Cycling is such a big activity in some countries. In 2018 alone, Netherland had more bicycles than people. Tracking your rides is a crucial part of cycling. It helps you set and achieve your cycling goals. The best fitness trackers for cycling can help you with your cycling goals if you have one.
In this article, we review the best fitness trackers for cyclists and what to look for should they decide to buy one.
The best fitness trackers for cycling we discuss in this article
Which is better? Smartwatch Or Fitness Tracker for Cycling
Fitness trackers and smartwatches can assist you in tracking your daily activities and in monitoring your cycling progress. When it comes to picking a gear to track your cycling, you’d need to decide whether to go for a fitness tracker, smartwatch, or a dedicated GPS unit.
Fitness trackers and smartwatches are increasingly getting smaller and come with lots of features. These features make it difficult to differentiate them from each other. While some argue that a smartwatch is a kind of fitness tracker, each of them can thoroughly perform one task well.
You can pick a fitness tracker if you:
- Want a device that’s more focused on health.
- Want a tool that can motivate you to keep cycling.
- Want to track your daily activities away from cycling.
- Want data types like calories burned, heart rate, hours slept, etc.
For your cycling needs, smartwatches are best if you:
- Love receiving and interacting with notifications while you cycle.
- Are looking for unique sports tracking features.
- Want detailed cycling metrics.
A handlebar-mounted biking computer is the best choice if you:
- Care about accurate distance tracking.
- Care about pace accuracy.
- Want secure connectivity with other cycling sensors for displaying heart rate, speed, and cadence.
- Want sophisticated route-mapping features.
Buying Tips: What features should fitness trackers for cycling have?
If you plan on doing cross country(XC) cycling or if you ride for long distances, you’d quickly notice that a tracker with long battery life is better.
Cyclists use their fitness trackers or smartwatches mainly to track their progress during cycling. This tracking involves the use of GPS, which drains batteries at an extreme rate. Be sure the check the battery life of any tracker you are interested in when its on GPS tracking before you buy.
If you are interested in other battery heavy features, it’s essential to check how those features will affect the battery life before you buy.
Cycling, like every other sport, involves sweating. This sweat can unavoidably get into your tracker if it is not water-resistant. To keep your tracker protected during your rides, go for trackers that have a certain degree of water resistance. A fitness tracker with a waterproof design is better.
A water-resistant fitness tracker will last longer on your wrist than those that are not. If you plan on taking on triathlons, you’d need fitness trackers that are IP certified. This rating measures the protection of the device from liquids and other fine particles like dust.
Reliable GPS Tracking
If you are looking to purchase a fitness tracker for biking, they are good chances you want to use it to track your rides. The best you should consider is a fitness tracker with a built-in GPS.
A fitness tracker with built-in GPS can show you where you are at any given time by simply collecting and processing your GPS data on its own. Reliable GPS tracking is essential if you care about accuracy in your tracking.
For improved GPS tracking, look for devices that have both GPS and GLONASS (the Russian equivalent of GPS). With this addition, the number of satellites your watch communicates with doubles. Hence, a more precise tracking.
Heart Rate Monitoring
As a cyclist, it’s essential to know how hard you are pushing yourself throughout your training. Fitness trackers with heart rate monitoring can give you a clue on areas where you overstressed yourself.
A fitness tracker with a heart rate feature is essential if you make shorter high-intense sprints during your cycling.
Fitness trackers often come with all types of straps. It is vital to pick trackers that are comfortable to wear and have breathable bands. It will keep you concentrated rather than stopping at every opportunity to adjust the watch.
Also, for trackers with touchscreens, side buttons are essential if your fingers get wet.
Which Are The Best Fitness Trackers for Cycling?
For devoted riders, using a cycle computer mounted on the handlebar of the bike has lots of advantages. It’s convenient to look at the screen while concentrating on your ride, and it gives you point-precise data.
However, if you are beginning or love taking a fitness tracker or smartwatch to your rides, these trackers will help you keep track of your cycling too.
Garmin Forerunner 920XT[amazon box=”B00O4EXVX6″ template=”horizontal”]
If you are looking for a health tracker that can also double up as a multisports watch, then try out the Garmin Forerunner 920XT.
With this all-round tracker, you have the choice of choosing between the black color with blue highlights and white color with red highlights. Also, the tracker is water-resistant up to 50 meters.
Though a sports watch, the Forerunner 920XT offers similar functionality to Garmin Edge 510. Garmin has improved the GPS on this model with the addition of GLONASS for accurate tracking.
This timepiece comes with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. You can connect the 920XT to multiple sensors like cadence, foot pods, heart rate monitors using its ANT+ connectivity.
SUUNTO Ambit 3[amazon box=”B01IEXXC3Q” template=”horizontal”]
Though the Suunto Ambit 3 is a suitable mountaineering watch, it has modes for cycling, ski touring, triathlon, etc. You can customize these modes to fit your preference or add new ones in Suunto’s Movecounts app.
It comes with silicone straps that are comfortable to wear when biking. Its LED-backlit screen is legible and easy to read at all times. You’d also notice its five navigation buttons around its bezel.
Up from the Ambit 2, this version uses the Bluetooth Smart feature to sync with a mobile phone, and it can record your heartbeat underwater. You can also use your phone screen as a display for the watch.
Suunto replaced the ANT+ sensor, which is present in Ambit 2 with the Bluetooth Smart sensor in this timepiece. This swap can be a downside for some users.
The watch is GPS enabled and comes with a barometric altimeter to trap your altitude as you bike. It is also water-resistant to 100 meters.
For your cycling needs, you can plan your rides and pre-load them unto the watch. With your pre-loaded routes, you can see the place you are in the elevation profile of the watch.
How to use the Suunto Ambit 3 cycling features
Apple Watch Series 5[amazon box=”B07XRBF5ZP” template=”horizontal”]
Not only is the Apple Watch Series 5 among the best smartwatch on the watch market, but it is probably the most fashionable health tracker used today.
Navigating through the UI of this smartwatch is very easy. It has a digital crown on one side and a button just below it. Also, its touchscreen is very responsive.
This watch comes in two different screen sizes: 40mm and 44mm. These sizes will fit perfectly any slightly large wrist.
Besides its design, this smartwatch comes with a built-in speaker to take calls, listen to music, or hear notifications while cycling.
For your cycling expedition, the Apple Watch Series 5 comes with lots of built-in sensors. It has a built-in compass, an altimeter, and a GPS to make sure you are always on course.
For in-depth statistics on your health, this smartwatch comes with multiple heart-rate sensors, and it’s very good at advanced tracking. For more features on fitness, you can watch the video below.
You also get an international SOS feature on this timepiece. This feature is useful for riders who encounter dangerous situations.
While this watch is suitable for cyclists, it’s not a perfect choice for long cycling expeditions. With a battery life of only four hours on GPS tracking, you can’t use it for long rides.
Garmin Vivoactive HR[amazon box=”B01BKUB6BA” template=”horizontal”]
You can use the Garmin Vivoactive HR to keep track of data as you walk, run, cycle, and golf. Vivoactive HR is more of a sports watch than a general health tracker.
With a screen resolution of 204 by 148 pixels, the info displayed on it has precise details. You will quickly see whatever is on the touch screen at your first gaze. Also, the screen is bright enough in broad daylight.
This Vivoactive comes with a built-in heart rate monitor that works well 24/7. This feature allows you to monitor your pulse during rest and also during your cycling activity. This option is suitable for those who don’t want to strap on a chest monitor when cycling.
With a GPS tracking feature on this device, the Vivoactive HR is among the best fitness tracker for cycling. It helps you determine your speed as you bike, measures the distance you’ve covered biking, and even gives you the calories you’ve burnt cycling.
While tracking your progress is the primary goal of this tracker, you need good battery life to achieve this. Its rechargeable battery can give you up to 8 days in watch mode or 13 hours in GPS mode. Also, it is water-resistant up to 50 meters.
You can easily pair the Vivoactive to your smartphone(iOS or Andriod). This connectivity makes it easier to answer your calls or access your messages without taking your eyes off the trails.
The downside of this device is in the accuracy of its tracking. Its trackings are not as accurate as what you’d get with a cycling computer. Also, the heart rate monitor won’t give you any benefits when swimming.
TicWatch Pro[amazon box=”B07C6S96NN” template=”horizontal”]
Though not specifically designed for fitness, you can also use the Ticwatch Pro to track your cycling. This watch runs off Google’s Wear OS.
With a design similar to the Garmin Fenix models, this watch comes with silicone straps and a fixed stainless steel bezel. The case back is made from aluminum. You’d find a heart rate sensor on the case back that works best when you tighten the watch strap.
The fitness app on this watch can track both your indoor and outdoor cycling. The GPS on this watch works well with cycling without constant disconnection.
The watch comes with two modes: the smart mode and the essential mode. The battery life on the device is impressive lasting for two days on smart mode and more than two weeks on essential mode.
Fitbit Surge[amazon box=”B00N2BWF6Q” template=”horizontal”]
If you love to cycle but struggle to maintain the enthusiasm, the Fitbit Surge is your best companion. The Surge can help you cycle more and get fitter.
The touchscreen of this tracker is responsive and easy o swipe. Its backlight turns on when you turn your wrist to read the time. It comes with soft straps that are easy to clean.
While we dive into its features, it’s worth noting that the Surge wears large and might not be perfect for those with slender wrists.
To use the Fitbit Surge properly, you need a Fitbit account and app on your smartphone. The Surge pairs easily with your phone to keep track of calls, notification, and SMS. This feature is ideal if you don’t want to miss any of these during your cycling commute. This tracker syncs to your Strava account as well.
It comes with a heart rate monitor that monitors your heart rate throughout the day. During your daily activity, the sensor takes a reading every five seconds. In its “Bike” mode, it reads your heart rate every second for increased accuracy.
This model also comes with a built-in GPS to help you with your rides. Not only does it help you get a fix on your location, but it also enables you to see how fast you are riding. With its GPS feature, it measures the time, distance, elevation, calories burnt, and route of your cycle trip.
Though the Surge can help you attain your cycling goals, it has some downsides worth mentioning. On a single charge, this tracker can last for 5-7 days when on step-counter or heart rate mode. Expect less than 5 hours on GPS mode with this device. This low battery life means you can’t use it for long rides or cross country cycling.
Also, you can only set the alarm on this Fitbit through the app. Overall, the Fitbit Surge will help you cycle more and reach your set goals.
How to Use The Strava Cycling App
While there are many devices you can use to track your cycling, using a tracker comes with its advantages. The trackers reviewed above have the necessary features every cycling device should have.
If you don’t care about point-precise data, using a fitness tracker just works. However, a mounted bicycle computer like the Garmin Edge 520 would give you accurate data if you don’t mind connecting other sensors to it.
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