a Cross Country Rider
from Minden, NV, USA
Date Reviewed: March 12, 2009
Strengths: Many desirable features and performance metrics. Able to download trip profile.
Weaknesses: Percent grade indicator is very inaccurate due to how the slopes are being measured. Worst of all, the digital readout dies without warning after about two years. I have had this happen with two different units, which suggests a design flaw. I have also had the wireless transmitters die in a similar fashion.
One can purchase the transmitter and receiver units on line to replace those that fail, but I have not found a source of the digital readout. For the price, this is an overpriced, poorly designed bicycle computer and I would not recommend it to any serious cyclists.
a Cross Country Rider
from Bozeman, Montana
Date Reviewed: February 12, 2005
Strengths: - Wireless - Numerous features, including some uncommon ones (ex. power, altitude, slope, ascent/descent rate) - Data seems to be very accurate (even power is acceptably accurate most of the time) - Best of all, uploading data to a PC for a graphical display
Weaknesses: - The CM414 bracket was more secure, but can only be used with 25.4/26 mm bars - Power feature is inaccurate in windy conditions, at high speeds, and off-road, but that's to be expected at this price and when accurate power measurement isn't this computer's primary purpose - Software could use a lot of refinement - Instructions are seriously lacking - No response to email questions from the company or Veltec (distributor) - Slope, power, max speed, and some other values are slow to catch up to reality (see Bottom Line) - Magnet doesn't work with Ksyrium spokes (tape on a flat neodymium magnet - works better and costs only a few bucks)
I should clarify that I have the CM414 M, which I'm almost certain differs from the CM436 M only cosmetically.
With that out of the way, this is my favourite gadget ever! Sure, there are some problems (as noted under Weaknesses), but it hasn't changed how much I love this thing.
A wireless computer isn't a big advantage on a road bike, but it certainly is on a mountain bike with a long-travel fork. The transmitter is strong enough that I haven't seen evidence of an intermittent signal and readings have been accurate up to about 110 km/h - not that I was looking at my computer at the time, mind you, which brings up a couple important issues.
First, some values are calculated from stored data points, which are created every 20 seconds. As such, the max speed reading is always a little (or a lot) low and slope, power, and ascent/descent rate take most of a minute to catch up to reality, during which time the computer has probably missed the true max values. This is the most frustrating aspect of the CM414/426 for me.
For the second point, recall when I mentioned that I wasn't looking at my computer at 110 km/h. That's the thing with bike computers: I'm rarely looking at them, so I miss most of the information available. I really enjoy the ability to upload the data to my PC and look at it after the ride, especially in graphical form. Check out www.ciclosportusa.com (go to the CM436 M, click on the online demo), albeit at a reduced size and quality; the real thing shows much more detail because you won't have all data sets displayed at once. It's a lot of fun to compare your ride profiles to race route profiles...then find out you took as long on one climb as the pros took to complete the whole stage.
Although I mostly use this thing as a toy, the power function is accurate enough under most circumstances to give you some of the benefits of using a power meter. It's helped me to determine my most efficient cadance and posture, track fitness fluctuations, and know how hard to ride so that I'm comfortably tired by the end of a short or long ride.
Finally, I'll defend my rating of 5 for a $200 computer: Is it at least five times as much fun as a basic wireless computer? Absolutely!