DC Rainmaker

Hands-on with the Lezyne Super GPS Bike Computer

Over the last few years Lezyne has transitioned itself from a company that just made bike lights, into a GPS bike computer company.  Albeit, one that probably doesn’t get enough attention.

I’ve touched on them from time to time, but I think their latest units are getting closer and closer to mainstream adoption, especially given the price points – which start at $100 and top out at $200.  So, no matter what model you choose you won’t be spending too much.

I had a chance to sit down with the folks at Eurobike, and then also brought the new Super GPS unit home with me as well.  I’m going to run through some of the core features below, especially some unique features that aren’t actually found on other computers.  One phone-integrated function definitely spiked my interesting.  Let’s get rolling.

What’s unique:

So we’ve established it’s (Super GPS) a bike GPS computer, so I’m going to skip past the obvious things like that it records where you went while riding using GPS.  Some of the less obvious things though are that it:

– Includes a barometric altimeter as well as temperature data
– Includes GLONASS for additional GPS satellites.
– Can connect to both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors (Heart Rate, Cadence, Power, Speed sensors)
– Can connect to electronic shifting platforms
– Has Strava Live Segment support (so it gives you feedback in real-time)
– Displays smartphone notifications (text/phone/email)
– Contains the ability to send live tracking links to friends/family via e-mail
– Includes bread crumb trail/course maps based on where you’ve been
– Can customize 5 pages, each with up to 4 data metrics
– Shows the battery life of not just the unit, but also your phone!

However, I want to touch on two areas.  First is the Strava Live Segments feature, which allows you to quickly load your favorite segments to the unit.  This is a bit unique compared to the Wahoo & Garmin offerings, in that you can actually see which segments are loaded from your phone app – as opposed to it being either the backend Strava favoriting process or only displayed on the unit itself. You can also configure settings with respect to how soon it pops up notifications.

Based on what I saw, it appears that Lezyne has a good base here – though it might not be quite as detailed as Garmin or Wahoo’s offerings.  Still, it’s probably fine for most people.  And of course, after the fact the unit syncs direct to Strava as well via your mobile phone.

But it’s one specific mobile phone feature that I thought was particularly cool: The ability to instantly send turn by turn directions from your phone to the unit.  See, all GPS bike computers today require you to do a bit of planning before you start your activity.  You’ve either gotta have a route figured out ahead of time and sync’d to the device (Wahoo/Garmin), or you have to have to use the tiny display on the unit to manually enter an address in (Garmin too).

The Lezyne units allow you to skip that painstaking process.  Here you can simply open up the phone app and type in an address or desired locale:

Then it’ll instantly spit out bike-friendly routes using a backend platform of multiple bike-specific routing engines.  The route of your choice (including turn by turn directions) is then transmitted to the unit for navigation.  So even if you lose phone signal, you’re still good.

So why is this so cool?  Well, you can do this mid-activity, at any point.  It doesn’t impact your recorded activity, and is again, a million times easier than entering an address on a unit.  I can’t count the number of times I’ll be riding with a Garmin Edge device, yet navigating with my phone because I’ve changed my mind on a destination mid-ride and don’t have an easy way to enter that address in.  This is simply super-cool, and easily the coolest head-unit feature I saw at Eurobike.

Now you can see why I’ll say this appeals most to bike commuter types – it’s just quick and easy to enter in new destinations.  Speaking of commuters, you can also see your phone’s battery life right on the unit itself; handy if you’ve got your phone stored away in a bag or back pocket somewhere.

Another really innovative feature is their integration of accelerometers within the unit itself to save on battery life.  When the accelerometer detects you’re still (like getting ice cream or at a prolonged stoplight), it’ll basically put the GPS into a sleep mode.  This allows them 24 hours+ of battery life.

Again, another feature I’m kinda surprised nobody else has implemented – but one that has very real benefits for bike commuters (or ice cream lovers) and others that may be doing a fair bit of stop and go.  Over the course of a week, this time can certainly add up.

The Lezyne Models:

This evening I was at Tim Hortons at the airport trying to decide which donut to get.  I couldn’t decide, so I got two (one of which I’m eating now on the plane).  Obviously, I could have chosen to buy 7 different donuts for myself, but I didn’t because that would be indulgent.  Or, because I’d be like Homer Simpson.

Lezyne however didn’t exercise such restraint.  They went for the 7 unit variety pack instead.  They’ve got 7 different units on the market, rivaling only the running GPS watch confusion that Garmin has now made for itself.  They are:

Lezyne Super GPS: What I’ve mostly talked about
Lezyne Micro Color GPS: A tiny version with color
Lezyne Micro GPS: A tiny version without color
Lezyne Macro GPS: A big version without color
Lezyne Mini GPS: A…ummm…mini version without color
Lezyne Micro Color GPS Watch: The running version of the Micro Color GPS unit
Lezyne Micro GPS Watch: Sans color of the one above.

Phew.  Still confused?  Ok, that probably didn’t help much, I admit.  What you basically need to know is the following:

The Mini versions don’t have: As much battery (only 10hrs vs 24hrs), and half the storage. Also doesn’t have barometric altimeter or GLONASS.  Nor do they have accelerometers.
The Micro versions don’t have: As much battery (only 14hrs vs 24hrs), and half the storage. The Micro non-color doesn’t have GLONASS.
The Macro versions don’t have: ANT+ Connectivity (BT only), nor barometric altimeters
The Color versions have….Color.  But, in the case of the Micro versions they also get GLONASS.
The Running versions: Does do cycling, but have a dedicated watch band, but you can’t use the dedicated cycling version for running.

Got all that?  Still no?  Sorry.  Well, here’s the sheet that explains it all. Bring a magnifying glass (click to zoom):

So as to pricing?  Well, it’s all relatively cheap compared to Garmin or Wahoo (Polar is closer with the M450).  The pricing is a bit more like Cateye.  In any case, they are as follows:

Lezyne Super GPS: $149
Lezyne Micro Color GPS: $159
Lezyne Micro GPS: $129
Lezyne Macro GPS: $99
Lezyne Mini GPS: $99
Lezyne Micro Color GPS Running Watch: $169
Lezyne Micro GPS Running Watch: $139

All of which are shipping now (and, for those curious, all of which can be ordered on Clever Training using the links above to support the site and saving 10% with DCR10BTF).  Oh, and yes, I did mention that running watch.  In essence they’ve taken two of the models and added a few non-cycling sport modes to get you a daily GPS watch:

The only challenge here is due to the size, it sits rather high on your wrist, so I suspect appeal will be limited here.

Moving forward:

As you’ve figured out by now, Lezyne is doing some cool stuff on the software front.  The Strava Live Segments, turn by turn navigation, and in particular that sweet insta-phone-navigation integration is quite competitive.  Same goes for saving the battery by leveraging the accelerometer to minimize battery burn when not moving.

However, it suffers one key problem that nearly everyone notes: It’s ugly.

Recently a friend on Instagram had a baby, and she noted that their baby admittedly had “a face only a mother could love” (really, I’m not kidding – they said it, not me).  However, that’s kinda the gist of the Lezyne bike computer shells – they just aren’t pretty from the outside.  It’s got a beautiful soul inside, but it’s just clunky from the outside.  For a commuting bike it wouldn’t bother me much.  But for a beautiful and sleek race bike?  Not so much.  Oh, btw, there are 3rd party mounts such as those from Barfly.

However I think that Lezyne’s target market right now is really the commuting arena, at least with this model.  It’s a perfect unit to toss on a bike for a cross town journey, and it has everything you’d need there.  Of course, if looks don’t bother you, it’s quite capable in all conditions as well.  But most of all, Lezyne appears to have nailed the software piece.  And as any bike computer company can tell you – getting that piece right is often the hardest and takes the longest to truly perfect.

With that – thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for all the (leftover) Eurobike and (new) Interbike coverage this week!  So follow along on Twitter to get all the latest sports tech news!  Fear not, the official show kicks off tomorrow, and there’s definitely some goodness in store!