It seems simple enough, you want to know how fast you’re riding your bike. So, what is the best bicycle speedometer? Well it depends on what you have in mind. When it comes to bicycle speedometers, you can go with a traditional dial gauge, an electronic bike computer or a cell phone app. I cover the good and bad or each to help you decide for yourself.
Classic Bike Speedometers
Old school bike speedometers offer traits that greatly differ from its rivals. First thing is its classic good looks. It is the perfect accessory for a vintage or classic style bike such as a beach cruiser.
What makes a classic speedometer great is its simplicity. It doesn’t require power to show your speed, there’s no complicated screens to navigate or batteries to charge or replace. It’s always “on” and ready to go. When you want to know how fast you are going, look down and there is your speed. That makes it the most reliable of all of the speedometers. Some of the better models feature an odometer as well.
The drawbacks to a mechanical speedometer is that the installation can be difficult. It does require removing the front wheel and attaching hardware to the hub. If you are comfortable with DIY bike repair and you’re mechanically inclined, you should be able to have it installed in under 30 minutes.
Aside from the more difficult installation, another important consideration is the size of the wheel the speedometer is rated for and the size of the wheel on your bike. Installing it on a wheel larger or smaller than it is rated for can result in an inaccurate reading.
Unfortunately a dial speedometer is the most inaccurate of all bicycle speedometers. The faster you ride, the greater the inaccuracy. Overall they generally provide an acceptable reading, usually off by only a couple of miles per hour if at all. If you are looking for a simple and reliable speedometer, where accuracy, bells and whistles don’t matter, this may be the best speedometer for you.
Cell Phone Speedometer Apps
This is by far the most inexpensive solution with the easiest installation. Simply visit the Google Play Store or Apple App Store on your Android or iPhone and download a free speedometer app. Installation is electronic and literally takes seconds. The reported speed, based off of the phones on-board GPS, is generally pretty accurate.
The downside to this setup is that you need to keep your cell phone screen from sleeping along with keeping your GPS activated. By time you are done riding, your cell may need a good charging.
Most likely you are not going to want to hold your phone in your hand for the duration of the ride, so I would suggest a bike cell phone mount. For under 25 dollars and about 10 minutes of your time is all it takes.
Android has a great free app for bikes that gives you a wealth of features. It is called the Ulysse Speedometer. It has many different modes it operates, most importantly bicycle mode.
For iPhone there are a number of speedometers available as well, but nothing real impressive.
If you are looking for a highly accurate and feature rich speedometer solution, a bike computer may in your future. Prices range from 10 dollars to hundreds of dollars all based off of brand names, screen type and size and capabilities of the unit. We have an entire article dedicated to choosing the best bike computer here.