It used to mean tracking your fitness, using a stopwatch, and recording your progress with graph paper. If you want to know how fast your heart rate increases when climbing Box Hill, or if you want to measure exactly how many kilometers you have covered between stops in the café, there is a smartwatch for that.
The latest fitness trackers and smartwatches don’t just count your steps – from sleep to fertility, stress, and blood oxygen – there is an ever-growing list of health data we can access right now – and it can be overwhelming.
For most cyclists, we just want a versatile watch that tracks our ride – and shows us how we’re improving (or, in some cases, not). Basically, a bike watch should have the advantages of a bike computer, but also be able to track everyday activities away from the bike.
“An important feature to look for in a watch is a heart rate monitor,” says Tom Worsfold of Sigma Sports. “Heart rate BPM is a crucial performance indicator that helps you determine your fitness level and your exertion. Some models can use this data to determine your recovery times and suggest unique training plans to improve your fitness.
“Many watches have a clever social media integration with which you can share your trips with friends and family via accompanying mobile apps. High-end models allow you to sync your watch with your favorite streaming application for music and podcasts on the go, providing a motivational boost for longer sessions, ”he adds.
“With so many choices, it can be difficult to find the perfect device, but there is a model for everyone, no matter how simple or advanced you find your needs.”
From detailed performance data to navigating and mapping your rides, here are the best smartwatches on your wrist to take your cycling game to the extreme.
Polar Vantage V2
Without mentioning the obvious – this watch doesn’t come cheap. It’s a fantastic premium sports watch that records pretty much anything you can think of. Speed, distance, route, altitude? Check, check, check and check. But there are a few cycling-specific features that really caught our eye.
If you keep stopping while driving to pull out your phone and check Google Maps to see if you have deviated from the route, you can use this watch to import routes from Komoot and give you turn-by-turn directions so that you will never get lost again. It also sends alerts for nearby Strava segments and provides real-time performance data – perfect for snapping a KOM or QOM (if you know, you know).
And if you want to know what your power zones and your functional threshold power (FTP) are on the bike, the Vantage V2 has a Cycling Performance Test function that measures the highest power (weight per kg) you have for over 60 minutes can hold. However, you will need a compatible power meter to do this.
Wahoo Elemnt Rival Multisport GPS Watch
If you’re an avid cyclist, you may already own a Wahoo product or two – perhaps one of the highly rated indoor turbo trainers or cycle computers – but did you know there are watches too?
The Elemnt Rival GPS watch – with a high-contrast color display that is easy to see even in bright sunshine – works best when used either with the Kickr turbo trainer or with the Elemnt bike computer. This is where the clock comes in – since you can set up the Rival to automatically share data between the devices – so you can see your trip stats on both screens.
Impressive, if you are a cyclist who also tries your hand at triathlon, or a triathlete who likes to spend a lot of time on the bike, the watch automatically recognizes the different stages of the race so you don’t have to remember to manually take a break Push as you come out of the water or set out to ride or run.
Durable and functional, this is the ideal watch for every budding athlete who wants to take their performance to the next level.
If it’s good enough for seven-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, then it’s good enough for us. Simple, stylish and incredibly discreet – this is the ideal watch for anyone who doesn’t want others to know that they are wearing a fitness tracker.
With a built-in EKG monitor, heart health tracking, and breath readings, this analog watch offers a lot more than you might think. The ScanWatch also automatically detects activity – so it knows whether you jumped on your turbo training in your pain cavity or rode your racing bike on the country roads – and connects to the GPS so that you can upload all your data to Strava.
The small digital screen is just that – small. However, it does offer call, text, and app notifications, as well as your daily step count. If you’re looking for something that is beautifully designed and has a long battery life (up to 30 days on a single charge, no less) then this hybrid smartwatch is for any cyclist.
Garmin Venu 2S
Those who like things a little more feminine can’t go wrong with Garmin’s improved Venu. This smaller GPS smartwatch is nice enough to wear for drinks or a dinner with friends, while also offering advanced health monitoring and fitness functions.
With 25 pre-installed sports apps, you can record your kilometers on the road or your heart rate in a spinning course – and if you want to make your cycling body injury-proof and increase your strength training, this watch also offers pre-installed, simple, animated strength training to track that show exactly which muscle groups you have trained.
We also love how easy the touchscreen is to use and how fast it charges – and with up to 19 hours of battery life in GPS mode, you don’t have to charge it every day.
Garmin came 2sp
Garmin Forerunner 55 GPS watch
As a cheaper option, the Garmin Forerunner 55 is a solid choice for both new and seasoned cyclists. Although marketed more as a running watch, the Forerunner 55 can track running, biking, swimming in the pool, Pilates, HIIT, and more. In addition, there are a variety of wellness features such as all-day breathing monitoring, intensity minutes, fitness age, stress tracking and women’s health tracking – so you can keep track of your menstrual cycle or pregnancy.
Easy to use, take the guesswork out of over or under training with suggested workouts of varying intensity – all based on your training history, fitness level and the time it takes to recover. This Garmin does pretty much anything the Forerunner 945 can – except play music (which you don’t need on the bike anyway) – but for less than half the price.
Coros Apex Pro Premium multisport GPS watch
We hadn’t heard from Coros until recently, but after seeing a few friends swap their previous fitness watches for a Coros, we were curious to learn more about the brand. And the APEX Pro doesn’t disappoint. In fact, with an impressive 40 hours of GPS battery life, it definitely rivals some of the bigger brands – both in features and price.
It’s a bit chunky – so not ideal for those with smaller wrists or if you want to keep track of your sleep, but at just 59kg, it’s lighter than other models on the market.
The Apex Pro is capable of tracking multiple sports, including cycling, of course, with the data synced with Coros’ smart looking app. The app also has training plans, hand-picked workouts from professional athletes and over 200 exercises that you can send to the watch.
Polar grain X
This multisport watch from Polar is not too dissimilar to the Vantage V2 – but the adventure-specific features – the rugged design, integrated GPS, compass, and altimeter – will be of particular interest to outdoor types.
One of the most impressive features is the Hill Splitter feature, which evaluates your uphill and downhill performance and gives you all the statistics on your relative efforts. We also like the smart fuel assistant, which provides alerts about when to refuel and add energy gels and electrolytes – all based on the data collected during your session.
Just like the other smartwatches on this list, Grit X has all of the traditional sports features you would expect, including heart rate tracking, Bluetooth connectivity, and cycling-specific features.
Apple Watch Series 6
For Apple and sports fans, their latest production watch has seriously upgraded their game in terms of sports tracking. The always-on screen means you can see your stats at a glance – and you can now keep track of your blood oxygen as well as your workouts.
The GPS accuracy is high, as is the heart rate monitoring which it monitors throughout the day. And with a wide selection of new, bespoke dials and colorful bracelets, there is something for all your different moods and styles.
An Apple Watch is basically like a second smartphone – you can use it to play music, make calls and use Apple Pay – ideal for cyclists who take a short stop in a café and don’t have to look for a mysterious credit card hidden in a jersey pocket in the back. When you upgrade to the GPS and cellular version (£ 479), you can even make calls and text messages using just your watch – meaning you don’t have to take your phone with you at all.
We are well aware that these watches fall into the “expensive” category of sports equipment – but for the high price, you can expect all of your training and racing needs to be met with an innovative piece of technology, packed with features designed to last are designed. Cyclists trust us, our current favorite is this Polar Vantage V2that provides accurate training data so you can plan better, train smarter, and have a full rest before starting your next cycling adventure.