Up Your Cycling Game: Bluetooth Cadence and Speed Sensors
If you’re a huge fan of cycling analytics – monitoring your improving speed, fitness level and ride pace – you’re probably aware of the many powerful cycling computers out there.
They’re powerful tools for upping your game, improving your times and reaching your athletic peak.
Once upon a time, a good cycling cadence and speed sensor would cost you hundreds. They would require extensive wiring and water protection, and they wouldn’t necessarily work all that well.
But know this: you may have a cycling computer in your pocket already.
There are a bunch of great apps which essentially turn your phone into a cycling computer.
Thanks to your smartphone, some clever apps and bluetooth technology, a cadence and speed sensor for iPhone or Android is a reality, and an affordable one at that. No wires, no fuss, no excess gadgetry cluttering up your home or bicycle frame.
This article will review a few of the best iPhone / Android cadence and speed sensors. We’ll examine them, listing the stats, pros and cons of each.
Bluetooth Cadence / Speed Sensors & Compatibility
Before we go over my favourite iPhone bicycle sensors, it’s important to touch on compatibility.
Basically, all smartphones are Bluetooth equipped. This is a short-distance radio technology which allows wireless transmission of data from one device to another. It lets your phone connect with your hands-free headset while driving, and it works great in a cycling application too.
Any Bluetooth equipped speed and cadence sensor should work with your iPhone or Android device (as long as it is modern enough.) However, most of these devices are designed to work with specific apps.
If you’ve got an affinity for a particular fitness app, it’s worthwhile to check into compatibility with the cycling sensor you’re considering buying.
Wahoo: A popular cadence sensor for iPhone and Android
This is a brand which has dominated this niche for the last little while. For good reason.
The Wahoo SC is a Bluetooth compatible cadence and speed sensor that can work with both a smartphone or a cycling computer with ANT+ capability.
It is battery powered and entirely wireless. All you need to do is clip it into place on your chainstay. The fasteners are either thick rubber bands or zip ties, your choice.
It’s waterproof and able to take a beating. It’s also pretty light, coming in at just 36 grams. The battery is not rechargeable, but only needs to be replaced every 12 months or so.
It devours data. You’ll get a readout of your cadence, your speed and the distance you’ve traveled. It also plays nice with lots of apps, not just Wahoo’s system. Compatible apps include Fitbit, MapMyRide, MyFitnessPal, DigiFit, and many more.
Cons: The Wahoo is slightly more expensive than most of the competition. However, it’s still a lot cheaper than a dedicated cadence setup, so it’s all relative!
At around $60 at the time of writing, the Wahoo is an affordable bluetooth cadence sensor for iPhone or Android users, and it reviews really well. Check it out!
Topeak Panobike: An ‘armless’ Bluetooth speedometer & cadence sensor
This device by Topeak looks a bit different than most other iPhone cadence sensors out there right now, mostly because of the form factor: it doesn’t have the arm.
One end measures speed while the other end measures cadence. It’s highly compact and one hell of a slick device.
It uses a button style battery that will last for as long as 5 years of continuous use, which is incredible. It’s also water resistant and can be used in rain and wet conditions.
The Panobike uses an open API, which in plain language means any app developer can worth with it, which means it’s highly compatible. Most major fitness apps will talk with the Panobike, including Strava, MapMyRide, Wahoo, Runtastic, etc.
Cons: I’ve heard of occasional sync issues, which require you to restart the app. Not a big deal in my opinion.
It sells for around $44, making it inexpensive compared to a lot of the competition. So it’s a sleek, durable, long-lasting smartphone cadence sensor with high marks for compatibility… what’s not to like?
Jarv: A Bluetooth cycling sensor & speedo with great price tag
The Jarv, like the others in this list, will turn your iPhone or Android into a powerful cycling computer by collecting accurate data wirelessly.
I like this unit for its durability: it can be dunked underwater for up to 30 minutes and come out no worse for wear. That means that rain, sleet and snow have nothing on it.
The replaceable coin battery gives you around 1 year of use in standard conditions.
It’s Bluetooth 4.0 compatible, giving you access to a wide range of apps, including all the big ones.
Cons: The Jarv might do with a little extra tape to secure it in place. For whatever reason, the included zip ties don’t always seem like enough.
The price point is absolutely fantastic. It’s a cheap bluetooth bicycle cadence speedometer with good reviews and a relatively easy setup… a no-brainer to make this list!
BioLogic: A cycling RPM / speed sensor with flexible installation
There are a ton of wireless bicycle cadence sensors out there that have a pretty similar design to the Wahoo. That’s not a bad thing, but I like seeing an original take on the concept. The BioLogic does that.
Rather than having the unit be one solid piece, the BioLogic separates the sensor into two parts, joined by a wire.
The larger portion measures your speed (using a magnet attached to your spokes.) The smaller piece points forward and keeps track of your cadence (or RPM, as BioLogic sometimes refers to it.)
Because there is a bit of flexibility and distance between the two sections, you can customize the mounting somewhat. That’s handy on atypical bikes.
It runs on a button battery and gives about 700 hours of riding per battery, typically more than 1 year of use.
BioLogic does have their own app (called BikeBrain), but this slick unit will run happily on most major iPhone and Android applications.
Cons: A less well-known brand than many of the above.
Kudos to this company for a creative approach to their product design. With good compatibility, easy installation and a precise sensor, it’s worth taking a look at.
More To Come
This is a growing segment, and I’d expect more iPhone and Android compatible Bluetooth RPM and speed sensors to appear shortly.
People are becoming more reliant on their mobile phones for fitness purposes. And you had better believe that the big ‘traditional’ powers in the cycling analytics world are paying attention; players like Garmin, CatEye and Sigma. So stay tuned!
Any important sensors that I missed? Feel free to chime in below.