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A cycle computer is an essential accessory for those who want to keep track of their training and pace when cycling on the roads, as well as to help to improve their performance since you can measure your speed on that hard parts on up-hills. So the next time you will try to keep a higher pace, and doing so, your physical condition improves a lot.
The Cateye Vectra cycle computer is one of the best options if you cycle more recreationally rather than competitively, since on the market you can find way better ones that link with your heart beat monitor and have all the information you need on your screen. But as that was not my case I decided to get a simpler one, which was perfect for my goals. It measures the current speed, the distance you cycle each session, it has a clock, measures the average and the total distance you have travelled, also it tells you what the maximum speed was in the session and after finishing your training it will go on sleep mode automatically.
The installation is quite easy except for the part when you have to pair the sensor on your wheel with the magnet on the fork. But after you have done this, it is just a matter of putting the cycle computer on the handle bars and it will start measuring all your statistics.
The design is quite cool, it looks very modern and the numbers are big enough for you to quickly see what you need to know. The interface is very simple so that you can handle it with one hand without distracting yourself too much from the road and the wheel in front of you.
Overall it is a great companion for your exercise and after you get used to it, you will miss it a lot if you do not have it with you.
I have used this for maybe 4 years now and done several thousand miles and the only things i've had to replace apart from the Batteries is the magnet that goes on the front wheel. Any magnet will do and i got mine from Halfords for £2.99 which is made from metal and just screws on where as the original is metal with plastic.
2x CR2032 button style (1 for computer and 1 for sensor)
The sensor is fitted with a couple of cable ties around the fork.
Magnet secures easily with screw driver
Computer mount is fitted with 2 cable ties
Speed, Max Speed, Distance, Odometer and Clock only thing for me that it's missing is average speed
Ease of setup:
There are 2 small buttons on the back you need to push a pen or something into unless you have small fingers.
1 is set and the other AC. You press the big button (mode) on front of the computer to choose either mph or km then press set, then choose your tyre size by looking at the chart which comes with the computer.
Setting the clock is just as easy, follow the detailed instructions.
That's it now you place it in the holder where it will click then from now on you have just one button to wory about! The big one called mode which toggles throughout the functions and acts as a reset for the current journey when held in for 2 seconds.
Would i recommend it?
Yes it's a great computer for anyone starting out to distance cycling or someone who needs to know how far and fast they have gone but just lacks average speed function so i'm moving up to one that includes that but will still be Cateye.
I should start by saying that as a cycle mechanic i have fitted probably hundreds of cycle computers and almost every single one has been a cateye. They have the consumer market pretty much cornered and make quality, long lasting units that rarely need any attention.
For most people a cycle computer only needs to tell you a few things. How fast your going, how far you've gone and what time it is. This is exactly what the vectra does. I should point out that it also records maximum speed although in real terms this actually isn't useful.
The computer works by using a pulse signal sent from a transmitter fixed to the fork of the bike, sensing the rotation speed of the wheel via a magnet attached to one spoke of the wheel. Once programmed with the diameter of the tyre the speed is accurately calculated, meaning this computer can be used on any size of bike.
In the box you will find:
(both supplied fitted with batteries)
Magnet with spoke clamp
Rubber mounts for sender and main unit
The mount for the main unit has a curved back to suit the tubing on the handlebar or stem of the bike and fits either way round into a rubber back. This is secured with zip ties and although they are only small they will stand the test of time.
Setup is easy as the instructions are printed in large diagrams. The single button on the bottom of the unit is large enough to operate with gloves on and cycles through three easy to read displays.
In conclusion, if you're willing to spend £40 on a computer, and want to avoid the clutter and danger of added wiring to your bike, this is a solid choice. No bells or whistles but great build quality and accurate info.
****Why use a cycle computer***
The basic information required is to know how far you've gone, how long it took and what your fastest speed was and the only way to do this is with a cycle computer.
There are more advanced and all singing and dancing cycle computers which can measure heart rate, cadence (revolutions per minute), calories burned, ascents, descents etc but the Vectra is a basic computer ideal for a second or winter bike.
A cycle computer is a tool that shows that you are actually improving.
****Types of computer****
Cycle computers can be wired or wireless. As its name suggests wired computers work using a series of wires, whereas wireless works using sensors.
Off road it is important to ensure that the amount of things that can get tangled up in hedges and branches is kept to an absolute minimum and the only option, therefore, is a wireless computer.
When road riding it is less important and a wire computer will suffice, however, wires do look messy (road riders tend to ensure their ride always looks good), easy to catch with body parts and have to be securely strapped to the bike. It is for these reasons that many people go wireless.
****The Cateye Vectra****
I stumbled across the Cat eye vectra whilst looking through the Evans Cycles site. The selection is vast and the functions, and prices, vary greatly. Since this was for a second bike, and one which is predominantly used off road and down the green trails, I only required the basic functions.
The Vectra is the most basic wireless computer that Evans sells, however, it has all the functions that I required so I bought one.
****In the box***
In the box you get the display unit, the sensor, the magnet, cable ties and backing plates and fitting/operation instructions.
***Installing the Vectra****
The instructions booklet was exceptionally thick and I naturally thoguht that it was going to be a bit of a mission. However, closer inspection highlighted that the instructions were in English, Spanish, German, Chinese, Turkish, Hindu (you name it and the instructions were in that language).
Fitting the computer was an easy task. The sensor was cable tied to the forks, the display unit was cable tied to the stem and the magnet was screwed on to one of the spokes - ensuring that it passed the sensor on the forks. It took 5 minutes.
Setting the computer up to work was a different story altogether. It was extremely fiddly. The magnet has to pass the sensor through a 'sensor zone'. This involves finding the closest spoke to the forks and putting the magnet on this. The magnet height then has to be set to ensure that this zone in passed.
The instructions state that the magnet must be no more than 5mm away from the sensor when it passes it. This is incorrect. The magnet has to virtually touch the side of the sensor as it passes it.
Getting the magnet to pass the sensor in the right place took a while. Firstly it was to far away. Then with a bit of adjustment I got the computer working. However, the magnet was rubbing against the side of the sensor. This resulted in a horrible 'tap - tap - tap' noise as I was cycling along. It was a bit like those plastic balls that I used to put on the spokes of my bike when I was a child - I think they came out of cornflakes.
Anyway, I moved the magnet again so it wasn't touching the sensor and the computer would not work. I moved the magnet and it rubbed along side the sensor. This working but rubbing and then not working went on for many minutes. It got to the point when I was ready to give up, and then.......... success. It worked and did not touch.
***Using the Vectra****
Once set up the Vectra is a good piece of kit. The functions include current speed, a clock, a trip and an odometer. It can be set up to read in kilometres or, if you are a bit of an imperialist like me, miles. The odometer cannot be re-set so it is possible to keep a cumulative of how far you have travelled on the bike.
Changing from function to function involves the push of a button located at the bottom of the unit. The button is big enough to be used whilst riding (no fiddling about and sticking nails in here) but not so obtrusive that it gets in the way. The design is very well though out.
The display unit is detachable from the backing plate (which is secured to the stem or handle bars) so it can be removed for safe storage or to stop sticky fingers taking it if you stop and leave your bike anywhere.
With the amount of adjustment required to get the computer working I had concerns that the cable ties would not be man enough to hold the sensor in place or that the magnet would 'swing' round on the spoke. These concerns have never come in to fruition. I can ride through potholes, down green lanes, down fire routes, through forests and still the computer works. Nothing seems to move the sensor. The rubber backing plate does the job - and also stops the sensor scratching the paintwork of the bike.
It should be noted that the Vectra is splash proof not waterproof and there is a big difference as I found out. After being caught in a heavy rainstorm the button (the one and only button) decided to stick. Whilst the Vectra still worked it was not possible to change function or reset the trip for a few weeks.
I finally managed to dry the Vectra out on the radiator and it now works fine again. It was a lesson well learnt and now if it rains I put the Vectra in a condom to keep it dry and allow me to see the screen. I'm not being a cheap skate here it's just that there is no case available for the Vectra.
Another issue is in setting up the Vectra. It is important to put the correct tyre size in otherwise the readings will be way off the mark. This is not really a problem since it just requires a bit of care.
If you are looking for a basic computer with (what I consider to be) the most relevant functions then the Vectra should be considered. Admittedly I did have a bit of fun and games in setting it all up, but I assume that this would have been the case with any wireless computer since they all work on the same principles. Now that it is set up it has been solid, reliable (unless absolutely soaking wet) and is fool proof to use. It is a lot of computer for the money and well worth a purchase.
Cateye's new Vectra computer offers recreational riders cordless technology at a great price. Featuring five useful functions and seven features, the Vectra is easy to use and setup thanks its one-button operation. Supplied with a multi mount bracket, the Vectra can be mounted to either the handle bars or the stem and is suitable for all types of bicycle. Features: Current speed, Trip distance, Odometer, Clock, Maximum speed, Auto, start/stop, Universal Mount, Auto power saving, Sleep mode, Cordless transmission, Odometer set