Soleus’ budget Draft GPS bike computer

Pretty in pink.  Or yellow.

Born from the ashes of Nike’s timing division, Soleus is a brand that is well established in the running market.  With their major client gone, designer David Arnold and company struck out on their own, making a range of digital watches and, more recently, wrist-top GPSs.  Seeing as they had the experience with compact, weather-resistant […]

Brand:
Soleus
Product:
Draft
From:
Fit Brands
Price:
£99
Tested:
by Marc B for Three months
Word count:
531
Also available in yellow.  To match the flowers' centre.

Also available in yellow. To match the flowers’ centre.

Born from the ashes of Nike’s timing division, Soleus is a brand that is well established in the running market.  With their major client gone, designer David Arnold and company struck out on their own, making a range of digital watches and, more recently, wrist-top GPSs.  Seeing as they had the experience with compact, weather-resistant GPS devices and manufacturing in place the cycling market was an obvious next step.

The real headline on Soleus’ Draft computer is the £99/$99 asking price- pricing that was until recently unheard-of.  While the competition have been trickling out out entry-level models, the Draft is one of the few that comes in under three figures.  Available in a Tour-inspired yellow and the natty magenta shown here, the Draft is competitively-sized at 66x43mm, much of which is given over to the display.  The zip-tie bar/stem mount can easily be adjusted for angle- but that adjustability comes with a cost: computer sits an awkward 35mm above the bar or stem.

Standing proud (of the bars).

Standing proud (of the bars).

Apart from the lack of a wheel sensor, the Draft functions much like a standard cycling computer.  The configurable display shows three lines of time, speed, and distance data as well as calculated calorie consumption.  The electroluminescent backlight has come in handy during 24-hour racing and the computer has survived numerous soakings without complaint.  Unlike higher-end computers, Soleus make no provision for live mapping: the unit only records tracks for later evaluation.  Anyone looking to follow downloaded tracks or to leave a digital path of breadcrumbs home will need to look upmarket.

Soleus’ thrift is felt most in the instructions- and the interface design.  When compared to similarly-priced units from Garmin, the Soleus is harder to find one’s way around.  In a nod to existing customers the interface is carried over from the running line, but the Draft can’t be called intuitive.  That steep learning curve is compounded by printed instructions that aren’t especially clear.  New users would do well to print out the in-depth instructions provided at soleusrunning.com.

It's all about coordination.

It’s all about coordination.

Once the mount has been accepted and the unit’s functions sussed, the Soleus Draft is a perfectly capable and reliable ride recording and sharing tool.  Soleus’ provided software is Windows-only at the moment, but a Mac version is on the way.  The software’s output is Strava-compatible, meaning that those curious about world of virtual competition won’t be left out.  Ultimately, the Draft’s biggest issue is the competition:  with the Garmin Edge 200 (reviewed in Issue 72) now selling for £109/$129 Soleus will have to polish their interface and possibly add real-time mapping to remain competitive. Available in the UK from Fit Brands, in the US from Soleus.

Note: An optional BarFly forward mount is now available for the Draft.  Pricing is £15/$20 from Fit Brands and Soleus respectively.

Categorised as:

Computers & GPS

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