Bike computers in the test: Do speedometers for bikes need GPS?

Are the current speed and the distance traveled sufficient or would you like a little more information? Despite progressive digitization, it does not always have to be the high-tech GPS bike computer with navigation for several hundred euros. The expensive smartphone on the handlebars is also out of place for this task. So buy a bicycle speedometer then? BIKE BILD has tested six inexpensive devices with and without GPS and gives the answer.

Winner of the BIKE BILD bicycle speedometer test: Sigma Rox 4.0

Sigma Rox 4.0

Rox 4.0
  • simple, intuitive operation
  • State-of-the-art connectivity
  • comfortable furnishings
  • easy to read

Price €89.95

The most modern speedometer in the test scores with simple operation, state-of-the-art connectivity and high-quality workmanship. We particularly like how easy it is to set up the data pages via the app Sigma ride The display is easy to read in any situation. After a short period of getting used to it, the Sigma Rox 4.0 can be operated intuitively using the three large buttons. The navigation via the komoot app works, but the distance and turning arrow are not enough for reliable and comfortable route guidance. Access to the saved tracks is available via app or USB-C cable. Some e-bikes can be used with the Sigma Connect to display exact data on battery status, range & Co. In the test, the Sigma Rox 4.0 achieved the grade “very good” – with 38 out of 40 points.

Price-performance winner Ciclo Protos 213

Cyclo Protos 213

Protos 213
  • quick initial setup
  • easy handling
  • excellent readability
  • backlight

Price €29.99

Despite only having two buttons, the initial setup of the Ciclo Protos was logical and quick. It’s easy to use even when you’re on the go. A long press on the left button resets the counters to zero and the tour can begin. The information is spread over four easy-to-read lines. Two of them are fixed with time and speed. The left button scrolls through the lower data field, the right button changes the information in the other data field. The calorie information should only be viewed as a very rough estimate due to the limited database (no heart rate). A backlight enables readability even in the dark. In the test, the Ciclo Protos 213 achieved the grade “good” – with 35 out of 40 points.

The test results at a glance

Where the speedometer gets its information from is the big difference in bicycle speedometers – also in this test. It is fed either by a speed sensor on the front wheel or by the GPS satellite system. A GPS receiver is by no means synonymous with navigation.

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Six bicycle speedometers in the test: the results

If you opt for the puristic variant without GPS, you have to attach a sensor to the fork and mount the magnet on a spoke. If the wheel circumference is set correctly, both provide the information for speed and distance. This system does not provide more data. GPS-supported bike computers are ready for use more quickly without sensor installation. Use on several bicycles is also easy to implement using inexpensive replacement handlebar mounts. The exact position data also offers more information, such as the altitude or the exact location for precise tour recording.

Speedometers for the bike in the test

Important for determining the speed without GPS: a correctly mounted speed sensor.

In the test, even the inexpensive devices delivered all the important data to the handlebars in a clearly legible manner. However, especially with the cheapest speedometer in the test, there were occasional disturbances in the data transmission from the sensor to the speedometer. Here one should perhaps rely on the variant Ciclo Protos 113 with a trouble-free cable connection.

The simple speedometers without GPS need a little more manual information input before starting. Few keys, some of which are difficult to reach, do not make these steps any easier. In most cases, a look at the operating instructions is necessary. Due to their poster format, these are more reminiscent of medical package inserts than of understandable manuals. Some of the manufacturers offer helpful video tutorials online. GPS bike computers make it easier for you. The satellites provide the date and time, and the Bluetooth connection to the manufacturer’s app on the cell phone allows you to conveniently do some settings on the large touchscreen.

Speedometers for the bike in the test

Precision when measuring: The decisive factor for bicycle speedometers without GPS is the correct determination of the tire circumference.

All tested GPS bike computers have at least a minimum level of connectivity. In other words, the option of connecting to a smartphone, fitness sensors or e-bike via Bluetooth or ANT+. While an app on the cell phone still makes sense for setting up and retrieving tour recordings, opinions regarding external fitness sensors vary between a gimmick and an important training or health function. In any case, the cadence and heart rate sensor make a significant contribution to keeping the level of exertion while cycling in a healthy or effective (training) range.

The Sigma BC 14.16 offers a special feature with its NFC chip for near-field communication. With the free app Sigma Settings can be changed and trip statistics can be transferred from the speedometer to the cell phone. However, this only works with Android phones. Apple blocks its NFC chip for such applications.

Conclusion on the BIKE BILD speedometer test

If you are really only interested in the basic information, you can choose one of the inexpensive speedometers without hesitation – the interference-free version with cable is also welcome. If more information is exciting, it is better to grab a GPS bike computer right away. In addition to the extra data, assembly is also easier and the speedometer can easily be used on several bikes. Recording the exact route for your personal tour diary is a nice additional function.

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