The fact that cycling is fun, healthy, and great for your mental health is the icing on the cake.
On or off your bike, you probably rely on your devices more than you care to admit, but by adding a smartwatch to your library, the benefits you receive far outweigh the amount of money you’ll spend on the watch of your choice.
Are some smartwatches better than others? That depends on what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend.
It won’t start your coffeemaker, but the Polar Ignite has everything you need to run all aspects of your life including your ride. Available in 6 colors to match your personal vibe, you even get bracelet size choices so you get a superior fit.
According to the manufacturer, “Polar redefines the gold standard in optical heart rate accuracy by combining the latest in bio-impedance electrodes and optical sensors,” but it’s the smart features you enjoy when wearing this extraordinary mechanism that are likely to thrill you most.
Receive texts, email, and phone calls and take advantage of the Polar Fit Spark Daily Training Guide, a feature that helps you reach your fitness goals efficiently.
The Ignite keeps working even when you sleep: The exhaustion you feel after a challenging day in the saddle can leave you fatigued, but armed with Polar’s Nightly Recharge capability, recover while you sleep thanks to the Sleep Plus Stages analysis feature.
Leave your cell phone home when you hit the road; this talented accessory includes a premium-quality, integrated GPS function and the Ignite keeps tabs on your speed, distance, and route tracking data, too. Warning: this device tends to promote dependency. Once you wear one, you’ll wonder how you managed without it!
Related: Best Bike Computer
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
Put this space-age device on your birthday wish list of family and friends willing to spend any amount of money to make you happy!
Marketed as a premium multisport GPS watch, this highly-rated device may be pricey, but it functions like a state-of-the-art computer system on your wrist.
Take advantage of the product’s worldwide map feature and check the 1.3-inch display as frequently as you like to retrieve information as you ride. Rugged and sporty, the sunlight-readable display features stainless steel, titanium, or diamond-like carbon (DLC) coated bezels.
But it’s the inner workings that make this black watch unique among competitors, including enhanced, estimated wrist heart rate and Pulse Ox functions plus advanced sleep monitoring. The Fenix 6 also keeps track of altitude acclimation at high elevations.
While not a medical device, this watch comes close. Advanced training features include PacePro for grade-adjusted pace guidance plus environmentally adjusted VO2 max and training status estimates.
Preloaded topo maps include ski maps for over 2,000 worldwide ski resorts, multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo), and built-in 3-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter sensors.
This watch’s battery stays charged up to 14 days in smartwatch mode; 10 hours in GPS and music mode; 28 days in expedition GPS activity mode and 48 days in battery saver mode. And yes, a charging/data cable plus instructional documentation are included.
Polar Vantage V
Costing around twice as much as it’s cousin, the Polar Ignite, the Vantage 5 is classified as a premium multi-sport watch that has been engineered for a wide range of training needs, especially triathlons.
Available in black and featuring a lithium polymer battery that is the nerve center of this hefty device, you enjoy up to 40 hours of training time with the GPS active thanks to this device’s extended battery life.
The Vantage V is waterproof and engineered to stand up to tough, grueling activities. The precision prime heart rate monitor redefines “the gold standard in optical heart rate accuracy by combining the latest in bio-impedance electrodes and optical sensors,” say Polar product developers.
Perhaps the most appealing and valuable feature this watch offers is the ability to capture vital data directly from the wrist “for the first time ever,” according to Polar engineers.
Keep track of all aspects of your ride as the Vantage V functions as “the ultimate fitness tracker,” separating a cardio load, muscle load, and perceived load readings. Additionally, the brand’s Recovery Pro feature considers factors outside the realm of training that can influence recovery, providing a holistic view of what you’ve done and what you can do next for optimal results.
Apple Watch Series 5
For Apple product fans who never met a device bearing this distinctive logo they couldn’t covet, the Apple watch series 5 is your opportunity to own the latest and greatest iteration.
You’ll spend around $60 more for the pink sand sport band version, but if you care about performance rather than aesthetics, either the space grey or silver aluminum version will do nicely.
Available in two sizes (40mm and 44mm), there’s a reason this mid-priced Apple watch is unique: devices in this collection belong to the Apple “Renew” collection. That means that each one was been “pre-owned and professionally inspected, tested and cleaned by Amazon-qualified suppliers.”
Sound like a good deal? It could be if you seek quality and don’t mind a watch that may not be original. But you will find it to be compatible and fully functional nevertheless.
Features include GPS, an “always-on” retina display, and a 30-percent larger screen so you don’t have to raise your wrist to retrieve data or check the time.
The built-in compass and activity tracker plus electrical and optical heart sensors deliver a continual stream of vital sign checks and you also get the benefit of elevation emergency SOS fall detection.
Swim proof and sometimes hard to find, this Renew collection product can be worth your effort to find one if they’re sold out.
SUUNTO 9 BARO
Built to last and available in an interesting mix of colors and features, the Suunto 9 gives you options that suit your fitness goal.
The watchband is made of sturdy silicone while the watch movement is quartz with a sapphire crystal dial and the case is crafted of glass fiber reinforced polyamide that stands up to lots of abuse while still running seamlessly.
Waterproof (up to 100 meters), this multisport GPS watch is designed for endurance athletes and delivers barometric altitude information (FusedAltiTM) plus 80+ built-in sport modes for running, cycling, swimming, gym and more.
Get interval and intensity zone readings that support your training plus automatic sprint- and loop-tracking plus hill training functionality.
The battery stays charged for up to 120 hours via 3 intelligent modes: Performance, Endurance and Ultra. Recharge reminders plus regular software updates and a touchscreen featuring a 3 button color display keep you informed of the state of the battery.
Suunto FusedTrack, the brand’s signature GPS tracking, and navigation feature offers wearers real-time bread crumb display, data on the current location, points of interest, sunrise/sunset times, storm alarm, and weather insights plus a bearing navigation feature so you don’t get lost.
Plan your routes using the Suunto app, accessing activity-specific heatmaps based on millions of GPS tracks. Instant heart rate, calorie and step counters are available for 7 days and you can track your sleep and stay connected to your world via phone and notifications. Feel free to post your workouts on social media, if that’s your thing.
Fitbit Charge 4
Simple, sleek, affordable, and trendy, the Fitbit Charge 4 is a feisty addition to this brand’s library. For athletes seeking information about their activity levels and physical fitness, this
Fitbit makes a great first smartwatch for cyclists not interested in a sophisticated product that does everything but change bicycle tires.
You get all of the standard features, including built-in GPS, heart rate monitor, activity tracker and more. “Feel a buzz when you reach your target heart rate zones” courtesy of the Active Zone Minutes feature and monitor your resting heart rate and number of calories you burn 24/7.
Engineered to help wearers stay active, sleep well and manage stress, this slim bracelet is no slouch when it comes to your playlist because Spotify app controls are as close as your wrist.
Text or call friends, track your workouts in real-time by taking advantage of 20+ goal-based exercise modes, and Charge 4 is swim-proof and water-resistant to 50M.
This device’s multi-day battery holds a charge for up to 7 days and up to 5 hours when accessing the built-in GPS, and Fitbit hasn’t forgotten your need for a good night’s sleep as this device tracks your sleep stages and reviews your in-app Sleep Score so the Charge 4 will know as much about the amount of rest you get as you do!
Garmin Forerunner 945
While not the cheapest device on our list, once you see how much it can do for you, you may not care what you paid.
In addition to the usual high-quality GPS feature, the Forerunner 945 is a favorite of triathlon competitors because they like the easy-to-read 1.2-inch screen with an LCD display (display resolution is an impressive 240 x 240 pixels) and access to Bluetooth connectivity while enjoying high-quality music output that stands outperforms competitor watches in terms of sound quality.
Download your playlist from your favorite provider and take off for a long ride while tracking your performance via monitoring features like Vo2 Max and training status that makes adjustments for heat, altitude, load, recovery and both aerobic and anaerobic training effects.
Consult the full color, onboard maps for guidance so it’s almost impossible to get lost and take advantage of safety and tracking features that include incident detection (during select activities) which sends your real-time location to emergency contacts through your paired compatible smartphone.
Battery life concerns? Not with this device. Get up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode with music or up to 60 hours in Ultratrac mode.
Still paying off college tuition loans or just getting your career off the ground so cash is scarce but you desperately need a smartwatch when you cycle?
The Amazfit Bip has your name written all over it, yet despite the low price tag, this device performs like a champion.
Compared to other smart watches in this review, you will have to look hard to find feature differences since this product gives you all-day heartrate monitoring, activity tracking, sleep monitoring, built-in GPS plus GLONASS-enabled, Bluetooth capability and 45 days of activity thanks to the integrity of the lithium polymer battery with a 190mAh charge.
Enjoy all of these features for up to 30 days on a single 2.5-hour charge.
So light and comfortable, wear the Bip all day without feeling as though you’ve got the weight of the world on your wrist and enjoy all of the benefits delivered by pricier smartwatches, including optical heart rate monitoring, built-in GPS that tracks activity in real-time so you keep track of distance traveled, calories burned, and quality of sleep.
You won’t lose contact with your mates, either. Receive incoming phone calls, SMS messages, emails, and check Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and other mobile apps using the color touch display that keeps you perpetually in the loop.
If style and artistry are important to you, you’re going to love this smart watch’s variety of chic case styles, colors and features are far from shabby, too!
The Venu’s vivid, bright touchscreen display is as beautiful as the 1.2-inch case design yet this device is loaded with features any cyclist would applaud.
Music, body energy monitoring, pulse ox sensor, and access to animated workouts that are so convenient, you won’t mind taking a cycling break to try them out.
If you can’t live without voice command and touchscreen features, this Garmin won’t disappoint. The beautiful, bright AMOLED display offers 5 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 6 hours in GPS and music mode.
Garmin has designed this watch to give wearers the broadest range of health monitoring features that report on energy levels, respiration, menstrual cycle, stress, sleep, estimated heart rate and more.
Easily download songs and playlists to your watch with our without headphones (sold separately) for phone-free listening. Twenty preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps are included as well as easy-to-follow, animated cardio, strength, yoga and Pilates workouts on the Venu screen. This device works with both iPhone and Android platforms.
Perhaps it’s the styling. Or maybe it’s the price. Either way, the Fitbit Iconic must have legions of fans because it sells out fast and could be hard to find if you decide this is the smartwatch you can’t live without.
Stylish, loaded with features plus a solid brand pedigree, the Iconic is manufactured in 4 color combinations, though some are so popular, they sell out faster than others.
Get your hands on one and expect dynamic, personalized workouts delivered from your wrist that include step by step coaching and a synchronizing range that extends up to 30 feet.
While certain features — like smartphone notifications may require android 5.0 plus – you should be able to synch to Mac OS x 10.6 and up, iPhone 4s, iPad 3s and Windows 10 devices.
If you can’t think about riding your cycle without music, relax. The Ionic stores and plays 300+ songs and you can download playlists from Pandora. You even get two wristbands (large and small) because nothing is more annoying than a wrist band that’s too big.
Use the built-in GPS to track pace, distance and routes while getting continuous heart rate tracking and there’s no need to worry about wearing a fragile device on your wrist.
The durable screen on this Fitbit is manufactured of Corning gorilla glass 3, so it’s tough and damage-resistant. While battery life depends upon various factors, you should be able to get 4 days of battery life from a single charge.
What will you pay for your smartwatch?
While we avoid posting prices on the watches we review because different vendors apply different markups to products they retail, our list is composed of a wide range of prices that run between $70 and $650.
Shocked? Don’t be. According to Tom’s Guide, the brand is king, so while the market for affordable smartwatches preferred by cyclists has made room for cheaper products, remember what your mom told you: You get what you pay for.
“With the exception of budget devices from no-name brands, most smartwatches will cost between $100 for older devices, all the way up to $1,600 for the Tag Heuer Connected,” say reviewers tracking prices of smart phones for Tom’s Guide.
If you’re looking for a ballpark, expect to spend between $200 and $500 for an excellent version, though the more features you crave, the more you’ll pay.
How important is dedicated cycling mode when choosing a smart watch?
According to TheWatchJudge.com writer Jack London, dedicated cycles not only want access to cycling mode features but need them when they are dedicated to improving their speed, increasing their fitness levels and maximizing distance runs.
The right device offers all of this and often, additional bells and whistles. With cycling mode capability, it doesn’t matter which bike you ride, whether it’s a sleek trail or road model or you’re conditioning in a spin class on a stationary bike.
These devices allow you to vary your activity choices while tracking stats and since these products are designed to replace handlebar-mounted computers offering easier-to-read stats thanks to larger faces, your ride is more efficient when you can access dedicated cycling mode.
Adds London, “A dedicated cycling mode is key especially if you want to sync it to a training program you use, such as Strava. Even used on its own, you want to make sure the GPS watch that catches your eye will do what you need as a cyclist.”
Why heart rate sensors are important features for cyclists
According to CyclingWeekly.com an ability to keep tabs on your heart rate — whether during an endurance ride, a cool down, or even when you sleep — can be critical to your overall well being because these sensors “can provide an early indication if you’re becoming fatigued, over-trained, ill – and if you’re about to hit your peak fitness.”
How do these sensors work? By illuminating your capillaries via an LED, at which point the sensor kicks in and begins to track how fast your blood is pumping. That rhythm is recorded on a smart phone as “beats per minute” so you are aware of your heart’s performance at all times your smart phone is engaged.
On the other hand, not every cyclist, trainer or fitness expert finds heart rate sensors built into smart watches to be the ideal solution for heart monitoring activities, editors add. “Admittedly, the general consensus is that wrist based readings aren’t as accurate as those from a chest strap, although they are more convenient and could save you a bit of money.”
7 shopping tips to help you pick the best product
1. Before you hand over your credit card, make sure the smartwatch is platform compatible. More and more products hitting today’s market work with both Android and iPhones.
2. Don’t ignore battery life ratings. Hybrid smartwatches that look more like analog timepieces tend to have the longest battery life, say folks at Tom’s Guide, “but they don’t have touchscreens.”
3. If you choose a heavy device, and your cycling adventures tend to last hours rather than minutes, a heavy smartwatch could become an annoyance, especially if you sweat a lot.
4. While compatibility is important, if you rely upon apps to sort out your life, make sure the device has the capacity to host them.
5. Do screens matter? A cool, colorful LCD screen or AMOLED display will suck up battery life faster than you can peddle. New watch models are getting better but if choose a black and white display, you’ll enjoy longer battery life.
6. Face size matters. If you frequently select icons and images, the bigger the display the better. Making selections on small faces – especially on the go – could be frustrating.
7. Get the most amount of customization you can at a price that works for you. Pick your band color, material, face, finish and other features that reflect your personality on and off the bike.