Last Saturday, 7 April, I measured two courses (a 5K and a 10K) in the near western suburbs of Chicago. This was the maiden voyage for the Bell cyclocomputer I had purchased from the World's Largest Retailer last fall. Shortly after purchasing the Bell I mounted it, installed two magnets on my front spokes, made sure it incremented properly, marked my front rim, and then put my bicycle in the garage for the winter as the opportunties to measure dwindled.
I pulled it out in 23 degree (F - or -5 degree C) weather last Saturday and began to set it up. When the mm per revolution screen came on, I was able to change the ones, tens, and hundreds digits to zeros. However when the thousands digit came up, it just kept cycling through, no matter how hard I pushed the button to try to set it at 5. That, of course, pretty much rendered the Bell worthless for the rest of the day. Needless to say I was glad I still had my trusty (albeit battered) JOL counter, and used it to complete the measurements.
I was able to get the Bell to work better on Tuesday when the temperature was a few degrees above freezing and I was asked to take a look at some issues involving an existing course. I have not yet used the Bell for a complete measurement but hope to do so within the next few weeks- or as soon as the snow we got yesterday melts.
Any known issues with electronic counters in cold weather? What else can explain what happened Saturday?
I have two cyclocomputers mounted on my bike and I use them both. They always agree. One is a Sigma Sport BC 600, which I got as soon as Neville put out his original article. It uses four magnets.The other is a Protégé 9.0, which uses one magnet.
I have noticed that when measuring with temperature in the twenties, the display does not seem to change as fast. This year, on a cold day, the Sigma Sport display would not work at all, but the Protégé worked OK, but it was dim. I had a Jones Counter along as backup, but didn’t need it.
I found later that the dimness was caused by the batteries being run down, and replacement restored the units to their former good performance.
I always take a reading and reset to zero when stopping. The cyclocomputers sometimes turn off if I wait too long, and Neville has mentioned that sometimes a count may be lost under certain circumstances. To avoid any of these potential problems, writing down the reading at each stop, and rezeroing, keeps me confident that I have avoided all pitfalls.
Both Bell and CatEye specify in their manuals that 32 deg F is the lowest operating limit. I have measured courses in NY at 32 deg, but at this temperature you should at least have a fresh battery. The battery you get with a new computer is usually at the end of its life. See my post of Feb 5 below "Battery fixes a problem"
Everything has its unique usefulness, but I would normally recommend paying $5 more for a Protege.
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