CatEye’s unassuming-looking Strada Smart computer has a lot more going on than meets the eye. Harnessing the technology inside your smartphone, the CatEye aims to give you all the data of a GPS unit for a fraction of the price and handlebar real estate.
The Strada Smart can talk directly to the bundled heart rate monitor (HRM) and speed/cadence sensors via Bluetooth for times when you’re without your phone (in a race perhaps), but it’s in sync with your mobile that the Smart really comes into its own. Simply download the free CatEye Cycling app to your phone to transform it into a top drawer training partner, then match it to the computer, HRM and speed/cadence sensors to ensure it can collect all the necessary information. Your phone’s own GPS capabilities will also be put to use so the app can track your ride and measure your altitude.
The idea is that you will have a fully operational GPS cycle computer in your jersey pocket, and the data from that unit can then be mirrored on the screen of the small and unobtrusive unit on your handlebar.
The compromise of the small computer is that you are restricted in the amount of information that can be displayed on one screen. It is possible to have speed, heart rate and cadence all on screen together, though, which gives you all your core data in one place, and scrolling through the different options is as easy as clicking the single button to shift through the various displays.
This system works fine, but if you want to check your ride time from the cadence/HR screen you’ll find that it’s a good seven clicks away… although the upside of this is that it does mean it’s only one more click afterwards to get you back to the HR/cadence screen.
After your ride, all the information is stored in your phone, including a map of your route and altitude data, and can be instantly saved and uploaded to Strava, TrainingPeaks or CatEye’s own Atlas training home, as well as Twitter and Facebook.
One more feature that might be a blessing or a curse depending on your point of view is that the Strada Smart will alert you when your phone receives a call or email: great if you’re expecting a very important call, not so great if you’re on your bike to try to get away from it all. In truth, though, the email alert at least is merely visual and easily ignored.
Finally, be sure to put your phone to sleep when you pop it in your pocket. You don’t need the information on screen, it’s all mirrored on the Strada, and you’ll want to preserve battery life as much as possible. With the phone sleeping, two to three-hour rides gave us no issues with an iPhone 5S, but phone batteries vary – as do ride times!