What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ-Test: VDO MC1.0+ Altimeter & Cyclometer

A couple years ago I reviewed this wireless cyclometer with altimeter from Germany’s VDO, and liked it so much, I’ve been using it ever since. For 2006, it’s easier to read, and I can now report on our longest test-use yet…

Mount it up and let’s ride: Stack height is taller than other cyclometers, but comparable to other altimeters. The unit comes standard with a bar mount, so order the optional ’stem mount’ separately if you want.

For today’s review, I’ll cut right to the chase: The VDO MC1.0+ has performed flawlessly for me almost exactly two years – it was Feb. 04 when we first tested this baby. Since then I logged several thousand kms and close to 60,000 meters of climbing – including my highest ever ascent of the 2700 meter Passo Stelvio last May, and my hottest ever day’s riding of 40°C last summer – both tough days but memories burned even deeper by the numbers registered on the MC1.0+.

I remember it well… me and my MC1.0+ sitting on Heaven’s Doorstep at the Passo Stelvio.

I changed the battery once. My only real beef over that time was the small size of some of the numbers on the screen – specifically the altitude grade and temp readouts were too small to see while riding – lest you carry a Sherlock Holmes-style magnifying glass in your jersey.

Okay – they’re not the biggest numbers we’ve seen , but at least the new model (right) has larger digits for gradient and temperature. Oddly – my office appears to be at two different altitudes – no worries though – changes on barometric pressure will do this – it’s easily recalibrated in 10 seconds by pressing two buttons.

Standard Equipment
A good altimeter is pretty much standard equipment in my books, espcially in Vancouver – home to some of the best and most varied urban-riding I’ve seen. Almost no ride is without a climb or 10, and the mighty PEZ HQ is situated at the base of the majestic Coastal mountain range on the city’s north shore, home to two 10km climbs that each gain 1000 (+/-) meters vertical. Long before I switched to a compact crank, I was tracking my altitude – my rides were (and are) just more rewarding when I can quantify how far I’ve climbed… and descended.

The guts of the two models are the same – and when I strapped ‘em both onto the bars for a side-by-side test, they both showed exactly the same numbers across the board – speed, altitude, distance, and the rest.

Here’s everything you need for hours of quantifiable cycling fun – and get this: batteries ARE included!

What’s In A Name?
VDO is a German company, founded about 87 years ago, who originally made speedometers for bicycles in the 1920’s. When the automobile became popular, they moved their expertise into manufacturing gauges for autos, and have become one of the leading brands supplying high-end automakers like Mercedes. They’re now owned by electronics giant Seimens, and lucky for us, continue to apply their brains and technology to bicycles.

It’s PACKED With Informational Goodness!
Given VDO’s impressive palmares, the MC1.0+ looks and acts like you’d expect. The screen is approx. 1 inch square, and displays a ton of info as you ride – more than most of us need. Along with the industry standard readings for distance and time, it also reads altitude, and get this – temperature! But that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

The “interface” guys at VDO have done a good job of understanding how riders will want to use this info, and split the data into 3 categories, each easily accessed by one of the 3 big and squeezy buttons, one on either side, and one in the face.

Even with winter gloves on, it’s easy to read:
Mode 1 – Speed , Trip Distance, Ride Time, Avg Speed, Stop Watch, and Max Speed. Everything a speed freak/data junkie could want.

Mode 2 – Navigator, Clock, Odometer for Bike1, Odometer for bike 2, Odometer Total – the sum of all trips on both your bikes.

Mode 3 – Temperature (Celsius or Fahrenheit), % of Incline (up or down), Altimeter, Trip Altitude, Max Altitude (highest point), Average Climb (% average for trip), Max Climb (% max for steepest gradient of trip), SUM Altitudes for both bikes, Top Elevation – highest point reached between both bikes.

Certain info is always displayed – speed, altitude, distance, temperature, % gradient you’re riding on, which wheel size you’re tracking, and imperial or centrigrade measurements.

Another nice improvement is a more modern and secure magnet, which easily snaps onto round or bladed spokes. No more fiddling with tiny screws and drivers…

Cool Features
The guys at VDO must ride themselves, because they know that most of us have more than one bike, and would love to just use one computer for both. The MC1.0+ can be set and used on two different bikes without any reprogramming – so you can switch it to your second bike, or put it on your wife’s, girlfriend’s, kid’s, no probs. You can set it up for two different wheel sizes, so it’s really versatile. Nice. Just remember to order a second mounting unit – your choice of bar- or stem-mount.

It also comes with a no charge5 year warranty – who’s heard of such a thing in the electronics world?

Get Installed

Setup is pretty easy, the unit straps to your handlebar (or stem) with a wide plastic strap that requires only a flat-blade screwdriver. Things got a little trickier attaching the transmitter – it’s fixes with two zap-straps, and comes with rubber shim to protect your paint, and hold it steady from vibrations. I still used a little black tape to wrap around the rest of the fork.

You can mount the wheel sensor almost anywhere on the forks – up, down, either side – I snugged mine up under the brakes on the left fork blade – nicely out of the way. When installing my first MC1.0 in 2004 I did manage to snap off one of the zap-strap anchors – this time I’ll be more careful. Getting a read on the motion sensor took a little time at first, but was easily fixed with a tweak of the magnet position to ensure the magnet & transmitter are about 3mm apart.

The brains of this baby are easily removable – just twist it off and take it with you. The computer clicks into place and is there to stay until you decide otherwise. And changing the battery is a snap too – all you need is a coin to open the back.

On The Road
Does it work? You bet. I admit that knowing the background on the VDO company impressed me – Germans have a great reputation for the bets electronics… I got it set up and calibrated no problem, and I’ve used it on my known routes and all the distances check out. The biggest test I wondered about was the accuracy of the altimeter – but this too checked out when I confirmed altitudes with local topo maps. It stays secure in the bar mount and never pops loose unless I wanted it to.

I haven’t mentioned everything this computer does, but if you need to know more it’s all at the VDO Website.

It does everything I need, and a bunch more. About the only thing it doesn’t have is a pulse meter, but that’s okay, because the VDO HC12.6 does!

VDO MC1.0+ Features
Easy to read 3-line display
Current, Max Trip Altitude (m or ft)
Current, Average, and Max incline in %
Current Temperature (Celsius or Fahrenheit)
Trip Climb Total Total Climb and Maximum altitude for all trips
Home Altitude Memory (auto recalibration)
Service interval indicator,
Odometer for Wheel 1
Odometer for Wheel 2
Total distance (combined odometer for both wheelsets)
Freeze Frame function
Trip Distance
2 Dual wheel programmable
Auto/Manual Stopwatch
Average Speed Maximum Speed Pace Arrow
Hands Free Auto Scroll through functions
Trip Distance
Total Odometer
Elapsed Ride Time
One Button Operation
Auto Start/Stop

Price: $149.95 msrp

Where To Get ‘Em
You can buy ‘em online at www.WiseCycleBuys.com – tell ‘em PEZ sent ya!

• Get more info at the VDO Website

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.