The Best Bike Computers

At its most basic, a bike computer should tell you how far you have gone and how fast you are going. However, in today’s data-driven world, most riders demand much more than that. A slightly more advanced rider may want to know information like average and maximum speed, as well as have a total odometer tracking mileage for a whole season. More serious consumers often expect GPS navigation, social connectivity like Strava, heart rate and cadence monitors, elevation tracking, and power output.

In our test, we only evaluated cycling computers with GPS. While there are many inexpensive basic bike computers, we feel that the multi-functional GPS models are more worthy of in-depth testing and comparison. And while you can get plenty of ride-tracking information from a smartphone and a good app, a dedicated bike computer is the way to go for a serious cyclist. A smartphone app can provide the same information as a basic bike computer while also connecting to social sharing networks, but the phone interface is not designed for easy manipulation while in the saddle. A dedicated bike computer serves as both a navigation tool and a training data recorder with better battery life than your phone.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Garmin Edge 1000
96
Best in Class
2016
Functionality 10
GPS and Navigation 10
User Friendliness 9
Display and Battery 8
Online Training Support 9

Advanced navigation functions

Widest array of data functions

Full on-the-fly adjustability

Outstanding display with excellent battery life

Shimano Di2 compatible

Touchscreen can be glitchy/prone to smudging

Very expensive

Mediocre battery life

MSRP
$500.00
BEST DEAL
$419.00
Magellan Cyclo 505
93
Functionality 9
GPS and Navigation 10
User Friendliness 9
Display and Battery 8
Online Training Support 7

Bright, clear, full-color touchscreen

Huge array of training & navigation options

Highly detailed turn-by-turn nav

Shimano Di2 compatible

Minor glitches with software

Minimal training support on Magellan site

No dual (or graphic) power readout

Uses “mini” USB

MSRP
$500.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Wahoo Elemnt
92
Functionality 8
GPS and Navigation 9
User Friendliness 9
Display and Battery 9
Online Training Support 7

Super sharp, highly readable screen

Excellent battery life

Most intuitive to use

Quick-view LED notifications

No on-the-fly navigation

Phone app necessary for many key adjustments

Front mount very shaky

MSRP
$330.00
BEST DEAL
$323.00
Polar V650
89
Functionality 7
GPS and Navigation 9
User Friendliness 7
Display and Battery 8
Online Training Support 8

Longest battery life

Wide power data including dual-pedal

Excellent GPS performance

Emergency LED headlamp

Includes HR monitor

No ANT+ compatibility

Screen is far too dim

Minimal on-the-fly adjustability

No direct route upload

MSRP
$300.00
BEST DEAL
$200.00
Sigma ROX 10.0
85
Functionality 7
GPS and Navigation 7
User Friendliness 7
Display and Battery 6
Online Training Support 8

Light weight and compact

Lots of data options

Inexpensive for navigation-capable computer

Some screens much too dim

Ultra-stiff buttons

No upcoming turn notification

MSRP
$179.99
BEST DEAL
N/A
Bryton Rider 530 GPS Cycling Computer
84
Functionality 6
GPS and Navigation 7
User Friendliness 7
Display and Battery 8
Online Training Support 6

Least expensive unit in group

Ultralight but well built

Constant compass reading while navigating

Minimal route guidance

Not highly intuitive to use

Buttons can be finicky

MSRP
$180.00
BEST DEAL
$146.99
Garmin Edge 1000

The Garmin Edge 1000 is the most advanced and best functioning unit in this test group. Their expertise in GPS and navigation shines through with outstanding accuracy and super-fast loading. Combine that with a ridiculous array of functions that would please the most serious racer or coach, a bright, ultra-sharp screen and a highly intuitive design with almost limitless ability to personalize, and you’ve got a nearly perfect device. 

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Wahoo Elemnt

The overall design and functionality of the Wahoo Elemnt is fresh and modern and it stands apart from the crowd in various key traits. At $170 less than the Best In Class winner, it’s an incredible value. The Elemnt is everything most riders could ever need in a cycling computer/GPS. It’s the most intuitive to learn and use and the screen and battery are outstanding. It also uses tactile buttons instead of touchscreen—a far better option under the rigors of actual riding.

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Polar V650

The Polar V650 unfortunately only used Bluetooth and is not ANT+ compatible like others in the test. In all other aspects, the V650 is a full-bells-and-whistles training and navigation computer and an excellent value. The touchscreen is responsive and intuitive, and we like the one-button start. Best of all, the battery life was outstanding even after months of testing. More on-the-fly adjustability would be welcomed, however, and the coloring on the maps can be confusing. 

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Magellan Cyclo 505

This unit features everything the tech-weenie cyclist could possibly dream of, and more, with so many functions, we kept finding new ones throughout our testing. The touchscreen is extremely bright and crisp—although like most is prone to smudges which often lead to missed touches and swipes—and highly intuitive to use. Navigation is outstanding with tons of options, even on the fly. But perhaps best of all, this is one of the two units we found that can pair with both Bluetooth and ANT+ sensors.

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What Is A GPS Bike Computer?

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A GPS enabled bike computer tracks speed, distance, elevation and helps navigate by connecting to satellites. This allows your computer to be wireless and easier to install. All you have to do is attach it to your handlebars, turn it on and ride. These computers also have the ability to sync with separately purchased sensors to collect additional training data like a heart rate monitor strapped to your chest or a sensor installed on your crank arm to track cadence and power output.

Ease of Use

Most brands of have a complimentary online interface where you can upload and evaluate your ride data post-pedal. This allows you to track your performance over time so that you can develop good training habits for your optimum performance. You can also typically share this data with social apps like Strava if you wish.

Review Results

Our favorite GPS bike computer was by far the Garmin Edge 1000. It offers advanced navigation, has the widest array of functions among the computers we tested, features a crisp display and has good battery life for such a complicated device. The downside is that all of this data collection capability does not come cheap. If you are willing to pay a premium, we think you will be satisfied with this product.

Test Methods

We tested the best bike computers side-by-side on multiple road and mountain bike rides throughout 2016. We paired each computer to multiple sensors and compared ride data online post-ride to assess functionality, navigation, display and interface, user friendliness, and online training support.