A Tale of Two Computers

You’re looking at a vintage Cateye OS probably one of the best computers cateye ever made, but also probably one of their worst sellers.  This model is French and the language is set at the factory and unchangeable.  It came out around 2003, but I’ve been using it since about 2008.  It took me many hours googling to figure out how to set it up and use it.  I bought it from ebay, specifically the Pro’s Closet, which is an ebay seller that specializes in liquidating old gear pros don’t need or want.  Who knows who had this computer. 

Notice the French word, Vitesse, I forgot what it means, but I had to look it up when I was learning how to use this thing.

The cateye’s big claim to fame was that it acted as an actual bike computer, instead of just a readout gauge, in that it keeps track of your ride data, records and reports back with totals and charts.  You could also customize how many pieces of data are displayed on the screen and scroll through them in either direction.  The screen was dot matrix instead of a the digital clock style readout, plus it was way bigger than just about any other computer in its day.  Now it’s quaintly small compared to the iphones, power meters and GPSes people stick on their bars today.  All of this is nice, especially if you can’t remember what day or how far you rode, but the real reason to save ride data is for training and the Cateye OS had no Heart Rate, cadence or downloading capabilities, making it a neat device instead of a serious training tool. 

As cool as the Cateye OS is it is coming off and being replaced with a Garmin Edge 305.  Last year I bought a Polar S725 which is an excellent heart rate monitor and decent bike computer, but not compatible with Strava which is where I am keeping all my data this year. 

I went back and forth over the 305 or the Edge 500.  The 500 is newer and ANT+ compatible, it has a bigger screen, newer GPS chip, and probably does all kinds of stuff better.  The 305 was 100 bucks cheaper and does more or less the exact same thing as the 500. 

The graphs on the Cateye OS were kind of hard to understand.

So far the 305 has been rock solid.  I’ve taken it on a couple of rough gravel rides and it’s handled it like a champ, battery life is excellent and the GPS has no problems finding me.  The only two drawbacks I’ve found so far is that it has no auto off, or sleep mode to save power.  I’m not used to a computer I have to switch off after a ride and it seems like no big deal to include an auto off mode.  The other minor problem has been the few BSODs (Blue Screen of Death) I’ve had when I’ve plugged into my Windows 7 64x machine.  It seems to be almost random, but has only occured a few times. 

This isn’t really a drawback and I think this was addressed in the Edge 500 but it seems like there is a lot of wasted space on the screen, too much space is dedicated to boxes and titles, instead of the font size of the data in my opinion, but I’m finding it easy enough to read even with 8 data items. 

OVerall I’m real happy with the Edge 305 and hope that it holds out for many years, at the same time I miss the quirky and easy to use Cateye OS, a true piece of bike history.


About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
This entry was posted in Reviews, technology (geek), training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Tale of Two Computers

  1. 2wheelerme says:

    Hi Matt, I enjoyed learning the differences in the 2 computers. I’ve been thinking of getting a Garmin GPS and it’s helpful to hear your view on yours.

  2. Steve says:

    Vitesse means “speed,” my friend.

    I own a Garmin 500 and one thing that it seems to have in common is its dependability. The thing has never failed me – ever. You can even get hit by a car and it will still work.

  3. Dave says:

    Matt, I bought a Polar Bike Computer/HRM for my rode bike last year. It works fine, I’m lazy about wearing the monitor strap and I’m not getting as much out of the computers as I used to. Back in the day, it was thrilling to see that I went 50. Today…eh not so much. And of course this one has no computer interface so, If I’m interested in logging data and keeping track it’s labor intensive. My question is, does the Garmin solve all of this and provide anything meaningful in terms of level of fitness? Thanks for your advice.

    • Matt Gholson says:

      As always it depends how you use it. If you use it just as a bike computer then you’ll probably see no difference between it and your Polar.

      If you diligently load your rides into Garmin connect or Strava you’ll have a much clearer picture of your fitness. With the Garmin the amount of work to log data is almost non existent once you get in the habit of using it.

      I used it over winter and charted increases in both jogging and riding.

      Its kind of like lifting weights and looking at your muscles in a mirror. They will get stronger regardless if you’re watching them flex in the mirror, but seeing that feedback is motivation to keep going.

      • Dave says:

        Thanks Matt. Hey one more thing. I read your post about that Performance Transformer Jacket. The zippers are always crap on cheaper bike clothing. While I believe the pricing of Campy Clothing is almost obscene, my wife gave me a Campy Road jacket about 3 years ago at Christmas. I have to tell you, it is ABSOLUTLY the best piece of cyclign clothing I own. They have thought of everything, breathability, durable, great zipper, back pockets and reflection strips. Recommend you watch for sales this month. Dave

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