With apps becoming ever more common, what's the future for cycle computers? We chat with Cateye for their take on the market's future

Cycle computers vs smartphone apps

Apps like Strava and Track My Ride have given the cycle computer sector a bloody nose, no doubt about it, in perception as much as anything else. But has it left cycle computers KO’d? Or are they looking to get in a few swift punches in the next round?

Dodgy metaphors aside, the rise and rise of smartphones and cheap, sometimes free, phone software measuring location, distance, speed and more is a threat to the cycle computer business, leaving some wondering about the future of the sector. So is selling a computer to a customer now an uphill struggle? Or have cycle computers upped their game?

According to Zyro’s CatEye brand manager Paul Caswell, it’s all too easy to buy into the myth that apps are taking over the world.

“Cycle computers can still be sold as an instant add-on or must-have accessory.

“We need to focus on the computer being an essential add-on sale for bike shops and remind them that despite the rise of the app, the phone still has to sit in the back pocket and the consumer still wants to see those current performance functions on their handlebars like speed, heart rate and cadence, all essential indicators of performance and sometimes safety information for the road ahead.”

Battery problems? Apps-olutely.
Compared like-for-like, cycle computers often have distinct advantages over apps. One key area is battery life, which is almost universally much better for cycle computers than smartphones – largely because phones are doing many jobs at the same time. With many cycle computers going into sleep/standby mode when not in use and easily awoken, they’re better at making battery life stretch further still. Then there is the fact cycle computers are robust and designed for purpose unlike phones more at home in the pocket. Waterproofing is somewhere that phones again lose out – requiring extra kit to keep them out of harm’s way. For serious riders particularly, in many cases apps don’t deliver the sheer range and depth of data they want either.

“There is good margin to be had on cyclo-computers and this can be a profitable add-on sale for retailers,” says Caswell, adding that they can appeal to a broad spectrum of riders: “All cyclists from commuters to tourists to sportive riders to racing cyclists…they’re all interested in the data on offer. And even a basic £20 computer offers current/average/max speed, plus time and distance.”

Caswell believes that cycle computers – and those from Cateye of course – have become easier to set up, making up ground on apps in that particular area.

“Cateye computers are ‘Only Complicated on the Inside’; shops should no longer be scared of GPS technology with the Cateye Stealth range. After years of experience setting up Cateye computers the Stealth series head unit sets up in exactly the same way. Simply set the speed unit, time zone and backlight hours and you’re away. Downloads could not be easier either, with Cateye Sync and Cateye Atlas eliminating any pain in the process.

“The Cateye computers are especially easy to fit and the product set-up apps and videos available on-line and at the app store are a massive help to dealers and consumers alike – it is important for retailers to have the knowledge that their favourite brand is behind them even after they have made the sale.”

He adds: “The Cateye range is the most complete and all-encompassing on the market, from £15 wired five function computers to £180 GPS with ANT + speed, cadence and HR sensors. Wired, Analogue Wireless, Digital Wireless and Sensor less… we have it all. Big Screen or small form, simple six function or 99 lap memory, we have something for all.”

Zyro also has plenty of POS options to help retailers achieve those add-on sales, from hooks, new counter and slatwall POS, header boards, plus marketing online and in print.

No doubt the trade will watch round two of the smartphone app versus cycle computer fight with no little interest.

Zyro/Cateye: 01845 521700

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