Best Bike Computers

For some people, riding a bicycle is more than just an entertaining recreational activity. Some, are so dedicated to the craft that they inspire to reach heights that they never thought they would before. For these types of biking enthusiasts, you will want to ensure that you have the most elite and advanced bike computer on the market. Of course, even if you are not this dedicated, you can enjoy all the design features that make bike computers so useful and convenient. But, the pool is filled with large fish and all the following stand out.

Polar GPS
  • Polar GPS
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Smart coaching software
  • Bluetooth technology
  • Price: See Here
Wahoo Elemnt
  • Wahoo Elemnt
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • KICKR, SNAP compatible
  • Several zooming angles
  • Price: See Here
Lezyne Super GPS
  • Lezyne Super GPS
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • ANT-meters connectable
  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Bike Computers

 

 

Polar GPS

Polar GPS
Outside of its slow syncing capabilities, you will not find a better bike computer in the world today than the M460 GPS Computer from Polar. What makes it so great is its extensive software features and versatile Bluetooth technology.
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Software Features

Coupled with a built-in barometer and the power of GPS technology, this computer manages to accurately and precisely track your altitude, routes, distance, and speed. Plus, with Strava Live Segments, you can enjoy further analytics and real-time data on your performance.

User Interface

To make the M460 simple and fun to use, it features an improved button design and a front LED light. On late night rides, this extra light is very useful.

Wireless and Bluetooth Capabilities

With the power of Bluetooth technology, the options are aplenty for syncing your data. For example, you can receive notifications from your smartphone or connect to other leading power meter software. However, when syncing data, it can be a slow process.

Battery Life

When you are using the GPS and heart-rate functionality, you can expect the battery to last up to 16 hours on a single charge. Of course, this will be enhanced when not using this technology.

Mount Design

Included with the computer is a bike mount and while it is not the best mounting system out there, it is nice that Polar provides you with the means to mount the device.

Overall

Biking enthusiasts will take a liking to this computer within the first use, guaranteed. In the world of bike computers, it simply stands above the rest.
Pros
  • Has a Smart Coaching software feature that allows you to achieve your goals
  • With Bluetooth technology, you can wirelessly connect to several devices
  • The interface will display for you the number of calories you have burned
Cons
  • When using the Bluetooth, it can be slow to sync the data between devices
 

Wahoo Elemnt

Wahoo Elemnt
If the Polar M460 is the best bike computer in the world, then the Wahoo Elemnt is its tag team partner. In terms of quality and design, these two computers are closer than 10 is to 11.
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Software Features

Wahoo integrates turn-by-turn direction downloads into their computer and with the option to add free pre-loaded maps, they guarantee that you are equipped with a GPS device that will take you where you need to go. Plus, it also integrates Strava Live Segments for accurate progress statistics.

User Interface

The 2.7” display, with high-glare and low-light conditions, makes it simple for you to view the metrics and data displayed on the interface. But, a slight caveat is present with the buttons. During a ride, they can be awkward and really hard to press down.

Wireless and Bluetooth Capabilities

Fully implemented in the Elemnt GPS computer is full Bluetooth functionality. Thus, you can sync the computer to your smartphone for notifications and even pair for wireless sensors and cycling apps.

Battery Life

Wahoo claims that this device will last up to 17 hours on a single charge. While sometimes the battery life can be exaggerated, not many have complained about it.

Mount Design

For your convenience, the Element ships with three different mounts. This includes a TT, stem and out front. All these will provide you a proper mounting system on your bicycle.

Overall

Just like the Polar GPS computer, this is only one real design fix away from being as close to perfect as you can get. But, when investing in products you must accept that flaws will accompany them. Thankfully, the issue of the buttons does not make this unusable.
Pros
  • You can toggle between several different zooming angles
  • Is compatible with KICKR and SNAP indoor bike trainers
  • Fully integrates Strava Live Segments
Cons
  • The buttons can be difficult to press down
  • The companion application can provide issues
 

Lezyne Super GPS

Lezyne Super GPS
Anytime a product is being dubbed as “super”, you are right to expect it to be superior to the rest. Due to its placement, it is clearly not the best but it certainly earns its rather boastful description of “super”.
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Software Features

This Super GPS not only integrates GPS technology but also GLONASS connection for additional satellites. As it also connects with ANT+ meters, you can compile all the biometric, power and riding data that you need. In addition, you can also store up to eight fields on one screen across five pages.

User Interface

At times, lots of information and data can be displayed. Thus, it is convenient that Lezyne fine tunes their fonts to be more recognizable with icons used instead of text. To guide you back to your initial path, a breadcrumb trail can also be displayed on the interface.

Wireless and Bluetooth Capabilities

The Bluetooth technology allows you to pair your smartphone with this device, receiving smart notifications or accessing further applications and software, but it may feel a little awkward to navigate with as the GPS computer is not a touchscreen.

Battery Life

One aspect that truly makes this GPS “super” is its battery life. With a 24-hour battery run-time, it makes this GPS one of the longest lasting computers of its kind.

Mount Design

Coming equipped with the computer itself is the X-Lock mounting system that can be attached to your bicycle.

Overall

There are a few areas, in terms of software, that are limited. For example, the number of waypoints you can have and the fact that you can’t share map data with other users. But, these slight gripes aside, a superior battery life and a plethora of software features make it worth it alone.
Pros
  • Comes in black, blue and red
  • Can connect to ANT- meters and monitors
  • It is capable of providing you turn-by-turn navigation
Cons
  • Can’t share map data with other users
  • Only allows you to store 23 waypoints, which will not allow for a complex map
 

Garmin Edge 820

Garmin Edge 820
It was only a matter of time before Garmin made an appearance on this list and to nobody’s surprise, it is not their only one. When it comes to bike computers, their Edge 820 GPS unit truly raises the bar.
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Software Features

The Edge 820 has preloaded turn-by-turn navigation with the Garmin Cycle Map. In addition, this also offers Strava Live Segments, advanced cycling dynamics, watts tracking, and a recovery advisor.

User Interface

Garmin designed their computer with a 2.3” high-resolution touchscreen display and they claim it works when it is wet. However, this does not seem to be the case as operating it while wet is nearly impossible.

Wireless and Bluetooth Capabilities

All the luxurious advantages that Bluetooth technology provides can be enjoyed here. But, past this, also featured here is group track which enables you to keep in touch with the other riders in your group.

Battery Life

For up to 15 hours on a single charge, you will be able to enjoy this GPS without charging it. In addition, the battery save mode will extend the battery life up to 50 percent if chosen.

Mount Design

Includes an out-front mount to allow you to attach and secure it to your bicycle of choice.

Overall

Anytime you see a Garmin device, if nothing else, you know you are investing in something with high-quality and excellent GPS capabilities. They may be the number one brand in GPS and their Edge 820 is part of the reason why.
Pros
  • Is preloaded with turn-by-turn navigation with Garmin Cycle Map
  • With an integrated accelerometer, it can send your location to an emergency contact
  • Features group track
Cons
  • As opposed to what Garmin states, it does not operate while wet
  • If you allow the device to design a course, it may take you to roads that are not appropriate for biking

Garmin Egde 520

Garmin Egde 520
Well, it sure did not take long for Garmin to make another appearance, huh? No doubt, the Edge 520 is most notable for its GPS and GLONASS technology.
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Software Features

For further options to acquire a satellite signal, this has implemented GPS and GLONASS technology. Past this, it also provides you with advanced cycling dynamics when used with Vector power meters.

User Interface

While the screen can get a little clustered and it can be difficult to find a specific feature, you can set up multiple profiles and apply a different color scheme for each of them.

Wireless and Bluetooth Capabilities

When you pair this device with either ANT+ indoor trainers or Bluetooth devices, you can receive all sorts of connected features such as smart notifications and live tracking.

Battery Life

Just as the Edge 820, this has a battery capacity of 15 hours when running on one charge.

Mount Design

You have the option to purchase an out-front mount but there is a selection of small plastic attachments and elastic bands that can be used to secure the computer. But, the seven-button operation dictates how you mount it.

Overall

With back-to-back fantastic bike computers, you should already be sold on Garmin. In particular, their Edge 520 GPS is nice thanks to its GLONASS and GPS capabilities and software features.
Pros
  • Can acquire GPS and GLONASS satellite signals
  • Offers Strava Live Segments
  • Includes all the basic metrics such as calories burned, distance and speed
Cons
  • Syncing data can be slow and unresponsive
  • The interface can be clustered as some items are hard to find

Magellan Cyclo

Magellan Cyclo
Besides the basics that make the Cyclo Computer from Magellan so fantastic, it is rated under IPX7 standards for water-resistance. In the grand scheme of things, this is a huge bonus as there will be times where you bike in the rain.
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Software Features

No doubt, this is ideal for bikers. A complete USA network provides you with turn-by-turn navigation and Open Street Maps for displaying cycle lanes and tracks. In addition to this, your created profiles can inform you of the percentage of the route that is dirt or paved.

User Interface

Magellan designed this computer to have a user-friendly interface. With its 3”, color touchscreen display, you can swipe the screen at any time.

Wireless and Bluetooth Capabilities

Compatible with over 130 ANT+ sensors, you can pair it for even further functionality. Also, with a Di2 Wireless Unit, it can read shifting information from electronic shifting systems.

Battery Life

As compared to others, the battery life is a little less. But, at up to 12 hours on a single charge, it is still adequate enough to get you by.

Mount Design

Included with the bike computer are out-front mounts and a cable tie, which allow you to securely attach the computer to any bicycle.

Overall

Admittedly, the battery life is not the greatest. However, its software functionality and the fact that it is crafted to be water-resistant provide enough quality for even the strictest of bicyclists to be satisfied.
Pros
  • Water-resistant and built to be rugged to withstand any terrain
  • You can create up to six custom profiles to show specific routes
  • It comes preloaded with Open Street Map crowdsourced maps
Cons
  • The limited battery life can be an annoyance
  • At first, the device can be tricky and complicated to get going

Lezyne Micro

Lezyne Micro
A lot of praise has been given to Garmin, but Lezyne makes their second appearance on this list which is highly noteworthy. While brightness is an issue with their Micro GPS, it does not overshadow its diverse design.
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Software Features

With GPS technology, this device is able to map and track satellite signals. Plus, it utilizes GLONASS satellites to provide an even higher accuracy reading. When paired with compatible shifting systems, it can even display electronic drivetrain information.

User Interface

While the large screen sports a high-resolution and a backlight, it still has issues with brightness. Even with the backlight at 100 percent, it can still be difficult to see in low-light conditions.

Wireless and Bluetooth Capabilities

In conjunction with the Lezyne Ally V2 app, which is free, from your connected smartphone, you can receive Strava Live Segments, turn-by-turn navigation, and smart notifications.

Battery Life

If you chose to run the GPS on this computer in one shot, you would get up to 14 hours (probably more around 10) of battery life. However, without it, you can get upward to 100 hours.

Mount Design

Lezyne equips this bike computer with their X-Lock Standard Mount system, providing you with the means to securely attach the computer.

Overall

While the screen can be a minor hindrance, albeit not necessarily detrimental as you can still see it, the ability to connect this device to your smartphone and utilize the Ally V2 app is a huge plus.
Pros
  • It is capable of storing up to 200 hours of riding data
  • Has modes for multiple activity modes such as hiking, running and cycling
  • Can pair it with your smartphone to utilize Lezyne’s app
Cons
  • The battery life is not amazing
  • Even with the backlight, the screen has brightness issues

Garmin Edge 200

Garmin Edge 200
Speaking of the devil, Garmin returns again. Truth be told, with two superb bike computers already addressed, what could this possibly bring to the table? Well, it does not necessarily trump the other two but it secures its spot due to pure-quality.
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Software Features

In typical Garmin fashion, this integrates a high-sensitivity GPS receiver that finds satellites quickly. When you are not moving, the Edge 200 also has an Auto Pause feature to stop the timer when you are not moving. Finally, you can also set alerts for time, calories, or distance.

User Interface

As compared to the other Garmin bike computers on this list, the user interface has aged a bit. While it gets the job done, it is very basic.

Wireless and Bluetooth Capabilities

Unfortunately, there are no Bluetooth capabilities with this computer as Garmin removed its ability to do so.

Battery Life

Even though Garmin claims that this gets up to 14 hours on a single charge, they may have been short-selling themselves. Some have claimed to achieve an even higher battery life.

Mount Design

To make the process as easy and care-free as possible, there is no setup required and all you need to do is secure the computer with the included bike mount and you are all set.

Overall

The Edge 200 is very basic in nature, but that does not make it incapable of performing at an excellent rate. The lack of Bluetooth functionality and an aged-interface may not appeal to some, but do not doubt its GPS capabilities.
Pros
  • No setup required as you just attach it to the included bike mount
  • Can store up to 130 hours of riding data
  • Features a challenge mode that allows you to surpass your previous rides
Cons
  • It does not feature street mapping or the time
  • Lacks Bluetooth technology

Cateye Strada

Cateye Strada
Speaking of basic but effective, it is time to shine the spotlight on CatEye. In specific, their Strada Computer sports all the metric bikers need in a very basic design.
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Software Features

All the metrics that you need are at your fingertips such as speed, total distance, elapsed time, pace arrow and the time. In addition, a nifty feature is able to detect when you have stopped moving to automatically stop collecting data.

User Interface

For a basic computer, the display is actually quite nice. So you do not have to spend time focusing on the screen while you are riding, you can toggle through the functions by merely pressing the base of the unit.

Wireless and Bluetooth Capabilities

What is installed in the software is what you get here as it does not support Bluetooth functionality.

Battery Life

If you use the Strada Computer for one hour per day, it would last you up to one year. Without GPS and Bluetooth technology clogging the battery, it lasts longer than the competition.

Mount Design

CatEye includes their FlexTight Bracket mounting system to allow you to easily mount and adjust it on your bike.

Overall

Sure, this is not the most advanced computer on the market. Without GPS and Bluetooth functionality, it can’t compete with the others on this list. But, for simplicity and basic needs, this is a fantastic system.
Pros
  • Designed to detect when you have stopped moving
  • You can use this computer for multiple bikes
  • Comes with a FlexTight Bracket system
Cons
  • Can be a pain to setup
  • Does not feature GPS or Bluetooth technology

Cateye Velo 7

Cateye Velo 7
Let’s face it, some of you just want a device that is able to perform the tasks you want. In this case, that would be displaying biking metrics.
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Software Features

As with the Strada, the Velo 7 displays all the information you need at the tip of your fingers including speed, distance, and elapsed time. Plus, it also detects when you have stopped moving to stop the data from collecting.

User Interface

It may not be the most visually appealing interface in the world of computer technology, but it is extremely easy to read and interpret.

Wireless and Bluetooth Capabilities

The one major caveat to this computer is its wired speed sensor, which can be a pain at times. Besides this, Bluetooth capability is not present here.

Battery Life

If you were to use this for one hour a day, it would last you up to three years. That is hard to believe, but its basic nature makes it more believable.

Mount Design

Due to the wired sensor, the process of mounting the computer can be a hassle and the wire can provide annoyance.

Overall

This may not appeal to bicycle gurus, but those looking for something basic will appreciate this design. Sure, a wireless sensor, which nearly all others have, is a huge caveat but the software is still highly functional.
Pros
  • Has an amazing battery life
  • Detects when you have stopped
  • An entry-level computer that is perfect for beginners
Cons
  • Has no GPS or Bluetooth
  • Features a wired sensor

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

The Features of the Software and Its Designed Purpose

When you break down a computer, no matter the size, software is as big a determining factor as any. When you are discussing and analyzing bike computers, there are a few specific software integrations that you should focus on. Perhaps the largest one is its GPS capabilities. With GPS technology, you will be able to navigate and track your position in the world. But, different GPS devices will have either faster or more reliable satellite signals. Two surefire factors to look for are if the system also utilizes GLONASS satellites and if the receiver has high-sensitivity. The former will aid in acquiring more satellites while the latter will provide a faster reception.

But, it does not stop with navigation functionality. In addition, the computer should also display for you advanced cycling dynamics and metrics such as performance, distance, calories burned, speed and modes for hiking, cycling, running, etc. Also, keep a special eye out for computer systems that allow you to use and access Strava Live Segments. With this, you can enjoy further analytics and real-time data of your performance. For biking gurus, this is a great way to improve your craft.

The Eloquence and Simplicity of the User Interface

Next up, it is time to discuss the user interface. No matter if it is a smartphone, tablet, laptop, video game console, or bike computer, the display and interface are vitally important. But, how eloquent and detailed it is, also depends on your personal preference. As you saw on this list, there are some that have very basic, but effective interfaces. They do not have to sport a retina OLED display, but some of you may at least want a high-resolution display with color.

Also, if you are used to the touchscreen interface of your smartphone, decide right away if you are okay with a button-controlled design or if you need a touchscreen interface. When you are riding on your bicycle, you may not want to navigate your bike computer via buttons. Of course, also pay mind to the brightness and lighting. Take note if you notice several people complaining about the issues they have with the brightness in low-light and high-glare conditions.

If There is Integrated Bluetooth Technology or ANT+ Compatibility

Modern technology devices thrive because of many factors, but arguably there most convenient feature is Bluetooth. When you have multiple devices that have a Bluetooth technology, you can sync them together and access data from one to the other. With these types of computers, this can be utilized for something as simple as receiving smart notifications on your computer from your smartphone. Or, it can be used for additional software capabilities as you can utilize certain cycling apps from your smartphone and sync them on your computer. For example, Lezyne’s Ally V2 app allows their GPS computers to have the ability to provide turn-by-turn navigation and Strava Live Segments.

Bluetooth is terrific, but do not overlook ANT+ compatibility, either. For those that do not know, ANT+ is a wireless protocol for monitoring sensor data. This could include your heart rate or even the tire pressure on your car. Being able to connect with various ANT+ sensors gives you even further software options and provides you with a better means to train and hone your skills.

How Long the Battery Lasts on a Single Charge

Electronic handheld devices will always, whether great or small, be judged by their battery life capacity. Not so much the lifespan, but how much juice it will provide and how long on a single charge. For those of you that know anything about GPS technology, you understand that it can be a battery hog. If you take a minute to comprehend what the device is doing, acquiring signals from satellites that are hovering above the earth, it becomes understandable why they use so much juice. Hence, you will see devices that use GPS with a battery life for both GPS and non-GPS modes.

As far as the amount of time it can be run on one single charge, that is merely personal preference. A few questions to ask yourself are, one, how long do you plan on using the computer in one shot? Then, if you are using it for an extended period of time, will you have the means to charge it? Take this, for example, if you are bicycling all weekend long then you may want a sufficient battery life. Of course, if you plan on using it once a day for a few hours then you can always recharge it when you finish.

If It Comes with a Mounting System

As these are computers designed for bicyclists, manufacturers need to provide them with a means to mount the computer on their bikes. After all, for all you bicyclists out there, riding on one hand while the other hand is holding your device is not practical at all. Thankfully, with all the entries on this list, the sellers provide you with some sort of design implementation to mount the computer. Most of the time, sellers will equip their own custom mounting system with the computer. Not only does this make it easier for you but you do not have to concern yourself with finding an external mount.

FAQs

Q:   Can You Track Speed Without a Speed Sensor?

This seems like a question that answers itself but do not be fooled that easily. Even if a device does not have a speed sensor, it can still track your speed. However, how is this possible you may ask? Well, as long as you are able to have access to the skies for your device to pick up signals from the satellites in the sky you can have your speed monitored and tracked. Of course, this also means your computer must have GPS capabilities.

But, what happens if you do not have a speed sensor or GPS capabilities? Yes, in this case, then you will be unable to track your speed. Thus, you will need a speed sensor if you are using the computer indoors as GPS technology does not work indoors as you need access to the sky for it to pick up your location.

Q:   In Theory, Could You Use Bike Computers for Other Activities?

One of the better aspects of GPS technology is that it is highly diverse, adapting to several different activities and adventures. But, even for bike computers that do not have GPS on them, can they be used past their designed use? The short answer is, absolutely yes, but with some caveats. Unless the system allows you to change the settings, if you use a bike computer for hiking then you will have to deal with the pacing being calculated in miles per hour or kilometers. When you upload your data on certain applications, you will need to convert it to the proper metrics for hiking.

However, in terms of navigation, GPS and GLONASS devices can be used for just about everything. This is especially enhanced when they provide you with the ability to use turn-by-turn navigation to arrive you your destination.

Q:   Will Bike Computers Work Outside of the United States?

It is worth noting that this question is more aimed at bike computers that utilize GPS and GLONASS technology. As versions that do not have it will have no issue working anywhere in the world. But, this is often a question that gets asked when discussing GPS. Remember, your device can acquire satellite signals wherever it has access to the sky. It does not matter if you are in Russia (especially with GLONASS as that is Russia’s version of GPS) or the United States, though it does when it comes to maps. If you invest in a bike computer that uses mapping to navigate, you may have to download maps online for them to work properly overseas.

It can become a common misconception that GPS devices require an internet connection, as that is not the truth at all. Granted you have access to the sky, you will be good to go.

Q:   What Are Some Ways to Maximize the Battery Life?

As was briefly explained earlier, the battery life of bike computers can fluctuate depending on how you use it. For those who are avid energy savers and looking to get every ounce of juice from your battery, if the computer has the options for it, there are settings that you can turn off to maximize the battery life. One, again if the computer has the option for it, just as you would with a desktop computer or laptop, is to disable the backlight and decrease the brightness.

Another, if the computer implements any sort of LED lighting, is to disable the use of any LED indicator lights. Finally, one that some GPS computers will integrate, as great as turn-by-turn navigation is it can suck your battery life very quickly. If need be, forego using this navigation to save some battery. As you already know, the GPS itself can already be a battery hog so avoiding even more drainage could prove beneficial.

Q:   Can You Use Bike Computers for Two Different Bikes?

Not every single bike is the same; this is something you are already aware of. It does depend on the specific bike computer, but they should be able to adjust to different bikes. For example, a software feature such as the heart rate monitor may stay the same but the speed and cadence may be slightly different. To put it in perspective, here is what Wahoo claims about their Elemnt GPS Computer. Their device will automatically detect different speeds and cadence sensors no matter the bike it is mounted on. But, because it does not have an odometer function it can’t keep track of the separate mileages for each bike.

While that is just one example, the worst that is going to happen is that some features are a little different from bike to bike.

Q:   Will Bike Computers with GPS Work Under Tree Cover?

By now, you fully understand that GPS devices must acquire signals from satellites floating above the earth. However, there is a high likelihood that during your bike ride, you will eventually be under trees or some sort of cover. In these situations, will your GPS computer continue to function? No matter what you do, this will affect the signals that your device can acquire. But, this is where having a high-sensitivity receiver and GLONASS technology also assist as the device can pick up more satellites at a more efficient rate.

All in all, what truly matters is the thickness of cover you are under. If you ride underground and in caves, good luck receiving a signal. But, if you are traveling in the woods and you can still see parcels of the sky then you should still be able to receive signals.

Final Thoughts

Biking gurus and novices alike can find great usefulness from bike computers. Now that you have a good understanding of the important design features and factors to look for, you should be ready to make a quality investment. Of course, if you stick to the computers that have been documented in this guide you should have no concerns.