The best bike computers track multiple aspects of your ride, whether you’re a road cyclist or mountain biker. Also known as cycling computers, these small devices can be mounted to your bike’s handlebars. Once installed, they’re able to track where you ride, how fast you ride (including your maximum speed), and how long you’ve been cycling for. A good bike computer also tracks metrics such as cadence, heart rate and calories burned. Modern cycling computers have built-in navigational features too, including turn-by-turn directions for wherever you’re cycling to.
Bike computers are priced from around $100, though older models can sell for less. The top GPS cycling computers cost hundreds. As with the best bike trainers, a few precious brands dominate the best bike computers market, namely Garmin, Wahoo and Lezyne. Each of these brands feature in our buying guide below as they make some of the most reliable GPS cycling computers available right now. Garmin also makes fitness trackers, some of which also offer in-ride activity monitoring, including heart rate tracking, though not to the in-depth level of it’s top-rated bike computers.
Garmin’s Edge GPS bike computers used to rule over all others, but then Wahoo came along with its feature-stacked Elemnt range and left many other cycling computer brands in the dust. From our reviews and research, the best bike computers offer ANT+ sensor connectivity, plus compatibility with a host of cycling apps such as Strava. Here we look at a range of bike computers to suit different budgets and needs. For spin class workouts, check out our guide to the best exercise bikes.
1. Garmin Edge 530: Best bike computer overall
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
We’ve talked a lot about the top bike computers so far, but here’s an important question: do you really need one? We get it, you’re curious to see how fast you ride or how far you cycle each time you head out, but there are other ways to track both of those metrics - and a few others.
The first is your smartphone, though the risk here is damaging your device if you carry it with you on a ride. The second is a smartwatch or tracker with a dedicated cycling app. The beauty of these is that you can use them to track other outdoor sports too. Both can track your ride to an extent and are perhaps better suited to beginners who may not need all the bells and whistles offered by the best bike computer.
For those of you who are really into cycling, or who are training to compete in a race, a good cycling computer will give you greater insight into your performance - and flag up where you could improve. With that in mind, these are the features to look out for when picking the best bike computer for you…
Digital display: You’ll quickly find that the cheap cycling computers mostly sport black and white displays, while the big-ticket devices have super-crisp displays that can be read in bright sunlight and low-light conditions. What data you’ll see on the display depends on the bike computer you choose.
GPS: Global positioning System monitoring is behind a range of in-ride data, from location and navigation, to distance, elevation and speed. There are lots of GPS bike computers available now, and prices are becoming more reasonable.
Navigation: Not all cycling computers offer a navigation function, but the top-end devices too. These dish out turn-by-turn directions on your chosen route, so you shouldn’t get lost while riding.
Heart rate monitor: Lots of bike computers brag about heart rate monitoring, but it’s only ever as accurate as the activity tracker or chest strap you wear. Once paired with your cycling computer, the tracker will capture then feed it heart rate data, so you’ll know how hard you’ve been working.
Cycling tracking: Speed and distance are the most basic data captured by these devices, but the best bike computers also tracks stuff like cadence, elevation, power and location.
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 aren’t sure whether you need or want a bike computer, there are some other ways to keep tabs on your rides. Most smartphones now have built-in GPS, for example, and while this won’t be as accurate as tracking your ride with a GPS cycling computer, it will track your location and route with reasonable accuracy.
Head to the Apple Store or Google Play and you’ll be able to download free ride tracking apps for your phone. The best ones include MapMyRide and Strava.
The obvious downside to using your phone in place of a dedicated bike computer is that you have to carry your phone with you when riding. Now, it’s not so bad if you have an older phone that’s already a little beaten up, but if you are the proud owner of a fancy handset, tread carefully here. Especially if you’re a mountain biker taking on gnarly trails.
If this doesn’t phase you, you can buy handlebar or stem mounts for attaching your phone to your bike. Tracking your ride by using your phone’s GPS might eat up its data and battery too, so this isn’t a foolproof alternative to bike computers. Still, it’s a popular work-around.
GPS-enabled sports watches are a more popular alternative, as with these you have a capable device strapped to your wrist instead of your handlebars. These types of sports watches enable you to track various aspects of your rides (though not quite as in-depth as a cycling computer would), with some supporting ANT+ connection.