The VDO M3 Wireless cycle computer occupies minimal handlebar space, yet is one of the easiest to read and simplest to use computers. But when you come to set it up, head straight for VDO's video tutorials: these are much clearer than the paper instructions supplied.
Though the head unit only measures 3.5 x 4.5 x 1.6cm, the display is uncluttered because the switches are underneath the body.
There are seven modes: current, average, and maximum speed; speed comparison; ride time; ride and total distance. Its lower bar courses through the functions, while pressing both simultaneously stops/resets ride time, trip distance etc. These behave in the same fashion as everyone else's, so mistakes should be infrequent.
Other features include a choice of seven languages, data storage for two machines (preventing loss during battery changes), low battery indicator, auto start/stop and a sleep mode that kicks in after five minutes of inactivity. There's also a thermometer, which could be handy in some contexts.
Carefully contoured brackets and selection of cable ties ensure everything breezes aboard the bike in around five minutes and spare kits are available for split second swaps between machines.
Most computers are extremely accurate these days and there's a pre-calculated chart for plug n' play simplicity but I calibrated wheel circumferences manually.
So long as you've observed the 3mm sensor/magnet rule, the M3 seems particularly responsive, springing from sleep mode and registering data within two revolutions, despite the host bike being unused for several days.
Pacer arrows indicate at any given moment whether you're on track,exceeding or falling behind average speed, although they're not the nagging, flashing sort, which worked for me but might not motivate everyone.
Another nice feature is the ability to assess your speed through specific sections and a road book function, which can count backwards. These enable easy analysis of climbing prowess, or keeping one on track when say, riding a TT course.
Head and sensors are fuelled by the usual CR2032 cells reckoned to last for twelve months, or approximately 6,000 miles but an intelligent charge system will nag once reserves begin dwindling, confirmed by using an old cell in ours for a week.
The thermometer is useful, especially in very hot/cold conditions but for the most part, we know whether it's chilly or not and a really, really long descent at 35+mph can induce a slightly misreading figure. Frankly, despite the display's clarity, I'd sooner have a backlight.
Everything seems pretty well sealed from the elements judging by recent heavy rain and liberal soakings from my garden hose. That said, a precautionary lick of silicone grease on the sensor's battery contacts never goes amiss.
Continuing this theme, it's never missed a beat beside heart rate monitors, or through sections of high magnetic interference such as pylons, or electricity substations. Even a certain nuclear power station couldn't cause suspicious or erratic readings.
Very nicely executed computer for general riding and training
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Make and model: VDO M3 Wireless Cycle Computer
Size tested: n/a
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 VDO M3 WL model is specifically aimed at the target group of road bike riders and impresses with it's small, light structure and easy-to-read portrait-format display with large digits. This display always simultaneously shows two (VDO M3) functions so that all key data is always in view while riding.
All the important bike functions such as the speed, average speed, maximum speed, ride time, ride distance, total distance, time and temperature are stored within the VDO M3's small computer housing.
The integrated roadbook function is a particular highlight. This separate distance counter (which counts forwards or backwards) can measure individual section distances during a ride so that roadbook routes can be perfectly followed.
This makes the VDO M3 the ideal companion for mountain bike rides on any terrain". Fairly comprehensive computer for those seeking an accurate training tool but who don't need to analyse every aspect of their ride.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Seven functions: current, average and maximum speed, ride time, ride distance and total distance, road book function enables specific measurement of performance in certain sections. Wireless and wired versions, memory system prevents data loss (for two bikes) during battery replacement.
Also available in a wired version.
Easy to read, simple to use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the VDO M23 is a nicely made and extremely compact unit that consumes minimal handlebar space, yet has a clearer display than most. Paper instructions made initial set up/calibration tricky but thankfully VDO's online tutorial is very straightforward. That aside; the unit is intuitive, easy-to-read, reliable and seemingly accurate. However, those wanting to analyse every facet of their performance in minute detail, or seeking bragging rights down the club house will need to look elsewhere.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Crystal clear display, compact, lightweight design, solid build quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Initial calibration and set up less user friendly than some-though most attributable to paper instructions. VDO's online PDF makes things much simpler.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly but prefer designs with cadence options, especially on my fixed.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, all things being equal.
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)