Editor’s Note: Some time ago, a Premium Member wrote in to ask if we could update an article we ran in which a couple of us on the RBR Crew provided a quick rundown of our favorite tires, and why we liked them.
It was an excellent idea. So good, in fact, that I immediately decided to make it a regular feature – providing a rundown from RBR Contributors on our favorites across the spectrum of components, nutrition, clothing, accessories, you name it. Today we discuss our computers. (Here’s a link to the gamut of RBR Favorites.)
We will plan to run a different “favorite” every few weeks.
We also want to hear from readers on your favorites! Join in the fun either by commenting below the Newsletter version of this article or using the form at Tell Us About Your: Favorites (you can always find it in the Talk to RBR section on every page of the site.) We’ll gather up your submissions and run them as a follow-up to this article (and future RBR Favorites pieces).
Enjoy, and let us hear from you about your own Favorites.
– John Marsh
I’ve been running a Powertap hub-based power meter and head as my primary computer since 2007, when my coach asked me to start recording and providing wattage files. With these, he’s able to monitor my fitness and fine-tune training schedules for each rider he coaches. Even though my 2007 model is one of Powertap’s early wired units, it’s still going strong. Their current units use ANT+ wireless data transfer between the power meter and head units. And you can choose from their pedals, chainring or hub power components.
I’ve gotten so used to training by watts, I wouldn’t know what to do without it. I know what I should be able to do for average watts on all our local climbs and can tell based on what the computer shows me whether or not I’m prepared for races/events. I especially like watts for workouts because they let you dial in your effort to just what’s needed to get the right training effect. When I only used average speed or cumulative weekly miles or even heart rate, it wasn’t as effective for me. There was more risk of under- or over-training.
But maybe the best thing about the power meter for me is how it makes time fly when doing hard efforts on a trainer. All you need is a goal, like 200 watts for 5 minutes, 205 watts for 5 more, another 5 at 210 watts and a final 5 at 215 watts – and you have the basis for a very effective training block. What makes the time fly is, in order to hit your watt targets requires focusing so much on not letting the number go below your goal. And before you know it, the 20 minutes is up. Be sure to warm up really well before any intense indoor training workout, though.
I have a few friends who love using their ANT+ computers and power meters for virtual racing using Zwift. This and the other virtual-reality cycling programs look like a ton of fun.
For navigation and running my Strava app to share rides with friends, I also frequently carry an iPhone 6S on a Rokform Pro Series stem mount (click to read my review). Having Google Maps giving me turn-by-turn directions as I’m riding is the best reason to use it. And it’s fun seeing all the amazing rides friends are recording on Strava when I get home, too.
I use a Cateye speedometer – a basic one with altitude, since I climb a lot in Colorado. I used an Avocet 50, which measured climbing, until a year ago when it died. I don’t know how to change batteries and calibrate the Cateye … or even switch to daylight savings. I just pedal over to Cateye here in Boulder and have them do it.
I use a Magellan Cyclo 505, which Coach Rick Schultz and I jointly reviewed a couple of years ago. It’s a full-featured, GPS-enabled touch-screen computer akin to a Garmin Edge 800. I seldom use the navigation features built-in, but I do have it paired to my LifeBEAM HR sensor and my power meter, so I can view and record both heart rate and power, along with the numerous other metrics I have set up on the customizable screens.
I was also able to use the Magellan to accurately gauge my trainer workouts a year ago when I was recovering from my clavicle surgery. It was a big bonus to be able to use the computer in this way and really helps with any serious indoor training that utilizes power zones.
The other features I most appreciate are the ability to set up two separate screens to view exactly what I want at any given time, and, maybe even better, is the wi-fi connectivity. When I roll in from a ride, while still outside my back door, I connect to my wi-fi and automatically download the data from that ride. I never have to plug in the computer to download data – which I always hated doing with my old Garmin.
The last best thing about this computer is the size. For anyone with eyes as bad as mine, bigger is better.
I use a Garmin 510. It has tons of features I don’t use. I’m mostly concerned with speed/distance/time/climbing/cadence, and it tracks all these very well. It has worked flawlessly for years. I just press the start and stop button. I do really like being able to download rides to my phone via Bluetooth. It’s way easier than having to connect to a computer with a cable every time.
I use a Bryton 520.
I usually run a Garmin Edge 800. If I forget my Garmin Edge or want to be able to upload immediately after the ride, I use my Garmin Forerunner 920XT
My computer is a simple Bontrager wireless.
I use power meters. On one bike I have a Quarq power meter crank and the other I have Garmin Vector pedals. For those I use a Garmin 500 computer. On my time trial bike I have a PowerTap wheel and use the PowerTap computer head.
My computer is an aging but still functional Garmin 500. It works well, the battery lasts a decent amount of time. I would like an instant upload feature for Strava for quick after-ride analysis while enjoying some food and beer.
Tell us about your Favorites by commenting below the Newsletter version of this article or or using the form at Tell Us About Your: Favorites.
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John Marsh is the former editor and publisher of RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com. A rider of "less than podium" talent, he brought our readers consistently useful, informative, entertaining info that helps make them better road cyclists. That's what we're all about here—always have been, always will be. Click to read John's full bio.