Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cateye Strada Digital Wireless - With Heart Rate and Cadence Sensors

One of my main reasons for getting a road bike is to try and see how different it is compared to my road-bike-like folding bike, the Dahon Boardwalk. Besides the general feel when riding the bike, it will be useful to have some form of measurement, such as the cruising speed or max speed on these two different bikes.

Therefore I needed to get a new speedometer for my Merida Scultura 5000. With the wide variety of options available in the market, there is no shortage of good speedometers or cycle computers. The difficult part is choosing which is suitable for you, and what features you are looking for in the cycle computer.

In my opinion, Cateye is the current market leader for cycle computers. They have many different models of cycle computers to suit different riders and price points, and they are always reliable.

Garmin is another brand that is rapidly gaining market share in the cycle computer market. The main draw of Garmin computers is the ability to link up to the phone or internet, and to locate or navigate using the in-built GPS. The large amount of data available makes it super useful for training, where numbers and statistics are important. The downside is the high cost of owning a good Garmin computer. At the entry level there is the Garmin Edge 200, with very basic functions, which is available for about $150. Those who want good connectivity and additional sensors can look at the Garmin Edge 510, which costs $450 locally inclusive of the cadence, speed and heart rate sensors.

Due to the high cost of the Garmin cycle computers, I decided to get a cheaper Cateye cycle computer instead. This model does not have GPS, which I don't need anyway.

Cateye Strada Digital Wireless CC-RD430DW. This model includes the cadence/speed sensor and a heart rate monitor chest strap.

The standard functions of a Cateye cycle computer are all there. Additional features include a 2.4Ghz wireless frequency for lesser interference.

Comes with cadence/speed sensor and HR sensor

The model number of this Cateye cycle computer.

Chest strap with HR monitor unit

Cadence/speed sensor with rubber mount and cable ties

This unit will be mounted on the chainstay for measuring both the cadence (using the crankarm) and the speed (using the rear wheel).

The parts of the cycle computer. Magnets (crankarm and spoke) are shown in the bottom left corner.

Magnet for the spokes shown on the left, magnet for the crankarm shown on the right.

The computer unit. This page shows the speed on top, the heart rate at the bottom left and the cadence at the bottom right. This configuration can be modified.

The reset buttons of the different sensors

Using 2.4 Ghz will avoid interference from other cycle computers and bicycle lights, but may be prone to other sources of interference such as Wi-Fi or microwave ovens that operate near this frequency range.

It is possible to use the cycle computer on two separate bikes, each with its own sensors.

The large sheet of instructions that are typical of Cateye cycle computers. Mostly confusing and difficult to interpret.

Installation of the sensors and cycle computers are easy, if you have set up Cateye computers before. If not, you will need to take some time to read the instructions carefully and figure out how to mount each part properly. I have installed Cateye cycle computers on 3 other of my bikes, so this is no problem for me.

The cadence/speed sensor is mounted on the left chainstay of the Merida road bike. The position is mostly determined by where you place the magnet on the left crankarm.

Use the rubber mount and the cable ties to fix the sensor securely to the left chainstay.

The long arm of the sensor detects the speed by reaching towards the spokes of the rear wheel.

Install the magnet on the spoke, at a position where it will move past the sensor. The sensor arm can also be adjusted if it is too far from the magnet.

For the magnet on the left crankarm, you can install it this way without using cable ties. Just stick the magnet directly to the spindle of the left pedal. 

I did not use the crankarm magnet that is provided with the package. In order to ensure that the magnet will stick securely to the pedal spindle, I bought some powerful neodymium round magnets (12mm) and stuck it to the pedal spindle. Since your spindle is made of steel (unless you use expensive pedals with titanium axles), the magnet will stick securely to your pedal spindle. It is very secure and will not drop off even when cycling over bumpy roads. This method eliminates the unsightly cable ties on the left crankarm.

With the powerful neodymium magnets, the cadence sensor can be located slightly further away and it will still work properly.

Cycle computer mounted on the handlebar

In order to make some space for the front light and my Topeak phone pouch, I actually went to get another Bar Fly Bracket for this new Cateye cycle computer.

Just sufficient space for the Cateye cycle computer, the Moon Comet Front Light and the Topeak Smartphone Drybag 5".

After testing it for a couple of weeks, here are some of my findings for the Cateye Strada Digital Wireless cycle computer.

1) Small and lightweight.
2) One battery will be able to last 1 year, and does not need to be recharged frequently unlike Garmin units.
3) No interference by the Moon Comet front light, which will cause interference to the older Cateye Strada wireless cycle computer if placed too close to the computer unit.
4) Automatic linking of the cadence/speed sensors and HR monitor once the computer is activated by pressing the screen on the cycle computer.
5) One of the more affordable and reliable cycle computers that includes cadence, heart rate and speed sensors.
6) Simple one button operation

1) No data logging by the computer. The cadence and HR that you see on the screen is the current reading, there is no way to record it against time or distance.
2) No backlight, which makes it difficult to read at night if the street lighting is dim.
3) No GPS for route logging or navigation.
4) No way to link or upload data to the computer.

In summary, this is a good cycle computer for those who just want to see data in real time, and don't need any post-ride data. The display shows the current cadence and heart rate which I find useful in helping me to control my efforts and achieve the target heart rate and cadence. As for those who want to record their cycling route or study the ride data after the ride, you will need to look at higher end cycle computers from Garmin, which will log down all the ride data for post ride study. Ultimately there are different cycle computers to suit different users and purposes.


  1. Hi steve!

    If my bike doesn't have a chain stay and I still use the cadence sensor?

    1. The idea is to install the cadence/speed sensor so that both the crankarm and the rear wheel spoke can pass by the sensor. If the bike does not have a chainstay, I can't see where else the sensor can be placed. Depending on the frame design, it might be possible to place it at the bottom of the seat stay.

    2. Oh i see.. Thanks for the info. In that case i doubt i would ever be able to use a cadence sensor as my rear wheel spoke and crank arm has at least a 3 cm distance apart even if i put the spoke magnet closest to the spoke nipple. Guess 20 inch foldies aren't suitable to use cadence sensors.
      Thanks alot!

  2. What is the code for 20" rim... I lost the manual and not sure wat to key in..

    So do u have battery problem... mine drain out in less than 3days.. qyuite bad.

    1. The wheel size depends on your tire. Can check online for some common sizes, or just measure it yourself by rolling the wheel 1 round on the ground and measuring the distance.

      No battery problem for me. If the battery drains so fast then there is probably a short circuit somewhere.

  3. Great write up, I really like the idea of using a stronger magnet on the pedal, very clever ! I just ordered one, (computer), should have it next week, I down loaded the instructions and yeah, at first a bit confusing. Then after reading it a couple times, I think I will be able to install it with no issues. Thanks !

  4. No interference by the Moon Comet front light, which will cause interference to the older Cateye Strada wireless cycle computer if placed too close to the computer unit.

    May i ask how did the moon comet interfere with the computer? as i am using moon comet and would like to get a strada slim cycling computer from cateye.

    1. There was electromagnetic interference, which will cause the cycle computer to stop tracking the speed when the front light is too close to the cycle computer.

  5. Hi, cld you pls share where i can get my hands on a neodymium round magnet (12mm) in sg? Tks!!

    1. Check out Self Fix diy shop, that is where I got mine.


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