BBB Digiboard BCP-51WH Cycling Computer  £129.95

5/10

Well constructed but the heart rate function is too basic for serious training

Weight 628g   Contact  www.windwave.co.uk

by Liam Glen   February 24, 2012  

BBB Digiboard BCP51-WH

The Digiboard sits at the top of BBB's cycle computer range, and features wireless transmission along with a wealth of functions. The model tested – the catchy named BCP-51 WH – integrates all the speed and distance functions you'd normally expect, with the addition of heart rate and cadence capability. This latter requires the purchase of an additional cadence kit (£27.95) which we also tested.

Installation

Out of the box, the Digiboard is super-easy to install because the instructions are simple and clear. Zip ties are provided to attach the various pieces to your bike and they're all long enough to accommodate any oversize components or frame tubes. Batteries for the head unit and the sensors are already installed so setup is about as pain-free as can be expected.

Once all the bits are attached, it's simply a matter of letting the head unit pair up with the various sensors. This process takes under a minute if you've followed the instructions and set everything up properly. Of the sensors, I found that the head unit had most difficulty finding the cadence unit which is to be expected given that's it's the furthest away. A quick tweak of the unit to bring it closer to the magnet (zip tied to the non-driveside crank) usually solved this problem. Included in the instructions is a useful table for calculating rollout for every conceivable wheel/tyre size combination so there's no need to whip out the tape measure.

A special mention has to go to the included heat rate (HR) strap which is very soft and supple. The difference in comfort compared to the plastic straps of old is like night to day and I had no issues with wearing it for long rides. The suppleness also ensures that you can comfortably get the strap nice and tight which improves the contact between skin and electrodes and, consequently, the accuracy of the readings. Despite heading out on some cold, dry rides, I never experienced any dropouts or anomalous HR readings.

Features

The whole Digiboard range uses the now ubiquitous Ant+ protocol which promises fast data transfer and minimal interference. What this means is that the Digiboard head unit can be used in conjunction with any Ant+ peripherals from any other brand, significantly widening its appeal. Already got an Ant+ cadence sensor? You can use it with the head unit. Having said this, the Digiboard is limited to speed, HR and cadence functions so you'll have to look elsewhere for a head unit that records and/or displays power.

The speed and odometer functions are extensive but pretty much standard for a high-end bicycle computer. These can be found at the bottom of the review so I'll skip over these and focus on the HR functions which are what differentiate the BCP-51WH from the cheaper and smaller Microboard range.

These are, in a word, disappointing. The whole principle of training with heart rate revolves around setting up a series of heart rate zones based off either maximum or lactate threshold heart rate. This allows you to train at the right intensities for the correct amount of time to maximise the performance gains.

The Digiboard is limited to simply setting a maximum and minimum heart rate outside of which the HR display flashes. You could set these limits before each ride depending on your training goals for that particular ride, but that requires you to go through the whole setup process from start to finish. Even then, you'd only be left with a single training zone.

BBB even recommends setting up the maximum heart rate according to the old (and completely false) 220-age formula – a cardinal sin in my opinion.

Another limitation is the Digiboard's lack of a 'lap' function whereby a ride can be split into smaller segments based on either distance or time. The ability to split a ride in this way is particularly useful when doing intervals. For an interval workout, your average heart rate over the whole ride is pretty meaningless; it's the heart rate during each interval that is important.

The unit is also held back by the lack of computer connectivity. In this day and age, everyone and their grannies are uploading their rides to the multitude of online ride trackers. Having to input manually things such as average heart rate isn't too much of a chore, but when the time comes for more in-depth analysis, you're left high and dry without a dedicated data file to upload.

Menu structure

On the bike, the Digiboard permanently displays four instantaneous metrics (time of day, HR, cadence and speed) and then a choice of menus which you can scroll through. These menus consist of HR (average and maximum), distance (current ride, total bike 1, total bike 2), time (current ride, total bike 1, total bike 2), speed (average and maximum) and cadence (average and maximum).

Scrolling between these menu options is simply a matter of a single button press while scrolling within the chosen menu is done via a separate button. These provide enough positive feedback to be operated with thick gloves on.

While this menu structure is easy to learn and soon becomes intuitive, it does mean that you can't display ride distance and time on the same screen, which is annoying. Additionally, the displays for instantaneous cadence and hear rate, two of the most useful ride metrics in my opinion, are rather small and easy to miss. This further reinforces the impression that this device isn't suited to those interested in using the Digiboard for serious training.

With a RRP of £129.95, the Digiboard sits in a difficult area in terms of bike computers. For users wanting a simple odometer to keep track of ride time and mileage, there are plenty of cheaper options out there. For someone keen to take their training to the next level, it's worth spending a bit more and getting something that is specifically designed with this in mind.

Verdict

The inclusion of heart rate and cadence seem to suggest that this device is targeted at riders interested in serious training, but the lack of useful heart rate functions and computer connectivity mean that it's limited in this area. No matter how reliable and well constructed it is, there's just no getting away from the fact that, basic heart rate functions aside, there are much cheaper computers on the market (even within BBBs own range) which deliver the same features.

road.cc test report

Make and model: BBB Digiboard BCP-51WH Cycling Computer

Size tested: White

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

The heart rate capabilities are too limited for someone looking to train seriously, but the price excludes users looking for a simple wireless odometer.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Digital wireless computer with 22 functions, including heart rate belt:

Current speed

Average speed

Maximum speed

Riding time

Trip distance

Odometer bike 1

Odometer bike 2

Total odometer (1+2)

Clock (12 / 24h)

Low battery indicator

Auto start / stop

Speed pacer

Backlight

Total riding time bike 1

Total riding time bike 2

2nd wheel size

Auto sleep

Heart rate

Maximum heart rate

Average heart rate

Calories used

Upper / lower limit

ANT+ digital transmission. Interference and cross-talk free.

Computer can be extended with cadence functions by adding the separately sold BCP-56 transmitter set

Computer can be mounted on handlebars and stems.

Waterproof casing

Wheel magnet fits round and aero spokes.

Batteries included

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

As I've come to expect from BBB, the Digiboard holds up well to the demands of the road. The plastic housing is well sealed and shrugs of impacts without fuss.

Rate the product for performance:
 
4/10

The traditional odometer functions are all there and the unit performs flawlessly in this regard. When it comes to the more advanced heart rate functions, the Digiboard comes up short. The menu system is also a little inflexible as there's no way of customising the display

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

It's survived plenty of drops and bad weather, as well as being loose in a bike bag on a Easyjet flight without any discernible surface damage or compromised functionality.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

It really doesn't have enough heart rate functions to be used as a serious training tool and is therefore just an expensive odometer.

Did you enjoy using the product? Only as an odometer

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? No

Overall rating: 5/10

About the tester

Age: 20  Height: 190cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Giant TCR Advanced 2  My best bike is: Canyon Ultimate CF7

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, sportives, mtb,

 

3 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Could buy a new set of wheels or a GPS for that money! Cool

posted by brodibike [12 posts]
24th February 2012 - 17:11

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Like (7)

Given that the Bryton Ride 20 is around this price with a Cadence and HRM pack isn't this thing redundant?

posted by mattheww385 [45 posts]
24th February 2012 - 17:18

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Fair point matthew385 - think we will see a fair few manufactuers of this sort of computer moving over to some sort of GPS system with a web interface in the near future. I'd say the Ride 20 puts the cat firmly amongst the pigeons on that score.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
24th February 2012 - 17:30

like this
Like (10)

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