Forum home Road cycling forum Road beginners

New bike! New to riding! Do I need a computer?

new911new911 Posts: 4
edited May 2016 in Road beginners
I am so excited!! I am 46 years old, my three sons are getting a little older and I decided to buy something for myself. I live on a mountain and there is a beautiful loop of about 25 miles that I have been wanting to ride for years. I owned a mountain bike that I turned into a hybrid but I couldn't get as far as fast as I wanted. Not that I was ever really a rider. My boys have inherited those bikes now and I decided it was time to get my first road bike. I bought it used last week and got to go on my first ride last Saturday. Almost did the whole loop with the guy that sold me the bike. I will hopefully be riding this loop most Saturdays. My question is do I need to use a bike computer or should I just get something to hold my iPhone? Won't I be able to track my speed, time and distance with an iPhone app?
«1

Posts

  • crankycrankcrankycrank Posts: 1,830
    iPhone's work but have a relatively short battery life if that matters. Don't get it wet, don't crash it or let it drop. I see a few riders out there now using their phones but to me a cheap computer is good insurance. A good iPhone mount is almost as expensive as a decent computer anyways.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 12,733
    You should carry your phone in your pocket anyway in case of emergencies and the phone will track your ride if you use the right app (Strava etc).
    Do you need a computer? No. Do you want one? Maybe.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 50,163 Lives Here
    Depends what you want a computer for.

    What do you want one for?
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,597
    You don't need one but it's nice to have.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    Do you *need* a computer? No, of course not, you don't need anything.

    The question is will you find one useful? Personally I like having information in front of me but there are several ways you can go

    *) Phone on your stem. With the likes of a quad lock it's quite secure. You can run apps like cycle meter which will give you all the stats you need and connect to sensors. Disadvantages; screen can often be hard to see in sunshine. You risk damaging your phone. Battery life is generally poor when phones are used in this way, for me <2 hours and the phone is getting marginal.

    *) Basic computer on your stem. For years I used a Cateye Micro wireless on my stem. Gave me speed, distance, time of day etc, all you need. My phone was in my back pocket doing the GPS tracking.

    *) Full GPS computer on your stem. This is the 'best' solution if you have the cash. Something like a Garmin 520 is ideal, but then which GPS computer to buy is a full subject in it's own right.

    Then you get into the likes of sensors, such as heart rate, speed, cadence and even power.
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 8,237
    Just for now, ride the bike time yourself on the loop and keep a note of it then get a basic GPS if you keep biking. You don't really need heart rate and cadence so if you do get one just get a basic one. Good luck, get the kids involved and keep going.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    If I was you, I'd get out and enjoy doing the loop but stick your phone in your back pocket and download Strava. You don't need to stick the phone on your handle bars.

    You could add a cheap wired computer if you want to see speed and then look in more detail at your data afterwards, if that takes your fancy.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Just ride the bike and enjoy. As they've said - bung your smartphone onto strava and keep it in a plastic bag in your back pocket. You don't need any distractions on the bars. Have fun.
  • lakesludditelakesluddite Posts: 1,319
    fenix wrote:
    Just ride the bike and enjoy. As they've said - bung your smartphone onto strava and keep it in a plastic bag in your back pocket. You don't need any distractions on the bars. Have fun.

    What he said^

    I've never had a bike computer, I've always found Strava on an iPhone all I need. And you can set an iphone to 'Low Battery Mode' and it should last for hours on a full charge.
  • cxxlcxxl Posts: 1
    I have used the commercial GPS devices, and am also a fan of smart phones since the other units died. That's why as an amateur MTB rider and programmer I thought to try my own... Check out my new Android App "OnTrack GPS Sport Tracking" ;-)
  • new911new911 Posts: 4
    Great responses. Thank you all for your input. Truly a wealth of information on here.
  • new911new911 Posts: 4
    fenix wrote:
    Just ride the bike and enjoy. As they've said - bung your smartphone onto strava and keep it in a plastic bag in your back pocket. You don't need any distractions on the bars. Have fun.

    What he said^

    I've never had a bike computer, I've always found Strava on an iPhone all I need. And you can set an iphone to 'Low Battery Mode' and it should last for hours on a full charge.

    Awesome. I didn't even know there was a low battery mode. Pretty sweet
  • N1TRON1TRO Posts: 103
    I tend to get quite lost if I don't have a basic bike computer in front of me. Usually it'll only cost you about 20 of your local currency (pounds/euros/dollars), so it's not a big investment. For me it's nice to know the speed I'm going, how far I've gone and how much I've totaled altogether. On the other hand I rarely use phone apps and paying several hundred *currency units* for a sophisticated tracker is a waste in my opinion.
  • I have a Microsoft Band 2 for tracking my rides. Great for retrospective review, but obviously isn't going to be terribly safe to look at whilst riding!
    Carrera Subway 2015
    Boardman Hybrid Team 2014
  • g00seg00se Posts: 2,220
    Pretty much all been said, but if you want to historically look at your ride and compare with others and previous runs, then a phone running strava in your back pocket is fine.

    Just speed and distance, an old fashioned, basic cateye-like computer will do.

    Want to look at more stuff like heart rate (can be useful if pushing on a climb), gradients and lots of other metrics, then you're looking at the garmins of the world.
  • Wouldn't get too hung up on the times / distances at the outset to be honest, just enjoy the ride, trying too hard to beat previous times, mates times etc can become a bit all consuming and perhaps ruin the ride for you.

    Today for instance I am just about to go out on my old bike for a pootle around, no great hurry just enjoy the scenery and put some miles in the legs. I will Strava the ride just to measure the distance but I won't be embarrassed at a slow time or slow sectors where as I feel (correctly or incorrectly) that some people go hell for leather all the time just so that "their Strava followers" can see how fast they have gone and perhaps forget just why we all started cycling.

    Just enjoy the outdoors mate.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    I would, at the very least, want to track it on Strava, which can be done by a phone in your back pocket.

    If only because I've tracked all my rides this way and it's great to look back on those initial rides and see my pace at the time compared to how it is now.
  • supermurph09supermurph09 Posts: 2,471
    Buy a Garmin Edge 500, it's all you'll ever need. Honestly, it'll track everything worth tracking, won't cost you a fortune and will allow you to keep your phone safely stored in your pocket.
  • VslowpaceVslowpace Posts: 189
    Buy a Garmin Edge 500, it's all you'll ever need. Honestly, it'll track everything worth tracking, won't cost you a fortune and will allow you to keep your phone safely stored in your pocket.

    and you can follow a breadcrumb trail.
  • MishCliffMishCliff Posts: 14
    I'm 44 , been biking a year.

    Only just bought a Garmin 520.

    TBH If you just started, then Strava will give you everything you need. Strava premium even more so.

    My 520 is nice, but very distracting - the only display I use whilst riding is the pace screen or the course screen. Unless I want to do a ride and keep my heart rate down and then I use the main screen

    I could easily survive without still
  • Aldi are selling the Garmin 25 for £79.99 right now.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    PlankPose wrote:
    You just can ride and have fun.

    There's nothing about having a computer that precludes the fun part ;)
  • pedarbypedarby Posts: 28
    I highly recommend Strava on iPhone which allows really good tracking of your ride history, so you can see how your time/performance is improving. Personally I like to have the phone mounted on my stem so I can see my ride data. The Quad-Lock is a very secure phone mount - would really suggest taking a look if you decide you want to mount your phone.
  • MantasMantas Posts: 33
    Is just my bike and me + little compose for fun
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    pedarby wrote:
    I highly recommend Strava on iPhone which allows really good tracking of your ride history, so you can see how your time/performance is improving. Personally I like to have the phone mounted on my stem so I can see my ride data. The Quad-Lock is a very secure phone mount - would really suggest taking a look if you decide you want to mount your phone.

    But to clarify with that you don't need the Strava app to use Strava, most / all GPS computers will upload to Strava.
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,824
    *IF* you want to map out a route and follow it, then a "better" GPS unit will be needed. I bought a Garmin 800 model a few years back and its one of the best purchases I've made. There's one in the classifieds here if you're interested viewtopic.php?f=40091&t=13063307
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • Taeo1Taeo1 Posts: 17
    You don't need a computer but beware...as soon as you get one all the data is very addictive!!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    new911 wrote:
    Great responses. Thank you all for your input. Truly a wealth of information on here.

    Most people seem to be saying don't bother, but I bet they have one lol.

    Personally I would say get one.
    You probably are going to get one sooner or later, so just do it now.

    Don't bother with the older ones (definitely not a 500!), get a current model.
    Edge 25 or better still the 520 should do.

    Or maybe the new 1000 Explore if you want mapping. Its a more user friendly stripped down version of the 1000 and comes with a remote, silicon case, and the new safety alert system.
  • ayjayceeayjaycee Posts: 1,333
    I really don't want to get into an extended debate about it but at the risk of contradicting Carbonator, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with the Garmin Edge 500 and it will probably be all the computer you will ever need. Granted, there are more recent models out there like the 25 and 520 that he mentioned but - personally, I just don't like the look of the 25 and the 520 is a bit more wonga (but not a lot more IMHO). That said, it's the 520 is what I will probably get when/if my 500 fails or the more irrational voices in my head tell me that I must buy a new cycle computer. Also, the 500 seems to be getting a bit scarce in the shops nowadays so the 520 might just be the way to go anyway (so long as you are not looking to spend bargain basement money). I have heard hardly anything but good to very good about it - google 'DC Rainmaker 520' for an in-depth review.
    Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra
    Kinesis Racelight 4S
    Specialized Allez Elite (Frame/Forks for sale)
    Specialized Crosstrail Comp Disk (For sale)
  • chrisaonabikechrisaonabike Posts: 1,919
    Strava first on the phone in a pocket, because if you're even slightly geeky then you'll want to have all the rides and times recorded right from the beginning.

    I agree with the others who recommend not to put a phone on the bars. I tried that but it's pointless - it looks stupid, the battery runs out too fast if you have the screen on all the time, it's pointless there if you don't, and in the cold you can't do anything with the screen unless you have the special gloves.

    Worry about the other stuff when you've done enough riding to know whether you want more.
    Is the gorilla tired yet?
Sign In or Register to comment.