With the Commuter cyclocomputer moved over to my cyclocross bike Hyro, my folding bike Bino was without one for quite a while. When my buddy Sean got an excellent deal on a spiffy Garmin Edge, his Cat Eye Velo Wireless+ unit was suddenly made redundant, and I ended up buying it from him. Personally, I don’t like relying solely on Strava. I’m more confident of the data precision of a well-calibrated cyclocomputer and its sensors, as I do ride in places where GPS reception can be spotty or non-existent.
Today we’ll take a look at the Velo Wireless+. As I go along, I’ll be making a few comparisons to the Commuter, as well.
- Elapsed ride time
- Distance measurements: Current ride and total (odometer)
- Speed measurements: Average and maximum
- Calorie counter
- Night Mode backlight
The Velo Wireless+ and the Commuter are both wireless units, so they’re both made up of the display unit and the speed sensor, The speed sensor is actually identical between both units, and they all make use of the same CR2032 batteries, so the main difference is in the brains of the display unit. A spoke-mounted wheel magnet passes in front of the fork-mounted speed sensor, which can wirelessly transmit its signal to the display unit a maximum of 60 cm away.
For mounting the display unit to your bike’s handlebars or stem, Cat Eye provides a dinky mount that makes use of two zip ties. I found this unsatisfactory. Part of the bundle Sean sold me was an out-front mount, so I used that on the cross bike with the Commuter, and I ended up reusing its excellent FlexTight mounting bracket for the Velo Wireless+. Retention is excellent. The removal mechanism is the same: pull up on the forward edge while pushing away.
The Velo Wireless+ covers most of the basic functionality that riders expect out of a cyclocomputer. Its display makes use of two tiers of large, easily readable block digits, slightly larger than those of the Commuter’s. The top tier is always the instant speed reading.
Unlike the Commuter’s ClickTec interface, where pressing in the front face actuates buttons in the rear, the Velo Wireless+ has a large central button on its face. Pressing it cycles the bottom tier of the LCD display through seven screens:
- Elapsed ride time
- Current ride distance
- Average speed
- Maximum speed
- Calorie counter
- Total distance/Odometer
Maybe it’s just because I got used to the Commuter, but having to cycle through seven screens is a bit much, especially if you have to do it while riding. With the Velo Wireless+ I think you have to get used to pre-selecting which data you really want the bottom tier to display.
Some of the bottom tier data is also of questionable utility. I have no idea what the calorie counter function uses as basis, since the Velo Wireless+ doesn’t ask for your height and weight the way Strava does. For me it’s basically a junk screen and I wish I had some capability of hiding it. Having the clock make use of the entire bottom tier aids in visibility, but I do miss the permanent clock display of the Commuter.
BACKLIGHT AND NIGHT MODE
Any cyclocomputer with a backlight for its display wins points in my book. In terms of illumination, the Velo Wireless+ makes use of two white LEDs in the bottom corners of the display, and these really make the screen pop into life. It’s an improvement over the greenish electroluminescent version found on the Commuter, and it’s also less affected by viewing angles.
Let’s talk about backlight.
You can activate the backlight on the Commuter in two ways: either you press in the button at the back of the top-right corner, or you hold it in and activate Night Mode. With Night Mode activated, the initial press on the front face lights up the display; switching through screens or resetting happens in subsequent presses while the display is lit.
On the Velo Wireless+, there is no separate backlight button. Night Mode is the only way to use the backlight, and here, it’s set as a time period in the setup menu. You specify the time of day when Night Mode becomes active – for example, you can set Night Mode from 6 pm to 5 am. When the internal clock hits that period, pressing any of the buttons on the Velo Wireless+ first lights up the display. Subsequent presses will either change the bottom tier data, reset current data, or even access the menu.
This implementation of Night Mode is actually rather neat. I do wish Cat Eye gave you a separate backlight button when you’re riding through covered areas outside the Night Mode period, though.
VERDICT: YEA OR NAY?
Cat Eye admit that the Velo Wireless+ is meant to be a simplified wireless cyclocomputer. I say they mostly delivered what they set out to do, but I feel they could have simplified things even further. Having to scroll through seven screens of single-line data can overwhelm you while you’re in motion, and some of that data could either have been hidden away or made a permanent part of the display. It’s also let down by a subpar mounting bracket.
The backlight, though, is excellent, as is most of the implementation of Night Mode, and the larger numerals make for easy use. Even all the buttons are a little softer and easier to use compared to the Commuter.
In sum, the Velo Wireless+ isn’t bad, but it isn’t exactly stellar either. It’s a solid choice for a beginner cyclocomputer for all-day use.