Back in the old day’s people had to go out on their bicycle with little idea where they were headed, how far they had gone, or what their overall speed was. That has changed however thanks to a number of computers loaded with features such as GPS and Navigation tools now coming-out that can be used by cyclists to assist them in keeping track of everything from how much distance they have covered to whether it will be a beautiful day weather-wise for taking a ride.
There are a number of bike computers that all claim to be great, but how to do you find the best bike computer for you? This overview aims to help with just that by looking at seven different bike computers, offering an opinion on each one, and then providing a short buying guide at the end to assist you in purchasing the bike computer you feel is best for your needs.
Best Bike Computer Overview
1. Garmin Edge 520 Plus
Garmin is a well-known name in devices for cars, and they make computers for bikes as well. The Garmin Edge 520 Plus has an advanced GPS that is quite similar to the well-liked system used in cars. There are turning directions that can be utilized for both on and off-road biking.
It can be linked to your smartphone to display notifications that pop-up on it, and you can also connect devices such as a heart-rate monitor to have it display that information as well. The edge also likes to tout its ability to monitor your performance and physiological stats to let you know how well you are doing cycling when you struggle, and things of that nature.
One common issue that may be observed is that the Bluetooth pairing with phones or other devices the Garmin Edge 520 should be able to link-up with can be very buggy and at times simply refuse to work making all the bragged out features of connecting your phone or heart-rate monitor moot if it refuses to work. Also, the touch screen at times is a bit unresponsive unless touched extremely firmly.
Plus, the Garmin system DOES NOT play nice with other cycling apps, it only wants you to use Garmin features. With those flaws noted, however, some positives of the Garmin Edge 520 Plus are its amazing battery life, the excellent GPS navigation, and the useful extra features that can be used over Bluetooth when they work, at least.
This is not the cheapest Garmin bike computer around, but also far from the most expensive. This reasonable price-point considering how many features you get with the Edge 520 Plus is another admirable element. All around, the Garmin Edge 520 Plus is a reliable bike computer. You are okay with only being able to use Garmin tech and no other cycling apps.
2. Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 Bike Computer
If you do not want to have to spend much money at all but still get some quality features, then the Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 is most likely going to look really appealing. With that said, however, don’t expect to get too many fancy features for this low price.
The Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 does display a variety of data, such as speed, your trip’s distance, the temperature, a clock, and so forth in a large and easy-to-read font, but it won’t do much else. If you are using this bike computer, you should know not to expect top-of-the-line features such as route mapping, GPS navigation, or monitoring your heart.
The Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 is sturdy and tough, yet small enough to also be delightfully compact, but is simply a bunch of text displayed on an LCD screen. Again, this is a bargain-price for a computer that works great for what it does but honestly does not do too much. If you are interested in simply keeping track of data such as how far you ride, how fast you are going, how long you’ve been cycling, and if it is really hot or really cold, then this a is a good computer for you.
Those who want more advanced features and consider themselves professional cyclists probably will scoff at how bare-bones the Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 is for their needs. The Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 is great for a beginner cyclist or someone on a strict budget, but of little use for anyone else.
3. Wahoo ELEMNT GPS Bike Computer
The Wahoo ELEMNT GPS is very handy in that it pairs with a variety of cycling apps, something the Garmin Edge 520 Plus does not like to do. Routes can be uploaded and downloaded via a number of third-party apps, including but not limited to Komoot, RideWithGPS, Strava, Best Bike Split, and Wahoo’s own app as well.
It is Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible with your connected smartphone and the apps you choose, with pop-up notifications on the LED screen providing GPS directions so that you can be sure you stay on your route you’ve mapped-out in any of the compatible apps.
The Wahoo ELEMNT GPS has tactile buttons so that you can easily respond to any email or text alerts it is able to display and with one of the largest displays around a bike computer it is easy to read.
One downside is that the GPS can be a bit unreliable and the lack of the ability to connect a heart-rate monitor is a glaring absence. Also, the Wahoo ELEMNT GPS screen does itself lack many features such as color or images. It relies upon the connected phone to do all the heavy lifting in that regard. All of this makes the
Wahoo ELEMNT GPS a great device if you want a large screen and the ability to connect almost any app, but arguably a bit overpriced considering how basic the screen itself is and that there is no way to sync your heart-rate.
4. SY Bicycle Speedometer and Odometer Bike Computer
The Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 discussed above and the CAT EYE Velo 9 discussed below are both budget options, but the SY Bicycle Speedometer and Odometer is the absolutely cheapest bike computer on this list, costing less than a meal from a fast-food restaurant. You do get what you pay for, though, as this bike computer can tell your speed and total distance traveled and that is it.
The SY Bicycle Speedometer and Odometer are waterproof, which is a nice touch, but when that is listed as the main point you know you’ve got a really basic bike computer on your hands. The SY Bicycle Speedometer and Odometer are admittedly quite lightweight, has a bright LCD display, and the battery life is good, but again, this is the bare-bones bike computer for someone who needs to know very little besides their speed and distance traveled.
If you have little desire to sync your smartphone so you can keep track of data or really don’t mind the lack of basically any features on this bike computer than the SY Bicycle Speedometer and Odometer may suit your needs, but besides being dirt-cheap there is little to recommend more can get you a lot more features such as with the above-covered Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 or the CAT EYE Velo 9 which will be covered soon below.
There just honestly is not much reason to choose the SY Bicycle. Speedometer and Odometer unless you for some reason, refuse to spend more than fifteen dollars on a bike computer.
5. LEZYNE Enhanced Super GPS Cycling Computer
The LEZYNE Enhanced Super GPS is another mid-range bike computer in terms of its abilities depending on the size you select. The LEZYNE Enhanced Super GPS can connect with your devices and a wide-range of third-party apps to offer GPS guidance, is able to provide heart-rate monitoring with a device appropriately paired via Bluetooth, has a fantastic battery life can go for 24 hours or more and is lightweight yet tough against environmental factors as well as if you suffer a crash or fall.
The LEZYNE Enhanced Super GPS would be even better than the first-discussed Garmin Edge 520 Plus due to having many of the same features AND working with third-party apps easily were it not for one big downside the screen is an ugly black and white LED with a font that could generously be called, “Hideous.”
If you are not overly concerned with your bike computer’s screen being visually pleasing and just want a bike computer loaded with features and which, “Plays nice,” with third-party apps, then the LEZYNE Enhanced Super GPS is a great choice that also costs a lot less than the bike computers that can do everything it does but look a lot prettier.
Should you want your bike computer to have a colorful screen, can display images, and is beautiful to look at instead of bland and unsightly, however, then the LEZYNE Enhanced Super GPS is simply not the bike computer for you.
6. CAT EYE – Velo 9 Wired Bike Computer
The CAT EYE Velo 9 is a lower-range bike computer, much like the Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 talked about above, but with a lot more features than the ultra-cheap but lacking in abilities SY Bicycle Speedometer and Odometer.
The CAT EYE Velo 9 displays the useful data cyclists crave such as your current speed when you were your fastest, the average speed you’ve maintained, the total distance you have covered in your trip, how long you’ve been cycling, the calories you have burned, the time, and more.
It also has a handy speed-sensor so that when you are stopped such as at a traffic light, it does not count that against your factors such as your overall speed or such.
Once installed the battery lasts for an astonishing three years and the screen is large plus it withstands the weather well rain will not short it out. As this is a less-expensive bike computer, you already know by now that it means to not expect much more costly features as mapping out your ride, monitoring your heart-rate, providing GPS data, or recording the stats about your trip in any kind of third-party app on our smartphone.
Still, if you want to simply be able to keep track of a chunk of your cycling data while you are out and about with a bike computer that is reliable as well as fair-priced, the CAT EYE Velo 9 is a solid budget selection, arguably tied with the Planet Bike Protégé 9.0 when it comes to cheap bike computers that are worth their low-cost.
7. Garmin Edge 820 GPS Bike Computer
We close now with a discussion of the most expensive bike computer on the list. The top-of-the-line Garmin Edge 820. This bike computer with such features as a super high-resolution touchscreen with a screen that can respond to even hands that are gloved or if the screen is wet such as from rain.
The ability to track other riders stats along with yours if they are synced to it, a number of apps that work with it to track all kinds of data from your heart-rate for all type of cycling stats that it then will make recommendations based upon, an a long-lasting battery life of 15 hours considering just how much it does.
However, much of these unique features are new to the Garmin Edge 820 and have a degree of bugs, making it capable of doing some incredible things, but often prone to struggling to do so. This is a major annoyance considering the Garmin Edge 820 is so expensive and a bit disappointing to think the Edge 520 Plus costs $280 and despite costing $50 less and lacking certain features, it seems to be a lot more reliable.
The Garmin Edge 820 is a fantastic and super-powerful bike computer when it works, but too often it seems to struggle to do so that it can’t really make a solid argument for being worth its steep asking price with other powerful options such as the Edge 520 Plus being on the market and doing admittedly a bit less, but a lot more reliably.
Best Bike Computer Buying Guide
All of these bike computers can be bought on Amazon and if you have Prime will ship to you for free very quickly. Below is each bike computer with its link to the Amazon page where you can purchase it.
Best Budget Bike Computer
If you want a bike computer that is reliable and can provide you with some trustworthy information and data, but you hope not to spend too much money and are okay with missing out on a number of fancier features, than the CAT EYE Velo 9 is probably the best choice for a cheaper-yet-useful bike computer.
At just $30 it won’t, “Break the bank,” but still comes loaded with useful elements that are sure to be helpful to a beginner cyclist or even a professional road bike rider who simply wants to save some dollars.
Best Overall Bike Computer
The best bike computer overall once all the information is looked at would be the Garmin Edge 520 Plus, It is a bit expensive, but not absurdly so, and it lacks the ability to work well with a number of third-party apps, but it has a gorgeous screen.
Its own built-in apps can do basically anything you need, it utilizes Garmin’s excellent GPS data to provide you with a wide range of useful stats from mapping your route-out to telling you directions, and is all-around the best mountain bike computer you can pick for your money.
There are some cheaper options that provide a decent array of features, but they tend to be more buggy or outright ugly, and the most expensive selection covered, the Garmin Edge 820 has its own share of problems that arguably need to be improved in a future iteration before it would make sense to purchase it. Hence, the best bike computer to choose to buy after considering everything from price to features is the Garmin Edge 520 Plus.
When it comes to selecting the best bike computer, this overview and buying guide has provided you with a great deal of information. You know are aware of some great low-cost choices, mid-range bike computers, and have been told about the higher-cost kinds of bike computers as well.
A recommendation has been made about the best budget and best overall bike computer, but should you disagree and think one of the other ones listed fits your needs better, you are encouraged to choose the bike computer that looks best to you via our buying guide.
At the end of the day, it is YOU who makes the final decision what bike computer is the best for your needs and thanks to this overview you now have a bunch of information you can utilize so that the final selection you do make is one you are 100% satisfied with bike computer!
You May Also Like To Read: