Best Bike Computers
(Photo/Garmin)

The Best Bike Computers of 2022

Riders today can fine-tune their performance in almost every way imaginable with the incredible features and convenience offered by the best bike computers on the market.

Cycling is fun and provides plenty of health benefits. Modern bike computers are extremely helpful in integrating and tracking various metrics including cadence, power, speed, distance, heart rate, and course with a GPS cycling computer.

However, with the high volume of bike computers on the market today, choosing the right one for you can be overwhelming. Thankfully we’ve done our homework and put the time in on the saddle, reviewing a wide range of computers in all manner of conditions and riding styles.

From our experience, we’ve created an accessible buying guide to help you choose the best option for your riding needs, whether you’re a regular commuter, an up-and-coming racer, or anyone in between.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for. At the end of our list, check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide, as well as our handy comparison table for pitting bike computer against computer, and a thorough FAQ section to answer any lingering questions. 

The Best Bike Computers of 2022

Best Overall: Garmin Edge 830 Sensor Bundle 

Garmin Edge 830 Bike Computer

You’ve probably heard of the Garmin Edge 830 ($500 with the sensor bundle), and for a good reason. This cycle computer sports a full-color touchscreen display that makes all its technological capabilities feel even more impressive, and easily sets it apart as the best overall in our testing.

The Edge 830 stands apart from other bike computers on the market today because of its navigation features. It’s best suited for riders who want to use the touchscreen to build routes while riding, instead of planning the route ahead of time like you have to do with its sibling, the Garmin Edge 530.

It also has a larger and easier-to-read screen (2 x 1.7 inches) than some of its competitors. Therefore, it’s especially desirable to anyone who wants to track a multitude of data fields while in motion.

Both ease of mounting and ease of programming make this cycle computer one of the easiest to set up. It comes with a standard mount and an out-front mount. As for programming, most can be done on the Garmin Connect companion app. And what can’t be done on the app is easy to finish on the touchscreen display.

One of the downsides of having such an advanced bike computer is that there’s more that can go wrong, and once or twice we’ve had the Edge 830 crash when chewing on a memory-heavy task. Thankfully a quick reset rights the device.

On top of ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity to help you track your calories and heart rate, the Edge 830 gives weather updates and has a “FIND MY EDGE” feature in case you lose it. And it even has a bike alarm that sounds if your bike moves while it’s parked with the alarm set.

While certainly not the most affordable bike computer (at $500 and easily one of the most expensive in our review), the Edge 830 makes an ideal unit for those who desire the best of the best when it comes to staying on top of their cycling stats.

Specs:
  • Battery life: 20 hrs. 
  • Screen size: 2.6 in. (diagonal)
  • Recharge time: 2 hrs.
  • Sensor integration: GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi
  • Screen type: Full-color touchscreen 
Pros:
  • Touchscreen
  • Easy setup
  • Easy to build routes while riding
Cons:
  • Complaints of system crashes
  • Expensive

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Best Budget: Lezyne Mega XL

Lezyne Mega XL Bike Computer

An overall excellent bike computer, the Lezyne Mega XL ($200) covers all the necessary cycling metrics and features, and all at an approachable price. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi capability, so if you need to stay connected, you’ll need your cellphone. The 48-hour battery life is probably owed to the lack of Wi-Fi, and we’ll take that any day over lugging around a bulky computer, a cellphone, and an external battery.

The versatility of the Mega XL is just another component that makes it a special cyclometer. It’s great for every style of riding, so whether you’re training to go pro or riding for pleasure, you’ll likely get your needs met by the Mega XL. What’s more, the battery life makes it a solid choice for those who plan to take their bike on overnight trips.

The Mega XL’s look and feel are similar to the other Lezyne models, with a black-and-white screen navigated by tactile buttons. If that makes you deduct points from this model, just keep in mind that setup and use are almost exclusively through the free, user-friendly companion app, Lezyne Ally V2.

You can transfer and store info quickly and easily between your phone and the Mega XL, which gives it some extra points in our book, although it lacks any preloaded maps, which we subtracted a few points for, along with the lack of a touchscreen.

We love this unit because it’s incredibly versatile and has a ton of features. It’s super easy to set up and use, and it stands as a pretty affordable unit in the GPS cycling computer world, which means anyone looking for a budget entry into the bike computer scene would likely be very happy.

This computer is a bit tall and uses a front mount.

Specs:
  • Battery life: 48 hrs.
  • Screen size: 2.7 in. (diagonal)
  • Recharge time: 8 hrs.
  • Sensor integration: GPS, Bluetooth, and ANT+
  • Screen type: Black & white screen 
Pros:
  • Long battery life
  • Versatile
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent compatibility with the companion app
  • Affordable
Cons:
  • No preloaded maps
  • No touchscreen

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Runner-Up: Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM V2

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM V2 Bike Computer

If you’re a dynamic rider who’s looking for loads of versatility, the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM V2 ($400) just might be the bike computer for you. Newly updated for the end of 2022, it’s as suitable for road biking as it is for mountain biking. And it’s as rugged and durable as they come, which earned it a high spot on our list.

It has tactile buttons instead of a touchscreen display. Still, the companion app that connects your smartphone to this bike computer makes for an incredibly user-friendly device. The ELEMNT ROAM gets high marks for being super-easy and relatively quick to set up.

Updates for 2022 include the integration of dual-band GPS technology, allowing the ROAM to lock onto multiple generations of GPS satellites at once and bump up coverage in typically spotty areas. Wahoo also increased the memory capacity from 4 GB to 32 GB, and added a 64-color screen.

Most of the initial setup and settings are navigated through the smartphone companion app. This means that you rarely need to fiddle with the buttons on the actual computer except when flipping through data fields while riding.

Because you’re already used to your phone, this is a positive feature. However, if you don’t own a smartphone, or if you’re like our tester and simply don’t want to take your phone out on rides with you all the time, this might not be the bicycle computer for you. This is thankfully one of our only qualms with an otherwise dialed device.

The on-demand route navigation feature makes the ELEMNT ROAM V2 a good choice for riders who love to explore. It’s also advantageous if you’ve moved to a new city or see something cool on the map. Just choose a point on the map where you want to go, and this cycle computer will whip up some directions and take you there.

And in an emergency, you can turn on the live tracking app, and your location will be shared with whomever you choose, using your personal link.

The ELEMNT ROAM comes with an aero out-front mount.

Specs:
  • Battery life: 17 hrs.
  • Screen size: 2.7 in. (diagonal)
  • Recharge time: ~2 hrs.
  • Sensor integration: GPS, Bluetooth, and ANT+
  • Screen type: 64-color display 
Pros:
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Versatile
  • On-demand route navigation
  • Long battery life
Cons:
  • Smartphone necessary
  • No touchscreen

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Best for Mountain Biking: Bryton Rider 420E

Bryton Rider 420E Bike Computer

This computer is designed for mountain bikers and incorporates five different satellite systems to accommodate this type of riding. It’s fully customizable with ANT+ and BLE heart-rate monitors. It can also be synced with Strava Live Segments, TrainingPeaks, and SelfPeaks both automatically and wirelessly.

Now, let’s talk about battery life. The battery on the Bryton Rider 420E ($160) is solid — up to 35 hours on a single charge.

This next feature is either a pro or a con — we’ll let you decide for yourself. The Bryton Rider 420E allows all your calls, texts, and email notifications to be forwarded to you while you’re on a ride.

The full global navigation satellite system (GNSS) makes real-time positioning extremely precise. And the altimeter even allows users to see the gradient profile of whatever route they’re on. It’s perfect for trail riding.

Each page on the Rider 420E allows the user to view up to eight data fields, with a maximum of nine pages permitted. That’s 72 data fields at your disposal at any given time, which should be more than plenty even if you’re tracking even the tiniest of details.

While turn-by-turn navigation is a feature on this bike computer, you’ll have to set your route before you get started. And it’ll only show you that exact route once you’ve begun. You can’t make any changes or reroute and be redirected midway through your ride.

All in all, this is undoubtedly the best bike computer for most mountain bikers and comes with a handlebar mount.

Specs:
  • Battery life: 35 hrs.
  • Screen size: 2.3 in. (diagonal)
  • Recharge time: 4 hrs.
  • Sensor integration: GPS, Bluetooth, and ANT+
  • Screen type: Black & white display 
Pros:
  • Full customization and connectivity
  • Outstanding real-time GPS
  • Plenty of potential for data fields
  • Superior battery life
Cons:
  • No rerouting
  • No touchscreen

Check Price at Amazon

Best Battery Life: Garmin Edge 1040 Solar

Garmin Edge 1040 Solar Bike Computer

The Garmin Edge 1040 Solar ($750) is the most feature-heavy bike computer in the Garmin line-up currently. And while it certainly comes at a price, the impressive functionality is only bested by how this device charges itself — with the sun.

The Power Glass solar charging lens is integrated into the display of the 1040 itself, meaning anytime the sun is shining, it’s soaking up the rays and extending your ride. In our own testing, we found that Garmin’s claim of an additional 42 minutes per hour while pedaling in the sun to be accurate.

Pushing the 1040 Solar to the maximum (that is, full GNSS reception on, multiple paired sensors, etc) the battery life is able to keep up for up to 35 hours, with an additional 10 hours if the unit is able to charge in the sun.

And if you really par back on the usage, Garmin states that this computer can keep the lights on for up to 180 hours with solar charging — an unheard-of battery life in a full-featured bike computer.

Besides being an ever-energized partner, the 1040 Solar is also an effective trainer — sporting a number of data-driven insights such as VO2 max, training load, recovery time, and power targets. Our tester received suggested daily workouts based on previous performance and had the ability to upload other workouts from the Garmin Connect app or TrainingPeaks.

It’s also no slouch when it comes to navigation. The Edge 1040 Solar pulls data from a full suite of global navigation satellite systems, and to further increase signal strength, uses multi-band technology to increase fidelity in areas like canyons and dense cities.

The turn-by-turn directions are top-notch (as expected with Garmin), and there are a number of mountain bike-specific features that provide on-the-fly trail data.

See our in-depth review of the Edge 1040 Solar for more details on this juice-heavy bike computer.

Specs:
  • Battery life: 35-180 hrs.
  • Screen size: 3.5 in. (diagonal)
  • Recharge time: 2 hrs. via USB-C
  • Sensor integration: Multi-band GNSS, Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
  • Screen type: Full-color touchscreen
Pros:
  • Impressive battery life
  • Solar charging ability
  • Smart training functionality
Cons:
  • Price

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Best for Beginner Cyclists: CatEye Velo 7

Cateye Velo 7 Bike Computer

Want to try out a bike computer and don’t want to shell out an arm and a leg for it? The CatEye Velo 7 ($30) is for you. It’s an entry-level bike computer covering the basics such as time, distance, and speed, which is almost everything leisure riders really need.

It’ll give you some insight into whether you’re using a bike computer often enough to invest in a more expensive one. After a bit of riding, you’ll have a clearer picture of what bells and whistles you may want if you decide to upgrade.

On top of being budget-friendly, the Velo 7 is relatively simple to use. The interface shows two different data fields at once. One is always current speed, while a button allows you to rotate through other data fields including time, odometer, distance, and maximum speed.

One downside to this computer is that it’s a little challenging to set up because it’s not wireless. You’ll have to mount the sensor, and then feed the wire up through the bike parts and onto the front-mounted base unit.

There’s only enough room in the Velo 7’s memory to store one wheel size. This, coupled with the difficulty and many steps involved in mounting and dismounting this unit, should steer you away from planning to share this unit with your family and friends.

This small but mighty contender is a solid choice for trying out a bike computer on a budget. It comes with handlebar mounts.

Specs:
  • Battery life: 320 hrs.
  • Screen size: 1.4 in. (diagonal)
  • Recharge time: N/A (CR2032 battery)
  • Sensor integration: Wired wheel sensor 
  • Screen type: Black & white display 
Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Long battery life
Cons:
  • Wired sensors (hard to set up)
  • Disposable batteries
  • No data storage

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Best of the Rest

Hammerhead Karoo 2

Hammerhead Karoo 2 Bike Computer

The Hammerhead Karoo 2 ($400) is an impressively slick computer with a beautiful display as well as solid functionality and integration. For the price, the Karoo 2 competes with other big names in the industry but falls a little short when it comes to user-friendliness and some key features, as well as having a shorter-than-average battery life.

What stands out about this unit is the touchscreen. Not only is it double the resolution of some of its competitors at 400 x 800 and 292 PPI, it feels exactly like using a smartphone when swiping around. The Karoo 2 charges in approximately 3 hours and lasts anywhere from 8-14 hours depending on usage. 

In the box are two options for mounting hardware: Hammerhead’s own forward mount, which is excellent, as well as a Wahoo-style quarter-turn mount. It features a significantly larger storage capacity than other computers on this list at 32 GB, which is super useful for downloading maps and routes for later. Additionally, it features a sim card slot for folks who like to forget their phones and just ride. 

For those of us who are tethered to our phones, the Karoo 2 integrates with smartphones and will show notifications, though users will still need to use their actual phone to respond to messages (which made our tester wonder how important that particular feature is).

The Karoo 2 also offers and supports free downloadable maps, though users will need to create an account to get those, and will automatically upload your rides to Strava once you’ve linked accounts. Also particularly cool is the Climber feature, which uses predictive mapping to detect upcoming hills and displays grade, distance, and elevation. Our tester found the predictive mapping to be spot-on and quite helpful on unknown trails. 

However, several other issues prevent this computer from outclassing others in the same category; namely that this computer is not the most user-friendly during setup and that it can be difficult to navigate. Our tester also encountered some difficulty pairing the Wahoo TICKR HR strap, though that could be chalked up to the age of the monitor itself. 

These things aside, the Karoo 2 is a beautiful and well-designed piece of equipment. Those of you who find yourselves sneaking out of the office for a lunch ride might find the messaging feature useful, and once you get your devices paired, this computer comes packed with more than enough features to help you keep your training and/or commute on track. 

Specs:
  • Battery life: 8-14 hrs.
  • Screen size: 3.2 in. (diagonal)
  • Recharge time: 3 hrs.
  • Sensor integration: GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi
  • Screen type: Full-color touchscreen 
Pros:
  • Beautiful touchscreen 
  • Wide variety of device integration options
  • Cimber feature 
  • Excellent handlebar mount
Cons: 
  • Difficult to set up 
  • The steep learning curve in navigation 
  • Occasionally buggy device pairing 
  • Lower battery life than similar devices

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Garmin Edge 530 

Garmin Edge 530 Bike Computer

Those who have a lot of data to track are sure to love the Garmin Edge 530 ($300). Superior in customization and connectivity, the Edge 530 satisfies riders of all types — from leisure riders to racers. The large screen (2 x 1.7 inches) is handy for riders who want to track their stats while in motion.

While it offers full-color maps and functional threshold power (FTP) tracking, the lack of a touchscreen on this bike computer makes using the turn-by-turn navigation features a hassle. This hassle centers on the fact that you can’t simply tap and zoom in.

To use the device, you’ll need to learn the functions of each of the seven buttons on the sides, which is doable but tedious. The controls can make setting up a lengthy process for even the techiest riders, which we weren’t the most stoked on.

The Wi-Fi capability allows automatic synchronization from the device to Garmin Connect, while ANT+ and Bluetooth allow for connectivity to external sensors. Additionally, excellent battery life (around 20 hours) from the internal lithium-ion battery keeps this one in the running to be the best bike computer on the market.

The Edge 530 is best suited for riders looking to record complete data about their ride; everything from time of day, to temperature and weather, and even how much water they’re taking in. It’s also a big hit among dynamic riders — who love both road and mountain biking — because it offers a wide range of metrics that support multiple profiles within the same device.

This computer comes with two “flush” out-front mounts plus two O-ring mounts.

Specs:
  • Battery life: 20 hrs.
  • Screen size: 2.6 in. (diagonal)
  • Recharge time: 2 hrs.
  • Sensor integration: GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi
  • Screen type: Full-color display 
Pros:
  • Superior battery life
  • Android and iOS compatibility
  • Tons of data fields
  • Color-coded and extensive mapping
  • Waterproof
  • Large screen
Cons:
  • No touchscreen
  • Difficult to set up

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Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2 Bike Computer

A strong standout computer, the recently updated Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2 ($300) is easy to set up and user-friendly. You can set it up straight from your smartphone screen, and the Bolt’s battery life (15-20 hours) gives even the Garmin Edge 530 a run for its money.

The BOLT V2 is Wi-Fi-capable and has ANT+ and Bluetooth connection capability so that you can use all your accessories. We love this bike computer for its ease of use. It’s pretty nice to be able to manage all your accessories from your smartphone! Obviously, this won’t apply to everyone (we see you, flip-phone cyclists).

It offers turn-by-turn navigation as well as Strava Live Segments. Another cool feature is the “take me anywhere” setting. This setting allows you to choose a destination on your phone, and the bike computer’s GPS will guide you there.

The screen on the ELEMNT BOLT V2 allows you to see up to nine data fields per page. One of the niceties of this newly updated device was the addition of a full-color screen, an excellent upgrade from the black and white screen of the predecessor computer. 

This unit can be mounted on either the handlebars or crossbar.

Specs:
  • Battery life: 15 hrs.
  • Screen size: 2.2 in. (diagonal)
  • Recharge time: 1.5 hrs.
  • Sensor integration: GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi 
  • Screen type: Full-color display
Pros:
  • Easy setup and use
  • Strava Live capability
  • Aero design with integrated mount
  • Waterproof
  • Competitive price
Cons:
  • Requires a smartphone

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CatEye Quick

CatEye Quick Bike Computer

The CatEye Quick cyclo-computer ($60) is simplicity in design, and best suited for your brew cruisers and commuters who only need a quick glance to tell them their speed or how far until they hit their century for the week.

Stripped down not only by the form factor but in features, the Quick provides only the bare essentials when it comes to cycling info: speed (including average, current, and max), trip distance, moving time, and a clock. A single button on the front face cycles the Quick through its different modes, which we found to be simple as could be.

Battery life is fairly impressive, at a quoted “1 year, if used for 1 hour a day” and is powered by button cell batteries. The unit will auto-start and stop as the bike moves, meaning we won’t forget to turn it off after a long ride.

You won’t get anything like your VO2 max from the Quick, but we found a little comfort in the simplicity of a bike computer going back to basics, which speaking of, certainly applies to the rest of the computer. You’ll have to mount a speed sensor and magnet to your bike in order for it to work, which is a bit clunky, but at least it’s wireless.  

Thought of as sort of a basic bike computer done with style, the Quick has a simple design that just looks dang good out front of a bike.

Specs:
  • Battery life: 365 hrs.
  • Screen size: 3.6 in. (diameter)
  • Recharge time: N/A (CR1616 battery)
  • Sensor integration: Wireless wheel sensor
  • Screen type: Inverted black & white LCD 
Pros:
  • Sleek design is minimal and removable
  • Long battery life
Cons:
  • Requires speed sensor and spoke magnet to function
  • Back-end programming is complicated
  • Powered by button cell batteries

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Garmin Edge 1030 Plus

Garmin Edge 1030 Bike Computer

The Edge 1030 Plus packs a punch. It doesn’t come cheap at $600, but it’s one of the most advanced computers on the market today.

There’s not much it can’t do. A 3.5-inch (diagonal) touchscreen display showcases all its bells and whistles and can be customized precisely to fit your preferences.

The 1030 Plus does all the essential functions like monitoring your distance, speed, and time. Still, it also connects to Wi-Fi along with ANT+ Bluetooth sensors. So, you can keep track of all your riding stats, upload info through the Garmin Connect application, and even reply to text messages and phone calls using preset messages, all from your device!

An Incident Detection feature comes in handy in case of an emergency. Your preset emergency contacts will receive a text and email with your name and location information if it detects an incident has happened.

With its superior navigation capabilities, the 1030 Plus is perfectly suited for both road bikers and mountain bikers. The cycle computer’s standalone GPS makes this a no-brainer choice for those who prefer to ride without their cellphone or in areas with no cell phone service.

Like the Edge 830, the Edge 1030 Plus offers the ability to build routes by just pointing and clicking, then letting the turn-by-turn navigation guide you to your destination. Speaking of navigation, this computer has a microSD slot in the back, so you’ll never run out of maps and storage space. All of these features don’t come for free, however — this cyclometer is a fairly bulky device to mount on your bike cockpit.

The Edge 1030 Plus is pretty simple to set up, with step-by-step directions on securing all the ANT+ and Bluetooth connections, navigation, and everything else you want to do. The programming is done on the handheld unit.

The Garmin Edge 1030 sports an extended out-front mount.

Specs:
  • Battery life: 24 hrs.
  • Screen size: 3.5 in. (diagonal)
  • Recharge time: 4.5 hrs.
  • Sensor integration: GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi
  • Screen type: Full-color touchscreen
Pros:
  • Large color touchscreen
  • Versatile
  • Advanced navigation
  • Standalone GPS
  • Tons of features
  • External storage
Cons:
  • Bulky
  • Potential to be slow if loaded with features
  • Expensive

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Comparison Chart

Bike Computer Battery Life Screen Size Recharge Time Sensor Integration Screen Type
Garmin Edge 830 20 hrs. 2.6 in. (diagonal) 2 hrs. GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi Full-color touchscreen
Lezyne Mega XL 48 hrs. 2.7 in. (diagonal) 8 hrs. GPS, Bluetooth, and ANT+ Black & white screen
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM V2 17 hrs. 2.7 in. (diagonal) ~2 hrs. GPS, Bluetooth, and ANT+ 64-color display
Bryton Rider 420E 35 hrs. 2.3 in. (diagonal) 4 hrs. GPS, Bluetooth, and ANT+ Black & white display
Garmin Edge 1040 Solar 35-180 hrs. 3.5 in. (diagonal) 2 hrs. via USB-C Multi-band GNSS, Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi Full-color touchscreen
CatEye Velo 7 320 hrs. 1.4 in. (diagonal) N/A (CR2032 battery) Wired wheel sensor Black & white display
Hammerhead Karoo 2 8-14 hrs. 3.2 in. (diagonal) 3 hrs. GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi Full-color touchscreen
Garmin Edge 530 20 hrs. 2.6 in. (diagonal) 2 hrs. GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi Full-color display
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2 15 hrs. 2.2 in. (diagonal) 1.5 hrs. GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi Full-color display
CatEye Quick 365 hrs. 3.6 in. (diameter) N/A (CR1616 battery) Wireless wheel sensor Inverted black & white LCD
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus 24 hrs. 3.5 in. (diagonal) 4.5 hrs. GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi Full-color touchscreen

Why You Should Trust Us

Our team at GearJunkie is composed of cyclists and outdoor-oriented people looking for the best products on the market. Our staff includes professional gear reviewers, former racers, recreational cyclists, folks who bike commute 60+ miles a week, and everyone in between – people who care about fit, finish, and function. People who, at the end of the day, want a product they can trust. 

Our testers spend their time carefully evaluating new products so that you don’t have to, which translates to more time in the saddle for you. We strive to create thorough, comprehensive, and helpful reviews to help you find the best gear for your individual needs. 

Paul Mandell has two decades of experience in the saddle as an itinerant racer and recreational rider. He completed his graduate studies in exercise science and studied the critical power model for cycling, meaning that he’s no stranger to testing, training, and racing bikes. 

While these days Paul prefers lift-accessed gravity riding and long adventure rides with plenty of descending, he still finds time to get out for the occasional gravel grind or single-track loop in his home base in California’s Eastern Sierra (got to keep the legs and lungs tuned up, after all!)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Bike Computer

Type of Riding

There are a plethora of bike computers to accommodate every type of riding.

Do you use one bike consistently? Or do you rotate through several bikes? If you use several bikes, get a bike computer that allows you to create several profiles so you can use the same computer with any of your bikes.

Are you primarily a mountain biker or a road biker? That’ll help you choose between the Bryton Rider 420E and the other computers on this list.

Do you want to create your own routes or follow your GPS computer to the T? Then the Garmin Edge 830 or Edge 1030 Plus will probably be your best bet.

No matter your preference, this buying guide covers GPS cycling computers that can accompany all riding styles.

If you’re new to road biking, make sure you check out this article on how to ride safely in the winter and at night.

Bike Computer GPS
Photo Credit: CAT EYE

Sensors

Early bike computers made use of wired sensors that were clunky, difficult to adjust, and not very aero. When a small magnet mounted to the spokes of your bike wheel passes a sensor mounted to your fork, a revolution is registered.

Because different wheel sizes will affect the computation of speed and distance, you’ll need to adjust this within your device to receive accurate information.

Today, a whole host of wireless sensors exist that provide bike computers with new and exciting feeds of information. It’s easy to create a suite of sensors that provide your display unit with everything you want to know while riding.

GPS Sensors

Like the chips in handheld GPS devices or your smartphone, modern bike computers make use of the array of global navigation satellites in orbit in order to gain information on speed, distance, and navigation.

It’s important to note that there are a number of different satellite systems currently, and while the U.S.-sponsored GPS is the most broadly-used, other systems can offer higher fidelity in different parts of the world.

Some bike computers are also following recent trends in GPS devices and fitness watches and integrating Dual-Band receiver technologies into their GPS sensors, which allow for multiple generations of satellites to provide information to a device.

This increases the accuracy of the GPS signal and can provide information in zones that have typically been dead zones, like canyons. Newly updated, the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM makes use of this technology.

Wireless Sensors

Now the standard on bike computers that don’t make use of GPS, proprietary wireless sensors like the one used in the Cateye Quick mount to the fork and wheel of your bike and relay speed and distance information back to your display. The information they pull in is rather simple, but on devices that are used for quick bike commuters, it’s often all you need.

Because these sensors are made for specific devices, they won’t be cross-compatible with other bike computers and may need to be adjusted to properly send and receive signals while riding.

ANT+ Accessories

Simply put, ANT+ is a universal language that allows different electronic devices to speak to one another. Manufacturers will integrate ANT+ into devices that will vacuum up information and display it for easy viewing, like fitness watches, smartphones, and bike computers.

Many different devices today will be ANT+ enabled, including heart rate monitors, cadence sensors, speed sensors, and even wireless derailleurs and rear-view radars. This can all be a bit overwhelming (and heavy if your bike is festooned with sensors), but it allows riders to pick and choose what information is important to their riding or training.

Some bike computers, like the Garmin Edge 830 come with a suite of ANT+ sensors, including a speed, cadence, and heart rate monitor.

Bluetooth Integration

Of most use in connecting bike computers to riders’ phones, Bluetooth allows for further interactivity through applications. Many bike computers will offer a simple slate of adjustability through the device’s display unit, but much more through the app. Examples include the Garmin Connect app, and the Wahoo ELMNT app.

Select bike computers even allow for the pass-through display of texts and emails from your phone, like the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM and BOLT.

Bike Computer Setup
Photo Credit: Wahoo Fitness

Ease of Setup

Your device’s setup difficulty — or lack thereof — ultimately depends on how many features your computer has and how many you’re going to use. Understandably, a basic computer doesn’t take as much time to set up as a more advanced computer you plan to connect to a few ANT+ devices.

Setup also includes the physical attachment of your computer to your bike. Suppose you have more than one cycle and plan to regularly mount and dismount your computer.

In that case, the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM comes with both a standard mount and an out-front mount, making it a very versatile device. The CatEye Velo 7 computer takes a bit longer to set up because it uses a wired sensor, but it’s budget-friendly.

Both the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT and ROAM, plus the Lezyne models, are extremely user-friendly for setup. This easy setup is thanks to their respective companion apps on your smartphone to do all the programming and then transfer it over to your primary device.

Touchscreen devices are also straightforward to set up, as that’s an intuitive task — just touch and go. Wired devices are not as easy to install, but beginners can do it if they read the directions.

Navigation

Do you even need a navigation system? If you usually ride on familiar roads, you probably don’t need navigation at all, and a basic cycle computer like the CatEye Velo 7 will likely suffice.

If you want to plan your routes and even be able to go off track and be re-routed, you need a cyclometer with an advanced navigation system such as the Garmin 1030 Edge Plus.

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM Navigation
The dual-band GPS reception of the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM boosts the signal in dense areas like cities or under tree-cover; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Smartphones vs. Bike Computers

Smartphones these days can be huge. And even though you might not plan on riding in the rain, you need to prepare for it. That means putting a waterproof (and shockproof) case on your phone, making it even larger.

Now imagine your phone: large, heavy, and expensive. Where are you going to put it?

Is your smartphone screen conducive to checking data fields intermittently? Can you read the screen in the bright sun? Do you have a way to call for help if you crash and your phone breaks?

You’ll find the best bike computers to be weatherproof and lightweight. What’s more, even the most expensive models don’t compare to the cost of the newest smartphones. They are designed to be mounted onto your bicycle with aerodynamic performance as a top priority.

The easy-to-read screen on a bike computer won’t leave you squinting to read in the bright sun. Plus, it doesn’t need a waterproof case, so the device’s screen and buttons are user-friendly, even with gloves on.

We think it’s best if your expensive smartphone stays packed safely and not mounted on the front of your bike.

Battery Life

High-quality bike computer batteries are designed to hold up on longer rides. Most bike computer batteries last a minimum of 15 hours, even with satellite navigation and ANT+ connections running.

Before purchasing, consider the type of battery your device is going to need. Cheaper models like the Cat Eye Velo 7 use disposable batteries, which aren’t that expensive, but they produce waste.

However, it’s much easier to pack extra batteries than to bring along clunky charging units — which you’d need with a rechargeable model — if you plan to go on a multi-day ride.

On this list, the Bryton Rider 420E is an excellent rechargeable computer that offers up to 32 hours of battery life. And if you’re looking to stay out even longer, the solar-charging ability of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar boosts the battery out to an incredible maximum of 180 hours.

Garmin Edge 1040 Solar
The two solar elements of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar glow orange when exposed to sunlight, and add up to 42 minutes of extra ride time per hour outside; (photo/Berne Broudy)

Extra Features

There are a plethora of potential extra features on the best bike computers. For example, you may appreciate the alarm feature on the Garmin Edge 830 if you plan on leaving your bike outside in urban areas. And riders who love to see their altitude while pounding up a hill might benefit from the barometric altimeter found on the Bryton Rider 420E.

Also, think about if you’ll want to pair any accessories to your computer. If that’s the case, make sure your computer has ANT+ and Bluetooth connection so you can easily track stats like heart rate and nutrition.

Finally, cyclists who plan to stay connected to friends and family during their ride are sure to enjoy the communication features on the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus. This GPS-cycling computer can send preset messages to people in your contacts straight from the device.

Final Takeaway

High-quality bike computers are better suited for tracking and routing rides than a smartphone. This is because of its sturdy and aerodynamic design, battery life, GPS accuracy, and cost-efficiency. For those who spend a significant amount of time in the saddle, bike computers are a worthy investment.

Bike Computer Data
Photo Credit: Wahoo Elmnt

FAQ

What Does a Bike Computer Do?

A bike computer is a small, aerodynamically designed electronic device mounted on a bicycle’s handlebars. Its purpose is to record various data types about the user’s ride, such as tracking their speed and distance.

Some can be so technologically advanced that they register the user’s heart rate, calories burned, and cadence (pedal rate). Professional riders use this information, along with analyzing certain variables like weight and wheel size, to efficiently fine-tune and improve their performance.

A commonly sought-after feature of bike computers is a global positioning system (GPS), which riders use to navigate popular or undiscovered routes. GPS computers can remove the hassle of stopping to deal with a cellphone for directions while biking.

Is a Bike Computer Worth It?

With bike computer prices suiting all budgets (ranging anywhere from $25 to several hundred dollars) and accommodating every type of rider, we think bike computers are worth it.

Which Bike Computer Is Right for Me?

So, you’ve decided you want a cycling computer. But how will you choose the best bike computer to fit your unique needs?
Some questions you’ll need to answer to find the best bike computer for you are:

  • What information am I seeking? Will basic information such as time, distance, and riding speed be sufficient?
  • Or would I prefer to have more information or connect via ANT+ and Bluetooth devices to monitor heart rate, calories burned, and turn-by-turn navigation?

To answer these questions for yourself, check out the “how to choose” section of this article.

Are Bike Computers Expensive?

There are certainly bike computers out there to satisfy all budget levels. You can spend anywhere from $25 for a simple computer to several hundred dollars for an advanced one. When it comes to bike computers, the more money you spend, the more features you get.

But suppose you don’t care about monitoring your heart rate while riding. In that case, you can probably go with a cheaper model bike computer that covers the basics. Once again, the best bike computer will be different for everyone, so consider what you need.

Will I Need a Turn-by-Turn Navigation Feature?

Using the GPS feature on a bike computer is much more accurate than using a smartphone with GPS.
While both devices use basic GPS, smartphone apps analyze data and positioning after it’s uploaded. Conversely, bike computers use GPS and GLONASS to give real-time data.

Bike computers can also use a barometric altimeter sensor to accurately track climbs, which is especially handy when mountain biking.

What Is the Best Garmin Cycle Computer?

The Garmin Edge 1030 Plus model is top-of-the-line and feature-packed. If you’re looking to save $100, we recommend the Garmin Edge 830. It has everything most riders need.

Do All Bike Computers Have GPS?

Not all bike computers have GPS, but not every rider needs GPS. Remember, the best bike computer varies from person to person. Riders who stay within the confines of familiar roads and trails don’t necessarily need a GPS cycling computer.

Hopefully, now you’re equipped with all the information you need to make a solid choice on the best bike computer for your unique riding needs. We specifically designed our buying guide to be helpful to both beginners and seasoned riders. So just focus on the facts, ask yourself the right questions, and don’t get overwhelmed.

There are plenty of roads to ride and fun to have — no matter what bike computer you end up picking.


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