11 Best Fitness Trackers for Cyclists

Cycling tech has come a long way in the last few years. As little as 20 years ago, if you wanted to know how far or how fast you cycled, you’d need to attach a cycling computer directly to your bike, which measured how fast and how many times your wheels turned.

From this, it would determine the speed and length of your workout. Invariably, fitting this type of device to your bike involved lots of wires, cable ties, and electrical tape.

Things got better with the advent of wireless technology. However, you still had to attach sensors to your wheels and frame. Some even had cadence sensors that detected your pedal revolutions per minute. However, even the best cycle computers were small, fiddly, and often expensive.

Nowadays, cyclists are spoiled! You can track your bike ride using nothing more than a fitness tracker watch.

There are lots of fitness trackers to choose from, and some are better than others for cycling. To make selecting the right product less of a chore, for this guide, we’re going to reveal the 11 best fitness trackers for cyclists.

11 Best Fitness Trackers for Cyclists

The Suunto 5 is a rugged outdoor watch with plenty of valuable features for cyclists.

Lightweight and with an impressive battery life, the Suunto Core has a very accurate GPS system and will even warn you of approaching storms.

Useful if you are out on your bike and miles from home.

Pros

  • Large, easy to read screen
  • GPS (global positioning system)
  • Waterproof to 50 meters
  • Weather detection mode
  • Built-in heart rate monitor
  • 80 different activity modes, including cycling and mountain biking
  • Measures altitude, climbing, etc.
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • The screen is not very bright for nighttime use

2. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

Garmin makes some of the best fitness trackers around. This stylish watch is made from titanium, so it’s both light and strong, as well as packed with great features.

This is an excellent watch for navigation, so it’s ideal if you like to ride well off the beaten track.

Pros

  • Large, full-color screen with customizable view options
  • Built-in heart rate and oxygen uptake sensors
  • Access to three GPS satellites
  • Navigation and mapping modes
  • Music storage mode and compatible with third-party music apps like Spotify
  • Interchangeable/replaceable strap
  • Compatible with heart rate chest strap

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Button controls, and not a touchscreen

3. Fitbit Versa 2

4.6/5

Fitbit was one of the first companies to start making activity trackers. This stylish watch has a bigger screen than most Fitbits, making it ideal for cyclists. It’s a well-priced product, so it’s an excellent entry-level fitness tracker for cyclists.

Pros

  • Large, easy to read screen
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Built-in heart rate wrist sensor
  • GPS via smartphone
  • Third-party app compatible
  • 6-day battery life
  • Interchangeable strap
  • Well-priced

Cons

  • Screen glare can make it hard to see the display in bright sunshine
  • The touchscreen takes some getting used to
  • GPS only works when connected to a phone

4. Coros PACE 2

4.6/5

As you’d expect from an activity tracker called Pace, this watch has plenty of features for runners, cyclists, and swimmers, including an ultra-accurate GPS system.

One of the lightest activity trackers available, this watch has many of the features usually only found on more expensive models.

Pros

  • Easy to read full-color display
  • Very long-life battery
  • Built-in optical heart rate sensor
  • GPS with route tracking function
  • Altimeter to track climbs and descents
  • Sleep tracker
  • Programmable nutritional and hydration alerts
  • Storm alert feature
  • Recovery tracker

Cons

  • Large size – may be too big for people with smaller wrists
  • Not compatible with third-party apps
  • It cannot be used with a chest strap heart rate sensor

5. Apple Watch Series 5

The Apple Watch is basically an iPad for your wrist. As such, it’s a lot more than an activity tracker. However, if you want a sports watch that is suitable for 24/7 use and not just cycling, this could be the product you want.

Pros

  • Large, easy to read full-color screen
  • Very accurate GPS
  • Downloadable apps specifically for cycling
  • Fully waterproof
  • Sleep and nutrition trackers
  • Built-in heart rate sensor
  • Also available with a smaller screen 40mm vs. 44mm)

Cons

  • Needs to be used with iPhone to access all features
  • Not the longest battery life
  • Some downloadable apps may come with an additional charge

6. Polar Vantage V2 Sports Watch

Polar made their name with some of the first wireless heart rate monitors. This fitness tracker for cyclists comes with a chest strap heart rate sensor, making it one of the most accurate fitness trackers around.

Pros

  • Large, full-color screen
  • GPS tracking and mapping modes
  • Over 100 different activity modes
  • Built-in optical wrist heart rate sensor
  • 40-hour activity battery life
  • Compatible with many third-party apps, including Strava and Spotify
  • Weather forecast and warning alarm
  • Sleep and recovery tracking mode

Cons

  • Some of the features are hard to navigate
  • Not the most intuitive interface

7. Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker

While a large screen can make your fitness tracker easier to read, it may mean your watch is really too large for your wrist.

This watch from Fitbit is slim and stylish and ideal for smaller wrists. But, despite its slender side, the Charge 3 still has plenty of useful features.

Pros

  • Slimline design
  • Easy to use
  • 15 built-in activity modes, including cycling
  • Optical heart rate sensor
  • Touchscreen controls
  • Customizable display
  • Sleep tracking mode
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • GPS only works when connected to a smartphone
  • Small display screen cannot show many details

8. Polar M430 GPS Running Watch

Don’t let the name of this watch put you off; it’s perfect for cyclists too.

With its GPS, this watch will track speed and distance while displaying your heart rate in real-time via the accurate optical sensors.

This is a budget-friendly watch with all the basic features most cyclists need.

Pros

  • Large easy to read screen
  • Very light
  • 24/7 activity tracking
  • Long battery life
  • Built-in GPS

Cons

  • Strap not removable/replaceable
  • No specific cycling mode
  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • Does not support third-party apps

9. Suunto 3 Fitness Tracker Sports Watch

This activity tracker from Suunto is so stylish that you’d be forgiven for forgetting that you’re wearing a sports watch at all.

But, it’s more than just a good-looking timepiece; it also has all the features you need for better workouts and bike rides, including accurate GPS and route mapping.

Pros

  • Large, easy to read screen
  • Very lightweight
  • Tracks activity, recovery, and stress levels
  • Built-in training guidance app
  • Built-in optical heart rate sensor
  • 30-meter water-resistant
  • Sleep tracking mode
  • Long battery life
  • Built-in microphone function

Cons

  • GPS only works via smartphone and app
  • Water-resistant and not 100% waterproof

10. Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch

A lot of fitness trackers look out of place in a formal environment. They’re chunky and plasticky.

This watch from Withings bucks that trend. It’s smart and stylish but still has plenty of valuable functions and features.

Pros

  • 24/7 heart rate display
  • 30 activity tracking modes
  • 25-day battery life
  • GPS
  • Alexa compatible
  • Swappable wrist straps
  • Detailed workout reports via app
  • Sleep tracking
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Small info display area

11. Fitbit Ionic Watch

The Ionic is one of the best activity trackers from Fitbit, and it’s loaded with lots of great features, including a built-in optical heart rate sensor, auto-exercise recognition, and female health tracking.

Best of all, it has a built-in GPS, so you can use this Fitbit without connecting it to your phone.

Pros

  • A large, clear, color screen
  • Built-in GPS to track speed, distance, and route
  • 24/7 heart rate monitoring
  • Music storage
  • Downloadable audio coaching and workouts
  • 4-day battery life
  • Third-party app compatibility
  • Supplied with two wrist straps

Cons

  • Date screens cannot be customized

Buyers Guide

Consider the following before parting with your hard-earned cash and buying a fitness tracker for cycling…

Price ranges

You can spend anywhere from $100 to $1000 on a fitness tracker. The most expensive models tend to have more functions and features, have longer-lasting batteries, and are often more accurate, but budget-friendly models can also be useful.

Pick a budget you are comfortable with, and then stick to it. Remember, you might not need many of the functions on a more expensive watch, and battery life is less critical if you are happy to charge your tracker every couple of days.

Straps

WaterproofnessThe key features to look for in a tracker strap are comfort and strength. Avoid leather and fabric straps, as they soak up sweat and will soon start to smell.

Look for straps that are easy to remove and replace. That way, you won’t have to ditch the entire tracker if a strap breaks, and you can also customize the look of your watch with a different colored strap.

Display size

While you should have no problem reading your tracker while sat at home, it’s a different matter altogether when you are outdoors cycling.

Assuming you don’t want to stop to check your progress, you should probably choose a tracker with a large, clear display. Full-color screens are nice but are often hard to read in bright sunshine, and a monochrome display may be better.

If possible, you should try before you buy to make sure you can read the screen both on and off your bike.

Heart Rate Monitor

HeartIf you are cycling for fitness, it pays to track your heart rate. Most fitness trackers have built-in optical heart rate monitors that measure your pulse at your wrist.

While this is a handy feature, this type of sensor is NOT 100% accurate, but it should be good enough for most recreational riders.

But, if you want to know exactly what your heart is doing during your workout, choose a tracker with Bluetooth connectivity so you can use it with an aftermarket chest strap sensor. With EKG accuracy, this is the best way to track your heart rate during exercise.

Some trackers allow you to enter or calculate your heart rate training zone, record your recovery rate, estimate your fitness via your V02, and warn you if your heart is abnormally high or low.

Additional features

As well as measuring things like your speed, distance, heart rate, and calories burned, there are a few additional features that may be useful for tracking your cycling workouts, including:

Audible cadence signal – make sure you are spinning your pedals at the most efficient speed

Downloadable workouts – some trackers allow you to create and save workouts for later use, such as interval training.

Ascent/descent – if you do a lot of hill cycling, you may be interested to know the highs and lows of your workout.

Navigation – record your route so you can save and ride it again or follow routes you’ve planned at home.

Third-party app compatibility – there are Android and Apple apps designed for cycling. If you want to use them, make sure they’re compatible with your device.

Waterproof – most activity trackers are water-resistant, but if you expect to ride in the rain, or want to use your watch for swimming, too, look for models that are waterproof.

Battery and Charging

Most fitness trackers are charged via cable, although some offer cordless charging.

Depending on the model, your fitness tracker may have a battery life of one day to two or more weeks. In many cases, more expensive fitness trackers have a longer battery life, but this may be negated if they have lots of power-hungry functions. Simpler models with fewer functions may last a week or more between charges.

Make sure your fitness tracker will not run out mid-workout by charging it before you set out on your bike. Also, look for energy-saving features like power-save screen modes, dimming the display, and turning off any apps or features you aren’t using.

Bottom Line

While you could just head out for a bike ride and have an enjoyable time, you’ll get fitter faster and lose more weight if you use a fitness tracker to monitor your performance.

With your tracker on your wrist, you’ll get instant feedback on your speed, distance, heart rate, and calories burned, and some will even record your route via GPS.

With your fitness tracker, you can adjust your workout based on the feedback you’re receiving and make changes to your training according to your ongoing results.

Used correctly, an activity tracker is like having a cycling coach on your wrist!

There are lots of different cycling fitness trackers to choose from, ranging from very budget-friendly to much more expensive.

Some are loaded with advanced features, while others are more basic, but they all have their uses.

Think about what you want your fitness tracker to do, set your budget, and then reread the reviews above to find the right product for you.

And remember, more expensive is not always better, especially if you end up paying for a whole lot of features you will never use! Visit the Fitness Equipment Reviews homepage for more expert reviews and advice. 

Patrick

Patrick

Patrick Dale is an ex-British Royal Marine and owner and lecturer for a fitness qualifications company. In addition to training prospective personal trainers, Patrick has also authored three fitness and exercise books, dozens of e-books, thousands of articles, and several fitness videos.

Fitness Equipment Reviews
Logo