If you want to know how fast you're going and how far you've been, you need a cycle computer, a small electronic widget that sits on your handlebars and measures your progress. You can get a surprising amount of performance for your money from one of the best cheap cycling computers.
How much you pay for a bike computer depends on the functions you want. You'll pay more for a wireless sensor than for one connected to the head unit by wires, for example, and still more if you want functions like a heart rate monitor, cadence sensor of ability to pair with a smartphone.
With a couple of exceptions we're defining a cheap cycle computer here as costing less than £50
The very cheapest cycle computers tell you speed, distance and time, but functions expand rapidly when you spend a bit more
You can now get a GPS-enabled cycle computer for around the £50 mark
Want heart rate and other measurements? You can get them too, though you might have to add extra sensors
We've found the best deals on cheap cycle computers in a range of categories, from brands with good reputations for reliability and usability. Before you wade in, though, you might want to read our general guide to cycle computers.
You can get basic bike computers from manufacturers you've never heard of for as little as 30p (!) from Amazon, but on the rare occasions they have reviews, they're not exactly rapturous. Our selections are a little more conservative.
French sport superstore chain Decathlon is always worth a look for a bargain, You only get five functions in this minimal unit — speed, average speed, trip distance, total distance and clock — but for just a tenner what more do you want or really need from a bike computer?
Want more features or wireless? Check out the £14.99 Van Rysel 120 and £24.99 Van Rysel 500, below.
Just over a tenner gets you this nifty little five-function unit from CatEye. It's supposed to be £14.99, but Tweeks has it at the price above, and CatEye's reputation for reliability makes it a good deal at that price.
It's a wired unit and tells you speed, maximum speed, trip distance. odometer and time. It comes with a universal mount but the cable is only long enough to reach the front wheel.
If you want a few more functions and a bigger screen with more data, another few quid gets you this CatEye bike computer. You get a stopwatch as well as a clock, and it'll attempt to work out how many calories you've burned. That's really only useful for comparing the amount of work you've done between rides; don't hit McDonald's hard just because it says you'd burned off the equivalent of three Big Macs.
For just £25 this is one of the cheaper wireless bike computers we've found from a significant brand (though if you're really strapped, the B'Twin/Van Rysel 120 is even cheaper at £14.99). It has a big display, with a backlight, and features include average and maximum speed, trip and total distance, clock, stopwatch and speed comparison against the average so far. You'll also be able to use it with a wheel-on turbo trainer because the sensor can be mounted on the rear wheel hub and doesn't need a magnet.
We've chosen a lot of CatEye bike computers in this selection because they're widely available, reliable and easy to use. The Velo Wireless is the company's cheapest wireless computer but gets solidly positive reviews.
In effect, it's the wireless version of the Velo 9, though it lacks that unit's calorie guesstimate function.
If you want something a bit more posh, the skinny version of CatEye's Strada bike computer is available heavily discounted. It has a bigger screen than the old Strada, and a comes with a slimline sensor so it's less obtrusive on your bike.
As well as a full range of functions, it has a second trip distance meter, so you can, say, measure intermediate sections of a long ride.
Computers that can use the Global Positioning System to find your precise location, and speed without wheel sensors can now be found for under £50 if you shop around. We've saved you the trouble.
Since these computers almost always have ANT+ or Bluetooth communications, they've largely supplanted computers with heart-rate functions. Add a heart rate strap and you're away.
Many inexpensive computers don't work with power meters. CooSpo says this one does, which means that with this computer and a Stages left-hand crank power meter you could be training with power for less than £300.
An excellent price for a modern ride-recording GPS with ANT+ and Bluetooth compatibility and a nice big clear display.
Despite its modest price, this new base model from Bryton picks up signals from just about every constellation of navigation satellites up there: GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BDS and QZSS. It has a built-in barometric altimeter and works with Bluetooth LE sensors for speed, cadence and heart rate.
The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.
Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product in a if we think it's one of the best of its kind.
As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.