It is pretty remarkable how the mobile phone has evolved from a communication device to a powerful, portable computer. With the innovation and invention of various apps and services, smartphones have become an invaluable part of our lives. There are apps available that perform or simulate the roles of several tools, including the bike computer. But is using your phone as a bike computer really the better option? Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.
Cycle computers come with a countless array of features. Naturally,cycle computer prices vary depending on what you’re looking for. You could fork up around RM79 (i.e. Cateye Velo 7) for a basic model or several hundred Ringgits for an advanced version (smart). On the other hand, smartphone cycling apps (i.e. STRAVA) could charge one-time or subscription fees, which may end up more cost in the long run. Furthermore, there is always the risk you might crash, and if your phone gets damaged in the process, you will have to spend a lot more replacing it than on a bike computer.
Size & Screen Visibility
image credit to Averagejoecyclist
Bigger is not always better. Smartphones are certainly superior in terms of size, but our phones are designed for indoor use, so you’ll have to turn the brightness way up to view them outdoors. Bike computers have the advantage of high-contrast screens made for use in the bright sunlight. Their relatively compact size also saves space on your handlebars.
image credit to birchbox
If you participate in long-distance rides, long battery life bike computer is necessary. With the cycling app, GPS service and other background processes running on your phone, it is battery will be drained fast. But if you only ride your bike for short commutes, or 30 minutes to an hour of exercise, battery life is not an issue for using smart phone.
In the event of an emergency, you have to always keep the smart phone battery is sufficient level. Using a bike computer spares you the inconvenience of being in this situation and carry a battery bank & cables.
image credit to Teamineos
Malaysia is known to have unpredictable weather. Even if your device is waterproof, the tropical heat and sweat would damage your phone fairly quickly. Touchscreens are also difficult to use when wet. While you could purchase a weatherproof phone case to solve this problem, most bike computers are already weatherproof. Some even come with buttons so you don’t need to scroll over a slippery, wet touchscreen.
Bike computers have a variety of sensors (Speed, cadence & power) dedicated to collecting your biking data. A smartphone certainly won’t have sensors as powerful or accurate as a bike computer. However, these sensors can be an expensive hassle to purchase and set up. If you only bike casually these won’t be necessary. What is really important is location accuracy. Dedicated GPS bike computers have far more reliable sensors than most mobile phones. This could come in handy on longer rides through relatively unfamiliar areas.
How Often & Why You Ride
image credit to mensjournal
Cyclists riding for training purposes should definitely invest in a bike computer. It has better accuracy calculation which means revealing more quality insights. Casual bikers who cycle short distances once or twice a week need not spend on a higher tier bike computer (non-smart). Keep in mind, though, that mobile phones can be a distraction on the road. Meanwhile, bike computers guarantee you a safer, smoother ride with no calls or texts to take your eyes off the road.
image credit to Signmasport
While smartphones are designed to be multi-functional, bike computers are made solely for cycling purposes. They have the hardware and software specifically to assist you during your ride.
So, should you use a phone or bike computer? There is no 100% better option between the two, but now that you know the differences, you can make an informed decision based on your lifestyle and cycling habits. If you wish to invest in a bike computer, shop online here at USJ Cycles online store.