 2 bike profiles in my Edge computer to be too cumbersome. I just use Strava for mountain biking instead!
    You don't need to have different profiles.

    For that matter, Garmin changed the profiles, so in the Edge 520, and many other recent models, all the profiles do is change the way data is displayed. This is different from older models that DID use bike profiles.

    For example, my Edge 520 keeps track of sensors on 1 mtb and 1 road bike (soon to be 2 mtbs) entirely separately from the activity profiles. For my mtb profiles, I have data screens for basic info, HR, elevation, and map. I have a commuting profile that's super stripped down. Just basic data and a map. I have a road profile that adds a screen for cadence, but does not show elevation (though, I may wind up adding elevation because I moved to a mountainous area).

    I could just as easily set up the computer with a single profile and just use all the screens that I might ever use for any ride I do (and just ignore the ones that aren't relevant - so I could ignore the cadence screen when I'm on my mtb since I do not have a cadence sensor on my mtb, or I can ignore the HR screen whenever I'm not wearing a HRM, or ignore the map whenever I don't need it, etc).

    When it comes to sensors, though, the computer automatically detects which sensor(s) are active. Wheel circumference, for example, is stored on the computer under the details for each sensor. So switching bikes with the Edge 520 is pretty seamless, especially if you only set up a single profile for data fields. You no longer need to tell the computer which sensors to look for by telling it which bike profile to use, as on older models.

  47. #47
    jcd's best friend
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    Good info! Thanks! I will mess with my settings and give some of this a try.


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    Trek | Octane One | Transition

  48. #48
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    Good info! Thanks! I will mess with my settings and give some of this a try.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I really like how the Edge 520 handles it as opposed to other devices. I previously used a Forerunner 310xt, which used the older profile system. If I forgot to change between the two bike profiles or my running profile, my data would be totally jacked up. Or, on the Bryton I have, if I forgot to switch between the two bike profiles, the same thing would occur. Because both devices handled sensors more or less the same - the sensor settings would be tied to a specific profile. The Edge 520 doesn't work that way and I'm SO glad, because the older way just sucks. Especially on the Bryton, where changing profiles required half a dozen button pushes and was buried in the menus. At least the Forerunner 310xt had a shortcut to change profiles.

    Further, if you DO decide to set up different profiles on the Edge 520, it's quick and easy to change between them. Just push the arrow buttons on the "home" screen, before you start your activity and it'll cycle through them. And you can assign colors to each profile to make it a little more obvious when one profile is selected instead of another.

    Only downside is that setup can take some time if you play around with how many data fields to show per screen, and which information to show where, and all that. I do wish that Garmin would do what some other companies are doing, and allow you to use a phone app for quicker setup of your fitness GPS. That would probably allow the device's UI to be stripped down/simplified a bit.

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