Cateye V2C Wireless Computer
Cateye has long done great work in the realm of wireless bike computers. They were out front early and continue to do a good job improving their already impressive offerings. They're now packing more and more features in to what seems to be ever-smaller packages. Their V2C, which we've just spent the better part of a month riding with, is millimeters wider and longer than their Strada wireless computer, but boasts many more metrics.
To give you a sense of it's size, we weighed everything. The cpu is 30g, the transmitter, 31g, the handlebar mounting bracket is 8g, all the zip ties are not even 1g, the speed magnet is 3g, as is the cadence magnet. 75g of computer gear in total. The instruction booklet is 135g. The cpu size is 3.8cm wide by 5.6cm long, by 1.65cm thick. Tiny.
Regular readers of our reviews know we're bullish on data acquisition. We enjoy the data that our SRM records every ride. It's a big turnaround for us. We spent several years riding and racing totally instrument-free -- intervals were as long as a hill or between turns or stop signs, or a loop. Now, people make fun of us for recording every ride and workout. It's not that the ride wouldn't exist, but that the saved, graphed, analyzed data seems to make us a faster, better-rested, happier cyclist. We know that makes us extreme, and part of us would like to go back to instrument-free riding; not a big part, though. Plenty of people want to know the basics and that's it. How fast they went over how far. Some want to know a little more. Probably most of the riding public only wants this info; and they're not using it for a training log, but so they have some sort of relative measure and so they have something to say when they're asked how far they went on their big weekend ride.
If flying without any measure other than perceived exertion is one end of the spectrum, and a recording powermeter the other, the Cateye V2C fits somewhere between the middle of the spectrum and a few steps shy of a downloadable power meter. That's because it can be used as a recording computer or not. It doesn't measure heart rate, but it does do speed, cadence, time, and distance with the ability to place lap markers. So you can just observe it over the course of a ride, or you can both observe over the course of a ride and review the ride after it's over. There is also a light inside the computer; press the button and you get about three seconds to check where you're at.
The V2C has current speed, average speed, maximum speed, current, average and max cadence, ride distance, distance since last reset along with total riding time to the nearest hour, ride time, date, time of day, and split times if you use the lap button. If you want to play with "programming" it a bit, you also get a countdown distance, cadence zone, and an alarm on the cadence zone. Once you use the SSE (aka reset) button on the face. The last ride goes into the computer's memory, and you can review your ride there, including what happened during the various "laps;" time of lap, distance of lap, average speed, max speed, average cadence, max cadence, time spent above and below the specified cadence zone. To do all this, there are five buttons on the face of the computer, and two on the underside. The five buttons are SSE, LT, M1, M2, and Lap. The underside has AC and Menu. Warning: all but the lap and menu buttons are pretty stiff. We found we needed to use our fingernails to depress the SSE, M1, and M2 buttons enough to change the screen.
Physically setting up the computer on a bike is easier than writing about it. It isn't quite the tool-free mounting that Cateye claims, but it's pretty close. All you need is something to cut the ends of three zip ties. The computer mounting bracket uses a simple screw-type fastener that can be mounted on either the handlebars or the stem. It is also, by the way, the same one that the Cateye Strada Wireless computer utilizes. The transmitter sits atop your left chainstay, is zip-tied into place and can have the speed and cadence transmitters tilted separately. The speed magnet is a magnet that doubles as a screw and is threaded into a simple plastic housing designed to worth with just about every kind of spoke. The cadence magnet needs to be zip-tied to the crank. The signal is 2.4Ghz, like old cordless phones and many wireless bike computers of today. It is hard to have interference or cross-talk, and we experienced none.
It took us several rides to figure out how to access every bit of data. Cateye has grown their instruction manuals a good bit. The V2C's is a perfect-bound book with the instructions in seven languages. The instructions aren't the most clear we've come across, even at forty pages. When we called the Cateye Service Center, they kindly e-mailed us a "quick start guide." It's a bit easier than the manual; between reading this and then reading the manual, you should be able to speed up the learning curve a bit. Setting up the time took a few tries. The feature that was more vexing was setting up the cadence zone; among other things, you have to make sure your ride data is at zero before setting it.
We like both the idea and execution of a cadence zone with an alarm. For us, it's when we're tired climbing or hitting a steep pitch and getting out of the saddle that our cadence drops. Most riders, particularly newer riders, pedal too slowly. The V2C gives off a single beep every few seconds when you're pedaling and under the lower limit, and the unit gives off a double-beep when you're above the upper limit. At the end of the ride, if you choose, you can review how much time spent in, above, and below your specified zone.
The lap counter is a good thing for anyone who wants to measure intervals, be it distance or time. We didn't review so much after the ride, but on the ride. Right after you press the lap button, the lower screen tells you want the split time was for the previous lap. You can then watch the timer count from zero or from the beginning of the ride.
While we like the small overall size of the computer, they screen is possibly too crammed with data. It's great for those who want an unobtrusive unit. But at the same time, it isn't great for those who have trouble focusing, be it physical or mental limitations. When you're on an interval, you can see your interval time in the lowest level of data as well as the interval's average speed, but that average speed reading is tiny -- it's on the right side of the line just above the split time. Even that lowest line of data is hard to read at first. After getting used to it, reading was easier. The upper two lines, speed at the top, then cadence, are easy to read. On both sides of those numbers, however, there are tiny symbols indicating whether or not the sound is on, whether or not it has found the speed transmitter, whether or not it has found the cadence transmitter, whether or not the cadence zone is turned on, whether or not the auto start/stop is on, whether the screen is set for current, average or max cadence and speed. The screen, as a result, feels "noisy," and confusing to look at initially. After several rides the "noise" faded as we got used to what we were looking at.
Not surprisingly, we went through mixed emotions with the Cateye V2C. We loved the easy physical setup as much as we hated programming our preferences into the cpu. We liked having our speed and cadence prominently displayed as much as we hated pressing the button, looking through the noise, and trying to figure out what we were looking at. As we rode more with it, most everything got easier, save the buttons. At this moment, it's a simple bike computer with features we like if we were the type who only wanted to know time and distance, with a nudge to keep our cadence in an efficient zone. We'd like to think the learning curve could have been flatter, if there had been better instructions and easier navigation, but maybe there's an art to such things. Looking over other computers, we find ourselves more impressed by designers who figured out how to give you everything with two or three buttons.