LAST UPDATED: February 08, 2021

The Best Cycling Watches (Review and Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice Fitbit Ionic Watch Fitbit Ionic Watch
Best Value Letsfit Smart Watch Letsfit Smart Watch
Premium Pick Apple Watch Series 6 Apple Watch Series 6

Gone are the days when cyclists need bulky handlebar-mounted computers to track and store their riding data. Today, due to advancements in technology, cyclists can now track and monitor their speed, distance traveled, and other such information from their fitness trackers and smartwatches. Not only that, these devices have advanced to the point where some of them are now capable of going above and beyond the mere tracking and monitoring of cycling-specific activity. Now, they can play music, display your messages, and even give you detailed information on the quality of your sleep.

Whether you’re a recreational cyclist or someone who’s training for the next Tour De France, the number of cycling watches and the wide range of features they offer can leave you scratching your head. So to help you with your decision, we have a roundup of what we think are the best cycling watches available in the market.

The Best Cycling Watches

Fitness enthusiasts will immediately recognize the Fitbit brand because it’s among the most popular brands when it comes to fitness tracking. This watch is loaded with features, all of which are accessible from an easy-to-read display. Apart from the heart rate monitor that is standard on all fitness trackers, this watch has an app that can play workouts on screen while guiding users during every step. It also can store up to 300 songs and stream them wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled earphones. A built-in GPS receiver with GLONASS allows users to track information like pace, distance traveled, elevation climbed, and route covered, and Fitbit boasts that the battery can last a little over four days.

The watch is water-resistant and feels quality to the touch, but one downside is that the touchscreen can be a little too slow to respond to touches.

Key Features
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity
  • Guided workouts
  • Four-day battery life
Specification
  • Brand Fitbit
  • Model Ionic
  • Weight 0.67 pounds
PROS

Quality construction

Water-resistant

CONS

Limited apps

Slow touch response

The Letsfit Smart Watch packs a lot of features in something so surprisingly affordable. Apart from the heart rate monitor and the 24/7 activity tracking functions that are now standard in most fitness trackers and smartwatches, this budget-friendly wrist computer provides notification support for a whole host of apps — from your calls to your texts to Facebook and Twitter. The watch doesn’t have a GPS but it can be connected to your smartphone to track things like pace, distance covered, and routes taken. Users can track their sleep patterns and get detailed insights into their health, too, and best of all, the battery on this watch lasts an impressive ten days.

One downside to this otherwise exceptional fitness tracker is that the accuracy of its heart rate monitor and step counter is a little wonky.

Key Features
  • Activity tracking 
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Smart notifications
  • Bluetooth connectivity
Specification
  • Brand Letsfit
  • Model ID205L
  • Weight 0.08 pounds
PROS

Affordable

10-hour battery life

CONS

Case is made of plastic

Inconsistent tracking

The Apple Watch Series 6 has gone through a ton of updates, a lot of which were geared toward fitness, making it a great option for cyclists. Indeed, it has everything a fitness tracker offers, and then some. Apart from the usual heart rate monitor and activity tracker functions, this watch has a pulse oximeter and altimeter, which allows users to track their oxygen level and their altitude above sea level — helpful for hikers, climbers, or anyone whose workout consists of some form of altitude change. It has a built-in GPS that gives out highly accurate location, speed, and distance information, and — among the watch’s biggest advantages — it gives users access to the slew of great cycling companion apps available in Apple’s app store.

Of course, if you have an Android device and are unwilling to ditch it for an iPhone, then this watch isn’t for you.

Key Features
  • Activity tracking
  • Blood oxygen measurement capabilities
  • Altimeter
  • GPS
Specification
  • Brand Apple
  • Model Series 6
  • Weight 0.06 pounds
PROS

Aluminum case

Access to a ton of companion apps

CONS

Expensive

Not compatible with Android phones

18-hour battery life

Don’t let the simplicity of the monochrome display fool you, because The Fitbit Charge 4 is a fantastic fitness tracker that offers companion app options in spades. With its sleek and uncluttered interface, users can track information like heart rate, steps, distance, calories burned, and a lot more else. It has a sleep tracking function to give you insights on your sleep quality and duration, as well as a built-in GPS so you can map out your cycling route. The Charge 4 also offers Spotify support, allowing users to control their music from the watch, as well as an impressive seven-day battery life.

While the basic interface and one-inch grayscale display wasn’t something that bothered us, we can imagine that it’s not for everyone.

Key Features
  • Activity tracker
  • Sleep tracker
  • Built-in GPS
  • Spotify support
Specification
  • Brand Fitbit
  • Model Charge 4
  • Weight 0.06 pounds
PROS

Ton of companion app options

Seven-day battery life

CONS

Monochrome display

Inconsistent screen wake response

As far as multi-sport watches go, the Garmin Fenix 5 is as capable as the best out there. This watch is built tough — it has a stainless steel case and a rugged design that screams quality from any angle. Apart from the slew of sensors this watch has onboard to track and monitor your health and activity, it also features Garmin Pay, which is the brand’s no contact payment solution. The watch also has 15 preloaded apps to track and monitor specific activities, including cycling, swimming, yoga, and more. The battery can last an impressive seven days on a single charge, and Garmin boasts that this watch can pretty much be kept underwater.

For all it does well, it doesn’t have onboard music storage. Another thing is that, while Android users can respond to text messages from the watch, iPhone users cannot.

Key Features
  • Activity tracker
  • Smart notifications
  • Built-in GPS
Specification
  • Brand Garmin
  • Model 010-01769-01
  • Weight 0.08 pounds
PROS

Access to Garmin app store

Seven-day battery life

CONS

No music storage

iPhone users can’t respond to text messages

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is a versatile, multi-sport fitness tracker that is another great option in the wearable tech space. It has a built-in GPS tracker and is fitted with a slew of sensors to perform other basic tracking tasks like heart rate and reps. It comes preloaded with a slew of sports apps to use, from swimming to cycling, to yoga and more, as well as access to thousands of widgets, apps, and watch faces from the Garmin app store. Where battery life is concerned, the Vivoactive 3 can last seven days on a single charge, or 13 hours while on GPS mode.

While this is an overall superb fitness tracker, the lack of onboard music storage means you’ll need your phone close by to avoid having to work out in silence.

Key Features
  • Activity tracker
  • Smart notifications
  • Built-in GPS
Specification
  • Brand Garmin
  • Model 010-01769-01
  • Weight 0.08 pounds
PROS

Access to Garmin app store

Seven-day battery life

CONS

No music storage

iPhone users can’t respond to text messages

The Garmin Forerunner 235 has been around for quite some time now. But despite its age, its style, low price point, and the reliability of its tracking features assure that it’s still a viable option for cyclists who want performance for a bargain. This watch has most of the tracking features one needs, displayed on a crisp color screen. It can connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth and display all your text and call alerts, as well as emails and calendar reminders. Additional features include the ability to download widgets, watch faces, and companion apps through Garmin’s own Connect IQ store.

While the watch does the fundamentals well, its sleep tracking is a little wonky. Lastly, as far as construction is concerned, the watch does feel plasticky. 

 

Key Features
  • Activity tracker
  • Smart notifications
  • Built-in GPS
Specification
  • Brand Garmin
  • Model 010-03717-54
  • Weight 0.1 pounds
PROS

Access to Garmin app store 

Nine-day battery life

CONS

No music storage

Sleep tracker is inaccurate

Case made of plastic

One look at the Garmin Instinct’s rugged exterior and you’ll know this watch was meant to take a ton of abuse. Indeed, Garmin boasts that this watch was constructed to Military Standard 810G, so it can survive in the toughest environments and be submerged in water up to 328 feet. Tracking features include heart rate, steps, distance traveled, and others. The watch doesn’t include onboard music storage but it can connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth and control your music from its interface. As for notifications, you won’t be able to respond to them, but Garmin’s Smart Notifications feature can display text messages, emails, and reminders as long as it’s connected to your phone. Best of all, the battery on this device can last up to two weeks on a single charge.

Just like some of Garmin’s other fitness trackers, the Instinct’s sleep tracking function doesn’t work very well.

Key Features
  • Activity tracker
  • Smart notifications
  • Built-in GPS
Specification
  • Brand Garmin
  • Model 010-03717-54
  • Weight 0.11 pounds
PROS

Access to Garmin app store

Military-grade construction

14-day battery life

CONS

No music storage

Sleep tracker is inaccurate

The Amazefit Bip S might not have all the bells and whistles, but it delivers a lot of the fundamentals in a very affordable package. It offers tracking for 10 sports modes, including cycling, swimming, running, and yoga. The watch is also rated 5 ATM, which means you can submerge it and take it for a swim. Like the previous iteration of this watch, the heart rate monitor is accurate, and its built-in GPS can track your step count, calories burned, and sleep cycles. Notifications, like texts, emails, or social media messages, can be displayed on the watch’s screen, and lastly, the device has a 40-day battery life.

The device struggles to function as a good smartwatch, however, and many users have reported smartphone syncing problems that render the notifications feature unusable.

Key Features
  • Activity tracker
  • Smart notifications
  • Built-in GPS
  • Always-on color display
Specification
  • Brand Amazefit
  • Model W1821US1N
  • Weight 0.06 pounds
PROS

Access to the app store

Waterproof construction

40-day battery life

CONS

Smartwatch syncing problems

No onboard music storage

The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is a watch that’s geared towards runners, but it has a lot of features that can prove useful to the avid cyclist, too. The watch can provide tracking information for various physical activities like running, cycling, swimming, and even give out detailed information like stride length, vertical ratio, and more. The watch has a built-in GPS to track GPS-based activities, as well as provides users access to Garmin’s Connect IQ store where they can get different watch faces, companion apps, and more. The battery can last up to 11 days on a single charge, or 14 hours while on GPS mode.

One downside to the device is that the heart rate monitor is not as accurate as other fitness trackers. Another thing is that, while the design is good, it does feel like plastic.

Key Features
  • Detailed activity tracker
  • Smart notifications
  • Built-in GPS
Specification
  • Brand Garmin
  • Model 010-01614-00
  • Weight 0.1 pounds
PROS

Access to Garmin app store

11-day battery life

CONS

Plastic feel

No onboard music storage

Best Cycling Watches Buying Guide & FAQ

A GPS, heart rate monitor, and an altimeter are a few of the features that are essential for cyclists looking to get a fitness tracker. To be sure, smartwatches and fitness trackers available in the market offer more than just these things, with some even having the ability to give detailed readouts on one’s sleep quality. While these are features that can add a lot of utility to a watch and be great for multi-sport athletes, if cycling is the main thing you purchased a wrist computer for, then we suggest you get a device that doesn’t economize on the features that are specifically geared towards accurate tracking and ride data.

The Advantages of Owning a Cycling Watch

Why should you get a cycling watch? The simple reason is that it’s a device that will allow you to track your fitness progress. A small, handlebar-mounted computer used to be the only option for the avid cyclist to keep track of their progress, but technology has advanced so much in recent years that today’s smartwatches and fitness trackers have now become better, more convenient, options that are just as accurate.

Cyclist is wearing the smartwatch while is riding a bike
Cyclists can track and monitor their speed, distance traveled, and other such information from their fitness trackers and smartwatches.

If you cycle often, a cycling watch with a built-in GPS can display your position on a map and help you in navigation while its activity tracking functions can monitor your distance, speed, heart rate, and the number of calories you’ve burned. Indeed, a multi-sport fitness tracker will have a bevy of additional features and will be able to do even more, including track your sleep quality, stream music to your earphones, notify you of Facebook messages, and a whole host of other things. 

  • A cycling watch can track your health while you workout.
  • It can give you detailed information on your workout progress.
  • It can help you in navigation by displaying maps and ride data.
  • It cuts the need to have your smartphone around when you workout.

Popular Types of Cycling Watches

The line that differentiates a cycling watch from a multi-sport one isn’t very clear as most smartwatches and fitness trackers offer features that can track different kinds of physical activity. Not only do sport watches have cycling-specific features, they also have ones that are specifically geared towards runners, swimmers, and even yoga practitioners. 

Below are the types of wrist devices available in the market that have features relevant to cyclists.

Fitness Tracker

A fitness tracker is the most basic of the bunch, and the number of features one will have will naturally increase with price. These devices are great for those who want to keep track of their heart rate, the number of calories they burned throughout the day, and other kinds of health information. As one moves up in price, the line between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch (which we discuss below) gets blurred, and one will typically see smartwatch features like notification support and Bluetooth connectivity integrated into their fitness trackers. At some point, it’s no longer a fitness tracker but a full-blown smartwatch.

Smart Watch

Smartwatches have features above and beyond basic health and activity tracking, and most will be able to replace a fitness tracker altogether. Apart from their activity tracking abilities, they’ll also be able to sync to a smartphone or any Bluetooth-enabled device. Some smartwatches will have smartphone-like features, including the ability to play music and receive messages — whether text messages, emails, social media messages, etc. One advantage of a smartwatch is that it allows access to companion apps via the manufacturer’s app store. Some of these apps have been specifically made for cycling. Just like fitness trackers above, the more pricey a smartwatch gets the more features it can be expected to have. 

What to Consider When Buying Cycling Watches

There are a few features you need to consider when buying a cycling watch. Among them is the GPS feature that allows you to track your route and show you your riding data. Another is the sensors the watch is fitted with to be able to monitor your health and fitness throughout the day. If you’re in the market for a GPS tracker to keep track of your bike at all times, then check out our review of the Best GPS Trackers for Bikes.

While the importance of each feature will depend on what you want to do and what you want to track specifically, for this review, we considered features that will aid in cycling-specific workouts. From the robustness of the built-in GPS to the accuracy of the fitness tracking, we compared each one to determine which among the bevy of options available in the market is the best. 

Cyclist watches in his cycling watch
A GPS, heart rate monitor, and an altimeter are a few of the features that are essential for cyclists looking to get a fitness tracker.

Best Cycling Watches FAQs:

The wide range of features fitness trackers and smartwatches offer can be confusing for the cyclist who just started dipping his toes into wearable tech. And because each smartwatch and fitness tracker can be better than others at doing different things, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions below to help guide you in making a decision.

Q: What is the best smartwatch for cycling?

In our opinion, the Fitbit Ionic Watch is the best smartwatch for cycling. It has all the tracking functions one needs, a built-in GPS receiver, and other features that can replace your smartphone while you work out.

Q: What is the best Garmin for cycling?

The Garmin Fenix 5 is, to our mind, the best Garmin for cycling. Among Garmin watches, this one offers the widest range of data fields, and the most robust fitness tracking sensors.

Q: What watch works best with Strava?

Garmin and Fitbit watches generally work well with Strava because of their great ecosystems, but the Fitbit Charge 4 in our opinion is the watch that plays the nicest with Strava. 

Our Top Pick

The cycling watch that got our top pick is the Fitbit Ionic Watch. The reason we chose this watch is simple — it ticks the most boxes. It does fitness tracking very well, and it’s loaded with smartwatch features that will allow one to leave their smartphone at home as they work out. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re in the market for a fitness tracker cum smartwatch, then we highly recommend that you check out the Fitbit Ionic Watch. It has all the features a cyclist will need.

But if you’re on a budget and want something with fewer frills, then check out the Letsfit Smart Watch

Sources:

  1. GPS Watch – Wikipedia