Ever have that moment where you look down to read your computer… and all you see is a tiny blur of numbers? With so much data to report, modern day bike computers can be damn hard to read. It’s not that you’re getting older—really!—it’s that the products out there are putting so much info on the screen that focusing on one number is tough, especially when you’re flying down a trail or dirt road on your ’cross bike or mountain bike, or sliding around on snowy roads trying to build some base miles.
Enter the $55 CatEye Padrone, the computer that is 85% bigger than CatEye’s popular wireless computer, the Urban Wireless. And for the weight weenies out there worried about the grams added, don’t panic: it’s just 39g for the computer and mount, and it’s 22% thinner than their Urban Wireless as well.
CatEye puts all that real estate to good use, by showcasing your data with large fonts, without trying to show you everything at once. The Padrone shows only two stats at once (for example, speed and distance), but that’s a good thing, because you can find your stats quickly and keep your eye on the road or trail.
Need to see another data point? You don’t need to struggle to find a small button, especially with your thick winter gloves you might need this time of year. The engineers at CatEye couldn’t have made operation any simpler. You simply push the whole computer, and the mount pivots with a positive click and pages through the settings.
We’ve only had our test Padrone computer for a few weeks, but long enough to have a few initial observations. First, the mount is easy, flexible, tool-less and works well on stems or handlebars of various diameters. With just a thumbscrew, you can switch the mount to another bike in just a few minutes, and CatEye sells extra mounts so you can use one computer on multiple bikes. The spoke magnet is also super easy to install—no tools needed.
Second, it’s worth reading the manual before setting it up. The computer, not surprisingly, comes with a paper manual in the box, but if you’re a lazy manual reader, you’re better off using the 22mb online CatEye Padrone manual, as it comes with a few embedded videos. The setup is only challenging because of the lack of front buttons, so in setting up things you’ll only do once, like your wheel size, choosing between 24-hour or 12-hour clocks, and between mph or kph, you have to activate two small buttons on the back of the computer in a set sequence. Once that’s done you’re good to go.
Most importantly, the big numbers and no button operation make this computer one of the easiest to use while riding. Even while slipping around a muddy trail, it’s impossible to miss the “button” to switch display settings, since you just have to hit the bottom of the computer. Brilliant. You’ll especially appreciate this easy-to-use design when wearing thicker winter gloves, or when you’re foaming at the mouth and wondering how many more minutes are left in your 45-minute race.
It’s also worth noting that Tate Labs offers a Padrone-compatible Bar Fly computer mount made from Delrin. If your handlebar is crowded with other devices, or you just want to get it out of the way and out in front in your field of view, the folks at Tate Labs who make Bar Fly have a $19.95 mount that works with the Padrone and other CatEye computers.
Our test model came in bright white, but there’s a black model available, perhaps more appropriate should you often have grimy, muddy hands like us.
Data Functions: Clock, timer, current speed, average speed, maximum speed, odometer and trip distance.
Weight: 39g with mount, 31.5g computer alone
More info: www.cateye.com
Looking for something with a little more data, but don’t want to pay the big bucks for a Garmin? Consider the CatEye Stealth 50 GPS Cycling Computer, reviewed favorably here by our data-nerd experts.
CatEye has been really upping their pace of innovation recently, with a bunch of compact, bright lights in addition to their computers. If the dark days of winter have got you down, see our recent reviews of the CatEye Nano Shot Plus LED bike headlight and CatEye Volt 300 LED light.