I have been bicycling for almost two decades now. I started with a Cannondale M700 cross country not-suspended mountain bike which I still own and use for non demanding terrain such as roads.
Every (mountain) bicycle should have a bicycle computer and looking back I still remember my first bicycle “computer”, a cheap wired one, I can’t remember the manufacturer. Bicycle computers evolved since then and so did other technologies. Looking at my current bicycle equipment yields this picture, originally drawn by Tevž, my six year son and modified by me (added equipment and descriptions):
The blue arrows shows wireless communication while the orange boxes describes the equipment which consists of two groups:
1. Bicycle computer: Garmin Edge 305 device which is a GPS receiver combined with heart rate and cadence (pedal rotations) monitoring and barometric sensor for altitude reading as well. The communication with monitors is through
proprietary ANT+ wireless protocol so no wires are involved (barometric sensor is built in). The base unit shows all kind of data based on those four inputs and it has quite enough of memory as well – so I can store routes to my PC. It doesn’t feature navigation though – you’d need to buy a newer and more expensive 705 model, for that.
2. Pocket PC which serves three purposes: it plays music or podcasts to the Motorola Rokr S9 bluetooth headset (depends on my mood), it allows me to use headset in hands free mode to make or receive phone calls and finally, it transmits all sort of data (i.e. position obtained by GPS sensor – not Garmin’s but its own) back to my server. Or better, it could transmit since I haven’t found time yet to implement it. Sure, I could use one of the applications available out there but then I’d have to send the data to their server which I don’t want to.
So, once I finish a daily exercise I transfer the data stored in Edge 305 to my PC through USB cable using Sport Tracks application. Sport tracks is an excellent application that keeps track of your exercises and it is not bound to bicycling in any way. It is a topic of a post on its own but if you want to keep a logbook of your exercises you should really take a look – it is free. Anyway, here is a screenshot of my last exercise as shown by Sport Tracks:
Is there anything I am missing in my equipment? Sure, there are some things I’d like to happen or to have.
- Garmin’s monitoring equipment should use bluetooth protocol so I could read them from any computer. This is unlikely going to happen but at least it is using standardized protocol ANT+. There is at least one standalone receiver with software made for iPhone out there.
- Edge unit should implement bluetooth protocol so I could read data directly from it to my Pocket PC. Either this or #1 which is better.
- One day I’d like to mount a power meter as well but there are two economical obstacles: those are very expensive ($1500+) and I’d have to buy Edge 705 unit as well to read its data.