Wearing a fitness and activity tracker is one of the best ways you can improve your performance and overall health. It’s no secret that you have plenty of options. If you’re struggling to know where to start, we’ve rounded up some of the best fitness trackers for cyclists in this article.
Before you go any further, we’d like to clarify that the fitness trackers in our list are the wearable type. They’re not the highest-end fitness trackers for cyclists, but most have the basic and extra features that you may need to measure and record fitness-related metrics (e.g., heart rate, distance traveled, and sleep-wake pattern).
Below, you’ll find nine of the best cycling trackers that your money will get you.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Fitness Trackers for Cyclists Review
- 1.1 Apple Watch Series 5
- 1.2 Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker
- 1.3 Fitbit Ionic Watch
- 1.4 Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS
- 1.5 Polar Vantage V – Premium GPS Multisport Watch for Multisport & Triathlon Training
- 1.6 Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch
- 1.7 Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, Regular fit
- 1.8 Garmin 010-01769-01 Vivoactive 3, GPS Smartwatch with Contactless Payments and Built-In Sports Apps
- 1.9 Garmin 010-01746-00 Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit
- 2 How to Choose Good Fitness Trackers for Cyclists
Best Fitness Trackers for Cyclists Review
Apple Watch Series 5
The Apple Watch Series 5 features all the hardware and software you need to enhance your riding experience, including the Always-On Retina Display, a built-in compass, and international calls to emergency services.
Tapping on a device’s screen can be a great way to avoid constantly pressing the power button or home button. But with the Apple Watch Series 5, you don’t need to do that. It’s equipped with the Always-On Retina Display, which allows you to see important information all the time because the display screen never sleeps.
Geared for outdoor activities, the Apple Watch Series 5 has a built-in compass, updated maps, and international emergency calling services to make cycling in remote places less intimidating. It can even place an emergency call for you if it senses that you fell and remained motionless for approximately one minute.
- Packed with useful features (e.g. EKG recording that you can forward to a doctor)
- Has a fall alert function
- Can draw your cycling route on a GPS
- Lots of bands to choose from
- Short battery life, around a day (but it charges fast)
- Needs a more secure band
Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker
The Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker is packed with a lot of useful features, but without the hefty price tag. This activity and fitness tracker tracks different metrics, such as your calories burned, sleep, and heart rate.
Like any wearable fitness devices, the Charge 4 allows you to personalize it to fit your needs and style. For instance, you get personalized reminders to make sure you stay active, hydrated, well rested, and more. You can also choose from a variety of clock face designs for every occasion.
The only biggest downside to this water-resistant and GPS-enabled device is its battery life. The manufacturer claims the battery can keep this device running for up to 7 days. But based on user feedback, the battery may last only around 5 hours with full charge if you keep using the GPS.
- Doesn’t disturb you when you sleep because of the sleep mode function
- Comes with the most holistic Fitbit app
- Offers GPS tracking and touch-free payment
- Easy to use if you’re reasonably tech savvy
- Doesn’t have a long battery life, especially if you use the GPS
- Needs you to have a Spotify Premium to use its Spotify features
Fitbit Ionic Watch
If you want a basic activity and fitness tracker, the Fitbit Ionic Watch would make a great choice. But if you’re looking for something that has a bunch of features that you may or may never use, go for an Apple gps activity tracker.
The Fitbit Ionic Watch has all the essential functions that you need to keep moving and improving your overall health and cycling experience, from measuring your pulse rate to keeping track of your sleeping patterns. It has multi-sport modes with real-time stats, dynamic personal coaching with on-screen instructions, and a built-in GPS with “Global Navigation Satellite System” (GLONASS).
- A good-looking fitness biking tracker
- Robust and precise tracking capabilities
- Great battery life
- Great sleep tracking function and Fitbit app
- Doesn’t have all of the features of fitness trackers from popular brands, like the Apple Watch
- Can be difficult to sync with other devices
Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS
The Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS is one of the best rugged fitness trackers you can buy right now. It’s constructed to U.S. Military standard 810G, so it can withstand rough use and abuse and the harshest environments.
It has been certified at 10 ATM (the amount of pressure it can withstand). Meaning, it’s a waterproof device that’s suitable for most water sports, such as swimming and snorkeling, in shallow water of 100 meters or less.
The Garmin Instinct can do more than devices that can track gps activity alone. Regardless of its position or how fast you’re going with your bike, its 3-axis electronic compass can still give an accurate reading in different challenging environments. You can also plan your cycling adventures ahead of time by using the Garmin Explore app and website.
The life of the battery depends on the mode it’s in. It can keep the Garmin Instinct running for 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, 40 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode, and 16 hours in GPS mode.
- Has all the apps athletes and non-athletes need
- Has an always-on display and is illuminated at night
- Has an app for your phone, so you can easily access a detailed information of your stats
- Has a battery life that can last up to 7 days
- The button control may need to getting used to.
- Doesn’t seem to have an accurate sleep tracking function
Polar Vantage V – Premium GPS Multisport Watch for Multisport & Triathlon Training
The Polar Vantage V – Premium GPS Multisport Watch for Multisport & Triathlon Training has the features of more high-end activity and fitness trackers. With that considered, this might be an overkill for casual cyclists since it’s designed more for pro athletes.
The Vantage V uses the Polar Precision Prime™ to accurately read your heart rate. This technology combines the latest in non-invasive skin measurement and two LED light sensors.
It also tells you how much your heart and muscles are working when you’re cycling or doing other activities. To take it further, it gives you a holistic view of your efforts and help you improve your recovery and results , thanks to its Recovery Pro feature.
The battery life is one of the best things about the Polar Vantage V. Even if you keep using the GPS, it could last up to 40 hours on a single charge.
- Has most of the features of more expensive fitness tracker watches
- Long battery life, even with constant use
- Highly accurate GPS
- Durable and scratch resistant
- Unreliable sleep sensor
- Provides inconsistent heart rate data while exercising or resting
Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch
People who love a fitness sensor that has the look of a traditional wristwatch will love the Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch. It even comes with an interchangeable strap, so you can quickly change it to match your mood and outfit.
This isn’t only stylish, but it’s also water resistant (up to 50 meters or 164 feet). Swim with it, wear it under the heavy rain on the road, or hit the shower—the Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch can survive it all.
Steel HR has a GPS tracking system to track and create a map of your bike rides, complete with all the stats (e.g., distance, elevation and pace). Just open the Health Mate app to view your session history and progress, as well as to share your data. It’s compatible with a lot of health and fitness apps, such as Google Fit, Strava, and Apple Health.
So far in this list, it has the longest battery life based on the manufacturer’s claim. A full charge can last for 25 days and 20 more days on power reserve mode. (The power reserve mode allows time and activity tracking only.)
- Looks like a traditional wrist watch, not a bulky, cheap-looking watch for kids
- Has a great battery life
- Water-resistant, all-metal construction
- Relatively accurate heart rate sensor
- Doesn’t allow the user to set multiple alarm times
- Has a highly comfortable band, but it’s difficult to take on and off
Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, Regular fit
Do you have a difficult time reading your gps sport tracker’s screen while riding? That shouldn’t be problem if you’re using the Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, Regular fit, which has a high-definition, sunlight-readable display screen.
The vívoactive HR is able to measure your heart rate from the wrist using Garmin’s Elevate™ heart rate technology. Your heart rate reading serves as a basis for the device to calculate the amount of calories you burned and the level of intensity of your physical activities.
Note: This device doesn’t monitor your heart rate when you’re swimming.
Normally, it doesn’t need charging for up to 8 days in watch/activity tracking mode. If the GPS is active, you can expect a battery life of around 13 hours to 5 days.
- Does a good job of figuring out when you fall asleep and wake up
- Golf features, a great bonus function for this bicycle tracker
- Good battery life (could last for 5 days, without GPS usage)
- Relatively accurate heart rate monitoring
- Monitoring of heart rate becomes a little inaccurate when doing activities that tense muscles
- May not keep track of all of your steps
Garmin 010-01769-01 Vivoactive 3, GPS Smartwatch with Contactless Payments and Built-In Sports Apps
Who is this for? The Vivoactive 3 smartwatch with gps tracker is for semi-pro athletes, people who workout at least twice a week, and recreational bike riders.
Like the Garmin vívoactive HR, it takes your heart rate using the Elevate™ heart rate technology. It also checks if you’re emotionally or physically stressed out by measuring your heart variability rate (HVR), so you can make the necessary changes for good health. (HVR measures the the time between each heartbeat.)
The Vivoactive 3 gives you all the freedom you need to customize your workouts. Simply create them then download them to this device. And if you feel like doing other things, you have more than 15 pre-loaded sports apps to choose from.
When it comes to its battery life, it doesn’t last as long as the other fitness trackers. The manufacturer claims the battery can last 13 hours to 7 days. But based on customer reviews, the device usually needs charging after 10 to 11 hours of use.
- Comfortable and can be worn the whole day
- 10 to 11 hours of battery life
- Does a great job of recording your bicycle ride
- Can swim with it
- Not-so-great GPS (but still on par with other best bicycle tracker watches)
- Can’t link all types of credit cards to Garmin Pay
Garmin 010-01746-00 Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit
Finally, there’s the Garmin 010-01746-00 Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit. This fitness tracker is made for people who want to know a lot about their performance after every session, but don’t want to deal with unnecessary “smart features”.
The Forerunner provides crucial cycling metrics that you can use to improve your performance. For instance, it detects air pressure and elevation changes, which can affect your speed and climbing ability. It also measures your balance, ground contact, pedaling rate, vertical oscillation, and other tracking methods that evaluate how hard you’re riding.
On a single charge, the battery could last up to 14 days. It could drain faster—within 24 hours—if you keep using its GPS system.
- Comfortable enough that you can sleep with it on
- Different features work perfectly
- Plots your route and saves data on a map
- Fast-charging and long-lasting battery
- Too big for someone with a small wrist
- Needs a better Android software
How to Choose Good Fitness Trackers for Cyclists
Majority of fitness trackers have the basic features that you may need to monitor your performance while cycling and gauge your progression. But, we know that not all fitness trackers for cycling are created equal. Some of them may have features that you won’t find in another fitness tracker.
So, if this is your first time to buy one, here are some of the important features that you need to consider.
Is it compatible with Android or iPhone? You may find a selected set of Android-compatible fitness trackers that could work with iPhone. The only downside is they won’t be able to do as much as the Apple fitness tracker.
So, before you grab your wallet, make sure a fitness tracker is compatible with your devices (e.g., laptop, smart phone, and computer) and your favorite apps.
Battery Life and Charging Frequency
Since it’s an electronic device, it’s only right to spend a good amount of time reviewing how long the battery lasts on a single charge and how often you should charge the device. An excellent battery life means you can monitor your activity all day and increase the device lifespan. You also get to enjoy comprehensive sleep-tracking features, without hassles.
There are different ways to charge an activity tracker for cycling:
- They may be supplied with a USB charging cable, which you can connect to an AC adaptor plug that’s similar to that of a smartphone charger.
- Other models don’t need a charging cable. Instead, they have a built-in USB port that you can directly plug into a laptop, power bank, or USB wall charger.
Ideally, you want the battery to last for at least a week, even when battery-draining apps (e.g. GPS, sleep-tracking sensors, and heart rate tracking) are continuously running. The good news is the battery life of fitness meters gets better through the years. The average battery life of these devices could run for a few hours to a day, while other brands promise 12 to 18 months of operation.
Reminder: Check actual customer feedback, because the manufacturer’s claims may not always be accurate.
Should you get a fitness tracker with a touch screen or a button-based input system?
There are certainly pros and cons between touch-screen and push-button fitness trackers, but this is really a matter of personal preference. Based on a quick search, many cyclists (and non-cyclists) seem to prefer more a push-button fitness tracker.
On paper, a touch-screen cycle activity tracker sounds great. In practice, it presents a number of issues, such as:
- Prone to fingerprints, smudges, and scratches
- Problem with ghost touch or touch glitches, especially when it’s raining or your hands are sweaty
- Difficult to change settings when you’re on the move
Having said that, touch screen fitness trackers do offer a few advantages:
- Give you the ability to sync with different devices
- Allow direct and intuitive interaction
- Make it easier to do a single task by just one tap instead of multiple presses of a button
- Continuous development of more accurate touch screen fitness trackers
Fortunately, you don’t need to choose between the two if you find it difficult to do so. There are models that can be operated using touch and buttons, such as the Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, Regular fit.
There are many considerations when it comes to screen display. Do you like an in-built screen on your fitness tracker for biking? Or, do you prefer a fitness tracker with a classic watch face and a third dial that shows your activity?
As a cyclist, you know very well how it’s not always easy to glance and operate your fitness tracker while riding. Depending on your needs and personal style, it’s always a great idea to get one that has a large, always-on display screen. This allows you to easily see your activity stats or text notifications, without taking your hand off the handlebar.
Strava (for Android), Google Fit, Fitocracy, and Endomondo are just a few of the popular tracker bike apps for athletes in different sports (e.g., cycling and running). Before you make up your mind, always check a fitness tracker’s companion app to know how it monitors, analyzes, and stores your data.
Think of how you want to be informed of your stats. Do you even want notifications from your fitness tracker?
Most modern trackers have the same notification features as smart phones. Some models can display simple notifications on the screen, while others have call and text notifications.
With the advancement of technology, most of the best fitness monitors on the market today can keep track and interpret various metrics. Just to give you a good idea, we’ll discuss some of them below.
Most popular bicycle trackers have a built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) system. With this feature, you can take advantage of all of its cycling-specific metrics, such as the total distance you’ve traveled, places you’ve covered, the duration, and your speed and pace.
Some even come with an altimeter, which measures altitude by calculating the air pressure of a location. But, a gps bicycle tracker with a built-in altimeter may not be that accurate compared to when it’s measuring distance.
The app on a fitness tracker usually uploads and stores all the information collected after every ride to an open-cloud or brand-specific file storage location. On your desktop (or any compatible device), you can view all the information you need to see how you’re doing over time and make the necessary improvements.
The calories you burn does change at different distances, so it’s really important to get the best calorie tracker device that gives accurate measurements. According to a study published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine, Fitbit Surge® has the most accurate calculation for calories burned versus other similar devices. The error rate was 25% versus 93%.
Many of these fitness trackers are equipped with LED light sensors that are capable of counting your pulse rate, such as a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor. These LED light sensors work by projecting light through the skin in order to spot blood flow and count the number of times your heart beats every minute.
Note: Your pulse rate is a direct measure of your heart rate, because your heart contractions cause the noticeable pulse in specific parts of your body.
Others are even equipped with red and infrared light that measure the amount of oxygen in your blood, also called oxygen saturation (SpO2). The sensors in your fitness tracker shine this type of light through your skin and blood vessels. Then, it uses the light that bounces back to measure the concentration of oxygen in your blood.
Why is it important to measure your blood oxygen concentration? When used together with other metrics, such as heart rate, this could offer a lot of benefits when you’re cycling in various environments and altitudes.
Sleep Schedule and Quality
Most wearable fitness trackers take advantage of an actimetry sensor, also called an accelerometer, to monitor your movements. This small unit can give you an insight into your sleep-wake behavior during a specific period.
For instance, if you keep waking up once or twice in the middle of the night, you might sit up in or get out of bed. The device would pick up these movements that don’t really count toward your total amount of sleep for the day, and then it creates a graph based on this information.
The Apple Watch Series 5 is one of those trackers that can give you an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) reading. An electrocardiogram is different from the heart rate sensor, which only tells you how many times your heart beat in a minute. This feature is used to measure your heartbeat and assess for signs of heart disease.
These training trackers don’t really measure your heartbeat all day. It’s up to you to tell the device when you want it to take an ECG reading. For the Apple watch, you just need to open its ECG app then hold your finger on the crown for 30 seconds. No need to press the crown during the session.
Disclaimer: These fitness trackers aren’t a replacement for the medical-grade ECG recording machine or a doctor’s physical assessment and advice.
You don’t need to be a pro cyclist to use a fitness tracker. If you like to geek out on data or achieve your fitness goals as a non-athlete cyclist, it’s good to have one on your wrist to dish out all the important information whenever you need it.
Remember: Think of the functions that are truly important to you. It’s always a good idea to shop carefully, because not all brands and models are designed for cycling or other activities that you like to do. Also, you don’t want to end up paying a lot more for a bike tracking smartwatch with fancy features that you may never get to use.
We hope our buying guide would help you filter through the various cycling fitness tracker watches on the market. If necessary, read other sports tracker reviews to make sure you get the right fitness tracker for the right price.