GPS bike computers have been around for a while, but it is only recently that they have become extremely affordable and practical for the everyday cyclist. They offer excellent accuracy (distance and speed is calculated via GPS rather than wheel circumference), the ability to download and map your rides, and none of the heartache that comes with fitting (or forgetting) wheel magnets or measuring wheel circumference.
And, while you can get as fancy as you like with on-screen mapping and colour touchscreens, it’s good to know that GPS is now accessible to the rest of us who just want a good speedo and occasionally like to see a map of where we’ve ridden. The Bryton Rider 20 is just that – a no-frills, quality wireless device that is keenly priced and offers GPS without going overboard on features.
Bryton is a relative newcomer into the world of GPS mobile devices. It’s hard to find out anything much about Bryton, other than it is based in Taiwan and has manufacturing plants in China. Their website is a demonstration of the perils of Google Translate and its spokesman for cycling computers is none other than Stephane Goubert. No, I hadn’t heard of him either. However it appears that he rode the Tour on 10 occasions, his highest finish being 16th. While it’s nice to see a top rider recommending the Bryton, he’s hardly Tom Boonen.
So we have a company I’ve never seen before, a spokesman I’ve never heard of and a product box that promises that “The exquisite cycling computer with large font is designed to be your best companion for casual and everyday rides”. If nothing else, I am getting a powerful signal that Bryton is committed to competing at a low price point.
Bryton manufacture five different cycling GPS models that range in features and price from the Rider 50 at the top end (similar to the Garmin 800) to the Rider 20, which is their entry level bike GPS. The Rider 20 has everything you would expect in a speedo (laps, speed, distance, timer) plus a number of extra features including heart rate display, calorie consumption, GPS, and data analysis. It is compatible with ANT+ heart rate monitors and speed and cadence sensors (sold separately). Plus, of course, that “exquisite” large font.
The unit itself is nicely compact. In the box you get the computer, bike mount, heart rate strap, USB cable and a pleasing number of rubber bands to attach the mount to any sized bar or stem. The computer itself weighs in at a modest 40g, a figure that will satisfy even the biggest weight weenies. The mount itself is very similar to the Garmin mount and gets full marks for being easy to use and secure.
Using the device is straightforward. When turning it on for the first time, the unit prompts you for your user profile, then away you go. The display offers three lines of data, which you can customise. Downloading your ride data is via the supplied USB cable using the free Bryton Bridge software, which allows you to upload your workouts and routes to Bryton’s online training portal. Like GarminConnect, the Bryton online community allows you to share your data with other Bryton users and see maps of your training rides. It’s a quality and easy to use bit of software. One feature that is a definite plus is that Bryton has recently released a file export that will upload into Strava and take accessory data (HR, Cadence, etc) to add extra detail to these third party websites. There’s nothing quite like having that added incentive of knowing that your mates can see your training figures to get you up the hill a bit more quickly.
Speaking of hills, I should note here that the Rider 20, being a budget model, doesn’t use barometric pressure to calculate elevation. Instead it is only calculated post ride via GPS so is only as accurate as GPS can be from the plotted points. In practice this wasn’t a big issue, but be aware that if elevation is a big issue for you then you may be better off spending a bit more on a Rider 30 or Rider 50.
You don’t have the luxury of on-screen navigation with this unit, but that’s not what the Rider 20 is for. If you like to see where you’ve been, you can download your ride afterwards and view it as a map online. More advanced Bryton models offer waypoints and directions (the Rider 35), customisable training plans (the Rider 40) and colour on-screen mapping (the bells-and-whistles Rider 50).
It’s hard not to keep drawing comparisons with Garmin units, which are currently the benchmark for cycling GPS units. The Rider 20 is very similar to the Garmin 200, except it claims to have slightly better battery life (18 hours for the Rider 20 versus 14 hours for the Garmin 200), is slightly lighter (40g versus 59g) and slightly cheaper (rrp $129 versus $149). The Rider 20 is also waterproof, while the Garmin 200 claims only to be water resistant. Additionally, the Bryton uses ANT+ and you can run ANT+ heart rate, cadence and speed sensors as options something some other manufacturers omit from their entry level models to cut costs. Should you ride one of the new series of bikes with built in sensors then you will be able to connect with the Bryton.
What are the other good things about the Rider 20? Good battery life, good price and a straightforward display (some might say exquisite) are all ticks in the Bryton corner. Bad things? It’s not a Garmin. Not that that’s a bad thing; it just means that Bryton haven’t been around long enough to earn the brand reputation of Garmin. Yet. Time will tell if they will become as popular. The unit also looks a little plasticy, but it is cheaper, and Bryton are certainly trying hard to outdo Garmin for features and value. If you are looking for an entry-level GPS unit that is a solid all-rounder and doesn’t drown you with features you’ll never use, you’ll do well to consider the Rider 20.
Distributed by Oceania Bicycles