A speedometer provides a range of data about your ride, from the average speed and overall distance, to more brag-worthy information like maximum speed. If you’re a cyclist who loves numbers, whether it’s weight, wheel size, frame geometry, or power output, having a speedometer can add an extra dimension to your riding.
The way a speedometer works is pretty simple. It usually consists of a magnet attached to the wheel, and a sensor on the fork. Every time the magnet passes the sensor, it sends a signal, and all those signals add up to the overall ride data. Once you’ve input the size of your wheels, it can work out how fast you’re going, along with distance covered, average speed, ride time and maximum speed.
More advanced speedometers may also allow you to set a target average speed, and warn you when you drop below. They may also be able to predict how long it will take for you to arrive at your destination.
Not all speedometers will come with an app that wirelessly connects the head unit and your phone, so it’s important to consider if this is a feature you want. With smartphone pairing you’ll access advanced features like GPS recording. Of course, this is something you can always do with just your phone, but it really drains the battery. Would you benefit from having this feature built into a speedometer instead?
Another advantage of using a speedometer instead of your phone is that you can keep your phone tucked out of harm’s way, instead of having it perched on your handlebar. Finally, a speedometer that pairs with your phone will also record data from your ride which you can analyse later.
The clue’s in the name: we’re guessing you’re mainly looking for a speedometer to keep track of your ride speed. However there are a lot of other common features you’re likely to find across various models, so if any of these appeal to you, it’s worth looking for a unit that ticks all your boxes.
As well as your average speed, maximum speed and cadence, some speedometers will also tell you your maximum cadence (i.e. how fast you can spin), your overall ride time, the time of day, your distance so far, and whether you’re above or below your average speed. Finally, some speedometers will have an odometer built in as well. This tells you how far you’ve ridden, and in some cases you can set an initial value so you can build an accumulative record of your overall distance covered over a given period of time.
Not all speedometers will include these functions, but some sophisticated models might, so it’s worth being aware of them. Different speedometers will have differing sets of secondary functions that rely on heart rate, altitude, ascent and temperature. Therefore they may also offer features that gather this data.