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Computers - wireless the way to go nowadays?(34 posts)

Computers - wireless the way to go nowadays?jtferraro
Oct 29, 2002 11:57 AM
Are wireless computers just as accurate as wire-line ones, nowadays(or, at least, extrememely close)? I'm considering the wireless Shimano Flight Deck simply b/c it integrates w/my STI levers and has virtual cadence reading - which, provided I'm pedalling, should be accurate. I think it is also nifty that it tells you what gear you are in. Are there any units that are wireless and ALSO provide cadence and HR? I know Vetta makes a few models that are wireless and offer either of the two.


No such thing as a dependable wireless.Alex-in-Evanston
Oct 29, 2002 12:21 PM
I've used a bunch of wireless, including some pricey models, and they have always crapped out prematurely. I've used a couple of wired models, and they have always worked flawlessly and never crapped out.

Two years ago I ripped a $20 Sigma BC800 off my bike to install a fancy wireless. The Sigma had been working fine. The wireless was garbage within a month.

Some wireless eat batteries at the transmitter, some at the receiver. All of them are flaky.

I beg to differgrzy
Oct 29, 2002 12:28 PM
The Polar S710 has proven to be a pretty reliable wireless unit - it takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. Others may agree. Not only does it see service on the road bike, but it suffers all of the indignities on the MTB as well. In my opinion the real garbage is the stuff with wires - you just know it's a matter of time before you have a failure of some sort.
Oct 29, 2002 12:38 PM
If 100 people have a positive experience and 10 have a negative experience - would you describe the product as dependable? Truth is, I just feel like an ass for dumping a functional tool to replace it with a sexy alternative that didn't work.

Oct 29, 2002 4:26 PM
So what specifically is your beef with the Polar S710 or even S510?

You must agree that when you stereotype "all wireless" products, yet have a limited exposure, how could you not feel like an ass? (your words, not mine).
I agree with Grzy - the Polar is pretty good.Gregory Taylor
Oct 29, 2002 12:42 PM
I have a Polar Protrainer XT with the cycling functions that has been dead reliable for two years. I just had it serviced by Polar (battery for the receiver, system check for the chest and wheel transmitter) - had the unit back within 10 days. That's pretty good service.

The only drawback for wireless computers is radio interference. The computer won't work near powerlines or big satellite dishes.
"oil slick" look to LCD?outofthesaddle
Oct 29, 2002 12:56 PM
I just purchased S710. This morning the LCD was darker than normal and had a look like oil on water. It was still readable. I'd seen a few reviewers complain that once this started it got progressively worse until the unit failed. Has anyone experienced this without the unit failing (cold temps, etc.)?

were you using polarized glasses?..Bruno S
Oct 29, 2002 6:35 PM
true polarized glasses make transparent plastic look very strange at certain angles. If this is the case moving the computer to another position may help.
Good point! I used to have a pair...jtferraro
Oct 29, 2002 6:38 PM
and they made all glass, including my auto glass, look really funny.

Same thing herePEDDLEFOOT
Oct 29, 2002 12:31 PM
I didn't have any luck with wireless.It kept crapping out intermittantly during rides.I finally went back to the wire and haven't had a problem since.
Not So !Steve Bailey
Oct 29, 2002 5:27 PM
I've got 3 Nashbar Wireless on 3 different bikes. 2 are over 4 years old and still on original batteries. About the most reliable computer I've ever used, wired or not.

$25 each.

Steve B.
I've had good luck with minebianchi boy
Oct 29, 2002 8:34 PM
I've used a Performance Axiom wireless for two years with absolutely no problems. I like it so much that I just bought another one on sale for $30 to replace the Flight Deck unit on my other bike. It has all the functions I need, a large readable display and is very accurate and easy to use. I've had no problems with batteries wearing out prematurely, interference, etc.
re: Computers - wireless the way to go nowadays?jw25
Oct 29, 2002 12:35 PM
As far as accuarcy goes, wireless vs. wired should be the same, assuming proper setup. Wireless is vulnerable to interference, from things like powerlines, but generally this isn't a problem (much more so with HRM's). They also weigh more and have more batteries to go dead.
I'm not a big fan of the virtual cadence feature - it assumes too much, and depends on proper setup of the computer, both cassette gearing and tire diameter. If either one is off, the reading's off, and what about coasting, drafting, hills?
Unfortunately, I don't know of many computers with wireless cadence. Specialized makes this:
but no mention of the cadence being wireless.
For cadence and HR, you'll be better off looking at a Polar, the 510 or 710 model. The 710 can use a power sensor, for really really complete training, but does cost a bit more than the 510.
Check around on the web or Ebay, whatever you decide to get.
re: Computers - wireless the way to go nowadays?xxl
Oct 29, 2002 12:55 PM
Just out of curiosity, are those of you that have had bad experiences with wireless computers riding tall frames? I also was seduced by the wireless thing, and mine worked well, for a while, then crapped out. I switched batteries, but it just doesn't want to behave. The reason I ask about the tall frame thing is that I noticed, while playing around with mine, that it would work just fine when I put the receiver close to the transmitter, but would crap out just when I raised it up to handlebar height (to mount it). Is it possible that the things just don't have adequate transmitting range for larger frames, or is mine haunted?
50cm frame but still wasn't reliable.PEDDLEFOOT
Oct 29, 2002 1:12 PM
re: Computers - wireless the way to go nowadays?mainframe
Oct 29, 2002 1:02 PM
The Specialized unit is wired for the cadence function.
Oct 29, 2002 1:15 PM
Assume you already know since you mentioned it, but just in case:
speed, hrm, wired cadence.
No Wireless Problemspeter in NVA
Oct 29, 2002 1:40 PM
Very good luck with the Specialized Speedzone. The MUT goes under powerlines and never have had interference. I used it for cross for 3 years and it withstood everything...except it ejected after getting air on a ramp and I still haven't found it in the woods.

In the past (mostly mountain biking) I always broke the wires on wired computers.
all about the vetta baby!Smoothie
Oct 29, 2002 3:05 PM
I love my vetta 100HR. Yeah it's wireless and I agree they usually have some problems but it's such a nice unit. I've had one goofy max speed reading but that's it. The rest of the time my ride results match up with my friends wired cateyes and wireless polar units.

$125 from Alfred E. Bike for the complete wireless package - Heart rate, wireless speed and cadence.

My fav screen has the speed in the upper main part, the cadence in lower main part, and my HR in the lower righthand corner. It's got a ton of features. I like the amount of info I can review after a ride. For example I can check what my avg and max cadence was during a ride, and the HR data is really helpfull. I can check:
time spent above my target HR zone (85% to max) and the avg HR during that time
time spent IN my target HR zone (65% to 85%) and avg HR
time spent below my target HR zone (55%$ to 65%) and avg HR

The main unit:

The front speed sensor:

The rear cadence sensor:

Thanks for the info and great pics!jtferraro
Oct 30, 2002 8:46 AM
I think I may go w/this unit, too...only in the red/white/blue setup. Did Vetta recently start making the wireless cadence? My LBS thought that their speed was wireless but that the cadence was wired.

LBS ordering info and wireless cadence infoSmoothie
Oct 30, 2002 9:10 AM

the wireless HR version is listed as ONLY wireless speed in the quality catalog. Vetta explained that they released the wireless cadence AFTER the quality catalog had been printed - so it's not listed yet. You have to get your LBS to call quality directly and order it. The red/white/blue will probably be a special order.

I forget the part number but a quick 5 min call to vetta USA will fix that if you want to order it from LBS.

I got mine from aebike - it went smooth - good fast shipping and no problems. But they only have the black one.

If you have any other questions let me know!
Thanks!! (nm)jtferraro
Oct 30, 2002 10:56 AM
My LBS just called me back...jtferraro
Oct 30, 2002 11:27 AM
He confirmed what you told me about the Vetta V100HR also being availble w/wireless cadence. He mentioned that there are two different heart rate options/(chest straps?) to choose from and told me that one offered more functionality than the other. My LBS is going to call the Vetta rep back to get more info on that so I can choose the appropriate one. My LBS also said that Vetta only makes the head unit in USPS(red/white/blue) but the sensors are black. I guess they *maybe* used to make USPS sensors but they didn't sell all that well so now they just make the black sensors. Have you ever seen any sensors that weren't black?

Thanks again,

My LBS just called me back...Smoothie
Oct 30, 2002 1:17 PM
two different heart rate options huh? Never heard of that - you'll have to fill me in on the details!

The only sensors i've never seen were in black with the red lettering. My friend has the head unit in silver and his sensors are black as well. I think they only offer the V100HR head units in US postal, black, and silver. You can get the normal V100 in some of the other team colors though.

You can replace the battery in the chest strap:

Oct 29, 2002 1:41 PM
I have the Polar S710 with the speed and cadence sensors. and both sensors at times get finicky, either due to the magnet not being perfectly aligned, or some other voodoo/gremlin-like interference. These issues tend to be on the rare side (once every 20 uses) and I would say, overall, considering the complexity of these units, they work extremely well.
Oct 29, 2002 1:42 PM
I have one Shimano equipped bike, our Tandem, which is also equipped with a Flightdeck...very nice device. I highly recommend it.
Thanks. Is your FlightDeck wireless? (nm)jtferraro
Oct 30, 2002 6:49 AM
No it is not. nmMXL02
Oct 30, 2002 8:45 AM
re: Computers - wireless the way to go nowadays?BikeViking
Oct 29, 2002 1:48 PM
I have had my Vetta RT88 for 8 months and haven't had a bit of trouble with it. It would seem to be a reasonable risk to go "wireless" with Vetta


re: Computers - wireless the way to go nowadays?laffeaux
Oct 29, 2002 2:40 PM
I cuurently use a wireed unit on my road bike and a wireless on my MTB. Both work fine. The downside to wireless is that it eats batteries. My wired unit has had the battery replaced twice since buying it in 1995. The wireless unit has two batteries in the sender (on the fork), one in the reciever (on the bars), and one in the computer. I've used it for a little over a year, and every battery has been replaced once.

For off road use I recommend wireless, as I've had several wired units fail due to be snagged by underbrush. For on road use either would be fine.

The wireless has less wires so it looks cleaner, however you'll occasionally ride without a computer when the batteries die. If you're a weight weenie (which I'm not) I'm sure the wired unit is lighter.
No problems here either..coonass
Oct 29, 2002 6:35 PM
I have the Wireless Flight Deck on one bike and Vetta Wireless Cadence on a Record 10setup (I wanted Ergrobrain10, but 90% reviewed it as junk). I'm 100% satisfied with both far as 'virtural' cadence is concerned, I know that if I'm going down-hill at 40mph, and the cadence indicates " 160", I know my legs aren't moving, but I can 'join in' at any far as interference with overhead power lines, I haven't noticed any; plus I only plan to be in that area for a few seconds anyhow...
Specialized Speedzone EliteTrekFurthur
Oct 30, 2002 7:50 AM
No problems with this one (it's NOT the new tachometer-looking one); however, using the cadence functino requires a wire.

As far as I know, there are no problems with the Flight Deck.
Recently went back to a wired computer..DINOSAUR
Oct 30, 2002 8:01 AM
I've been using a Vetta Rt88 wireless for about 6 months and was happy with it. The battery for the transmitter is good for about 2K and the transmitter housing unit is very sensitive and the little tabs will break off if you are not careful. It's basic, I like the idea of just clicking straight through without pushing and holding. I had a little tumble a couple of weeks ago and the compter crapped out on me a couple of times and I had to reset it (luckily I had been keeping track of my odometer setting). Upon further inspection I noticed a hairline crack on the computer display casing. I used super glue and fixed it but got some glue on the display screen and when I attempted to remove the glue it scratched the screen. A new RT88 cost close to $50.00 and they had a sale on Cateye Enduro 2's for $17.00 at Performance so I purchased one. The Cateyes are pretty much bullet proof, it all depends on how many functions you want. My cadance is pretty well set in concrete and I do a lot of climbing anyway. If I want to know what gear I'm in I just look down at my cassette. The features I use the most are ride miles, time, second wheel setting (to keep track of weekly miles) and the odometer. The only real advantage of a wired unit is cosmetic as you don't have a wire zip locked to your fork. Also Cateye has a new method to attach the sensor with tape and two small zip lock ties which make it very easy to install. Also I did get some garbage readings on the wireless once and a while. I'm sticking with the wired type, more reliable in my book HMHO...the wired are O.K. but just keep some batteries in stock for the transmitter unit, they don't last long....
re: Computers - wireless the way to go nowadays?Lactate Junkie
Oct 30, 2002 12:36 PM
The latest generation of Wireless computers are just as accurate as wired and just as reliable other than they use batteries quicker, the same couldn't be said for some earlier models. 9 times out of 10 the problems people have with wireless unit are user related which then gets blamed on the product. Some people are just stupit. The best ones out right now from a reliability standpoint IMHO are, Specialized, Vetta, Cyclomaster, Sports Instruments and Cateye. Be careful of Cateye as they interfere with heart rate monitors and visa versa