Fitness trackers have come a long way since they first gained popularity earlier this decade. They’re no longer just limited to counting steps and calories.
The best fitness trackers for cycling today have much more tools available for their users. The best part? The increased competition means that there’s a fitness tracker for just about any level of cyclist at every budget.
From basic fitness trackers priced somewhere around the $100 price range to more sophisticated and expensive fitness trackers that can track your location and map out your route.
Be sure to read on to learn more about the top fitness trackers available on the market today.
|Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker, Graphite/Black, One Size (S & L Bands Included)||Prime||Buy Now|
|Fitbit Ionic GPS Smart Watch, Charcoal/Smoke Gray, One Size (S & L Bands Included)||Prime||Buy Now|
|Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 44mm) - Silver Aluminum Case with White Sport Band||Prime||Buy Now|
|Polar M430 GPS Running Watch, Black||Prime||Buy Now|
|Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch/Running Watch with Heart Rate Monitor, Black||Prime||Buy Now|
Smartwatches vs Fitness Trackers – Which Are Better for Cyclists?
Fitness trackers are not the only wearables recommended for use by cyclists. Smart watches are also strong contenders, and for good reason – they are just so much better.
In addition to fairly basic activity tracking abilities, smart watches have so much more features. For example, the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch both give you access to music streaming and cellular service.
They’re basically wearable smartphones. Some, like the smartwatches sold by Garmin, even offer longer better lives, waterproofing capabilities, and sophisticated route-mapping features, in addition to full GPS capabilities.
But, the fact is, while smart watches are so much better, they are also far more expensive.
For both average and advanced cyclists, something that can record data like calories burned, hours slept, and heart rate, as well as auto start and stop, is more than enough; and you can easily get that with the best fitness trackers for cycling at a much lower price point compared to smartwatches.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re above recommending smartwatches on our list.
In our round-up, you’ll find both conventional fitness trackers and smartwatches.
How Much Do the Best Fitness Trackers for Cycling Cost?
Prepare to spend at least $50 for a competent fitness tracker.
While fitness trackers costing less than $50 do exist, they’re not worth the money. They typically don’t have a display (or if they do, it’s very rarely good) and the accuracy basically renders them ineffective.
But by spending more than $50, you start enjoying more features. Case in point, the more expensive trackers come with built-in optical heart rate monitors and GPS, as well as a wide set of features made specifically for cyclists and other fitness enthusiasts.
If you are an avid cyclist and you work out often, we recommend spending at least $99 for your fitness tracker.
We dare say that splurging for something costing upwards of $200 is worth it.
What Are the Best Fitness Trackers for Cycling?
1. Fitbit Charge 3
An upgrade to the well-received Fitbit Charge 3, the Charge 3 takes an already successful fitness tracker and makes it even better.
For starters, the Charge 3 is much lighter than the Charge 2. Not to mention, it arguably looks better as well.
What Makes the Fitbit Charge 3 So Good?
Light Design Yet Big Screen
The display of the Charge 3 is bigger and clearer than that of the Charge 2, nor other fitness trackers on our list for that matter.
But don’t let its size fool you. Despite being larger, the Charge 3 is also lighter at the same time.
The Fitbit app is the world’s leading app as far as fitness trackers go. It’s perfect for both beginner fitness enthusiasts and avid cyclists.
Unlike other fitness trackers on the market, the Charge 3 is completely waterproof. This means that it can withstand more than just a couple of splashes or you sweating while cycling.
It can be completely submerged and survive. However, keep in mind that the Charge 3’s waterproofing is best only for pools, and not exactly for open water.
- The proprietary charger design can make getting a back-up charger difficult, if not expensive.
- The lack of an onboard GPS and a colored display can be a deal breaker for some.
2. Fitbit Ionic
Whereas most fitness trackers and smartwatches have started to spurn the “basic” look, the Fitbit Ionic is doubling down on it.
Instead of distracting you with plenty of third-party apps that will disturb you with a plethora of notifications every minute, the Fitbit Ionic keeps things simple.
It’s fitness-focused. Yet, at the same time, if you want, you can still get access to some of the most popular fitness apps out there via the uber-popular Fitbit OS.
What Makes the Fitbit Ionic So Good?
Bright and Large Display
Unlike other smartwatches, the Fitbit Ionic’s rectangular screen is noticeably larger compared to others. It’s also a lot brighter.
This means that you won’t have a hard time seeing the data displayed even under direct sunlight, which can be a problem on other smartwatches.
Touchscreen may be all the rage these days, but they can be a bit of a hit or miss. This is especially true when used while engaged in a strenuous physical activity, like cycling, for example.
Thankfully, the Iconic comes with physical buttons on the side.
With one physical button on the left-hand side, and two on the right-hand side, you can navigate around the watch without relying too much on the touchscreen display.
GLONASS is a global satellite navigation system. It’s used in both civilian and military applications. It can provide accurate and real-time positioning and velocity determination.
The Ionic takes advantage of this technology, in addition to having an integrated antenna for a more accurate data.
Sold at the same price point as most smartwatches and yet, it feels more like a glorified fitness tracker.
3. Apple Watch Series 5
If you’re sporting a Series 3 (or earlier) Apple Watch, the latest and greatest from Apple, the Series 5, is well worth the plunge.
A worthy upgrade over the Series 4 (yet not big enough of a leap to consider switching to for current Series 4 owners), the Series 5 comes with an always-on display and emergency calling, as well as an overall better and more solid build, on top of the already amazing features that the Series 4 already had before it.
What Makes the Apple Watch Series 5 So Good?
One of the biggest updates compared to the Series 4, the Series 5 comes with an always-on display. This means that it can and will show the time all of the time, among other things.
The built-in compass of the Series 5 is a tremendous help when it comes to accurate routing, navigation, as well as elevation readings.
International SOS mode
While exclusive only to the cellular models, the Series 5 comes with an international SOS mode.
This is the kind of feature that won’t always come in handy. However, for those who are always on the go and finding themselves in dangerous places, as well as situations, which cyclists often do, the international SOS mode is well worth a look.
- Improvements over the Series 4 are more subtle than game-changing.
- Battery life remains a problem.
- Users will still need to have an iPhone to set-up the Series 5 and make it work, as with previous versions.
4. Polar M430
The M400 was what put Polar on the proverbial map.
Thanks to its reliable GPS feature, as well as heart rate and fitness tracker, as well as waterproof capabilities, the M400 was leaps and bounds better than most of the smartwatches within and above its price range.
The M430, the M400’s successor, one-ups its elder in just about every way imaginable.
What Makes the M430 So Good?
Rugged and Sporty Design
Unlike the stylish and sleek smartwatches from Apple and Android, the M430 eschews this design philosophy and goes for a more rugged look.
Although this might make it take a hit in terms of aesthetics for everyday use, for cyclists, the M430’s design is a perfect fit for its intended audience and what they are going to use it for.
Extremely Long Battery Life
Speaking of perfect fit, the extremely long battery life of the M430 is one of its main selling points.
The official figures say that you can expect as much as 20 days of normal fitness tracking from the M430. If you’re using the GPS, that drops down considerably to eight hours. But that’s still quite long, all things considered.
The state-of-the-art running metrics, optical heart rate technology, and proprietary heart rate algorithm all combine to create one of the most accurate fitness trackers at its price range.
Where the M430 succeeds as a cycling and running watch, the design fails miserably as a day-to-day watch.
5. Polar V800
For those looking for an advanced fitness tracker to fit their lifestyle as a hardcore sport enthusiast or professional athlete, the Polar V800 is hard NOT to recommend.
The built-in GPS of the Polar V800 is capable of doing a lot of things. This includes, among others, the ability to keep track of your ride, all the while measuring your speed, distance, and route.
It also comes with a heart rate monitor, and is waterproof up to 30 meters.
What Makes the Polar V800 So Good?
For those who don’t want to trouble themselves with having to swap out one fitness tracker for another, the Polar V800 is the ideal choice. It looks good enough to be worn to just about everywhere, and can track anything you do.
This even includes your sleep and wake times. You can even use it in open water or in the pool, which is not something that a lot of fitness trackers on the market can do.
The Polar V800 is compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 or higher, as well as Windows XP and Windows 7 or higher.
The built-in GPS tracker is extremely accurate. You can rest easy knowing that it will keep track of the speed of which you are moving in, as well as how far you’ve moved, and what routes you’ve taken so far.
- Proprietary charging can make it difficult to find someone with the same charger, especially since the Polar V800 is not that popular of a fitness tracker to begin with.
6. Garmin Fenix 5
The Fenix series of watches from Garmin have long been one of the best fitness trackers for cycling. The Fenix 5 is no exception. In fact, it could very well be the best fitness tracker for sports enthusiasts and cyclists today.
What Makes the Garmin Fenix 5 So Good?
Built for Cyclists
Some fitness trackers support cycling features. The Fenix 5 was built specifically to cater to that market.
The Fenix 5 comes with (3) three pre-loaded cycling profiles, as well as up to 19 pages of four (4) data fields for enthusiasts to look at. It also features “TrackBack”, which is a feature that lets users retrace their route.
Finally, it’s also compatible with Varia Bike Light and Radar Series, in addition to having support for Shimano Di2 Shifting and ANT+ Gear Shifting, among many other things.
The Fenix 5 already looks good as is, but if you want to make it look even better, or fit your current activity, you can do just that.
You can purchase different bands for different purposes. This means that you can go from the gym to your workplace and go trailing without much of a hassle.
Robust Set of Built-in Features
The Fenix 5 comes with everything that a cyclist could ever ask for, and then some. It has built-in activity profiles, performance metrics, and even smart notifications.
It’s capable of tracking just about anything activity from the sun. This includes running, swimming, and cycling, as well as strength exercises.
It’s even compatible with iPhone and Android.
- Low-resolution screen.
- Steep asking price.
How to Choose the Best Fitness Trackers for Biking
The ability to navigate around your trails is a must-have as a cyclist. It’s a huge plus if your fitness tracker lets you retrace your route back to where you started.
Bright and Large Display
The screen of your fitness tracker should be large enough for you to see all the data. Ideally, you should still be able to see the data in the dark or under the sun.
Some degree of water-resistance helps. However, a waterproof design is even better. This is especially true if you plan on taking biking seriously, or if and when you want to try joining a triathlon.
Although water-resistant watches and fitness trackers can survive quite a beating, nothing really compares to a fitness tracker designed to be submerged underwater (up to some extent).
In addition to making sure that the touchscreen can and will still work even when your hands or the screen is wet, you’ll want something with buttons as a back-up for the touchscreen if and when they don’t.
Some manufacturers deliberately “lie” about their battery figures.
Although it’s true that some can last for weeks at a time, you’ll want to check if the GPS, or other battery-heavy features, are on in their estimates.
Fitness trackers may come with silicone, rubber, or leather, and fabric bands. All have their own pros and cons.
Ideally, you’ll want something that’s comfortable and breathable so you don’t have to worry about wanting to take them off in the middle of your ride.
If you can, splurge for a fitness tracker with interchangeable straps. This way, you can just switch straps depending on your purpose, and you can use the watch everyday.
There are so many fitness trackers and smartwatches out there claiming that they are the most ideal fitness trackers for cycling.
Hopefully, our guide has helped clear up a couple of misconceptions and made it easier for you to choose the fitness tracker that fits your cycling needs and wants the most.
Fitness trackers truly are indispensable for the modern cyclist. They can help track where you are and where you’re going, as well as your heart rate and activity levels, among other things.
Not to mention, some can even literally save your life in case of a fall by sending SOS signals or emergency messages to the proper authorities and/or to your loved ones.
So, what are you waiting for?
Whether you are a weekend warrior who is looking for a practical choice, or a competitive triathlete looking for all of the bells and whistles, we made sure that our selection caters to multiple users at just about every budget.