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Best Bike Computers in 2021

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There is a common feeling among all cyclists around the world – we all love stats! By stats, I mean statistics like time, speed, average speed, miles, heart rate, cadence, and much more.

The most convenient way of having all these stats on the go is using a dedicated bike computer. Today bike computers are advanced, affordable, and filled with useful features.

Related: Best Smartwatches for Cycling


Best Overall: Garmin Edge 520 Plus


PROS:

  • Up to 15 hours of battery life
  • 2 mounts and charger included
  • Easy to learn/use
  • Auto start and ride saving eliminate manual uploading

CONS:

  • Knows issues with iPhone pairing
  • No touchscreen capability

Highly-rated-and who isn’t impressed by the Garmin brand? – this advanced road tool offers advanced navigational perks, new rider alerts, and because you get pre-loaded cycle maps with turn-by-turn guidance, you can get lost in thought and still not lose your way.

What’s the secret behind this handy product?

Preloaded Strava Live Segments that are so intuitive, you get to compete against yourself second-by-second, so if your goal is to beat a personal best (or if you want to surpass the performance of the dude who keeps outpacing you!), you get real-time results on the screen that allows you to assess where you’re at in terms of either objective.

Assuming that you’re not so out of breath from your effort that you can’t carry on a conversation, the Edge 520 Plus allows you to connect with your compatible smartphone using LiveTrack and Group Track.

Expect smart notifications, rider-to-rider messaging, and Incident Detection as part of the package, too.

If that’s not enough to suit your particular style, you even get specific Vo2 Max monitoring capability/recovery time tracking that can interfere with your choice of power and heart rate monitors.


The Runner-Up: Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt GPS


PROS:

  • Amazing bundle; heart rate sensor is included
  • Compatible with Zwift for indoor cyclists
  • Accurate; advanced; problem-free
  • Fast-search GPS/zoom screen
  • Aerodynamic cabinet styling
  • Strava Live Segments

CONS:

  • Wahoo customer service may disappoint

Well-reviewed by shoppers, the model name “Bolt” could bring to mind security and sturdiness, and this Wahoo product dares you to download, pair, configure and ride in keeping with your particular need for information and connectivity.

In fact, Wahoo’s free ELEMNT Companion App automates pairing and manages the configuration process so smoothly, you can expect a fast and frustration-free setup experience.

Enjoy automatic route downloads and uploads with these compatible third-party apps: Ride With GPS, Best Bike Split, Komoot, Singletracks, and MTB Project.

You can fully integrate Strava Live Segments that will allow you to monitor your progress, assess your current status, and even give you the kick in the bum you need to beat your goals.

If you like the idea of being your own route builder, you can do it by accessing your Bolt and checking out the pop-up and LED screen notifications that offer turn-by-turn efficiency.

Get everything you need to jump into the saddle and move in the right direction: The Bolt, a nicely engineered and integrated Aero Out-Front mount, stem mount and the charging cable you require to keep the system up to speed.

It even works with Garmin Speed and Cadence Sensors so if you’ve wanted to change over from Garmin and try this brand out, you can do so since this device offers dual bands and interfaces with all ANT+ sensors and Bluetooth.


Best Affordable: Polar V650 Cycling Computer


PROS:

  • Large, easy to read display
  • Good value for the price
  • Customer service is amazing
  • Clear, easy-to-read data in all lighting conditions

CONS:

  • Backlight times out before it is done pairing
  • Polar Flow software still has bugs

Polar is a brand that I admire a lot. I reviewed the affordable M460 bike computer and the M430 sports watch. I personally like Polar because they’re trying to destroy Garmin’s hegemony, and as an underdog, they will always be in my heart.

If you’re on a budget and don’t care about (or already own) a compatible heart monitor, you can snag this cycling computer for just a little over $200.

Otherwise, expect to fork over about $250 for the Polar H6 Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor.

The rechargeable battery uses a standard micro USB cable and you can look forward to around 10 hours of battery life when the computer is in training mode.

The color touch-screen is relatively large when compared to others; it measures a readable 2.8-inches. Get your data on the fly without having to squint because no matter how fast you happen to be going, you’ll still be able to check that screen.

You’ll appreciate the front-mounted smart visibility LED light that is automatically triggered in low-light conditions, so you don’t have to start fumbling with switches in mid-pedal.

If you’ve had bad luck in the past because your bike computer was taken out by Mother Nature, you’ll be happy to read that this one is water-resistant so let the rain pour down.

In fact, one of the most popular features of this particular cycle computer is one’s ability to use the barometric pressure sensor so you perpetually receive accurate altitude data.

Thanks to clever engineering, the bike mount that comes with this unit are of solid construction and easy to position.

Once you’re up and running, your Polar cycling computer will immediately synch and deliver instant data, training analyses, and sharing via the Flow app and Polar web service.


Best Premium: Garmin Edge 1030


PROS:

  • The screen size is awesome
  • Sets up and goes in 5-7 minutes
  • Excellent battery longevity
  • Matches GPS to wheel sensor RPM’s for superior speed accuracy

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Problematic USB connection at times

Open your wallet wide and don’t expect change if you decide you can’t live without the Garmin Edge 1030.

This extravagant bike computer will set you back $500+—but if you can’t live without the complete bundle, prepare to fork over around $600+.

If neither of these prices causes you to blink, you’re exactly the cyclist Garmin is looking for, and saying that the Edge 1030 has connected features and navigation is something of an understatement.

First off, the 3.5-inch screen dwarfs competitor bike computers. That’s just the beginning of the revelations, including comprehensive navigation, cycling awareness, and performance features like 3rd party app access courtesy of connect IQ and in concert with reloaded Strava and training peaks.

Are you a stickler for road accuracy?

Thanks to trend line popularity routing, you’ll avail yourself of billions of miles of Garmin Connect ride data so unless a highway, road or street has yet to be built or established, you’ll always have the best on- and off-road routes at your fingertips thanks to all of this directional power.

The preloaded Garmin cycle map will keep you company, no matter how long your ride happens to be, by giving you turn-by-turn directions. If something comes up that you need to know about, a new navigation alert will advise you of what’s ahead.

Battery life could get you up to 20 hours without a recharge and if you compare 1030 with its less-powerful siblings, you’ll understand why the price point on this particular model is hefty.

That stated, this impressive gadget comes with some quirks: while U.S. maps are loaded into the system, if you intend to take your bike abroad, you’re going to have to order individual ones from Garmin—unless you don’t care if you get lost.

Further, if you count on your Series 3 Apple watch to act as your heart rate monitor, they’re not compatible.

Quite the stash comes with this particular bicycle computer: the unit itself, an out-front mount, premium HRM Strap, speed/cadence sensor, standard mount, USB cable, and manual, just in case you know your way around your bike like an expert but have no clue how computers work.

Garmin Edge 1030 is definitely one of the best bike computers for touring, and a must-have on your touring checklist.


Garmin Edge 830


PROS:

  • Syncs up with the Garmin HR strap
  • Comes with several mounting options
  • Perfection for the data-driven cyclist
  • Excellent battery life
  • Thick rubber sleeve protects case

CONS:

  • Loaded with U.S. maps only
  • Screen protector sold separately
  • The user interface may disappoint

If other cyclist’s ratings help you decide on making gear purchasing decisions, this product should get your attention.

The Garmin Edge 830 is a high-performance computer that offers mapping, performance monitoring, and popularity routing features that make it a stand-out option.

This high-performance GPS computer offers mapping and touchscreen features, and you’ll receive information about everything related to your physical efforts, including insights on your VO2 max, recovery, training load focus, heat and altitude acclimation, nutrition, hydration, and more.

What must you do to get all of this important information? Make sure the 830 is interfaced with compatible sensors (ANT+; BLE) and your data will be at your fingertips.

There’s more!

MTB dynamics keeps tabs on your track jump count and distance plus hang time.

If you’re the sort who likes to keep track of a ride’s difficulty, Grit takes care of that on your behalf while it’s virtual associate Flow tracks the pace of your descent so you can assess the smoothness of the experience and have a baseline from which to set your expectations for your next comparable ride.

Use the Garmin Cycle Map to obtain the most recent, popular routes and you can take advantage of on-device route creation and off-course recalculation, too.

If battery life has been an issue with previous bike computers you’ve bought and then abandoned, this one won’t disappoint. Get up to 20 hours of battery life with GPS and if you add a Garmin Charge power pack to your shopping list, you can anticipate up to 40 hours of battery life.

Customizing your Garmin Edge 830 is both easy and empowering when you take advantage of free apps, widgets and data fields, all of which are available from the Connect IQ store.


Garmin Edge 130


PROS:

  • Works with Garmin heart rate straps
  • Bright, easy-to-read screen and easy set-up
  • Offers up to 8 data screens
  • Superior performance for the price
  • Garmin Varia integration

CONS:

  • Tiny screen size may not work for you
  • The mount system requires rubber bands for security!

If your budget or needs are minimal but you want to own a Garmin product, the Edge 130, selling for around $200, could be your best bet.

It is as easy to use as it is affordable, consumers give this unit good reviews and if you want to up the features, spend an additional $50 for the Speed and Cadence bundle or the Mountain Bike bundle to customize your ride.

For folks who consider themselves better at riding than they are at exhibiting their tech-savvy, this bike computer is both compact and easy to understand and use.

Minimalist design and a 1.8-inch display make it a sleek, uncomplicated addition to your bike gear and the screen is easy to read in low-light or sunny conditions.

For a small, compact product, this unit comes with a battery that, depending upon usage, could get you 15 hours on a single charge.

Connect your Edge 130 to your favorite compatible devices, and you get smart notifications, weather updates, live track, and more.

In fact, the designers of this Garmin product strove to give every rider increased cycling awareness. Get approaching car alerts on your display, and if you run into any difficulties along your travel route, the Assistance feature in concert with a compatible device can summon help quickly.

The simplicity of this unit belies the inner workings of the Garmin Edge, which offers a rider GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellites, and an altimeter.

As a result of accessing these resources, you will always know how far, fast, hard and high you’ve ridden—whether that ride takes place in an urban setting or you’re climbing mountains and foothills.

Further, the 130 interfaces with Varia cycling awareness accessories such as rear-view Radar and smart bike lights.


LEZYNE Mini GPS Cycling Computer


PROS:

  • 5 customizable screens for data tracking
  • Easy to learn and use
  • The display is easy to read
  • The price can’t be beat
  • Solid, sturdy mount attachment

CONS:

  • There are no audible alerts for upcoming turns
  • Screen size can be problematic
  • Don’t leave your phone at home.

As bike computers go, this mini product is surprisingly complex because, when compared to other computers on this list, there is no proliferation of bells and whistles.

But if you live on a shoestring, need a computer to keep you on track, this $100 pick just may set off the sound of angels singing in your head!

While not necessarily the most well-known brand on the market, this Lezyne is no newcomer to the cycling scene. The company’s “Engineered design library” consists of GPS devices, LED lights, pumps, tools, C02 inflators, tire repair aids, bells, bottle cages, bags, and organizers.

In other words, if it can help elevate a ride, Lezyne probably makes it. According to consumers, the Lezyne Mini earns consumer ratings that equal those of higher-priced, feature-filled competitors.

Further, although this unit may be seen as a bare-bones technological product, you still get all of the essentials you need to stay on course: Bluetooth wireless compatibility, a backlight to keep you safe at night or in bad weather, a lithium polymer battery that delivers around 12 hours’ worth of power before it needs recharging and the low battery indicator won’t leave you wondering why it is beginning to run out of juice.

The unit holds about 80 hours of ride data and the onboard GPS can be relied upon for speed and distance metrics.

You will have to sync ride data via Bluetooth and the Lezyne Ally app after the fact, but the data is automatically published on Strava.

It’s important to know that Lezyne Mini’s navigational assistance is less than optimal-not because it doesn’t navigate, but because this computer doesn’t work with downloadable routes.

If this factor doesn’t bother you, you’ll be glad to read that this computer does provide turn-by-turn navigation when synced up with the Lezyne Ally app on your phone during a ride.

Yes, he tiny screen size can be an impediment to getting readings but has trade-offs go, this product makes an ideal introductory computer if you’re short on cash but long on ambition to keep track of your progress as you undertake future cycling challenges.


Best for Beginners: Garmin Edge 25 


PROS:

  • Affordable price tag
  • Very easy to use
  • Small but with big numbers on the display
  • Super lightweight

CONS:

  • No power monitor support

Garmin Edge 25 Cycling GPS is one of the smallest GPS cycling computers on this list.

The device was initially released on June 2015, but even today in 2020 this product is a good option for the casual rider.

It’s a replacement for the old Garmin Edge 200 which was introduced years ago. So it is again a fundamental unit that should be the entry-level device for first-time buyers.

The most important thing about the Garmin Edge 25 is its size. It’s a tiny device ( 4 x 4.2 x 1.7cm ) and also super light ( 25g ).

And yet very capable and easy to use the Garmin Edge 25 is just perfect for the newbie. The device is using the standard Garmin quarter-turn mount, and we don’t have any complaints about it.

You can configure two of the bike computer screens on your computer before your trip to show a range of different metrics. Garmin Edge 25 GPS Bike Computer is showing the essentials.

If you are a competitive cyclist or a cyclist hungry for stats, maybe this is not the best choice for you. The display shows just up to three stats per screen and, depending on the data, sometimes only two stats.

Garmin Edge 25 Cycling GPS gets GPS signal super fast, and we can say that it is much faster than the old model Garmin Edge 200. Nothing to add here as all of the Garmin devices is top-notch GPS products.

It also offers Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity. Thus it is compatible with almost all the speed sensors and heart rate monitors in the market.

The Bluetooth connectivity is basically for syncing with a smartphone. One of the downsides of the GPS unit is that it is not compatible with power meters.

The battery life is claimed to be around 8 hours of GPS use.

One of the things that we don’t like about this unit is that it is not charging via a micro USB or USB-C. Instead, it uses four-pin contact and a dedicated cradle.

Garmin Edge 25 is one of the best affordable bike computers, and we recommend it for a casual cyclist or even advanced cyclists looking for the first GPS bike unit.


CatEye Strada Wireless Cycle Computer

The Best Bike Speedometer - CatEye - Strada Wireless Cycle Computer

PROS:

  • Small size, but large numbers on the display
  • Super easy set-up
  • Wireless connection

CONS:

  • No back button
  • No GPS

So if you are just a casual rider you should look for a standard bike speedometer without GPS module.

The market is flooded with such models which range from $5 up to $100. This model is one of the best we have tried on YesCycling in terms of durability and quality.

CatEye makes really good bike computers without GPS modules and this one is not an exception.

It’s a wireless model which means that the sensor and the bike computer itself are connected wirelessly without any cables and extra stuff.

If you are concerned about battery life ( some wireless models drain the battery quickly ) you have to know that the bike computer has a battery life of 1 year ( 1 hour/day cycling ) and the sensor has a battery life of 6250 miles ).

The stats which you can track with this device are current, max and average speed, total distance, trip distance, elapsed time, a pace arrow, and clock. Practically all you will need in your daily commutes.

In conclusion, I will say that Cateye – Strada Wireless Cycle Computer is an excellent choice for any casual rider who doesn’t want to spend money on a GPS bike unit but still wants to track some stats.


How To Choose The Best Bike Computer

Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

There are so many options out there on the market that we can say even the professionals are having a hard time choosing the right one for them.

This is especially valid for the casual rider or the beginner road cyclist who is just new to this sport and just starting to explore.

We all agree that a bike computer should be super easy to install, with a big and bright display and many metrics, stats, and features. Also, every bike computer should be very well made and rugged because cycling is not a joke.

Cycling is a brutal sport and the conditions on the road could change in a moment from cold weather to rain and high altitudes.

Most of the bike computers look amazing in the ads, which is normal, but the reality is different. In reality, there should be the best bike computer for each cyclist depending on the needs, cycling habits, fitness level, and desires.

Most bike computers are on the market for a longer period than for example a smartphone. The reason is that the innovation levels are too low and each new model is not so different than the previous one.

It is also a product that you buy and most probably use for 5+ years, which is one of the reasons you need to be informed before you click the buy button.

But ultimately, some brands are trying to change this and release new models on a more regular basis ( probably changing models around the 2nd year of the product’s lifecycle).


What type of rider are you?

Photo by Simon Connellan

Casual rider – maybe you are just using your bike for a casual ride on the weekend or going to the local grocery store.

In this case, you probably don’t need any bike computer at all, but if you want to see how far you have ridden and for how long, there are some bike computers for you to consider.

The Enthusiast cyclist – the enthusiast cyclist- rides to/from work each day and makes some tours on the weekends.

The enthusiast is interested in all kinds of stats from a bike computer but, for the moment, is not aware of how to use it. He is willing to learn more about the sport, and he wants to have a good cycling computer.

One day the enthusiast may become a competitive cyclist.

Competitive cyclist – this one needs all the available stats and features. A heart rate monitor is a must here, not to mention GPS.

The competitive cyclist needs to beat the times and become a better rider after each ride.

All type of cycling power meters is also installed on the bike of a competitive cyclist. A competitive cyclist should look for high-end bike computers.


Types of Bike Computers

Photo by Simon Connellan

In my opinion, we can divide the dedicated bike computers into two types.

The first one is a bike computer without GPS functionality. This is the normal, cheap bike speedometer, which is very good for the casual rider. It can be fitted practically to every bike. They are often called – speedometers.

They use a magnetic sensor attached to the front wheel, and it could transfer the data to the device wirelessly or with a cord. 

The magnetic sensor attaches to a spoke on the bicycle wheel to pass by the sensor unit within millimeters. Bike speedometers are really good for the casual rider, and they are a good entry into the cycling world.

The second type of bike computer is the one with GPS functionality.

These devices pick up data from the GPS satellites and convert the data into ride information. The enthusiast rider and the competitive rider are using this type of bike computers.

There is a lot more data information, the screens are much more customizable, and the units can be swapped between bikes.

Of course, the GPS units are much more expensive, and they have included the battery, so it means the battery life is limited, and you have to charge it more frequently.


Battery Life of Bike Computers

Battery life is essential, especially for a GPS unit. For the competitive cyclist, a drained battery in the middle of the ride is a disaster.

Most manufacturers know that, and they try to do their best to compromise between battery life and the unit’s size as both aspects are crucial for the users.

Determine how long is your average ride or, better, your most extended trip, and choose a GPS bike computer that can offer such battery life.

Of course, for the non-GPS units, there are no such issues. Most of the standard bike computers use a CR2032 battery, which lasts for years, and the only data which can be lost if the battery is drained is the total mileage.


Bike Computer Display Backlight

The backlight is a must feature if you ride at night because, without it, the unit is useless when it gets dark. If you don’t need a night ride today, maybe you will begin in the future.

Think about it twice before you decide if it is an important feature or not.

Most of the GPS bike computers have a backlight feature, but some are not so good. You will have to check this feature before clicking the buy button.


Bike Computer Mapping and Routing Features

Mapping is a handy feature. Going for a longer ride around on the outskirts of the city, or just exploring a new area, having a map with you is always better.

If you are a touring type of rider, it should be a must feature. Some of the most expensive units include maps and route guidance. Today it seems that even some entry-level models are getting mapping features.


Bike Computer Connectivity

Connectivity is a huge thing these days. The most advanced GPS cycling computers use Bluetooth and/or ANT+ to connect with other mobile devices and power meters.

Most of the power meter accessories are using ANT+ but many new models support both.

Also, Bluetooth connectivity is essential if you want to connect your dedicated cycling computer to your smartphone.

Read more:

About Alek Asaduryan

Alek Asaduryan is the founder of YesCycling and has been riding bikes and in the cycling industry since 1991. Since then, his mission is to make cycling more accessible to everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people to achieve that. When he's not out riding his beloved fitness bike, Alek reports on news, gear, guides, and all things cycling related.