For those who have been regularly reading my blog, you know that the warm weather doesn’t mean that I’ll dust off the old bike – it rather means I’ll just be riding more often and farther.
Therefore, it’s a perfect time to purchase a new gadget for my bicycle: a cycling computer. So two of my hobbies – bicycling and computers – marry.
This is the first time I’ve purchased or used a cycling computer. For those unaware, a cycling computer is essentially a glorified speedometer for your bike. It can tell you your speed, miles rode, average speed and many other things. For the average bicyclist, it’s not a need – but it is nice to know some of those things.
I’ve always personally wondered how fast I ride on average. I once tried to accomplish this while (don’t try this at home!) using a GPS speedometer on my phone to track my speed. About 30 MPH, but that was on a somewhat steep decline.
As mentioned, a cycling computer is more than a speedometer. It can tell you various things – like trip length, a running odometer, etc.
The Dashboard 150
I decided to pick one up when I was shopping for patches (more on that later) at Walmart. I looked over and saw a cycling computer – the Bell Dashboard 150 – on sale for about $13. That’s almost the cost of one of those Michelin Protek Max slime tubes! Just like inner tubes and most other bike parts, you can spend almost any amount of money on a cycling computer, with some more advanced models nearing $700.
The Dashboard 150 has a few different functions: speedometer, clock and odometer. The speedometer function allows you to see your average speed and max speed, whereas the odometer allows you to see a trip odometer – like the one in your car. It also has a clock, so you can see the time without having to look at your phone.
Installation was somewhat easy. The Dashboard 150 is like the Bell “Lumina” Hi-Lumen light set I purchased back in October – both require no tools to install. The Dashboard 150 relies on zip-ties to secure itself to the bike. The trickiest part was installing the magnet on a spoke, and I question how well that magnet will stay secured to the spoke.
A downfall is since everything is zip-ties, you need to make sure you have everything positioned properly. To remove or reinstall anything requires tearing the zip-tie, which may scratch or damage the paint on your bike.
Programming is slightly more difficult, but nonetheless easy. You have to program the size of your wheel in (there’s a table in the instruction guide) before inserting the time and whether you use kilometers our miles. If you make a mistake, you have to remove the battery and reinstall it to start over.
The Dashboard 150 is extremely simple – it’s essentially a hall-effect sensor. The computer can compute your speed by seeing how many times the magnet passes by each second. Very simple. The computer itself is powered by a CR2032 battery (which is included), so finding a replacement battery isn’t hard.
I do somewhat question the quality of the Dashboard 150. Since it can’t easily be removed (unlike the lights), it is a must that it can withstand harsh weather. This is especially true if you store your bicycle outside year-round.
The Bell Dashboard 150 is worth a shot if you’ve been wanting to add a cycling computer to your bike but don’t want to spend the money on a more advanced or nicer cycling computer. It’s basic, but will tell you more than not having one at all.
The original reason I went to Walmart was to buy a patch kit. I flatted (again) thanks to a tack, and my old patch kit was gone.
After searching for roughly 5-10 minutes, I determined that my Walmart no longer carries the traditional, glue-on patches. They only offered the glueless “Skab” patches, which (from what I’ve heard) don’t hold up as well over time. Sure, they’re more convenient as you no longer have to spread the nasty glue before applying the patch – and you also no longer have to wait.
Patched the tube using the glueless “Skab” patch. It seems to hold fine, but I’m more interested in how it will hold long-term.
I will try to write an update on the cycling computer in the near future, after I get to put it through its paces.