How to Choose a Cyclometer

Everybody can benefit from using a cyclometer. Even the most basic model can report your speed and mileage, which can be used to track your progress as a cyclist. Yes, cyclometers tell you all sorts of nifty information and can help you with your training goals. But the best reason for one of these gadgets is to see how fast you can climb a hill or how high you can push your maximum speed

Quick Tips

  • A cyclometer should have at least the following functions: speed, trip distance, total distance and a stopwatch.
  • The higher the price, generally, the more features you get.
  • Cyclometers now come in a variety of colors. When in doubt, wear black.

How They Work
Most cyclometers use a magnetic counter to determine your speed. A magnet is attached to your bike’s front wheel and a magnet pickup is attached to the fork. With each tire revolution, the pickup is triggered. Based on the calibration you set for your bike, the computer in the cyclometer calculates the distance you’ve traveled, your speedand other measures, depending on the sophistication of your cyclometer.

What Features Do You Need
The cyclometer you need depends on your training goals. A casual mountain biker may need only a basic model with current and average speed plus trip and total distance. However, someone training for a triathlon or preparing for a season of racing is going to need a more advanced model one with a multiple-ride stopwatch, cadence, heart rate and perhaps an altimeter. Many models come with a pace arrow to tell you if you’re riding above or below your average pace.

If you ride a road bike and a mountain bike, there are models that can be switched between bikes. Consider this option if you regularly use more than one bike.

Wireless models means less clutter but interference from electromagnetic sources is a possibility. They are really nice for off-road mountain biking, where getting the wire caught on something can be a problem. Some wireless models offer a coded transmission so that your cyclometer doesn’t read the signal off your riding buddy. These are good if you ride mainly in a pack, either road racing or on a lunchtime ride with co-workers. Other models are mountain-bike specific and provide a readout even at extremely low speeds.

Overall, there are models available for every budget and they cover the full range of features, from the most basic and moderately priced to very sophisticated for the elite athlete or competitor.

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