Tracking fitness levels has become a major part of amateur and professional training plans in all types of sports, exercise, and fitness classes.
But when it comes to fitness tracking for cyclists, we ended up trying a load of devices that were less than suitable.
Issues like inaccurate distance and pace, as well as optical heart rate monitoring, seemed to be common.
But we did find the top fitness tracker for cycling that we’d like to introduce you to.
The Best Fitness Tracker For Cycling
- Best Overall Fitness Tracker for Cycling: Garmin fēnix 5S Plus
- Cheapest Fitness Tracker for Cycling: Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker
- Best Value Fitness Tracker for Cyclists: Fitbit Versa 2
- Best All-Rounder Smartwatch Tracker for Cycling: Apple Watch Series 8
- Best GPS Precision Fitness Band for Cyclists: Coros PACE 2
- Best Fitness Tracker for Intensity-Based Training in Cycling: Polar Vantage V
- Best Multi-Sport Fitness Tracker for Cycling: Polar M430 GPS Running Watch
- Best User-Friendly Display Fitness Tracker for Cycling: Suunto 3 Sports Watch
- Best Long-Lasting Battery Life Fitness Tracker for Cycling: Withings Steel HR
Our Top Fitness Tracker For Cycling (December 2023)
1 - Garmin fēnix 5S Plus (Best Overall)
The built-in GPS not only tracked my route meticulously but also displayed a map. It was not detailed enough for my navigation but was a pretty cool feature.
The optical heart rate monitor also seems to be accurate as we tested it in comparison with a chest strap and got very close readings.
It also has a decent battery life of up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and depending on settings, it lasts about 4 hours in GPS mode with music.
- What it measures: heart rate, activity, GPS
- Available with a large watch face for easy to read info
- Shows maps directly on the display
- Should also help for recovery and sleep tracking
- Has a decent battery life
- Some iPhone connectivity issues in the past
Previous software versions of the watch had some issues with connecting to iPhones, but we didn’t have that issue with the latest model. I also like the accurate oheart rate monitoring function.
2 - Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch (Best Value)
One of the best and cheapest activity trackers that would be suitable for cycling is the Versa 2.
Heart rate monitoring data seems pretty accurate, allowing you to adapt your pace and intensity as needed.
I was initially skeptical, given its budget-friendly tag but was pleasantly surprised when I tested it in a weekend cycling marathon. It tracked my heart rate accurately and also offered insight into my sleep and recovery. It proved that affordability doesn't always mean compromising on features.
Many people also like the Fitbit app as you can set different daily goals for all your activities and track them in one place. Moreover, when testing it, I noted the seamless integration with other popular fitness and health apps. It helped enhance my experience and allowed me a comprehensive view of my fitness journey.
- What it measures: heart rate, activity tracking, sleep
- Sleek and clear display with all the data you need
- May provide real-time heart rate info to adjust your workout intensity
- Able to store all your fitness info in one app
- Improved battery life compared to other Fitbits
- Has Amazon Alexa built in
- GPS tracking only when connected to a phone
We loved that the Versa 2 has improved battery life of 5 days, compared to the original Versa and the Fitbit Ionic.
Just keep in mind that you would also need to bring your phone’s built in GPS data. But this does keep the cost down a lot.
3 - Apple Watch Series 8 (Best All-Rounder)
Apple Watch Series 8 is all you need for cycling since it comes with all the necessary and advanced features to boost your daily workouts. I loved its robust design which ensured performance reliability even under extreme environmental conditions and terrains that a cyclist
Some include a heart rate monitor, sleep monitor, and blood oxygen, which is excellent for knowing your current aerobic condition and offers insights into how much you need to improve your cardiorespiratory conditioning.
In addition, it is available in various materials and sizes and different band colors to choose from, which is excellent for picking the one that goes with your cycling outfit if you are competing.
Also, the watch will notify you if you have an irregular rhythm and even call an emergency all by itself due to highly advanced crash detection and fall detection features.
However, one of the downsides we noticed is that you will need to charge the watch daily.
- Lots of color options that matches your style and taste
- Extremely comfortable to wear
- Highly accurate in all features
- Needs to be charged everyday
4 - Coros PACE 2 Premium GPS Sport Watch (Best GPS Precision)
If you really need accurate GPS tracking, then this device from Coros claims to have you covered with one of the best built-in GPS chips.
It may also measure altitude changes, which in our experience came in handy for assessing the cycling routes we took. On top of that, it also has an optical heart rate monitor to collect data before and after the ride.
The company also claims to have achieved a long battery life of up to 30 hours in full GPS mode and fitness tracking mode. In smartphone mode, you get an impressive 20 hours of battery life.
That should be enough for most athletes to avoid recharging on a daily basis.
- What it measures: heart rate, activity, GPS
- Seems to have a very accurate built in GPS chip
- Includes altimeter to get information about elevation changes on your route
- Claims to last up to 30 hours on GPS mode and 20 days on smartphone mode
- Some people find it a little bit bulky
5 - Polar Vantage V Sports Watch (Best for Intensity-Based Training)
We like the Polar Vantage V because of the cardio load function that it displays.
This is something that could become helpful if you are preparing for a competitive event where you need to achieve precise levels of intensity.
We also liked the way the information on the watch face is color-coded, which may make it easier to find the relevant information.
- What it measures: heart rate, cardio load, activity, GPS
- Shows cardio load status to adjust your training intensity
- May track your recovery and sleep cycle for better exercise planning
- Easy to read display with information separated into different colors
- Some people have reported it to be a bit difficult to navigate the menus
When we first started using it, we did note that it didn’t seem to be as intuitive and easy to navigate the settings, menus, and apps.
6 - Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker (Cheapest Option)
This Fitbit might be ideal for anyone that wants something small and sleek that might be barely noticeable. It also comes with 15 different sport and exercise modes, which could make it a suitable activity tracker if you do multiple disciplines.
The overall functionality is also kept a bit simpler, with no distracting information on the display. It’s not as fancy as an actual smart watch, but that could be an advantage for some people.
- What it measures: heart rate, activity, sleep, GPS
- The sleek and small design may make it more comfortable
- May track over 15 different types of sports and exercises
- Simple features mean fewer distractions while you’re training
- GPS requires a smartphone connection
The Charge 3 features do list GPS tracking but we found that this is only possible when connected to your smartphone.
7 - Polar M430 GPS Running Watch (Best Multi-Sport Fitness Tracker)
The Polar M series of fitness trackers have been very popular for both running and cycling. The built-in GPS should be accurate enough to provide you with cycling speed and distance data.
In one of my adventurous rides, I loved the seamless connectivity with my Android phone. The connectivity enriched my cycling experience, something I haven't found in many trackers.
M430 is definitely an upgrade from the old M400 model as it claims to keep track of your heart rate 24/7, as well as track your sleep cycles.
This could be helpful to monitor your recovery phases to better plan your training intensity.
- What it measures: heart rate, activity, GPS
- Wearing it all day may give a full picture of activity and recovery
- Seems to have an accurate heart monitor for real time data
- The bright and clear display should provide important info at a glance
- Some people have reported sync issues with their smartphones
By the look of it, the M430 is designed as a sports watch compared to the sleek designs of other fitness trackers. But the monochromatic style is also functional as it allows you to easily see the screen while cycling.
The one thing we noticed in customer reviews is that there have been some issues with data synchronizing to your smartphone.
8 - Suunto 3 Sports Watch (Best User-Friendly)
I’ve loved the cool designs of Suunto fitness trackers for a long time, and this one does look the part. The display is the right size to be able to get the info you want without taking your hand off the handlebar.
Reviews also mention the recovery tracking feature as being helpful for better training plans after some intense workouts.
Both the heart rate and activity tracking also seem to be precise for a detailed view of your training throughout the week.
- What it measures: heart rate, activity, sleep
- Positive reports about the sleep and recovery tracking
- Easy to read display should suit most cyclists
- Heart rate tracking seems to be accurate
- GPS features require a smartphone
Just keep in mind that for the distance and pace tracking to work, you’ll need it to be connected to your phone as well.
9 - Withings Steel HR - Hybrid Smartwatch (Best Long-Lasting Battery Life)
What we liked about it is that you may be able to assess your sleep quality at a glance.
If you wear the watch 7 days a week, day and night, then you might have a good picture of how you might be able to make adjustments to your routines for better recovery. The long battery life makes sleep tracking for days seamless.
The wrist-based heart rate monitor also seems to be accurate, allowing you to make changes to your intensity during training.
- What it measures: heart rate, activity, sleep
- Provides you with a sleep score to plan your daily activity better
- Claims to have up to 25 days of battery life
- The waterproof design could make it suitable for swimming
- Display of training data could be larger
We just found that the font size of the display is a bit small, which might mean you need to bring it closer to your eyes. But this is one of the longest battery life for a sports watch, so all good.
10 - Fitbit Ionic Watch
This is the last of the favored fitness trackers for cycling in our list. The watch face is slimmer than most others. And despite being small in size, there seems to be enough battery life with each charge to last about four days.
We compared the GPS data to a professional cycling computer, and it seemed to be only marginally off, which should make it suitable for most athletes.
- What it measures: heart rate, activity, GPS
- The nice low-profile design may make it more comfortable
- Claims to have more than four days of battery life
- GPS data seems to work well for pace and distance
- Limited customizations for information display
You also have leather and plastic strap options with Fitbit Ionic that allow you to look classy and formal or sporty and casual.
While the small display might suit some people, keep in mind that this limits what you might be able to see at a glance.
How We Tested the Products
We always base our reviews on expert analysis and real-world testing. I alongside a dedicated team of passionate cyclists and fitness enthusiasts embarked on a journey of testing the 13 most popular fitness trackers for cycling.
Key metrics prioritized included heart rate accuracy, user interface, and GPS precision. We also evaluated each device's real-time data and user experience to ensure reliability and ease of use.
We then combined our technical assessments with real user feedback from the cycling community. The results enabled us to curate a list of trackers that excel in performance, user experience, and reliability.
With my personal testing experience and collective insights from my team, we are confident that this information will help you find a device that aligns with your needs and will enhance your cycling journey.
Before we set out on our mission to compare a load of the best fitness trackers, we listed out some of the important features and functions we needed to look at.
These are the eight things you should keep in mind for your final decision.
1 - Easy To Use Display
We think that Fitbits have proven that a fitness tracking device doesn’t have to come with a large display size. It’s far more important to look at how that display is used.
We found quite a few devices that had large displays but such a small font size that you would need to bring them right up to your eyes.
It’s always important to look at as many images as you can find of the different display layouts available. This should include settings and menus, but it’s more important for the main summary screen.
If it has all the important info in a nice layout, then it should be suitable for cycling.
2 - Accurate GPS Tracking
Fitness trackers with GPS are pretty common these days, but you have to be careful and read the details of the description.
Here’s what I mean.
Some fitness trackers for cycling will need to be connected to your smartphone as they don’t have a built-in GPS chip.
What that means is that you would still need to bring your phone since there's no built in GPS, and some people prefer not having something bulky in a pocket.
It is a cheaper option if you’re on a budget.
You would also need to check the reviews to see what people are saying about the accuracy of GPS. All of the above ones seem to work pretty well, though.
3 - Battery Life And Charging Time
Don’t fall for the advertising material that might say “extra long battery life.”
Some fitness trackers like Apple’s Watch have a huge number of features but would require charging almost every day, depending on your activity levels .
Some of the simpler models, like the Fitbits, have long battery life that could last up to 7 days or longer.
You would have to carefully think about features vs. how often you’ll need to recharge it.
At the moment, some of the best fitness trackers for cycling simply means plugging your activity tracker in more often if you want the best features.
“Apple says that in general, using the Apple Watch battery life will last around 18 hours between charges. This figure was arrived at from tests in which an Apple Watch was paired with an iPhone and used for a variety of typical uses.”
- Karen Haslam, editor at MacWorld
4 - Compatibility With Smartphones
Here’s where Apple’s Watch is a bit of an exception. You can only connect it with an iPhone, so if you’re an Android fan, it's not an option for you .
I have to admit, that’s a limitation, but most owners tend to be Apple fans to start with.
“So the short and simple answer is no, you cannot use an Apple Watch with Android Phones. The less simple answer is that you can sort-of, kind-of, get it to tersely exchange data with an Android phone. However, this is a severely limited setup and we can’t really recommend it.”
- Sydney Butler, Writer at 9to5Google.com
Most of the activity tracking devices we recommend above are fully compatible with different mobile operating systems, and iOS and Android are pretty much always covered.
You would also want to look at compatibility with your favorite health and fitness apps, especially if you use some paid services.
5 - Comfortable Strap Adjustments
Most people these days wear fitness trackers all day long to monitor steps and stairs climbed as well. It’s a great way to see your overall activity, but to do that, you’ll need something that is comfortable as well.
I remember these devices in the early days when they looked ugly and came with awful straps.
How things have changed.
Most of the above products allow you to switch out straps to different sizes and styles. That way, you could make them more dressy and certainly make sure they’re comfortable.
6 - Water Resistance
I’ll try not to get too technical here but bear with me.
All gadgets these days, fitness trackers for cycling included, come with a water resistant feature that should be listed as atm (unit used to measure atmospheric pressure) . This is an indication of how deep underwater you could use a device.
At 1 atm, there is probably not much more than splash resistance. For cyclists, that might be fine, but if you do triathlons and go swimming a lot, then you’d need a bit more.
A water resistant rating of 3 ATM would be suitable for use up to 100 feet, which is probably more than enough unless you go deep-sea diving.
If you plan to use your watch for tracking your time at the pool, then make sure you check the water resistant feature description that it might actually be used for swimming.
7 - Heart Rate Monitor
I’ve been using a heart rate monitor for about ten years now, and until recently, I preferred the chest strap ones.
They were just so much more accurate.
But I have noticed that the optical ones that measure on your wrist have become so much more accurate.
And accuracy is very important when you plan out your training intensity based on your heart rate zones .
The last thing you want to do is believe you’re in the right zone, only to end up not achieving your heart rate goals.
8 - Recovery Tracking
The final thing we like to see on the best fitness trackers is sleep and recovery features.
When you get a better understanding of how well you sleep at night, then you should be in a good position to better plan your training. Sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to muscle recovery .
And if your sleep quality scores are low, then you could be in for trouble.
Most of the activity tracking devices above have at least some basic features. But if your budget allows it, aim for a product that measures your sleep cycles, including deep and REM sleep.
9 - Cycling Modes
Most activity tracking devices have multiple sports mode options like cycling and running, as well as riding profiles for cycling mode like road, gravel, and indoor.
If you want to track specific data to improve your cycling, features like GPS, altimeter, and heart rate tracking can be pretty useful to analyze your cycling speed, time, distance, map routes, heart rate, and calories burned data.
How much do I need to spend?
You need to spend around $25 on fitness trackers, which may include simple GPS features and heart tracking up to $600 for built-in GPS, offline music support, and generous battery life.
It should be noted that some cheaper fitness tracking devices lack a display, so unless you connect it to a smartphone, you won't see the steps you have taken for the day. If your primary activity is walking, then options in the $25 to $100 range are good enough.
Meanwhile, more expensive trackers usually include built-in GPS and optical heart rate tracking, which are geared toward athletes and sports enthusiasts.
If you need a decent activity-tracking device for running, high-intensity training, or any other sports, it's best to spend at least $100 to get the features that are designed for active users.
Regardless of your choice, only buy fitness trackers from reputable sources. You will otherwise run the risk of getting subpar products that won't even last for six months.
If you're training at home and want something for your home gym instead, you might consider a home gym clock or timer instead.
Which Fitbit Is Best for Cycling?
The best Fitbit for cycling is the Versa 2. Many cyclists favor it because it’s affordable and still provides plenty of features, including measuring your heart rate.
Can Fitbits Track Cycling?
Yes, some Fitbits can track cycling. You would have to look for those with GPS features to allow you to track your distance and pace. These are helpful for mountain biking and cycling.
How Accurate Is the Apple Watch for Cycling?
The Apple Watch is pretty accurate for cycling as it seems to provide precise GPS location data. Even some slight variations in handling the GPS signal could lead to significant variations in the cycling data.
The products featured on this list track GPS data quite accurately as per our testing.
What Is The Best Fitness Tracker For Cyclists?
I put my foot down again and demanded that we recommend the Garmin fēnix 5S Plus. It's lightweight and straightforward -- with a simple touch, you’ll be ready for your cycle.
It displays the map directly on the screen, and despite it being light, it actually has a huge enough screen for easy navigation.
It also seems to give us the highest level of accuracy when it comes to heart rate tracking, which should be an important factor for all athletes.
If you’ve used any of our recommendations, then please let us know how it worked out for you on one of our social media pages.
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