Fitness trackers have become a must-have gadget for anyone that leads an active lifestyle and wants better insight into their progress. Over the past few years the technology behind these trackers have really improved, which is great news for cyclists.
Originally these fitness trackers functioned similar to a pedometer, tracking steps and similar movements. Of course, this design isn’t going to work for a cyclist riding a bicycle.
Now there are improved fitness trackers that can accurately handle cycling activities. But not all trackers are created equal. If you spend a significant part of time on a bike, whether you are a competitive cyclist, a mountain biker or just enjoy riding around your town, these top 5 models will be the best choice for you.
#1 Garmin Vivoactive Smartwatch
Garmin is best known for their expertise with GPS navigation systems. Their experience in producing reliable GPS systems is a significant advantage when it comes to fitness trackers. As wearable fitness gadgets became more popular, Garmin quickly jumped on the bandwagon with great success. When it comes to activities like cycling, having GPS capabilities is essential.
Features of the Vivoactive Smartwatch:
- Available as just the Vivoactive watch or as a bundle (with a heart rate monitor)
- Color options – Black, White or Slate and Black or White bundle
- Super thin design is attractive with a high-res color touchscreen
- GPS-enabled sports app for running, biking, golfing, swimming and more
- Compatible with bike speed and cadence sensors
- Smartwatch syncs with smartphone app but also works solo to receive notifications like a traditional smartwatch
- Vivoactive Connect IQ store offers options for screen design, widgets and apps
- Super long-lasting battery will last up to 3 weeks of activity tracking or 10 hours of GPS tracking
- Solo riders can train more safely with the Live Track app which allows friends or families to see your location
The touchscreen design of this smartwatch is excellent. It is a high resolution and also sunlight-readable so you can easily glance without stopping your bike. The GPS powered cycling app will track time spent riding, distance ridden, speed and how many calories you’ve burned.
This smartwatch is also compatible with other Garmin accessories like a heart rate monitor and more cycling-specific accessories like the bike speed and cadence sensors. These options make the Vivoactive perfect for serious training and casual use alike.
Another awesome feature of the Vivoactive is syncing with Garmin Connect Mobile. This app not only tracks your progress but also functions as a social media platform. You can earn badges for your participation and join up with fitness challenges. If you have friends that ride too you can challenge each other through private competitions.
- You can see how the Vivoactive compares to #3 (the Fitbit Surge) in this comparison here.
- You can also see my stand-alone review of the new Vivoactive 3 (3rd generation).
#2 TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch
TomTom is another company that, similarly to Garmin, started with GPS navigation products. As wearable fitness trackers became more popular it was only natural for TomTom to put a GPS system in a watch. While the brand doesn’t have a cycling-specific watch, their Multi-Sport GPS is an excellent choice.
Features of the Multi-Sport GPS:
- Built-in interval training programs
- QuickGPSFix technology means the watch finds your location faster than most other models
- Syncs with TomTom’s MySports app for access to data on your phone
- Slim design, one button control and wide display screen make this watch very user-friendly
- Compatible with TomTom bike mount (sold separately)
- Ability to monitor heart rate with a chest monitor
- Battery life up to 8 hours with GPS + heart rate or up to 10 hours with just GPS
The Multi-Sport GPS watch isn’t loaded with a ton of features but that can really be a benefit for some. If you ride your bike casually and don’t really need or want a bunch of data to analyze from each ride, this model is a great option. When it comes down to the basics, a reliable GPS system and heart rate monitor is enough to keep amateur cyclists happy.
#3 Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch
Fitbit is one of the most popular brands when it comes to fitness trackers. They have produced some impressive watches and continue to improve their designs. It’s difficult to choose one product from their line but the Surge Fitness Superwatch is right up at the top of their list. It is one of the best models for cyclists in particular.
Features of the Surge:
- Very sleek design available in small, large or extra large
- 3 colors options – Tangerine, Blue and Black
- Touchscreen monochrome LCD with ambient light sensor for backlighting
- Battery will last up to 7 days of activity tracking or up to 10 hours or GPS tracking
- Sensors include – GPS, accelerometers, gyroscope, compass, altimeter and heart rate monitor
- GPS tracking perfect for cycling and tracks distance, pace, timing, routes and elevation
- Built-in heart rate monitor on wrist means no extra gear needed
- Use Bluetooth to sync watch with your smartphone so you can receive notifications and control music on the go
- Fitbit SmartTrack + Multisport supports numerous sports and workout as well as usual stats like steps, distance walked, calories burned, etc
- Built-in sleep monitor and silent alarm
The Surge is one of the best fitness trackers out there and incredibly accurate. It has numerous sensors for tracking movement which makes it ideal for all times of bike riding. It’s route tracking function is excellent for cyclists and easily allows you to see where you are going or where you’ve been in a map.
A really nice benefit of the Surge is the built-in wrist heart rate monitor. Typical chest monitors can be uncomfortable and are just another tool you need to purchase. The wrist monitors allows you to easily track your heart rate all throughout the day. Unfortunately this constant heart rate tracking means the Surge doesn’t have as long of a battery life as other watches.
The Fitbit Surge is the ideal all-around fitness watch for those who are interested in tracking throughout the day, not just when they are on their bikes. The Surge may be a bit more high tech than other fitness trackers but has a downside. If you are a someone who participates in numerous activities, not being able to go swimming with this watch can be a problem.
NOTE: You can check out how the Fitbit Surge compares to the popular Apple SmartWatch here.
#4 Suunto Ambit3 GPS Smartwatch
Suunto is a higher end brand that specializes in fitness tech. Their smartwatches are extremely well-designed and look very stylish. Although Suunto is definitely not an inexpensive brand by any means, if you have the budget for a top-notch smartwatch that you can wear anywhere, check out the Ambit3.
Features of the Ambit3:
- 30 hour battery life with ability to add on another battery pack
- Advanced GPS system with 5 second accuracy
- Offers route navigation and back tracking
- Accurate compass and altitude
- Delivers weather information so you will be alerted to changes
- Tracks speed, pace and distance
- Cyclist support that syncs with Bluetooth
- Numerous smaller features on the Suunto apps for smartphones
- Use with Suunto’s versatile heart rate monitor
- Syncs with your phone so your watch will receive notifications for calls and messages
If you are into the multi-sport way of life, the Suunto is going to really impress you. It looks fantastic, is built to last longer than the competition and is extremely accurate with its tracking. There are a lot of features packed into this watch which means it can be tricky to get used to everything at first. Once you memorize all the ins and outs of the Ambit3, you’re going to want to wear this watch everywhere you.
#5 Moov Now Multi-Sport Wearable Coach
You may not have heard of Moov but this so-called Wearable Coach is an intriguing device. It is easily one of the best cycling trackers when it comes to multi-sport models. Whether you’re already a fan of fitness watches or brand new to them, the Moov watch will be impressive.
Features of the Moov:
- Four color options – Fusion Red, Aqua Blue, Blizzard White and Stealth Black
- Can be purchased as a single watch, double watches or even up to 8 for families and friends
- Audio coaches you as you work out and ride
- 12+ built-in workout programs to keep you on track
- Omni motion sensors
- Water-resistant and dust-proof
- Get up to 6 months of battery life
- Built-in map tracks your route with markers to show your fastest and slowest speeds
- Mountain bikers can see their Tallest Climb with stats
- Cadence tracker shows pedaling speed and efficiency
- Calculates how much effort you are putting in based on your person stats
The Moov has an incredible design and is quite versatile. Unlike other traditional fitness watches, the Moov can be worn on the ankle for cycling. This offers the most accurate tracking while on a bike. Don’t worry, when you buy a Moov it comes with a small band for use the wrist and a large for use on the ankle.
Cyclists of all types are going to be crazy for all the bike-specific features of the Moov. The Tallest Climb feature is going to keep tabs on elevation, distance and duration of the tallest climb of your ride. With the tracker on your ankle it will know how fast you are pedaling and how efficiently based on your bike’s gearing.
Aside from cadence efficiency the Moov also monitors your overall effort so you can see when you should pick up the pace or slow it down.
The Moov is a one-of-a-kind device that truly functions like a mini trainer. Audio coaching and using your phone to function as a computer to see your progress can really transform your training.
- You can check out how the Moov Now compares to the Misfit Shine right here.
- You can also read my stand alone Misfit Now review for a more in depth analysis.
The Final Pass
Riding a bicycle is an excellent form of exercise- it builds your stamina, burns calories and stimulates your mind. Studies have also shown being outdoors is highly beneficial for people and riding a bike is perfect for getting in your nature time. The right fitness tracker can really transform your workout time while cycling. You can find these 5 models online or in retail stores that stock fitness gadgets.