Top 5 Bike Computer Under $20!
A bike computer calculates speed, distance, time and several other features. The features and functions included in the device mostly define the price. Along with that we took a close look at the quality and the ease of use to find the perfect device in this price category. We contacted every company for additional information on every device that isn’t public available to provide a detailed in-depth review and to make this article as transparent as possible. We created charts, pictures and tables to visualize the pros and cons of every device.
The $20 class is useful for people who cycle for smaller distances and just starting out getting into cycling as a sport. Despite there is room for change, we do recommend some of the models reviewed below. We are starting out with a comparison table to see which product offers most functionality for its money.
As you see in the picture below we compared another important factor(to us at least); The screen-size! These are all the original sizes to give you an idea if the screen of your future device is large enough for you. The Planet Bike Protege 5 offers the biggest screen in this price category, closely followed by the CatEye Velo 7/9. The Sigma Sport BC 5.12 has the smallest screen. It depends on your needs but i personally like a big screen, especially when riding a bike while you have to concentrate on the way that is ahead of you. You can only take a blink on the device while riding which especially a small screen makes hard to manage.
Of course we are in the under $20 price-range, means, you always have to be realistic with your exceptions. As you see on the CatEye Velo 9, it is possible to produce a device in that price area which provides many functions, a large screen and a good quality.
Most of the screen sizes were not available online, so we had to call/write every company to get this information. Since we took this step i just want to give you additional information about the support every of the above companies is providing.
I really was surprised how awesome every of these companies reacted to my request. I basically send every of these companies a long list of their devices and ask them about the screen-size and the battery life time on every of their products. Every company wrote me back after like one or two days with a full list provided all the information i need. All of these companies were really friendly and offered awesome support to my request. The only exception is Bell …
I wrote them two emails with my request, and i only ask for the screen size and the battery life time of one device, the Bell F20. After i got no response i called the company by phone. A woman answered the phone who already sounded like she is not in a chatty mood but that is just my opinion of course. After i told her that i wrote already and asked for the screen-size she just told me:”I can not give you an exact number but it will be about 2″x2″.”. This of course is absolutely bogus because if this were true the scree would look like this:
I am sorry, but i don’t think so … My conclusion is that the support overall is really great except for this one case.
CatEye Velo 7
The Velo 7 is a seven-function computer, falling in the entry-level segment. The easy-to-use instrument calculates speed, distance, trip distance, time and overall time. It also features an odometer for a precise recovery of measurement.
The pre-programmed memory is helpful in setting the system to different tire sizes. It avoids the need to calibrate each time you want to use the device on another bike. CatEye has taken precautions to ensure that the machine performs precisely at all times. The device incorporates a larger screen, to offer convenience for the driver. The big numbers are easy to read which helps a lot, especially while you are riding your bike. A single button access, located at the bottom center, gives complete control over the system settings without any hindrance.
Besides these advantages the downside is the installation, which can be a tedious process. The wired connectivity consumes time in installation although the company offers clear instruction. Not everybody has the necessary tools, time or simply patience to install the system daily. The appearance of the device is not attractive in my opinion. Although it costs less, it should not mean that customers get a matchbox styled machine. In terms of functionality, it does provide the needed values and the long-life battery is useful; however, it flushes out the energy within a short period of regular use.
The device fits for people who cycle thrice or twice a week. CatEye is targeting the normal people regardless of age and gender. To some extent, the company is successful and manages to keep a fair amount of market share. Given the price and its functionality, the Velo 7 is an excellent device to start an exercise regimen.
|7 Functions||Design Flaws|
|Large Screen||Short Battery-Lifetime|
CatEye Velo 9 – Our Winner!
The Velo 9 is yet another entry-level nine-function measuring instrument for bicycle enthusiasts. CatEye has imported the systems of the Velo 7 and incorporated two additional features – calorie consumption and carbon offset measurement.
Although regular users may not need the carbon-offset measurement, it is helpful for semi-skilled riders. The entry-level machine is capable of calculating average, current, and total speed, time and distance. The odometer gives an accurate description of the values, depending on the movement of the wheel. The sensor set near to the tire calculates the rotations and sends the information through the wire to the device mounted on the handlebar.
The mounting is still a problem though. People have to use tools to adjust the sensor, attach the wire and place the display unit system. In my opinion it would have been better if the company thought of an alternative mounting that is more easy to set. The disadvantage of this can cause many people to use the device only when they need. Also, CatEye should have focus on the build and design of the instrument. Although meant for basic calculation, the appearance lacks the attraction. A well-crafted appearance attracts the attention of the buyer. It is the first step in bringing in new prospects.
The entry-level computer is functional and delivers the needed values on the big screen with precise calculations. The single button, placed at the center below the screen eases the control of the setup. Pressing the button changes the screen to a different reading. The quick response system prevents accidents and meets the need for altering the setting while driving.
Although there may be some design flaws, the CatEye Velo 9 is our definitive winner. It provides 9 functions which work absolutely precisely. The Quality of the device is really good for a device in this price-range and the really big screen is just a delight to watch. With almost $20 this is the most expensive device but in my opinion worth every penny.
|9 Functions||Design Flaws|
Bell F20 is a entry-level cycle computer that is capable of calculating current, average and total time, speed and distance. The company has taken care in creating a suitable tool for the masses. The big display unit is easy to read and is visible perfectly with the sunglasses on. This device offers with a total of 14 functions included, by far the most functionality.
The design of the product is unattractive, while it still fulfills the purpose of calculating the speed, trip distance and time taken. Additional features include calculation of calorie consumption, temperature, odometer save, 12/24 hour timer, scan, auto start/stop calorie and fat burned, freeze frame memory and speed tendency. Although the offered functions are excellent and by far more than other products in this price-category can provide, a few flaws put the device down in the total ranking.
The design and the build quality are very poor. People require a computer that is easy to handle while the Bell F20 with its two buttons at the bottom creates a problem to set the required values. Unlike other models, where a single button provides complete access to the configuration, the two-button-system may pose a hindrance. There are also complaints related to the rest of the values. In short terms, without the Manual of this device you are definitely lost with that computer.
The auto start/stop feature saves battery and prolongs its life. The pre-setting program of the tire size is beneficial and helps in avoiding the calibration process. Overall, the device functions smoothly when taken care off. The weatherproof structure allows it to work in any given weather condition.
The most big flaw in that device is still the poor quality. This is why we rated that computer with only 6.6 out of 10. If you are planning to use this device for a hi ride in the mountains or on a rainy day i would not advice you to choose this one. In my opinion this device is not made for life but of course at a total price of about $13 you have to be realistic.
|13 Functions||Poor Quality|
|Very Cheap Price||Low Screen Contrast|
Sigma Sport BC 5.12
The five-function BC5.12 bicycle computer from Sigma Sport is an excellent instrument for measuring speed, time, and distance. Sigma Sport has concentrated on delivering a decent measuring instrument for everybody. It fulfills the need for daily use by the average cyclist, who cycles as part of an exercise regimen. The best element of the machine is its ease of use and operation.
The device has a single button placed at the bottom of the screen. This button provides full access to the settings and allows the user to change the setting while riding with ease. The aerodynamic construction, though lacks substance, it does fit to the handlebar of any size with ease. An additional advantage of this device is the presence of the USB port. The optional USB port allows the users to download the recorded data to a desktop and analyze the same with evaluation software. Additionally, the tool-free installation offers a quick service to attach the device to the bike. It takes around 10 minutes for the installation, and any person can fix the device and the sensor with ease.
Although Sigma Sport has developed a good device, its still outranked by its competition. The screen is small, and the digits appear cramped. Users may feel inconvenient reading the numbers while riding, especially under sunlight. The absence of the backlight may cause a problem for riders who cycle late in the evenings or at night. The mounting bracket, though tool-less, is clumsy and requires an immediate update. A firm bracket is essential to hold the device, which also blends perfectly with the varying dimensions of the handlebar. Although these basic features make it to one corner, the BC 5.12 from Sigma Sport is worth every penny for its ease of operation and basic features needed for every cyclists who rides for fun, exercises sessions or simply mountain bikes in the … ah well yeah, mountains!
|Solid Design||Only 5 Functions|
Planet Bike Protégé 5.0
The Protégé 5.0 from Planet Bike is worth a consideration for its given price. This bicycle computer has the essential features necessary for everyday riders and semi-skilled professionals. The computer calculates with exceptional accuracy and offers greater credibility in terms of calculations than its competition. It is capable of measuring current speed, trip distance, trip time and it has a clock and an odometer.
The 4-line LCD display unit allows the users to view up to four different readings in a single glance. Although the composition lacks refreshment, it still fulfills the basic requirements. Unlike the use of just one button, the developers have incorporated a spring held mechanism to switch between settings. A push on the computer, mounted on the bracket to the handlebar, allows the rider to gain control over the device and its settings. Although the display unit reads out four different counts at any given time, the digits appear medium in size and may not offer a clear view while riding. There is a constraint on the mounting bracket. It fits handlebars that fall in the 25.0-31.8mm size. You have to be watchful if you intend to alter the handlebar. The durable weatherproof construction assists in protecting the interior of the computer to the maximum.
The company should have considered a well-structured design for the product. The mounting bracket is poor in appearance, and may not fit perfectly with ease. Some people sad they had to use additional rubbers or duct tape to build a rigid collar on the handlebar. There is a further chance of malfunction of the system in a short time due to battery or the internal hardware. You have to be very careful and operate the equipment with higher sensitivity to ensure its functionality for at least a year.
|Good Quality||Only 5 Functions|
Choosing an appropriate model relies on the demand, the pricing, the support from the manufacturer, the quality and service. The reviews above provide an insight into both the pros and cons of every device in this category. This review should provide you a little help to choose the right bike computer for yourself. Since you are searching in the under $20 category we would suggest this is your first one and that you may be not that experienced in this topic. We did the research and choose the above listed devices with care to help you out. If you should have any further questions to any device or you simply want to give us feedback, be welcome to just write us a mail. We hope this review could help you and have a great start in your cycling life