Friday, June 25, 2010

Product Review: CycleOps Joule 2.0 -- It Works Well Enough But It Ain't Cheap

By some fortunate accident, I was one of the first users of the CycleOps Joule 2.0 ANT+ computer. Overall I have been enjoying the computer. The display is large and allows the user to monitor multiple ride metrics simultaneously. The rechargeable batteries and USB 2.0 download and charging is convenient, especially compares to the Cervo's cranky proprietary USB cradle/docking station. While the Joule is compatible with any ANT+ compatible power monitoring systems, I can't help but compare this computer to the Cervo, the iconic yellow computer that comes stock with a PowerTap system

The Good

The computer was easy to set up and mount. The Joule's mount is a serious improvement over the flimsy Cervo mount. We all know someone who has lost a Cervo on a ride after hitting a pothole...and if you don't, but you know me, you now know someone who has lost a Cervo (2009 CT Stage Race).

Unlike the Cervo, the Joule allows you to displaying heart rate, power output, speed and cadence all at the same time. You have the option of selecting the metrics to display and where to display them. If you are most interested in Power output (as most of us are), you can display that reading on any part of the screen. The screen is completely customizable and very well thought out.

It becomes your job to figure out what YOU want the display to look like (recently, Adam Myerson made fun of my setup and changed the locations of several indicators).

The computer is very easy to program and navigate.

You can figure out how to perform most functions, such as zeroing the PowerTap without consulting the owner's manual. You can easily program the computer to work with multiple Power monitoring systems. For instance, you could ride your SRM equipped road bike in the morning and then swap the computer over to your PowerTap equipped cross bike and change the sensor that the computer is reading in under a minute.

You are able to view data and mini analyses of your ride, even as you are riding. For instance, if you just killed the Wachusett climb, you can go into the computer and see what your highest power output for 10 minutes was on the ride.

It's fairly easy to check on interval power and heart rate. In short, you no longer have to wait until you get home to start geeking out over the data.

Downloading data and charging the computer is a breeze.

The Bad

$450-500 retail price. As my students would say, "That's mad guap yo!" While the Joule is great, it seems steep for a computer. Then again, if you already dropped the loot for a power meter, then $500 to monitor it well during the ride might seem like a bargain.

Size. Its big. It's chunky. It dwarf all but the beefiest of stems; mounting it to a handlebar seems impossible, as it would actually interfere with hand positioning on the tops.

It doesn't bother me when riding, but it irritates me while transporting the bike.

Not programmable. You can not enter a workout into the computer and have it beep and time the whole thing out for you. While some may not care about this, I am not very bright. I need a computer that will tell me when to ride hard and when to rest.

The Scoop

Overall, the Joule is a significant improvement on other cycling computers I have used. If you have deep pockets or a hook up, I recommend the computer. If you are a working person and paying full retail...maybe it's still worth it, but it is too expensive to be an impulse buy.


Anonymous said...

Does the Joule offer any advantages over the Garmin 500, which is half the price?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it definitely does. In my experience (and I have a lot of people sending me data) the Garmin is an excellent GPS unit, but a horrible power meter collection unit. The data is inconsistent and inaccurate, often.

The quality of the data from the Joule has been great. I have had no problems with dropped data, gaps, or the head unit not finding the hub.

In fact, if I had one complaint, it would be that the unit does more than I initially needed. I've had it for a few months, and I'm still learning how to take advantage of everything it offers.

gary! said...

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