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Wouldn’t it be great to have the ability to track all of your rides, review them and challenge your best times on certain sections on your ride? Well thanks to technology, there is something you can now add to your bike to track and challenge your rides which can help you become a better rider, that’s why here in this article, I will write about and list the best GPS cycling computers that are on the market today.
When you see cyclists out on their bikes today, it’s probably fair to say that at least 90% of those cyclists will have a GPS computer on their bike.
What is also good about these GPS computers is that there are many apps you can download to your smartphone and sync your rides to your GPS computer, which will then keep track of the history of your rides. Some of these apps also have a huge cycling community where people can challenge each other on certain sections on the roads or trails and then you become part of a league table, how good is that!!!
In my old job, I used to cycle to work and there were many of us that took the same route and we were all part of a little league on certain parts of the route where we would all challenge each other, some of them were people I knew, others I didn’t but it was actually quite fun and made you think “right, I’m gonna smash this PB (personal best) time today!”.
What Is A GPS Cycling Computer?
GPS has taken the globe by storm in terms of transport in cars, lorries, buses and now even cycling bikes!
When GPS did first come out on the markets, they were used more for navigation and guidance while out on trails.
Now, just like other GPS devices, a GPS cycling computer uses satellites to track your position and also calculates your speed, distance and times, all without the need of wires!
Gone are the days when you would need to buy a speedometer to wire it to your bike with a sensor to your wheel, and then get annoyed when the sensors now and then kept misaligning for you to just keep playing about with it!
Not only do these GPS computers not have wires but they do a lot more than the old speedometers, these bad boys can record your route and keep a history, some models can also detect your heart rate, any climbs you have done or descents and then upload all of this data to a ride logging service such as an app for analysis or as I mentioned above, competitions.
The prices of these cycling computers vary from as little as £20, right up to nearly £500, of course the price depends on the make, model and the features that come with the device.
Things To Consider When Buying
As with any piece of kit you are looking to buy, what you want or what you need can depend on a number of things, especially if you’re looking to invest in quite a lot of money, it’s important to understand what you need and also things to consider before hitting the “buy” button.
If you want to use navigation features on your device, then the cost of these is much higher due to having more additional storage, the navigation software itself and will use a larger screen to display all the information.
An obvious statement, but the bigger the screen size, then the easier it is to see the screen showing you information on your ride. A bigger screen will also allow you to see more information at once on the same screen rather than having to keep scrolling across.
Now if weight and speed is your main thing here, then you would have to think about the fact that a larger screen may add a little more weight, I know for many of you riders, this sounds petty, but for the extreme riders out there, every little bit of weight matters!
The size of the screen can also depend on the main reason you will want to use the GPS device. If you are wanting navigation for guidance on where you need to go, then a screen of around 2.5 inches or larger would be more ideal as then you can see way points more clearly, also a coloured display would be a more popular choice too in this case.
If the information you want to see while riding is minimal such as you only want to see your current speed and distance, then a big screen isn’t as essential here as once you have finished your ride, you can upload the ride to your smartphone and do the analysis of all the other information then.
One of the important things to consider is how the GPS device mounts to your bike. Most of these computers attach to either the handle bars or the on the stem.
Other GPS devices don’t attach to the bike at all and could be used as a watch, but these devices would be used for many sports and is not ideal for cycling if you want to quickly see your data whilst riding.
You will find that the bigger brands in GPS devices will have a larger amount of mounting options available on the aftermarket, so you can choose exactly how you want to mount your device to your bike. For example, there is no doubt that Garmin is the world leader in GPS devices, therefore you will be able to find plenty of aftermarket mounting options for Garmin products.
Many people wish to have the ability to connect their mobile phones to their cycling computer for many reasons. Some of these devices will feature Bluetooth for connecting your phone to the device and this can enable you to control music, spoken directional mapping, text and incoming call alerts and also uploading your ride data to the cloud.
My Top GPS Cycling Computers
Here I have listed the top GPS cycling computers that are on the market today. These are listed in no particular order.
1. Garmin Edge 520 Plus
The Edge 520 Plus comes pre-loaded with a Garmin Cycle Map which includes turn-by-turn directions for on and off-road routes, for additional safety there are alerts for sharp curves ahead too. The newly updated and pre-loaded Strava Live Segments allow you to compete second-by-second with your previous best or another rider’s PR and see real-time progress and results right on your screen.
The unit is compatible with ANT+ technology sensors including speed, cadence, heart rate and power meters so you can fully monitor your performance and recovery.
What I really like about this computer is that it has been designed to create a safer riding environment with smartphone compatible features like rider-to-rider messaging. This is a great way for you to stay in contact with your fellow riders without needing to reach for your phone. It allows you to send pre-written messages and let them know if you’ll catch them or to go on without you which for those cycling in larger groups is brilliant.
Another great safety feature with this computer, is that it can send your GPS location to your important contacts to let them know exactly where you are should anything happen. I think this is highly important for those that do trail riding off-road, as the trails can be very deserted at times and if you get hurt on your own, it could take someone a while to find you.
2. Lezyne Super Navigate
To enhance the built in features Lezyne developed the free Ally app (iOS or Android) which, when paired with the device, turns it into a feature-rich system offering services such as turn-by-turn navigation, live tracking, Strava Live Segments as well as email, text message and phone call notifications.
This computer can simultaneously pair with ANT+™ or Bluetooth enabled power meters, heart rate monitors and speed/cadence sensors to assist with collection of advanced data and training information.
For ultra accurate data tracking, the unit features an advanced recording system that combines readings from GPS satellites, a barometer and an accelerometer. Security of the device is taken care of by the X-Lock Standard Mount allowing you to attach it to you handle bars or stem with a simple quarter turn to secure in place.
3. Garmin Edge 1030
The Edge 1030 comes pre-loaded with a Garmin Cycle Map which includes turn-by-turn directions for on and off-road routes. To help you choose your route the Edge 1030 features Garmin’s Trendline. This utilises the Garmin Connect online community, who is responsible for uploading billions of miles of ride data, so whatever your style you can find the ride to suit you. This Garmin device features the same safety features which I explained on the Edge 520 Plus.
The 3.5” colour touchscreen display makes it easy to navigate and works in the wet and with gloves. The device comes with an extended out-front mount and an in-line flush mount which keeps it level with the handlebars and not above them, giving it a lower profile. The Edge 1030 has up to 20 hours battery life which is extendable up to 40 hours with a Garmin External Piggyback battery.
4. Stages Dash L10
On the road or trails, the L10 delivers all of your riding data to your fingertips through a high-contrast and high-resolution display. The setup can be customised, which can be done either in the unit or via the Stages LINK app and allows for up to 16 fields of data on a screen so that you have a great depth of information available to you in real-time as you ride.
The GPS records current, average and maximum speed, distance, ride and lap time and so much more, and you can switch between portrait or landscape display mode. With a 24-hour battery run time and robust waterproof construction you can be sure to keep training no matter what the conditions.
5. Garmin Edge 130
Simplified, rugged design with a 1.8″ display that’s crisp and easy to read in sunlight or low-light conditions. With GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellites and an altimeter, you’ll know how far, fast, hard and high you’ve ridden on the longest climbs or on your rides. Also includes navigation with turn prompts and even shows you how to get back to start.
Text messages will appear on your device screen so you can see them at a glance and keep right on riding and also know if you’re about to get rained out by using the weather page to keep tabs on current weather and forecasted conditions. You can pair the Edge 130 with the compatible Edge remote so you can start and stop the timer, change the page or mark a lap without taking your hands off the bars. The Edge 130 has a Battery life up to 15 hours.
Why Not Challenge Yourself
If you’re a rider like me, I always need to be stimulated and challenged to give me something to aim for. That’s the great thing about many of these GPS computers, you can link it up to an app and join friends and a community who cycle in the same area and just join challenges or see where you compete to others.
For me it’s a great way to know if you are getting fitter and stronger, especially with trying to beat your own personal best times on certain sections of a ride.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and have gained a better understanding of these cycling GPS computers. Please feel free to leave a comment below whether it’s a question or just a general discussion on the topic, I would love to hear from you.
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As for now, happy cycling!!