Is a Cycling Computer Worth It?

do i need a bike computer

If you’re a cycling enthusiast, a bicycle GPS can be your best companion. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned rider or a beginner, if you spend a lot of time on your bike, a bike GPS is an essential gadget to have. Apart from showing you the route, it may suggest shortcuts that you’re not aware of and provide you with performance statistics such as distance traveled and speed using wireless bike computer technology.

Certain GPS models may even enhance your training by allowing you to connect to social media and create competition with friends.


A bicycle GPS is an essential tool for any cyclist, providing a digital onboard computer that can track and record your route, serve as a guide, and collect valuable data for your training. Much like a car GPS, a bike GPS can provide information on speed, heart rate, distance, time, pace, and power, among other metrics.

Even without a map, a bike GPS still offers all the essential displays of a standard bike computer. Thanks to satellite positioning, it also allows you to easily follow existing routes or save your own paths for future reference. Overall, a bike GPS is a must-have for any cyclist looking to improve their training and track their progress.



Here are the three key features of a GPS bike computer:

Training and cycling

This device is primarily intended for tracking and recording your cycling activities using GPS. Instead of navigating from point A to point B, it helps you record the route you take. You can view detailed information about your route on a map using software such as Garmin Connect. This software also provides data such as the distance traveled and the elevation gained, and enables you to download routes suggested by other cyclists using the same device, creating a strong community aspect.


GPS bike computers with navigation capabilities require appropriate mapping. However, it’s worth noting that not all devices come with maps and certain activities, like hiking, may require purchasing additional maps at a high cost.

Connected training

For those who want to stay connected during their rides, it’s important to ensure that your GPS device is compatible with the ANT+ wireless transmission protocol. This enables you to record data from speed and cadence sensors, or from a heart rate monitor.

Of course, there are many other factors to consider when choosing a bike GPS, such as its design and screen quality.

benefits of a bike computer


A bike GPS is a useful tool for all types of cycling activities, such as road cycling, mountain biking, or touring. It provides cyclists and mountain bikers with route calculation and performance monitoring features.

One of the main benefits of using a bike GPS is the ability to calculate a route and navigate towards the desired destination, regardless of the type of road or path. It can guide you through tarmac, cycle paths, fields, and hiking trails.

Moreover, a bike GPS is a comprehensive onboard computer that can measure various parameters to track your workouts, including speed, distance, journey time, calories burned, altitude, and cumulative height differences. It can also be paired with heart rate monitors, speed/cadence sensors, and compatible power sensors for precise analysis of training data. However, make sure that your bike GPS is compatible with ANT+ sensors, speed, cadence, heart rate, and power to pair these devices.

Additionally, some bike GPS models can be connected to your smartphone to receive calls, emails, and SMS notifications, share on social networks, or even receive weather alerts. However, not all models offer this feature.

The best bike GPS models on the market come with color touch screens, while older models have monochrome screens that are not touch-sensitive.

best bike computer


Looking for an affordable bicycle GPS? The Polar M460 is a great option that offers excellent value for money. Despite its small size, it has all the necessary features and is Bluetooth Smart, allowing it to sync with Strava for output analysis. It can also connect to a power meter and has real-time Strava Segments for KOM hunters. While it lacks mapping capabilities, it’s a complete and durable device for those who don’t need them. It boasts a 16-hour battery life.

For those looking for a mid-range option, the Garmin Edge 530 is a great choice for long bike rides. With its 20-hour battery life, navigation features, incident alert, and anti-theft alarm, it’s perfect for long cycling trips. It can also be used as a GPS for driving, with maps specifically designed for cycling routes, including cycle paths, greenways, and mountain biking trails. The Edge 530 also offers features for off-road cycling.

While it doesn’t have a touch screen like its higher-end siblings and doesn’t allow for entering an address to navigate, it offers the ability to select a point on the map and navigate there. It also offers the return-to-starting-point function, and you can follow a route that you have downloaded to your device. For the price, it’s a versatile GPS device that offers excellent value for money.

If you prefer Garmin, consider the Wahoo Elemnt BOLT. While it has slightly fewer features than the Garmin Edge 530, it’s much easier to use. Additionally, the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT app is easy to use and well-designed.

how do bike computers work


Looking for a top-of-the-line bicycle GPS? Look no further than the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus. With a large touch screen, navigation functions, and the ability to have multiple profiles for different types of cycling, it’s the most feature-packed model in Garmin’s lineup. You don’t even need a smartphone to use it, making it very convenient. The battery lasts for 20 hours, but you can extend it to up to 40 hours with an external battery. However, if you don’t need all the bells and whistles, the Garmin Edge 830 is a great option. It has everything you need, including a processor twice as fast as the previous generation, but with a smaller screen and less storage space.

Another great option is the Wahoo Fitness Elemnt Roam, which competes directly with the Garmin Edge 830. While it doesn’t have a touch screen and requires a smartphone to configure, it has a large display and complete information. Plus, not having a touch screen can actually be a benefit when wearing gloves in cold weather.

smartphone vs cycling computer


Many people wonder whether using a smartphone as a GPS for mountain biking or cycling is a good idea. While it may seem like a more economical option, there are several significant drawbacks to using a smartphone instead of a dedicated bike GPS.

First, battery life is a major issue. A smartphone can offer a maximum of five hours of battery life for an app that is always on, while a bike GPS offers two to three times more autonomy.

Secondly, reading in direct sunlight or in certain weather conditions can be challenging on smartphone screens. On the other hand, bike GPS screens are designed to be visible in any context, making it easier for cyclists to track their progress and navigate their routes.

Lastly, bike GPS devices are much more compact and solid compared to smartphones. Their screens are designed to be robust, and the waterproof casing is resistant to bad weather conditions such as rain and mud. Meanwhile, a smartphone is much more vulnerable to damage in case of falls or accidents.

In summary, bike GPS devices offer several advantages over smartphones, including longer battery life, better screen visibility, and increased durability. If you’re looking for a reliable way to track your progress while cycling, a bike GPS is the way to go.

Personally, I have had my smartphone fall out of its holder several times while riding on bumpy roads or cobblestones. To avoid further damage to my phone and ensure that I have all the useful information I need, such as speed, heart rate, and cadence, my girlfriend gave me a Garmin Edge 820 bike GPS, which has been a game-changer. It’s small but super readable, and I now keep all the battery life of my phone when I go for a ride.

Recently, I started using the Shape heart mount, which holds the phone together with a very strong magnet system. The maintenance is impressive, and I don’t have to worry about my phone falling while riding.

what is a bike computer


When it comes to choosing a GPS bike computer, there are a few key factors to consider. The first is your budget. While there are certainly affordable options out there, it’s important to keep in mind that cheaper models may not always be reliable, accurate, or up-to-date.

Next, consider your specific needs as a cyclist. Are you a competitive rider looking to track and analyze your performance? Or are you more of a leisurely cyclist, interested in exploring new routes and enjoying the scenery? Different GPS devices will offer different features and functionalities, so be sure to choose one that aligns with your goals and preferences.

Another important factor is the device’s options and capabilities. Battery life, compatibility with other equipment, and data synchronization features are just a few of the options you may want to look for when choosing a bike GPS.

Finally, consider compatibility with other devices and platforms. If you’re interested in sharing information and routes with other cyclists, or even competing with other riders, look for a device that is compatible with popular brands like Garmin Connect or Strava.

Overall, taking the time to research and choose the right GPS bike computer can help you make the most of your rides and achieve your cycling goals.

bike computer that connects to phone


When it comes to bicycle GPS devices, the Garmin Edge 1030 stands out as the top-of-the-line option. It’s a high-end product that offers a large, user-friendly touch screen that’s easy to read. It’s also the most complete and comprehensive GPS bike computer available on the market today. The Garmin Edge 1030 features a high-quality mounting system, long battery life, advanced GPS functions, performance monitoring, and Bluetooth connectivity. With detailed map data, it’s ideal for both road biking and mountain biking, but it’s also the most expensive option available.

For Garmin enthusiasts, the Edge 830 or 530 offer similar features and functionality to the Edge 1030, but at a lower price point. If you’re looking for a high-performance GPS bike computer that won’t break the bank, the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is a great option that’s capable of specialized training.

do i need a bike computer reddit


The onboard computer of a cyclist is their bicycle GPS, which comes with a host of benefits including route mapping, training targets, data analysis, and incident warnings.

To make the right choice, consider four factors: your budget, your needs, available options, and model compatibility.

Looking for a good quality/price ratio? We recommend the Polar M460 for those who aren’t looking for top performance and the Garmin Edge Explore for hiking enthusiasts. For competitive cyclists, we suggest the Garmin Edge 1030.

Bicycle GPS units can cost anywhere between $180 to $600.

Hi, I’m Jason Tie

I have been passionate about electric scooters and bicycles since they came on the market, but I really took to skateboarding when I was young.

I started with the skateboard at 7 years old when my dad taught me how to ride. Since then, I have mostly owned freestyle skates and longboards- even if they were difficult for some people in our town.

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