Are you looking for a new bike computer? We researched the top models on the market before buying 11 of the best for 2019. With so many options and their various features and functions, it can be hard to find the bike computer that meets not only your budget but also your specific needs. From paved and gravel roads to singletrack, the flatlands to the mountain tops, we tested each of these computers and scrutinized every aspect of their design, features, and performance. Whether you want a bike computer for navigation, training, tracking your rides, or all of the above, we hope this detailed comparative review helps you find the model to suit your needs and budget.
The Best Bike Computers of 2019
|Price||$299.00 at Amazon|
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|$249.99 at Competitive Cyclist|
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|$199.99 at Competitive Cyclist|
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|$259.99 at Competitive Cyclist|
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|Pros||Maps, GPS enabled, ANT+ accessory compatible, color touch screen, versatile||Fully featured, maps, large color touchscreen, excellent navigation, several mount options included||Competitive price, aerodynamic, GPS and GLONASS, ANT+, Bluetooth smart, WiFi, maps, large screen, easy to use and set up, zoom feature||Reasonably priced, great companion app, offline maps and navigation, long battery life, can be used in landscape or portrait orientation||Routable maps, quality color screen, multiple mount options included, small size|
|Cons||Expensive, Garmin Connect App, no Bluetooth Smart||Heavy, expensive, slower startup, large size||No color screen, slower to startup||Heavier, no preloaded maps, button layout isn't incredibly intuitive||Garmin Connect App, no Bluetooth Smart, slower startup, shorter battery life|
|Bottom Line||The Edge 820 is an advanced cycling computer in a small package; the best Garmin unit to date.||The Edge 1030 is Garmin's top of the line cycling computer; it does it all.||Wahoo Fitness' BOLT is a fully featured GPS cycling computer thats easy to use and setup, offering ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart sensor compatibility and seamless smartphone integration.||The Mega XL is the biggest and best Lezyne cycling computer we've used with a long battery life, offline maps, and excellent smartphone integration.||The Edge 520 Plus is an updated version of Garmin's popular Edge 520 that does everything the old model did with more advanced navigation features.|
|Rating Categories||Garmin Edge 820||Garmin Edge 1030||Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT||Lezyne Mega XL GPS||Garmin Edge 520 Plus|
|Ease Of Use (30%)|
|Ease Of Setup (20%)|
|Water Resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Garmin Edge 820||Garmin Edge 1030||Wahoo Fitness...||Lezyne Mega XL GPS||Garmin Edge 520 Plus|
|GPS enabled?||Yes, GPS/Glonass||Yes, GPS/Glonass||Yes, GPS/Glonass, BEIDOU Galileo, QZSS||Yes, GPS/Glonass||Yes, GPS/Glonass|
|Cadence Sensor?||Yes, any ANT+||Yes, any ANT+, Bluetooth Smart||Yes, any ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart||Yes, any ANT+, Bluetooth Smart||Yes, any ANT+|
|Heart Rate Monitor?||Yes, any ANT+||Yes, any ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart||Yes, any ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart||Yes, ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart||Yes, any ANT+|
|Dimensions||1.9" x 2.9" x .8"||2.3" x 4.5" x 0.8"||2.9" x 1.8" x 0.87"||2.3" x 3.1" x 1.05"||1.9" x 2.9" x 0.8"|
|Display Size||1.4" x 1.9"||1.75" x 3"||2.2"||1.4" x 2.3"||1.4" x 1.9"|
|Battery Type||Lithium Ion||Lithium Ion||Lithium Ion||Re-chargable lithium ion||Re-chargable lithium ion|
|Battery Life||15-20 hours||20 hours||15 hours||48 hours||15 hours|
|Phone App||Garmin Connect||Garmin Connect||ELEMNT||Lezyne Ally V2||Garmin Connect|
|Accessory Interface ANT+, BTLE, BT.||ANT+||ANT+, Bluetooth Smart||Bluetooth Smart, ANT+||Bluetooth Smart, ANT+||Bluetooth Smart, ANT+|
|Text, Email, Call notifications||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Best Overall Bike Computer
Garmin Edge 820
After reviewing the 2019 options, the Garmin Edge 820 still takes the cake, with a staggering list of features and an intuitive interface, reconfirming its spot as our Editors' Choice winner. It is GPS and GLONASS enabled for accurate navigation with mapping, turn-by-turn navigation, and a color touch screen with iPhone-like usability. (The tap and swipe functionality is a huge improvement over the previous model.) It's packed with features, but the standouts are audio prompts, 16G of memory, and good smartphone integration. The Edge 820 is one of only a few contenders that has an incident detection system, which notifies your contacts in the event of a crash. The 820 is a powerful training tool with Strava Live segments and the ability to pair with ANT+ speed, power, and heart rate sensors for performance analytics and structured workouts through TrainingPeaks. There are far too many features to mention here. The small size, lightweight, and wealth of features make the Edge 820 our favorite bike computer.
While we love virtually everything about the Edge 820, testers found the Garmin Connect companion app to be the least user-friendly of the bunch, making programming and initial setup a little more time consuming and frustrating than it could be. It's also relatively expensive, and if the 820 is too rich for your blood then be sure to check out the Edge 520 Plus. This is an updated version of the Edge 520, which has virtually all of the same features and performance of the 820 without the convenience of the touchscreen and is offered at a lower price.
Read review: Garmin Edge 820
Best Bang for the Buck
Lezyne Micro Color
Our Best Buy Award goes to the Lezyne Micro C GPS. While it's far from the cheapest product we tested, it's among the least expensive GPS enabled models and offers the most features per dollar and bang for your buck. Lezyne is still a relatively new player in the cycling computer market, but they've been constantly growing and improving their line, bringing them ever closer to the competition. The Micro C GPS offers connectivity for both Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ sensors with a decent range of performance metrics available for display. Smartphone integration is key to the Micro's design and functionality, and Lezyne's Ally V2 app is straightforward and user-friendly. It also features turn-by-turn navigation and call and text notifications when paired with a compatible smartphone, and it can even do Strava Live segments for training or to snag that elusive KOM. It is impressively small and lightweight and punches way above its weight and size class in terms of performance and features.
A simple four-button user interface is easy to master but does not offer the fluid navigation of the touch screen found on the Edge 820 or Edge 1030. It also lacks the maps found on the more expensive competitors with larger displays, nor does it have the dizzying array of performance metrics found on Wahoo Fitness' ELEMNT BOLT or the maps found on the Garmin Edge 1030. If you're on a budget and don't require maps or the most advanced training features, there's nothing else on the market that offers the level of functionality and versatility of the Micro C GPS at this price.
Read review: Lezyne Micro Color
Best Buy on a Tight Budget
Cateye Strada Slim
While the Lezyne Micro C GPS takes our Best Buy award, we recognize that it's still no small investment. Also, many cyclists have no desire to post their rides on social media or compete for KOMs on Strava. Most of us don't work with a coach, and we may not need to track years worth of ride data for analysis. You just like to ride! The goal of data collection for you is to satisfy your curiosity and challenge yourself to go a bit further on the next ride. If this describes you, then take a look at the Cateye Strada Slim, winner of our Best Buy award for the Casual Cyclist. It's a simple wireless computer that tracks speed, distance, and time. It turns on and off automatically when movement is detected, so all you need to do is get on your bike and ride.
Simplicity is the name of the game with the Strada Slim; it has no GPS tracking capability, no navigation features, and no ability to pair with your smartphone or sensors. This is as basic as cycling computers get, a simple heads up display, think of it as a dashboard for your bike.
Read review: Cateye Strada Slim
Top Pick for Features and Navigation
Garmin Edge 1030
The Edge 1030 is the top model in Garmin's range of cycling computers. This is truly an impressive product that is packed with more features than any other model we tested. This advanced cycling computer comes at a price, however, and it is the most expensive model in our test by far. That said, if you're looking for a computer that can do absolutely everything, it has you covered with all the training, navigation, and connected features you could ever possibly need. Connected features like text and call notifications, Live Track, Group Track, Incident Detection, and auto uploads just scratch the surface of the ways you can use the device with a Bluetooth connection and the Garmin Connect App. Navigation is on a whole new level, with maps, turn by turn directions, round-trip routing, course creation, and more. It is also bursting with training features, like Strava Live segments, training status, structured workouts, and ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart sensor compatibility. Not only is the Edge 1030 big on features, but it's also physically large, with an intuitive user interface that uses the large color touchscreen and three tactile buttons.
The Edge 1030 was a certainly a contender for our Editor's Choice Award, but in the end, testers felt they preferred the slightly smaller, lighter, more streamlined, and somewhat simpler Edge 820. There's so much going on with the Edge 1030 that most users will barely scratch the surface of its capabilities and we feel that most people be just as happy while spending significantly less money. While this is an amazing GPS cycling computer, the setup, specifically the programming, is less user-friendly than the competition due to the Garmin Connect companion app. It is also worth noting that we didn't experience any issues with our test model, but there are user reviews that highlight sensor, smartphone, and wired connectivity issues.
Read review: Garmin Edge 1030
Top Pick for the Data Hungry Cyclist
Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT
One of our highest rated GPS enabled cycling computers is the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT. This contender is full of features that all cyclists will enjoy and offers data and performance analytics that the most obsessed data hungry cyclists will love. Wahoo Fitness may not be the most recognized name in GPS cycling computers, but that is likely to change with their well-designed and integrated line of ELEMNT devices. The ELEMNT BOLT falls in the middle of their range of three models and offers all of the features you could ever ask for, and plenty you probably didn't even know about. This device is enabled to four different satellites for the utmost GPS accuracy, pairs with both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart sensors, and offers Live Tracking, Strava Live segments, and excellent navigation features through the well designed and user-friendly ELEMNT app. Everything is fully customizable through the app to display the data that is most important to you and believe us when we tell you that there is virtually every bit of data you have ever wanted to collect and analyze available.
While testers loved virtually everything about the ELEMNT Bolt, it lost a little ground to the competition for its lack of a color screen and user interface. While the tactile buttons are the easiest to use among the devices with a button-only interface, they can't quite match the ease of use of the touchscreen models. Overall though, we were very impressed with the ELEMNT BOLT, and we think you will be too.
Read review: Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT
Top Pick for Battery Life
Lezyne Mega XL GPS
The Mega XL is one of Lezyne's newest and best models in their 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 display and the battery life. With a claimed battery run time of up to 48 hours, the Mega XL blows the other models in this test out of the water for battery life making it one of the best options for super endurance riders, bike packers, and bike touring. It's also unique in that it can be used in either landscape or portrait orientation depending on your preferences. One of our favorite aspects of the Mega XL is the easy setup that is 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 be paired 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 TrainingPeaks and Today's Plan. 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 which can be used for offline navigation. Smartphone integration is solid with text and call notifications, Live Track, 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, it's just not as straightforward as some of the other models we tested with touchscreens or better button layouts. The display also can't quite match the vibrant color displays found on the Garmin models, but it is relatively clear, bright, and easy to read regardless. Testers were quite impressed with the features and performance of the Mega XL, especially considering the asking price.
Read review: Lezyne Mega XL GPS
Why You Should Trust Us
Jeremy Benson is a freelance writer and competitive gravel and mountain bike racer based in Truckee, CA. He started mountain biking in the early nineties on rigid bikes on the technical singletrack trails throughout Connecticut. Whether training for racing or riding for fun, Benson spends significant amounts of time in the saddle on his road, gravel, and trail bikes each year. In 2018, he rode his mountain bike nearly 5,000 miles and 600K vertical feet. He suffers from a mild Strava addiction and can often be found pushing it way too hard regularly while training for endurance gravel and mountain bike races throughout northern California. Tracking his performance in the pursuit of amateur racing dominance is one of his many obsessions, and he is intimately familiar with cycling computers as a result. A self-proclaimed "gear nerd", Benson has been testing and reviewing cycling gear for OutdoorGearLab for the past two years. Benson also received input from bike racer Curtis Smith. Smith spent many years racing road, mountain, 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 roads and trails in the area.
In addition to staying up to date on the most recent product releases, Benson spent hours researching the best cycling computers to incorporate into this review update. After selecting the best new models, he spent countless hours fiddling with each one to test their smartphone integration, connectivity, features, and user-friendliness. After programming and playing with each competitor, we took to the roads and the trails to test each model for accuracy and to see how well those features and functions actually work in the field. Our field testing is also supplemented with hours of testing the user-friendliness of the companion apps, user-interface, creating routes, and dunking each computer in water.
Related: How We Tested Bike Computers
Analysis and Test Results
There are plenty of reasons to ride bikes, and at OutdoorGearLab some of us cycle to improve and maintain our fitness or shed a few accumulated winter pounds, while others train to stand on podiums throughout the race season. Whatever your reasons for riding, adding a cycling computer to your riding routine can provide you with quantifiable information to help you navigate or reach your fitness or training goals.
Related: The Best Bike Trainers of 2019
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 over time these gadgets have found their way onto a much broader range of users' rides. If you've just started cycling, you'll probably notice that many riders have some type of cycling computer on their handlebars.
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 great 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: The Best Bike Phone Mounts of 2019
Often, the more expensive units typically score better and neither of our Best Buy winners (the Lezyne Super GPS and the Cateye Strada) score particularly high from a performance standpoint, but both give you the basic info for less than half the price of the highest performing models. Our Top Pick-winning ELEMNT BOLT is a top performer and scored nearly as well as models that cost significantly more. It is important to note that the non-GPS enabled units score significantly lower than their GPS enabled counterparts due to their more basic designs, features, and functionality.
Ease of Use
Using a bike computer when riding or training adds another step to your ride preparation, but we don't feel it should be a hindrance to enjoying your ride. Ease of use is our most heavily weighted rating metric because we believe it's the one that is likely to affect you the most. Our highest scoring products are the Garmin Edge 820, winner of our Editors' Choice award, Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT, and Garmin Edge 1030, winners of our Top Pick awards.
We took a number of factors into account when rating the ease of use, including startup time, charging and battery life, touchscreen or button interface, screen navigation and ease of uploading workouts to web-based tracking services, and smartphone integration. Of all these factors, we feel the user interface and ease of navigation are the most important. Below is a breakdown of each area, and analysis of product performance.Interface
When we say interface, we mean the method by which the user interacts with the device. Are buttons used, a touchscreen, or both? How easy is it to navigate through menus and functions? Our highest scoring products are the Garmin Edge 820 and Edge 1030 which are controlled with buttons and a touchscreen. Power on and off, start/stop workout, and lap are controlled by the buttons. The lap and start/stop buttons are located on the lower portion of the case, putting them closest to the rider, for easy access when doing intervals or other training.
External tactile buttons work when executed well, although we found that the touch screen of the Garmin Edge 820 and Edge 1030 is superior to the button only interface. The Lezyne Super GPS Enhanced, Micro C GPS, and Mega XL are controlled by buttons only, but the multi-function buttons are a bit less user-friendly than those on the competing Garmin Edge 520 Plus or Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT. The Cateye Velo 7 and the Cateye Strada Slim both require a paperclip or other implement to press small reset/program buttons located on the back of the computer to access setup menus, making them the least user-friendly models we tested.
Menu layout differs between the touchscreen Garmin Edge 820 and Edge 1030 and the button interface Edge 520 Plus. All have color screens with an intuitive flow, but the navigation of each unit is designed appropriately around the button or touchscreen interface. Overall, navigation is faster on the Edge 820 and 1030, due to speedier scrolling by using finger swipe motions as opposed to tapping buttons to move through data screens.
Navigation of the Lezyne Super GPS, Mega XL, and Micro C GPS is simple, but not as intuitive as the Garmin Edge 520 Plus. All of the Lezyne devices have a four-button interface compared to the seven on the Garmin Edge 520, and all of their buttons are multi-function, making it a bit less intuitive to use. Navigation is relatively quick to master on all of the Lezyne computers; it just takes a little practice to master. 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 models.
The faster, the better right? We think so. Less time waiting for the unit to start up equals more time to ride. The non-GPS enabled Cateye Strada Slim and Cateye Velo 7 start up automatically when movement is detected. This is an excellent feature — there is nothing worse than realizing you forgot to turn your computer on when you are halfway through a ride… kind of makes you feel like it never even happened. The Garmin units in our review, the Edge 1030, Edge 820, and Edge 520 Plus, must be turned on by pressing the power button. Once powered on, the user selects from Activity Profiles, and the unit needs to acquire a satellite signal. Sounds like a lot, but with frequent use, this only takes 30 seconds or so. All of the Lezyne models are also turned on and off with a power button and both startup within only a few seconds. Wahoo Fitness' ELEMNT BOLT takes a little longer to power up, but the 25 seconds or so it takes has yet to ruin anyone's day.
All of the Garmin and Lezyne models, as well as the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT, are all GPS and GLONASS satellite-enabled, so satellite acquisition is relatively quick and painless. Sometimes it GPS is acquired almost instantly, while other times you'll have to wait for a few seconds. The ELEMNT BOLT also claims to use BEIDOU Galileo and QZSS satellites for even more accuracy. The Lezyne computers are the fastest to load the home screen, followed by the Garmin models and the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt. In summary, the startup of the GPS-enabled computers takes a bit longer than those without GPS, but it is somewhat negligible, and 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. The Cateye Strada Slim, Cateye Velo 7, Planet Bike Protégé, and Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT MINI all 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, the Garmin units, the Lezyne units, and the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT all 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, a trip to the store to purchase a new battery is not required. That said, coin cell batteries are not that expensive and can be bought for just a few dollars.
The Cateye Strada Slim, Cateye Velo 7, ELEMNT MINI, and the Planet Bike Protégé claim battery life to be one year or more. We got four months of use out of the Cateye Strada Slim, and about the same out of the Cateye Velo 7. This was 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 units we tested all utilize rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and come with included USB to Micro USB cables. Charge times from a complete discharge are around two hours for all of the units. Battery life for the Edge 1030 is claimed to be 20 hours, while the Edge 820 and Edge 520 Plus is claimed at 15 hours, which we found to be reasonably accurate.
The Edge 820 and Edge 1030 have a Battery Save mode that can help extend battery life by shutting the screen down while continuing to record data. Using the Battery Save mode intermittently, we were able to extend the battery life of the 820 beyond 15 hours. The Lezyne Mega XL GPS has an impressive 48-hour run time, using a rechargeable lithium polymer battery that can be recharged 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. The Lezyne Super GPS boasts a 24-hour battery life, half of he Mega XL but still more than any of the competition.Data Transfers and Smart Phone Integration
Transferring data from a cycling computer to a data tracking website is one of the core functions of these devices. The Garmin models, Lezyne models, and the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT all can store on the device and then transfer ride files to web-based applications. Garmin uses the Garmin Connect platform, and Lezyne the Ally V2 app, while Wahoo Fitness uses their ELEMNT app. Data transfer can be done via the included Micro USB cable to a laptop with an Internet connection using both Garmin and Lezyne computers.
The Garmin Edge 1030, Edge 820, and Edge 520 Plus use Garmin Connect to pair with a smartphone.
Ease of Setup
All of the models we tested require some setup. Setup should factor into your purchase decision, but keep in mind that more complex products with more features require a bit more time investment up front. Thankfully, for the most part, this is a one-time or occasional hassle. The difficulty of setting up a computer is largely dependent on how many features and accessories the unit has or is capable of using. So you may notice that the units that score high in our features metric conversely score a bit lower on setup.
Setup includes the physical attachment, and the computers 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 ELEMNT Bolt come with both 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.
The more feature-rich models like the Garmin Edge 1030, Garmin Edge 820, Lezyne Super GPS, and the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT score slightly lower due to the increased time required to configure additional features and to pair compatible accessories. 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. The Cateye Velo 7 and the Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 also both require the use of multiple zip ties.
Bike computers range from simple to extremely complex. When it comes to features, we focus on features that you can use. It should come as no surprise that the Garmin Edge 1030, winner of our Top Pick for Features and Navigation award, 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. Our Editor's Choice award-winning Edge 820 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 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 takes it to another level, with Group Track, weather, device to device transfers, and rider to rider messaging. All of the Garmin Edge models also have a unique Incident Detection feature that notifies your contacts in the event of a crash.
Many of the computers we tested have navigation features that are intended to help you find your way on a ride. Maps, turn by turn directions, and routes are examples of these. GPS enabled units like the Lezyne Micro C GPS and the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT have pretty good navigation, but the Garmin Edge 1030 and Edge 820 are the most capable computers in this regard. The Edge 1030, for example, has a large color screen, preloaded maps, a course creator, round-trip routing, Strava routes, turn by turn directions, and audio prompts.
Cycling computers are also great training tools, and many of them have features designed to help you achieve 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+ or Bluetooth Smart sensors to monitor heart rate, cadence, speed, and power. Sensors provide the user with quantifiable training information that is essential to improving performance. The Garmin Edge 820 and Edge 520 Plus are two outliers that are only compatible with ANT+ sensors. 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 ANT+ accessory 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 numerous different styles of cycling. A road ride today can easily lead into a long backcountry epic on the mountain bike tomorrow and possibly a gravel grind the next 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 are customizable 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 and 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 820 and the Edge 520 Plus aren't that far behind. The Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Bolt also comes with preloaded maps and offers most of the navigation features of the Garmin units. The Lezyne computers offer the least in terms of navigation and mapping, although the Mega XL is an improvement over previous models with preloaded maps and the ability to import maps for offline navigation.
The Lezyne computers, the Edge 1030, as well as the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT 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 models and the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT BOLT 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. While the Lezyne models do not carry the IPX rating, they are "highly water resistant" and can also withstand intentional submersion in water.
We had no issues with water damage on any Garmin, or Wahoo Fitness units we tested, despite riding in the rain and 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 Velo 7 and the Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 allowed some water to permeate the battery compartment during testing.
The type of computer you need for your bike may vary depending on your cycling goals and endeavors. Recording the distance of your ride and obtaining quantifiable information for fitness reasons is possible on almost every contender in this category. GPS technology, smartphone integration, sensor compatibility, and social data tracking are just a few things to take into consideration while on the hunt for the best computer for your bike. From simple to complex, your options are numerous. We hope this review helps you find the product that best fits your needs.
— Jeremy Benson & Curtis Smith