Wired or wireless bike computer: which one is better?
It doesn't matter as long as it does a good job of monitoring your progress and performance. But since the invention of wireless computers, cyclists have been torn between the two.
It seems “cool” to upgrade to the latest wireless technology. Your bike also looks tidier with it because you don't have to deal with hanging wires. But wired bike computers are undoubtedly cheaper and more stable in terms of connectivity.
So, which one?
We are not here to tell you which type of cycle computer you should buy. Instead, we will discuss the pros and cons of wireless and wired bike computers and help you find the best bike computer online.
Before you decide which team you are on, let us differentiate the two by enumerating their pros and cons.
|✅||It is more affordable than wireless.|
|✅||Its conventional design has been tried and tested for a long time.|
|✅||Its wired connectivity is more stable and consistent.|
|✅||It only needs one battery to operate.|
|❌||Your bike looks messy because of the wires tangled around it.|
|❌||You can only use a wired device exclusively for one bike.|
|❌||It is heavier than wireless.|
|❌||It is challenging to install, especially for beginners who don't know how to set it up correctly.|
|✅||Your bike looks neat because no wires are hanging or looping around it.|
|✅||You can swap a single unit from one bike to another.|
|✅||It is a plug-and-play device that you only need to pair with your bike.|
|✅||It has more features than a wired computer, and you can connect it with a smartphone to sync your stats.|
|❌||It is expensive.|
|❌||Radio interference could be a problem when you are riding in groups that also use wireless.|
|❌||It requires more than one battery to operate.|
|❌||It sometimes doesn't “wake up” automatically. You have to ensure it does, or else it will not track your ride.|
Now that you know the difference between wired and wireless cycling computers, let us look at our list of the top bike computers below.
Here's the list of the best wired and wireless cycling computers online.
Japanese cycling gear manufacturer CatEye has been developing cycling computers for more than 35 years. Thus, they are one of the pioneers in making wired computers, and among their best creations is the Velo 9.
Velo 9 is a wired bike computer with nine entry-level functions.
Its design is simple and straightforward, with a large screen and a single button, as well as a sensor and a receiver that compute your ride data. Velo 9 also has pre-programmed tire sizes and an auto start/stop function.
The device runs on lithium battery CR2032X1, which can last up to three years.
Cons: You can only attach the receiver to the fork of your bike. Plus, if you bought a Velo 9 from a non-US seller, your warranty is automatically void. So double-check the seller's location first before buying.
If you are looking for the best budget bike computer, SIGMA BC 5.16 could be the answer. It has the same design as the CatEye Velo 9 but with only five functions:
This wired bike computer is perfect if you are not a techie and you just want to monitor your rider data—no more, no less. It has predefined tire sizes of up to 29 inches. You can manually enter the size as well.
You will not consider SIGMA BC 5.16 as cheap. Why? This device is also waterproof, so you don't have to worry if you get caught in the rain while biking.
Cons: SIGMA BC 5.16 doesn't have a display illumination or backlight. Also, its battery only lasts for 100 hours.
If you are a mountain bike (MTB) rider, the Garmin Edge 130 Plus is perfect for you. It has an easy-to-read 1.8″ display that you can view in any light.
Since the slopes are hard to navigate, Garmin Edge 130 Plus will notify you where the next turn is to stay on track. In addition, it has a breadcrumb map that shows the routes you have been and will be going. Then once you reach the end of the ride, the device can help you return to your starting point.
You can also measure your MTB dynamics through metrics like hang time, jump distance, and jump count. It also gives you a sneak preview of how much you still need to suffer via its ClimbPro feature, which counts your remaining ascent.
Besides GPS, Garmin Edge 130 Plus uses GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and Galileo satellites. In case of emergency, the device sends your current location to your contacts.
Cons: Some users say the interface is not that intuitive as it requires many steps to perform a particular function. It also doesn't have the means to hide or disable some features that the user doesn't need.
Fitness junkies, rejoice! Here's a cycling computer that also tracks the calories you've burnt while riding. The SIGMA Sport BC 9.16 will surely help you to achieve your fitness goals by pushing you to go further faster.
Its 11 important cycling functions are as follows:
The SIGMA Sport BC 9.16 wired bike computer is available in seven languages and supports tool-free mounting. Besides, this device has a wireless counterpart, and its model name is SIGMA BC 9.16 ATS.
Cons: Its total ride time is only up to 100 hours.
Bryton Rider 320E is the best GPS computer for a road bike, mountain bike, hybrid bike, and folding bike. It is one of the affordable wireless cycling computers equipped with high-end GPS technology.
It has a minimalist design which consists of a crisp and clear B/W 2.3″ screen, which can display eight data per page. Its screen's brightness is adjustable, and you won't have a problem riding at night because it has a backlight.
Bryton Rider 320E supports five satellite systems: GLONASS, GPS, QZSS (Quasi-Zenith Satellite System), Galileo, and BDS (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System). It means that it can quickly receive signals even though you are passing trees, buildings, or mountains.
Cons: It has a reflective glossy screen, making it hard to read, especially when the sun is at its highest point in the sky.
The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is the best road bike computer with an aerodynamic design and intuitive interface. Its supported satellites are BDS, QZSS, GLONASS, Galileo, and GPS.
You can pick how many data fields you want to see and toggle from two to ten curated data fields. But choose what you need because this wireless device has more than 170 data fields to choose from!
The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is configurable via a smartphone (Android or iPhone). You can customize your settings via the ELEMNT app. It also has LED indicators called Quicklook that notify you of your heart rate and speed, incoming text/call/emails, and turn-by-turn cues.
Cons: You need to pair it with a smartphone for initial setup and configure the bike computer's layout.
Shanren Raptor II Pro stands out among the bike computers on this list. Why? It has built-in two Cree white LED headlights! It means you can safely ride at night and you don't have to pay for extra lights. In addition, you can adjust its lighting modes to flash, mid, and high.
Shanren also boasts that this wireless device can pair cadence and speed sensors in one second. Additionally, its 2.1″ LCD has an integrated backlight.
Another amazing feature of the Shanren Raptor II Pro is its rechargeable battery with a 2000-hour duration. So if the front light runs out of power, the cycling computer can still last for up to two hours. Surprisingly, it costs less than 100 bucks!
Cons: Its display is not colored, and it has no touch controls.
That's quite a list! It is no wonder why cycling gear manufacturers will do everything to stand out from their competitors by introducing new cool and useful features. But it would be best if you didn't base your buying decision on the cool features a bike computer has to offer.
As a cyclist, you are most interested in tracking your average or total speed, the distance you've traveled, average or total ride time, total calories you've burnt, and heart rate. Fortunately, you can find these metrics in cycling computers nowadays.
You only have to consider important factors like signal quality, battery life, connectivity, build quality, ease of setup, display quality, and ease of navigation. As long as your chosen wired or wireless bike computer meets all of these criteria, you are all set to crush new records every time you are on a bike tour.