The best bike computers are essential for keeping track of your ride, regardless of whether you’re a road cyclist or a mountain biker. These cycling computers are usually mounted to your bike’s handlebars in order to collect crucial metrics about the ride you’re completing, with information available on the speed and duration of your ride. Other statistics available often include cadence, heart rate and the number of calories burned.
When it comes to price, this kind of cycling computer can range from $100 upwards, with earlier models often available for less. For computers with more advanced GPS settings built-in you can expect to pay more of a premium. Just like with the best bike trainers, there are brands you can rely on when it comes to bike computers, including Whoo, Garmin and Lezyne. Each of these major brands will have features that allow their computers to excel, including seriously in-depth GPS tracking.
Depending on the terrain you like to train on, and how detailed you want your ride metrics to be, there’s guaranteed to be a bike computer to suit your needs. If it’s important to you, make sure to look out for computers with compatibility with cycling apps, such as Strava, so that you can use your data across platforms. Keep reading for the premium bike computers out there, for the crucial information you need to improve your riding experience.
1. Garmin Edge 530: Best bike computer overall
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The Garmin Edge 530 does it all without the top-end price. That means complete connectivity with ANT+, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, a full color screen with adaptive brightness, a decent 20 hours of battery with optional expansion pack for 80 hours, plus all of Garmin's ever advancing Connect IQ apps. Connect sensors and enjoy Garmin's analytics to help you actually use that data to see visible improvements in performance.
The turn-by-turn navigation is the best you can get on a cycle computer with smart rerouting should you go off track and very clear maps on the color display. The only thing you don't get is touchscreen and address specific routing, but if they're not deal breakers then this is a great way to have it all without breaking the bank.
- Read our Garmin Edge 530 review
2. Wahoo Elemnt Bolt: Best bike computer for Strava
The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is one of those rare GPS bike computers that's been designed to be super-aerodynamic so it's works with your bike. It's also light at 2.2oz and - as you'd imagine from those speed focused specs - it's crammed with features for the serious rider.
The screen might be monochrome but it's super clear and offers turn-by-turn navigation routing with smart rerouting if you go off course. There are also lots of app customizable data fields, with 11 per screen, for the many sensors this can connect to via ANT+ or Bluetooth.
Button controls are fantastically intuitive and this is Strava Live Segment friendly too. If you can live without a color display this is one of the best bike computers you can buy that really gives it all for a lower than top-end price.
- Read our Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review
3. Garmin Edge 1030: Best bike computer for triathlon training
The Garmin Edge 1030 is the company's flagship bike computer meaning this does it all. It might not be the smallest or lightest at 4.3oz but it uses every bit of that to cram in everything you could want on a ride. That means a large color touchscreen display, ANT+, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, advanced turn-by-turn navigation that works well plus a 20-hour battery life that can be extended with an add-on pack.
Constant updates with this hardware backing mean you are future-proofed here which helps to justify the price tag on this to-end cycle computer. With Strava, TrainingPeaks and other apps pre-installed plus Garmin's ClimbPro this does it all with a good-looking finish too.
- Read our Garmin Edge 1030 review
4. Wahoo Elemnt Roam: Best bike computer for navigation
The Wahoo Elemnt Roam GPS is the company's top-end bike computer which means you get a color display as well as app support on this Gorilla Glass protected 3.3oz unit. Aside from the usual data fields, wide sensor connectivity and turn-by-turn navigation you'd expect from a top end device, this has LED light strips for notifications.
These can be set to alert you to turns, training zones and more for at-a-glance information that's ideal for those pushing limits without much time to gaze at a screen. Kickr trainer support and Strava backing make this a very capable device that earns its price easily.
- Read our Wahoo Elemnt Roam review
5. Lezyne Mega XL GPS: Best bike computer for battery life
The Lezyne Mega XL GPS has a battery life that leaves the competition long behind, spanning a whopping 48 hours on a charge. Despite this, it still remains lighter than the top-end devices, at 2.9oz yet manages to cram in a 2.7-inch monochrome display that's super clear and can work in both portrait and landscape modes with up to 10 data fields at once.
Connect up to most sensors and trainers with the ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity but you'll need to upload data via the app as there's no Wi-Fi. This is Strava, TrainingPeaks and Today's Plan compatible and you can upload navigation routes made via GPX files or those made on GPS Root which are stored offline. This does all that and undercuts the competition on price too.
- Read our Lezyne Mega XL GPS review
6. Hammerhead Karoo GPS: Best bike computer with cadence
The Hammerhead Karoo GPS is the best looking bike computer when it comes to display. You get a massive 3.5-inch full color and high resolution 229ppi touchscreen on this beauty. That means 12 data fields per page but also beautiful navigation and routing that works really well. SIM onboard means the option to be connected, for new routes mid-ride, without taking a phone.
It works with Strava and TrainingPeaks, connects to lots of sensors including ANT+ and Bluetooth and lets you upload routes from files with over 8GB of storage. The downside is there could be more training plan options for the hardcore rider - but since this is aimed at the explorer type that may not be a big deal.
- Read our Hammerhead Karoo GPS review
7. Garmin Edge 520 Plus: Best bike computer on a budget
The Garmin Edge 520 Plus is a great way to get all the excellent Garmin apps and features without spending too much. You still get a full color display, ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity plus a 15-hour battery life. It just means you can't have Wi-Fi, touchscreen or address specific routing.
Navigation is excellent for turn-by-turn guidance while features like GroupTrack and rider-to-rider messaging are nice live tracking touches. Smartphone notifications are plentiful and you get things like VO2 max and FTP tracking as standard.
- Read our Garmin Edge 520 Plus review
8. Lezyne Super Pro GPS: Best bike computer for mountain biking
The Lezyne Super Pro GPS offers the rare-these-days option to view in landscape mode which makes the eight data fields super clear. You can also enjoy clear navigation on the monochrome screen and an impressive 28-hour battery life on a charge.
Controls of the screen via the app are useful and the ANT+ with Bluetooth connectivity make sensor use easy as well as trainer pairing. Strava Live Segments is supported and data will auto sync via the app.
- Read our Lezyne Super Pro GPS review
9. Polar V650 GPS: Best bike computer for color touchscreen
The Polar V650 GPS is a full color touchscreen bike computer that isn't damaging to your budget. You get navigation mapping with TOPO maps meaning real lay-of-the-land detail with your routing overlaid. It also means easy access to maps wherever you go.
The downside is limited app support for routing, with it done on a computer and uploaded – but this does support Strava. What it doesn't support is ANT+, as this is Bluetooth only, which could be a deal breaker for those who have already invested in certain sensors. The Flow app has some great data layouts for looking at your progress and updates are regular.
- Read our Polar V650 GPS review
Choosing the best bike computer for you: What to look for
If you’re wondering which features should be at the top of your list when it comes to the best bike computers, these are all of the essentials we would want to tick off before we went to check out.
Digital display: More affordable cycling computers usually have black and white displays with a simple breakdown of your stats, while more costly devices keep you up to date with larger displays that can still be viewed even in the brightest sunlight. The data you can see on the screen itself will be adjustable on the bike computer you choose, with larger screens allowing you to fit more on the screen in most circumstances.
GPS: A good GPS tracker can provide you with a wealth of in-ride data, from your exact location to the distance you’ve traveled and your speed too. As technology advances, GPS bike computers are becoming more affordable, with the possibility of learning more about your ride than before.
Navigation: Certain cycling computers offer in-built navigation features in order to prevent you from getting lost whilst riding, and enable you to leave your phone behind when it comes to directions.
Heart rate monitor: This is a feature available on lots of activity trackers as well as a selection of bike computers so that you can see data on how hard you’ve been working throughout your session and the parts where you pushed yourself hardest.
How do bike computers work?
A basic cycling computer gathers a range of info about your ride, including speed (and your max speed), distance and time to your destination, and more scenic data such as the time the sun set during your ride.
So, how do bike computers work? Whenever a magnet on the wheel passes a sensor on the bike’s fork, a signal is generated. The bike computer measures the time between each single signal to calculate how fast you are riding.
Once that measurement is sorted, cycling computers can work out your distance, average and maximum speed, and your ride time. You may not need all that data, or you may need far more if you’re training for a race or competition.
Luckily there are plenty of basic bike computers and pro cycling computers knocking around these days, so you can get one that’s as feature-rich as you need.
What are the alternatives to cycling computers?
If you’re not quite sure you want to invest in a bike computer without weighing up the alternatives, there are other ways to keep track of your ride. Smartphones now tend to have GPS built-in, and you can download any number of apps to keep track of your cycling, with Strava leading the way.
While apps are easy to use and get started with, they do mean that you’ll have to carry your phone when riding, which presents problems when it comes to durability and the prospect of your phone being damaged. That’s especially true if you take on treacherous trails as a mountain biker.
Those who would rather leave their phone at home might prefer a fitness wearable, like a GPS-enabled sports watch. These wrist trackers help you to keep track of your heart rate and can provide stats on your speed, which can help you to improve. The information you glean won’t be as in depth as a cycling computer, however, nor as durable.