Your Cycling, But Unlike Dorthey, You Can’t Always Follow The Yellow Brick Road!

Posted by Beth Hartman

For those of you who may be new to the sport of cycling, welcome! After all, you're joining an ever-increasing number of people who enjoy getting out on the road or mountain path with just two wheels under them. And I don’t mean dirt bike wheels. There is just something about using your legs to power yourself up and down paths that you may have never been on before.

It's estimated that there are currently about 66 million bike riders enjoying themselves each week or at least twice a month. They may have gotten started on the sport as a way to becoming more active, maybe to lose some weight. Or for some, maybe undertaking a new change in their life to participate in something that they can do by themselves, for themselves.

Depending on how seriously you're taking the sport will dictate the kind of bike you use, and how much your willing to spend on it. If you’ve been shopping around then you know that a good dependable bike can range from $350.00 for a standard bike that will take you up and down hills, just like you may have grown up with. But if you’re looking at the cost of a professional grade bike, say one that they use on the touring circuit, well you could be spending upwards to $10,000.00. The same for a good mountain bike. But there is no reason to spend that kind of money on a bike that you may be using 2-3 times a month.

Remember, you’re making a purchase that will provide you with the means to get you from point A to point B, and have you arriving at point B safely and with the bike in good condition!

The key to purchasing a bike that will take you in confidence on any road or trail is to go and visit a reputable cycle shop. After all, the owners and staff that work there are probably cyclists themselves and know everything about the equipment that they sell. They will be able to select the proper bike based on your physical makeup and the type of cycling you're going to be doing. Proper fit and handle-bar extensions can all be measured by the staff to make sure that when your sitting peddling on your bike your posture is optimum and the fit between you, the rider, and your bike seat along with your hand extensions will be as comfortable as when you start out as when you reach the end of your excursion.

But a good reliable bike is only one aspect of cycling, a good reliable cycling computer is another good investment to make, especially if you're going to be taking part in any competition rides that cover over 100 miles or more on unfamiliar terrain.

Now with the advancements in cell phone technology, some people may think that they can just use their smartphones to navigate those unknown trails that you're going to need to traverse in standard biking competitions. You can use your smartphone and an app like Strava or MapMyRide. For most commuters or recreational riders, the phone may be the better option. If you're serious about biking exercise and maybe one day competing, though, a GPS bike computer is worth the investment. Here's why:

Better battery life
The No. 1 reason to go with a GPS bike computer is for battery life. A smartphone running a GPS app like “Strava” or “MapMyRide” may only last a few hours, whereas many bike computers can get up to 16 hours. Commuters may not have this issue, but you don't want to be out on a 60-mile ride and have your phone die.

Most GPS bike computers carry a water-resistant rating of IPX7 and won't be damaged when used in the rain. Unless you own an iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S7, which are both water-resistant, it would be safer to ride with a bike computer.

Improved visibility
It can be difficult to see the screen on your phone on a sunny day. You won't have this problem with many bike computers. While they may not be as vibrant as your phone, they do a better job of reflecting sunlight.

Access to more accessories
Eventually, you will want to purchase more advanced sensors and accessories for your bike. This includes things like cycling power meters, heart-rate chest straps and speed/cadence sensors. Many of these support both Bluetooth and ANT+ to connect with a bike computer, but there are still some that are exclusive to ANT+.

Now here's the problem. While nearly every smartphone on the market supports Bluetooth, only Samsung and Sony incorporate ANT+ into their smartphones. That means you won't be able to use a handful of accessories when using an iPhone (or another phone) over a bike computer.

Now that we went over why its better to invest in a good, reliable bike computer, I’m going to suggest one that will fit the bill, whether your new to the sport of cycling or are an old pro at it. The one that works great for me is the Garmin Edge 820 GPS Cycling Computer  Why a Garmin? Well because Garmin has been developing GPS devices for over 50 years, beginning with developing the functionality for our military back in 1991! It is designed exclusively for the people who love to cycle race and are looking to enhance their performance. It is loaded with the features like performance monitoring, Group Track feature, GPS navigation.

It's high-resolution touchscreen in this compact Edge 820 device, allows you to enjoy the same response of its capacitive touch display even when you use it with gloves or when wet. It comes with a light sensor which automatically adjusts the brightness making it easier for you to see at a glance. And it will be a constant companion for you on your ride since its battery life is over 15 hours with the GPS enabled!

So there you have it. We think its pretty clear that if your really serious about cycling and are looking to participate in group competitions that will take you on courses where you’ve never been before, then your best bet is making sure your bike is mounted with a reliable GPS enabled bike computer. After all, do you really want to trust your position and location to just your cell phone, or would you rather put your trust in a bike computer, manufactured by a company like Garmin, who have been the “innovator” in everything GPS related?

We gave our recommendation on the Garmin Edge 820, check it out and we think you're going to be happy with the various ways it opens up the world of cycling to you!

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