mtb computer

Choosing the Best Mountain Bike Computer: A Comprehensive Guide

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mtb computer
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Article Contribution by Amanda Wilks

An integrated computer is highly efficient to keep tabs on your performance.
Let us learn today how to choose the best MTB computer!

Whether you approach mountain biking as a hobby or a sport, chances are you still want to keep tabs on your performance.

An integrated computer is highly efficient in this case. This incredibly handy and conveniently small gadget can provide you with accurate data on anything from speed to location and altitude.

Let us learn today how to choose the best MTB computer!

Choosing the Best Computer for Your Mountain Bike

Many people still believe that adding a computer to your MTB setup is a hassle. reality couldn’t be more different. According to Mountain Bike Reviewed, mountain bike computers are neither large nor intrusive. They might have been at first, but a lot about them has improved since then.

Now, riders from all over the world can benefit from real-time data provided by a compact and elegant computer, able to track time, speed, distance, elevation, and more.

The best part about attaching one to your mountain bike is that such a gadget might be enough to improve anyone’s skill set. Here are the most significant things you need to know about choosing the right MTB computer for you.

What Type of Rider Are You?

The first step in choosing the perfect mountain bike computer to suit your needs is to determine the type of rider you are. Depending on your skill level, performance, and the amount of time you allot to the activity, you are either a beginner, a casual biker, an enthusiast, or a competitive athlete.

How to Choose MTB Computers for Beginners

As a rule, beginner mountain bikers do not need to visualize too much data. Therefore, a primary computer that displays total distance, average speed, and duration is more than enough. It is also mostly right for casual riders.

  • Pick a basic unit that is small, lightweight, with long battery life;
  • For essential purposes, you can find affordable models that will meet your needs entirely.

How to Choose MTB Computers for Advanced/Enthusiasts

When it comes to enthusiastic riders that see MTB as a hobby, things tend to change a little.

Belonging in this category means that you most likely made a habit out of hitting the trails during the weekend.

You might even be training to expand your skillset and become stronger in regard to the sport.

For this reason, you will benefit from supplementary data such as speed and cadence sensor and a heart rate indicator.

  • Pick a device featuring such additions to the basic package; they will turn your mountain bike computer into a reliable ally on your journey towards peak performance.
  • Keep in mind that the device’s interface has to be user-friendly, meaning that you can access any information you want with great ease.
  • Such MTB computers may be larger and heavier than their simpler brethren may, and probably more expensive. However, if you want reliable metrics to smoothen your path from “enthusiast” to “professional,” such investments will pay off. You have to know a few more things before we tackle the “expert” category of riders.
  • If you have an interest in collecting collateral data related to your rides, such as heart rate, pedaling cadence, and power, you need connectivity and peripherals for your device. Of course, you can buy cadence sensors and heart rate straps as extra gadgets or together with a GPS bundle unit.
  • Remember, however, that you will probably have to pay more for power meters.

How to Choose MTB Computers for Pros

Finally, it is time to discuss the needs of the professional athlete. If you perform MTB professionally, then you already know that a basic gadget or one with minor extra features won’t be enough.

  • Smartphone connectivity, tracking, WiFi, navigation, temperature, and altimeters are thus required at this point;
  • You should not forget the ANT+ interface – a feature you will find useful and often encounter in the majority of new GPS units.

Fulfilling Your Tech Needs

Another aspect to keep in mind when choosing your mountain bike computers has to do with the fulfillment of tech needs.

Many casual riders feel like the investment is a superfluous one, as everyone has a smartphone nowadays that can easily substitute for such a gadget via a specialized app.

While it is true that these apps can perform essential functions such as track distance or speed, they are counterproductive in the long run.

Not only do most additional features require paying an extra fee, but they quickly take a toll on your phone’s battery life.

After a while, you might find your device depleted mid-ride, with all your previous progress lost.

Moreover, they need individual cases to mount the phones on the handlebars in the correct position, and these cases are not cheap.

Using a smartphone instead of an MTB computer comes with many other drawbacks (accidents destroying your expensive phone being just the tip of the iceberg). For this reason, your best bet is purchasing a wireless computer. They are relatively inexpensive, and they manage to do the job accurately thanks to integrated sensors. Moreover, they come with a solid build and resistance to wear, tear, and everything cool mountain biking involves.

  • For added functionality, choose one with an inbuilt GPS system, and do not forget about the ANT+ interface you will not find in most smartphones.

While the sensors inform you of aspects such as speed, heart rate, or cadence, the GPS calculates distance, aids your navigation, and lets you know what the altitude is as well. With all this information, you are bound to perfect your riding style and become more than a casual or enthusiastic mountain biker, but only if that’s what you want, of course.

The advanced versions of computers also include data collection and provision regarding: calories burned, smart alerts including weather, turn-by-turn navigation, on-screen text messages, emails, and phone-call notifications, Bluetooth connectivity (besides the ANT+), incident alerts, battery save mode and stress score, among others.

The Bottom Line

Mountain bike computers are hardly the bulky devices they once were. With the progress of technology, riders now benefit from sleek and optimized gadgets that can track anything from speed to heart rate and tell you exactly where you are at all times.

Depending on the type of biker you are, and the tech needs you have, you will undoubtedly find something out there that works for you and with you in perfect balance.

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