Bikezilla

Ride the Puddles

Review: Cateye “Astrale 8” and and “Strada”

Posted by bikezilla on October 9, 2010


Recommendation: Stay away from Cateye cycling computers.

Here’s my original mention of the Astrale 8

Ya know how every few years Chevy has to dump one of it’s low end models because the quality is just so bad that people stay away in droves? They then “recommit” themselves to quality and replace that car with another one that they insist is absent of the previous models issues, only to stop making that model, too, within a few years and for exactly the same reasons?

They did it with the Malibu, at least twice, the Cavalier and most recently the Aveo (so watch for the Cruze to vanish, next).

Well that’s how I see Cateye.

I bought the Astrale 8 and almost immediately had problems.

The screen blacks out in cool and hot weather, sometimes so badly that it’s entirely unreadable.

Soon, the locking tab on the cradle broke off as I was removing the unit after a ride in the upper 40s and lower 50s (Fahrenheit).

When I bought my next bike the low end Astrale 8 had been . . . replaced with a brand spankin’ new but oh-so-much-better low end model, the Strada.

The Strada’s construction had a significant difference.

With the Astrale 8 you had to physically press down on the locking tab to remove the unit. This pretty much guaranteed that the poor quality plastic was going to break on any number of cradles as you had them replaced, any time you rode in temps around or below 50F.

But with the Strada all you had to do was press the unit itself forward and it would pop over the locking tab and out of the cradle.

If you don’t have to touch the tab, it should be more reliable. Right? No, not right.

This time I was riding at temps between 54F and 58F.After my ride I pressed the unit forward and it felt a little funny coming out. So I looked and damn if the locking tab wasn’t broken off, just like with the Astrale 8.

In addition, the Strada has the identical issue with the screen blacking out and becoming unreadable in cooler and hotter temps.

And both units will simply stop functioning entirely when you ride in rain.

A unit that doesn’t function in all weather conditions, if not quite useless, can be infuriating. You shouldn’t have to guarantee that the weather for each ride will be perfect from start to finish before you can head out with your bike.

As I’ve mentioned before, I never had this issue with my Schwinn cyclometers (though I hesitate to recommend them now that Schwinn is owned by Pacific).

On a basic level of functionality, both units are fine. They do what they’re designed to do, unless it’s raining or unless the unit slips forward in its cradle because the locking tab is broken and not holding it securely in place.

Now I have to say that Cateye customer service is nothing like Chevy customer service when dealing with their flawed products. They are polite, as helpful as they’re able to be and ridiculously fast at sending out replacement parts (or at least, replacement cradles), all for free.

But this issue with the poor quality, brittle plastic is clearly a known issue. Yet, Cateye refuses to address it by spending an additional penny or two (literally) per unit on a higher quality plastic.

They’d rather just pull a Chevy on us and replace the infuriatingly unreliable model with a new and equally infuriatingly unreliable unit of a different name every few years.

Perhaps the cradles on their higher end products are just fine. Maybe they’re willing to spend ththt extra 1 – 2 cents per cradle if you’re paying $80.00 for a cyclometer instead of $25. Maybe.

But considering the way they abuse their costumers in the lower income range, I can’t in good conscience ever purchase another Cateye product, nor can I recommend that you do.

In fact, I’m hoping that you won’t.

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