Whether you just want to track your distance, speed or heart rate from the wrist, or you're looking to stay safe with a smart helmet, we've got guides and reviews to help you make the most of your tech.
Below, we've rounded up the best devices for cycling to help you on your way, but be sure to check back as we continue to update our recommendations for the best cycling GPS computers, smart lights and additional sensors to install onto your wheels. Anything you'd like answered? Be sure to drop a line in the comments section below.
The best GPS watches for cycling
If you've already kitted your bike out with additional sensors, you may want a smartwatch to help get an insight into things like heart rate and distance in real time. And luckily for you, there's a burgeoning crop of GPS-enabled devices to choose from, which are detailed below.
Garmin Forerunner 935
While everyday smartwatches like the Fitbit Ionic and Apple Watch are doing an increasingly good job of imitating dedicated GPS sports watches, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is still one of the top cycling smartwatches you can get your hands on.
Don't let the name fool you - this is just as impressive when you're on the bike as it is during runs, with real-time heart rate readings and zones displayed all on the wrist, as well as best-in-class GPS monitoring. You don't just get data during your rides, either, with the post-exercise feedback through Garmin Connect also providing you with graphs and splits on speed, elevation and distance.
Garmin's own metrics are also in tow - such as Training Effect, which gives you a more objective look at just how your body is recovering - and you can even hook up additional sensors and power meters for added insights.
It's not the cheapest option, and perhaps not the best looking device we've ever laid eyes on, but for serious cyclists this ticks plenty of boxes.
For more on the smartwatch's cycling smarts and a deeper look at what else it has to offer, check out our full Garmin Forerunner 935 review.
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Suunto Spartan Wrist Trainer HR
This accomplished all-rounder ticks all the right boxes from the off, with the watch's GPS abilities securing a signal in a matter of seconds and holding firm throughout rides through cities and across countryside.
For those after more than solid GPS, accurate heart rate tracking and all manner of detailed data points, it can also be bundled with a range of power meters, turbos and cadence sensors, ideal for those looking to take their cycle sessions to the next level.
As well as capturing all that data, if your cycle gets a bit ambitious and your bearings less than clear, the GPS can be used to offer real-time maps that will help you navigate your way home. Handy when venturing out into new territories.
During your ride, there's plenty of data to show you how your cycle is going, and how your body is responding. The built-in heart rate sensor is pleasingly on point, with your BPM joined by fun and functional metrics from top speed to lap pace.
However, disappointingly, any captured data doesn't run as deep on the app as you'd hope. While the watch promises a lot with handy graphs and data breakdowns, the smartphone companion fails to kick things on. You'll need to head to the web app to delver deeper.
For more, continue on to our Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist Trainer HR review.
Big, boxy and bland, the Polar V800 might not be the best looking sports watch out there, but its cycling-friendly credentials far outstrip its stereotypically sporty design. With GPS letting you better track your ride, the watch is capable of recording everything from your ride distance and time on the bike to max speed and elevation change.
There is one glaring omission: there's no integrated heart rate sensor. Yes, chest-mounted heart rate monitors are more accurate and consistent than optical wrist-based offerings, but they're also more restrictive, uncomfortable and mean there's a whole second device you've got to worry about every time you want to go for a cycle. Pair it with a heart rate monitoring chest strap, though, and your readings can be relayed directly to your wrist.
That's not all the information available on your wrist, though. Mid-ride, there's plenty of real-time information to absorb, with taps on the up and down buttons letting you cycle through and see everything from your current altitude and real-time speed to split time and overall calorie burn.
We'd suggest you don't opt for the V800 if you're looking for a great on-watch experience - ultimately, there's a far better experience back in Polar Flow - but there's certainly reason dive into our Polar V800 in-depth review and see if this the watch for you.
Apple Watch Series 3
Cycle-friendly smartwatches don't have to be oversized efforts that are all plastic, rubber and generally garish designs. The Apple Watch Series 3 might be considered a more general device, but it more than holds its own as a serious sports tracker.
Crucially, its GPS abilities help give it the edge. The Apple Watch isn't just quick to secure a connection, it's rapid. Within three seconds of triggering a new cycle session, your GPS connection is locked in an remains solid throughout your ride.
It's impressively accurate, too, offering measurements precise down to 10 metres and suffering no blips or missteps during our test rides.
On the flip side, navigating using the watch's Digital Crown and touchscreen display isn't the easiest while gripping on to your bars. The lack of unsightly protrusions give the watch a cleaner, sleeker look, but the missing physical controls also make the watch tricker to use while cycling.
On-wrist metrics, meanwhile, are on-point, if a little basic. Unfortunately, things don't get much deeper when you crack open the iPhone's Activity app. Although elevation gain details join the usual distance, calorie and heart rate data, there's a lack of depth and key cycle-centric details, such as cadence and top speed are missing.
Overall, this might not be the most evolved cycle tracker, but it's more than accomplished enough to appease all but the hardiest of cycle fanatics. Of our recommendations, it's also the device you'd be most keen to wear out of the saddle too. Check out more in our Apple Watch Series 3 review.
The best fitness trackers for cyclists
Fitness trackers aren't generally as feature-packed as their smartwatch counterparts, but there's still a strong lineup out there for cycling tracking. Check out some of the best trackers and real-time coaches below.
It's perhaps not the most traditional-looking fitness tracker on the market, but the Polar M200 aced our tests on the wrist.
Thanks to its integrated GPS skills - not a particularly common feature in trackers - and an in-built heart rate sensor, the M200 is capable of logging every metric you'd want from a wrist-based cycling band. The round screen isn't the best quality (similar to the V800), but it does allow you a simple look at your real-time data, including distance, pace, lap times, speed and heart rate data.
All this data is backed up by the competitive price point, which rests alongside most high-end trackers, as well as Polar Flow companion app and the option to integrate with Strava right out the box. When it's all added up, the M200 still offers the most complete and accurate fitness tracker package for cyclists, despite now being a little long in the tooth.
For more, check out our extended Polar M200 review.
The Moov Now isn't your usual cycle-friendly fitness tracker. Instead of being yet another arm appendage, you strap it to your ankle, with its silicone strap and small sensor pod sitting comfortably, even during longer rides.
This ensures more accurate motion tracking, with cadence tracked alongside all the usual distance and calorie burn stats. In this group, the Moov is out on its own in terms of bike-friendly abilities.
Knowing how many rotations per minute you're putting through the pedals and how this fluctuates as you tire is a great way to discover areas you can improve. It's not without its shortcomings though.
With the Now strapped to your ankle, and featuring no screen in the first place, there's no glanceable real time data or heart rate tracking available. You could get a bike mount for your phone - you're going to need it with you anyway given the Moov Now's lack of inbuilt GPS - but that's a clunky solution.
Instead, however, Moov has a built-in coach, with the training aid giving audio feedback throughout your ride. This is an active coach rather than a simple passive addition too. As well as standard split markers each kilometre, the coach knows how your cadence is changing, letting it offer tips such as knocking down a couple of gears to keep your rhythm up.
Naturally this means you have to wear headphones, not exactly the safest option possible, but cranking your phone's volume and resting it on a mount or sitting it in your backpack should help you still receive read-outs.
So, while there are some omissions, the Moov app, the Now's cycle-focused metrics and the price tag make this a device that's well worth a deeper look. Check out Moov Now full review for more.
Oakley Radar Pace
Not technically a tracker, granted, but this deserves a mention alongside the best wearable kit for cyclists. Built in collaboration with Intel, the Oakley Radar Pace glasses include a bunch of sensors, mics and removable earphones - with all the coaching done via audio.
They're designed to train runners and cyclists through training programs, with Intel's Real Speech natural language processing tech guiding you. You can also pair them with speed and cadence sensors via Bluetooth. We really liked them in our review, especially the structured training and real-time feedback.
The best smart cycling helmets
We've seen the smart cycling helmet category grow substantially over the past 18 months, meaning there's now a swath of options to choose from. Some will provide pure safety features - whether that's SOS, tracking or lighting - while others focus on giving you access to music, calls and directions through in-built speakers. Read on below for the best of the bunch.
If you're looking for an option that combines the likes of on-the-go sound and safety features such as crash detection, the Livall BH60SE is a strong place to start.
Not only do you receive 14 smart LED lights on the rear of the helmet, but packed inside are speakers to allow for hands-free audio during your rides. Thanks to the three-axis gyroscope also packed inside, alerts can also be sent to emergency contacts if an accident has automatically been detected by the helmet. Impressive.
For more, check out our Livall BH60SE review, and keep in mind the standard BH60 model can offer much of the same smarts, too.
Sure, you could opt for a traditional helmet, but H√∂vding's wearable airbag for urban cyclists promises improved safety with a less, well, dorky design sitting on your head.
The device, which sits around your neck and zips up to lock in place, tracks your movement 200 times per second for any abnormalities during your ride. And if one is spotted ‚Äď say, you fall from your bike ‚Äď the airbag tucked inside will deploy. Of course, the Swedish company's helmet-killer is programmed to understand the difference between bumps into curbs and genuine accidents, but be aware that this is only good for one deployment before a replacement is needed.
We've spent some considerable time with the device on the roads, and there's plenty of data to suggest H√∂vding's solution is safer than standard helmet designs. Just be aware that you'll have to overcome the barrier of placing your trust in sensors and algorithms, instead of conventional helmet design.
Read our in-depth Hovding airbag review to get a better idea of how it all works.
Cycling with headphones just isn't a good idea. Yes, some solid tunes can help pass the time and maintain your motivation on long runs, but for the sake of safety, your ears need to be free to listen out for oncoming cars, squealing tyres and pedestrians shouting at you to watch where you're going.
The Coros Linx keeps your lugholes clear while still bringing the audio effect, letting you listen to music, get audio-based navigation prompts and handle calls. Thanks to a peak-mounted mic, it works by attaching a pair of bone-conducting headphones into the fastening safety strap. There's even a handlebar-mounted controller to keep your focus on the road while toggling volumes or flicking through your playlist.
Just make sure you also do your research on the upcoming Coros Omni, the company's recent crowdfunding hit.
The best trackers for spinning classes
It's tough to beat hitting the outdoors with your bike, but sometimes it's easier to just sneak into the gym and hit up the Wattbike or book yourself into a lunchtime spinning class. And just because you're static and staring blankly into the gym's abyss doesn't mean you're not putting in the same shift, so check out our picks for the wearables to help you on your way.
Wahoo Tickr X
With many smartwatches and fitness bands struggling to accurately pick up on distance when you remain stable, though, our recommendation for the best bit of kit to strap on during spinning sessions is the Wahoo Tickr X chest strap.
Essential reading: The best heart rate monitors
Now, we get that not everybody prefers having kit around their chest over having something on their wrist, but this remains one of the more comfortable options on the market. They key here, in terms of features, is the chest strap's ability to give you leading heart rate accuracy, as well as allowing you access to cadence in real time through the companion app.
Still, you don't necessarily need to take your phone with you and mount it on the bars, since the pod has enough storage to keep track of 16 hours of workouts between syncs. If you do have Bluetooth-enabled gym equipment, the strap can sync up to tap into more accurate readings, too.
That's the crux of this chest strap's strengths, but we explore plenty more of its capabilities in our full Wahoo Tickr X review - check it out.
TomTom Spark 3
Finally, a wrist-based fitness tracker that doesn't crumple when it comes to indoor cycling. The TomTom Spark 3 is another multi-purpose fitness tracker, with spinning one of the many exercise types it claims to be able to accurately track.
Fortunately, things are on point. Well, for the most part. Again, heart rate data comes in a little on the low side, but is far closer to an accurate reading than either the Fitbit Blaze or Garmin Vivoactive HR. It's consistent too, suffering no dropouts or erroneous slumps like some of the competition.
This isn't a device that's just about heart rate and subsequently predicted calorie burn though. Instead of being determined to go it alone, for those who want more metrics and more accurate data, the Spark 3 can be wirelessly synced with a number of cadence sensors and even your static bike's turbo.
To give the most accurate readings possible, you can input things like wheel size directly on the watch and enable distance tracking to join the watch's own inbuilt abilities.
The watch's core skills still offer plenty of data, but unfortunately it's not the easiest to navigate. With no touchscreen, the Spark's stiff physical button is a slightly clunky way to scroll through real time readings of your calorie burn, BPM, heart rate zone and time active.
Still, this remains perhaps the best wrist-based option for static rides. And although TomTom is exiting the wearables business, this feature-packed device is well worth a look - read all about it in our full TomTom Spark 3 review.
The best smartwatch apps for cycling
The Apple Watch is by far the most popular smartwatch on the market, meaning that there's plenty of users out there using it when on the bike. And given the company's push into fitness and increasing standalone capabilities, there's now more reason than ever to consider it as a cycling companion. We've tested the below apps so you don't have to.
Strava (Apple Watch/Wear OS)
The Apple Watch's proprietary cycling mode is solid enough if you just want to casually track your rides, but with Strava you get all the basics - distance, time, speed, heart rate, elevation and calories ‚Äď as well as the option to dive into more advanced features.
Essential reading: Strava CEO on wearables and what's next
Premium users have the option to view analysis into their heart rate zones, meaning activity can be graded via Strava's Suffer Score, and power meter breakdowns can also be provided in the after-workout menus. You won't get any of the advanced metrics in real time, unfortunately, but Strava can't be beat in terms of an overall cycling package.
Free (¬£5.99 per month for Premium) | Download Strava Apple Watch app
Aaptiv (Apple Watch)
While other apps aim to track your every movement, Aaptiv acts as more of a personal trainer, offering over 2,500 audio-based fitness classes for you to choose from ‚Äď many of which are aimed at indoor cycling.
Programmes are also on the Apple Watch ready for you to start and download, whether you're a beginner looking to do some gym cycling or a triathlete looking to augment your training. Whichever bracket you happen to fall in, the key here is the trainer pushing you on. And thankfully, there's a range of trainers/voices to cycle through if one isn't to your taste.
Aaptiv's workouts are based upon intensity, or even the kind of music you want to listen to, and once you're done you'll get basic feedback on the Watch regarding the activity you just completed (eg. distance, calories burned). You can also view your class history for more details once in the companion app.
It isn't the most stats-heavy option on our list, but it's definitely one that will give those looking for a helping hand the most in-app guidance. Oh, and remember to bring your Bluetooth headphones so you can control the music entirely from the Apple Watch.
Free (subscription also available) | Download Aaptiv Apple Watch app
Cyclemeter (Apple Watch)
Generally speaking, data screens shown during your ride don't vary too dramatically from app to app. But that's not the case with Cyclemeter, which is a verifiable beast when it comes to giving you cycling stats on the wrist.
In total, you can configure your pages to track more than 200 metrics, which include everything involving your power, speed, heart rate, cycling cadence and more. A nice touch is the app taking advantage of the Watch's Force Touch to help you start, stop, lap or access settings, while notifications can also be set to prompt you with details on your time, distance, intervals or pre-set targets.
The comprehensive dive into your ride doesn't end on the wrist, either. Once you move to the companion app, everything tracked on your Apple Watch is amplified, and can even be backed up by the likes of training plans and route planning. All in all, this is one of the more complete cycling apps for the Apple Watch currently available, and certainly one that cyclists who crave detail will love. However, be aware that Cyclemeter can't yet run independently from your iPhone when out riding.
Free (subscription also available) | Download Cyclemeter Apple Watch app
Workout (Apple Watch)
It's admittedly not the most exciting option out there for cyclists, but Apple's own system for tracking your rides is an ideal way to get started with the Watch.
During and after your ride, you're not overloaded with info, but you get just enough to keep you coming back. We've found GPS tracking to be largely on the money in comparison to our bike computer, and you're free to swipe between menus to control your music and pause/end the workout.
It isn't the easiest to navigate through when you're wearing gloves or find yourself with sweaty hands, and could benefit from making use of the Apple Watch's buttons or Force Touch, but at least the option is there. Something else you have an option of is using Workout for indoor cycling. The accuracy isn't great, as is the case with most devices trying to track your movement while being essentially stable, but it's something that'll no doubt be improved as GymKit continues to roll out this year.
Essential reading: Cycling with the Apple Watch
Unfortunately, there's no option to have your workouts automatically pause, and the data you receive once you're back in the Activity companion app isn't as in-depth as you might like ‚Äď you'll get your heart rate average, your time splits and your average speed, but it's likely you begin looking for more insights after using Workout for a while.
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