Ride Regulators: The 8 Best Bike Computers

Strapping on a fitness tracker will help you monitor your heartrate, but they aren’t built with the cyclist in mind. Whether you’re a street savvy road warrior or a hearty fat bike enthusiast, to keep true track of your two-wheeled workout, you’re going to need a bike computer. Specially designed to give you feedback on miles traveled, elevation, speed, trip tracking, and your body, these computers saturate you with data so you can determine whether you’re setting a new world record or just beating your own best time.

When you’re choosing yours, you must first know what kind of rider you are, or what kind of rider you want to be. If you’re just a casual pedaler enjoying sunny days on your cruiser bike, then you can get by with the basics. Something to tell you how far you have gone, what your speed is, and how long you were mounted up. Serious competitors are going to require more data and therefore will need to spend more on extra features as well as added durability. For either end of the spectrum, and everything in between, one of the 8 best bike computers has the info you crave.

Mudder Wireless Bike Computer

Mudder Wireless Bike Computer

Pro: Simple and easy to use
Con: Extremely limited options

Biker Basics: The claim to have 22 functions is a little erroneous given that some of those are things like counting up and counting down. Though it isn’t laden with metrics and measurements, it is still a nice entry-level bike computer that won’t cost much. Distance, speed, time of trip, average and top speed records, and fat burning are all handled without error. You won’t get more exacting items like cadence, but it will give you a good sense of calories burned and is easy to read. If you just want a little more info as you set out on your commuter bike, but don’t need much hoopla, spend the $20 and ride on. [Purchase: $19]

Cateye Velo 9

Cateye Velo 9

Pro: Works with any tire size
Con: Wired

High Wire Act: Before your face drops into a state of shock, yes, this is a wired model, so those mountain bike wild men who fear for getting their gear caught on snags or tangled in brambles might need to go elsewhere. Ignoring the wire, this has the big screen and simple setup that you see in the high-end offerings from Cateye for a fraction of the money. You can simply customize it to suit your tire size, which helps give accurate information to those who like an oddly-sized wheel. It records your average and maximum speed, along with a pace arrow telling you when to push it. Single button scrolling, all the basic tracking features, and the easiest menu we’ve ever seen round this out. [Purchase: $29]

Planet Bike Protege 9 0

Planet Bike Protege 9.0

Pro: Simple to operate and surprisingly long-lasting
Con: No sync or online features

Frilless: You may want to go a bit better than the absolute cheapest, but still don’t want to throw away a lot of scratch on wheel revolution tracking, general mood of your bicycle, or other odd measurements which mean nothing to you. Using a four-line LCD display that allows you to swipe around for more information, this has a dual odometer, ride time, speed, a clock, ride distance, and even a speed comparator. You’ll have to record and track your own data, but with the kindly, helpful, weatherproof Protege, it’s easy. [Purchase: $33]

Cateye Strada 410

Cateye Strada 410

Pro: Easy to read in most light
Con: Display customization is limited

Pace Car: First off, this simple black box looks striking on any bicycle, but the numerous functions are made more for road bike riders than mountaineers. While small enough to take up almost no space on your handlebars, the big, digital numbers offer easily visible info through the blood, sweat, and tears in your eyes. Hop through the speed, heart-rate, cadence, distance, time, and other functions with just a tap. Cadence is tracked through a ISC-10 sensor while speed is measured by the error-free 2.4GHz wireless monitor. Our favorite feature is the pace arrow that tells you if you are above or below average. It constantly challenges you to pickup the pace lest the online community disown you. [Purchase: $78]

Timex Cycle Trainer 2 0

Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0

Pro: Li-Ion battery runs for 18 full hours
Con: Software navigation is difficult

Most for the Money: Quintuple screens with clear demarcations give you on-the-go information that can be processed with a quick glance. It can easily be customized so you can get only what you need where you expect it, no more squinting or hunting. Heart rate, power, speed, and cadence are all run through the ANT+ sensors for ongoing accuracy. The GPS is fantastically accurate, especially for the price, and the ability to track your progress through Timex Training Peaks is nice, though the community is somewhat lackluster. There’s no on-board barometer, so the altitude reading is barely lip service. [Purchase: $130]

Sigma Sport Rox 8 1

Sigma Sport Rox 8.1

Pro: Tracks gradient during ride
Con: No GPS

All in One: Right out of the box you’ll have your heart-rate monitor and cadence sensor, so there’s no need to shop around. This is a great choice for fugitives who prefer to go on the lam by pedaling their cares away, since it lacks a GPS. Make note, that is absolutely the only thing it lacks. You’ll find 73 other functions shoehorned in to this marvel of modern tracking. It monitors not just the altitude you gain, but also the gradient on which you ride for more comprehensive fitness appraisal. Stores your last 7 rides and has a fully customizable readout. [Purchase: $148]

Garmin Edge 810

Garmin Edge 810

Pro: Screen works well with riding gloves
Con: Bluetooth tends to sap battery power of phones

Total Package: You’re going to feel a little sticker shock, but once that subsides you will see that the Edge 810 is brimming with features. Social junkies will find that this automatically syncs up with Garmin Connect to track your rides and let you know where you stand among other riders. The LiveTrack feature lets people see your location via easy satellite synchronization for safer adventures into downtown or the back country. Tracking cadence with an ANT+ sensor along with distance, elevation, speed, and everything else, this will load you up with stats. The tiny touchscreen is wee, but easy to use on the fly. [Purchase: $400]

Garmin 910XT

Garmin 910XT

Pro: Seamless change between biking, running, and swimming
Con: Will be partially useless for anyone that isn’t a hard-core triathlete

Wrist Rocket: Technically not just a bike computer, the 910XT is your sport watch/ fitness tracker / heart rate monitor / swimming instructor / triathlon training coach. The ANT+ wireless system handles checking your speed and cadence while on your road bike, gives you elevation gained, distance traveled, and tracks the path blazed as you go. When you hit the pool, it starts checking your laps, your swimming efficiency, and then uploads it all to the Garmin Connect for bragging rights or helpful hints. Change from running to swimming to biking with the push of a button and easily move this from wrist to quick-release bike mount without breaking stride. [Purchase: $441]