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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Planet Bike Protege 9.0 Bike Computer Review

I was very happy with the $40 I spent on the Planet Bike Protege 9.0 bike computer from REI.com.  This was the first bike computer I have ever used and since day one, this computer has been very reliable even in extreme conditions from below zero wintry conditions to 100+ degree summer temperatures.  Just like any other computer, as long as the computer is installed correctly, this computer can be a five star product.  Mine has consistently measured all of the basic information that it was designed to monitor such as speed, average speed, maximum speed, ride time, distance, time of day, total distance (odometer) and temperature.

WIRED VS. WIRELESS
A computer can have a lot of nice features on paper, but if it doesn't perform well in actual riding conditions, that's money wasted.  Since I was only willing to spend around $40, I chose to get a wired computer to avoid the likely problem of a poor quality wireless connection which I have heard was a big problem with budget wireless computers.  Rain, snow or mud (happened on accident), this computer has never failed to work, so I'm happy!

If you don't want to include the data from the warm up or
cool down, you'll find out that there's no pause button.  Just
unclip the computer off the electrode to cut off the
connection.  Now it has a pause function!
THE GOOD:
With over two years of use about 4-5 days per week, the Planet Bike Protoge 9.0 has excellent "battery economy."  The Protoge 9.0 does a good job at saving energy by using their trademarked "MacroMonitor" display similar to the display on a calculator.  In terms of visibility, the display was especially visible in overcast and sunny conditions- see the picture to the right.

The feature I liked the most was the convenient design they integrated to make navigating the menus so easy that you would never need to take a hand off the handlebar (unless you're on the drops).  With both hands on the hoods, all I had to do was take a thumb out and press the computer forward (towards the tires) to switch screens.

Another feature that I tend to take advantage of a lot was the average speed indicator.  Whenever my current speed would fall above or below the average speed, an arrow will point up or down, respectively.  This helps when the display is set to a screen that doesn't show average speed.

THE BAD:
The lack of a back light makes the display almost impossible to read.  I say "almost" because with a small helmet or visor light, the lack of a back light really isn't a problem at all.  Aside from the extra cost of buying a visor light, there really isn't that much more to improve that wouldn't up the cost of this computer.

I have to admit that it does sort of suck not having visual feedback for cadence.  To get around not having cadence, I've been using a metronome app from my phone to estimate cadence, although it would help a lot more to have real-time feedback.


THE THERMOSTAT TEST:

All cycling computers must pass this test!  It would be a real disappointed if a cycling computer managed to fail a simple feature like this.  Since the Planet Bike Protoge 9.0 had a temperature feature, I tested it out.  As shown in the picture to the left, Planet Bike passed!  Click on the image to enlarge it- I had really bad lighting when I took the picture.

Sensor attached to rear side
of the fork.
INSTALLATION TIPS FOR THE CARBON FORK PEOPLE:
Keep the magnet as close as possible
to the sensor for better readouts
With a carbon fork, installing the Planet Bike Protoge 9.0 is still possible to do.  Rather than using a less flexible zip tie to hold the sensor against the fork, use electrical tape and tightly wrap the sensor.  Electrical tape was designed to withstand heat, water and cold, so there's nothing to worry with regards to durability.  Be sure to place the sensor near the back of the fork- this is extremely important.  Placing the sensor in the back will prevent the magnet from smashing into the sensor if you happen to make a mistake with installation.  Notice how close the magnet must be to the sensor.  This is pretty much standard protocol with any cycling computer.