Best Bike Computer
|Price||$580.00 at Amazon|
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|$399.99 at Backcountry|
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|$399 List||$379.99 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Fully featured, maps, large color touchscreen, excellent navigation, several mount options included||Awesome features and app environment, Bluetooth Smart and ANT+, good battery life, touchscreen, radar and bike light control||Beautiful display, great navigation, user-friendly, lots of premium features||Excellent battery life, reliable, multi-color screen, tons of GPS navigation features, robust phone app||Competitive price, aerodynamic, GPS and GLONASS, ANT+, Bluetooth smart, WiFi, maps, large screen, easy to use and set up, zoom feature|
|Cons||Heavy, expensive, slower startup, large size||System might crash, navigation glitches, Strava Live Track integration issues||Integrations with 3rd parties is spotty, pricey, battery hog||No touchscreen, head unit relies on phone a bit too much, app setup and syncing can be a pain, routing can be clunky||No color screen, slower to startup|
|Bottom Line||A top-of-the-line, full-featured cycling computer that does it all and then some||A fantastic bike computer with super useful functions and features for everything from training to navigation||Hammerhead’s first serious contender for the top computer in the cycling world||You’ll get more out of this bike computer with its great battery life and broad array of easy to use features||A fully-featured GPS bike computer that's easy to use and setup, offering ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart sensor compatibility and seamless smartphone integration|
|Rating Categories||Garmin Edge 1030||Garmin Edge 830||Hammerhead Karoo 2||Wahoo Fitness ELEMN...||Wahoo Fitness ELEMN...|
|Ease Of Use (30%)|
|Ease Of Setup (20%)|
|Water Resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Garmin Edge 1030||Garmin Edge 830||Hammerhead Karoo 2||Wahoo Fitness ELEMN...||Wahoo Fitness ELEMN...|
|GPS enabled?||GPS, Glonass, Galileo||GPS, Glonass, Galileo||GPS, Glonass, Beidou, and QZSS||GPS, Glonass, BEIDOU Galileo, QZSS||GPS, Glonass, BEIDOU Galileo, QZSS|
|Cadence Sensor?||ANT+ or Bluetooth||ANT+ or Bluetooth||ANT+ or Bluetooth||ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart||ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart|
|Heart Rate Monitor?||ANT+ or Bluetooth||ANT+ or Bluetooth||ANT+ or Bluetooth||ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart||ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart|
|Power Meter?||ANT+||ANT+||ANT+ or Bluetooth||ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart||ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart|
|Dimensions||2.3" x 4.5" x 0.8"||1.9" x 3.2" x 0.8"||2.4" x 4" x 0.76"||2.3" x 2.3" x 0.7"||2.9" x 1.8" x 0.87"|
|Display Size||1.75" x 3"||1.7" x 2"||3.2"||1.35" x 2.25"||2.2"|
|Battery Type||Lithium Ion||Re-chargable lithium ion||2500 mAh high capacity||Re-chargable lithium ion||Lithium Ion|
|Battery Life||20 hours||20 hours||12 hours||17 hours||15 hours|
|Phone App||Garmin Connect||Garmin Connect||Hammerhead||ELEMNT||ELEMNT|
|Accessory Interface ANT+, BTLE, BT.||ANT+, Bluetooth Smart||Bluetooth Smart, ANT+||Bluetooth, ANT+||Bluetooth Smart, ANT+||Bluetooth Smart, ANT+|
|Text, Email, Call notifications||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Best Overall Bike Computer
Garmin Edge 830
After weeks of fiddling and side-by-side testing, the Garmin Edge 830 rose to the top of the pack. This computer has a vibrant touchscreen and a few basic tactile buttons for controls. It's straightforward to scroll around and select options. The menus and interface are well-organized, making them relatively intuitive and user-friendly. It seems less affected by water interference than other touchscreen devices, making it a little more practical to use during inclement weather. It also has a laundry list of useful features. A good portion of them are native to the device, but one of the biggest strengths is in the Connect IQ store, where you can find all types of third-party apps to download and improve the functional range of the device. It's a cool development that opens up a lot of possibilities. While it's a great GPS bike computer for roadies, it also has a lot of support for trail riding, mountain biking, and other off-roading. It's a robust device that most of us would be happy with for years.
There are a few things to think about with this computer, though. This level of features and performance comes at a premium, and this is one of the most expensive models we tested. We found that it had some infrequent but annoying issues while in navigation mode, which can be a pain if you're in unfamiliar, dodgy territory (which you probably are if you're in navigation mode). Lastly, it would occasionally have difficulty pairing with our smartphone. Regardless, we still feel it's a top-notch device that earned every bit of its award.
Read review: Garmin Edge 830
Best Bang for the Buck GPS Enabled Computer
Bryton Rider 420
The Bryton Rider 420 really surprised us with its unassuming appearance and low cost. There's no denying that the device is a little workhorse. The claim is that it has over 70 features. We're not convinced that's a useful metric, but certainly the device has all the broad functionality you'd find on much more expensive computers, including smart notifications, power, and navigation. We were thrilled to find that it had navigation at all, much less the use of the major global nav satellite systems and a low drop rate! Its integrations with Strava, RidewithGPS, and Komoot made it possible to pull in routes and upload ride data, which is also a great value-add for this market segment.
On the point of navigation and display, there are still some considerations. If you loved Tamagotchis and Game Boys, sit down because you're in for a treat. The display is about what you'd expect out of an early 90s screen. This is, of course, part of the reason it comes at such a bargain price. It's really a good choice for utilitarian riders who just want the data and no fancy stuff, please and thank you. Those looking for a more advanced interface like a touchscreen with robust functionality might look a shelf or two higher for the expensive stuff.
Read review: Bryton Rider 420
Best Basic Computer
This is going to be your best option if budget is a real constraint, and you're just looking to get the basic numbers: current speed, average speed, miles, and time. It's a no-nonsense bike computer that gives you the basics, and it's a cool looking device. Truthfully, most basic bike computers look clunky and dorky with their messy wires and toyish head unit, but this thing is sleek, wireless, and elegantly designed. It has just a few buttons with a few functions, so it's hard to get lost in navigating the device. Setup is as easy as attaching the speed sensor and magnet and entering some basic data. To start it, you might need to hit a button to wake it up if it's been sitting for a long time, but it's a set it and forget it type of bike computer. When you start rolling, it starts recording.
As we said, it's a really basic computer for folks that just want the necessary numbers, so it's not going to have fancy functions or give you in-depth data or analysis. It is not GPS enabled, so you can't or use it for navigation or track your routes. There's no way to transfer your ride data to Strava or another third-party tracker, so it'll need to be done manually. That suits many riders just fine, but for those that want a little more functionality, you'll need to look a little higher up the line for a more advanced, GPS-enabled computer.
Read review: Cateye Quick
Best for Features and Navigation
Hammerhead Karoo 2
The Karoo 2 was one of our very favorite machines to have out on unfamiliar rural roads in the mountains. It's really easy to get caught up in the glitz or a fancy presentation, but this device is so much more than a flashy screen. It's the computer of Chris Froome and Israel Start-Up Nation professional cycling team for a reason. The phone-inspired design is certainly a big part of that. Its touchscreen has the natural responsiveness of a smartphone and its Android 8 OS (sorry iPeople!) ensures it uses an intuitive interface familiar to most smartphone users. It's definitely a device for early adopters who know their way around troubleshooting software or devices without having their hand held over the phone. Once some of the potential hurdles are cleared, it's a sweet beast with lots of potential and more functionality coming online all the time. Perhaps the group to love it the most is the explorer group. Anyone who relies on maps and navigation to find new routes will find the rich colors and clear, easy to manipulate maps and directions irresistible. It's hard to go back to nav on other devices once you've used the Karoo 2.
The most difficult thing about the computer is the initial setup with updates and the integrations. A lot of other cycling computers lean on their apps to help with setup and integrations with 3rd parties. For the Karoo 2, the head unit is the main node for that. The app has very little functionality, which seems like efficient streamlining, but ends up causing some headaches.
Read review: Hammerhead Karoo 2
Best for the Data Hungry Cyclist
Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT ROAM
The Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT ROAM shakes out to be one of the most versatile models we tested. It doesn't have a fancy touchscreen, but you'll never have issues playing around on the screen when it's pouring rain (or sweat). And when the weather's not rainy, you can use the connected ELEMNT app on your phone's touchscreen to do whatever you need to do. The well-designed and user-friendly app is one of the main reasons we liked this GPS bike computer so much. The head unit is easy enough, but having it connected to the robust mobile app, which functions as an extension of your computer, is just brilliant. Setting up screens, navigating, and reviewing data is incredibly simple, and there are data screens for just about anything you can think of.
As great as this GPS bike computer is, it's not all roses. There can be some trouble getting it connected to the mobile app, limiting some of its practicality until it's connected. It is also an advanced device, so it might not be for everyone; folks who aren't tech-savvy may have a harder time operating it. Overall, it's a hardy GPS bike computer with robust functionality that especially suits mountain bikers, roadies, explorers, and any rider who loves their data.
Read review: Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT ROAM
Best for Battery Life
Lezyne Mega XL GPS
The Mega XL is one of Lezyne's newest models in its growing line of GPS-enabled cycling computers. As its name suggests, it's bigger than the other models in their range, and that includes both the battery life and the display. With a claimed battery run time of up to 48 hours, the Mega XL blows the other models in the battery life test out of the water, making it one of the best options for bike packers, super endurance riders, and bike touring. It's also unique in that it can be used in either portrait or landscape orientation, depending on your preferences. One of our favorite aspects of the Mega XL is the easy setup facilitated by the very intuitive and user-friendly Lezyne Ally V2 companion App. It uses both GPS and GLONASS satellites for accuracy, and it can pair with compatible ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart sensors. It has a wealth of training features, including Strava Live segments, performance analytics, and the ability to do structured workouts through Today's Plan and TrainingPeaks. Like the other Lezyne models we tested, the Mega XL doesn't come with preloaded maps, but you can quickly and easily import maps from the app or the GPS Root website to the device to use for offline navigation. Smartphone integration is solid with Live Track, text and call notifications, and wireless data transfers.
One of our biggest gripes with the Mega XL is the user-interface in the form of four multi-function buttons. It works, but it's not as straightforward as some of the other models we tested with touchscreens or better button layouts. The display also can't match the vibrant color displays found on the Garmin bike computers but is still relatively clear, bright, and easy to read. Otherwise, testers were quite impressed by the Mega XL's features and performance, especially considering the asking price.
Read review: Lezyne Mega XL GPS
Why You Should Trust Us
Jeremy Benson is the Senior Mountain Bike Review Editor at OutdoorGearLab and a competitive mountain and gravel bike racer based in South Lake Tahoe, CA. Whether training for racing, riding for fun, or testing bikes and equipment, Benson spends significant amounts of time in the saddle on his road, trail, and gravel bikes each year. Tracking his performance in the pursuit of amateur racing dominance is one of his many obsessions, and as a result, he is intimately familiar with cycling computers. Benson is a self-proclaimed "gear nerd" who has been testing and reviewing cycling gear for OutdoorGearLab for over three years. Benson also received input from bike racer Curtis Smith. Smith spent many years racing mountain, road, and cyclocross bikes and used cycling computers religiously to track his performance while training. Smith resides in South Lake Tahoe, CA with his wife and family and can often be found riding two-wheeled contraptions on the area's trails and roads. Smith and Benson are also joined by Ryan Baham. Ryan resides in Southern California, where he has the opportunity to ride bikes year-round while testing all manner of running and road cycling gear for OutdoorGearLab. To that end, when he can't make it outside to ride for schedule or the rare spot of rain or prohibitively chilly weather, he's lucky enough to be the bike trainers reviewer and is no stranger to Zwift and big 'ol fans.
Our core testing team is made up of wonkish gearheads who stay abreast of what's going on in the world of bike tech. Each review has hours of research going into the selection of the best bike computers so we know what to include in the new rollout. Once we've made our choices and the units are in our hand or on our handlebars it gets down into breaking the models down and validating or challenging claims, seeing where weak spots are, checking third-party and companion apps for support, and generally determining accuracy and performance.
Related: How We Tested Bike Computers
Analysis and Test Results
The reasons to ride are countless and the benefits are endless no matter how you do it (please enjoy responsibly). Common across cycling pursuits is that peculiarly human desire to quantify and qualify our performance. Who cares if you aren't riding across the finish line on the Champs-Elysees with champagne in your hand in yellow? You want to know exactly how many seconds you were putting out 190 watts in the last third of that 45-minute recovery ride. That's why we crave cycling computers. The best computer, no less. But it's not just an infatuation. There's a lot of practical value in measuring your performance. It's clearly the ideal way to track fitness, measure improvements, and understand lapses. And with the explosion of social networks like Strava in recent years, there's no end to the virtual competition to keep you going and running the numbers against your buddies and legendary trolls coming to a segment near you, like Phil Gaimon (not to be confused with legendary writer Neil Gaiman).
Virtual competition doesn't end at stats, reporting, and posting sweet pics of your bike leaning against random stuff. In the age of smart control trainers, we get to supercharge or supplement our training indoor. It's super fun to compete across platforms like Zwift, but lots of higher-end bike computers now have the ability to control trainers and rock workouts. It's not as fun or as user-friendly as a laptop or virtual immersion, but if you're out on the road with your smart trainer, don't have internet, and/or don't want to pay a monthly fee, it can be a great solution. This is another area we focus on in our reviews.
Related: Best Bike Trainer of 2021
What was once the tool of only the professional cyclist, the bike computer has come a long way in the last 30+ years. The Avocet 30 was released in 1985 and quickly found its way onto the bars of many professional cyclists' bikes. Avocet created a way for cyclists to accurately track speed, distance, and time of a ride. Tracking training data was of particular importance to the professional cyclist, but these gadgets have found their way onto a much broader range of user's handlebars over time. If you've just started cycling, you'll probably notice that many riders have some type of cycling computer attached to their bike.
Related: Buying Advice for Bike Computers
Mounts that attach your phone to your handlebars are now better than ever. They allow multiple attachment styles at various price points. The downside to phone mounts is that most phones are massive compared to a bike computer. The upside is that many excellent fitness tracking apps are either free or very reasonably priced. Top-rated models allow your phone to attach and detach from the bars in seconds.Related: Best Bike Phone Mount of 2021
It's usually the case that pricier models outperform and outscore lower-cost models. But just as a Formula 1 car would underperform on a rocky Baja trail compared to a Jeep, there are nuances and specific use-cases that really determine the value of a bike computer. Value has more to do with aggregate performance than individual measures, but there's no denying that the best bike computers dominated each individual performance measure and usually commanded a premium. To make that point, consider our budget picks, the Cateye Quick and the Bryton Rider 420. Neither computer is a serious competitor to the high-end devices like the Karoo 2 or Garmin 830, but they're as much as some riders need and therefore command a great deal of value to those riders. Power data has zero value to someone who has no interest in dropping a thousand bucks on a power meter, so it's not a value-added feature for that rider. For that reason, we consider these lower-cost computers to be worthwhile.
At the other end of the spectrum are the high-end computers you'd expect to see dominating the value discussion. It's hard to compete against the likes of top-scoring Garmin 830 and Karoo 2. Both models are spec'ed out with features and hard to beat on reliability for the price. The value difference between these two comes down to user preference for app-based accoutrement. The Karoo 2 is an impressive piece of hardware meant to obviate the need for phones and companion apps, but isn't quite there. Garmin, on the other hand, exists in a robust environment with new apps and capabilities coming online all the time. It just needs constant pairing and updating.
Ease of Use
For riders new to advanced toys like bike computers, it does add a little extra planning to make sure your computer's charged, your routes are set up, your data views are built out, your phone's paired, and you're generally ready to get on the road. For those of us who have been in the game for a while treat this pre-ride prep as second nature. Maybe it's just that we feel so spoiled now because we remember using stopwatches and estimating distances based on car odometers then writing it all down on calendars and crunching the numbers long-hand to guess at performance data. Still, there's nothing quite like an endlessly configurable gadget sometimes or the perfect set-it-and-forget-it tool. That's what we're looking at here. We're looking for the head unit that offers the best of both worlds. The Karoo 2 is aggressively pursuing this space, pushing and shoving its way to the front alongside other dominant devices, including the Garmin Edge 830, Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT ROAM, and Garmin Edge 1030.
Several factors were taken into account when rating ease of use, including charging and battery life, user interface(touchscreen, buttons, display), startup time, screen navigation, ease of uploading workouts to web-based tracking services, and smartphone integration. We feel the user interface and ease of navigation on the device are the most important of all these factors. Below is a breakdown of each area and analysis of product performance.User Interface
When we say interface, we mean the method by which the user interacts with the device. Are buttons used, a touchscreen, or both? What is the display size, what info does it show, and is it easy to read? How easy is it to navigate through menus and functions? Our highest scoring products are the Edge 1030 and the Garmin Edge 830, which are controlled with a touchscreen and a simple button layout. Basic functions like power, start/stop workout, and lap are controlled by the buttons. These buttons are intuitive to use and have a user-friendly layout that makes them easy to use while riding.
External tactile buttons work when executed well, although we found that the touchscreens of the Garmin Edge 830 and Edge 1030 are superior to the button only interface. Unsurprisingly, the Karoo 2 ran away with this subcategory. Its charm is that it seeks to supplant the smartphone, so it has much of the user-friendliness of our beloved phones, but remains there in front of us. The unit is larger than the other computers, which immediately makes it easier to use. The quality of its display is also much nicer than the others, which look utilitarian and antiquated in comparison.
The Mega XL and Lezyne Micro C GPS are controlled by buttons only, but the multi-function buttons are a bit less user-friendly than those on the competing Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT or Garmin Edge 530. The Cateye Strada Slim and the Cateye Velo 7 both require a paperclip or other implement to press small reset/program buttons located on the computer's back to access setup menus, making them the least user-friendly models we tested.
The menu layout differs between the touchscreen Garmin Edge 1030 and Edge 830 and the button interface Edge 530. All have color screens with an intuitive flow, but each unit's navigation is designed appropriately around the button or touchscreen interface. Overall, navigation is faster on the Edge 1030 and 830, due to speedier scrolling by using finger swipe motions instead of tapping buttons to move through data screens on the Edge 530.Navigation of the Micro C GPS and Lezyne Mega XL is simple, but not as intuitive as the Garmin models or the Hammerhead Karoo 2. All of the Lezyne devices have a four-button interface compared to the seven on the Garmin Edge 530, and all of their buttons are multi-function, making it a bit less straightforward to use. Use of the buttons is relatively quick to master on all of the Lezyne computers — it just takes a little practice. The screens vary in size between all of the Lezyne models as well, and while they are relatively easy to read, they can't quite match the vibrant color screens of the Garmin bike computers.
Faster is better, right? We think so. That means less time on the side of the road hopping and stomping around because the computer isn't cued up and you're amped (or desperately trying to overcome your inner sloth, and every second wasted is another second closer to going back inside and eating something rich in fat, carbs, and salt). The non-GPS enabled Cateye Strada Slim and Cateye Velo 7 computers automatically start when movement is detected. It is an excellent feature that helps avoid the disappointment of realizing you forgot to turn your computer on when you're already halfway through a ride. The Garmin bike computers in our review, the Edge 830, Edge 530, and Edge 1030, must be turned on by pressing the power button, and they all take several seconds to power up. Once they are on, the user selects from Activity Profiles, and the unit needs to acquire a satellite signal. It sounds like a lot, but with frequent use, this only takes about 30 seconds. All of the Lezyne models also use a power button to turn on and off, and both start up within only a few seconds. Wahoo Fitness' ELEMNT ROAM and ELEMNT BOLT take a little longer to power up, but the 25 seconds or so that it takes shouldn't be a day ruiner.
All of the Garmin and Lezyne models, as well as the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT, Hammerhead Karoo 2, and Bryton Rider 420 use Global Navigation Satellite Systems if you wish to use GPS or some other enabled system for navigation or other positioning data (speed, direction, elevation, etc.). Sometimes GPS is acquired almost instantly, while other times, you'll have to wait for a few seconds. Many now use GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou Galileo, and QZSS satellites for even more accuracy and coverage. The Lezyne computers are the fastest to load the home screen, followed by the Garmin bike computers and the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt. When enabled, the GPS-enabled devices' startup takes a bit longer than those without GPS. It's annoying, but the wait is worth the benefits for most riders.
Charging and Battery Life
All of the contenders we tested use some sort of battery for power, and all other things being equal, we feel that longer battery life is better. The basic computer models, the Cateye Quick, Planet Bike Protégé, and Cateye Velo 7 utilize disposable and replaceable coin cell batteries. The Cateye Strada Slim employs two, one in the head unit and one in the wireless speed sensor. In contrast, all of the advanced, GPS-enabled models use built-in rechargeable batteries.
Which option is better? We prefer rechargeable batteries for a few reasons. There's less waste, and if we kill the battery, we don't need to take a trip to the store to purchase a new one. That said, coin cell batteries are not that expensive and will only set you back a few dollars. Plus, you can always take a few spare batteries on an extended tour where you'll be away from reliable outlets for days on end.
The Planet Bike Protégé, Cateye Velo 7, and the Cateye Strada Slim claim battery life to be one year or more. We got four months of use out of the Cateye Strada Slim, and around the same out of the Cateye Velo 7. We got these numbers with an average of 10-14 hours a week of ride time, so it is entirely feasible that many users would get a year or more with moderate use. The Garmin bike computers we tested use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and included Micro USB cables. Charge times from a complete discharge are around two hours for all of the units. Battery life for the Edge 1030, Edge 830, and Edge 530 are all claimed to be 20 hours, which we found to be reasonably accurate.The *Edge 1030, Edge 830, and Edge 530 have a Battery Save mode that can help extend battery life by shutting the screen down while still recording data. This feature helps extend the battery life, assuming you don't need to see what is on the screen. Meanwhile, the Bryton Rider 420 is way out there at 35 hours, which you might be able to get near if you use its battery saver, lower the screen brightness, and drop the satellites and sensors. The Lezyne Mega XL GPS has an impressive 48-hour run time, and uses a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery that can recharge with the included micro USB cable using a laptop or USB wall adapter. The Mega XL GPS is the clear winner when it comes to battery life.
Data Transfers and Smartphone Integration
Transferring data from a cycling computer to a data tracking website of the GPS-enabled devices is one of the core functions. The Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT and the Garmin models, Lezyne models can store data on the device and then transfer ride files to web-based applications. Data transfer can be done via the included Micro USB cable to a laptop with an Internet connection using both Garmin cycling computers and the Lezyne computers.
The Garmin Edge 830, Edge 530, and Edge 1030 use Garmin Connect to pair with a smartphone.
Ease of Setup
You're not going to find a computer that doesn't require some level of setup. Most of the best computers require a little more initial setup than the average bike computers, but some execute on that better than others. There are physical differences that make that easier or harder, like buttons versus touchscreens (touchscreens almost always win out). But the area that really makes or breaks the setup is the digital interface. When menus are not intuitive or require too many steps to get what and where you want, it's annoying and you wouldn't be alone if you've ever completely foregone a cool new feature just because you can't be bothered to go through all the steps to get it configured and operating. You may notice that some of the units that score high in our features metric conversely score a bit lower on setup.
Setup includes the physical attachment, and all of the computers we tested come with different styles of mounts. All of the GPS-enabled computers come with a similar style of standard quarter-turn mount that attaches directly to the handlebar or stem. The Garmin Edge computers and the Wahoo Fitness models both come with a standard mount and an out-front mount that extends the computer out in front of the stem in the optimal position. The inclusion of more than one mount style is an added value and makes swapping the computer between bikes much quicker and easier.
The Cateye Quick was also really outstanding here. Its wireless design makes it super simple to throw onto your handlebars, tighten the sensor to your fork with the accompanying magnet on a spoke, tap in a few data points (wheel circumference and units of measurement), and start rolling. The whole setup only takes about 5 minutes if you're screwing around and didn't read the instructions. In contrast, the Cateye Velo 7 and the Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 received lower scores due to the hassle of routing and securing wires and issues with setup screen navigation. Both the Cateye Velo 7 and the Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 also require the use of multiple zip ties.
Bike computers range from simple to extremely complex. When it comes to features, we focus on the features that you can use. It should come as no surprise that the Garmin Edge 1030, which received our accolades for its superb features and navigation, is also the most feature-rich unit we tested. The Edge 1030 is GPS enabled, ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart accessory compatible, has a touchscreen, and has a wealth of training, navigation, and connected features. The Edge 830 follows close behind in the feature department. Both models have too many features to mention here.
Connected features are those that work through a connection to your smartphone, typically through the computer's companion app. Examples of connected features are text and call notifications, activity uploads to fitness tracking apps, and Live Tracking. Most models of GPS-enabled computers have these more basic connected features. The Garmin Edge 1030, Edge 830, and Edge 530 take it to another level, with Group Track, transfers from device to device, weather, and rider to rider messaging. They add in even more features like hydration and nutrition tracking. All of the Garmin Edge models also have a unique Incident Detection feature that, when enabled, can automatically notify your contacts in the event of a crash.
Many of the computers we tested have navigation features intended to help you find your way on a ride. Maps, routes, and turn-by-turn directions are examples of these. GPS-enabled units like the Lezyne Micro C GPS have decent navigation, but the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT ROAM and Garmin Edge models are the most capable computers in this regard. The Edge 830, for example, has a large color screen, preloaded maps, a course creator, round-trip routing, Strava routes, turn-by-turn directions, and audio prompts. The ELEMNT ROAM also has a large color display, which isn't quite as vibrant as the Garmin models, and it's not quite as user-friendly. Still, it has a lot of horsepower and all sorts of navigational capabilities. The new Hammerhead Karoo 2 also impressed us with its navigation features and excellent display.
Cycling computers are also excellent training tools, and many of them have features designed to help you work towards your fitness and training goals. Strava Live was introduced with the Garmin Edge 520 and is a feature that Strava Premium members can use. This feature takes your chosen Strava segments and provides prompts before, during, and after those segments so that you can monitor it as you go. Strava Live is now available on all of the GPS-enabled computers in this review. Most GPS-enabled computers are also compatible with ANT+ and/or Bluetooth Smart sensors to monitor heart rate, cadence, speed, and power. Sensors provide the user with real-time quantifiable training information that is essential to improving performance. Some computers can also program workouts or upload them from other apps like Training Peaks.
In contrast to the tech-heavy, feature-laden Garmin, Wahoo Fitness, and Lezyne units, we tested the Cateye Velo 7, Cateye Strada Slim, and the Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 Wireless. These units offer more primary data collection, without the help of GPS and accessory sensor compatibility. Although these units are lower scoring, they still provide reliable data collection for time, distance, and speed.
Many of us at OutdoorGearLab participate in all sorts of cycling disciplines. A road ride today can easily lead to a long backcountry epic on the mountain bike tomorrow, and possibly a gravel grind the following day. So, versatility is important to us, and likely to you as well. Ideally, we want to purchase one cycling computer that can be used on all of our bikes.
The Lezyne models can create up to five bike profiles for different bikes and types of cycling. Within each profile, you can customize the data pages to display the most relevant information for the activity at hand. The Garmin Edge models also have numerous activity profiles that you can customize for different types of rides, including indoor cycling.Versatility is about more than just different activity profiles; it also includes mapping and navigation capabilities. Some computers are better for simply tracking your ride and posting it to Strava, while others are powerful navigation tools that can create routes and help you explore new trails and roads. The Garmin Edge units have the most robust mapping and navigation features, particularly the Edge 1030 and the Edge 830. The Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT ROAM also comes with preloaded maps and offers most of the navigation features of the Garmin units.
The Lezyne computers offer the least in navigation and mapping. However, the Mega XL is an improvement over previous models with preloaded maps and the ability to import maps for offline navigation, as well as a larger screen that does a decent job with maps.
Most of the GPS-enabled computers we tested also deserve a nod for their compatibility with both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart Sensors. This allows you to pick and choose sensors from a variety of manufacturers. Versatility is essential; it not only makes life easier but can also save you some money. For details on how each product stacks up, we'd recommend browsing our product reviews.
Even if you never intend to venture out on your bike in the rain, sooner or later, you may find yourself caught in an unexpected shower. People on a serious training program will almost certainly be training or racing in inclement weather at some point. So what's going to happen to your expensive gadget when it gets wet? Well, hopefully, nothing. Therefore, we feel that water resistance is a critical feature of a quality bike computer.
All of the Garmin Edge, Wahoo Fitness, and Lezyne models along with the Hammerhead and Bryton are rated IPX7 for water resistance, making them our highest ranked products in this category. The IPX rating system is a European standard that assigns rating protection numbers for electronics. IPX7 rated devices can withstand 30 minutes of accidental submersion in one meter of water.
We had no issues with water damage on any of the GPS-enabled units we tested that carry the IPX7 rating despite riding in the rain, snow, and some less than accidental immersions in the name of science. All of the other products we tested claim to be "water-resistant" but do not conform to any universal standard. Lower scoring products such as the Cateye Quick and the Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 allowed some water to permeate the battery compartment during testing.
This review focuses on the best bike computers out there today. It's a rolling update, so we make sure it's always covering the best stuff. That doesn't necessarily mean the most expensive computers or only elite toys. Best means best for a given category or purpose. So the best computer for a pro rider might not be the best computer for the average roadie and the best computer for a roadie might not be ideal for mountain bikers or gravel folks. We focus on end-user needs and device performance to meet those needs. We hope this review helps you find the right bike computer to meet your needs and budget.
— Ryan Baham, Jeremy Benson, Curtis Smith