Thursday, March 12, 2015

21st-century bike computer

I was probably a bike-computer "early adopter."  I bought one in 1986 - a Cateye Solar.  It was battery powered, but a solar cell supposedly provided supplemental power.  And... it was quite functional, even by the standards 25+ years later.  It didn't automatically start and stop... you had to push the button or it would just keep ticking away.  (It was always a bummer when I parked it for 2 or 3 hours and, having forgotten to turn it off, discovered that my average speed was now 0.6mph!  haha)  But - it even had the cadence function, with a separate pedal sensor.  I haven't had the cadence counter for a long time; back then it was typically 90-95.  Nowadays I bet it's dropped by 10 or so; I no longer ride in world-champion form.

I've always had good luck with Cateye computers, so I've stuck with the brand mostly.

I'm looking at the current models.  That 1986 "Solar" model cost me close to $80, as I recall.  Now the entry-level model is around 20 bucks... it's the Velo 7.  For a few bucks more, you can get the Velo 9 instead.  And as one might guess, it has 2 more functions than the 7-function Velo 7.

The two additional functions on the Velo 9?  Are you ready?
- Calorie Consumption
- Carbon Offset


Calorie consumption?  Um... how will it know?  (Unless it has a human-USB interface or something.)  Calorie consumption is dependent not only on speed, but on slope, terrain, head- or tailwind.  It's also dependent on the rider's weight, metabolism, etc.  Example... if I'm riding up the Kristin Armstrong Road (a fairly steep paved road) at 10mph, I bet I'm burning more calories than Kristin Armstrong does, when she's riding down at 30mph.

Carbon offset?  I better not even get started on that one!  Is the baseline my wife's Family Truckster, or Algore's private jet?  If I pedal even harder, will it save an iceberg?

I think I can pass on those two extra functions.  If somebody reads this and has experience with the Velo 9, I'd love a "counterpoint" explanation of the value and accuracy of those bells and whistles... please share!

A final note about the Kristin Armstrong Road... it's the bottom half of the road to Bogus Basin.  I rode to Bogus... once.  Ten years ago, on July 4th, in the morning.  My average speed was nowhere near 10mph... in fact on the bottom half, it was maybe half that.  By the time I got halfway up, I was near tears I was so tired... didn't know if I could make it.  I stopped and rested... and discovered that the top half levels off considerably.  It was far easier.  Kristin can probably ride up as fast as I ride down!  And she probably weighs right around half as much as me.

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