Best Fitness Tracker For Cycling – 2017 Top Models Tested & Reviewed!

To really understand and improve your cycling, it is a good idea to use a fitness tracker to display and record metrics from your ride. Analyzing the data can help you become a better rider.

Best Fitness Tracker For Cycling

The metrics you need will depend on the level of riding and training that you do. Have a think about what you need (or want) to know from your rides and then read the list of considerations below before having a look at our suggestions of the best fitness trackers on the market.

Consideration For Best Fitness Tracker For Cycling

Battery Life

The first thing to consider is how long you want your fitness tracker’s battery to last. If you want a tracker that will stay on your wrist all day and night, regardless of what you are doing, then it is much more convenient to only charge it once every few days. On the other hand, if you will only wear your fitness tracker while riding, then a few hours (or longer if you need) will suffice.

Integrated GPS

If your fitness tracker does not have integrated GPS then you will need to pair it with a smartphone so it can use the phone’s location services. This may not be a problem for you if you always take your phone with you by bike phone mount, but it will use up your phone’s battery life faster.

Integrated Heart Rate Monitor

Smartwatch or wrist mounted fitness trackers may have a heart rate monitor built in. The accuracy of these can be affected by environmental conditions and how tight the unit is strapped on. For this reason, some fitness trackers rely on a more accurate external monitor connected either via Bluetooth or ANT+.

External Sensors

If you like to record and analyze data such as cadence, wheel speed, power or heart rate (see above) then you will need a fitness tracker that can connect to and record data from external sensors (unless it records this data itself).

Barometer

The most accurate altitude reading comes from comparing the data from an integrated barometer with the known altitude at specific GPS locations. The best fitness trackers will do this but many just rely on the GPS data. If altitude data is important to you, then look for a tracker that compares the two.

Best Fitness Tracker For Cycling Rviews

1. Recon Jet Smart Eyewear

Recon-Jet

Expensive with some drawbacks but many features are on offer. Pretty much any data you want can be displayed through the Recon Jet. GPS, Wi-Fi, ANT+, Bluetooth and USB.

As a heads up display, you can see the data right in front of you without taking your eyes off the road. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work out like that.

To focus on the data you must move your eyes so much that you are no longer looking at the road anyway. Furthermore, the size of unit restricts your peripheral vision and prevents you from seeing anything over your right shoulder. Battery life is a short two hours (despite the claimed four).

The concept is the future of fitness trackers and bike computers however, so it is worth keeping an eye on the Recon Jet or investing in one now if you can live with the restrictions on visibility.

Pros

  • A wide range of data can be displayed in your eye line.

Cons

  • You have to focus off the road anyway and peripheral vision is restricted.

2. Suunto Ambit3 Vertical HR Monitor

Suunto Ambit3 Vertical

The Vertical is a great GPS watch for cyclists, runners and hikers, and specifically those who do a lot of climbing. It is a comfortable watch to wear. Weight is kept down by the GPS antenna being hidden and more integrated.

This reduces the size of the watch and makes it lighter in comparison with other Suunto models.

The silicon strap is smooth and does not pull out your arm hairs as you move.

The Vertical does not have a color screen but black and white does the job just fine. The backlit LED may be on the small side but it is easily read in bright light or gloomy darkness. Instead of a touchscreen that can be hard to use with gloved hands, the Vertical has five buttons around the sides.

There are individual modes for each activity and a heart rate mode for indoor training. The modes can be individually customized with the Movescount app and you can also use the app to create new modes. You will need to manually switch between modes and there is no auto detect so make sure you choose the right one before setting off.

The GPS sensor has two GPS modes to choose from. The five second accuracy will give you 15 hours of battery life and the one minute accuracy will give you 100 hours. The GPS data is super accurate as the Vertical uses the GLONASS network.

As the name suggests, the Vertical is intended for people who do lots of climbing. You can see on the display how much climbing (height and time) you have done in the last day, week and year.

While you are riding (or running) you can see your position on an elevation profile on pre loaded routes so you can see how far you have climbed and how much you have left, which you may find useful if you race. Suunto ensure the accuracy of the altitude data with their “FusedAlti” technology which compares the barometer reading with GPS data.

You can also use the Vertical to navigate and save up to 250 POIs. The small screen makes it a bit tricky to follow a route, but it can be done.

The Vertical can be connected via Bluetooth to sensors, power meters and smartphones. Notifications from a connected smartphone can be displayed on the screen if you so wish. Activities can be uploaded wirelessly through the smartphone connection but it is much faster to plug the Vertical into a laptop.

The Movescount app works with Strava and is easy to use with a good overview of your recent activities from the past month. A nice extra is the ability to generate a “Suunto Movie” from your ride data, showing a yellow line on a topographical map with ride stats popping up along the way, such as highest point, speed etc. You can even add photos.

The Vertical is a great watch if you love climbing. Seeing live elevation is a useful feature to have for racing and the other features are good to have as well. The user interface can be a bit hard to get your head around and the GPS data is not 100% accurate, but this is not significant enough to make the Vertical a bad choice.

Pros

  • Comfortable and great for the vertically inclined.

Cons

  • User interface can be a bit tricky.

3. Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235

​Important data is accurately recorded and clearly displayed.

Built in GPS, optical heart rate monitor and accelerometer mean the Forerunner contains everything you need to get started. You can also connect a chest strap for more accurate heart rate data.

The large color touchscreen displays everything clearly, including smartphone notifications if you wish. The Forerunner tracks background fitness as well and can even remind you to get up at stretch your legs at regular intervals.

Data can be uploaded to Garmin Connect to track your data and make use of Garmin’s training plans.

Pros

  • Large color touchscreen displays important ride data.

Cons

  • No ANT+ connectivity.

4. TomTom Spark Cardio + Music

TomTom-Spark-Cardio-+-Music

A fantastic all round fitness tracker. With many functions and sports modes available, it is easy to navigate through the watch and get going.

The GPS and optical heart rate monitor accurately record your data and display it on the screen.

After a ride the data can be uploaded to TomTom’s website and from there it can be automatically exported to other tracking websites like Strava, Endomondo and MapMyFitness.

As a general fitness tracker there is 24/7 tracking of heart rate, steps, sleep and calories burned. If you like to listen to music or podcasts while riding, there is 3 GB of internal storage so you can listen over the included Bluetooth headphones on the go.

The Cardio is comfortable to wear and lightweight too, so weight weenies and joggers will be happy with it. You can choose from different sizes to make sure that the strap will fit comfortably.

Pros

  • All the features you need to track general fitness.
  • Internal music storage.

Cons

  • No cadence or other ANT+ data can be recorded.

5. Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch

Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch

Customizable smart fitness watch to record heart rate and GPS data as well as get notifications from your smartphone. It has Color LCD touchscreen.

The wristband, frame and clock face can be swapped to get it looking the way you want it.

To charge the watch, you must remove it from the frame and insert it into the charging cradle. A complete charge will take 2 hours and you can get up to 5 days use from each charge.

The default strap can cause irritation for the first few weeks until it is worn in. The strap does not hold the watch securely in place over rough terrain, which causes problems with the heart rate readings (see below). Although annoying, these are great excuses to try out a different strap.

Notifications can be set up to see calls, texts etc on the color LCD touchscreen display (you need a smartphone to pair it to). The watch vibrates when a notification comes in but will not show on the display until you press a button.

The inbuilt heart rate monitor works fine for low to mid intensity workouts. When working at higher intensities such as during interval training there is a discrepancy when compared against data taken from parallel heart rate monitors. The Fitbit website states that inaccurate readings are caused not only by high intensity or irregular heart rates, but also if the strap is too loose or too tight.

Connected GPS uses smartphone location services to get accurate data (and longer battery life) so you can reliably track where you have been and how fast you were cycling.

After a ride you can see a summary on the display of calories burned, elevation, distance, speed and heart rate data. There is a useful overview of time spent in each heart rate zone. Heart rate is continuously measured in the background so you can see how your fitness changes over time.

Cycling is just one of many sports that the Blaze can be used for. Smart tracking auto detects what sport you are doing so you don’t have to change anything yourself when finishing a run and jumping on your bike.

The Fitbit connects seamlessly with Strava and activities will be automatically uploaded over wifi.. The Fitbit app not quite as in depth as Strava for data analysis but still does a good job. More serious athletes will need more accurate measurement of hard training and therefore different device anyway.

Via the app you can Interact with the Fitbit community. One nice feature is the ability to challenge other users. Earning badges for reaching milestones is a great incentive to get you on your bike. You can also set personal daily targets and get nice notifications when you hit them. There is an option to link to the Bounts app and earn points to spend online.

Pros

  • Multi sport tracking. Customizable.
  • Ability to connect with community.

Cons

  • HR data inaccurate for hard efforts.

6. Polar M200 GPS Running Watch

Polar M200

A versatile and powerful fitness tracker with impressive features for the price. The M200 features integrated GPS and optical heart rate monitor.

No smartphone is required to use the M200 but it is possible to connect one to get notifications on the screen while riding.

The big screen itself is clear to read, especially at higher speeds when things can get a bit shakier. There is an easy to press button on the side to allow you to cycle through the different metrics (lap times, speed, heart rate)

The included app displays all data in a detailed yet clear manner with much in depth analysis available. There is even a map with your route that you can slide along to see how your speed and heart rate changed throughout the ride. The data can also be automatically uploaded to Strava.

Should you wish to use the M200 for other sports, there are an impressive number of sport specific modes that can be downloaded via the app.

Pros

  • Versatile.
  • All data is easy to read on the screen and in depth analysis is available through the app.

Cons

  • No ANT+ connectivity.

7. Garmin vívoactive Black

Garmin VivoActive

Light, thin, slim and comfortable with a functional color touchscreen, the VivoActive is a great smartwatch for casual cyclists.

The VivoActive is designed to be used for many sports and has some great features for cyclists. It does not need to be connected to a smartphone to operate.

The internal GPS records where you have been, speed and ascent. You can collect even more ride data by connecting ANT+ devices such as cadence and wheel speed.

Heart rate is not recorded through the watch but Garmin insist on using one of its accurate chest straps (also ANT+) to gather heart rate data. Watch and strap are usually sold together. For heart rate zone training it is possible to program zones into the watch and set up alerts for when you fall below a zone.

Where the Vivoactive falls short is its lack of connectivity to power meters. Through third party apps it is possible to see the data from certain power meters but this data cannot be recorded. If recording power data is crucial to your training then you will be better off with one of Garmin’s computers.

Although you do not need a smartphone for the VivoActive to operate, you can connect one. It is possible to see notifications on the screen and you can choose exactly which ones you want to hear about so you don’t have to put up with every social media notification but important calls will come through. After a ride it is possible to automatically upload the data to your phone with the Garmin Connect app and this can be synced to Strava.

The find my phone feature is great for anyone that regularly can’t find their phone as they are rushing out the door. As long as it is within Bluetooth range you can find it easily.

All information and data is displayed on the screen. You can choose where and and how each item is shown and there are many free apps available to further customize the layout and features.

The VivoActive does not have to stay on your wrist. There are mounts available to set it up on your handlebar. It also has a bunch of other features so you won’t want to take it off at the end of a ride, especially if you do other activities as well, the most obvious one being a digital watch with many faces that can be downloaded.

A step counter lets you track how much you walk around each day and you can set up reminders to make you stretch or get up during periods of inactivity. Your sleep patterns and recovery can also be tracked.

Sport specific modes and functions such as running and swimming are available with features like step speed, accelerometer making it very useful if you are into these sports. Triathletes will find the VivoActive useful.

Pros

  • Tracks and displays most data in a customizable format.

Cons

  • No power meter recording.

8. Samsung Gear Fit2 Smartwatch

Samsung Gear Fit 2

A good looking touchscreen smartwatch. The Gear Fit 2 features an integrated heart rate monitor and GPS so you don’t need to rely on your smartphone.

Either manually select what activity you are doing or allow the auto select to recognize that you are on a bike.

You can use the color touchscreen to swipe through different screens displaying your ride data. You can see time, distance, speed, pace, calories and of course, heart rate. The screen is large with graphics that really make the data stand out. Only one metric can be displayed on the screen otherwise the information would be too squashed together.

There is a slight delay between turning the face towards you and the updated data being displayed, which although annoying, you do get used to.

The recorded data is displayed nicely on the app in an understandable format. Lots of metrics are on offer like average and max speed, heart rate, elevation etc. You can also compare data in graph format to see for example how your heart rate changed as you climbed a hill. There is even a weather report attached to the ride data.

The Gear Fit 2 is comfortable to wear all day and is certainly good looking enough to stay on your wrist whatever you are doing.

As a general fitness tracker the Gear Fit 2 can count your steps, calories burned, sleep quality and more. Although a smartphone is not required for it to operate, you can connect one to see notifications on the screen and music can be stored and played through Bluetooth headphones.

Pros

  • Displays ride data well and allows easy post-ride analysis.

Cons

  • Slight delay displaying data

9. Moov Now 3D Fitness Tracker

Moov Now

Most fitness trackers are designed to go on your arm and may even double up as a smartwatch. The very affordable Moov Now takes a unique position.

Designed to give more accurate motion tracking as well as cadence, the Moov Now straps onto your ankle. Consequently there is no screen to look at to see your current ride data.

There is no inbuilt GPS so you will have to pair it with a smartphone anyway. If you do wish to see your data while riding, you will have to mount your smartphone to your handlebars.

In the place of visual data is a virtual coach to give you feedback on the go, letting you know (via audio) if your cadence has changes and giving advice during your workout. You will need headphones or your phone on loud in your pocket or rucksack to get these benefits.

The included app is impressive given the price of the Moov Now. All recorded data such as distance and calories burned is displayed clearly and effectively. There is no heart rate monitor in the unit but it is possible to connect one with Bluetooth.

Pros

  • Great app.
  • Out of the way position.
  • Affordable price.

Cons

  • No heart rate monitor.

About the Author Matthew R. Duncan

I am proud to be the go-to guy among my circle for bike advice. I take it personally when someone I know buys a new bike without consulting me first!

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