Reviews You Can Rely On

The 6 Best Bike Computers of 2024

We tested models from Garmin, Lezyne, Wahoo, Karoo, and more to find the best bike computers
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Best Bike Computer Review
Credit: Ryan Baham
Monday March 18, 2024

Looking for the best bike computer? Our testers researched nearly every model on the market before purchasing 14 of the best to put to the test. A cycling computer can have many uses, from training to navigation or recording your stats for fitness and fun. Whatever you use it for, we measured each model to the same metrics: ease of use, ease of setup, features, versatility, and water resistance. For the most accurate comparisons, each computer was tested rigorously for months on various mountain, road, and gravel rides, often side-by-side. Whatever your goals are as a cyclist, there's a computer in this review to meet your needs and budget.

Our bike gurus can help you find all the two-wheeled accessories you need to get out there. From road bike helmets and the best cycling shoes to the best bike locks and best racks to transport your bike to the top-rated bike seats for comfort, we've tested the top products on the market to discern which takes the crown in each category. No matter whether you're a road bike enthusiast, a gnarly mountain biker ripping up the trails, or looking for the best budget electric bike around, we can help you find what you need.

Editor's Note: We updated our bike computer review on March 18, 2024, to include additional recommendations in our award section and to share more info on how we tested these products.

Top 14 Bike Computers - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 14
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Awards Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $399.99 at REI
Compare at 4 sellers
Check Price at REI$279.99 at Backcountry
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$400 List
$349.99 at Amazon
$295.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Top class features and app, easy to use, unmatched sensor connectivity, incredibly versatileGiant screen, amazing features, exceptional battery lifeSimple operation, great suite of metrics, good navigation, uniquely useful LEDsAwesome features and app environment, Bluetooth Smart and ANT+, good battery life, touchscreen, radar and bike light controlExcellent navigation, good feature set, bright colorful screen
Cons Expensive, overkill for some, smallish screenExpensive, features can be overwhelming, touchscreen onlyLacks activity-specific settings, small screen, requires phone use for some features, unimpressive batterySystem might crash, navigation glitches, Strava Live Track integration issuesTough to use in rain, can be slow, limited workout features
Bottom Line Does everything you need (and more) in an excellent device that fixes Garmin's past foibles and is great to useAn amazing computer with a huge screen and great battery due to integrated solar panel, held back by expense and few physical buttonsA smooth to use device that just works day in and day out and does just what you need, no moreA fantastic bike computer with super useful functions and features for everything from training to navigationA great computer with a bright screen for navigation and adventure with limitations in workout features and sometimes laggy interface
Rating Categories Garmin Edge 840 Garmin Edge 1040 Solar Wahoo Fitness ELEMN... Garmin Edge 830 Garmin Edge Explore 2
Ease of Use (30%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Ease of Setup (20%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Features (20%)
10.0
10.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Versatility (20%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Water Resistance (10%)
10.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
Specs Garmin Edge 840 Garmin Edge 1040 Solar Wahoo Fitness ELEMN... Garmin Edge 830 Garmin Edge Explore 2
GPS enabled GPS, Glonass, Galileo GPS, Glonass, Galileo GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU Galileo, and QZSS GPS, Glonass, Galileo GPS, Glonass, and Galileo
Cadence Sensor ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ or Bluetooth
Heart Rate Monitor ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ or Bluetooth
Power Meter ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ or Bluetooth ANT+ ANT+ or Bluetooth
Smart Trainer ANT+FE-C ANT+FE-C ANT+FE-C ANT+FE-C ANT+FE-C
WiFi Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weight 85g 133g 68g 81g 104g
Dimensions 2.3" x 3.4" x 0.8" 2.3" x 4.6" x 0.8" 3.1" x 1.9" x .84" 1.9" x 3.2" x 0.8" 4.2" x 2.2" x 0.8"
Display Size 2.6" 3.5" 2.2" 1.7" x 2" 3"
Battery Type Re-chargable lithium ion Re-chargable lithium ion Re-chargable lithium ion Re-chargable lithium ion Re-chargable lithium ion
Battery Life Up to 26 hours (claimed) Up to 45 hours with solar (claimed) 15 hours (claimed) 20 hours Up to 16 hours (claimed)
Touchscreen? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Phone App Garmin Connect Garmin Connect ELEMNT Companion Garmin Connect Garmin Connect
Accessory Interface ANT+, BTLE, BT. Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi Bluetooth Smart, ANT+, WiFi Bluetooth Smart, ANT+ Bluetooth, ANT+
Strava Segments Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Text, Email, Call notifications Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Navigation Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes


The Best Bike Computers for 2024


Best Overall Bike Computer


Garmin Edge 840


91
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Ease of Setup 8.0
  • Features 10.0
  • Versatility 9.0
  • Water Resistance 10.0
Weight: 85g | Interface: Touchscreen and buttons
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent features
Bright, easy-to-read color display
ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart sensor compatibility
Great battery life that's increased with the Solar version
Full control via touchscreen or buttons
REASONS TO AVOID
Costly
Feature sets can be overwhelming
Small screen for the price

After months of evaluation and plenty of trail and road time, the Garmin Edge 840 came out on top. It's easier to use and has more features than its predecessor and our previous Editors' Choice winner, the Garmin Edge 830. The bright, colorful touchscreen augmented by physical buttons makes it easy to use in any condition, and the feature set is exceptional. Our testers loved using this computer out on the road or trail. It's responsive, quick, easy to read, and works with just about any sensor you throw at it. Add in Garmin's huge collection of ConnectIQ apps to extend the computer's functions, adding up to a real winner. It can import Strava routes and segments or mountain bike routes from Trailforks, it easily controls your smart trainer, it designs and suggests workouts based on your training status, and it even integrates with Shimano's eBike motors (STEPs) to work as a head unit for them. Garmin has done a fantastic job cleaning up the defects of previous iterations of the Edge series of computers. The navigation loads quickly, the screens are snappy, and the addition of physical buttons makes it easy to use in the rain or cold. In the months we tested this computer, we didn't experience any freezes or forced reboots; it was always dependable.

We totally get it if you're all jazzed up about this bike computer, but there are some things to consider before buying. For instance, this degree of features and performance comes at a high price point, as it's one of the more expensive models in our lineup. All these features are certainly very nice, and our testers loved having access to them, but not everyone needs them. Therefore, we recommend ensuring you'll actually take advantage of them before diving in headfirst. The battery life is respectable, but if you want even more battery life, consider the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar, which scored almost as well but is nearly double the cost.

Read more: Garmin Edge 840 review

bike computer - the 840 is just a joy to use with its beautiful maps, great screen...
The 840 is just a joy to use with its beautiful maps, great screen, and snappy navigation.
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Best Bang for the Buck GPS Enabled Computer


Bryton Rider 420


73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 7.0
  • Ease of Setup 7.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Versatility 8.0
  • Water Resistance 10.0
Weight: 67g | Interface: Tactile buttons
REASONS TO BUY
Broad functionality
Great price
Advanced GPS/GNSS
REASONS TO AVOID
Not super intuitive
Limited app support

The Bryton Rider 420 surprised us with its unassuming appearance and low cost. There's no denying that this compact and affordable device is a little workhorse. Bryton claims that this computer has over 70 different features. It's not the most useful metric, but it has 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 download routes and upload ride data, which is also a great value-add for this market segment.

Regarding the display and navigation, we have some concerns. If you loved Game Boys and Tamagotchis, sit down because you're in for a treat. The display is about what you'd expect from an early 90s screen. It's a compromise Bryton made to keep the price so low. Still, this bike computer is a good choice for practical riders who want the data without the fancy stuff, please, and thank you. Those looking for a more advanced interface, like a touchscreen with robust functionality, may want to consider units in a higher price bracket, like the Garmin Edge 840.

Read more: Bryton Rider 420 review

bike computer - maybe it&#039;s not as beautiful or fancy as the high-end models, but you...
Maybe it's not as beautiful or fancy as the high-end models, but you can expect a little more life out of the Ryder 420 for multi-day trips with few charging opportunities.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Best Basic Computer


CatEye Quick


62
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 7.0
  • Ease of Setup 8.0
  • Features 4.0
  • Versatility 5.0
  • Water Resistance 7.0
Weight: 18g | Interface: Tactile buttons
REASONS TO BUY
Affordable
Sleek and stylish
Long battery life
Wireless
REASONS TO AVOID
No GPS
Limited data and functionality
Cannot transfer data

The CatEye Quick is 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 gist. Fortunately, despite its low price tag, it's also a pretty cool-looking device. Truthfully, most basic bike computers look clunky and old-school with their messy wires and toyish head unit, but this thing is sleek, wireless, and elegantly designed. It has just a few buttons to go with its few functions, keeping it simple and easy to navigate. Setup is as easy as attaching the speed sensor and magnet and entering some basic data. To start it up, 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 mentioned, this basic model is for riders who want the necessary numbers. It doesn't sport fancy functions or give you in-depth data or analysis. It is also not GPS-enabled, so you can't use it for navigation or tracking your routes. Transferring your ride data to Strava or another third-party tracker is impossible, requiring a manual step. Still, this might suit many riders just fine, but you'll need to search a bit higher up the line at the more advanced and expensive GPS-enabled models if you desire more functionality. Or you could fork over just a bit more for the Bryton Rider 420, which offers GPS at a more affordable price.

Read more: Cateye Quick review

bike computer - the cateye quick is weather-proof, so there&#039;s no problem going out...
The Cateye Quick is weather-proof, so there's no problem going out for a ride in a nice spring shower, but try not to ride into any rivers.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Best for Bikepacking and Touring


Garmin Edge Explore 2


82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Ease of Setup 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Versatility 9.0
  • Water Resistance 10.0
Weight: 104g | Interface: Touchscreen and buttons
REASONS TO BUY
Quick, robust navigation
Up to 24-hour battery life
Large color touchscreen
Bike-specific profiles
REASONS TO AVOID
Somewhat limited feature set
Touchscreen trouble in the rain
No guided workouts

The Edge Explore 2 lives up to its name; it's designed to explore. With excellent turn-by-turn navigation that works offline and calculates quickly, it's a joy to use on rural roads and in unfamiliar cities. It combines this navigation prowess with features reminiscent of the Edge 830. With up to three ride profiles to use across different bikes, smart trainer control, ClimbPro analysis, music control, and integration with hundreds of peripherals, the Edge Explore 2 does almost everything you need and little that you don't.

The Edge Explore 2 has a lower price than Garmin's top models and reduced screen resolution and workout metrics. Its screen is quite nice, but it doesn't pop as much as the high-end options and can be more challenging to read in direct sunlight. Luckily, it's rather big and in color, which helps make up for the lower resolution. Unlike other top models, it doesn't have Strava segment integration or the ability to run custom workouts. Still, we think this may be a great compromise option for most people. It does what you need well (tracking workout metrics and navigation) in a more affordable device than the cutting-edge models. We were impressed. We also like the Mega XL for accessing and customizing Strava segments.

Read more: Edge Explore 2 review

bike computer - the edge explore 2 is the perfect computer for touring, adventures...
The Edge Explore 2 is the perfect computer for touring, adventures, or just exploring new places on your folding bike.
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Best Balance of Ease of Use and Functionality


Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Bolt V2


85
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Ease of Setup 9.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Versatility 8.0
  • Water Resistance 10.0
Weight: 68g | Interface: Tactile buttons
REASONS TO BUY
Reliable and quick
Color display
Simple to use
GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU Galileo, and QZSS satellites
Wide variety of navigational features
Awesome smartphone app
REASONS TO AVOID
No touchscreen
Limited customizability

The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt V2 is the smoothest pick-up-and-go experience of the feature-packed computers. Both the computer and the excellent companion app are simple to use. The default data screens are on point, and the buttons are intuitive. We think anyone could unbox this computer and happily ride in a couple of minutes. If you want to collect your data and have great navigation without spending 20 minutes customizing everything “just so,” this could be a great choice. We understand that huge feature sets can be overwhelming and that not everyone is a huge tech nerd like us. This computer is for those who want a great experience without working for it.

Despite how great this GPS bike computer is, it's not all roses. The boot-up time is slow to the point of frustration, taking almost a minute to get going on each ride. The lack of ride profiles also means those transferring the unit from one bike to another might have to tweak a data screen or live with a couple of 0s on the page. For instance, none of our testers have power meters on their mountain bikes or commuters, but they do on their road bikes. If they pop this device off the roadie and onto their MTB, that data field stays empty for the ride. Nevertheless, it's a hardy GPS bike computer with robust functionality that suits mountain bikers, roadies, explorers, and any rider who loves their data and doesn't want to be overwhelmed by it. If you plan on swapping a device from bike to bike, you may prefer the Edge Explore 2 for the bike-specific profiles.

Read more: Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt V2 review

bike computer - for a snappy, easy-to-use device that&#039;s good enough for anyone...
For a snappy, easy-to-use device that's good enough for anyone, check out the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt V2.
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Best for Battery Life


Lezyne Mega XL GPS


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Use 7.0
  • Ease of Setup 9.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Versatility 8.0
  • Water Resistance 10.0
Weight: 82g | Interface: Tactile buttons
REASONS TO BUY
Reasonably priced
Great companion app
Long battery life
Can be used in landscape or portrait orientation
Offline maps and navigation
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavier weight
Less streamlined design
Multi-function buttons

The Mega XL is one model in Lezyne's growing line of GPS-enabled cycling computers. As its name suggests, it's bigger than the other models in their range, including the battery life and the display. With a claimed battery run time of up to 48 hours, the Mega XL blows most 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. Use it in either portrait or landscape orientation. We love the easy setup facilitated by the intuitive and user-friendly Lezyne Ally V2 companion App. It uses GPS and GLONASS satellites for accuracy and can pair with compatible ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart sensors. It has many 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 for offline navigation. Smartphone integration is solid with Live Track, text and call notifications, and wireless data transfers.

One of our main complaints with the Mega XL regards the four multi-function button user interface. Though it works, it's not as straightforward as some other contenders in our lineup featuring single-function buttons or touchscreens. Also, the display can't match the vibrant color of several other models. That said, it is still relatively clear, bright, and easy to read. Aside from these gripes, our testers were impressed by the Mega XL's features, performance, and battery life, especially considering the asking price. Still, we prefer the user interface of the Garmin Edge 840, which operates via buttons and touchscreen.

Read more: Lezyne Mega XL GPS review

bike computer - the lezyne mega xl lives up to its name, it&#039;s big! pictured here in...
The Lezyne Mega XL lives up to its name, it's big! Pictured here in the portrait orientation on the map page.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
91
Garmin Edge 840
Best Overall Bike Computer
$450
Editors' Choice Award
88
Garmin Edge 1040 Solar
$750
85
Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Bolt V2
Best Balance of Ease of Use and Functionality
$280
Top Pick Award
84
Garmin Edge 830
$400
82
Garmin Edge Explore 2
Best for Bikepacking and Touring
$300
Top Pick Award
82
Hammerhead Karoo 2
$399
Top Pick Award
82
Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT ROAM
$400
80
Garmin Edge 530
$300
79
Lezyne Mega XL GPS
Best for Battery Life
$200
Top Pick Award
73
Bryton Rider 420
Best Bang for the Buck GPS Enabled Computer
$160
Best Buy Award
62
CatEye Quick
Best Basic Computer
$60
Best Buy Award
61
COOSPO BC107 GPS
$50
57
Cateye Strada Slim
$70
51
Cateye Velo 7
$28

bike computer - the indoor trainer is a great environment to put all devices through...
The indoor trainer is a great environment to put all devices through their paces at once. Clockwise from left, here's the Garmin Edge 840, Edge 1040, Edge Explore 2, and Wahoo Elemnt Bolt 2 at the bottom.
Credit: Luke Hollomon

How We Test Bike Computers


We've been testing cycling computers since 2013, recording thousands of miles and pedal strokes on over 39 devices. We use them in the heat and cold, the wet and dry, road races, and bikepacking adventures to see which computer is best for you, no matter what you do. We've dragged these computers through the mud of cyclocross races and the heat of the Sierras while pushing their feature sets to the max to ensure they can keep up with you on the road. We break them down and validate or challenge claims, looking for weak spots, checking third-party and companion apps for support, and generally determining accuracy and performance. After all these years of testing, we have picks that will fit your needs no matter what type of rider you are.

We score and rank bike computers using five performance metrics:
  • Ease of Use (30% of overall score weighting)
  • Ease of Setup (20% weighting)
  • Features (20% weighting)
  • Versatility (20% weighting)
  • Water Resistance (10% weighting)

For more detailed info on how we tested these products, see our complete How We Tested Bike Computers article.

Why Trust GearLab


Our core testing team is comprised of wonkish gearheads who stay abreast of what's happening in the bike tech world, and they have decades of riding and reviewing experience, so they know how to separate the best devices from the pack. We put hours of research into selecting 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 hands (or on our handlebars), we put each model to the test.

Luke Hollomon is our lead road cycling reviewer. He's a physical therapist, physiologist, cycling coach, and long-time cyclist based in Richmond, Virginia. He rides and races road and mountain bikes and competes in ultra-endurance bikepacking. His experience as a physiologist makes him committed to a data-driven approach to cycling, so he's always up to date on how to track his rides.

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.

Luke and Jeremy also received input from Curtis Smith and Ryan Baham. 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. Ryan resides in Southern California, where he can 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 large box fans.

We often loaded our bikes down with multiple computers to see how...
We often loaded our bikes down with multiple computers to see how they all performed.
The Edge 520 Plus is still ready to navigate, even at the bottom of...
The Edge 520 Plus is still ready to navigate, even at the bottom of a glass of water.
Round Trip Routing creates three route options for you to choose...
Round Trip Routing creates three route options for you to choose from based on your desired length and direction.

Analysis and Test Results


Cycling computers have come a long way since their introduction in 1985, and their development has recently accelerated. Because they can do so much and there are so many options, we focus hard on assessing if what they do is good for you. We look into the ease of use of computers and their companion apps to ensure everyone can take advantage of their features. This goes along with ease of setup, another area that we test. In assessing setup, we hand off the devices to inexperienced cyclists and non-data geeks to ensure that anyone can use them, not just us nerds. The features and versatility of cycling computers often go hand-in-hand since folks often use one computer across many cycling disciplines, and you need to know if each will work for what you do. Lastly, water resistance is an area where computers have come a long way in the last few years, with nearly all being completely rainproof. We don't take the companies at their word, though; we make sure to douse each one and use it in the wet. You can see full testing details in our How We Test article.

bike computer - cyclocross racing, the perfect bike computer testing ground.
Cyclocross racing, the perfect bike computer testing ground.
Credit: Cindy Smith

Bike Phone Mounts with Apps
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 and have a much more limited battery life. The upside is that many excellent fitness-tracking apps are either free or reasonably priced. Top-rated models allow your phone to attach and detach from the bars in seconds. For more info, see our best bike phone mounts review.


Value


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, nuances and specific use cases 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 performance measure and usually commanded a premium. Consider our budget picks, the Cateye Quick and the Bryton Rider 420, to make that point. Neither computer is a serious competitor to high-end devices like the ELEMNT Bolt V2 or Garmin 840, but they're as much as some riders need and therefore command great value to those riders. Power data has zero value to someone who has no interest in dropping four hundred bucks on a power meter, so it's not a value-added feature for that rider. For that reason, these lower-cost computers are 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 top-scoring Garmin Edge 840 and Edge Explore 2. Both models are spec'd out with features and are hard to beat on reliability for the price. The value difference between the two comes down to what you need your computer to do. The Edge 840 is unmatched for workout metrics and training plans, but you'll pay dearly for it. Meanwhile, the Edge Explore 2 can track everything you need and has excellent navigation features, but it leaves out some workout and training details that some may love. It comes down to finding what works best for your riding.

Ease of Use


For riders new to bike computers, it takes extra planning to ensure your computer's charged, your route is loaded, your data views are built out, your phone's paired, and you're generally ready to get on the road. Those who have been in the game for a while treat this pre-ride prep as second nature. 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 searching for the head unit that offers the best of both worlds. The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt V2 is a top device in this space. It's simple to operate, even if you're not a nerd like us. Other devices are competitive here, too, including the Garmin Edge 840, the Edge Explore 2, and the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar.


Several factors were considered 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 app and integration. The device's user interface and ease of navigation are the most important of all these factors. Below is a breakdown of each area and an analysis of product performance.

User Interface

When we say interface, we mean the user's method of interacting 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 ELEMNT Bolt V2 and the Garmin Edge 840. On the Edge 840, you can use the physical buttons or the touchscreen to do everything you need. For the ELEMNT Bolt V2, it's all buttons, all the time. These buttons are intuitive and have a user-friendly layout that makes them easy to use while riding.

bike computer - the edge 840 boasts 7 physical buttons, letting you control...
The Edge 840 boasts 7 physical buttons, letting you control everything without ever using the touchscreen.
Credit: Luke Hollomon

The Edge Explore 2 and the Edge 840 have vibrant color touchscreens used to navigate between pages of pre-selected data during a workout and for all menu functions, setup, and navigation. They both have a capacitive touch display, similar to what is used on most smartphones. The Edge 840 adds physical buttons that can control every function, making it better to use in the rain and cold. In contrast, the ELEMNT Bolt V2 uses only buttons, but the buttons' function, quantity, and layout are excellent, making navigation simple and intuitive. The Edge Explore 2 goes the other direction, with a touchscreen-only approach that isn't quite as nice to use every day. All-touchscreen devices can do well here, like the Hammerhead Karoo 2. Its screen is excellent. Large and bright, it's extremely usable. Since it's based on a smartphone's technology, we weren't surprised we loved engaging with it.

bike computer - the karoo 2&#039;s bit, robust display and responsive screen make it much...
The Karoo 2's bit, robust display and responsive screen make it much easier to use out on the road.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Navigating the Lezyne Mega XL is simple but not as intuitive as the Garmins, the Wahoos, or the Hammerhead Karoo 2. The Mega XL has a four-button interface – compared to the seven on the Garmin Edge 840 — and its multi-function buttons make it less straightforward. With practice, though, we mastered the buttons relatively quickly. The Lezyne's screen is also fairly easy to read but can't match the vibrant color screens of the Garmin, Wahoo, or Hammerhead bike computers.

bike computer - sometimes you have to look like a fred to get a good comparison of...
Sometimes you have to look like a Fred to get a good comparison of bike computers.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Startup Time

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 when you're amped to go. The non-GPS enabled Cateye Quick computer automatically starts when movement is detected. It is an excellent feature that helps avoid the disappointment of forgetting to turn your computer on when you're halfway through a ride. The Garmin bike computers in our review, the Edge 840, Edge 1040, and Edge Explore 2, 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 this only takes about 20 seconds with frequent use. The Lezyne model also uses a power button to turn on and off and starts up within a few seconds. Wahoo Fitness' ELEMNT Bolt V2 takes a little longer to power up, and it was annoying at times, but the 45 seconds it takes isn't a day ruiner.

bike computer - the elemnt bolt 2 is a bit slow to start up, like its predecessor...
The Elemnt Bolt 2 is a bit slow to start up, like its predecessor, but it's great once it gets going.
Credit: Luke Hollomon

All of the Garmin and Lezyne models, as well as the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2, 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 you'll have to wait for a few seconds other times. Many now use GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou Galileo, and QZSS satellites for even more accuracy and coverage. The Lezyne computer is 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 longer than those without GPS. It isn't very pleasant, but the wait is worth the benefits for most riders.

Charging and Battery Life

All of the contenders we tested use some battery for power, and all other things being equal, we feel that longer battery life is better. The basic Cateye Quick utilizes disposable and replaceable coin cell 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 inexpensive and cost a few dollars. Plus, you can always take spare batteries on an extended tour when you'll be away from reliable outlets for days.

The Garmin bike computers we tested use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and include USB-C cables. Charge times from a complete discharge are around two hours for all units. Battery life for the Edge 840 is claimed at 32 hours, and we didn't see that much, but we could put in two weeks of 10-15 hours of riding per week before charging. Adding a solar panel to the Edge 1040 Solar and Edge 840 Solar costs over $100 but bumps the Edge 1040 battery life out to 100 hours on battery save mode. After a six-day bikepacking trip with over 10 hours of daily riding, we still had more than 30% battery life in the Edge 1040 Solar, which is very impressive.

The Edge 1040, Edge 840, and Edge Explore 2 have a Battery Save mode that can help extend battery life by using fewer, less accurate GPS systems, limiting the number of GPS data points, and reducing the backlight brightness. Meanwhile, the Bryton Rider 420 gets an impressive 32 hours by default without reducing its functionality. 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 a great combination of excellent battery life at a good price. The Edge 1040 Solar outperforms all others in this category but is costly too.

bike computer - it&#039;s maybe unsurprising to see that the bryton (left) isn&#039;t a...
It's maybe unsurprising to see that the Bryton (left) isn't a battery hog when you see its lean display graphics.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Data Transfers and Smartphone Integration

Transferring data from a cycling computer to a data tracking website of GPS-enabled devices is one of the core functions. The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt V2, Lezyne Mega XL, and the Garmin models can store data on the device and transfer ride files to web-based applications. Data transfer can be done via the included USB cable to a laptop with an Internet connection using Garmin cycling computers and the Lezyne computer.

bike computer - the garmin connect app is a home base for all garmin devices, so it...
The Garmin Connect app is a home base for all Garmin devices, so it can be a bit overwhelming for some, but once you figure it out, it's quite handy.
Credit: Luke Hollomon

More commonly, data is transferred via smartphone applications with WiFi connections. Each brand has its platform; Garmin bike computers use the Garmin Connect platform, Lezyne the Ally V2 app, and Wahoo Fitness uses its ELEMNT app. The Garmin Edge 1040 and Edge 840 are WiFi enabled and can transfer ride files via WiFi without a phone. The Hammerhead Karoo 2 takes this up a notch, optionally connecting to cell networks via a sim card and data plan (neither included) in addition to WiFi and Bluetooth. All the Lezyne, Garmin, Hammerhead, and Wahoo Fitness devices can be set up to auto-sync with Strava via smartphone applications. Regarding data transfers, the Garmin, Hammerhead, and Wahoo models have a leg up with their WiFi connectivity. Still, all these devices are easy to set up for wireless data transfer via Bluetooth if WiFi isn't available.

The Garmin Edge 1040, Edge 840, and Edge Explore 2 use Garmin Connect to pair with a smartphone. The Garmin Connect application is slightly more cumbersome than the Lezyne Ally V2 application used by the Mega XL and Wahoo Fitness' very user-friendly ELEMNT app. Strava segments are more accessible to set and more customizable with Lezyne Ally V2 and ELEMNT than Garmin Connect. All the platforms have quirks, but we like the Lezyne Ally V2, followed closely by the ELEMNT app, Garmin Connect, and the Bryton Active and Hammerhead Karoo app.

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. Physical differences make that easier or harder, like buttons versus touchscreens (touchscreens almost always win out). But the area that 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. Some units that score high in our features metric conversely score a bit lower on setup.


The setup includes the physical attachment, and all of the computers we tested come with different styles of mounts. All 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. Including multiple mount styles is an added value, making swapping the computer between bikes much quicker and easier.

bike computer - several mounting options are included with the edge 1030, including...
Several mounting options are included with the Edge 1030, including the out front mount, and two stem/handlebar mounts with several thicknesses of shims, rubber bands, and a tether.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

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 setup only takes about 5 minutes if you're screwing around and didn't read the instructions.

bike computer - the most complicated step to setting up the cateye quick is...
The most complicated step to setting up the Cateye Quick is attaching the magnet and sensor, which is actually pretty straightforward.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Programming

The more feature-rich computers like the Garmin Edge models score slightly lower due to the increased time required to configure additional features and pair compatible accessories. If you're coming from an older Garmin Edge model, it's easy and automatic, but if you're new to the environment, it'll take some time. The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt 2 stands out, however, with the ELEMNT Companion app, which allows you to configure it all from your smartphone and then sync it over to the head unit. The same goes for the Lezyne Mega XL. Their Ally V2 app is easy to use and handles almost all programming and setup. On the other hand, most of the setup of the Garmin models is done on the computer itself and is a bit more time-consuming. Garmin will pre-set data fields based on the sensors you connect to it, but we found it still required quite a fair bit of tweaking to get it right.

Features


Bike computers range from simple to extremely complex. When it comes to features, we focus on the features that you can use. The Garmin Edge 1040 and Edge 840 are tops in that category. They both are GPS enabled, ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart accessory compatible, have touchscreens, and a wealth of training, navigation, and connected features. But that's just skimming the surface; both models have too many features to mention.


Connected features work through a connection to your smartphone, typically through the computer's companion app. Connected features include 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 1040, Edge 840, and Edge Edge Explore 2 take it to another level with Group Track, device-to-device transfers, weather, and rider-to-rider messaging. They even add 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.

bike computer - the home screen of the edge 840 has navigation, recent courses...
The home screen of the Edge 840 has navigation, recent courses, weather, workouts, and more, all at the touch of a button or screen
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Many computers we tested have navigation features to help you find your way on a ride. Maps, routes, and turn-by-turn directions are examples of these. Most GPS-enabled units have decent navigation, but the Edge Explore 2 stands out here. It has a large color screen, preloaded global maps, a customizable course creator based on your preferred road types, automatic round-trip routing, Strava routes, turn-by-turn directions, a searchable database of destinations, and audio prompts. We've found it a great replacement for our smartphone for navigation to restaurants and coffee shops around our cities. The ELEMNT Bolt V2 also has a large color display, but it isn't quite as vibrant as the Garmin models and is not quite as user-friendly. Still, it has a lot of horsepower and navigational capabilities. The Hammerhead Karoo 2 also impressed us with its navigation features and excellent display.

bike computer - navigation and display stand right out for the karoo 2. it&#039;s a...
Navigation and display stand right out for the Karoo 2. It's a beautiful, powerful device worth its price for tech-enthusiasts.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Cycling computers are also excellent training tools; many have features designed to help you work towards your fitness and training goals. Strava Live 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 them as you go. Strava Live is now available on all GPS-enabled computers except the Edge Explore 2 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 essential to improving performance. Some computers can program workouts or upload them from other apps like Training Peaks.

bike computer - the addition of leds at the top to tell you how hard you&#039;re working...
The addition of LEDs at the top to tell you how hard you're working are a fun little feature of the Elemnt Bolt 2 that's more useful than you'd think.
Credit: Luke Hollomon

In contrast to the tech-heavy, feature-laden Garmin, Wahoo Fitness, and Lezyne units, we tested the Cateye Quick. This unit offers more primary data collection without the help of GPS and accessory sensor compatibility. Although this unit is lower scoring, they still provide reliable data collection for time, distance, and speed.

bike computer - it&#039;s a lot easier to scope out routes and find the hard climbs when...
It's a lot easier to scope out routes and find the hard climbs when you're armed with awesome GPS bike computers like the Edge 840 and Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Versatility


Many of us at OutdoorGearLab participate in all sorts of cycling disciplines. Today's road ride can lead to a long backcountry epic on the mountain bike tomorrow, a gravel grind the following day, and three days of wilderness bikepacking the next week. 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 our bikes.


The Lezyne Mega XL 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. The Garmin Edge 840 and Edge 1040 models also have numerous activity profiles (up to 10) that you can customize for different types of rides, including indoor cycling.

Versatility is more than just different activity profiles; it includes mapping and navigation capabilities. Some computers are better for tracking and posting your ride 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 Explore 2. The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt V2 also comes with preloaded maps and offers most of the navigation features of the Garmin units, but it has a smaller screen for the map and relies more on the smartphone app to load up routes.

bike computer - the elemnt roam doesn&#039;t quite have the mapping capabilities of the...
The ELEMNT ROAM doesn't quite have the mapping capabilities of the Garmin Edge devices, but it's pretty close.
Credit: Ryan Baham

The Lezyne offers the least in navigation and mapping. However, the Mega XL is an improvement over previous models with preloaded maps, the ability to import maps for offline navigation, and a larger screen that does a decent job with maps.

bike computer - testing the versatility of multiple computers at once.
Testing the versatility of multiple computers at once.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Most GPS-enabled computers we tested also deserve a nod for compatibility with 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. We'd recommend browsing our product reviews for details on how each product stacks up.

Water Resistance


Even if you never intend to venture out on your bike in the rain, you may find yourself caught in an unexpected shower sooner or later. People on a serious training program will almost certainly be training or racing in inclement weather at some point. So what will happen to your expensive gadget when it gets wet? Well, hopefully, nothing. Therefore, 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.

bike computer - the elemnt bolt fully submerged in a glass of water, while its on!
The ELEMNT BOLT fully submerged in a glass of water, while its on!
Credit: Jeremy Benson

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 the other products we tested claim to be “water-resistant” but do not conform to any universal standard.

bike computer - this is really what these computers are meant to withstand. the ipx7...
This is really what these computers are meant to withstand. The IPX7 models can even take a little more drenching, but they're not dive computers.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Conclusion


Bike computers are useful devices in the modern world for data-collecting aficionados and stats-checking enthusiasts alike. There are plenty to choose from, making it hard to narrow down which one has the features and design you might be looking for. This review focuses on the best bike computers out there today. It's a rolling update, so we ensure it always covers 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 for the average roadie, and the best computer for a roadie may 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.

bike computer - nothing makes you want to ride more than knowing these views are out...
Nothing makes you want to ride more than knowing these views are out there if you can find them.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Luke Hollomon, Ryan Baham, Jeremy Benson, Curtis Smith