Boom. New bike computer review time. In this case, the
So far on my bike GPS usage journey (yes, there is such a thing), I’ve had two Garmin Edges (the 510 and 520) and a Wahoo (the ELEMNT Bolt). Now it’s time to see how a new manufacturer and a new 3-digit model number will compare.
Once your ride is completed, it sends the data file to the Bryton Active smartphone app and, if you’re that way inclined, on to Strava.
You can also use the device to upload and follow routes, in an attempt not to get lost on twisty turny unknowny roads.
So, very much a bike GPS computer in the Garmin Edge/Wahoo ELEMNT mould. But how does it compare? Most importantly, should you buy one? Read on MacDuff…
Well this is new. For this review, Bryton has actually sent me the Rider 450 rather than me having to buy it. Welcome to the blogging big league.
I imagine they’ll want it back (not that they’ve said), so it’s only a loaner. Still, as a qualified historian (I am!), I should alert you to the risk of possible bias.
Take all that I write with the appropriate amount of salt. To be honest, you should be doing this anyway.
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Who The Rod Hull Are Bryton?
They’re a Taiwanese company that has been on ‘the scene’ making bike computers for many years.
At blogception (i.e. when I started this blog in 2013) I used to have a page with a big table comparing all the different cycle GPS devices you could buy. In this pre-Wahoo/Lezyne/anyone else era, it was mainly a list of Garmin products plus a few devices made by Bryton.
So they’ve been around a while.
Who Is The
Bryton Rider 450 Aimed At?
When the chap at Bryton got in touch to ask whether I’d like to review one of their bike computers I, of course, said yes.
Not knowing their line up particularly, I asked him to suggest the device that targeted the same space as the Edge 520 and the
I was then somewhat confused to be sent a device that Bryton’s own website describes as “designed for mountain bike lovers”. The primary design characteristic driving this statement seems to be that the 450 includes quite detailed maps on the device (Open Street Map, or OSM), which could be used to help navigate mountain bike trails.
The weird thing is, virtually everything else about the device points to it being mainly aimed at road cyclists. I must admit, I don’t know if there are mountain bike specific ANT+ data sensor standards, but the Rider 450 is compatible with a whole host of (mainly) road bike ones, including:
- Power (yes, I know mountain bikes can be fitted with power meters, but generally they are not);
- Electronic gear data for Shimano Di2, SRAM eTap and Campag EPS
And I certainly don’t think it is just mountain bikers that appreciate reasonably detailed maps on their bike computers.
All of which is to say that:
- The website copy / positioning of the device is a bit ‘off route’; and
- The chap at Bryton was probably right to send me this device.
What Do You Get In The Box?
Bryton sent me the Rider 450T, with the T denoting (I think) that the device comes bundled with a heart rate strap and speed and cadence sensors. The 450E is the device-only version.
In the box you get:
- the Rider 450;
- handlebar (or stem) mount with rubbery mounting pad to stop it moving around;
- a fine array of rubber bands in varying sizes and thicknesses (to attach the mount to your bike);
- a small lanyard tether thingummy (presumably for back up in case the GPS pops out of the mount – Garmin supply these as well but I’ve never seen one in use…);
- USB charging cable (micro-USB if you like the detail);
- (if you’ve ordered the 450T bundle), the aforementioned HR strap, cadence sensor (attaches to a pedal crank) and speed sensor (attaches to hub of front wheel).
So pretty standard stuff. That said, both my ELEMNT Bolt and Edge 520 came with out-front mounts in addition to handlebar ones. With the Bryton you have to buy that separately.
Rules Of Engagement
Rather than attempt an exhaustive review of all the Rider 450’s features, I’ll stick to the elements that I most care about when selecting a bike GPS. Given that I’m a pretty average enthusiastic amateur road cyclist, I figure that my ‘use cases’ are likely to be similar to yours.
Confession time: despite being sent the HR strap and speed/cadence sensors, I didn’t actually try them. I’ve already got ANT+ sensors set up on my bike and a strap that I’m used to. Sensors generally do what they say on the tin and I was most keen to review the device itself.
Also: my blog. Write what I want to. Etc. Etc.
So I’m effectively reviewing the 450E version (although the computer itself is the same in both varietals).
Look and Feel
Well, the Rider 450 (I’ll drop the ‘E’) looks and feels like a bike GPS device. Not dissimilar from competitor products at Garmin and Wahoo (and Polar and Lezyne and Stages and…).
The device is made of plastic with a couple of plastic buttons on each side edge, as well as two on the bottom edge. On the back we have the fitting (cleat?) for the bike mount and a micro-USB port with a rubbery flap that protects it from the elements (but maybe not the elemnts arf arf arf).
The rider has slightly less of a premium feel than either the Edge 520 or the Bolt. All of the latter’s, and most of the Edge’s, buttons are slightly ‘rubberised’ (is that the term?). The Bryton’s are most definitely plasticky. That said, they are easy to use with gloves on and do have a nice positive feel when you press them.
The Rider 450 has the requisite screen in the middle of the device: a 2.3 inch mono LCD, if you wanna know the specs.
I have always found the display fine to use. I’ve never had a problem reading the data screens or seeing the detail on the maps. It isn’t as sharp as the Bolt and, clearly, it is not a colour display like the Edge 520, but, on the other hand, the extra long battery life on the Rider will be thanks in no small part to the more modest display performance.
As a (not so) interesting aside, when comparing build quality, I was going to suggest that the Bryton felt lighter than either the Edge or the Bolt and so would be suitable for the weight weenies amongst us.
And then I weighed them all.
The Rider 450 is a few (8–10) grammes heavier! This is likely due to the Rider being slightly (very slightly) larger.
It just goes to show: even the most objective (hah!) velo-blogger can be fooled…
Battery Life And Charging
One area in which bigger (okay, longer) is better is battery life (meaning, in this case, how much time you get out of the device before you have to charge it again).
The Rider 450 is significantly better than its rivals in this area.
All of the following ‘stats’ are claimed numbers – they’re what Bryton, Garmin and Wahoo put on their websites – but they give a sense of the relative performance (i.e. that the Bryton goes twice as long between charges):
Bryton Rider 450: up to 32 hours (and can be charged via a battery pack whilst still recording);
- Edge 520 Plus: up to 15 hours
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT: up to 15 hours
- Edge 530: up to 20 hours
Life’s too short to set up an experiment to compare in real-life conditions, but I’ve certainly found that the Bryton goes longer between charges. Whilst my volumes are modest, I do a week and half of riding, think about charging it and then realise it’s still got quite a healthy charge left.
And if you’ve forgotten to charge the device close to an event, there is a much higher chance that the Bryton will get through it on a fraction of a partial charge versus the more power hungry alternatives from Wahoo and Garmin.
Weirdly, there is one aspect where the Bryton Rider outperforms both the
Both Garmin and Wahoo have this feature for their devices. I remember, not long after getting my Bolt, being alarmed when it suddenly kicked off just as I was about to start a ride. I had an incoming call and this apparently all that was needed to set off a series of Defcon 5 alarms.
Somehow (despite Cambridge Analytica), most of my ‘text’ communications these days, with my wife (in fact virtually all communication with my wife) and with other family members/friends, is via WhatsApp.
And despite flashing up phone call and text message notifications, including (blue) iMessages, neither the ELEMNT Bolt nor the Edge 520 alerts you to the receipt of a WhatsApp message (“wait, purveyor of electronic devices, cancel that order!”).
But the Rider 450 does, as we discovered a few weeks ago when an odd incessant beeping in the kitchen turned out not to be the carbon monoxide alarm telling us to replace the battery but the Bryton (on charge) receiving a series of WhatsApp messages.
Sent by my wife. Who was sat on the sofa. Next to me.
Anyway, the Bryton wins in the battle of different types of electronic notifications it can display whilst you’re out on the bike.
Ride Functionality (Wot I Mainly Care About In a Bike GPS)
For the vast majority of my riding, I reckon I use only a small number of key bike GPS features.
The following list contains the list of functions I really care about, and I’ll focus on these in the remainder of this review of the Rider 450:
- Adequate number of sensors and screens
- Accurately recording rides
- Downloading of ride data once I’ve finished
- Creating, uploading and then following routes on the device
Data Screens And Ride Sensors
The Rider 450 ticks the box in terms of sensor compatibility, supporting both ANT+ and BLE (Bluetooth) varieties. I was able to connect, with a minimum of fuss, my on-bike and on-rider signals: speed / cadence (a Garmin one); heart rate strap (the Wahoo TICKR); power meter (Stages crank-based affair).
Whilst I don’t have them, I can see from the menus (and the website) that the Rider will link to Di2 and ‘E-shifting’ sensors (not quite sure of the difference, but either/both might be useful if you have a higher end bike).
On the data screens front, you can have up to five ‘standard’ pages of data fields, and up to two screens of ‘lap’ data. Each of these pages can show up to 10 data fields, arranged in a grid. The grid boxes, and the fonts within them, shrink in size as you increase the number of fields on a page.
Then we have a ‘Follow Track’ page, which displays the map of your current location, and any route that you’re following, and an ‘Altitude’ page, which, when you’ve selected a route to follow, shows the gradient profile of the route (and where on the mountain / hill / hillock) you are.
Taking that all together, this amounts (by my count) to about 74 data field boxes that can be filled with your choice of data. The website, rather loosely, reports ‘up to 78+ functions’, which strictly could be read as an infinite number.
Either way, the device more than enough flexibility in this area for my (and, I imagine, your) data-hungry needs.
All of this page activation and data field setting takes place on the Bryton Active app, which, for this functionality at least, is pretty intuitive. Helpfully you can see the display on the Rider 450 device update in realtime as you make changes in the app. So that’s nice.
Accurately Recording Ride Data
Now, for the most part, the Rider 450 has been fine for me at this. And it should be.
I remember, in reviews of yore, proudly stating (for it was not widely known) that the Garmin Edge 510 supported the GPS network of satellites AND the equivalent Russian one (GLONASS). Mo’ satellites, mo’ coverage.
The Bryton employs FIVE (count ’em) satellite systems, adding Galileo (Europe), which I’d heard of, and BDS (China) and QZSS (Japan), which I hadn’t, to GPS and GLONASS. You can’t use them all at the same time. Instead you can select, say, GPS+GLONASS or GPS+BDS etc (presumably based on where you are riding in the world).
As a result, the Rider 450 should be top of the tree in terms of accuracy, (even if you are under a tree). And… I can report it seems fine.
I haven’t conducted a rigorous comparison with routes recorded on other bike computers. Tracked rides seem to follow where I went on the Strava map. Which is all that a committed rider tracker needs in a GPS device.
The website claims that greater satellite network coverage leads to a faster start up. This is actually something I have noticed with the Rider 450 (i.e. it is fast to boot up).
I don’t know how much of this is to do with the satellites (surely if I have GPS+GLONASS selected then I’m in the same boat as my Edge…) or the time its takes the software to load on each device. The
File Corrupted… #BadTimes…
Going back to accurate route recording, I did have one ride where the data was incorrect when it was uploaded to the Bryton app and then failed to sync with Strava. When I tried to upload the file manually into Strava, it reported that the file had ‘bad time data’.
It turns out that this isn’t actually an unusual issue. The Strava support site directs you to a website (FIT File Tools) that has a number of tools for fixing corrupted ride files. I was able to do that and upload the ride to Strava successfully.
My only comment is to note that this has only happened to me with the Rider 450, so I can’t give it top marks in this area (even if all’s well that ended well).
Which brings me to …
Downloading Ride Data
…which I suppose is also ‘uploading ride data to [insert app name here]’.
Once you’ve finished a ride, the easiest way to get the data file off the Rider 450 is to have it sync automatically with the Bryton Active app.
Once there, assuming you have it set up, the file will sync with your Strava account (or TrainingPeaks or Selfloops).
Garmin and Wahoo use a similar approach with their respective apps.
Again the Bryton does what it needs to do (rides are automatically uploaded into the app), only it does rather take its time about it.
It can seem like an age after having ended the ride on the device, before it appears in the Bryton Active app and then, more importantly, get sync’ed with Strava so I can analyse whether I’ve got any segment PRs (the object of any ride).
I think this may be because the Rider is sending the file to the phone via Bluetooth, as opposed to the Wahoo (and maybe Garmin?) method of having it sent via wifi (assuming you’re in range). Or it may just be slow.
Either way, it can be a bit of a pain, watching the progress bar move about, percentage point by percentage point, about as quickly as I ascend a mountain climb.
I would say that getting routes onto the Rider 450 device for successful following is… clunky.
There is a rudimentary route planning screen within the app, which is somewhat usable.
My initial reaction was that it was just useless. You tap the screen to drop waypoints, and the app creates a route along the nearest roads to get there. Each of these waypoints appears in a list to the side: sometimes as a list of road names, sometimes as a list of nameless points (“Waypoint 1”, “Waypoint 2”, etc).
Which appears to be typically Bryton-random…
But actually as I played around with it, it’s not so bad. My (luddite) view is that there is only so much you can do on a smartphone screen (or any touchscreen really) to create ride routes in a way that doesn’t compel you to stick pins in your eyes and pull out eyebrow hairs one by one.
So by being super-simple (or ‘reducing the scope’ if you despise the addition of the ‘super-’ prefix in modern prose), the Bryton Active route planning app, is alright. Sort of.
I still prefer using a proper computer with a mouse (yes!) to create ride routes. What a philistine.
Getting Routes On To The
Bryton Rider 450
The advantage of the route planning facility(?) in the app is that when you are done, the route automatically appears on the device.
And by ‘automatically’ I of course mean that I have to go into the Rider’s various menus and prompt it to do a manual sync (this time over wifi), which absolutely works (and is also a way of speeding up the uploading of ride data).
Now I think it happens automatically as well (if you leave it for a bit…?), I’ve just not seen it happen.
Syncing With Route Mapping Apps
Getting routes from other (third party) ride planning apps and platforms flags up a range of system pecadilloes (which raises the important question of whether electronic devices can have pecadilloes).
I’ve mentioned that linking the Strava app to the Bryton Active app is pretty straightforward, which it is. But when it comes to syncing routes (that you’ve saved in Strava), this seems to occur gradually over time, in batches. Random.
You can also link the Bryton Active app with RideWithGPS, in order to sync (upload to the 450) the routes that you’ve created there.
This is my jam (baby) as RWGPS is my favourite ride planning tool (I know, all the Kool Katz are on Komoot).
Trying to connect with RideWithGPS took a few goes. Initially it wouldn’t connect at all. Eventually (after a few random error messages telling me my network was offline – it wasn’t), the Bryton app begrudgingly accepted that, yes, it would be prepared to play nice.
Like Strava, my RideWithGPS routes now appear in the Bryton Active app (although again syncing on a somewhat random batched basis).
The whole ‘route syncing and uploading to the device’ kaboodle is a bit… buggy.
Sometimes it works fine: you select a route in the send, hit ‘send to device’ and you see the 450 screen light up, it connects to the wifi and downloads the route. Sometimes it … doesn’t.
In the case of the RideWithGPS, the names of the routes (which I will have given them on the RWGPS website), when they appear in the app, and then on the device, don’t always match where the ride is meant to go (i.e. it’ll be another route entirely).
Sometimes you try to open a route, or hit send to device and the app just seems to hang. Indeed, as I write these words, the app has had a ‘Loading…’ pop up and the rotating circle of death icon going for the past 15 minutes.
All I did was try was try to click on one of my Strava routes in order to test whether it would upload to the device…
Following A Route Whilst Riding
Using the Rider 450 for navigating a route, whilst out on the bike, is pretty straightforward, and similar to the approach used on equivalent competitors.
The Rider 450 (like the Edge 520/530 and the Wahoo Bolt) doesn’t have intelligent routing software built into the device. It simply helps you to follow a breadcrumb trail of GPS coordinates, which are displayed, in the Bryton’s case, as a series of chevrons following your chosen route, overlaid on to a map.
If you go wrong, the Rider will tell you that you’re ‘Off Route’ and you can use the map display (or your phone if necessary) to navigate your way back.
The maps used on the Rider 450 are from OpenStreetMap (yes, no spaces), which are the basis for maps on the Edge and Bolt devices as well. So no concerns there.
In my opinion (which is what you get when you come to my blog), the breadcrumb approach is fine for most recreational road cyclists. I’ve certainly never missed having the ability to re-route on the fly, using the GPS device itself, when I have a more powerful, and therefore quicker, GPS device in my jersey pocket.
Turn By Turn Navigation
The armadillos (peccadilloes) continue when it comes to getting turn directions to display on the device. It has literally taken me months to get it working (although I’ve not used the navigation features on every single ride).
Suddenly they started appearing on a ride I did last week.
Now I ‘knew’ the Rider 450 was capable of displaying them because one of the photos of the device on the website shows the map/route data screen and there is a street name at the top, with a turn direction arrow and presumably the distance to the turn.
This reminds me of bike GPS navigation problems circa 2013. I won’t bore you with (too many) half baked theories, but my historic experience is that whether turn notifications show up on a bike computer screen is generally down to the content of the route file rather than the device itself.
Most of the files I’ve uploaded to the Rider, either through syncing with the app or manually using a computer and a USB cable, mustn’t have contained the necessary instructions. It was only on a route created on the Bryton app, where it deigned to provide me with actual named waypoints as I clicked around (as opposed to generic waypoints), that the instructions appeared on the device.
And where synced RideWithGPS routes show cues when using, say, the ELEMNT Bolt, they don’t seem to show on the Bryton. I’m not sure why.
So whilst I can confirm that the Rider 450 can display turn directions (the photo just above shows one), you will have to fiddle around with route files and the app (and, I don’t know, make a sacrifice to the GLONASS gods) until you get them working.
As I say: more armadillos…
How Does It Perform In the Usability Stakes?
I’ll be honest, I haven’t found the Rider 450 particularly intuitive to use.
In most screens and menus on the device, I don’t have an immediate sense as to which button needs to be pressed. Often I find myself hitting different buttons until one of them does something.
It doesn’t help that every button press, whether it does something or not elicits the same 1980s computer bleep (assuming you have ‘bleeps’ turned on).
I even got so far as recording a short video on my phone (for the YouTube review that I’ll eventually do…), whilst out on a ride, bemoaning that the 450 would no longer switch between data screens whilst recording. A glitch in the software maybe? Or perhaps it had simply crashed?
Nope. I was simply pressing the wrong, but in my mind sensible, buttons (the two on the left hand edge of the device labelled with up and down arrows…). Once I hit the right button (post 5 minutes of vitriolic vid-iatribe), it turned out to be working. ‘Perfectly’.
Sometimes when you hit the right button it can still take a while for the device to respond. This is most notable on the map screen, which can take seconds to load up in the first place, and then more time to respond to requests to zoom in or out.
The equivalent page often seems slow on competitor devices as well, so maybe there’s more to it than meets my uneducated eye. My uneducated-and-slightly-frustrated-with-waiting eye…
Finally, whilst we’re on the subject of doing stuff on the device, every so often I find myself having started recording an activity by accident (with a random button press trying to get the routes feature to sync, say, whilst sat at my computer).
This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t that when you stop recording, the ‘ride’ is saved without an opportunity to discard it. Before you know it, it’s on Strava, with your followers wondering whether they should be awarding kudos for blatant acts of moronism…
So What Would I Improve?
How do you say “general usability and user experience”?
(Er, just like that).
My favourite bike GPS (so sad that I have such a thing) is the
This is not the case with the
Now this is not necessarily a bad thing for everyone. Some people like a quirky approach that they have to learn, or are prepared to put up with it in return for other benefits (a lower price point, say).
It would be nice though if Bryton can work on this side of things, which will undoubtedly become more important in a world of Apple iPhone users that just expect (electronic computery) things to work.
One of the key attractions of the Rider 450 is that it is costs less than competitor products with equivalent features.
Right now, the list price in the UK for the device only (450E) is £149.99 and in the US is $199.95. Retailers could well be selling it for slightly less than the list price.
By way of comparison, the Wahoo website shows the device-only version of the ELEMNT Bolt at £199.99 and I believe the US price is $249.99.
It is difficult to compare prices with the Edge 520 as it has been superseded by the 520 Plus and the 530, and is not widely sold. In terms of more recent Garmin Models, the Edge 520 Plus has a list price of £199.99 / $279.99 and the 530 costs £259.99 / $299.99.
You may well be able to pick up or all of these devices for slightly less than the prices above. However, it is definitely the case that the Rider 450 can be purchased for significantly less than broadly equivalent Garmin and Wahoo models.
Whilst it is also definitely the case that both the Bolt and the Edge 520 (certainly the 530) have a number of features that the Bryton doesn’t (pedal dynamics type stuff, smart trainer control, etc), this is largely irrelevant if you’re not going to be using them. Then it comes down to whether you can accept the slightly clunky user experience for a £50ish / $50+ saving.
Summary and Concluding Thoughts
Congratulations on wading through what has turned into a lengthy review.
Here’s a quick recap of the key pros and cons of the Rider 450:
- Price – a good value GPS bike computer
- Battery life – lasts a lot longer than competitor devices
- Large number of data fields and flexibility to decide what goes on each data page
- Hassle free and stable connection to data sensors (speed/cadence, power meter, HR strap)
- Not very intuitive at times
- Creation and uploading of routes to device is … quirky
- Feels a bit less ‘premium’ than competitor devices
In conclusion, for core GPS and ride recording functionality, the Rider 450 works and is at an excellent price point. The extra long battery life is a clear benefit versus the competition. Using the device can be quirky in places and the app is a bit buggy in places. Maybe that adds a bit of charm (or frustration, depending on your lifeview).
Buy A New Bike Computer! (If You Want…)
If you would like to buy a
Alternative bike GPS devices:
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