Cycling Computers With Cadence: Finding The Best Fit
If you're getting into cycling as an exercise or hobby, you're probably already aware of the amazing benefits this sport has. It's a great cardiovascular workout, stress reliever and it's just plain fun. If you're interested in measuring your exercise and progress empirically, a good bicycle computer with cadence is a great way to do it.
The best bicycle computers with cadence will measure all sorts of aspects of your workout as you ride, measuring factors both big and small. They operate as a speedometer, measuring your average and top speeds. They let you measure the total distance travelled, and how long it took you to get there. And of course it measures cadence (more on that in a bit).
This article will talk abou the best cycle computers with cadence, showing off some of my favorite examples and weighing the pros and cons of each item. Everyone has their own budget, so I'll be listing bicycle computers with cadence measurement from a variety of price points. If you have any questions regarding the computers listed here, or any others for that matter, please feel free to post a comment at the bottom.
Cadence Bicycle Computers: Features you Want
We live in a golden age of cycling technology, and these tiny little computers pack a punch these days. A top quality road cycling computer with cadence measurement has a ton of amazing features. Not every computer has every feature, but here are some common ones you'll want.
- Cadence Measurement: This one is pretty obvious. Cadence in cycling is the measurement of rotations of the cranks per minute. This is important to measure because how fast you are travelling and how fast your legs are working aren't directly correlated. All the computers listed here have this feature.
- Cycling Speedometer: The ability to measure speed is a sought after feature in a cycling computer. Cadence aside, this is something most of them will have. You can not only measure how fast you're travelling at a given time, you can also check your average speed and top speed during a trip, handy stuff.
- Cycling Odometer: Another popular feature included on some cycling computers with cadence is the odometer. It allows you to measure how far you've travelled in a trip, both during and after the ride is done.
- Wired or Wireless: This is an important distinction to make. Wired computers require you to run wiring along the frame of your bike to various places in order to take the necessary measurements. Wireless models don't require this, and you just have to attach the cadence and speed components on the frame. The best wireless bicycle computers with cadence cost a fair bit more than a wired counterpart, but they're easier to set up and generally preferable.
Sigma 16.12: One of the best, cheap cadence bicycle computers
This particular Sigma cadence bicycle computer is an affordable, 'swiss army knife' type of device that will let you analyze every aspect of your rides, letting you push yourself harder each time. I like that it combines a lot of features and great reliability, all while still being very reasonably priced.
It's a wireless model with a compatible wireless sensor, so it's a lot less work to get set up than previous wired models. The 16.12 has flexible features, like the ability to be used on multiple bikes (the computer will automatically detect the difference).
It's weatherproof and accurately measure speed (top, average and current), cadence, distance travelled and time. Beyond that it's remarkably reliable and the controls are fairly intuitive.
As cycling computers with cadence go, what more could you ask for at this price?
Wahoo: A Cycling Cadence Sensor for Smartphones
If you're not a fan of wiring things up, consider going for a bluetooth cadence sensor that will sync wirelessly to you iPhone or Android device. The Wahoo is a great bicycle cadence sensor that's easy to install.
The Wahoo works in sync with almost all fitness apps, and it allows you to track your cadence without running any wires along the frame of your bicycle, which is a nice thing. It's relatively small and unobtrusive.
While not technically a standalone cycling computer, it syncs with any ANT+ capable devices. Additionally, it should play nice with many smartphone cycling apps that include GPS, etc. (I recommend picking up a cycling mount for your phone if you go that route!)
The battery lasts for 12 months, and the Wahoo is durable enough to withstand road conditions, including rain. Additionally, it's very light, so don't worry about the added grams!
The Wahoo is a good cadence sensor that's also very affordably priced. It's definitely something to consider, particularly if you have a smartphone already.
Cateye Strada: Wireless Cadence Bicycle Computer
I wanted to show off a good quality wireless model with a ton of bells and whistles, and this is a fine example of that.
Cateye has a high number of excellent bike computers on offer, but I prefer this one because of its range and versatility. Wireless functionality is great, and the separate chainstay mounted transmitter attaches easily.
In addition to being a reliable cadence bicycle computer, this one also has an added bonus in the heart rate monitor, letting you monitor your workout in even greater detail. It will even measure the total calories burned.
Of course, it comes with the obligatory speedometer and distance measurement features, along with an excellent timer that allows for split time so you can compare from leg to leg. The display is large and easy to read, even while riding.
Obviously the extra technological complexity means a slightly higher price, but this is a no-fuss, high function wireless bicycle computer with cadence that a seasoned rider will really appreciate.
Sigma ROX: A 'Triple Wireless' Bike Computer
Here is a top quality, wireless bicycle computer with cadence that's available at an premium price point. Affordable it isn't, but the features make up for that.
The Sigma ROX Triple Wireless is a great example of how miniaturization and technological advances have made computers like this more accessible, and it's hard to find this combination of features for much lower.
It's such a feature filled device, with current, average and top speed measurement, timer, stopwatch and riding time, and even heart rate monitoring. And of course there's a wireless cadence measurement. It even monitors the amount of calories burned, and there are automatic alarms that let you know if you're falling below your targets as you ride.
Weather and shock resistant, this is one of the more affordable wireless setups. Reviews are really positive, I encourage you to read a few to get a feel for what to expect.
Wahoo RPM: Tiny, Wireless Pedaling Rate Monitor
If weight or bulk is something you're concerned with, be sure to consider this handy little gadget. While it's not a cycling computer in and of itself, it works by syncing with your smartphone.
Made by Wahoo, this sensor is only a bit bigger than a coin. It can be attached to your crank arms or to your shoe, your choice. It doesn't make use of a magnet, and instead runs off a single coin battery like you'd find in a watch.
It's compatible with Android, iPhone or any ANT+ compatible bicycle computer. If you're using a smartphone, that means you'll also have access to GPS speed, route, etc.
It's worth noting that the RPM does NOT include any other features than cadence. This device is intended to augment your existing smartphone cycling app.
Huge advantages: nothing to strap to your bicycle, no wires to run, no bulky device to worry about. It uses hardly any energy, so you only need to replace that battery about once a year. There's virtually no setup time, and it pairs easily.
The Wahoo RPM is a good cycling cadence sensor to work with your bike computer or smartphone. It's a keeper!
Other Options: Cadence Cycling Computers
If cadence measurement is an important feature to you, you should shop carefully. There are so many computers on the market, and not all of them are entirely clear on the features they include and the ones they lack.
Important Note: One thing to be careful of is many computers will offer cadence functionality, but only if you purchase a separate wireless accessory kit. That's not a bad thing, you just need to compare the entire price, and make sure you get everything you need to get it up and running.
If you've already got a Garmin GPS or an iPhone, there are some add-on kits that can let those devices moonlight as decent cadence bicycle computers. You might need separate wireless cadence sensors to get it to work properly however.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions or Comments?
Soledad Salvador on June 15, 2017:
Anything but Hangbiker, please … ahahha…. I just somedays take the long road to home , my agm x1 ( great rugged phone), some music and enjoy the afternoon :) i love being able to do it.
kilpatrickcycling on August 18, 2016:
Does anyone make a cycling computer with gradient. My Garmin 500 had it but when I broke it and updated the 510 doesn't.
Will Dehne on March 27, 2014:
I like to contribute my experiences. I bike a lot on paved trails and unpaved trails.
Wired computers are reliable but the cables get in the way of cleaning and are a trap for dirt.
Cateye wireless has the problem of sensor break off if there are lots of branches on the path. Biking with CX is not so good I found out the hard way.
Cateye cadence sensor is not small and traps debris. However you can replace the battery and that is good.
Be careful with your purchase. Some computer cadence and speed sensors do not allow battery replacement. Need to replace the sensors for $50 each.
Bikes (author) from Vancouver on October 08, 2013:
Hmm, I'm not sure I can help much, other than to say that a bicycle computer likely wouldn't be ideal on a motorbike. Perhaps the best option would be a handlebar mount and weatherproof cover for your smartphone, I know there are a bunch of speedo / odo apps for Android and iPhone, and they'd be able to tell you the temperature and distance too. Good luck!
1919David on September 24, 2013:
Hello bikesbikesbikes, I am researching a computer with several needed options to install on a vintage motorcycle for a cross country run - Trying to find something with all of these needed options: Speed MPH, Trip distance ODEM, Clock, Outside Temp, Large Display, Wireless would be awesome, Compass would be a plus - Any help would Awesome - Thanks David
Bikes (author) from Vancouver on June 12, 2013:
Hi Anthony, yes I'm familiar with the Filzer in question, around here they sell it at MEC. It's definitely affordable and seems to do the job, but it's not attractive, and installation can be a pain (I recommend getting your own cable clips... their zip ties are no good). And keep it dry or it'll fizzle. But for a cadence computer, it's hard to find a better deal price wise.
Anthony P on May 25, 2013:
Do you have an opinion on the Filzer dZ4L-C?
vibesites from United States on May 07, 2013:
Hmmmm! I would love to have that. I am into fitness (and also fitness gadgets) and love biking too. I'll try to get one of those. Thanks! Up and useful. :)
Bikes (author) from Vancouver on April 02, 2013:
It's a good point actually, very useful to have computers that work on cycle trainers.
Of the products listed above, both of the Sigmas and the Cateye are compatible with rollers or trainers. The VDO I've listed is not compatible, only because the rear cadence sensor is an optional add-on. :)
Liam Hallam from Nottingham UK on April 01, 2013:
My best experience has come with a VDO wired cycle computer- they used to make them so that speed could be taken from the rear wheel which was great when you spend a lot of the winter on rollers/ turbo