Review: Cateye’s Customizable, Reliable & Legible Micro Wireless Cycling Computer

As much fun as it can be to track every ride, creating maps and competing with frienemies, for the most part I ride in order to get away from the connected world: satisfied to know only how much daylight remains and how far I am from home.  And for that, I’ve long been a fan of Cateye’s wireless computers.

A long-time player in the on-bike electronics market, Cateye is a company that not only supports local shops but also the end user.  For a couple of generations now, their wireless head units and sensors have been interchangeable, and every spare that an owner could want is reasonably priced and available directly from their US office in Boulder.  Building on the Strada line’s body-as-button architecture, the Micro Wireless adds a customizeable third display line and a bit of bulk while shaving $5 from the equivalent Strada’s price tag.  After several months on multiple test bikes, has the Micro lived up to its predecessors’ reputation?  Hit the jump to find out!

Because bikes are fun and colors are fun, the Micro Wireless is available in black, white, lime, red, and blue.

Mounting quickly and easily to most stems or handlebars with the brand’s secure FlexTight bracket, only a change to Syntace’s massive Megaforce stemforced a swap to the similarly secure $2(!) Zip Tie Bracket kit shown here.  Basic clock and wheel size setup is quick and easy using the supplied manual.  In what may be a first, Android and iPhone apps are also available to walk users through the process.

For riders who like to keep an eye on the clock, their distance, or average speed without cycling through other functions, the Micro’s signature feature is the ability to change the top display line to show the metric of their choice.

While riding, the bottom third of the computer serves as the button which cycles the bottom display through its views and the clicks are nice and distinct.  Pressing down on the center nub starts/stops the stopwatch- a nice feature.  Finally, a “night mode” can also be selected in which a button press will activate the backlight for 5 seconds (in order to spare the battery, night mode deactivates after the bike has stopped for 10 minutes or if the battery is low).

There should be a nub there.

Cateye figure that the inexpensive, nickel-sized CR2032 battery is good for about a year’s worth of riding at 1hr every day- which awfully nice when compared to charge-weekly GPS units.  The same battery is used for both the head unit and the sensor and while a low battery indicator is provided, inconsistent cold-weather performance or dim displays are a good indicator that it’s time for some fresh juice.

Using an analog signal, the Micro Wireless is susceptible to interference from high-powered bike lights- but that’s not uncommon and interference-resistant digital models tend to cost significantly more.  My only real complaint with the Micro (and Strada) Wireless is the fact that the little retaining nub on the mounts is prone to snapping off if the computer is removed in cool weather.  Unfortunately, daylight savings time both begins and ends when temperatures are low and sure as spring follows winter, a ($5) bracket replacement followed this spring’s time change.

All in all, the Micro wireless is a nicely-featured computer in a nice, compact package.  Bracket nub aside, the Cateye has been a great, reliable, and easy to use little computer.  At $60, it’s not cheap- but past Cateye computers have held up to years’ of on- and off-road use in all weather without asking so much as a 75-cent battery now and then.  If your ride documentation needs don’t extend much beyond distance, speed (including average and max), and the need to make it home for dinner, then the Micro Wireless is a great choice.  Just leave it on the bike when the weather’s cold.

marc

www.cateye.com

Comments

Stelios - 04/16/13 - 1:39pm

I’ve been running this computer for about a year now with no problems. I especially like the night mode which makes it easy to read in the dark, in opposition to the old model, which had a tiny button at the back, hard to reach, and the light was a tribute to the 80′s Casio watches (dim little light in the upper left corner, useless).

Also the fact that the lower body of the computer acts like a button makes it very easy to use, especially with gloves etc.

My only complaint is the fact that if you leave it for a while, it shuts off every indication, and when you start cycling again, it doesn’t start over. I remember the old Cateye didn’t have this issue. Now you have to remember to press the button every morning, or else you get nothing from the computer. I don’t know if there is a different setting to this, but I find it quite annoying.

Champs - 04/17/13 - 10:53am

Wired CatEye computers do all this, cost less, have no interference, and batteries last… I’ve never had to replace one.

Matt - 04/22/13 - 9:36am

Could you explain how cateye supports local shops and end users please? cheers

Marc Basiliere - 04/22/13 - 9:49am

Matt,

Cateye support dealers by working primary through IBDs. After the sale, their huge (and very reasonably priced) spares catalog makes customers’ lives much easier. Hope that helps!

marc

Dave J - 04/01/14 - 11:08am

I’ve had a Cateye Urban wireless computer for 2 yrs now without problems until recently. I wasn’t pleased with the data loss when changing batteries. But more annoying is my recent interference problem I noticed when riding in the dark early morning hours. I found that the
cause was my new Planet Bike Metro LED light. When I run it in the high power blinking mode the speed and distance functions stop on the Cateye computer. None of the other modes cause a interference problem. Initially I knew I had a RFI problem, but it took me months to figure out why because I couldn’t ride much this winter (Wisconsin). I’m looking into shielding now.

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