Most people have a hobby that takes up a large portion of their time. Whether they are running, playing video games, painting, or putting together model airplanes, hobbies are one of the most important aspects of human life.
For certain people, cycling is the go-to activity for when they want to relax and get away from the modern world. Cycling has more than a few expensive purchases you need to make to be a full-fledged cycler, and one of the biggest purchases to make is a bike GPS system.
When it comes to choosing a bike GPS system, there are a few very important things you need to keep in mind and finding the right system can prove extremely stressful. Do not worry, today we will go over the best bike GPS systems and what they do for you!
When it comes to spending money, most people want to be as thrifty as possible to get the biggest bang for their buck. Bike GPS systems can cost a lot of money, and can range anywhere from $50.00 to over $500.
Buying cheap is not always the solution, and if you purchase a cheap product you may just be repurchasing it within the next couple months.
In order to find the best cycling GPS, you need to be willing to spend a bit of money, otherwise you will probably just end up with a product that will underperform and just need replacing before you know it.
Before we evaluate the products, you should know how bike GPS systems work.
How Does It Work?
Bike GPS systems, like every other GPS system, uses 24 different satellites around the earth to triangulate your position, track your speed, and calculate the distances you have traveled.
The biggest benefit of having a true GPS system is that the accuracy is truly astonishing, and will often triangulate your position to within 30 feet of your exact location. So, when you are going for a ride, the system will track all of speeds, distances, and location into analytical data.
Most systems will then allow you to upload your data to the cloud, your PC or your mobile device, where the data can then be analyzed and processed by various training programs.
Many of the GPS systems on the market use highly advanced systems to make sure that you can get everything you want out of them.
Keep in mind that the higher quality the GPS system, the higher the price tag will be. Many people choose to use their phone instead of a dedicated GPS system, but there are many advantages to having a true GPS.
- GPS systems typically will have better GPS tracking than a standard smartphone. Smartphones dedicate a lot of their computing power to other features, whereas a true GPS will dedicate all its power on GPS tracking only. This will give you more accurate readings than a smartphone could give you.
- Bike GPS are typically built to withstand a beating better than a smartphone, and are designed to attach easily to your bicycle with little problems. Smartphones have bike attachments, but lack the ruggedization that most GPS systems have.
GPS Systems have become extremely prevalent in the modern world, and people seem to have a good grasp on how they work.
Bike GPS systems are quite different from typical car GPS systems, and there are a few very important things you should look out for before you purchase a bike GPS.
- Size & Display Size. When you are looking for a GPS system, take into account how large or small you want the device to be. The smaller and more compact the system, the smaller the screen will be.
The larger the size, the larger the screen will be. If you want to be able to quickly read the data while you are on your bike riding, you want to consider a larger device. However, if you do not need to have a large screen to read the routes and data while you are riding, then a smaller screen might be able to satisfy your needs.
- Feature Rich. While most all Bike GPS systems will have the basics (Speed, distance, altitude, etc.), the more feature-rich GPS systems will end up costing you significantly more money.
With these you can expect the get things such as ANT+, FTP, and more (do not worry we will go over these below). Take a bit of time to decide if you will really use these features or do you just want something to track how far you have gone?
- ANT+ is a high tech wireless monitoring technology that will allow all of your various mobile devices to communicate to each other in real time. Essentially, ANT+ is a standardized method of wireless communication, similar to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
With ANT+ your GPS system can talk directly to your smartphone without need to upload or do any further setup than the first time. If you are looking for a more user-friendly experience, ANT+ is an extremely attractive feature to keep an eye out for.
- FTP. FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power, and is a training term used to measure the effective maximum power the cycler can maintain for up to one hour. This is an important term as it is used to determine your all-round ability as a cyclist.
If you are only into cycling as a hobby and do not really care how “good” you are at it, this may not be a feature that you are looking for. However, if you want to track your progress and learn how you are growing in the sport, then FTP is an incredibly important stat for you to consider.
- Battery Life. One of the big advantages of dedicated GPS systems, rather than your smartphone, is the extended battery life when compared to your smartphone.
Some of the higher end systems can have battery lives up to 22 hours, but the typical ranger is somewhere between 10-15 hours. Take into account how long you plan on cycling, and how outside of modern civilization you will be going.
If you plan on taking extended biking trips, then consider purchasing a GPS unit with a longer battery life. Now that we have gone over some of the features that you should look out for, it is time to get into the actual products on this list.
Keep in mind that these are only a few of the available products on the market, but these are products that we consider to be the very best out there!
Top Products for 2017
Garmin Edge 1000 Bundle
Weight: 4 ounces
Dimensions: 4.4 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches
Special Features: Smart Notifications, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capable, ANT+ Performance Analysis, Calculates up to 3 cycling friendly routes, 3.0” High Resolution Touchscreen Display
Description: While the Garmin Edge 1000’s price tag may seem a bit high for hobbyists, the fact of the matter is that the Garmin Edge 1000 is one of the best and most feature rich bike GPS systems on the market today.
This system includes FTP, ANT+, Bluetooth connection to your smartphone, smart notifications directly to your phone, a 3” HD screen, and even more. There are very few GPS on the market today that can even attempt to compete with the features that are available with this system.
If you are looking to purchase the best in Bike GPS technology, then the Garmin Edge 1000 is for you. The long battery life, feature rich system, and brilliant 3” HD display will make any cyclist salivate when looking at it.
However, the price tag for this unit is nothing to scoff at, and if you are wanting a cost-effective solution then this may not be the model for you.
Timex ~ Cycle Trainer 2.0 ~ T 5K615 F7
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Dimensions: 2.7 x 5.3 x 5.4 inches
Special Features: Full GPS Functionality, Barometric Pressure, 6 Panel Display Screen with up to 5 Customizable Panels
Description: The Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 is an excellent GPS system for cyclist that are looking for a high-end system without the massive price tag that the models such as the Garmin Edge 1000 demand. Do not be fooled though, this model will still run you around $200.
The Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 comes with a hear rate monitor band, and has a sturdy bike attachment that is easy to put together.
This model will find the best use in a cyclist that is looking to get a high-end package at a mid-range price. Not everyone can afford to drop nearly $400 on a GPS unit, and no one would blame you for looking for a more reasonable price tag!
Garmin Edge 820
Weight: 3.2 ounces
Dimensions: 2.9 x 1.9 x 0.8 inches
Special Features: 2.3” High Resolution Touchscreen Display, Vo2, download free custom apps and data fields, 15-hour battery life, Group track,
Description: The Garmin Edge 820 is an extremely feature rich GPS system that comes standard with all the goodies that Garmin provides. These include ANT+, Garmin Cycle Map, Live Track, Group Track, and more. The Garmin 820 Edge has a 2.3” HD touchscreen display that fits snuggly onto any bike.
While not quite as large as the Garmin Edge 1000, the 820 also comes at a smaller price tag than its older brother.
The Garmin Edge 820 is extremely popular with enthusiasts and cycling professionals alike. Many cyclists swear by the Garmin brand, and the Edge 820 is one of their top performing models.
If you are looking to purchase a truly outstanding system at a smaller price tag than the Garmin Edge 1000, the 820 is the model for you!
Garmin Edge 520 Bike Computer
Weight: 11.2 ounces
Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 2 inches
Special Features: In-ride challenges, ANT+ Compatible, Tracks Function Threshold Power, smart notifications, Automatic Uploading
Description: Garmin constantly finds itself at the top of the GPS world, and many of their systems are considered to be the absolute gold standard when it comes to Bike GPS. The Garmin Edge 520 Bike Computer is no exception to the standard of excellence that Garmin achieves.
The Garmin Edge 520 could be considered the little brother to the Garmin Bike GPS line, and comes in at a much more affordable price tag of around $275.
For those cyclists that are looking for a feature rich Garmin GPS at a fraction of the cost, there are no better systems than the Garmin Edge 520.
Garmin Edge 810 GPS Bike Computer
Weight: 3.5 ounces
Dimensions: 3.7 x 1 x 2 inches
Special Features: Live tracking, Instant Uploads, 2.6” Rugged Touchscreen Display, Garmin Connect & Mobile App, Comprehensive Performance Monitoring
Description: The Garmin Edge 810 was recently over turned as the biggest and best of bike GPS’ when the Edge 1000 came out, but make no mistake, the Edge 810 is still one of the best bike GPS systems around today.
The true difference between the Edge 810 and the Edge 1000 is that the Edge 810 only features a 2.6” display, while the Edge 1000 carries a 3.0” display.
For those cyclists that do not needs to have the largest screen on the market, then the Edge 810 is the perfect GPS for you. All the features that the Garmin line are known are present in the Edge 810, and the price tag can reflect the smaller display, making the purchase a bit easier on your wallet.
Bryton Rider 530 GPS Cycling Computer
Weight: 12 ounces
Dimensions: 2.1 x 4.9 x 5.3 inches
Special Features: High Sensitivity GPS Receiver, IPX7 Waterproof, 7 customizable data screens, 2.6” Touchscreen Display
Description: The Bryton Rider 530 is highly ruggedized bike GPS system. One of the core qualities of the Bryton Rider 530 is the extreme ruggedness that was designed into the system. The Rider is IPX7 Waterproof, meaning that riding in the rain or snow should not be a problem for the system.
People that frequently find themselves riding in the rain, whether from enjoyment or from necessity, this would be the GPS system for you.
The price tag is also quite accommodating, and the system comes with the F Mount to mount it, as well as a bonus Heart Rate Monitor with purchase!
Magellan 505 GPS Cyclo Computer
Weight: 1.25 pounds
Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.4 x 2.6 inches
Special Features: OSM Trail Data, Bluetooth compatible, ANT+, 3” High Res Touchscreen Display, Shimano Di2 Compatible
Description: While Garmin may lead the pack in production of bike GPS systems, Magellan is starting to challenge that crown with the 505 Cyclo Computer. The 505 Cyclo provides users with many of the features that rival the Garmin models.
These features include ANT+, 3.0” Touchscreen Display, OSM Trail Data, and more. This device has a preloaded feature called POI (places of interest) that gives the user the location of good to know places such as hospitals, shop, and more.
The Magellan is a great choice for customers looking to find a less costly effective GPS system for their cycling needs. Purchase the Magellan 505 Cyclo if you want get an extremely high quality device for a low price.
Lezyne Super GPS Bike Computer
Weight: 5.1 ounces
Dimensions: 9 x 2 x 6 inches
Special Features: Altimeter, Bluetooth Compatible, ANT+, Heart Rate Monitor, 22-hour battery
Description: The Lezyne Super GPS is the lowest cost of all the GPS’s on the this list, but still can do everything you need from a bike GPS system. While the size of the screen for this product is lower than the other systems on this list, that also means that this is a smaller device than all the others on this list as well.
If you are looking for an extremely compact bike GPS system, the Lezyne Super GPS is the absolute product for you.
Not only do you get a fantastic GPS system for tracking, it also come with an altimeter, is Bluetooth compatible, comes with a heart rate monitor, and is compatible with ANT+. For the budget conscious ones of us, the Lezyne is your one stop shop for bike GPS systems.
For the cycling loving hobbyist, there is no other device as valuable as a great bike GPS system.
Whether you need to track your progress towards a big triathlon, if you are trying to get back into the shape of your youth, or you are just a hobbyist that wants to keep track of how they are doing, a bike GPS is, by far, the best device you will ever own.
While we may be at the end of our list, you should have the knowledge and information needed to select the perfect GPS for you!
If you noticed that we missed one of your favorite bike GPS systems, or if you want to just give us your own opinion on some of the devices listed here, leave us a comment in the section below! We love to hear from our amazing readers.