Cycle computer convergence

21 01 2010

For those lovers of Newtonian physics that all cyclists are, these lyrics from a They Might Be Giants kids album, Here Comes Science, were my ear-worm on a recent bike ride. No one could hear me, as I was miles away from anywhere, so I sang with gusto:

I’ve got speed (that’s how fast I am moving)
I’ve got velocity (that’s my speed and direction)
Acceleration (let’s go faster)

But really I had no idea of any of my speed, velocity or acceleration as I don’t presently have a cycle computer.

Over on the Drug Pedaler Scott’s got a new toy, a Garmin GPS cycle computer. He’s having fun. I too have been thinking about cycle computers ever since my last one fell off and couldn’t be found. I’ve had two on my bike, a wireless one, which came with the Wisper Sport and was pretty rubbish quality, and didn’t work when I got over 40 km/hr and the wired CatEye one that fell off (it’s mounting assumed I wanted to mount it 90 degrees from what was possible). So I vowed not to get myself another one til I could find a decent GPS bike computer. Those GPS computers for cars are quite cheap nowadays, and GPS now is a single chip manufacturers chuck in phones, so GPS cycle computers are inexpensive, right? Nup, not at all. Maybe in a few years when they’ll be commonplace.

So why not use a phone I hear you ask and just get one of the plethora of apps to turn it into a cheaper cycle computer, and maybe I will. From British Columbia I like this app from Velocomputer, shown here on a Nokia N97

It needs a GPS and Bluetooth enabled Java phone preferably with the accelerometers in it, and the cheapest one it supports seems to be the LG KC910 Renoir, which is about $400 parallel imported into NZ (good for 2 degrees and Vodaphone, not so good for NZ Telecom’s 3G). You can get a Bluetooth wheel sensor that talks to the app and can give instantaneous speeds a little quicker than the GPS. They also recommend wearing it on your thigh to get cadence readings. Nup, I’m not going to do that. I want a wireless sensor somewhere on the bike.

But then look at these bike computers from iBike that tell you your power, drag coefficients, etc, etc. They’re under $1000 at Avanti, yeah right. Or there is this one for owners of Garmin 705s, where the power info is integrated into the 705’s display. You use wireless or wired sensors with it.

I’d love it all integrated in with the e-bike controls. So I’d love to know how many watts I’m pedalling, and I’d love to know how many watts the motor’s giving. All the sensors could be Bluetooth for wireless operation, but they’d all be powered on an internal power supply of the bike, which is routed inside my frame, and was like 6V 3A DC like what comes out of a dynamo hub:

except I wouldn’t have a dynamo hub. I’d have my normal regenerative braking, 1000W motor in the front hub (which would be legal in NZ), and that would charge a smaller rechargeable battery than my main battery which would only power the motor. All my sensors and headlights and tail lights would be powered off this internal power supply (and it would recharge my phone doing time as my cyclecomputer mounted to the handlebars). On the back wheel I’d have an internally geared hub powered by a belt, not a chain.

But then again I’d want this function as well. In South Carolina, a company called Cerevellum makes a digital rearview mirror into a cycle computer, which has a camera you mount to your seat post and a large colour display for your handlebars. Now a wireless camera to go with all the wireless sensors, that’s what I’d like. (I know a mirror on my handlebars is a simpler solution, but I can’t mount that with my pedelec throttle)

So with all this seamless integration your computer could tell you instantaneous, plus be downloadable for a whole ride (including the video recorded from cameras mounted front and back)

Temperature, altitude, gradient, position in Lat and Long, heading, speed, pedal power, motor power, recharge rate (from the regenerative braking), colour of your underpants, windspeed, cadence, heart rate, calories burned, Max Speed, Average Speed, Distance ridden and shows you a picture of the truck about to run you over, all the while playing the radio, MP3s and your phone calls into a Bluetooth speaker and microphone mounted onto your helmet, that doesn’t shut out the ambient noise.

And as a default black box with video evidence, when killed by a truck driver, they might get prosecuted.

Oh and it doesn’t get nicked, and costs less than the bike, and I’m not a gear freak, so I want this just to come as standard. I’m not asking for much surely?

Or I could like not give a damn and just go ride my bike for fun without a cycle computer. That’s definitely the cheaper option.

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One response

24 01 2012
a.ives1@ntlworld.com

I’ve got a 905 with a pretty good handlebar-mounted mirror (which I need as I’m blind in my right eye!) If you still need one, let me know and I’ll send you pics/details.

Allen (London, UK)

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