Ricky Arnopol is a rider for Project Echelon Racing, a professional cycling team based in the United States. Their mission is to educate, empower and equip veterans and their communities through physical activity and self discovery. In his fifth year with the team, Ricky is focused on the North American stage race calendar as well as stage stage races across Europe.
With the surge of cycling GPS head units hitting the market in recent years, Bryton has established themselves as a major player with their long standing Rider line. In early 2022 Bryton released their newest offering, the Rider S500 which boasted crisper color display and more features in a compact size. This was the first offering in what Bryton is calling their Sport Series. This series is specifically designed with adventurous cyclists in mind for easy operation and enhanced features. Bryton didn’t wait long to release their newest unit, the Rider S800. With a bigger display, jam packed features, and unparalleled battery life the Bryton Rider S800 sits at the top of the list of head units competing with every major manufacturer.
As a rider of Project Echelon Racing, an American professional cycling team, I was able to test the S800 in real race conditions during the Redlands Cycling Class and the UCI Tour of the Gila, two of the hardest 5 day stage races in the United States.
Opening the box felt very familiar to that of the Rider 750 which was the head unit Project Echelon had been using for the previous few seasons. The box included: Sport Mount, USB Type-C, Safety Lanyard, QSG / Safety Agreement, Protective Case, Screen Protector. The protective case and the screen cover were new additions but certainly useful and easy to install.
The USB-C was also an upgrade to the previous mini USB used with the Rider series. An interesting addition was the interchangeable garmin mount that allows you to swap the factory Bryton mount for one compatible with all standard Garmin mounts. This allowed me the option to use the integrated center mount compatible with my ENVE SES Aero handlebars. All that is needed to swap the mounts is to remove the 4 small phillips head screws, swap the mounts, and then reinstall the 4 screws. Simple and easy. Though it is not included in the bundle it is a quite inexpensive addition at $12.95 USD.
In terms of size and weight, the first thing that is evident is the size of the S800’s touch screen. Its 3.4” color display is nearly the size of the previous Rider 750 but the slim bezel and overall slender profile makes it feel compact without sacrificing the impeccable graphics. As for weight it comes in at 106g which is quite light for a computer with such a large display. The 4 buttons are easily distinguished with two sitting on each side. Though once you turn on the S800 and experience the touch screen the buttons seem almost unnecessary.
Upon turning on the S800 the first thing you notice is the striking MIP (Memory In Pixel) display. All of the metrics and maps are crisp, defined, and easy to read. The touch screen is that of any modern smartphone. And the features are what we would expect from Bryton.
Navigation has always been one feature that sets Bryton apart from its competitors. Bryton uses multiple different forms of navigation: Voice Navigation, Pin, My Favorite, History, Search destination on app, and Back to start. In my opinion the Voice Navigation is the easiest method which allows you to search a destination on the head unit by voice while connected to the Smartphone app. That being said, the Bryton App does also make it very easy to search locations and easily transfer the route directly onto your S800. The turn by turn navigation is accurate and has yet to lead me astray. A small but useful feature was Bryton including the well known “Breadcrumb Trail” to show you the route you have ridden already and how to navigate back to the start.
As the S800 was designed with the adventurous cyclist in mind, battery life was a key feature that sets itself apart from its competitors. With a claimed 36 hour battery life this is without a doubt the leader in its class with its closest competitor coming in at 24 hour maximum battery life. I was able to put this to the test throughout the two week race block, not only having to charge it once despite still having 10% battery left. This is a game changer for gravel and adventure cyclist who can tackle multi day races or bike packing trips without having to worry about recharging their head units.
The newest features included on both theS500 and S800 are the Advanced Workout Feature and my favorite, the Climbing Challenge feature. The advanced workout feature allows you to sync your S800 with Training Peaks to allow you to import your daily workouts and complete them as instructed. The workout builder metrics show you what the workout looks like in clear color display and changes intervals for you as the workout progresses. With the team's busy race schedule I had limited time to use this feature but with the increasing popularity of smart trainers it will be very handy this offseason.
The Climbing Challenge feature was something I was able to use during the UCI Tour of the Gila, one of America’s hardest races with over 25,000 feet of climbing. Stage 5 of the Tour of the Gila is the famous “Gila Monster” stage which is over 100 miles with 10,000+ feet of climbing. By loading the route for the day onto my S800, I was able to view each major categorized climb in detail. It showed the climbing distance, elevation gain and gradient. It had a color coded display of the climb, showing the steepest sections in red that allowed me to pace myself properly. Most importantly it showed me how long I had to go before the summit of the climb which does offer a healthy level of motivation to power up those steepest sections.
Another very unique feature to the new S800 is its Explore Feature. This allows you to put in a destination and let Bryton give you 3 different route options to get there. You can select between race, mountain or city bike plus walk/run. We put this feature to the test in the days leading up to Redlands Classic which gave us multiple options for routes to train on. The routes were clearly those trafficked by cyclists and allowed us to explore a city we were not completely familiar with. Overall a great experience and something that could be used in any new city you’re traveling to.
The final feature that I was not able to use was the group chat feature. This feature allows you to chat with other Bryton S800 users by sending voice messages directly from your Bryton. In addition you can see your friends on a real time map and cheer each other on! A feature that will certainly be fun to use amongst the team.
Bryton is not the new kid on the block. The S800 not only puts them amongst the top manufacturers in the GPS head unit game, the jam packed list of features separates them from their competitors and in a league of their own. You will see Project Echelon Racing fully equipped with the Bryton S800 computers this season racing in both America and Europe. Expect to see the S800 crossing the line 1st all season!