Cycle GPS computers explained
A Cycle GPS is a fantastic training companion to hit the road and trails with. It combines guided navigation with valuable performance feedback to help you ride, record, and revisit your training rides!
- Training: A GPS unit allows you to download and share post-ride data.
- Compatibility: Share data with smartphones, social media apps and heart-rate monitors.
- Navigation: Download memory maps on platforms such as Google Maps, Ordnance Survey and AA maps.
- Health benefits: Using the heart rate monitor function on a GPS is very helpful if you have a cardiovascular problem.
- Community: Online communities provide a platform for cyclists to upload and share their data with other riders.
What training features should you look for?
A cycle GPS is a fantastic way to train harder and smarter. Below are some of the key performance features you should look for when deciding to purchase a device that is best for you and your training needs.
- Altitude: An altitude meter provides the height above sea level. Different models offer some good data variables such as altitude gain per minute etc.
- Calories: Ideal for those who are undertaking a weight loss programme, or simply interested in how many calories have been burned during the exercise period.
- Cadence: A cadence display will provide the number of crank revolutions per minute (RPM). This is particularly helpful in discovering what your optimum leg speed is for efficient power output. Many research papers have shown at cadence of between 70-90RPM is most efficient.
- Distance: This feature tracks distance travelled with GPS based accuracy.
- Stopwatch: GPS cycle stopwatches are automated to start and stop based on your movement on the bike. This calculates the time actually spent riding (as opposed to total time including rest). You can also use a standard stopwatch setting which records total time.#
- Speed analysis: Current and average speed are of benefit to those wanting to maintain a specific speed. Maximum speed recording is a nice feature to prove your top speed in a sprint!
- Maps / Navigation: Ensuring you have the correct map installed on your GPS device is vital if wanting to use a GPS cycle computer to its full extent. A mountain bike rider is likely to need a different map type to a road cyclist. Wiggle stock a good range of maps to ensure your needs are catered for.
- Heart rate monitor: Many training plans are set within heart rate zones. Having a built in heart rate monitor allows the rider to ride in a set zone by viewing the heart rate on the display screen. Some GPS cycle computers are also compatible with external heart rate monitors.
What design features should you look for?
- Screen size: 2.5 inches and up is now the standard for a cycle GPS screen. This size range strikes a good balance between display and easy handling.
- Display resolution: The resolution of the screen is measured in pixels and in each dimension that can be measured. 160x240 is the standard display resolution for a cycle GPS colour screen.
- Battery life: Most cycle GPS units have a run time of around 15 hours. A strong battery life means you won’t have to recharge the GPS in the middle of your ride. Good GPS devices use long lasting lithium-ion batteries which can be charged using a standard 12v system as well as via USB device or car charger.
- Waterproof: Most cycle GPS devices are created to have an international protection rating of 7 (IP7) This means that they have water resistance of up to one meter for the duration of 30 minutes.
- Memory card compatibility: This allows the user to download more functions and features for the device. The standard memory card format is a MicroSD card.
- Digital Colour Display: The majority of cycle GPS devices come with a colour display. The best models are designed with sunlight readable displays. Models aimed at beginners sometimes come with an e-paper non-colour display.
- Touch-screen interface: Another great feature of cycle GPS devices is the ability to interact via a sensitive touch-screen interface. These are designed to be touch with a gloved hand, as well as being rugged and durable.
- Mounting: Most cycle GPS devices come with a mounting system that comprises of a rubber disc and elastic bands. The cycle GPS is fixed to your handlebars or stem by twisting into the mounting bracket. After-market mounts are also available offering more precise mounting positions on the bike.