Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Tracking fitness levels has become a key part of amateur and professional training plans in all types of sports, exercise, and fitness classes.

But when it comes to fitness trackers for cyclists, we ended up trying a load of devices that were less than suitable.

Issues like inaccurate distance and pace, as well as heart rate monitoring, seemed to be common.

But we did find the best fitness tracker for cycling that we’d like to introduce you to.

Our Top Fitness Tracker For Cycling

1 - Garmin fēnix 5S Plus (Editor's Choice)

Best fitness tracker Garmin fenix 5S Plus

What we like about Garmin fēnix is that the built in GPS may provide the data to display a map of your route right on the watch face.

It might not be quite detailed enough to use it for navigation, but it’s still a cool feature.

The heart rate monitor also seems to be accurate as we tested it in comparison with a chest strap and got very close readings.

  • What it measures: heart rate, activity, GPS
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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 heart rate monitoring function.

2 - Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch

Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch

One of the best and cheaper fitness trackers that would be suitable for cycling is the Versa 2.

Heart rate monitoring data seems to be pretty accurate, which should allow you to adapt your pace and intensity as needed.

Many people also like the Fitbit app as you could set different daily goals for all your activities and track them in one place.

  • What it measures: heart rate, activity tracking, sleep
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • PS tracking only through a phone

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 5

Apple Watch Series 5 Fitness Tracker

We love it because you could set it to track cycling at the touch of a button, and it also claims to have the most accurate heart rate tracking of any fitness tracker.

The display is nicely structured to show you the info you need at a glance, which means there should be fewer distractions.

  • What it measures: heart rate, activity, sleep, ECG, GPS
Pros
  • Many positive reviews about the GPS accuracy
  • Claims to have one of the more advanced heart-monitoring sensors
  • Easy to read display should give you all the info at a glance
  • May be set up to tap you at certain distances
Cons
  • The battery life is not as good as some other options

All the features do come at the price that you possibly won’t get two full days out of the battery. Battery life is a common downside of Apple products, so I'm not surprised.

4 - Coros PACE Multisport GPS Watch

Coros PACE Multisport GPS Watch

If you really need accurate GPS tracking, then this Coros device claims to have you covered with one of the best built in GPS chips.

The fitness tracker may also measure altitude changes, which could come in handy for assessing the cycling routes you took.

The company also claims to have achieved a battery life of up to 25 hours in full GPS and fitness tracking mode. That should be enough for most athletes to avoid recharging on a daily basis.

  • What it measures: heart rate, activity, GPS
Pros
  • Seems to have a very accurate GPS chip
  • Includes altimeter to get information about elevation changes on your route
  • Claims to last up to 25 hours with GPS features
Cons
  • Some people find it a little bit bulky

A few of our clients just commented that it might be a bit bulky on the wrist.

5 - Polar Vantage V Sports Watch

Polar Vantage V Fitness Tracker

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
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker

This Fitbit fitness tracker 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
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • GPS requires a smartphone connection

The Charge 3 features do list GPS tracking but keep in mind that this is only possible when connected to your smartphone.

7 - Polar M430 GPS Running Watch

Polar M430 GPS Running Watch

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 distance and speed data.

It also 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
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Some people have reported sync issues with their smartphones

The one thing we noticed in customer reviews is that there have been some issues with data synchronizing to your smartphone.

8 - Fitbit Ionic Watch

Fitbit Ionic Watch

This is another one of the favored fitness trackers for cycling, as 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
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Limited customizations for information display

While the small display might suit some people, keep in mind that this limits what you might be able to see at a glance.

9 - Suunto 3 Sports Watch

Suunto 3 Fitness Trackers for cyclists

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 fitness 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
Pros
  • Positive reports about the sleep and recovery tracking
  • Easy to read display should suit most cyclists
  • Heart rate tracking seems to be accurate
Cons
  • 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.

10 - Withings Steel HR - Hybrid Smartwatch

Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch

This is the final fitness tracker that made our list, and what we liked about 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
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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.

Buyer’s Guide

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 tracker 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 GPS chip built-in.

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.

But 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 tracking. All of the above ones seem to work pretty well, though.

3 - Battery Life And Charging Time

battery life charging smart watch

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 [1].

Some of the simpler models, like the Fitbits, batter life 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, use 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

watch smartphone connect

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, there’s no option for you [2].

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 fitness tracker 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 where 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 rating that should be listed as ATM [3]. 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 description that it might actually be used for swimming.

7 - Heart Rate Monitor

heart rate monitor

I’ve been using a heart rate monitor for about ten years, and until recently, I preferred the chest strap ones.

Why?

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 [4].

The last thing you want to do is believe you’re in the right zone, only to end up not achieving your 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 position to better plan your training. Sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to muscle recovery [5].

And if your sleep quality scores are low, then you could be in for trouble.

Most of the fitness trackers 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.

Looking for an exercise tracker but not for cycling? Check out our reviews of the best trackers for your needs:

FAQs

Which Fitbit Is Best for Cycling?

The Versa 2 is the best Fitbit for cycling. Many cyclists favor it because it’s affordable and still provides plenty of features, including measuring your heart rate.

Can Fitbit Track Cycling?

Yes, some Fitbit fitness trackers 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 best fitness trackers list track 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 tracker recommendations, then please let us know how it worked out for you on one of our social media pages.

Best fitness tracker Garmin fenix 5S Plus

Garmin fēnix 5S Plus

Our #1 Recommendation

  • 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
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