Thursday, April 15, 2010


ACCESSORY 24: Computer $34 @ Ebay

Call me a loser. I researched for at least 11 hours before I finally picked a computer. Apart from price there were a few things to consider:

1. Wireless or not?
Will wireless even work? All the instructions for every manufacturer states the computer has to be directly over the sensor. I initially planned to put the sensor at the rear wheel which wouldn't even work b/c it's beyond the typical 7omm (2 feet) limit.

2. Backlit screen?
I ride a lot at night so a backlit screen would be a really nice feature to have.

3. Color?
So far, everything's gone into the black/white with red accent color scheme. I'd be nice to keep with it. There aren't a lot of white ones and what are the chances of finding one with a red accent?

4. Features?
The $8 ebay ones from China have one feature. MPH. These other ones have anywhere from 6-12 features that include average MPH, distance, average distance, time, speedometer, etc.

5. Size?
Space is limited on the trike. Unless I slap it on the boom, it needs to be small enough to not cramp up the handlebars, but have a large enough screen to see easily.

6. Reliability and durability?
I've read about computers dropping or getting lost. The price has to be cheap enough where I can replace it if it comes flying off the trike on one of my treks.

7. Mounting?
All of these computers are designed for bicycles. Computer goes on the handlebars and the sensor goes on the front wheel. There's a few that work with the rear wheel, most of which are digital which are a bit rare. Determining how to mount it to the trike would be a bit of a challenge both b/c the handlebars are vertical and the computer may not end up being directly over the sensor within the 30 degree contraints.

The product actually works pretty well. I had my doubts, but the mechanism of this mounting bracket was actually designed very well. Maybe it's worth the $12.01 I paid at REI afterall. It was my only option, so I went for it.

The CatEye Strata got a lot of good reviews, but the price for the wireless version was just too high - about $54-60. Of the whole CatEye product lineup, there are only three wireless ones with a backlit screen. The top two are closer to the $80+ mark, so it was way out of my budget.

After seeing the CatEye Micro Wireless installed on a recumbent trike, I figured it must work. The computer was on the boom and the sensor was by the bottom of the right wheel. The Micro Wireless also happens to come in a limited eddition white with red racing stripe! Perfect! There was only one left on ebay for $34, so I grabbed it. Typically the cheaper wireless ones are $40+ before tax, don't have a backlit screen and have fewer features.

I spent probably 30 minutes deciding where to mount the sensor, but finally chose a location. It hugs the bottom part of the hand brake. Zipties hold them on pretty tight. Originally I had tried to mount it underneath the rotor below the brake caliper, but this method at the handbrake lets me see the sensor better. I'll notice right away if it drops. It also sits closer to the computer for a better connection.

The magnet has to be super close to the sensor - less than 5mm. I ended up drilling a small hole into the inside face of the mag wheels. It screws in w/o glue. The sensor lines up perfectly.

Finished product! I picked the right side over the left b/c the bell was already taking up space on the left side. I would've swapped it, but it takes the thumb to trigger the bell which isn't that convenient on the right side if I'm changing gears or braking the front wheels.


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