While GPS bicycle computers are nothing new, the useable technology that is available to riders at an affordable price has increased considerably in recent times. They now provide accurate measurement of both speed and distance and the ability to download and map all training sessions, but with none of the fuss and hassle of fitting wheel magnets and sensors and figuring out wheel circumferences.
You can go out and get super fancy, with full-colour touchscreens and on-screen mapping (Bryton Rider 50), or if you just want a good speedo that has the ability to show maps (after downloading), this is also available in the Bryton Rider 20. The Bryton Rider 40 on test sits in the middle of both, but more towards the top end of the product range, providing many features such as speed, distance, altitude and pre-programmed training sessions without all the bells and whistles and the price tag of the top-end model.
Bryton are a relative newcomer and I had not had much experience of them prior to this review. I found the reason why most of us haven’t heard about Bryton up to this point when I went looking for information about the company and struggled. What I did manage to find out was that Bryton are based in Taiwan with manufacturing plants in China. They are focused on the development of sports electronics with GPS applications for cyclists, outdoor adventurers and fitness fanatics alike.
Bryton produce five different cycling GPS models ranging in features and price, from the Rider 50 at the higher end (similar to Garmin 800), down to the Rider 20 at the bottom of the range. Along with cycling computers they also produce two watch-based models that are more targeted towards the multisport/triathlon community.
The Bryton Rider 40 has everything that you would expect in a cycling computer (laps, speed, distance, time) plus a large number of extra features including heart rate, calorie consumption, GPS and the ability to download and analyse the data from your latest and previous rides. It is compatible with ANT+ heart rate monitors (included in the package) as well as speed and cadence sensors (also included). Another handy feature is that the unit has a similar quarter-turn mounting system to Garmin which means that it will fit any Garmin-compatible quarter-turn style mounts, such as the front of bar mounts from companies like Barfly. But the major feature of the Rider 40 compared to the lower-end models and its competition are the pre-programmed training sessions already installed on the unit. These include Easy Ride (Easy), Tempo Interval (Tempo), Cruise Interval (Cruise), Cruise 3 x 10km (Ci30K), Anaerobic-endurance Intervals (AE), Enhanced Power (Enhanced Power) and 100% MAP Intervals (MAP Intervals). These prompt you to change your style of riding during any ride, almost like having a coach riding next to you.
The unit itself is nice and compact but large enough that your data is still visible without the need for a magnifying glass. In the box you will find the computer unit, bar mount (along with plenty of rubber bands to attach the mount to any sized bars or stem), heart rate strap, USB cable, speed sensor, cadence sensor and a basic instruction manual that will get you up and running. With the computer unit only weighing in at around 50g, it is light enough to keep even the toughest of weight weenies happy. The mount gets top marks, not only for how easy it is to use but how securely it held the computer unit in place.
Using the device was relatively straightforward and the minor issues I had were more due to my own technical inabilities (or stupidity) rather than the complexity of the device. Turning it on for the first time, the unit prompts you for your basic profile data. You then hit ‘start’ and away you go.
The screen displays up to six data fields per screen, which can be customised to your liking and requirements. At the end of a session, downloading your data is done via the USB cable provided, using the free Bryton Bridge software available from their website. Once downloaded you will need to create an account before being able to download and access your data.
When you upload your ride data from the GPS unit to Bryton’s online training portal (similar to Garmin Connect) you will be able to share it with other Bryton users online. Bryton have recently added a file export feature that allows you to upload your data to Strava. There’s nothing quite like being able to show your mates how you smashed apart a climb during your last session, or knowing what your mates have been doing to give you that little bit more incentive to go out and train harder and faster.
Speaking of climbing, one of the Rider 40’s features is the ability to measure altitude. But while riding, the altitude often read incorrectly (it said I was at -111m when I was actually well above sea level). However, once the data was downloaded, the altitude figures seemed fine. It may have just been my unit or the way I set it up because you do have to calibrate the unit before your first ride. Either way it was a concern.
Since Garmin is currently the benchmark for cycling GPS units, I found it hard to not continually draw comparisons with them. The Rider 40 is, in many ways, similar to the Garmin 500. For example there is only a couple of grams difference between the units. Both offer a magnitude of features and use ANT+ connectivity. But where the Rider 40 stands apart from the Garmin 500 is in reported battery life, with the Rider 40 having nearly double that of the Garmin 500 (30 hours vs. 18 hours) and in the pre-programed training sessions. These are a fantastic way to add a bit of spice and variety to your standard training program which will lead to greater improvements in your cycling.
The good things about the Bryton Rider 40 include the long battery life (as mentioned), ability to connect with all your favourite ANT+ accessories along with the barfly type mounts due to the quarter turn connection system. There’s also the near limitless number of features along with the pre-programmed training sessions, the heart rate strap provided was one of the most comfortable I have ever worn from any company. And to finish off, the computer unit is quite aesthetically pleasing to look at.
What about the not so good points? I found the display screen to be very busy. When I had the screen set up to display six different data fields along with all the large number of symbols along the bottom of the screen (to which I had little idea what most meant and really aren’t required), it crowded the screen. There was also the issue with the altitude reading that I mentioned earlier. The basic instructions provided in the box with left me scratching my head on a few occasions due to a lack of information
Only time will tell if they become the Garmin’s biggest rival. With their feature-packed units and competitive pricing, they are well worth more than a casual glance if you are in the market for a new cycling computer.
Distributed by Oceania Bicycles