Best Cycling Watch for 2018
When we talk about the best cycling watches we have to admit that most of the devices are specifically designed mainly for running. Cycling mode is only a feature which is available for some of the watches in the market and this is a shame. The good news is that there are a dozen watches which are very good for cycling. This includes sports watches made by Polar, Garmin, Suunto, and TomTom.
In this article we will review the following cycling watches:
- Garmin Fenix 5
- TomTom Multisport Cardio
- Garmin Vivoactive HR
- GARMIN FORERUNNER 920XT (ANT+)
- Suunto Ambit3 Vertical Multisport HR
- Polar V800 Sports Watch
- Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR
Many serious cyclists prefer the traditional dedicated bike computer and that’s absolutely normal but some riders still ask us regularly for watches which are suitable for cycling. That’s why we have prepared this list for you.
Garmin Fenix 5 is one of the best overall fitness watches and we love it. You can track all your activities through the day if you are a casual cyclist or you can use all the cycling modes or the dedicated triathlon mode if you are into this sport. It’s not a coincidence that Garmin Fenix 5 is first on our list of the best cycling watches.
The Fenix 5 includes practically every functionality of a high-end bike computer which you would ever need. The GPS watch is compatible with any ANT+ cycling sensor. It includes GPS and GLONASS satellite reception and 3-axis compass all of which are best in class.
The battery life is impressive and we can say it is a benchmark for such unit in the market. It’s one of the best looking GPS watches out there and you can choose between a lot of versions. My personal best is the SAPPHIRE version which looks really nice.
Unfortunately, the Sapphire version which is one of the best is extremely expensive. Anyways we highly recommend the Garmin Fenix 5 as one of the best GPS watches for cycling. Also, you should check for the nice bundles which are available on Amazon. For example, the performance bundle which includes an HR Strap, and the complete biking bundle which includes a bike cadence sensor. Of course, these bundles are more expensive but you get everything you need.
TomTom Multisport Cardio is one of the most interesting entries in our list. This is the first multisport device produced by the Dutch company but it’s full of crazy new ideas. The design of the device is great and the one-button usability idea is awesome and very well executed.
It tracks three sports ( cycling, swimming, and running ) but unfortunately, there is no triathlon option where you can track your triathlon activities. One of the biggest advantages of the TomTom Multisport is its price which is extremely competitive. It’s one of the cheapest GPS watches you can buy but it comes with some downsides too.
Another great idea realized pretty much well is the bike handlebar mount which is included in the box and works perfectly. This device needs some additional work by the producer mostly on the software side and we can’t say that it is the best GPS watch for cycling but it is a good entry in our list and you should definitely consider it, especially if you are on a very tight budget.
The device is not on par with the other devices as of quality and features, but one of the biggest selling points of the TomTom Multisport Cardio is the price which is normally lower than the competitors.
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Garmin Vivoactive HR is the all in one package on the list. It offers all the sports you can name like running, cycling, swimming, golf, walk, ski and many more. Again this one is, not a dedicated cycling GPS watch but it must have been clear until now that such device does not exist at the moment.
Garmin Vivoactive HR is suitable for casual cyclist and overall sportspersons. One of the best features of the device is the ability to read emails, notifications and check calls from your smartphone. These features are available because of the included Bluetooth connectivity. Of course, some other models also have this function.
The main selling point of this device is the heart rate monitor which is not the best in class but does its job relatively well. In my opinion, the device is a little bit bulky and it doesn’t look very well on my hand but that’s just me. If you are looking for relatively cheap cycling watch which has a dedicated cycling mode maybe you should consider Garmin Vivoactive HR.
You should take into consideration the fact that some buyers complaint on Amazon that the device is not actually a Garmin quality product, and it is not as good as many other watches by the brand. Some of the users are not very happy with the water seal which failed after a year or so, and some of them are not happy with the smartphone connectivity which seems quite picky.
But there are also some nice things about this device. For example, the nice Garmin bike mount which you can buy and make the Garmin Vivoactive HR look exactly like a dedicated bike computer. But using it on your bike mount you lose the heart rate sensor feature.
Garmin Forerunner 920XT (ANT+) is not one of the best-looking watches on the market but it is definitely one of the best cycling watches overall. It is super light and easy to wear and the buttons are very easy to use because they are in front. The device is really old now but this doesn’t change the fact that it’s full of functions and it’s really rigid.
A lot of cycling functions are available for the hardcore riders and the device can be easily compared to some of the best cycling computers on the market. The battery life is best in class with claimed 40 hours of GPS activity and up to 4 months of using it just as a watch!
Garmin Forerunner 9020XT (ANT+) can be connected wirelessly to your smartphone and is able to show notifications on the screen. The device is compatible with ANT+ as the name suggests. We recommend the device as the best cycling watch because it’s perfect for serious cyclists and adventurers. I have many friends who use this device professionally for many years now and they are not changing it for any other new device.
This device actually is one of the sports watches with the best reviews on Amazon. It has mainly five stars given by professional athletes and semi-professional adventures which in my opinion means a lot.
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Suunto Ambit 3 is a multisport GPS watch which we love at YesCycling, but it’s also one of the most expensive units on our list. It is very well made and looks rugged. The battery life is decent and the functionality is good but mostly for running and navigation. There is a dedicated cycling mode which is very customizable and works fine as well.
It has a built-in barometric pressure sensor which tracks your ascent with accuracy and precision. The battery life is claimed to be around 15 hours for the highest precision GPS mode, and around 100 hours with 1 minute GPS accuracy. Of course, the one minute GPS tracking is almost useless, but if you are doing some really long-distance multi-day endurance ride without any access to electricity, then this mode could be perfect for you.
Overall it is a very good sports watch with the included heart rate sensor but for general activity tracking, rival fitness bands and watches do better. But for tracking your sports activities this one is probably in the top five of all sports watches. You can choose between some versions like Peak, Traverse, and Sport.
The device integrates with Strava with associated Movescount App. The GPS data is very accurate in our tests, and it is on par with the competitors like Garmin and Polar. Traditionally Suunto watches are very good looking and you can wear them as an everyday watch. Suunto Ambit 3 is a very strong contender on our list and we definitely recommend it to everybody.
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Polar V800 Sports Watch is really one of my favorite devices for running, cycling, and triathlon. I know many hardcore cyclists and runners who use this watch for their endurance races. It includes many great features like smart coaching, training benefits, and many more. The device is really very advanced and it is made for the real sports enthusiasts and professional athletes.
There is, of course, a built-in GPS which can keep track of your run, ride or swim. It can measure everything you will ever need like: speed, distance, route and much more. When you pair the device with a Polar H7 heart rate sensor it becomes a very powerful system for tracking everything you will ever need. Polar V800 doesn’t have a built-in optical heart rate sensor but with the H7 it can be one of the most accurate devices on the market. As we already know many professional athletes don’t like the optical sensors which are built-in and they don’t rely on them.
The smart coaching functions included in this device are training load, recovery status, training benefit, running index, smart calories, orthostatic test and more. You can see more information HERE. The battery life is also very impressive with claimed duration of up to 13h of training time with GPS and sensors and up to 50h in GPS low power mode
I know that the Polar V800 is not the best-looking watch for cycling, neither it has as many functions as some of the Garmin or Suunto models, but it’s a device that will serve you well for many years, and the data you get will be extremely accurate.
Many cyclists praise the V800 for the good overall quality, the rigid gorilla glass, super clear and visible display, and all the additional tests and functions which Polar added for this device.
Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR is another great sports watch by the Finish company. It’s a full triathlon watch which can serve you very well in cycling mode as well. The device is very well made as all of the products by Suunto, and it includes full functionality including GPS tracking, heart rate sensor, all-day activity tracking, compact size and many more.
Heart rate and GPS accuracy are always good with the Suunto products, and this one is not an exception. You can rely on the sensors completely. The battery life is around 10 hours in high-accuracy GPS mode which is average, but enough for most cyclists.
But the most impressive thing about the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR is the price. The standard price of the watch is below $300, and sometimes even below $250 which is absolutely crazy for such watch. This device could easily compete with some of the most expensive watches on the market but with a much lower price point.
I do recommend the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR for everyone who is looking for a good value and don’t want to spend too much on a watch. If you are a cyclist who runs or/and swim occasionally then this watch is perfect for you. Also, if you don’t like all those huge watches from above, you can check this one, because it is much smaller than the competition – especially than the other Suunto and Garmin models.
We also have a dedicated review of the new Polar M430 GPS Watch which we crowned the best affordable GPS watch for cyclists and runners. If you prefer to use your smartphone as a bike computer, always use a good bike phone mount for your safety.