Cycling computers have evolved from simple wired speed displays to touch screen GPS devices that not only can track your ride but also sync with your phone and give you turn-by-turn directions. As cycling computers have become increasingly complicated, they often come with retail prices that are expensive enough to require payment plans. This has left a void between cyclists who want affordable computers that offer real-time power data, heart rate and cadence without the need for GPS or additional features. The Bontrager RIDEtime Elite is a unique offering that fills that void, with a retail price of $69.99 and ANT+ connectivity.
The Bontrager RIDEtime Elite cycling computer combines what makes simple cycling computers so attractive – affordability, fast setup, easy to use – with modern connectivity and data displays. Although you won’t be able to compare your time to your buddies, the real-time data display is a great way to train and monitor your performance.
If you’re a Strava or data junky, the RIDEtime Elite may not be for you as it offers no GPS tracking and cannot connect to a computer to upload ride data. Instead, the RIDEtime Elite has ANT+ connectivity which means you can view your real-time power data, heart rate, cadence, speed as well as control compatible Bontrager lights. The large and clear display can easily be configured to display upto 3 data items at a time, or cycle through the lower display fields. Without a color touch screen or GPS, the RIDEtime Elite utilized a simple coin-style CR2032 battery that offers long runtime. Does the computer capture what makes basic cycling computers so attractive and combine it with modern connectivity? We’ll find out.
|Measured Weight (in g)||52 (total): 28 (computer) + 24 (mount)|
|Likes||+ Sleek form factor |
+ ANT+ and light compatibility
+ Large and easy to read display
|Dislikes||– Sensors sold separately |
– Lacks Garmin quarter-turn style mount
– Manual backlight
|Where to Buy (US)||Trek Bikes|
Bontrager packages the computer in a simple cardboard box with bright graphics. Unlike other products we’ve reviewed, the computer isn’t visible through the packaging. Inside the box the computer is secured using cardboard and zip ties.
In the box you’ll find:
- RIDEtime Elite computer
- CR2032 battery
- Out-in-front style handlebar mount
- User manual
Note, Bontrager does not include any sensors with the computer. However, they do sell a $129.99 package that includes a DuoTrap sensor (a proprietary sensor mounting system offered on some Trek bikes) and the RIDEtime Elite computer. For this review we purchased a Bontrager speed and cadence sensor separately for an additional $69.95. However, the Elite computer can be used with other compatible sensors.
Bontrager includes a single sided (no attachment point for lights or other gear on underside) plastic out-in-front style handlebar mount for the RIDEtime Elite computer. This is a popular mount style that uses a simple Allen key to attach to your handlebar and places the computer in front of your stem. We were quite surprised to realize the RIDEtime Elite computer uses a slot style mounting mechanism instead of a Garmin quarter turn mount. This is particularly strange as Bontrager sells a rebranded Garmin head unit, which means they are well aware of the advantages of the universal Garmin mount style. Although the included mount works well, you won’t be able to use the computer with other dual sided mounts.
FIT & FINISH
One of the most striking things about the RIDEtime Elite computer is just how sleek it is. Without the need for GPS or a large rechargeable battery, the computer is only between ¼ inch to ½ inch (at the center) thick with the large screen taking most of the computer face. The bezel on the screen is narrow except for the bottom to accommodate a button and the logo display. With only a 28g weight, the computer feels well built yet slim enough to store in a pocket. Attached to the out-in-front mount, the computer also looks modern and gives your bike a professional appearance.
On the road, most operations only require the front button to cycle through options and the display fields. An additional smaller button can be found on the top left side of the back of the computer which serves as a menu confirmation. During configuration, clearing accumulated data (i.e. time, distance, running averages), enabling/disabling the backlight, you need to use both buttons to cycle through options and accept them. Although a touchscreen or additional buttons would streamline the interface we found it was easy to use the RIDEtime Elite. With the simple design, the user interface is also limited to a few primary displays: larger upper field with label, lower label and two fields to left and right on bottom. However with the large font sizes and sharp contrast it is easy to read the computer even while out of the saddle.
One minor annoyance however is the fact that the backlight has to be manually enabled/disabled. This requires holding the front button for 8 seconds, toggling the value and then pressing the rear button to confirm. The complicated procedure requires stopping, as it’s a bit cumbersome to press both buttons on the road.
Although the RIDEtime Elite has a simple interface, we still had to reference the user manual to understand how the two buttons worked. Aside from that, configuration was a breeze as the options are limited to simple questions about the bike type, weight, age, wheel size or other simple parameters. We also took advantage of the light connectivity by syncing our Bontrager Ion RT and Flare RT lights. They connected within a few seconds by simply placing them nearby. It only takes a few minutes to cycle through the setup and adjust the display to have the preferred data visible.
With the ANT+ connectivity of the RIDEtime Elite, you can display a wide range of data. Unlike cheaper computers that only display speed and time, with this computer you can display:
- Speed/Cadence (from sensor): Current, average and max
- Heart rate
- Calories burned
- Distance/Timer (can be reset)
- Clock time
The display can show up to 3 data fields at a time: large primary display on top and two smaller fields on bottom corners. The primary top display can be configured to show any of the sensor data values: speed, cadence, heart rate or power. The bottom display has a dual view option to also show any combination of the sensor data fields or show the avg/max speed/cadence values. All other data fields are only shown on the bottom of the display as a single item. The ‘scan’ mode also cycles through all available bottom fields.
With the constraints of the simple display and design, there are some data fields you may find lacking with this computer. We wished there was a way to display percent gradient, altitude, temperature, lap timer, as well as an interval option. Nevertheless, the real-time data display from the available sensors were helpful to monitor performance on rides. Reconfiguring the display is fairly straightforward with the two button design but does require you to cycle through a number of options.
With a light integration feature, the RIDEtime Elite can also sync with compatible bike lights. To test this we paired our Bontrager ION RT and Flare RT to the computer. Once paired, the computer displays a paired icon and offers a number of cool features:
- Auto on/off: This option allows the computer to automatically turn paired lights on after you exceed 3 mph and also turn them off after 3 minutes of idle time. This is very similar to the Light and Motion Vya lights, and really lets you focus on riding your bike without worrying about the lights.
- Automatically switch between day/night mode: When you turn the screen backlight on, the paired lights will switch to a night option if it is available. Again this reminded us a lot of the Vya lights and was a really useful feature. This duplicates the light sensor ability of the Ion RT and Flare RT lights and works even when the built in ambient light sensor is disabled.
- Low battery indicator: Unlike higher end computers that show the battery status of each paired light, the RIDEtime Elite only shows a low battery warning warning. Additionally the paired light icon will blink on the display while the low battery status is active.
We simply left the lights on dayflash mode and let the computer handle the rest. One downside of this setup, however, is the length of shutdown time (3 min) for the lights. Other lights with this feature are usually 30 seconds (Magicshine Seemee 60) or 1 minute (Light and Motion Vya Pro), so the 3 minute timeout is quite conservative. The duration is not configurable which means we often would manually turn it off after parking the bike.
Another interesting feature of the RIDEtime Elite is the service reminders. These are shown as a gear icon on the display as well as a full screen reminder. With the simple design of this computer, the service reminders are simply thrown at set intervals based on the odometer and the bicycle type selected during configuration. This feature is more likely useful on more advanced computers as we didn’t find it useful here (particularly if you already do a basic bike inspection before riding).
Overall, we found that the Bontrager RIDEtime Elite computer an affordable yet feature filled. By forgoing a color touchscreen, GPS, cell phone connectivity, the RIDEtime Elite is sleek, compact and easy to use and setup. The ANT+ connectivity allows you to view your speed, cadence, heart rate, power data and even connect to compatible lights. The computer is also easy to setup and configure within minutes. Our primary negatives with it are the manual backlight setup and the fact that it doesn’t use a Garmin quarter turn style mount. Aside from that, the RIDEtime Elite is a sleek and simple yet modern computer for riders who don’t need GPS but want real-time data.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Trek Bikes. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.