Bike computers have seen a massive rise in popularity in the last few years. With modern bike computers including advanced technical features and unique connectivity features, it becomes ever more important to have one mounted if you want the best performance for your bike.
However, you need to know what is better a wired or wireless bike computer? While the wireless bike computer seems to be the best option for those looking to have something portable, the wired bike computer is much cheaper. Many wired bike computers will be easier to buy for most consumers. However, the wireless bike computer is much easier to set up with fewer mounting additions.
This article aims to help you better understand how to set up the bike computer and which might meet your needs the best. There are a variety of different options available, but knowing if you could suffice with a cheaper version that is wired is something to keep in mind. We will explore the drawbacks and benefits of both.
Wired Vs. Wireless Bike Computer Key Features
Before we dive into some of the essential differences between wired and wireless bike computers, we should look at some of the features that each bike computer brings to the table. If you don’t have time to read the deeper details, the following should make it easier to get a breakdown of each bike’s computer:
Wireless Bike Computer
- Easy Mounting
- Advanced data tracking features
- Easy navigation (Touchscreen)
- Wireless connectivity
As you can see, the wireless bike computer is designed with numerous advanced features that make it stand out. While you have the benefit of easy navigation and advanced features, the main drawback is the price. Many of these Garmin wireless bike computers could be as much as $1,000, especially when buying the newest models.
Wired Bike Computer
- Uses wires to connect sensors
- Basic data tracking
- Basic connectivity
- Button operation
The wired bike computer is one of the cheapest on the lot. Some of these bike computers might not even feature a colored screen. However, they can still operate and are best used by beginner riders. If you are looking for advanced data tracking and you aim to be one of the top cyclists, this might not be the bike computer for you.
Why Should I Buy A Bike Computer
The bike computer is an essential component that often helps riders track data and improves performance. We have identified a few important reasons that could help you understand if you need one of these computers. The following benefits are what you can expect, regardless of the bike’s computer type.
One of the most important reasons for buying a bike computer will be data tracking. With advanced data tracking capabilities, you could see how much your performance increases. Many of the top wireless bike computers will also include training programs that could be set up as a way of improving performance.
Regardless of whether you buy a wired or wireless bike computer, you will often be lucky enough to have a GPS. The GPS might be expensive and raise the price of the computer, but should allow you to track distance. Some of the top Garmin bike computers will allow you to plot routes and set up tracking systems.
The main idea of the bike computer is to enable the rider to track data and statistics. Once you have the data, you can use this to change your performance. Measuring something like cadence would enable you to see how much power and effort you are doing. This will make it possible to see where and how you can improve.
Breakdown – Wireless Bike Computer
The wireless bike computer is the most popular in the modern era, especially when you consider some pro cyclists. It reduces the risk of wires snagging the components and the setup seems much easier. It can also look tidy and you won’t need to spend hours figuring out how the computer needs to be mounted.
One of the main benefits of the wireless bike computer stems from the setup. These bike computers have a plug-and-play design, which means you will only have a mounting stand that is set up on the handlebars. Once the unit is set up, you will need to do a few basic configurations that are often indicated by the manufacturer.
Many of these high-end computers offer good functionality and you can measure almost all the data you need to measure to ensure you have the optimal performance. They have advanced functionality and will often use GPS to determine speed. If you buy one of the Garmin models, you could see more accuracy and your bike performance should be much higher.
These bike computers often use radio frequency sensors, which are mounted on certain components of the bike. They will transmit a signal to the receiver that is located in the bike computer to make it easier to track data. The data tracking is often much faster and more accurate and does not need to rely on the wired for communication.
Finally, most modern wireless bike computers also include Bluetooth connectivity. The Bluetooth connectivity will enable the user to connect the device to their mobile phone. You can add the data to various third-party applications, which have been designed to monitor performance. You can also connect to third-party apps to set up training programs.
One of the biggest benefits of the wireless computer is its design. The design includes how it looks once the computer is fully set up and this will make it much easier to ride your bike without fear. Not only does it reduce the risk of your wires being snagged by some of the bike components, but it also looks sleek and professional.
With most wireless bike computers, we have seen that they are all touchscreen and you can easily navigate the features without having to stop and press the buttons. The touchscreen feature makes it easier to find the right features and data you are looking for, which should ultimately help you to improve your riding.
The only real downside we could find is the price. Unfortunately, the price of these bike computers could be seen as excessive. If you are a beginner just breaking into the sport, you might want to save as much money as possible to upgrade your bike and make sure your practical components are the best. The wireless bike computer might just be out of reach.
Wired Bike Computer
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the wired bike computer, which is slightly more technical to install. These bike computers were some of the first ever to be designed and they helped to pioneer the way forward for the wireless models to be effective. Nowadays, the wired bike computer is slowly phasing out.
The setup on the wired bike computer is slightly more technical. You will notice that the sensors are similar to those found on the wireless options, but a wire will connect them to the mounted computer on the handlebars. The main idea is that it would send signals to the bike computer, allowing you to see your data.
Installation needs to be done carefully to ensure that all wired run along the frame of the bike, without having the opportunity to snag in the wheels or the derailleurs. It could cause a definitive incident when you have your wires crossed and accidentally snag one of the components, either damaging the wires or the components.
If we compare the wired versions to the wireless version, you will find that both of them have similar functionality. Both of these computers will track most of the important statistics and data, which should give you a clear indication of your performance and what the bike is capable of achieving. There are very few differences between the bike computers in this aspect.
The design factor could be frustrating and you will need to make sure that your wires are set up correctly. As mentioned, the wired often need to be mounted to run along the frame of the bike, preventing them from snagging or being damaged by the components. Unfortunately, these wires could come loose at any point.
Aside from being harder to set up, they might make your bike look cluttered and this might be frustrating for many cyclists. If you are looking for a neat bike computer, you should opt for the wireless versions.
Most wired bike computers are designed to keep the price as low as possible and this means that some users will have a hard time with usability. It is rare that you find one with a touch screen feature and rarely do they have Bluetooth connectivity. You might need to manually use a cable to transfer data from the bike computer to your device.
The price of the bike computer is something that always needs to be taken into account. Fortunately, the wired bike computers have fewer technical features and the technology or software are not on the same level. Since the software is one of the main aspects that dictate the price of these bike computers, those that opt for the wired version would save some money.
Should I Buy A Wired Or Wireless Bike Computer?
Once you gain a basic understanding of these bike computers, you should buy one for your needs. The bike computer is an essential component that will assist you in improving performance. It allows you to track the essentials for your bike and often it can be integrated with various training programs that will enhance performance.
But, let’s look at who should buy these computers:
Wired Bike Computer
- Beginners: It is a cheap and affordable way to track the basic data of your bike’s performance.
- Casual Riders: If you only want to go for a Sunday ride on your bike, this is the ideal option.
- Budget Riders: While you might be on a tight budget, the wired bike computer is the ideal option, to begin with.
Essentially, it boils down to entry-level riders that should consider this bike computer for their needs and they can upgrade once they have the funds and performance to do so.
Wireless Bike Computer
- Advanced Riders: If you consider yourself an advanced bike rider that wants to improve performance, the wireless option is best.
- Pro Riders: Being a pro rider means you need to use the best tools to improve performance.
A wireless bike computer is a dedicated option for professional riders. Once you improve your performance, you might need access to an even better bike computer that will help you improve even more. You will find that most Tour riders often have sponsors for the best and most elite bike computers available.
It is hard to determine whether the wired or wireless bike computer is best for your needs. Essentially, it boils down to what you can afford and what some of your aspirations are. Those looking for the best value for their money might need to bite the bullet and consider the wireless option. However, if you are not serious about cycling, we would recommend that you stick to the wired versions for the best performance.