Choices in cycling computers abound these days, from training-centric options such as the Stages Dash, to humble wired options like the $25 CatEye Mity 8 that will last — if my dad’s experience is any indication — for years and years and years before you even need to change the battery, much less replace it.
Here, though, we look at the top 5 GPScomputers with standout features.
The Garmin Edge 1030 works best when connected to a power meter and heart-rate monitor
Garmin is the 800lb gorilla of the GPS cycling market. With so many units on the market, there are going to be some flaws and bad experiences out there. But the fact of the matter is that no company comes close to what Garmin offers in terms of overall features or the rider’s navigation experience.
The new Edge 1030 has Garmin’s best in class navigation. You can punch in an address or search around on the map, but the best experience is when you load in an existing route and let Garmin guide you along with audio prompts and clear visuals.
The Edge 1030 records just about every metric you can think of, and displays it in customizable format — including scores of third-party infographic options.
Battery life is double what the Edge 1000 offered, and ride uploads are fast and seamless through Bluetooth or WiFi.
The catch? It costs a pretty penny, and the large format may make you self-conscious about the super computer on your handlebars.
The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is user- and smartphone-friendly
The svelte little brother of the Elemnt, Wahoo’s Elemnt Bolt is an excellent everyday computer.
The button-controlled screen is black and white, but it’s easy to read, easy to zoom in/zoom out on and effectively change the layout on the fly.
Uploads are immediate through Bluetooth or WiFi, and you get very usable navigation, group tracking, Strava live segments and more.
Set up and layout tweaks are done with a smartphone app. It’s a much easier process than pressing buttons a hundred times on the unit. If you don’t have a smartphone — talking to you here, Dad — then this isn’t the computer for you, as you won’t be able to configure it without one.
Oh, and Wahoo would like us to say that the shape is aero, too. The slanted leading edge and integrated mount probably won’t snap your neck back with newfound speed, but hey, it can’t hurt.
Lezyne’s Enhanced Super GPS — a silly name for a solid little computer
The Lezyne Enhanced Super GPS isn’t super enhanced so much as it’s super cheap for what you get.
All the basic metrics are here, plus features that many of us appreciate such as incoming call and text notifications.
The physical design isn’t quite as sleek as some of Lezyne’s tools, but you know what is slick? The battery-life percentage indicators for all your peripherals, from your heart rate monitor to your phone to your power meter to your Di2 system. It’s a simple but very helpful thing, and executed better than anyone else has done.
Lezyne recently integrated TrainingPeaks and Today’s Plan too, so users of those platforms can easily follow their workouts to the T.
Similar to the Elemnt Bolt, you can easily set up each of your screens with an app. Super easy, Lezyne.
The Garmin Edge 25 packs a lot into a small computer
If you want something small in form but bigger in function, the Edge 25 is an excellent tool.
At 30g, and barely bigger than your stem cap, the Edge 25 displays the standard metrics you’d expect — speed, distance, time, elevation, heart rate, etc. — and even does breadcrumb navigation with upcoming turn warnings.
GPS and GLONASS mean it finds a signal fast, and Bluetooth means you get incoming call and text notifications plus your ride automatically uploads to Strava when you’re done.
No, you shouldn’t use your smartphone as your bike computer. But if you say you haven’t used it for directions when out on the bike, either you are lying or you don’t ride in new places often
Finally, our last top GPS cycling computer is, yep, your phone.
How many times have you been on rides with friends who have Garmins trying to find a place and somebody just says forget it and pulls out their phone to use Google maps? I know I’ve been there more than a few times — including while riding with people from some of the companies mentioned here!
For shorter rides, free apps such as Strava are a handy way to track and upload your rides with your phone in your jersey pocket.
Now we’re not advocating you riding with your phone strapped to your handlebars. Battery life and fragility are the two main knocks against this — never mind the whole dork factor. But when you are lost and in need of some quick and easy directions, there is no bike computer in the world that can compete with Google.