Cateye launch smartphone-compatible Strada Smart computer

Inexpensive unit displays GPS info from your smartphone

by Mat Brett   January 22, 2014  

strada smart

Japanese brand Cateye is launching a new Strada Smart computer that’s capable of linking up with your smartphone and displaying GPS-derived data on your handlebar. You can also use the Strada Smart without your smartphone, linking it to a speed/cadence sensor on your bike.

The Strada Smart head unit, which is priced at £69.99, uses Bluetooth Smart to communicate with your smartphone (that’s a lot of smarts!). It’s compatible with Apple iPhone from 4S onwards, and with Android 4.3 and on. So the Strada Smart itself doesn’t contain the technology needed to take GPS data directly from satellites. Rather, your phone does the clever stuff and then relays the info to the computer.

Why do it that way? Cateye’s reasoning is that you might already be taking a powerful computer – in the shape of your phone – with you when you ride, so you might as well harness its capabilities by downloading a free Cateye Cycling App and then setting up Bluetooth mirroring to the Strada Smart head unit.

Using your phone’s technology, the Strada Smart can display speed, mileage, time and altitude data in mirroring mode. The ride data is stored on your phone (rather than on the computer) for later use. The Strada Smart will show phone and messaging icons too.

If you can’t or don’t want to link up the Strada Smart with you smartphone, you can use Cateye’s ISC-12 Bluetooth speed/cadence sensor (£49.99) instead. You can link it to a Bluetooth heart rate sensor too (Cateye’s HR-12 is £59.99). Buy the head unit and IRC-12 speed/cadence sensor together and they’re £114.99. You can get the head unit, speed/cadence sensor and heart rate sensor as a package for £169.99.

You can sync Bluetooth sensors (including Bluetooth Power Sensors; the Stages system, for example, sends data in both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart) directly with your phone to record the data for your training rides. Cateye reckon that communication via Bluetooth Smart has a better longterm viability than ANT+. Garmin – who use ANT+ and dominate the GPS market in cycling – might have something to say about that.

The Strada Smart head unit features the standard Strada family functions and the display is customisable. Operating it is simple; you just get one button that scrolls you through three different pages of data.

Sending the data from the App on your phone to websites like CateyeAtlas, Strava and Training Peaks is easy too – it’s just a one touch operation.

Stock will be available in the UK from April. For more on Cateye go to www.cateye.com/uk or visit the website of UK distributor Zyro

28 user comments

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Ace, what a perfect idea, this is what Garmin should have been doing instead of adding bluetooth to a device already enabled with GPS...

then you went and said "which is priced at £69.99"

You can get a GPS computer for near that, which wont drain your phone battery.

#fail

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posted by STATO [411 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 13:06

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Does it have a back light which you can keep on for night riding and if so what is the run time please.

posted by belgravedave [169 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 13:07

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Always said this is the way forward - the bike computer will just take info from our mobiles. Now..the killer app is navigation once thats displayed I will consider leaving my garmin alone..

posted by NeilXDavis [111 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 13:09

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can I still play my music via bluetooth from my smartphone to my Buckshot waterproof bluetooth speaker?

http://www.outdoortechnology.com/Shop/Buckshot/

posted by Paul_C [176 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 13:25

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I would agree, and they could always use a bigger screen - perhaps e-ink would do it?

posted by lerrup [14 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 13:27

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it's a good idea but for me, if I didnt have a Garmin already, the pricing is too close to a dedicated GPS to really make it something I would consider - it doesnt seem much more than a remote screen for the phone. Coupled with the battery draining double whammy of GPS and bluetooth I wouldn't trust it for much more than tracking commutes.

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posted by joemmo [797 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 13:46

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I use a Sony Xperia Z for cycling, waterproof, great screen for nav only downside is battery life, once thats nailed it would be spot on.

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posted by Leodis [196 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 14:04

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Cue lawsuit from Wahoo Fitness (RFLKT) in 3...2...1...

Ahem. Spookily possums, I have been angsting over exactly this issue today - am thinking of setting up a website:

whatismyfuckingcyclingdataacquisitionanddisplaystrategy.com

Not sure if that URL is gone yet. Probably.

The Wahoo RFLKT reviews are not unanimously generous - there appears to be too much buggyness for one to plonk down £80 + £50 for speed/cadence sensor + £65 for HR strap = £195.

So £170 for the Cateye package immediately looks better. And, well, it's Cateye folks. They do this sort of schizzle better than anyone.

Plus, it looks a LOT smaller than the RFLKT. Damn near invisible on a stem I'm guessing. And I LOVE the fact that with a Strada, the whole thing is the 'button'. So you'd have zero issues scrolling through the three customisable screens of info even in the thickest winter mitten. Reminiscent of the Simpsons 'Mush keypad with hand' classic.

All it needs is ability to take some sort of nav input from an app like Viewranger, maybe as simple as an arrow showing direction at 30-degree increments, and it would be perfect.

I'm in. When will Road.cc have a review up?

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [474 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 14:28

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Long term I reckon small head unit with phone doing the work is probably the answer

Short term the big elephant in the room is that phone batteries are crap. No good for more than a 3-4 hour ride if they're using data and GPS and you risk having no battery left if you need to make an emergency call. Until battery life gets sorted then dedicated GPS units are going to win out

I was using this on long rides such as Dunwich Dynamo last year - you can also charge USB compatible lights from it - but it's a faff to have to carry it and the various charge leads with you

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0063AAIRG/

posted by VeloPeo [219 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 14:54

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So for £70 all you are getting is a display and a shortened battery life for your mobile? If I had to use my phone, I would much rather just buy a tough waterproof case, than link it to another device that will drain the battery with GPS and bluetooth both enabled.

There are some decent challengers to Garmin such as Mio and Bryton, Cateye obviously are not one of them.

posted by southdownswolf [5 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 14:59

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VeloPeo wrote:
Short term the big elephant in the room is that phone batteries are crap. No good for more than a 3-4 hour ride if they're using data and GPS

depends. the bonus of using a system like the cateye is that you're not using the phone's screen which is the major drain on battery.

i'm currently testing the quechua phone 5 which admittedly is a big old phone but on the other hand i've done 4 hours with the phone mounted on the bars with the screen on *the whole time* and still had more or less half a battery left. if it was in my pocket then i'm sure it would last for a goodly long time feeding GPS data to a head unit.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7323 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 15:02

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KiwiMike wrote:
When will Road.cc have a review up?

Not sure yet. We'll ask to borrow one for review but not sure if we'll be able to get one before stock arrives in the UK in April.

posted by Mat Brett [1865 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 15:26

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Kids, can we please dispense with the idea that a smartphone using GPS = dead in minutes?

If you follow the really basic steps of turning off WiFi *and* mobile data, an iPhone will run a GPS app like Strava and / or Viewranger with the screen off for about 12 *hours*. Believe me, I've done it. And you can still send/receive texts and calls.

If you need to look at it every while, for example to check navigation at a junction, a few seconds of screen-on won't change this figure - particularly if you have set the brightness to low. ditto enabling mobile data for a few seconds to check emails or Google a café map like http://goo.gl/maps/TDyVB

The idea of Bluetooth 4 (aka 'Smart' as above) is to make the battery impact basically undetectable. That's why the sensors will run for years on a single CR2032.

FWIW, I'm running a test on a Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc now in flight mode so 3G/2G off, with GPS apps Viewranger in 'navigate/trip' mode and Strava recording too. So far it's been going just over 2hrs, and done 15 minutes of screen-on time to simulate waking it to check nav at intersections during a 5hr ride (60 checks at 15 seconds a go). Battery is still 85% - and this is a 4yo phone that's been used heaps. On this basis, it should keep recording GPS for another 13 hours. Yes, if I turned on the 2G/3G radio it would be less, but not by much less. Bearing in mind the battery's old and it's 3G only (USIM is on 3UK) it still works pretty well - on the weekend a 5hr ride with lots of nav, with 3G on, it still had 35% left.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [474 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 15:41

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I've been using Wahoo's equivalents for the last year and have been very happy with them. I bought the HR, then the speed/cadence sensor and then the RFLKT when it came out.

I like the fact that a number of apps support the hardware and are updated regularly. Also like that I can upload to a range of online platforms as soon as I've finished and that the default Wahoo app is super flexible.

Battery life hasn't been too much of a worry. After a 5hr ride, I still had 30% of the battery left on an iPhone 5 without switching anything off - it works well for me.

The RFLKT+ includes the ability to talk to ANT+ sensors which opens up a whole lot of possibilities.

posted by ceco [2 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 16:08

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Is Strada compatible with Strava? If I can't virtually race myself on the internet I am not interested Laughing

posted by Veloacciaio [17 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 16:19

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Totally agree this is where Garmin should have gone and failed with their 510 and 810.

But the big gap for me is the inability to take power data.

ANT+ is well established for power data and when I'm spending hundreds if not thousands of pounds on a power unit then that's the standard I follow, not the 70 pound computer.

I can only assume they're not aiming for the top end of the market, in which case their relative cheapness compared to Garmin is irrelevant.

If someone could make a unit to receive ANT+ and convert it into a format where it can be received by this unit they would open up a lot of potential.

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posted by abudhabiChris [517 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 16:32

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Its clear where its all going - there will be no point in having two GPS devices. Its gonna be a mad scramble and that's why its probably worth waiting for a while to see the market settle with one or two clear standout products. This clearly isn't that product but it illustrates the correct direction. Wouldn't surprise me if the ultimate winner is from the likes of Apple or Samsung as opposed to Garmin/Cateye etc.

This type of application would have many, many uses not just in cycling.

FYI - The battery life isnt an issue already - my iphone 5 can last 12hours with bluetooth and GPS on easy.

posted by NeilXDavis [111 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 16:56

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Nice kit but how much ! its the same basic computer that costs under £30 with bluetooth added and a bit of extra software functions, this should be closer to £45, then it would be worth it.

posted by mikeprytherch [217 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 17:15

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The only drawback with phone GPS is that I've typically found a lot of handsets trade power saving against accuracy, meaning you can get some pretty poor data when you look at your GPS trails, especially compared to the really impressive GPS performance you get on Garmin head units these days. Amazon are selling the Edge 500 for 140 quid just now, making this look mighty expensive for what you get.

posted by giobox [276 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 21:31

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this is just a crappy version of the Wahoo RLFKT+

posted by jarredscycling [445 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 22:50

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jarredscycling wrote:
this is just a crappy version of the Wahoo RLFKT+

The RFLT+ is £30 more and has a barometric altimeter - but is also larger and has small buttons that would be hard to use with thick gloves on.

So I'd say it's a 'quite different physically and cheaper and slightly less functional' Wahoo RFLKT+. But then no-one's used one yet.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [474 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 10:00

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ebay 5 quid waterproof stem mounted pocket for your phone. free app download. job done.

posted by a_to_the_j [73 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 11:09

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i'm still waiting for the proper waterproof smartphone with a proper big battery and a proper twisty mount on the back. or a modular phone that gives you the option of a bigger battery with a twisty bike mount. come on phone manufacturers.

http://road.cc/content/blog/74707-my-next-phone

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7323 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 11:38

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a_to_the_j wrote:
ebay 5 quid waterproof stem mounted pocket for your phone. free app download. job done.

that'd be okay if it wasn't such a massive functional compromise. job not done for me, at all.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7323 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 11:40

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Nice idea, but no Windows phone support yet? To expensive,£40-£50 better price point! Also would want something like this to be able to support more than just Strava – I use Endomondo but some use map my tracks ect. Yes I think its a wait and see. Why pay for something that most of us carry when out riding, a smart phone with GPS,I have no issues with battery life but would like to be able to see some info from the phone on the bars and if pos some navigation info also.

posted by 60kg lean keen ... [56 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 13:01

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I'm thinking a Motorola Defy (Android 4.4 thanks to the XDA dev community, IP67 waterproof, Gorilla Glass etc) and a Quadlock Universal mount - phone can be got unlocked for £50 on t'Bay, mount is £27. That's a bomb-proof package that can run nav apps & Strava and be a phone for well under a hundred quid.

Only thing missing is no extended battery option that retains IP rating, but just combine Strava tracks once at home using various methods. Extra 1500mAh btys are dirt cheap too - easier/lighter/more reliable than an external bty pack which would also not be IP rated.

Bearing in mind that with a little judicious management - e.g. turning off the screen when on a long straight bit of road, only turning it on for intersections or when waypoint alerts go off - you could dramatically extend battery life. I estimate over 6hrs of life running Strava + Viewranger with mobile (not data or WiFi) on and the screen on all the time - in other words, a no-compromise setup where people can call/SMS me and the nav arrow/ETA info is on all the time. At least double that if turning off the screen when not needed. So a battery swap would only be needed on a 12hr+ ride - in which case the 60 seconds to swap bty, reboot, restart Strava & nav is a non-issue.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [474 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 13:10

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in response to the above comments, i use a Motorola Defy Mini weatherproof phone, inside a 5 quid ebay clear top waterproof case (that also holds my electronic car key and wallet when raining)
In Flight Mode, with just GPS and a decent mapping / routing app, i get plenty of battery life. the case is also big enough to contain a USB lith-ion emergency charger for the phone if its a very long ride.

Hardly any cost at all, and it gives everything you need on nice clear screen for hardly any cost.

posted by a_to_the_j [73 posts]
24th January 2014 - 10:23

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a_to_the_j wrote:
in response to the above comments, i use a Motorola Defy Mini weatherproof phone, inside a 5 quid ebay clear top waterproof case (that also holds my electronic car key and wallet when raining)
In Flight Mode, with just GPS and a decent mapping / routing app, i get plenty of battery life. the case is also big enough to contain a USB lith-ion emergency charger for the phone if its a very long ride.

Hardly any cost at all, and it gives everything you need on nice clear screen for hardly any cost.

Had considered that, the processor is a bit anaemic, but maybe if only running Viewranger it would be fine. Smaller = better too.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [474 posts]
24th January 2014 - 10:57

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