Best smartwatches for cycling: GPS tracking of your routes and times

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Once upon a time, tracking your fitness meant using a stopwatch and plotting your progress with graph paper. Now, if you want to know how quickly your heart rate increases as you walk up Box Hill or measure exactly how many miles you have traveled between coffee stops, there is a smartwatch for that.

The latest line of fitness trackers and smartwatches isn’t just counting your steps – from sleep and fertility, stress levels and blood oxygen – there’s an ever-growing list of health data. that we can now harness – and it can be overwhelming.

For most riders, we just want a versatile watch that tracks our journey and shows us how we’re improving (or in some cases, not). A cycling watch should basically include the benefits of a cycling computer, but with the added benefit of being able to track activities of daily living outside of the bike as well.

“A key feature to look for in a watch is a heart rate monitor,” says Tom Worsfold at Sigma Sports. “Heart rate BPM is a crucial performance indicator that will help you determine your level of fitness and effort. Some models can use this data to determine your recovery times and suggest unique training plans to improve your fitness.

“Many watches integrate seamlessly with social networks, allowing you to share your journeys with your friends and family on the associated mobile applications. The high-end models will let you sync your watch with your favorite streaming app for music and podcasts on the go, providing added motivation for longer sessions, ”he adds.

“With so many choices, it can be difficult to find your perfect device, but there is a model to suit everyone, no matter how basic or advanced you think your needs are. “

From detailed performance data to navigating and mapping your rides, so here are the best smartwatches on the wrist to take your cycling game to the next level.

Polar Vantage V2

Without stating the obvious – this watch doesn’t come cheap. It’s a fantastic, high-end sports watch that follows just about anything you can imagine. Speed, distance, route, altitude? Check, verify, verify and verify. But there are a few cycling-specific features that really grabbed our attention.

If you constantly stop halfway through to pull out your phone and check Google Maps to see if you’ve deviated from the route, this watch allows you to import routes from Komoot and will give you step-by-step guidance so that you I will never get lost again. It also sends alerts for nearby Strava segments and provides real-time performance data – perfect for catching a KOM or QOM (if you know it, you know it).

And if you want to know what your power zones and your functional power threshold (FTP) are on the bike, the Vantage V2 has a Cycling Performance Test feature that measures the highest power (weight per kg) that you can. hold for more than 60 minutes. However, you will need a compatible power meter for this.

Polar

Wahoo Elemnt Rival multisport GPS watch

If you’re an avid cyclist, you might already own a product or two from Wahoo – perhaps one of their top rated indoor trainers or indoor cycling computers – but did you know they make also watches?

The Elemnt Rival GPS Watch – with a high contrast color display that’s easy to see even in direct sunlight – performs best when paired with the Kickr indoor trainer or used with the Elemnt bike computer. This is where the watch comes into its own, as you can configure the Rival to automatically share data between devices, allowing you to see your running stats on both screens.

Awesome, if you are a cyclist who also practices triathlon or a triathlete who likes to spend a lot of time on the bike, the watch will automatically detect the different stages of the race, so there is no need to remember to press manually on pause as you get out of the water or go for a ride or run.

Durable and functional, this is the ideal watch for any aspiring athlete looking to improve their performance.

Wahoo

Withings ScanWatch

If it’s good enough for seven-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, then it’s good enough for us. Simple, stylish and incredibly discreet – this is the perfect watch for anyone who doesn’t want others to know they’re wearing a fitness tracker.

With a built-in ECG monitor, heart health tracking, and respiratory readings, this analog-style watch offers so much more than you originally thought. The ScanWatch also automatically detects activity – so it knows if you’ve hopped on your turbo drive in your pain cave or if you’ve been riding country roads on your road bike – and connects to GPS so you can download all your data on Strava.

The small digital display is exactly that – small. But it does provide call, text, and app notifications as well as your daily step count. If you are looking for something that is beautifully designed and with a long battery life (up to 30 days on a single charge, no less), then this hybrid smartwatch is for all types of riders.

Withings

Garmin Venu 2S

If you prefer something a little more feminine, you can’t go wrong with Garmin’s upgraded Venu. This smaller size GPS smartwatch is comfortable enough to wear for a drink or dinner with friends while also offering advanced health and fitness monitoring functions.

With 25 preloaded sports apps, you can log your kilometers on the roads or your heart rate in a spinning class – and if you’re looking to protect your rider body and boost your strength training, this watch also offers – to follow, animated strength workouts that show exactly which muscle groups you have been working.

We also love how easy the touchscreen is to use and how quickly it charges – and with up to 19 hours of battery life in GPS mode, you won’t need to charge it every day.

Garmin Venus 2sp

Garmin Forerunner 55 GPS Watch

For a cheaper option, the Garmin Forerunner 55 is a solid choice for novice and more experienced riders. Although it is marketed more as a running watch, the Forerunner 55 can track running, cycling, pool swimming, Pilates, HIIT and more. There is also a wide range of wellness features, such as all day breath monitoring, intensity minutes, fitness age, stress tracker, and women’s health tracker. – so that you can track your menstrual cycle or pregnancy.

Easy to use, take the guesswork out of over-training or under-training with suggested workouts of varying intensities, all based on your training history, fitness level and how long it takes you to recover. This Garmin does pretty much everything the Forerunner 945 does – aside from playing music (which you don’t need on the bike anyway) – but for less than half the price.

Garmin

Coros Apex Pro Premium multisport GPS watch

We hadn’t heard of Coros until fairly recently, but after seeing a few friends trade in their old fitness watches for a Coros, we were intrigued to find out more about the brand. And the APEX Pro does not disappoint. In fact, with an impressive 40 hours of GPS battery life, it definitely rivals some of the bigger brands, both in terms of specs and price.

It’s a bit big – so not ideal for those with smaller wrists or if you like to track your sleep, but weighing only 59kg, it’s lighter than other models.

The Apex Pro is capable of tracking multiple sports including, of course, cycling, with data syncing with Coros’ smart app. In the app there are also training plans, handpicked workouts by professional athletes and over 200 exercises that you can send to the watch.

Coros

Polar Grit X

This multisport watch from Polar isn’t much different from the Vantage V2 – but the adventure-specific features – the rugged design, built-in GPS, compass, and altimeter – will be of particular interest to outdoor enthusiasts.

One of its most impressive features is its Hill Splitter function which evaluates your uphill and downhill performance and gives you all the stats on your relative efforts. We also like the Smart Refueling Assistant which provides alerts on when you need to refuel and introduce those energy gels and electrolytes, all based on the data collected during your session.

Much like the other smartwatches on this list, Grit X offers all the conventional sports features you would expect, including heart rate tracking, Bluetooth connectivity, and cycling-specific features.

Polar

Apple Watch Series 6

For Apple and sports fans alike, their latest production watch has seriously upped its game when it comes to sports tracking. The always-on display means you can see your stats at a glance – and now you can track your blood oxygen as well as your workouts.

GPS accuracy is high, as is heart rate monitoring, which it monitors throughout the day. And with a wide range of new bespoke dials and brightly colored bracelets, there is something for every taste and style.

An Apple Watch is basically like having a second smartphone – you can listen to music, make calls, and use Apple Pay in it – which is ideal for cyclists who make a quick stop at a cafe without having to look for a mysterious credit card. hidden in a back pocket in jersey. If you go to the GPS and cellular version (£ 479), you can even make calls and text with your watch only, meaning you won’t need to take your phone with you at all.

Apple

Verdict

We’re well aware that these watches fall into the ‘expensive’ category of sports equipment – but for the hefty price tag, you can expect all of your training and running needs to be covered by innovative technology, feature rich, built to last. Recognized by cyclists, our current favorite is the Polar Vantage V2, which offers accurate training data so you can better plan, train smarter, and fully recover before you embark on your next cycling adventure.


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