The GPS Draft is the first cycling specific offering from Soleus, who has previously catered mainly for the running market.
Taking the head unit out of the box for the first time, lightweight and simplicity are the two immediately salient features. The display takes up almost the full width of the unit and four buttons are situated around the sides and front edge.
Three lines of data can be programmed to display current/average/maximum speed, calories burned, trip time, time of day, odometer and trip distance. The top line uses larger figures so that the most relevant information can be made to stand out.
The Draft is attached to the handlebars or stem using the bracket and cable ties supplied. This is pretty straightforward and once in place, installing and removing the unit is simple. An “out-front” style mount is available separately, making the unit easier to view at a glance.
At the start of each ride, the GPS receiver must be activated. This takes a while to get used to, but it is really only the same as turning on a Garmin or other GPS device. A two second press of the Mode button turns the receiver on and off. Pressing the start/stop/save button activates the stopwatch and begins data recording.
On the move, the display is easy to read, and the view/enter button allows the user to change the information displayed, scrolling through speed, calorie, odo, clock, chrono and distance.
Once saved (by holding down the start/stop/save button when prompted), GPS information can be uploaded to Strava using the USB charging cradle supplied. This process involves downloading some software from the Soleus website which connects with Strava allowing access to all of the features enjoyed by Garmin and Smartphone users of the site.
It is the post ride analysis of information gathered by GPS receivers that cyclists seem to find so fascinating. There is only so much information or so many metrics that a rider can pay attention to while actually on a ride. Setting sat nav aside, it is really only time, distance and speed that most riders are interested in while out on the road.
Most GPS tracking device owners probably use less that 10% of their units features and are really only recording information to view later. Others do the same using a smartphone and the Strava app, but battery life is a real issue when using a phone as a GPS receiver.
It is in this context that the Soleus GPS Draft starts to make a lot of sense. It is simple to use, displays relevant information out on the road, and provides access to no end of analytical tools via Strava. Its price (RRP £79.99) makes it an attractive alternative to other leading brands, and it is far more convenient than using a smartphone as a data recorder.
Jimmy Wilson, Cyclist and Contributing Writer