We're used to seeing runners strap on GPS watches, but now the best cycling watches and trackers will keep tabs on distance, pace and even cadence while you ride.
The data means that cyclists can now enjoy unprecedented insights into their performance and technique, becoming better cyclists in the process.
These devices are easy to round up, but of course the real test is in the user experience. That's why we took a host of these trackers, plus some more, out on the roads to find out how they fared – head over to our big cycling group test for details.
Read on for the lowdown on our pick of the best cycling wearables.
Garmin Edge 520
The Garmin Edge 520 came out as the winner in our big cycling test – and for good reason. Boasting awesome data on distance, time and speed, the Edge 520 hooks up to a heart rate sensor for extra insights. Cadence and power rely on expensive sensors, which is a shame, but the live Strava Segment data is a big plus for users of the ubiquitous fitness app.
We don't usually add tech to our best-of lists if we haven't tried it out, but if you love cycling, you deserve to know about this crowdfunding smash hit. The fully carbon fibre road bike is packed to the hilt with sensors for heart rate, cadence and power and boasts GPS on board. What's more, its price is hard to resist. There are a lot of specs to choose but pre-orders start at $1,299.
From $1,299, Kickstarter
Oakley Radar Pace
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 - although they're not the most affordable thing on our list.
Garmin Varia Lights
Also from Garmin are these super safe, super smart Varia Lights. The rear light scans up to 140 metres of the road behind you, alerting you to pesky tailgaters so you can take immediate action – usually with a middle finger and some choice swear words.
The front light, meanwhile, lights up the road in your immediate vicinity when you're going slowly, and illuminates further ahead at greater speeds, helping you avoid fallen branches and broken drain covers.
Getting an honourable mention in our cycling test for such a big bunch of data in a tiny package was the excellent Moov Now. And it all comes down to cadence – the number of rotations the pedals make in a minute – which is an essential metric for cyclists who want to maximise their speed. Moov's tracker uniquely straps to your ankle so it can record your RPMs, and it even includes a power estimate for more in-depth analysis.
Wareable verdict: Moov Now review
Smarter still is the fact that it provides live coaching, letting you know when to change up a gear to eke a little more power out of your thighs, or to shift down as you approach a super steep incline.
The only downside is that you'll need to take your phone along for the ride and use a pair of headphones for the live readouts, which can be a bit risky if you're dodging traffic on the way home from work.
Garmin Vivoactive HR
Garmin's second-gen tracker is the jack of all trades, and that includes cycling. With GPS onboard, you can track routes and it can be paired with cadence sensors to add more biking metrics. The heart rate sensor will also let you know when you're in the zone.
Read this: Garmin Vivoactive HR review
You can connect it to Strava through Garmin's Connect app and with its high-stamina battery life, it's a great fit for casual cyclists.
PowerTap Power Meters
Yes, your average power meter will set you back far more than most people are willing to spend on a bicycle, but it measures a vital statistic: watts. Analysing this tangible unit is the way the pros improve their performance.
Meet the Boss: We speak to the creators of the first wearable power meter
The disadvantage is that power meters are pricey thanks to the sensitive nature of the parts involved, and they need to be added to your bike's most intricate components, such as the rear wheel's hub. Easily-installable pedal power meters are also available – but they'll set you back just short of a grand.
Polar RC3 GPS
Being able to see your heart rate while you're cycling is essential if you want to push yourself out of pootling and into powerful pedalling. The RC3 does just that – giving you a constant overview of your current beats-per-minute – as well as GPS to record your routes and speed. Once you get home you can plug it into your computer to review your route, complete with feedback on your performance.
ICEdot Crash Sensor
Strap the ICEdot onto your helmet, fire up the app, enter your emergency contact details and in the event of an impact the gizmo will call your loved ones and send GPS coordinates so help can be sent. You needn't worry about a Sea King turning up when you drop your helmet though – the device gives you a countdown to cancel the emergency call.
Recon Jet Heads-up Display
These heads-up sunglasses could turn out to be the most exciting innovation in cycling technology since the humble derailleur. The Recon Jet offers all the functions of a standard bike computer but instead of having to look down at a tiny LCD screen, the rider looks ahead and views a range of juicy stats on a heads-up display. This cool slice of tech syncs to third party heart rate monitors, power meters and cadence sensors via Bluetooth, ANT+ and Wi-Fi. It also pairs to any iOS and Android device for SMS, call display and internet access.
Aside from the usual suspects like top speed, average speed etc, the Recon Jet also displays a GPS map of the route ahead and handy extras like elevation, power output in watts, heart rate, even the weather forecast. Regular Tour de Francer George Hincapie wears them, wouldn't you know.
Lazer Genesis LifeBEAM helmet
This pulse rate and calorie measuring system does away with a tight chest strap and integrates the sensor into the headband of a crash helmet instead; a neat idea given that you'll likely be wearing a helmet anyway. Unlike so many monitors, the bio-sensing LifeBEAM doesn't feature its own dedicated app. Instead, it connects via Bluetooth 4.0 to a small range of existing activity applications (five, to be precise) and an impressive 237 ANT+ enabled fitness devices.
The interface is simple, too. There's a button on the back of the helmet. Push the button. That's it. An LED flashes and an alarm sounds to tell you it's armed. Now go get on your bike and ride for England. But don't forget your helmet!
One of the most annoying things about action cameras is having to scrub through hours of footage to find that bit where you bunny hopped from an aeroplane to the lip of an active volcano. TomTom's Bandit solves this with GPS and accelerometer chips, which automatically tag moments of speed and inertia.
It also acts as a media server so you can edit and upload clips from your smartphone, and its all-in-one removable battery/memory card is so smart we don't know why it hasn't been done before.
Now joining the Bandit are the GoPro Hero 5 Black and Hero 5 Session, which also offer built-in GPS and image and video stabilisation. They'll be available from 2 October, the Black priced at $399 and the Session (that lacks the rear touchscreen) costing $299.
Ever found yourself turning your phone upside-down at a junction, trying to figure out just which bloody way you're facing? BeeLine's ultra-simple navigational aid could be the answer to your geospatial woes. It links to Google Maps on your Android or iOS smartphone, and then points an arrow straight at your destination.
While it doesn't offer turn-by-turn directions, the designers reckon the compass-like pointer actually makes navigation a lot easier. And thanks to its e-ink screen this cheap, small device will last months between charges.
£99, beeline.co (pre-order)
Polar may be best known for its sports tracking watches, but with the V650 it admirably makes the leap into fully-featured bike computers. Slap it on your bike and it'll record your ride, show your stats and offer training tips. Bluetooth connectivity allows it to monitor speed, cadence and heart rate sensors, while a barometric altitude sensor lets you know why you're so out of breath in feet and inches.
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