May 8, 2010
Bicycle computers are often one of the first accessories people purchase for their new bike, and an excellent tool to have along for a bike tour.
While the most rewarding feature of bicycle computer is tracking the accumulation of miles over a long span of time, there are plenty of other good reasons to mount one to your bike. For extended tours on unfamiliar roads, they can help you orient yourself on your map, and give you some confidence that you didn't miss your last turn, and that it's only a few more miles up the road. Just about any bicycle computer will have average miles per hour, giving you a chance to calculate your estimated time of arrival.
Prices and features between different computers vary immensely. An entry level model, such as the Cateye Velo 8, will give you plenty of information, such as current speed, max speed, average speed, odometer, trip distance, elapsed time, and even an estimate for calories burned. These run as low as $25.
One advanced feature that might be worth the extra $10-$20 would be a wireless computer. Eliminating the wires not only eases the setup process, it also means you don't have to worry about breaking or fraying a wire over time.
As you might expect, the more features you add, the more expensive the cycle computer gets. Some extra features you can contemplate are temperature, pedal cadence, heart rate, elevation gained, power output, and GPS features.
Whatever you land on, just make sure you don't spend your entire tour watching the miles tick by. I have gotten into the habit of putting black tape over the screen until I need to check it out.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.