After a few months of using the Echowell CRI10W Wireless Bicycle Computer I knew I needed to take my performance analysis to a new level. And that meant knowing more about what was working and what wasn’t.
Now, there are some pretty fabulous setups out there, but I didn’t want to break the bank. There were, however, lots of features that I did want:
- Heart rate monitor: this is a must have to understand when you are over-stressing your body. Once you spend too long in your peak zone, there is no coming back. A good heart rate monitor will give you realtime feedback and help you manage your ride
- Cadence sensor: a wireless cadence sensor will report on the number of RPMs you are doing on the pedals. Understanding this provides you with a good sense of your fitness levels. And again, it all feeds into your peak performance metrics
- A variety of onscreen data: many cycling computers only provide simple onscreen data. I like to be able to see a variety of information at a single glance
- Calorie counter: it’s nice to know the impact that your exercise is having – and this is one of the best ways to monitor your improvement
With these things in mind – I began searching the web. As it turns out, I was lucky to find the Union XR available locally at Torpedo7 – though I believe they are now sold out.
As with the Echowell, installation was pretty easy. The supplied cable ties made it easy to mount the wired speed sensor on the forks and the cadence sensor and magnet on the crank and frame. The rubber mountings provided good protection from vibration and wear and tear.
Again, it is easy to set the wheel sizing so that the speed and distance were properly measured. After attaching the magnet to one of the front spokes and aligning it closely with the sensor, I spun the wheel to register movement. I then measured the tyre circumference by placing the tyre’s valve at 6 o’clock and marking a line on the ground with a piece of chalk, walking forward for a full circuit and marking another line and measuring the distance. This was then entered using the setup mode.
The only trick in installation was making sure that the cadence sensor was close enough to the magnet as the crank passed by.
I loaded the cadence sensor and heart rate monitor belt with fresh new batteries and headed out onto the road.
The screen allows you to choose a variety of settings for realtime display. I quickly became comfortable with using the DST (current distance of ride) setting and time on the left hand side, with current heart rate on the right. At the click of a button (all easy to reach and use), I could flip to cadence, odometer, and averaging functions on one side and calories burned, average pulse, intensity display etc on the other.
This is a great, cheap cycling computer. It has some excellent functionality – much of which I have yet to fully exploit. The heart rate monitor, however, consistently delivers uneven results (as you can see from the photos). However, running water over the heart rate belt before using seems to ensure a good connection between your skin and the sensor.
And when used in conjunction with something like Runkeeper for iPhone, you have a fairly good performance monitoring solution.
If you can find one of these, buy it. Unless you’ve got the cash for a full blown Garmin Edge 500