Wired vs Wireless Bike Computer: Here’s The Difference

By Rachel Lee
Update
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Talk about expensive and advanced bikes, and you are sure to think of a bike computer that displays essential data in front of you. When it comes to a bike computer, two options are most evident – wired and wireless.

So, when you are in the market to look for a bike computer, you will need to decide between the two and it can be a tough choice for a layman. If you are perplexed and looking for a solution, then you have come to the right place.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between the two – Wired vs Wireless Bike Computer to make it easier for you to make a decision. For those who don’t have the time to read until the end for the detailed differences, here’s a gist of it:

The wireless bike computers are in their nascent stage and still developing. The wired ones function better and also cost comparatively less than the former. One of the biggest advantages is that wireless odometers have a tidier look than their wired counterparts.

Even though both these devices have different ways of achieving the objective, the main purpose is the same. Having said that, now let’s delve a little deeper and look into the differences, salient features, benefits, and downsides of the two.

Wired Bike Computers

The wired bike computers are more of the conventional style of computers that are used on bicycles. To enable the sensors, they are connected to the handlebars of the bike and this also makes the performance more consistent.

The wired versions are not only strong and more reliable, but their connectivity is also steadier than the wireless counterparts. It comes equipped with a single battery that makes the entire unit run. There may not be any fancy features but it delivers a decent performance.

Benefits

  • The use of reliable cables offer better functionality
  • This is a more cost-effective solution
  • It sports a conventional design
  • Devices are readily available at any bike accessories store
  • Cost-effective, conventional design, and readily available
  • This is an old tried and tested formula

Downsides

  • It has a messy appearance and wires often get tangled
  • Usability is limited as you can install only on one bike at a time
  • It is heavier than the wireless counterparts
  • The entire installation process is more taxing than a wireless version

Wireless Bike Computers

Now, that we have looked at the pros and cons of using a wired bike computer, let’s take a look at its wireless brother that is still new in the market. Similar to any other contemporary product, this is also equipped with technological advancements to give you more benefits.

The wireless versions use a transmitter instead of a wire to enable connectivity. Most of the high-end wireless cyclo computers come powered with smartphone apps that include more convenient and powerful functions to the product.

Among the various benefits of wireless bike computers are the ability to sync the data on your smartphone to be analyzed later at your leisure. It also lets you share the data on your different social media accounts with fellow bikers and enthusiasts. Here are some other benefits and downsides worth considering.

Benefits

  • The wireless versions give your bike a tidy and neat appearance
  • It can be used in more than one bikes
  • It is easier to install and use

Downsides

  • The advanced technology makes it more expensive
  • It requires multiple batteries to run

Reasons To Choose Wired Over Wireless

Even though wireless bike computers are more technologically advanced and come with extra features, some people still prefer the wired versions. There are several reasons that make the wired ones more preferred in certain circumstances. We have discussed them below:

A more consistent performance

With the wired bike computers, you get a more consistent performance for a better experience while on the road. You don’t have to face issues related to distortion or pairing, as reported by several wireless unit users.

Long-lasting

Due to their sturdy make and less compatibility or connection issues, the wired computers tend to last longer than wireless counterparts.

Requires only one battery

In the wired computer models, you need to only install one battery in the head unit. Hence there is not much replacement and maintenance cost involved. The wireless units, on the other hand, need two batteries – one in the transmitter and another in the head unit.

Price

The price is one of the most decisive factors before buying anything. Typically, wired bike computers cost slightly less than the wireless counterparts due to less number of sensors involved. In wired models, cables are used to connect and you can get good quality cables at an affordable price.  So, those who are with a tight budget prefer the wired ones.

Reasons To Choose Wireless Over Wired

Now, let’s look at the other side of the coin – the wireless part. Many people prefer to choose a wireless computer over the wired one. Both these types of computers primarily have the same functions but the wireless ones give you a competitive edge over the other.

Neat appearance

The wireless units are without any cables hence they look tidier on the bike and give a much sleeker overall appearance. There are no messy cables hanging around your bike and the cycle computer looks smart and sleek. You may also adjust the unit at any time without having to worry about the cables or wires.

Mobility

The wireless cyclo computers are typically connected using a transmitter in the sensor that removes the need for cables. You simply need to pair the unit with the right cable and you are good to go. It essentially works as a plug-and-play device that can be easily changed from one bike to another by adjusting the sensors.

Tips To Choose The Best Bike Computer

After analyzing both sides, it can be said that wireless and wired models have their own set of unique benefits and downsides. If you are still wondering which bike computer is best for you then here is some advice for you.

Understand your requirement

The first and most important tip is to start with identifying your specific requirements and usage. When you are done with it, you will be in a position to find the most suitable unit for yourself.

Determine the type of cyclist you are

This is perhaps the most basic prerequisite when it comes to choosing a suitable bike computer. Regardless of whether you consider cycling as a hobby or a competitive game, you will find this an essential factor. Which category do you belong to – beginner, intermediate, or professional. Based on this, you can match the product features to your requirements.

Need for smartphone connectivity

Another important point to consider is smartphone connectivity because once you connect the device it completely changes the entire experience. Users get access to additional features and they can do so much more like sync the health data and contacts to a smartphone.

The Budget

Finally, you need to define your budget, which refers to how much you are willing to spend on a bike computer. As mentioned above, the wired units are considerably cheaper than the wireless versions. The wireless computers come with advanced features, making them the must-have units of tomorrow.

Final Words

Now, that you have an in-depth understanding of a wired and wireless bike computer, take these factors into account when choosing between them. Both these types have their own set of advantages and downsides that define their character and them their different from each other.

Please remember that an expensive or high-end unit does necessarily mean that it is the best for you. Each individual’s requirements differ so you will need to strike the right balance between the features and functionality of a product.

See also:
5 Best Bike Computer For Duotrap
The 5 Best Bike Computer For Strava
How Many Gears Does A Road Bike Have

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