Measuring your performance, recording your ride data, connecting with friends and mapping predefined routes, are some of the actions you can take with a bicycle computer or GPS cycle computer.
GPS cycling computers use satellites to track your position, accurately calculating the speed at which you pedal, the distance and the time of your journey, without the need for cables or magnets.
With a GPS for cycling you can register your route, in addition to the collection of data such as: your heart rate, the cadence and the power with which you pedal during your route or training, and which you can then load into a travel registration service in ” applications ” such as: Strava, RideMyMap, Endomondo, Wahoo Fitness, Bike Citizen, Runtastic Road Bike, among a wide offer we have today to install on our smartphones, and thus, to have essential data that will serve to to evaluate our pedaling, either for fun or to improve our performance on the bike.
Features of a GPS for cyclists
Today, GPS technology has taken great steps to be more accessible and reliable, covering a good part of our lives, as we can find it in cars, cameras, televisions, smartphones and also in bicycle computers.
With the improvement of their technology, manufacturers have been able to offer a longer battery life of these devices, increasing their connectivity, as well as incorporating a large number of useful and reliable features that were previously only dreamed of in the traditional bicycle computer, and that today, have made possible.
Training Data Record
It is important that your cycling GPS allows you to keep records of your workouts or routes traveled, as these provide the necessary data to make decisions based on the actual performance of your rides.
The precise record of the different metrics that you can take with a GPS for cycling, will provide you with the necessary data to analyze how you can improve your performance when riding a bicycle.
One of the most essential functions of GPS systems, which allows you to know in real time your geographical position (latitude and longitude) with an accuracy of meters, and is actually the substitute for traditional pocket maps.
With it, in addition to knowing your geolocation in real time, on most devices you can calculate routes, receive directions and directions during your ride from start to finish, while viewing a map on your GPS screen.
Even it is already normal that, many of the existing models in the market, allow you to connect them to a computer to update maps, program and download the routes, or to download the data of a previously made route, and compare this way, if a route is faster than another and all its peculiarities to get the most out of your workouts and routes.
GPS GPS connectivity
A GPS device will offer you – in the most complete models – a wide connectivity with your smartphone – regardless of the system you use -, providing links via Bluetooth, or through other existing technologies, sharing information that includes functions such as control of music, voice guidance route, call alerts and text messages, and even the ability to upload travel data to the cloud.
GPS for cyclists have become a ubiquitous way to access social networks for cyclists. Cycling fans around the world are publishing and letting their friends know what they are doing to keep fit and improve their performance on the bike.
Compatibility with sensors and other devices
This function is very covetable because it allows your bike computer to link with other accessories.
And many GPS units work with ANT + wireless technology and / or Bluetooth and WiFi, among the most common. Allowing you to use additional accessories, such as heart rate straps, cadence sensors and power meters.
Although currently, many devices are available with a package option, which includes the heart rate belt, the cadence and speed sensor with the same device.
Color screens certainly give more details of the readings, but in reality they are useful only for more complex navigation.
If you are using a cycle computer to track your speed and distance, a monochromatic display will be enough, and it will be easier to read in some conditions.
Keep in mind that touch screens facilitate some functions, but they may fail when used with gloves or when covered with water due to possible precipitation or perspiration. In general, cycling and touch screens do not combine very well, so it is wise to avoid them when possible.
Dimensions of the bicycle computer with GPS
The dimensions of your odometer with GPS will vary according to the number of functions with which it comes equipped and with the orientation of the screen, but those that are in the range of 5 to 9.5 cm long by 5 to 7 cm wide in the entire body will be enough to not hinder, but without being small enough to make it difficult for you to read.
In general terms, the larger the display size, the easier it will be to read the information. Besides that you can show more information on the screen without having to scroll to another page.
Of course, the drawback is that larger units can be cumbersome, and add unwanted weight on your bike.
What features do you really need in your GPS for cycling
Among a wide range of functions and data collection that the different types of GPS devices for cyclists currently have, these are the features that you will use most according to the type of cycling you practice.
GPS for the amateur cyclist
While it is true that most smartphones are currently useful for amateur cyclist navigation, it is likely that the everyday cyclist also wants to benefit from much of the information that a cycle computer is capable of providing.
However, simpler functions such as travel speed, travel distance, cadence and possibly heart rate are functions that cannot be missed for the amateur cyclist.
GPS for the high performance cyclist
In the past, high performance runners would have had to use a separate heart rate monitor (watch or chest strap), a cycle computer and a power measurement device to obtain this information that is vital for training.
Now, the current GPS units offer a receiver and a screen for all this information and more, in a single compact device.
These are the most necessary features.
Heart rate, calorie consumption, cadence, distance, altitude, speed and power, which will serve for a detailed analysis of the route and your performance.
GPS for mountain biking
Because in the practice of mountain biking many times you can not have reference points during the route and in some cases, the route to follow is not obvious, it will be necessary that the device you select is compatible to download route data , as well as destinations for pedaling in GPX or TCX formats, where you will find available trails and important landmarks.
Some devices even offer information about nearby cafes, bicycle shops, hospitals and other destinations if you travel somewhere new.
For this type of cycling, even the simplest units without detailed maps often offer digital compasses for orientation and in the best units you will have access to detailed topographic maps.
Having a device that gives you more detailed information will even help you in case of any eventuality you can tell the emergency services the exact coordinates of the place where the accident occurred and thus, greatly accelerate the arrival of the aid.
GPS for cycling and adventure cycling
These types of GPS units are recently incorporated in the market and although the coverage of digital maps still have limitations in countries with limited connectivity and technology, these types of devices must have a greater capacity for mapping and directions, as well as a greater capacity of its battery.
You should keep in mind that some Garmin and Magellan models have units with replaceable batteries, however, this can be supplemented with mass dynamos or solar technology to maintain the optimal battery charge for your journey.