Over the last year I’ve went back and forth on buying my first bike computer - I fancied the wahoo bolt.
I’ve never been sold on the merits of computers over my smart phone. I’ve Googled the subject a few times and I’ve seen a lot of outdated answers that just do not apply to modern mid/high end smart phones.
After Strava’s latest doozie (removing sensor integration) I figured now might be the time to take the plunge. Before I spent the £200 I figured I’d go on something of a test ride with my smartphone and see just how much power my cycling app of choice munched through, seeing as this seemed to be the main argument against smartphones.
Basically the result has me unable to justify spending the cash on a computer.
Here’s how my ride went yesterday:
Charged my one year old Samsung galaxy S9 100%, closed all apps, no power saving other than set display to hd+ (which I always use anyway). Switch on GPS, open the wahoo app and connect my heart rate and cadence sensors and away we go.
With the app running for my full 3hr20m ride, display always on and the screen brightness turned up just under half way (to the point where it was at least as clearly visible in daytime as the computers I’ve seen) I arrived back home 50+ miles later with a battery that was still 56% charged. That’s with me taking a couple photos and messaging the wife aswell.
So i feel we can dispel the myth that GPS and cycling app destroys modern phone batteries. Of course if you are doing super long rides of 7+ hours then yes, your phone is gonna die. How many normal, average recreational cyclists do rides like that?
As for other arguments I’ve seen against smartphones let me take a stab:
The rain messes up my display/destroys phones; as far as I’m aware phones have been waterproof for years now.
I don’t want to damage my phone in a crash; How often do you crash (again, as a recreational rider) and is it that bad a phone attached to your stem is gonna take the hit? Also, is it OK to destroy a £200-£400 bike computer but not OK to damage a phone that may be insured against damage anyway? For the record I have logged about 6000 miles in the last year and not come close to crashing.
My bike computer is tidier and more aerodynamic; quadlock will sell you an attachment that allows you to place your phone out front like a computer. Personally I use a quadlock on my stem - once locked in the phone sits nice and tidy and doesn’t move. It also takes all of a second to dismount it for photos etc.
I need the ride data the computer gives me; really? Have you not delved into some of these free cycling apps? The wahoo app itself gives you a ton of data after your ride to pore through if you so wish. You can also head onto your pc on some of these apps to go into even greater detail.
So that’s kinda my feelings on the subject. I’m a giant man-boy who wants the next shiny toy for my hobby but I can’t rationally justify the purchase no matter how I look at it.
I’d love to hear other recreational rider’s opinions on the subject.