Customer Reviews: Schwinn 20-Function Bike Computer
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on June 17, 2008
This bike computer, for the price, is by far the best on the market. How do I know? Because there is no other bike computer that boasts a name brand company, has as many features, and costs as little as this one! I made sure to read all the reviews on Amazon before I purchased this, and I find it disheartening that I was almost swayed to *not* buy it. Fortunately, I read between the lines of all the negative comments and figured their age and/or grammar explained why they had difficulties with the device.

To start, almost everyone is correct in stating it's difficult to install; honestly, it is! The instructions suggest a 1mm distance between the magnet and the sensor, which basically means: as close as you can get it without the two pieces hitting! To achieve this, the task takes a considerable amount of fiddling, but once you find the right spot on the fork and spoke to where they come closest without hitting, you're golden. I spent about 10 minutes doing this. After the magnet and sensor were on, the setup of the computer was a breeze. It asked for wheel diameter (which is required if you want accurate readings of speed, distance, etc), age, weight, time settings, etc. If you read the instructions, it will explain how to set each of these values.

I want to address a few of the complaints on this page. The first was from a young man who said he was riding 60 mph. Your problem: you didn't set the correct wheel diameter! The instructions provide you a handy chart to tell you what code to type in based on the corresponding diameter. Now, if you don't know what a diameter is, or don't have the intelligence to look it up online, you probably shouldn't be using this computer in the first place. If your wheel is 26" and you set it to 15", yes, you will not have the correct and accurate display of your speed!

I read another review that said he couldn't figure out what buttons to push. Answer: READ THE DIRECTIONS! The directions tell you what to push, for how long, and when. They do this for all displays and all features. If you can't figure that out, I don't know what else to tell you. Honestly, there are 2 buttons, are you that stupid?

I read another review that said distance traveled couldn't be reset, nor could the calories or fat burned. WRONG! Yet again, people fail to actually *read* the instructions, and have the nerve to come online and submit a negative review. There are 7 displays that are shuffled with the *right* button. The *odometer* display does not reset, because it's just that, an odometer. Do you reset your car odometer, too? What you're looking for is the *tripmeter* display. The tripmeter can be reset by holding the *left* button for 2 to 3 seconds. When you reset the tripmeter, you also reset the trip timer, and the average speed value which was set during your previous trip. To reset the calories burned or fat burned, go to that feature display, and hold the left button for 2 to 3 seconds. Simple enough?

In summary: this computer is accurate in all its features if you read the instructions and input the correct wheel diameter. Speed, distance traveled, average speed, trip timer, temperature, and everything else, I have found to be 100% accurate. I checked the speeds against a driver and the temperature against a 3rd party thermometer. Since I've only used this product for a couple weeks, I can't tell you how durable or what's its longevity will be, but if the features and accuracy mean anything, I should be using this computer for a long time.

Quick note to everyone who set this thing up wrong and feels foolish for complaining: if you input the wrong diameter, press both buttons down at the same time for 3 seconds and it will reset the whole device so you can input data from scratch. If your speedometer is reading out "0.0" while you ride, you have the sensor and magnet setup wrong. Try to align the magnet with the arrow next to the "Sensor" text.

The key to having a pleasurable experience with this bike computer is to read the instructions. If you don't feel like reading instructions, don't buy this. If you feel you can bare with the idea of reading a bit and want a great piece of hardware at the lowest price on the market, BUY this device.

*** Last Update: March 04, 2012

Well, it's now 2012, about 4 years later, and this thing is still running strong. The red face plate has popped off due to excessive dropping (sometimes while riding or just managing the bike in general, I've knocked it off several times). Solved this with some super glue. Aside from dings and dents, still running like a champ.

*** User Manual

To those Amazon users that are looking for the user manual for this product, please read below...

I've uploaded scans of the user manual and added it into the "submitted images" area of this product.
You should see some thumbnails underneath the main image for this item, view the rest to see the user manual.
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on April 29, 2007
I've owned two of these and ridden in all 4 seasons, driving rain, blinding snow, and even the occasional sunny, warm day. I've never had a problem with either, and find them very easy to set up and calibrate, easy to use, and totally accurate, dependable and reliable.

Under $10! Can't be beat! Ride on!!

Update 8/2013: It is a little over $10 these days, but still a great little unit!
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on July 23, 2009
Great Bike computer, works great, so cheap I bought two of them, wires don't look that messy, don't need an expensive wireless one, you can use clear tape to join the wire with brake wires.

Since everyone will need wheel factor, this is what I found from Trek's websites:

Wheel/Tire Size CIRCUMFERENCE in mm(Wheel Factor)
16" 1300
20" X 1.75" 1600
24" X 1.95" 1920
26" X 1" 1950
650 X 20C 1945
650 X 23C 1990
26" X 1.5" 2030
26" X 1.9" 2055
26" X 2.0" 2074
26" X 2.2" 2100
700 X 20C 2074
700 X 23C 2085
700 X 25C 2100
700 X 28C 2135
700 X 32C 2155
700 X 35C 2175
700 X 38C 2180
700 X 40C 2190
700 X 1-1/4" 2160

Best regards
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on June 24, 2008
This device works great and it's only $9. It has speed which always shows on the screen plus you can display the odometer, a distance meter to the 1/100 of a mile, trip timer, temperature, average speed, maximum speed, calories, or fat calories. It has a couple of other features which display at all times such as whether you are increasing speed or descreasing which seem somewhat worthless sense I pretty much am aware of that anyway. It also shows a plus or minus sign to tell you if you are traveling above or below your average speed which for some reason I like. Additionally you can set it to scan where it will display each item for a few seconds then move on to the next. I like the fact that it pops right off the mounting bracket so I can take it with me to review the data after a long ride.

I did notice that one review mentioned you cannot reset things such as distance, calories, etc. All items are easily cleared. The device has two buttons. The right button allows you to scoll through the functions. The left button when held for about two seconds resets that function to zero. So before each trip or each day I reset distance, calories, average speed, etc. That way you can keep track for trip, a day, a week, or whatever you desire. The device shuts down when you stop so you don't have to worry about shutting it off.

Installation is simple. No tools required, except maybe a pair of pliers to pull the supplied wire ties nice and tight. The only thing that is a bit tricky is that the sensor which mounts on the fork, and the magnet which attaches to a spoke need to be close together. The instructions say 1mm. Thats only about 1/32 of an inch. Mine works at about 1/8 of an inch. You need to slide it up or down the spoke/fork to get the correct clearance. Also be careful when entering the "wheel factor" which is just the circumference of the wheel on centimeters. I would recommend you calculate your own instead of using the chart or at least verify their chart. There are 25.4mm per and inch times the "outside" diameter in inches times pi which is 3.14159. The factors listed are correct but somewhat confusing. This number needs to be right or all the information displayed is wrong.
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on October 25, 2007
Final update: the wheel attachment broke, after <1000 miles.
Update: after moved from one bike to another, it started to work again! I believe there are some bad contact in the wiring but do not know exactly where.
Update: My unit died after 14 months! The problem happens on the wires. I would still give it 4 stars for its price.

It is a good gadget for riders.

1. It is accurate in mileage - better than any of those wireless bike computers.
2. The temperate is not accurate.
3. The installation is easy. Pay attention that the direction of the bands to fasten it and the direction of the clip on your steering.
4. The battery comes inside the meter, not separately, have to change shortly after start.
5. Functions are good and practical, no gimics.
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on July 17, 2010
First, let me say that I love my new bike computer. For only $[...], it's definitely worth that price.

Second, I hope to shed some light on this computer. First, the same computer seems to be marketed in different forms by other manufacturers.

It seems to be very similar to the Raleigh 16 function ARC005 Cordless Computer (although this one isn't cordless; I can also not find any on-line manual for the Raleigh ARC005, either) and the RavX TaxTix 2 Wireless 14 function bike computer.

This was hitting the jackpot, because it has an on-line manual at [...]

In it it explains the Schwinn's mysterious undocumented 'Maintenance Program' function.

In its manual it says, "Maintenance Program - Maintenance Program notifies you to replace parts or lubricate the chain after the preset distance is reached. Right after KM/Mile selection, the perset total distance of 800 km (or miles) will falsh, press RIGHT button to select between 200, 400, 600 or 800km (or miles) and press LEFT button to confirm. For example, if 600 km is selected, the wrench will flash whenever the total distance (ODO) reach 600, 1200, 1800 km (or miles). Press LEFT button to stop flashing wrench."

When you're initially programming the computer, you put it in as 20, 60, 80 or 80 instead of 200, 400, 600 or 800.

Another inconsistency that I've seen is, if you have microscopic eyes, the pictures in the Schwinn manual actually show the wrong function names for most of the functions. The names are properly defined in the text, but the little pictures show the wrong three-letter code.

The actual picture's display, however, is correct; it's just the three-letter code that's wrong. Thus, if you look at "4th Screen - Maxiumum Speed (MXS)" image, the picture is properly showing the Maximum speed, but the three-letter code really says ODO on the left side. Most people won't be able to actually see those three-code names in the manual photo anyways; but if you can, it might be confusing. Just ignore the three-letter code in each picture and the manual then will be correct.

Another undocumented function is the backlight. In the TaxTix manaul it states, "EL Backlight - The EL Backlight can be turned on in two ways: 1. Hold RIGHT button for 2 seconds. EL light will be turned on for 8 seconds and comptuer will go to fast scan mode with DST, MSX, AVS & TM displayed once. 2. Press once on LEFT button. EL light will be turned on for 4 seconds and comptuer will go to freeze frame memory mode.

For those who think this is a confusing bike computer, all 15 function bike computers are confusing. Since they're all basically based on the same integrated circuit, any 15 - 17 function computer will be the same except for small differences.

Actually, as you can see from the fact that the same bike computer is called everything from a 15 function to a 17 function bike computer depending on who is manufacturing it... just how many 'functions' it has is determined by who is writing the manual.

It actually has ten screens, so you might say it is really a ten function bike computer (the tenth 'screen' is the scan mode). The 'Maintenance Mode' is really just a wrench that shows once it reaches that mileage, for example. It has no selectable screen of its own.

Thus, it really isn't as confusing a computer as you'd think. After setting the computer, you just press the right button to switch through the ten different screens. The screens say what they are by a three-letter code on the left of the display. Just watch the code if you can actually see it.

It cycles through the following ten screens:

(None) - Speed and Time
ODO - Odometer
DST - Distance (Trip Timer)
MXS - Maximum Speed
AVS - Average Speed
TM - Timer
(None) - Temperature (has an F or C at bottom right)
CAL - Calories
CAL in small letters and F as big letter - Calories Fat Burning
SCAN - (Also shows each of the above three-letter codes as it displays each screen)

A '+' or '-' shows when you go above or below your average speed.

So, it's really a ten function with other hidden 'functions' that rely upon some little symbol that displays when you're in one of those ten screens.

Other things which might be helpful: You can set the odometer to zero by taking out the battery. You can reset the odometer to any particular number after you've taken out the battery, so write it down before changing the battery. If you want to reprogram the computer's values (such as the size of the wheel), take out the battery.

I measured my wheel with a piece of string. Turns out... my 700c x 28C is actually 2140 mm in size (between 84.25 and 84.35 inches).

The manual shows it to be 2136 mm. I'm sure it varies quite a bit depending on who's tires you buy; and as it wears, it will get smaller. Thus, their value might be an average as it wears.

In case anybody loses the manual:

20" - 1596 mm
22" - 1759 mm
24" - 1916 mm
26" (650A) - 2073 mm
26.5" (Tubular) - 2117 mm
26.6" (700 x 25C) - 2124 mm (DEFAULT)
26.8" (700 x 28C) - 2136 mm
27" (700 x 32C) - 2155 mm
28" (700B) - 2237 mm

ATB 24" x 1.75" - 1888 mm
ATB 26" x 1.4" - 1995 mm
ATB 26" x 1.5" - 2030 mm
ATB 26" x 1.75" - 2045 mm
ATB 26" x 2" (650B) - 2099 mm
27" x 1" - 2136 mm
27" x 1 1/4" - 2155 mm


The only CON I see about the unit is the magnet that goes on the spoke. At least on my bike, which has few spokes (Schwinn 700c Volare Men's Bike), after you've screwed it as tight as the nut allows, the magnet can pivot around the spoke. Since you have to get the magnet so close to the reed switch sensor, that pivoting might cause it to hit the sensor. Once I've determined the best location for it, I'll be putting a dab of silicon glue on the back side in order to keep it from rotating around the spoke. Silican glue can be removed, if need-be.

There's a second right-angle plastic projection on the magnet that I can't imagine the purpose. Possibly it was designed to go across a second spoke? However, I can't imagine that occurring on any bicycle, not just mine. No spoke is that close to the spoke it's on. If they're figuring that you somehow put another ziptie on it, it would just slip off. I don't understand that second projection's purpose.

You'll have to move the sensor up and down on the fork, and rotate it's relative angle to the magnet so they cross across each other about 1/8" apart. I found that it worked well when you put the magnet so that it crossed across the bottom of the sensor.

At least on my bicycle, I placed the magnet's center about 4 1/4" from the edge of the tire on the spoke. I placed the sensor so that the bottom of the sensor is about even with the bottom of the magnet and the sensor is about at a 45 degree angle relative to the fork, aiming forward.

As far as the mount goes, up at the handlebars, I put a piece of rubber under the opposite side of the mount, under the two zipties, that came from a dollar-store bicycle light. It keeps the computer from rotating around the handlebars. Since it only attaches with two zipties, it could easily slip down or up if you bump it.

I also used other longer zipties to keep the wire steady as it runs down the frame of my bike, and then wrapped the wire about three times around the fork before attaching the sensor so there were no looped wires that might catch on things.

All-in-all, I love the little computer.

However, the thermometer seems to register about eight to ten degrees hotter than the actual room temperature.

One interesting aside... it implies that, somehow, you can use the bike computer as a pedometer. I haven't figured out that one, yet. It says 'Step Counter (in pedometer mode)'.
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on June 28, 2008
My condolences to the poor folks who trashed the Schwinn computers. I bought a 12 function unit and got it to work right away ... UNTIL I moved it by a few spokes to balance out a reflector. Then ... it STOPPED WORKING ... TOTALLY. Being an engineer, I scratched my head for a few minutes while analyzing the problem and then laughed. I moved the magnet about 1/4 inch down the spoke and it started working fine again.

The problem is in basic electromagnet physics. If you manage to mount the magnet extremely close to the MIDDLE of the sensor bar, the generated electric pulse will null out and it will look like your unit is dead no matter how close you get the magnet to the sensor. Just move the magnet away from the middle of the sensor bar ... closer to either end ... and your sensor will have excellent sensitivity and you will have a great working little gadget for a miniscule price. This would be a great present for a kid, except that it's better for them to be paying more attention to what they are doing than watching the speedometer.

Only 4 stars because unfortunately the Schwinn people don't support these products, and the web address the give you for the manufacturer is dead. The "wheel factor" table in the manual is only approximate ... measure the circumference of your wheel in millimeters for best accuracy.

Good luck and happy cycling ... thumb your nose at every gas station you pass by!

Art, Carlisle PA
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on July 11, 2009
I have only used this thing for a day, so I can't speak for the long term.

Installation is not difficult once you understand what to do. The instructions are poor. For example, instructions for mounting the bracket to the handle bars say, "Using a Philips screwdriver attach the mounting bracket to the right side of the handlebar." This was the first sentence in the first task I tried to do. There are NO screws at all! The bracket is attached with cable ties. And, I can see absolutely no reason it has to be on the right side of the handlebar. As you can see from the pictures I posted, my bike has a reflector attached to the right, so I had to put it on the left. In short, everything in the first sentence of the first instruction I tried is wrong.

They tell you to install the sensor and magnet first. I feel strongly this is a mistake. I think you should install the handlebar bracket first. This makes it easier to route the cable, position it and wind up the extra slack.

The sensor goes on the inside of the right fork - facing the spokes. You may be able to mount it on the left fork, but the easiest way to route the sensor cable is to wrap it around the front brake cable which (at least on my bike) is on the right side.

The magnet clamps to a spoke immediately beside the sensor. The fork is vertical but the spokes are not -- they're angled. So, you cannot mount the magnet parallel to the sensor. Getting the two parts to align and not strike requires you move the sensor up and down the spoke until the two parts are close without touching - see my close-up picture of these two parts installed.

When I first installed it I thought it wasn't working because I would move the wheel and no speed appeared. I discovered there's a brief delay before the speed appears so you need to have a little patience. I agree with the review that says you should test the device by moving the magnet near the sensor before beginning installation. This give you confidence it's working if you have trouble getting the parts aligned good enough.

Setting up the meter for the first time was a little confusing. When you initially turn it on it steps you through a procedure to input the various setup data. You have to reset everything to change any of these settings, so get the numbers you need together before you start, or step through without entering anything so you know what will be needed. You probably know everything except the wheel circumference in millimeters (millimeters? -- let's get a rough number in fine detail). If you know your wheel and tire size (which is on the tire) you can get the number from a table in the instructions. Other reviewers have made a big thing of measuring your rolling distance to do this. I didn't do it, and I can't see why it's necessary. If you miss the value by the maximum amount possible on the chart for a given wheel size it can't be off more than 1mph when going 20mph (or a distance of 1 mile in 20), and if you use the correct number from the chart it'll be a lot more accurate. Now, if the numbers in the table are wrong that's another thing. Maybe somebody who's compared his measured results with the table for his tire will post the difference and how much error that would cause in 20 miles. But remember, this $10 gadget isn't intended to be used by the national bureau of standards.

Once installed and setup it works great. I like the current speed, the average speed, the distance traveled, and time peddling (it stops the clock when you stop moving). The meter snaps in and out of the mounting bracket easily. As someone said, you don't have to reset everything to reset your trip data. Toggle to the DST (distance traveled) display and hold down the left button for a few seconds. This will reset the distance traveled, the trip timer and the average speed. The odometer accumulates total distance traveled since the last master reset.

The magnet isn't held in place very tight and I wonder if it will tend to move, but not so far in about an hour's riding.

I can't see how you can beat this gadget for the price.

PROS: Works great.
CONS: Installation instructions weak.

Edited 10 hours later to add:

I can now speak to long term reliability. It failed since I wrote my review 10 hours ago, and 24 hours since I installed it. It's not the battery, because if you press one of the buttons the display lights up and the button functions work properly. It has to be the sensor signal not working, and I've seen similar complaints in these reviews. Oh well, it was great for the one hour of use I got.

NOTE: Rating is now based on how it worked yesterday.

Edited again two-three weeks later:

I now have one that's been working properly for more than a week. The things I said in my original review are still true, except getting the magnet in the right position was a little fussier than the first time, but still not bad. Start with it a little further away than the 1mm they say. Start with 1/8". If this works leave it there.

I have now checked the accuracy using the wheel/tire size numbers in the table. It is very accurate. I compared it with an actual distance measured with a GPS I carried with me. It was within one percent. This means that at one hundred miles the distance would be within a mile. Air pressure differences should create a larger error. Your car's odometer isn't as accurate. Given this, I see no point to measuring your wheel diameter unless it's not in the table.

I am very pleased with the device.

Edited again 9 months later. The sensor stopped working again. I don't know whether to try to replace it or just throw it away and give up.
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on September 16, 2011
Purchased Schwinn bike computer after reading many reviews. Received quickly and easily installed. It works great except for one problem. The large number (speed) stays on top. Your small numbers stay on the bottom as you scroll through the different functions. They are very difficult to see, impossible while riding. After your ride you can look up any of the functions you would like. There are others on the market. Hope this helps.
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on May 29, 2009
When you set this thing, its best to measure the outside circumference of your tire using a tape measure then convert this to mm for the "wheel factor". For example Bontrager 700 x 35C tire has an outer diameter of 2197 mm.

If you try to cheat this by multiplying pi times twice the outer radius you will get an error that will very quickly accumulate even on short rides (I observed an -11% error with both the speed and distance traveled).

Once this is set, decide on km/hr or mph and fill in the rest of the setup. Afterwards, take the bike on the road for a few miles then check with Google Maps or your car's odometer to see if your distance traveled is reasonable. That is how I was able to determine the distance error.

The calorimeter is off by -25% on average. You're best off using the formula:

CalBurned = Hours x 60 x (-55.0969 + (0.6309 x AvgHeartRate) + (0.1988 x Weightlb x 0.45359237) + (0.2017 x Age) )/4.184

[from "Prediction of energy expenditure from heart rate monitoring during submaximal exercise", L. R. KEYTEL, J. H. GOEDECKE, T. D. NOAKES, H. HIILOSKORPI, R. LAUKKANEN, L. VAN DER MERWE, & E. V. LAMBERT that was published in the Journal of Sports Sciences.] to find a better estimate of calories burned.

I reccomend the blue Nike triax C8 Heart Rate monitor to help you out with this. A reasonably accurate way to find max heart rate is

MaxHR = 205.8 - (0.685 x Age)
[Journal of Exercise Physiology (2002)]

One final note: the time recorded by this computer is the total time in motion, so if you stop for traffic or breaks your average speed isn't greatly effected.
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