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Bell FreeFit Wireless Bicycle Speedomoter : didn't work consistently.
Dec 1, 2008 (Updated Dec 1, 2008)
Review by Mona Ladyconsumer
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Lots of nice features. Clear, easy-to-read display.
Cons:Only works some of the time, definitely not an acceptable trait in a speedometer.
The Bottom Line: I had high hopes that this unit would meet my needs, but it does not. Too bad, since it was inexpensive and had lots of nice features.
Having recently gotten serious about bike-riding, it was time to get something to help me keep track of time, distance, and speed. I quickly learned that bicycle speedometers come in two varieties - wired and wireless. Not wanting to mess around with wires, the choice was a simple one for me. Thus I ended up with the Bell FreeFit Wireless Speedometer.
Recommend this product?
I was thrilled, at first. It's an inexpensive unit (around $20), and has many features. Installation was pretty quick, and the initial setup was a breeze. But my unit is going back to the store for one simple reason. It doesn't work consistently.
The basic process is to install a magnet to a spoke on the front wheel, and a sensor onto the frame of the bike, near the magnet. Every time the wheel turns, the magnet goes past the sensor, and one revolution is counted. The information is transmitted to the read-out computer which is attached to the handlebars.
Installation is a snap, if you know what you're doing. But it's pretty easy to make a mistake, whereby the magnet and sensor are not aligned properly. The magnet has to be facing out. And the metal side of the sensor has to be facing the magnet. The good news is that it's easy to adjust the pieces, and to test the connection. Simply spin the front wheel and look at the computer screen. If you see data changing, you know it's working properly.
Attaching the computer to the handlebars is also a simple matter. Just make sure you put it at an angle such that you can easily read it when riding.
When working with a wireless system, you have to worry about the wireless data exchange between the sensor and the display. If your bike is such that your handle bars are too far away from your front tire, you might have problems. But for most bikes, this shouldn't be a problem.
Once you have the unit installed, you have to do an initial set up. This is as simple as setting a digital watch. There are small buttons on the unit, one to scroll through the available settings, and one to enter your choices.
The first thing you have to enter is a code telling the system what size tire you have. Since accurate data relies on counting revolutions, this is the most important step to get correct. There is a chart in the instruction manual that converts bicycle type (road or mountain) and wheel sizes from 20 to 28 inches into a four digit code that needs to be entered.
After that, there are simple options such as choosing to display miles or kilometers, the preferred format of time, and whether you want to use pounds or kilograms for your weight. (You have to enter your weight in order for the computer to calculate the calories you've burned).
Once you have the computer configured, and you've tested your installation by making sure the revolutions are being counted, you're ready to go.
The computer screen is split into two sections, each with its own information. The upper part of the screen shows your current speed and calories burned. Current speed is measured up to 125 mpg. Why it needs to go that high, I'm not sure. I know I certainly don't need 3 digits in my current speed readout. The calories burned is nothing more than an estimate, and should not be taken too literally. This screen also shows you if your current speed is higher than your average, or lower than your average.
The lower part of the screen shows your trip distance, the trip time, your total odometer, your average speed, your maximum speed, and the clock. But they don't all display at once, you have to choose which you want to see. The timer, distance, calories burned, and average speeds are all tied together. Meaning, resetting one will reset all four.
The screen is easy to read, with fairly large numbers. In certain lights, you'll want to use the backlight feature.
So, why is my unit going back to the store for a refund? Because it didn't work consistently. Oh, it works some of the time. But it doesn't work all of the time. And if you're trying to track your total distance, you need the unit to work all the time.
All seemed like it was working fine. Until I noticed that the current speed would drop to 0 while I was riding. Then it would pop back up to something that looked reasonable. A few minutes later it would show 0 again. Total trips would register as quite a bit lower in total miles than I know I them to be. In other words, at various times, the machine simply stopped reading my speed. I don't know whether the magnet wouldn't read the sensor properly, or if it couldn't send the data up to the computer on the handlebars. Regardless, no matter how many times I moved the pieces around, I would get these intermittent results.
So, I would say this is would be a decent product, if you can get it to work consistently. But my unit's a goner. I'll let you know which brand I try next, and how that one works out.
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