Sunday, May 16, 2010

One More Computer Story

I was strolling through Target last week, and I stopped in the bike accessories section. They had a Bell Platinum Wireless 15-function bicycle computer there at a regular price of $19.99. I had a $20 Target gift certificate which I'd gotten for my birthday in April, and thought I might give it a try.

This is not the old circular Bell FreeFit 15-function wireless (which seems to be universally panned), but a new design in a more-or-less rectangular housing:

Followers of my blog will recall that I was satisfied with the Specialized Speedzone I had on both The Roadley and Bluetiful, until a stretch of rough road bounced the one on Bluetiful right out of the clip and underneath my rear wheel: RIP, Speedzone.

Y'all will also remember that I have been less than impressed with the replacement Trek Incite 9i: New Computer for Bluetiful.

Question: How does a 20-dollar bike computer, from Bell, stack up against a 45-dollar computer from Specialized and a 70-dollar computer from Trek?

Answer: Pretty darn good a week into testing it!

The Bell has more features than the Trek or the Specialized. It is much more sensitive than the Trek: I have the fork sensor attached to the right-hand fork of Hardiboi and the computer mounted on the left side of the handlebar stem and have had no problems with the computer failing to sense the wheel turning.

The Bell instructions are far superior to the instructions from Trek or Specialized. Here's a quote from the Bell instruction manual: "Make sure bracket tab is facing toward bike as shown in illustration." (Emphasis is mine.) There was almost no text at all in the Trek manual, but in the Bell manual it is as it should be; text backed up by illustrations.

Not only are the illustrations in the Bell manual very informative (one pair of drawings shows the correct AND incorrect way of mounting the sensor to the fork), but they are very well done. You can actually tell which way the zip-ties are supposed to go.

I have expressed my belief that there is a design flaw in the mounts of the Trek and the Specialized, in that the computer slides upward into the clip. That was, in fact, why the Speedzone popped out of the mount when I hit the bump: the stops are at the top of the clip, so there is nothing but a set of friction bumps to prevent the computer from sliding down out of the clip and off the bike. The Bell computer has it right, the computer slides downward from the top into the clip, and is retained by a little thumb tab. In order to fall off the bike, the computer would have to slide upward all the way past the rails. I can't imagine a bump severe enough to cause that to happen!

There is no Bell warranty on the product, but Target has a standard, 90-day return/refund policy.

I have only one complaint about the Bell. Unless you are directly over the LCD, and your line of sight is perpendicular to the surface of the display, you can make out ghost images of the other features. In the picture above, you can see an example of this as the "SCAN" feature (which was NOT on at the time) is visible in the upper left-hand corner. In bright sunlight, if you are viewing the display at an angle, you see almost all of the features as plain as the features which are "lit".

1 comment:

  1. $19.99? That's a deal. I'll be watching this space to see if it self-destructs or something.