Bryton Rider S500 Initial Review (8 Weeks In)
In this post I review the Bryton Rider S500 bike computer, which launched in late January 2022 (and if you’re reading this post on launch date, well… today!).
Bryton sent me the device in mid-November 2021 to test and review. I’ll try to be impartial but let’s face it, Bryton have sent me 3 bike computers now, so we can’t call me totally unbiased. You decide how many pinches of salt you want to take.
Also, after 8 weeks of use over a number of shorter winter rides and one absolutely grim snowy sleeting one, this ain’t gonna be a comprehensive review.
More a flavour … to savour.
Or not. Let’s get into it.
Bryton Rider S500 Review
According to the bumf they sent me, the S500 is the first in Bryton’s new “S series” range of premium bike GPS computers.
S stands for Sport. As do I!
It’s a colour touchscreen device that is roughly the same size as the Garmin Edge 530 and a smidge larger than the
Price wise, it’s in line with Edge 530 and the ELEMNT BOLT at $300 or £260 for the device and mount. EUR300 for those with a continental persuasion.
None of these competitor devices have touchscreens though, so let’s start there.
Rider S500 Video Review
Not everyone like words through their eye holes. If you prefer moving pictures and accompanying sounds, look no further than the video version of the review…. here:
And actually I quite like using the touchscreen. It’s not quite iPhone responsive but it’s certainly not bad.
Swiping between the screens is easy. The S500 seems to recognise where I’ve tapped on the screen with a reasonable degree of accuracy.
Moving through the menus with the touchscreen is fine, and generally better than with physical buttons.
That said, for the menus where Bryton has gone with a slot machine spinning display type approach, the selection bar, or box, doesn’t always seem to stop on the option I am going for.
I guess we all like a bit of a gamble.
The touchscreen even works, from time to time, with gloves. Not with all types of gloves and certainly not with 100% of screen taps.
Swiping through the various data screens whilst wearing my
The good thing about the S500 (and its Rider 750 predecessor) is that it also has a good number of buttons on the side, so glove wearers can still perform some of the key ride functions, such as moving through the data screens, without having to whip them off. The gloves.
The touchscreen is particularly good for switching out fields on the ride data screens. Press and hold a field to highlight it. Tap it again and you can select from a cornucopia of different data display options. And bingo bango you’re done.
Display / Screen
For me the screen has good readability. The font that Bryton uses is clear and well-defined.
Comparing the text against the Rider 750, there is less blockiness – is that the term – which suggests Bryton has packed more pixels into the newer device.
Contrast also seems pretty good. In Day mode, the black text stands out well against the white background.
There is also a Night colour mode – white font on a black background – which you can either select or set to auto.
The auto setting is now possible because the S500 has an ambient light sensor, an upgrade from the Rider 750. This sensor can also be used to set screen brightness to automatic, in line with the Edge 530 and V2 ELEMNT BOLT.
At maximum screen brightness, the Edge 530 is still brighter than the S500 but I can’t imagine many keep the Edge 530 on max for long. The S500 in auto mode works perfectly fine.
In terms of screen area, the S500 sits halfway between the ELEMNT BOLT, at the low end, and the Edge 530.
For the stat fans I’ve measured it at 17.3 square centimetres. It doesn’t feel lacking in screen real estate and is perfectly adequate for a mid-size bike computer.
The S500’s screen is shiny and therefore somewhat reflective in sunny conditions, not that I’ve seen much of that during the review period.
To be fair, this is no different from Garmin and older Wahoo ELEMNTs. Only the recent BOLT V2 has a less reflective matte screen.
Size, Weight, Appearance and Build Quality
Appearance wise, well you can see it yourself and decide if you like it.
Bryton’s more recent bike GPS models have gone with a sort of stretched octagon shape with angled corners. The S500 looks smart enough to me.
Shorter than Bryton’s previous top end model, the 750, the new S500 is broadly equivalent to the Edge 530, ELEMNT BOLT and Stages Dash M50 in terms of size.
Build quality seems pretty good. It’s a solid unit. The plastics and buttons are of reasonable quality and the USB-C port and rubber cover all look and feel pretty neat.
In fact the S500 is so solid, crew, that it outweighs both the Edge 530 and the BOLT. There’s not much in it, 10-20g, but every little hinders, right?
Wrong. Get down to single digit body fat percentage and then we can talk.
The cleat design makes for an overall deeper unit profile. Not as a sleek as the ELEMNT BOLT with its integrated aero mount cutout, but also not a noticeable issue when mounted to the bike.
Talking of mounts, whilst the S500 comes with its own metal one, which I rather like, the Bryton cleat design is close enough to Garmin’s to use their mounts, but it won’t click into place.
Unusually though on the S500, you can actually remove the cleat and replace it with a Garmin-compatible one, which Bryton handily supplies in the box. And then it will click joyfully and securely into place. Ah, the little things…
Finally, the cleat’s off-centre location on the back means it doesn’t sit flat on my desk, unlike the Edge 530 and ELEMNT BOLT. But that’s more a problem for the nascent bike tech blogger-YouTuber than a rider with the er, Rider, settled nicely in a handlebar mount.
Navigation is an area where, for me, Bryton seems a little stuck in no mans land.
The S500, like the Rider 750 before it, doesn’t have true onboard mapping.
Instead it relies on having a connected smartphone, with the Bryton Active app running, in order to use the re-routing and voice navigation features.
If it’s not connected to your phone, or your phone doesn’t have internet, the S500 will continue to navigate along a route. It just can’t re-direct you back.
This is equivalent to the old V1 BOLT’s breadcrumb navigation, but not as good as the true onboard mapping and re-routing you get on the new V2 BOLT or the Edge 530.
Even with the S500 connected to my phone, routing and re-routing seems a bit hit and miss.
I’ve gone off course on rides without it re-routing – it just says ‘Off Route’. Maybe my phone had insufficient internet connection juice.
On the other hand, the S500 has been able to navigate me to the start of a route I’m just about to ride. So it’s clearly capable of routing.
A mystery that will no doubt resolve itself in time but not on miserable winter rides where I don’t want to faff around at the side of the road.
The maps loaded onto the S500, at least for the firmware versions I’ve been testing, are not in sufficient detail for the UK to be of any use.
They show the main A roads near me but none of the smaller lanes.
Needless to say, I prefer to ride the latter.
The maps on the Rider 750 are more detailed, so I’d say this is a software issue that will be fixed in due course.
The press release refers to OpenTopoMaps support, coming soon, with high levels of detail, so perhaps that will fix things.
In the meantime, I’m riding somewhat blind. Other than I know the roads around me quite well.
Uploading and Following Routes
Creating and uploading routes works well, albeit with a quirk currently relating to Strava routes.
I’ve created a couple of routes on the website version of the Bryton Active app – yes I’m a computer-loving luddite – and the mapping software is basic but usable.
You can also create routes using essentially the same software but in the smartphone app.
Because it is basic, I’ve always found it quite easy to use on a smartphone. But still I like computers and mice and I refer you to my earlier luddite comment.
You can also theoretically sync your favourited routes in Strava. I say theoretically because this used to work for me but now doesn’t.
The beta version of the app I’m using to test the S500 doesn’t seem to load in more recent routes and sometimes hangs when I try.
Hopefully this will be fixed in later versions.
Once a route is saved, or imported from Strava, it’s straightforward to select it from the app and send it to the device, where it appears in the ‘Courses’ menu.
Following a route is also straightforward, albeit the map screen itself doesn’t yet show much detail other than the line of the course.
Clear turn directions flash up, irrespective of which data screen you’re on, and they’re easy to follow.
So that’s nice.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m using this ‘beta’ version, but I’ve found the Bryton Active app to be a bit glitchy on my iPhone. It could also be because I have an older iPhone 7.
In one instance, the icons disappeared, replaced with empty squares making it difficult to work out what I was doing.
At other times, when opening the app, it comes up with a blank white screen, which I can only fix by rebooting my phone:
I previously used the app with the Rider 750 and it worked fine. Again, hopefully these bugs will be ironed out in later versions.
Otherwise the app is fine. You can use it to update many of the settings on the S500, as an alternative to doing it directly on the device.
I’ve used it to link with my Strava account, which means that rides are automatically synced over.. most of the time.
When it doesn’t, for whatever reason, you can manually force a ride to be uploaded.
As I say, hopefully, in the fullness of time, my Strava routes will also show up in the app.
Data Sensors and Displays
The S500 connects with all the usual data sensors: speed and cadence, heart rate, power.
And, when riding, that data is displayed on grid screens familiar to users of other bike computers. Up to 10 fields can be displayed on any one page.
Bryton does have some neat graphical representations of data – doughnut and bar charts for heart rate, speed, cadence and power. I liked these on the Rider 750 and they are present on the S500.
I think it can also connect to electronic gearing systems and various e-bike platforms, but since I don’t have either of those, I leave you to research those separately.
User Interface and Experience
The S500 shares broadly the same user interface as the Rider 750, so it immediately felt pretty familiar.
As I noted in my Edge 530 vs 830 comparison, a touchscreen, for me, makes menu navigation and changing settings a lot easier than trying to wrestle with buttons on the side.
At times, the Bryton UI can feel a bit quirky but, like an eccentric uncle, I’ve come to love and respect it.
Once you get used to where the various settings are in each menu, it’s actually reasonably easy to use.
And unlike the smartphone app, I’ve found the S500 device to be very stable.
It hasn’t crashed or lost data. Each firmware update has been pushed down and installed automatically without causing me any hassle.
The Bryton press release refers to the S500 having improved processing power. They don’t supply the stats, but it is quicker to move around than the Rider 750.
This is most noticeable on the mapping screens, albeit I doubt the S500 is dealing with a large map file size given the level of detail.
The S500 doesn’t feel Edge 530 chipset quick but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
There are definitely some annoyances with the UI.
I already mentioned the rotating menus are somewhat, er, erratic when choosing an option.
When you are searching the various top-level and sub-menus to change a particular setting, scrolling back and forth between them can be frustrating.
Say you’ve navigated to one of the sub-menus where the top-level menu option is some way down the page. When you go back – perhaps it wasn’t the sub-menu you were looking for – you start again at top of that menu, rather at the menu option you previously selected.
You have to scroll all the way down again to try the next menu on the list and gives the impression of greater complexity in the device than there is.
Features Not Mentioned Elsewhere
Which is a nice clunky sub-heading. For a nice clunky bike rider.
I’ve only had limited opportunity to test ‘Climb Challenge’, with the specific test route I designed for it having to be aborted half way up the main climb, due to snow.
Climb Challenge is Bryton’s alternative to the ‘ClimbPro’ feature found on the Edge 530 and other Garmin devices. The S500 will identify the main climbs on your route and, as you ride up them, show a climb-specific data screens with colour-coded gradient charts and details on progress.
Despite the dreadful riding conditions, my first impressions of the Climb Challenge feature are very positive. I’m looking forward to using it more.
I already mentioned the OpenTopoMaps thing. This sounds interesting. I’ve had a look at the OpenTopoMaps website and the maps look great.
In the press release, Bryton highlights the benefits to mountain and gravel bikers, since the maps will bring contour lines and hill shading. I’ll settle for them showing the road in front of my house.
Finally for this section, the S500, like the Edge, BOLT and Dash, integrates with the Garmin Varia
The implementation works well. A bar appears down the side of the screen to warn you of vehicles approaching from behind. It flashes green when they’ve all passed.
Varia support is increasingly standard on all decent bike GPSes but nonetheless good to see it included here.
Bryton describes the Rider S500 as having an ‘enormous’ 30 hour battery. 30 hours is definitely a lot, beating the 20 hour Edge 530 and 15 hours on the ELEMNT BOLT by some margin.
I guess it’s helped by Bryton shifting some of the battery heavy lifting to your phone. The S500’s navigation features need your phone location thingummy to be working full bore.
Real world battery life will depend on how you use it, your brightness settings and so on.
It’s too early for me to tell you anything particularly useful. Indeed it’s rare that I ever tell you anything useful.
I will say that a recent 2 hour ride in grim, dark conditions took it from 65% to 52% charge, so that’s not bad. And I’ve rarely had it on charge these past few weeks.
So those keen on long battery life will like the S500.
Whilst we’re on charging, the S500 joins the V2 BOLT and the Hammerhead Karoo 2 in having a USB-C charging port. Bryton don’t supply the details but this should mean it charges more rapidly than GPSs that use the older micro-USB format… like the Edge 530.
I’ll keep this very brief because I don’t really use any bike computers to guide me through workouts. Rod Hull I’ve only just got onto Zwift!
You certainly can upload structured workouts to the S500.
The three fitness tests on the device itself are described in pretty vague terms. If you’re going to do one of these, I’d suggest supplementing with additional research to make the suffering worth it.
There are also three basic workouts on the app, which are more sensible, and can be uploaded to the device. You can also create your own workouts or link to a 3rd party platform like TrainingPeaks.
It seems that all of the workouts rely on power data, rather than using heart rate zones, so you would need a power meter in order to follow them.
Finally, according to Bryton, the S500 can control resistance or power on your Smart Trainer. But since I don’t own a smart trainer… yet… I can’t speak to this.
I think the S500 has the makings of a good bike computer. It has a very usable touchscreen and has more processing power than previous Bryton devices. It looks good on the bike and appears well made.
The touchscreen gives the S500 a clear selling point over competitor devices at a similar price point. Both the Edge 530 and ELEMNT BOLT rely on buttons.
On the other hand, both of those bike computers have full on-board navigation, sans connected smartphone, and a cleaner and less quirky user experience.
For choice, I’d recommend waiting to buy one until the app stabilises and the OpenTopoMaps integration is implemented, particularly if navigation is an important feature for you.
When that happens, and assuming you’re ok with the whole connected phone for re-routing thing, you should be able to pick yourself up a solid touchscreen bike computer at competitive price.
Other Bike Computers That May Interest You
Here is my full review of the Garmin Edge 530.
And in this post I compare the new(ish) V2 ELEMNT BOLT with the original version (which is sort of a review of the new BOLT).
If you’re keen on a touchscreen, the Garmin