The Best Cycling Watches
Gain access to a wrist-based health and fitness monitor.
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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON April 6, 2021
Gone are the days when a watch was used solely to tell the time. These days many watches come with additional features that are beneficial to athletes. Also, manufacturers are constantly developing new and innovative designs. This means that you have more options to choose from, and there's a good chance that you'll find a watch that meets most (if not all) of your needs. Enter the cyclist smartwatches and fitness trackers that can monitor your active status and health. These watches keep track of your cycling routine so you can boost performance. They are reliable when you are performing at your peak and even when you stop to rest. If you need an effective cycling watch, this guide is a good starting point.
This smartwatch is equipped with a large display that lets you monitor the time and your hourly activity, including your heart rate, calories burnt, and distance covered.
- Has a 20 feet syncing range
- Long-lasting, 6-day battery life
- Compatible with iOS and Android devices
- Can only send voice replies on Android devices
- Always on display drains the battery faster
This is an affordable smartwatch that’s GPS-enabled and lets you keep track of your fitness routine. It accurately monitors your steps, calories, active minutes, and more.
- Long-lasting battery
- Supports multiple physical activities
- Automatically monitors your real-time heart rate
- Doesn't keep a history of your heart rate data
- Can't track swimming data
- Sleep tracker may not be 100 percent accurate
This is a GPS- and Wi-Fi-enabled smartwatch that keeps track of your fitness routine. It also monitors your heart rate and measures your blood oxygen levels.
- Elegant design
- Comes with a voice-assist feature
- Screen automatically gets brighter when you ride outdoors
- Compatible with third-party apps
- Doesn't monitor as many activities as other high-end smartwatches
- Battery only lasts for less than two days
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Benefits of Cycling Watches
- Track your performance. Most fitness watches on the market are smartwatches that are equipped with fitness profiles that will help you monitor your performance so you can consistently perform at peak levels. Most can monitor your heart rate, speed, calories burnt, distance covered, and more.
- Engage in multisport activities. Cyclist watches can estimate and record all kinds of metrics across multiple sports or physical activities. You should be able to use your cycling watch to record you're running, walking, skating, and with some models, swimming data.
- Discover new routes. Most cyclists' watches are GPS-enabled so you can use them to find a new cycling route and navigate your way back home. Some models can keep a record of the cycling data whenever you need to revisit the location. You can also upload the data to your bike computer for easier map reading.
- Connect with others. Most watch manufacturers have their platforms where the users can gain access to a larger community so they can share their fitness information. This helps you find other cyclists nearby who can join and motivate you on your ride. Also, you can share your cycling route with your friend and family for safety. These platforms include Polar Beat, Garmin Connect, Fitbit Dashboard, Strava, and more.
Types of Cycling Watches
Fitness trackers have evolved from the traditional wristband and sensor design, and now have a watch face that displays the time and date. However, most manufacturers have maintained the traditional look and the watch face is still sleek so it can still be wearable for long training hours. It may have some overlapping features with most smartwatches though the main goal is to monitor your health.
A smartwatch is an extension of your smartphone, and is quite similar to regular watches, though it has more advanced features than a fitness tracker. They are often paired with a smartphone, though they can work independently and will still display most of the important apps and notifications from your smartphone. On top of monitoring your cycling routine, you can use them for navigation or music.
Apple is one of the most popular tech brands in the world that has had years of success in designing high-quality, user-friendly, and innovative products. It’s an American multinational tech company that was founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak. It's currently headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., and has over 500 retail stores in 25 countries. The Series 5 and Series 6 are some of its popular smartwatches for fitness training.
Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, Samsung is a multinational company that was founded by Lee Byung-Chul in 1938. It's one of the leading producers of electronic devices and appliances tailored for individual consumers and large industries. If you are looking for a multisport watch, check out the Galaxy Watch Active 2 or the Galaxy Fit 2.
Fitbit is a health and fitness brand that was founded by James Park and Eric Friedman in 2007. It’s headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., and is popularly known for making electronics and fitness tracking wearables that aim to improve the fitness outcomes of the users. If you are looking for a smart fitness watch, check out the Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch or the Sense Advanced Smartwatch.
Garmin has earned over 30 years of experience in making some of the most advanced navigation devices that are used in many industries, including automotive, aviation, outdoor, and sports. It's officially headquartered in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, but has an operating base in Olathe, Kan. Some of its top GPS-enabled watches that can be used by cyclists include the Instinct Outdoor Watch and the Fenix 5 Smartwatch.
Cycling Watch Pricing
- Under $100: This price range includes entry-level fitness trackers that are equipped with basic functions such as a heart rate monitor, step counter, calorie counter, and sleep tracker. They are mainly built for gathering data, and most do not have communication capabilities.
- $100 to $200: The price of watches typically increases with the size and functions, so you can expect to find everything from basic fitness watches to sophisticated smartwatches within this price range.
- $200 and up: Expect to find mostly advanced smartwatches that have a touchscreen interface within this price range. In addition to navigation and health monitoring capabilities, these watches are built for communication and provide instant smart notifications from your phone. Most of the expensive watches are from high-end brands and are made of expensive materials such as titanium or ceramic.
Ideally, you should choose a wearable watch with comfortable straps and a lightweight body so it doesn't feel like a burden on your wrist. The display should be large and bright enough to read in the daytime. Also, you will find a touchscreen display that's supplemented with buttons more convenient than one with a plain display.
Choose wearable watches that have active sensors on the backplate that can take periodic measurements of your activity and health status throughout the day. This involves heart rate monitoring, which shows your overall cardiovascular fitness. Stress tracking gives a simple score of your stress level, and some watches may give recommendations on how to lower your stress. Sleep tracking helps you develop better sleeping habits so you can be more active during the day.
Prioritize GPS-enabled watches that can accurately record your speed, distance, and elevation. If you live in an urban setting, the accuracy of the GPS may be affected by the buildings in the area. So to ensure optimal accuracy, look for a tracker that’s compatible with other satellite tracking systems such as Galileo (EU’s satellite system) or GLONASS (Russian navigation system).
- Customizable Workouts. You should have a watch that can guide you throughout your cycling session and other forms of workout. This is why you should choose watches that come pre-loaded with multiple sport profiles so you can use them for cycling and other physical activities. Some high-end models can formulate a great workout plan based on your current health and fitness data.
- Water Resistance. Your watch must have a level of waterproofing, especially if you are a triathlete. It should be able to function effectively underwater so you can track your performance while taking laps in the pool.
- Music Control. Having a watch with built-in Wi-Fi and music control lets you leave your phone behind while cycling. You can sync with wireless streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, or Deezer to enjoy music.
Best Cycling Watches Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- If you like to go mountain biking in the backcountry or hilly areas, it’s important to get a GPS watch with a built-in barometric altimeter that provides altitude data. You can stretch your budget and get a watch that gives you a warning when the air pressure suddenly drops; this can signal an incoming storm.
- Do not use your smartwatch for swimming or take it in the shower unless it specifically has a swimming mode. If it's only water-resistant, you can cycle with it in the rain, but it may not handle a large amount of water.
- Consider buying a smartwatch that has a power-saving mode so you can get more out of the battery life. This may mean that you won't have access to some functions such as GPS or Wi-Fi but it will still maintain the basic functions.
Q: What is the best smartwatch for cycling?
Any of the watches on our list could work for you depending on what you're looking for in a smartwatch though the Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch is the best overall.
Q: What is the best Garmin for cycling?
Q: What watch works best with Strava?
The Apple Watch Series 6 is Strava compatible and allows you to record real-time activities such as your heart rate and distance when your phone is at home.
Overall, we rate the Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch more highly because of its sizable display that’s especially brighter than most of its competitors. We also appreciate its user-friendly interface with voice assist functionality. If you are looking for an inexpensive watch for indoor cycling or occasional outdoor rides, then consider the Willful Smartwatch.