The dual-function Topeak PanoComputer functions as a standalone cycling computer or as a mirrored display from the Topeak PanoBike app. I’ve been testing it in mirror mode in comparison with the Wahoo RFLKT+ and Cateye Strada Smart devices.
Topeak PanoComputer Features:
- Standalone bike computer or app mirror mode with PanoBike app
- Uses Bluetooth Smart to wirelessly communicate with app
- Sleek, forward-mounting design
- Large, 2.3″ screen
- Requires CR2032 battery (included)
- Works with Topeak PanoBike app (iOS/Android)
- Compatible with PanoBike Bluetooth speed/cadence and heart rate monitors
- Price: $99.95
Lots of promise, jumbled execution
Topeak’s product line spans the gamut of cycling tools and accessories with the PanoBike line representing their take at measuring performance. The full system consists of their app for iOS/Android, the PanoComputer display, PanoBike heart rate monitor and PanoBike speed/cadence sensor.
I’ve been testing the PanoComputer head unit alone in paired mode only without the speed or heart rate sensors. This relies completely on the Bluetooth Smart connection with the Topeak PanoBike iOS app to display ride data without having to either mount your phone to your handlebars or retrieve it from your jersey pocket mid-ride. I’m also testing the Cateye Strada Smart and the Wahoo RFLKT+ in a shootout of sorts.
The PanoComputer is a nifty device that’s about the same size and shape as a typical Garmin. Its forward mount is easily placed and it sits just in front of the stem right out in front for easy viewing. The screen is marvelous and easy-to-read with a fair bit of viewable information including: current time, current speed, cadence, distance, heart rate and elapsed time. In mirror mode, the data shown can’t be changed, so for me I ended up with two unused slots (cadence and bpm) — kind of useless.
Using the PanoBike app, the device is paired. This process was relatively painless, but did take a couple of attempts. Once paired, the device did display the data for easy viewing. The PanoBike app itself is intuitive and functional with the ability to adjust the data displayed on the screen — however, that’s all useless since my iPhone is tucked away in my back pocket. So, the photos, music and other integrations are simply fluff that make the app more bloated than it should be and more of a ongoing maintenance boondoggle for Topeak.
My message to Topeak is they should create a simple, functional app that tracks cycling data well. Leave all the extra fluff to dedicated apps so you don’t have to maintain all that overhead.
Once up and running, the PanoComputer was easy to read, but annoying since I couldn’t change any of the displayed data. I had two sections that remained blank because I didn’t have those sensors. However, the app was displaying more info (just not viewable because it was in my jersey pocket). It would be nice to have the ability to display other data instead.
Further, the app does a poor job of auto-resuming after a stop. The app must remain in the foreground for it to auto-start again. So, if you open your phone and take a photo, check your email and send a text, chances are that you’ll forget to go back to the PanoBike app. As such, your tracking log won’t restart. Every other cycling app I’ve tested can auto-start even if the app is running the the background.
- Clean, simple-to-use iOS app
- Large, easily-read screen
- Forward mounting design
- Does support computer only mode (unpaired) and can sync with power meters, etc.
- No built-in Strava sync
- A bit of a clunky process to pair to the phone
- Came with a dead battery and the replacement battery lasted two rides
- Can’t change viewable screen data (cadence and power are fixed)
- Doesn’t auto-resume unless the app is in the foreground
- Inexplicably lost my first ride — completely gone
- Though app is intuitive to use, it includes way too much overhead
The Bottom Line: Topeak PanoComputer
With the PanoComputer, you do get a bar-mounted view of your ride — just not enough data unless you also shell out an additional $79 for the PanoBike heart rate strap and $55 for the PanoBike speed and cadence sensor. In mirror mode, it simply lacks the features found on other devices, runs out of batteries in a jiffy and doesn’t sync with Strava — you’re on your own with this one.
Buy Now: Available at Amazon.com