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Modern bicycle computers are a far cry from the initial speedos many of us used way back when. From speed and distance to everything including GPS navigation, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a host of performance metrics, modern head units are more like mini-computers than simple bicycle computers.
With all that computing power comes a vast range of data fields and metric options including current, live, and max speed, power, heart rate, and cadence, to name but a few. Most head units now offer custom workout pages giving riders options to chop and change the exact metrics on show.
With so much choice, though, the most difficult thing is often deciding just what to have on any given page. Many riders will opt for multiple pages with varying displays offering a host of live, average and max data.
Over the past week, we have collected a range of head unit displays to get a look at which data fields the world’s best riders in the Tour de France prefer to have in view mid-stage.
While all the obvious fields such as distance, power, and heart rate appeared throughout the bunch, a lot of riders now prefer to have the course map and navigation functions front and centre. The maps feature gives riders an idea of the course that lies ahead but, interestingly, of all the head units we saw, not a single rider opted to include an elevation feature on their screen.
Here’s what we saw.
Starting with the current race leader, Tadej Pogacâr’s Team UAE Emirates are supplied with SRM PC8 head units. The PC8 is more than a few years old at this point and offers fewer display options, but it is a long-time favourite with SRM fans.
Brandon McNulty’s PC8 pictured here is displaying power, heartrate (currently empty), average power, and cadence as he warms down following stage 6.
Alberto Bettiol’s Wahoo Elemnt Bolt offers the first glimpse into a common map theme amongst a lot of pro riders’ head units. While riders opt for varying numbers of sub data fields, Bettiol opts for lap distance and last lap distance.
Unsurprisingly, Alberto Dainese of Team DSM uses the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt in his native Italian. For this stage Dainese, who recently won a stage of the Giro d’Italia, has speed, cadence, distance, time, five-second power, left/right balance, heart rate, average watts, and lap speed on display.
Astana Qazaqstan Alexey Lutsenko opts for time, speed, wattage, heart rate, elevation, gradient (I think), total ascent, and cadence, also in his native language, Kazakh.
No prizes for guessing who owns this head unit. Froomey’s Hammerhead displays three-second power, heart rate, cadence, speed, lap distance, ascent, energy out, lap average power, and lap power balance.
Danny van Poppel keeps a relatively uncluttered screen with just time, three-second power, distance, and speed. The Elemnt head units offer on-the-fly screen adjustment for more or fewer data fields with the two buttons pictured here on the side of the head unit.
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux race with Bryton head units. Alexander Kristoff has all the data on his screen. Kristoff opts for a power gauge up top showing current, max, and average power in one data field and a neat rev counter style display. Below that he has ride time, distance, time of day, heart rate, max power, cadence, and calories for the phenomenally fast stage 6.
Taco van der Hoorn is also using the Bryton S800 head unit.
Tiesj Benoot achieved a new personal best time for 40 km (with this specific head unit) in the frantic start to stage 6: 40 km in 45 minutes is fast! 53 km/h fast!
B&B Hotels-KTM’s Sebastian Schönberger keeps it clean with heart rate, rpm, three-second power, and time.
At first I presumed Joe Dombrowski was opting for the tiny Garmin Edge 130 Plus for the Super Planche des Belles Filles stage, but actually he just forgot his 830 at the hotel that morning and had to use the only spare head unit in the bus.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg is the South African champion and has a Garmin head unit to match his jersey.
Thibaut Pinot prefers a detailed display with time, distance, average speed, speed, average power, and cadence.
David Gaudu opts for less distraction and just a map with distance.
Jonas Vingegaard rides with a Garmin 530 …
… with a map, three-second power, and distance data fields.
Magnus Cort Nielsen had a polka-dot Wahoo Elemnt Bolt to match the King of the Mountains jersey he first took in his home country of Denmark way back on stage 1.
Edvald Boasson Hagen has a TotalEnergies-themed Garmin.
Fred Wright rides with heart rate, three-second power, time, speed, and distance on his Garmin 830 with a lanyard just in case the head unit should decide to eject from the mount.
Ion Izagirre Insausti of Cofidis also races with a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt which has become one of the most popular head units in the peloton. Interestingly while riders on Garmin-sponsored teams opt for a range of head units from Garmin’s Edge range, every Wahoo sponsored rider we saw was using the Elemnt Bolt.
Kasper Asgreen kindly stopped to give us time to catch a glimpse of his maps page with surprisingly small speed, cadence, power, lap timer, distance to destination, and lap distance data fields.
Luis León Sánchez has a Spanish-themed Garmin head unit. Unfortunately something must have got lost in translation as although Sanchez agreed to turn on his head unit to give us a glimpse of the data fields, he never actually did turn it on.
Although Luke Rowe’s Garmin Edge 830 was displaying the averages page when we saw it, it’s likely Rowe will change to a different screen for the stage itself. Still, the directions notification indicates Rowe is another rider who likes to have the route course loaded on his head unit each day.
Mathieu van der Poel is another fan of the course map page. The Dutchman opts for speed and three-second power as his additional data fields.
Matteo Jorgensen has the new Garmin 1040 Solar. The young American rider opts for a large map on the new head unit’s tall screen. Jorgensen rides with lap time and lap distance in the smaller data fields. Presumably he will hit lap at kilometre zero and these fields will then provide racing time and distance throughout the stage, useful when cross-referencing the key points of each stage from one’s stem notes.
Neilsen Powless opts for three-second power, speed, distance, ride time, heart rate, lap average power, and calories on his Wahoo Elemnt Bolt.
With everyone on the team using the same head unit, a name tag makes a lot of sense.
While half of Owain Doull’s data fields were hidden behind the “start ride” notification, we could at least see he is one of the few riders who does not have a map on the first page, instead opting for speed, distance, time of day, ride time, and average speed. Doull could well have the course map loaded on a dedicated map page.
Dylan van Baarle hadn’t yet hit ‘ride’ on this stage 2 route map so we can’t be sure which display he prefers, but most likely it includes some mapping features.
Peter Sagan seemingly prefers more data fields than most, with time, distance, power, heart rate, speed, cadence, total ascent, distance to destination, elevation, and temperature all getting their moment in the sun.
Speaking of moments in the sun, Toms Skujins’ Wahoo Elemnt Bolt could do with some sun: -25 ºC (-13 ºF) seems low. The THB field is intended to show Total Haemoglobin Concentration, but is actually displaying core body temperature measured with the heart rate strap-mounted CORE sensor.