How To Get Fit With Every Pedal Push: Tracking and Analyzing Tools

How To Get Fit With Every Pedal Push: Tracking and Analyzing Tools

Ambika Subramony
Aug 20, 2012

I just finished climbing one of the most beautiful mountains in Honolulu--Tantalus. The ride is 5 miles straight uphill and then down, on a windy road through a tropical jungle--complete with chickens on the left, mangos on the right, and stunning ocean views all around. In addition to the beauty around me, one thing I can't help but appreciate on my bike is my tech: I love using Strava on my iPhone and a good speedometer on my bike.

If you don't love cycling for sport the way I do, you might wonder what's the point of using tech on your bike. Give a few of these options a try, and you might be pleasantly surprised! For one thing, it's fun. Even if you don't race, you'll get a thrill when you see yourself hitting car-like speeds, especially on the big downhills. Even the newest rider can easily hit 30mph. It will also really boost your fitness.

You might not know it, but your daily commute makes you stronger and fitter, day by day. Use a bike computer to track that progress and push your boundaries a little, even on short rides. Or just enjoy the sight of yourself getting faster, naturally--the times on computer will show it.

If you're intrigued, here are a few good options for tracking rides on your bike:

1. Strava
If you don't want to spend a dime, give Strava a try. This app works on your iPhone or Android device, tracks all your rides via GPS, and spits out some amazing data--including ride maps, speed, power output, elevation gain, and, best of all, how you stack up against other people that have traveled the same routes. There are only a couple downsides to using the app--it drains your phone's battery on longer rides, and you can't see it while you ride unless you mount your phone onto your bike. But, if you're a techie, you'll love pouring over the data it collects on

2. Knog NERD
The Knog NERD is a sweet and simple wireless bike computer (don't even bother with a wired computer in this day and age). It looks cool, displays all the data you need (including MPH, miles traveled, and average speed), and you can come by one relatively cheap. While really serious cyclists will likely yearn for something more, bike commuters will love the Knog for its super easy installation and removal from the bike. If theft is a problem in your area, you'll really appreciate this feature. It comes in plenty of colors to match your bike, too--grab the blue 9-function version from Amazon for only $43.61, free Super Saver or Prime Shipping.

3. Garmin
If you'll looking for something to use for some serious tracking, you'll want a Garmin. Garmin computers come in a variety of price points, but the top ones track GPS data, elevation, cadence, heart rate, and more. And, you can upload your Garmin data to Strava to see how well you stack up against strangers and friends.

If your hesitant to shell out the dough though (the Garmin Edge 500 will set you back $250), the Knog plus Strava combo provides a great commuter friendly bang for your buck.

Seasoned cyclists, how do you track your rides? And commuters, do you appreciate a bike computer when getting from point A to B? Let us know in the comments!

(Images: 1. Ambika Subramony 2. The Foot Down)

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