The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Bike Computers

Tuesday December 3, 2019
When we test GPS bike computers  we take them out to the middle of nowhere and see what they can do.
When we test GPS bike computers, we take them out to the middle of nowhere and see what they can do.

How We Test Cycling Computers


When we approach our testing for bike computers, we consider two primary areas: practical cycling application and company claims. That means we need to conduct a good deal of research on each cycling computer to look at the claims and then get out there in the field to see if those claims are good and then judge whether or not the features actually matter to the average rider. We do our best to end up with a boil-down of each bike computer. Some of the higher-end cycling computers have dozens of features that just don't matter for most riders, but look very impressive under a features section. We sort through all of that and see how practical it is out on the road.

One of the best parts about testing computers is hunting for all the local categorized climbs to compare the data.
One of the best parts about testing computers is hunting for all the local categorized climbs to compare the data.

Side by Side


These products were all tested side-by-side on the same rides for accuracy. Occasionally, we forgot to take our computers off the bike when driving home in the rain… it happens. Corners were taken too fast, and a Garmin contender on an out-front mount saved our carbon handlebars from a tree.

Some aspects of computer testing are more fun than others.
Some aspects of computer testing are more fun than others.

Real World Testing


Did we mention we don't baby the equipment?
Looks pretty water resistant to us.
Looks pretty water resistant to us.
We spent months scrutinizing every detail of each computer, from attachment to the user interface, and evaluated all available features to determine their usefulness in the real world. Many of the products we tested are compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart accessories, and we used a wide range of sensors, including heart rate monitors, speed, cadence, and power meters from Quarq and Powertap during testing. When you go to buy a product we've reviewed, you can be sure that it has been put through the wringer, and evaluated on the basis of head-to-head, real-world comparison.
Dubbed "The Fred Console;" how else are you going to get good side-by-side data? At least we didn't have a cup holder  mirror  and streamers...
Dubbed "The Fred Console;" how else are you going to get good side-by-side data? At least we didn't have a cup holder, mirror, and streamers...