Best Bike Computers

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Bike computers can provide a vast upgrade to the cycling provide accurate and up-to-date cycling performance data, including distance, cadence, speed, and even heart rate. Some even have GPS and smartphone connectivity, meaning navigation, training programs, and group messaging are all a finger’s touch away.

Not everyone will use bike computers in the same way; those who enjoy off-roading and mountain biking may look for different features, for example. There is a big difference in price between the more basic computers to the most high-tech, but not everyone will need the most advanced functions. To help better understand the lay of the bike computer land, we’ve identified five of our favorites in different categories:

best bike computers

Editor’s Choice

Garmin Edge 530

Pros: 

  • Advanced. This is one of the more advanced bike computers on the market. Not only does it have accurate GPS mapping, when synced with a smartphone it also provides group messaging and tracking for increased connectivity.
  • Sensor bundle. Those opting to get this bike computer can get it in a “sensor bundle.” This set includes the GPS-computer, a speed sensor, a cadence sensor, and a heart rate monitor.
  • Mountain biking. The “mountain bike bundle” includes a durable mount, silicone case for the computer, a speed sensor, and a remote. The computer has different elements it tracks for mountain biking; jump distance, jump count, course difficulty, and hang time are just a few.

Cons:

  • Price. This is one of the more expensive bike computers out there. It is top of the line but not everyone will want to spend that much money for the extra trappings.
  • Display is small. The display on this computer wouldn’t be too small if not for the detailed maps that are present on the screen. The 2.6” screen could be bigger.
Garmin Edge 530
Garmin Edge 530
Garmin Edge 530

The Garmin Edge 530 is a sophisticated touch screen bike computer complete with GPS, messaging, access to a number of apps, and a bike alarm. It is available in a number of bundles or alone as just the device; the sensor bundle can even be synced with a stationary bike.

The Contender

Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt GPS Bike Computer

Pros:

  • Notifications. This GPS-enabled bike computer provides notifications when it is time to turn. This is great when following a long, pre-set route.
  • LED indicators. There is a row of small LED lights that are used by the computer to provide health info, message notifications, and navigation cues. It is lit in different colors to indicate specific data.
  • Connectivity. This bike computer from Wahoo can sync with a smartphone and dozens of apps in addition to the proprietary companion app. This allows group messaging, tracking, performance analysis, navigational searches, phone alerts, and training programs.

Cons:

  • Mileage can be inaccurate. As this device relies on GPS for its data, when it is used in rural or mountainous terrains with no cell service the data is often patchy.
  • Hard to charge while attached to a bike. The computer itself will usually need to be removed in order to charge it as the handlebars are in the way and the cord is short. It would be nice if it was positioned in a way that it could be charged while on the mount.
Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt GPS Bike Computer
Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt GPS Bike Computer
Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt GPS Bike Computer

The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt bike computer is a snazzy device that provides navigation alerts performance tracking, call alerts, training sessions, and group tracking through its GPS and bluetooth features. It has LED indicators to give quick notices and has a screen that can be zoomed for easier viewing.

Best Basic Computer

Bell Dashboard Cycling Computer

Pros: 

  • Freeze frame. This bike computer has a feature where cyclists can freeze the frame, meaning they can save a snapshot of a certain accomplishment or stat. Convenient for helping track training progress and to brag to friends.
  • Large display. The screen on this display is large and the main figures being shown are digitized in a large typeset. This is great for making quicker – and safer – glances while riding.
  • Low risk. Those shopping on a budget will enjoy the pricing of this line of bike computers. They are available for a fraction of the cost of other brands.

Cons:

  • Computer doesn’t lock. This product doesn’t quite latch or snap into place when mounted; it would be nice to have that mechanical reassurance.
  • Hard to reset. This computer may need to be reset if put on a different bike or if the wheels are changed out. It is rather clunky trying to figure out how to reset it.
Bell Dashboard Cycling Computer
Bell Dashboard Cycling Computer
Bell Dashboard Cycling Computer

This simple bike computer from Bell has around fifteen different functions that cyclists can access, including tracking key data that measure time, distance, and speed. It is easy to install and has a large display for convenience.

Best Display

Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 Bike Computer

Pros: 

  • 4 lines of information. This bike computer has an elongated vertical display that has four lines of information with five data points displayed at all times. This makes it safer to get a thorough reading of a cyclist’s progress with only one glance.
  • Different profiles. This computer can be synced to two different wheel sizes, meaning it can easily be transferred between bikes. This is great for those with multiple bicycles to ride on.
  • Temperature and time of day. A nice subtle touch that this bike computer provides that most others don’t is a temperature and time of day reading. This can eliminate the need to check a watch.

Cons: 

  • Long wire. Some may find that the wire on this bike is longer than necessary and will need to be wrangled. Taller riders on larger bikes should be alright.
  • Data deleted when changing battery. Though the battery won’t need to be changed often, when it is changed it the computer will not save its memory.
Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 Bike Computer
Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 Bike Computer
Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 Bike Computer

The Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 has a large display that can provide lots of information at once, making it a more hands-free experience by not having to press a bunch of buttons to get data. It allows cyclists to sync to more than one bike and wheel size.

Best for Beginners

CAT EYE Velo 7 Bike Computer

Pros: 

  • Easy to operate. Not only is this wired sensor easy to install, but it is intuitive and easy to operate on the road. It provides easy access to its data with just a few simple touches.
  • Lights. This computer can be bought with matching head and tail lights that have flashing features. This is an affordable way to get three reliable bike installations.
  • Long lasting. The battery in this computer can last up to three years. This is great for those who bike a lot and don’t want to have their battery die while cycling.

Cons:

  • Mount doesn’t tilt. Cyclists will have to make sure they have the bike computer installed at an ideal angle; it doesn’t tilt once mounted.
  • Employs ties for mount. Those wanting to mount this bike to their handlebars will have to use zip ties. This isn’t as secure as other brands’ mounts.
  • Mileage can be inaccurate. As this device relies on GPS for its data, when it is used in rural or mountainous terrains with no cell service the data is often patchy.
  • Hard to charge while attached to a bike. The computer itself will usually need to be removed in order to charge it as the handlebars are in the way and the cord is short. It would be nice if it was positioned in a way that it could be charged while on the mount.
CAT EYE Velo 7 Bike Computer
CAT EYE Velo 7 Bike Computer
CAT EYE Velo 7 Bike Computer

The Velo 7 Bike Computer is a dependable and easy-to-use device that uses a hardwired sensor for accurate data and tracking. It can be purchased with well-functioning head and tail lights for a competitive price.

How We Picked

The process of wiring and calibrating a bike computer to a bicycle can be tedious and time-consuming; it’s best to pick out the right bike computer the first time around. Some may only be looking for a simple model to track time and distance, while others might hope for more advanced functionality. Here is how we rated the different bike computers against the various needs of a cyclist.

Mounting

Bike computers are by nature somewhat vulnerable to damage. By being attached to the frame, it feels all the bumps in the road that a cyclist does. It’s important to make sure any bike computer is properly mounted and secured before riding.

More expensive bike computers typically will be accompanied with more durable mounting systems. The more affordable bike computers are typically only mounted with zip ties; these may come loose and need replacing over time. Those hoping for a bit more security can usually purchase a mount separately from the manufacturer or from a third party.

Features

There is quite a gulf between the more expensive bike computers and the more simplified versions in terms of what features they provide. The more advanced versions will have touch screens, GPS navigation, phone and email alerts, and messaging functions for those cycling in a group. Equally as impressive are all the sorts of data that can be tracked for those training in all sorts of disciplines, including mountain biking; much of this can be enhanced with third-party apps.

That being said, more basic versions of bike computers have long been an important tool in training. They can track the speed, cadence, time, and distance traveled – all crucial pieces of information that most cyclists would love to have at their fingertips. For beginners and those shopping on a budget, most of the basic bike computers will be totally sufficient.

Ease of use

Bike computers should be easy to use; the more time a cyclist is worried about using a device, the less they are paying attention to their path ahead. It is paramount for these computers to be easy to read, easy to operate, and reliable. There are a few factors that can signal how easy a bike computer is to use.

Bike computers should have big displays and with easy to read data. That can mean featuring certain digits in a large typeface or it can mean having more data on the screen all at once. Touchscreens may be easier to operate but may be more distracting. The battery life of these computers is something to pay attention to; losing charge during a ride can mean losing data and perhaps even getting lost.

Tips

Not sure which bike computer is right for you? Before making your decision, make sure to read the suggestions we’ve compiled below:

  • What kind of cycling do you do?
    • Beginners and those who just casually cycle may only want a device that gives basic data in a clear way.
    • Mountain bikers, those training for a race, and those in cycling clubs may want to invest in a device with GPS, messaging, and advanced tracking.
  • How many bikes is this for?
    • Families with multiple bikes should look for bike computers that have separate profiles for different cyclists; this can make switching between different bikes and different wheels much more streamlined.
    • Some bike computers are difficult to unwire and remove from the bike. It may be best to invest in a more affordable brand and get a few in case multiple people in the family will be riding a bike.