Do not let the small size of the Bryton Rider 21 GPS fool you, this is a full-function cycle computer. Using the ubiquitous ANT+ communication protocol means that it can communicate with a vast array of speed, cadence, and heart rate devices and store the data stream in memory for uploading after your ride. In comparison with larger devices, the Rider 21 does sacrifice some on-the-go display options in return for a small form factor. This would be perfect for the cyclist who needs some basic data during a ride, but wants to be able to pick apart the same ride after arriving home.
Out of the box my review example was fully charged. The included charger replenishes the battery in a few hours. The mounting bracket consists of a hard plastic bayonet mount that the head unit twists into, plus several stretchy rubber bands and two different sizes of soft rubber padding to cover all potential mounting needs (bars of any size, aerobars or stem).
The review unit also came with a cadence & speed sending unit. This device sits on the chainstay where one side of the sensor can detect wheel rotation and the other side detects crank rotation to measure speed and cadence. The data stream is wirelessly and digitally transmitted to the Bryton. My bike has a cadence & speed sensor built into the frame, so rather than install the Bryton one I sync’d the Rider 21 to my own sensor – an easy 10 second process.
Also in the box was a soft heart rate strap. The soft straps are much more comfortable than the old-school hard straps ever were. As with speed, any ANT+ strap will work with the Rider 21.
Coming from several four-button devices, I found the three-button Rider 21 to be slightly confusing to use at first. The compromise of one fewer button is that menus can only be browsed in the downwards direction. Once that fact was locked in my head, it was easy. The device is so easy to master and the menus are intuitive to navigate but if you need help there is a comprehensive manual on the Bryton website.
Inside the set-up function, each page of information can be configured to offer up those data you want at hand (from routine items like speed, distance and time to less usual ones like calories burned, metres climbed or air temperature). Three rows fit nicely on the screen, but two can also be chosen for a page if you prefer. A row of icons along the bottom of the screen quickly reveal system status such as battery level and which ANT+ devices are currently active. The Bryton uses information you enter about yourself to calculate calories burned during the ride. Two different bikes can also be configured in the set-up menu.
The display was easy to read and nicely backlit for night rides. Button pushes were confirmed by a gentle beep. The mount was easy to install and secure. It quickly found the satellites overhead and was ready to go before I was. The battery lasted a long time between charges.
While I was testing out the Bryton computer, I had three GPS-enabled devices on my handlebars, the other two being the Magellan reviewed elsewhere in this issue and my own personal unit. All three computers were receiving speed, cadence and heart rate data from the same sending units yet all three arrived at slightly different distances for each ride (heart rate and cadence data were in agreement). With no way of knowing which one is “right” I merely noticed that they were consistent in how they differed from each other, and that it was less than 1%.
While the Bryton does record the path taken during each ride for later upload, it is not possible on the small screen to display any sort of map. If a map is what you want, Bryton does offer a model with a much larger screen.
This GPS is a bit less expensive and a bit easier to use than the ones that offer more options. As a result it is best suited to riders who want to keep track of their riding habits, but do not need all of the data during the ride. Really serious competitive cyclists will look elsewhere because the Ryder 21 lacks the ability to receive data from a power meter and the three line display is restrictive on certain kinds of training drills. For the majority of cyclists, however, the Bryton could be just what you need.