Best Bike Computers
You have a fancy watch, a smartphone, a computer, a car navigation system, and a pretty bike. Don't you think your bike deserves some love too? Sure, the bike is lucky to have you but we all know that you get lost sometimes or don't quite take her out for as many miles as she begs for. Investing in a bike computer can be life-changing for both you and your sweet bike. 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.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Can acquire GPS and GLONASS satellite signals
Offers Strava Live Segments
Includes all the basic metrics such as calories burned, distance and speed
Top 10 Picks
1. Garmin Edge 520
Can acquire GPS and GLONASS satellite signals
Offers Strava Live Segments
Includes all the basic metrics such as calories burned, distance and speed
Syncing data can be slow and unresponsive
The interface can be clustered as some items are hard to find
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. 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.Read more
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.
Ease of Use
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.
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.
Just as the Edge 820, this has a battery capacity of 15 hours when running on one charge.
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.
2. Lezyne Micro
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
The battery life is not amazing
Even with the backlight, the screen has brightness issues
While brightness is an issue with their Micro GPS, it does not overshadow its diverse design. 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.Read more
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.
Ease of Use
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.
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.
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.
Lezyne equips this bike computer with their X-Lock Standard Mount system, providing you with the means to securely attach the computer.
3. Polar M460 GPS
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
When using the Bluetooth, it can be slow to sync the data between devices
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. 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.Read more
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.
Ease of Use
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.
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.
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.
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.
4. SRM PC8
Easy to navigate
Four bike profiles on one computer
GPS is only for recording
There's no doubt that this computer has a sleek design. The price is fairly steep, but this machine is dependable, easy to use, and has great battery life. It is compatible with many fitness tracking apps and also features ANT+ technology.Read more
Besides bringing you great accuracy concerning your distance, heart rate, and over statistics, the PC8 also features GPS. However, it should be noted that the GPS feature is only for recording and takes about two to three minutes to acquire a signal. As an added bonus, this computer is compatible with ANT+ accessories.
Ease of Use
This computer really couldn’t be easier to use. The built-in sensor turns on automatically when you start pedaling. There is no touch screen, just an easy to use navigation button that allows you to toggle screens and check all of your stats. You can also keep four different bike profiles on the PC8. Before you start your ride, simply choose your bike (if it's not the same one you used last) and go.
The PC8 does have wifi, but you can also make data transfers with the included USB cord. On the device, your exercise data is saved as a .fit file and can be uploaded to many different training platforms, such as Strava, Velobook, and Golden Cheetah. For the power meter data, speed sensor, and heart rate monitor, this information can be sent and received with ANT+.
This little machine really shines here. Of course, it depends on the settings and how you use the computer, but the battery can last from ten to forty-five hours. To save battery, you have the option to turn off the GPS and the backlight. As far as the memory, it can store up to 500MB, which turns out to be about 4,000 hours of training!
You can choose the color of your PC8, and you can also make the left and right side personalizations. Included in the box are a handlebar mount and a USB downloader/charging cable. Additionally, this comes with a three-year warranty.
5. Cateye Velo 7
Has an amazing battery life
Detects when you have stopped
An entry-level computer that is perfect for beginners
Has no GPS or Bluetooth
Features a wired sensor
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. 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.Read more
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.
Ease of Use
It may not be the most visually appealing interface in the world of computer technology, but it is extremely easy to read and interpret.
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.
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.
Due to the wired sensor, the process of mounting the computer can be a hassle and the wire can provide annoyance.
6. Cateye Strada
Designed to detect when you have stopped moving
You can use this computer for multiple bikes
Comes with a FlexTight Bracket system
Can be a pain to setup
Does not feature GPS or Bluetooth technology
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 very basic design. 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.Read more
All the metrics that you need are at your fingertips such as speed, total distance, elapsed time, a pace arrow and the time. In addition, a nifty feature is able to detect when you have stopped moving to automatically stop collecting data.
Ease of Use
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.
What is installed in the software is what you get here. It does not support Bluetooth functionality.
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.
CatEye includes their FlexTight Bracket mounting system to allow you to easily mount and adjust it on your bike.
7. Cateye Padrone
Available in 8 different colors
Easy to use interface
Coming in as one of our cheapest and well-loved computers, the Padrone from Cateye is known for its easy mounting, large screen, and color options. The Padrone was actually created by listening to customer feedback and creating a new product with all the favorite preexisting features and enhancing or eliminating the unloved features. Some people find this model is too basic for them, considering it doesn't measure cadence, but for the simple biker, this may be ideal.Read more
This computer easily displays all of your stats. You will be able to keep track of your speeds; current, maximum, and average. It is easy to add your mileage to this device from a previous outing or from a different device. One of the most admired features of this computer is the auto-pause. The counter will pause when you stop to chat or grab a cup of coffee.
Ease of Use
The face of this device measures in at 67.5mm x 43mm and 15.6mm in depth. The Padrone has been described as a "squint-free" device, allowing you to focus more on the trail than the computer. Another loved feature is the fact that there are no buttons on the sides or face of this computer. To switch apps, you simply tap the screen.
This specific version from Cateye does not feature Bluetooth. There are other versions of the Padrone do have Bluetooth, and that will be reflected in the price difference. Conveniently, this computer is wireless and features an analog sensor!
Assuming that you use the computer for one hour a day, it will last you for one year. However, we should warn you that you lose your miles and data when you switch out the battery.
Along with this bike computer, you'll also receive a simple and universal mounting system. The FlexTight bracket is simple to take on and off, making it easy to take inside the coffee shop, mount it on another bike, or even lend it to a friend.
8. Planet Bike Protoge 9.0
User-friendly LCD touch screen
Easy to mount on a bike
Connected with zip-ties, not easily removed and re-attached
User-friendly buttonless computer tech ensures very accurate data, very good for touring or bike training, the screen has an easy four line readout so you can keep track of your data easily. The computer offers nine functions, average speed, max-speed, temperature, clock, dual odometer, distance to go, riding time, a speed comparator and current speed. The computer is an overall user-friendly system with very good software and computer functions while being easy to fit onto a bike.Read more
Very easy to read font size, no need for buttons with the large-size LCD screen being very easy to read and monitor. The screen gives five pieces of simultaneous data, to change the display just do a quick finger tap on the screen, if you touch the screen for a long time this will reset the data on display.
Ease of Use
The interface allows you to easily track and record your bike journey while you are riding, you can set the computer to start automatically when it senses your bike starting to move. When you come to a halt the system will stop recording and start again when you move, this means you get a very accurate reading of your real-time journey excluding the stops.
You get ongoing monitoring for current speed, a reliable speed comparator, your ride time, the distance for your ride, a dual odometer which covers two different wheel sizes, a readout for your average speed and maximum speed, the temperature, and a clock. The wireless technology allows you to instantly and easily connect your data with whichever app you like.
The manual start and stop functions of the computer help to maintain the life of the battery. Figuring out how long the battery life in is quite a challenge. For some reviewers, it lasts about two years, while others can’t get through two months. Of course, more than anything, this depends on how often you use it as well.
The device comes with a handlebar bracket which is 25.4 by 31.8 millimeters and a front-wheel mounting at 82 cm. This is built to be durable with a robust heavy-duty large wire harness which has a wire mounting system for the front wheel. A user-friendly Macro Monitor LCD screen, the unit case is ultrasonically welded together with a size of 40 by 47 millimeters and can be mounted on handlebars of the size 25.0 up to 31.8 millimeters. The total weight of the unit with the sensor and bracket is just 57 grams. The Magnet will fit up to 4mm spokes (bladed).
9. Garmin Edge 1030
IPX7 waterproof rating
Comes preloaded with maps
Live tracking feature
Only displays 3 social notifications
Some have had difficulty pairing the computer with other devices
Garmin strikes again. 1030 features a strong and reliable GPS/GLONASS system that not only keeps you from getting lost but also allows others to track your movements. The 3.5" touch screen is easy to use and easy to read. With so many available apps and ways to connect, this is a great choice for social cyclists.Read more
To further enhance the impressive GPS capabilities, the Garmin Edge 1030 also utilizes GLONASS. Reviewers admire the turn by turn directions as well as the live tracking feature. If you have a worried spouse at home, they can track you using this feature to make sure you haven’t been injured.
Ease of Use
The 3.5” color-enhanced touch screen is easy to see and easy to read while riding. You can adjust the calibration of the screen from low to high. It is preloaded with Garmin Cycle Maps and customizable with many other apps. With the built-in WiFi, it is also simple to update the software when needed. Additionally, Trendline routing and Garmin Connect make it easy for you to find the best on and off-road routes.
This computer can be connected by many different means, including WiFi, Bluetooth, and ANT+. You can also connect it with your smartphone. While this may be a bit distracting, you can respond to messages and calls with one-touch general responses.
Depending on your settings, the battery of this device can last up to twenty hours. Additionally, it can log up to 200 hours of riding history.
Sometimes we forget that it’s not just the device, but the included accessories that really make the product shine. The Garmin Edge 1030 comes with a USB connection and charging cable and two mounts- one standard mount and one flush-out front mount. If you are interested in more accessories, you can opt for the bundle pack, which also includes a heart rate strap and cadence sensor.
10. Wahoo Elemnt
You can toggle between several different zooming angles
Is compatible with KICKR and SNAP indoor bike trainers
Fully integrates Strava Live Segments
The buttons can be difficult to press down
The companion application can provide issue
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.Read more
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.
Ease of Use
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.
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.
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.
For your convenience, the Element ships with three different mounts. This includes a TT, stem and out front. All these will provide you with a proper mounting system on your bicycle.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When you break down a computer, no matter the size, the 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 on your performance. For biking gurus, this is a great way to improve your craft.
Ease of Use
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 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.
Modern technology devices thrive because of many factors, but arguably there most convenient feature is Bluetooth. When you have multiple devices that have 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.
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 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 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.
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.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Choosing a bike computer doesn’t have to be difficult but you will need to know what you are trying to get out of the one you choose. They can be very basic and there are those with advanced features to fit most needs. A bike computer should be easy to use while you are riding. There are many ways to make sure it is the best fit for you. Including trying it out before making your purchase would be ideal. But if that’s not the case, read the reviews about ease of use.
There are many small features that will greatly improve your digital ride. What time of day do you usually ride? If you ride in the dark, a backlit screen is a must. How's your vision? If the answer isn't "20/20," you may want to consider a computer with easier readability. Do you always ride the same bike? If not, you should also investigate how easy it is to remove and remount the computer.
If you are exploring a new area, the Strava App can help you find the best trails and other cyclists You can follow recommended routes that locals have uploaded, or create your own. You can think of Strava as the social media of the exercise world. Additionally, you can race against friends near and far, or also just a new friend nearby to cycle with.
Other Factors to Consider
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. ANT+ gives you the freedom to sync multiple brands and apps together and brings all of your information and statistics together. 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can you track speed without a speed sensor?
This seems like a question that answers itself but does not be fooled that easily. Even if a device does not have a speed sensor, it can still track your speed. How is this possible you may ask? As long as you are able to have access to the skies for your device to pick up signals from the satellites you can have your speed monitored and tracked. Of course, this also means your computer must have GPS capabilities.
q: In theory, could you use bike computers for other activities?
One of the better aspects of GPS technology is that it is highly versatile, adapting to several different activities and adventures. Even bike computers that do not have GPS on them can be used for activities other than cycling - 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 or kilometers per hour. 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 the battery, if the computer has the options for it, there are settings that you can turn off to maximize the battery life. One such example 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, features like turn-by-turn navigation 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 Element 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 coverage?
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 the 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.
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