Best Bike Computers: Plan Your Ride and Monitor Your Performance

Improve your navigation capabilities with these bike computers

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Cycling is a fun and inexpensive way of getting to and from work. If you are planning to cycle complex long-distance routes for sport, you can use a bike GPS computer to track your progress. You also won’t have to worry about getting lost. Consider using any of the options in our buying guide. 

  • Best Overall
    Garmin Edge GPS Cycling Computer
    Summary
    Summary
    An advanced GPS bike computer that gives you live feeds of other riders so that you can compete down to the second.
    Pros
    Pros
    15-hour battery life. Gives new rider alerts. Allows you to monitor changes in your power, weight, and drag. It offers real-time results when competing. Features an incident detection software. It can make rider-to-rider calls and messages. Automatic data uploads.
    Cons
    Cons
    It can only display maps of your local area. It doesn't have a touchscreen. Expensive. 
  • Best Value
    CAT EYE Padrone Wireless Bike Computer
    Summary
    Summary
    An affordable cycling computer that displays the total distance covered; time elapsed; and your current, maximum, and average speeds.
    Pros
    Pros
    Great mapping and navigation. Has a stopwatch. Weatherproof design. Large display. Can save your miles after a battery change. Automatically stops counting at your frequent stops. It comes with a FlexTight bracket that’s easy to adjust and mount.
    Cons
    Cons
    Fragile mounts. Susceptible to interference by external factors. Needs resetting every time you go for a ride.
  • Honorable Mention
    Wahoo ELEMNT GPS Bike Computer
    Summary
    Summary
    A top-tier bike computer that offers a live tracking feature so that your coach or friends can keep track of your long rides.
    Pros
    Pros
    16-hour battery life. It can give you the location of other riders. Integrated with smartphone apps to offer turn-by-turn navigation. Bluetooth-compatible for text or call alerts. Easy to set up with compatible devices. It comes with a free companion app for faster configuration and updates.
    Cons
    Cons
    Requires a smartphone for optimal performance. Has a slippery body. Expensive.

Tips

  • Read the user manual so you have a rough idea of the full potential of the unit. Consult an online manual on how to update the software and use the mapping functions.
  • Buy a non-slip cover for your bike computer. Ensure that the cover doesn't stretch out the mount or block the buttons. 
  • Dismount the bike computer if you plan to leave your bike unattended for a long time. It may get stolen.
  • Share the live feed of your cycling routes with your friends or family. It will help them track you in case you get lost.

FAQs

Q: Will rain damage a bike computer?

A: Not every bike GPS is designed to withstand the rain. That's why you need to buy a waterproof design, which is typically Ingress Protection-rated, or IP-rated. Such a device can withstand a light downpour, dripping sweat, drink spills, and a water splash. However, most of these gadgets cannot survive a heavy downpour. You should check the weather forecast for the day to plan ahead.

Q: Is a bike computer better than a smartphone?

A: A smartphone can have a GPS chip built into it that can help you track your position. However, it may not be as accurate as a cycling GPS, which also lets you upload your ride information to the cycling website Strava and monitors your heartbeat. Also, a smartphone’s battery may drain faster than most cycling computers, which have a battery life of over eight hours. 

Q: How does a bike computer measure distance?

A: The bike computer typically comes with a magnet and a sensor that attaches to the spokes and the fork, respectively. It then uses the frequency of the wheel rotations and the diameter of the wheel to calculate the average speed, time, and distance covered. More advanced gadgets use satellite tracking to locate your position and determine the speed and distance covered. 

Final Thoughts

Our top pick for the best cycling computer is the Garmin Edge GPS Cycling Computer. It’s an advanced navigation system that connects you to other cyclists. 

If you are on a tight budget, you can go for the CAT EYE Padrone Wireless Bike Computer. It’s one of the cheapest bike computers on the market.