The Best Bike GPS for 2018

August 9, 2017

by Suzanne Humphries
The Best Bike GPS for 2018

A bike GPS is a great tool for tracking the performance of your rides, including courses, speed, distance, and altitude, while simply mounting to your bike's handlebars. While certain smartphones offer some of these features, GPS units are specially made for the single purpose, and are smaller, more aerodynamic, more rugged and have a more powerful battery than your smartphone.

Active Junky testers spent days and hours evaluating these bike computers, including the intuitiveness of the software, how easy it was to operate in real use, and the accuracy of its tracking metrics. We’ve pulled together seven of the best bike GPS options on the market to help you find one that fits your cycling goals and your budget. And don’t forget to sign up for Active Junky for exclusive deals and cashback on your gear purchases.

Bike GPS Brands Reviewed

  • Garmin
  • Lezyne
  • Magellan
  • Polar
  • Sigma Sport
  • Wahoo Fitness

How to Choose the Best Bicycle GPS

All biking GPS units we reviewed come with basic features including IPX7 water resistance, compatibility with ANT+ biometric sensors, preloaded course navigation, and track speed, distance and altitude. What makes a GPS unit stand out is additional features, design and functionality. Focus on these questions to determine which model is best for you.

What Features Do You Want?

Beyond the basic functions, some bike GPS models offer extra features. Turn-by-turn navigation is a newer and more accurate option than the old “bread-crumb” style navigation, as it provides systematic directions to your destination. Some software allows for more detailed maps as well, including road names, trail names, nearby restaurants and attractions. Live GPS tracking is also a handy feature that shows where you are on a course in real time via website or app.

Do Weight and Design Matter?

Bike GPS design comes in a large variety. Some of the best bike computers have color screens and touch interfaces, but those are also more pricey. But these can also be more intuitive than other models, as they mimic your smartphone. The majority of models have simple monochrome screens and push buttons.

The weight of your GPS should be a consideration, especially for performance riders and racers as extra weight can add seconds to your times. Many are designed to be sleek and aerodynamic to help cut down on wind drag. The heaviest units we tested were over 4oz while the lightest bike GPS models weighed in right around 2oz.

How Much Battery Life Do You Need?

Battery capacity matters for those distance riders, cross country riders and bike packers, but it can also be a matter of convince to charge your unit less often as batteries in cycling GPSs are not removable to swap out a backup. The average battery life for the cycling computers we tested was around 13 to 15 hours, with the lowest being 10 hours and best being a full 24 hours. Generally units with more advanced features will run their batteries out more quickly than basic models.

Universal Attributes

Each bicycling GPS was reviewed against five attributes, and each unit stood out in one attribute, listed in each review as the key attribute:

Tracking: Does the GPS keep track of speed, distance, altitude, lap time and other metrics? And how accurately?

Navigation: All cycling GPS units we reviewed offer preloaded course navigation, but others offer premium features like detailed mapping, turn-by-turn navigation, and live GPS tracking.

Design: This includes display size and resolution, battery capacity, weight, and button placement, among other design features.

Interface: Features include touchscreen function, Bluetooth connectivity, maximum storage hours and smartphone syncing.

Intuitive (Ease of Use): Testers considered elements such as setup, button design and placement, screen readability and software ease of use.

Garmin Edge 1000

Garmin Edge 1000 Starting at: $360.00

Best Bike GPS

The Garmin Edge 1000 is a feature-loaded bike GPS with many unique capabilities and a touchscreen interface that’s simple to operate while on the move. It’s compatible with ANT+ sensors and syncs with your smartphone for features like live GPS tracking, notifications and automatic data upload. Its unmatched functionality won it our Editor’s Pick for Best Bike GPS.

Pros: The Edge 1000 offers advanced features, including turn-by-turn navigation with Garmin Cycle Map software, which provides on- and off-road navigation. Through your smartphone, Live Track shows your location in real time for anyone tracking your progress in a race or keeping an eye on your location for safety. A well-designed operating system with home screen icons gives the Edge 1000 a familiar, smartphone-like feel.

Cons: This Garmin GPS’s price may be enough for many people to pass on this model. And this is one of the larger bike computers we reviewed at 4oz. and 4in. length.

Bottom Line: The Garmin Edge 1000 has more features and higher functionality than any other bike GPS we tested, making it the best GPS unit for avid cyclists.

Best for: Cyclists looking for a feature-loaded GPS who are not concerned with having the lightest or smallest model

Key Attribute: Navigation

Garmin Edge 520

Garmin Edge 520 Starting at: $240.00

Best Value Bike GPS

The Garmin Edge 520 bike GPS offers a large range of features the brand is known for, but is more affordable than other models without sacrificing function. It’s also a durable little bike computer with an intuitive interface and software that pairs with your smartphone and external sensors. For its feature set and lower price point, the Garmin Edge 520 is the Best Value Bike GPS Active Junky reviewed.

Pros: With its 2.3-inch screen and a weight of 2.1 ounces, the Edge 520 is one of the most minimal bike GPSs we tested, and the 15-hour battery life is on the better end of average. Garmin’s Live Track offers instant GPS tracking via Garmin Connect app or the website. It also includes turn-by-turn navigation and detailed mapping.

Cons: This Garmin GPS does not have a touchscreen interface, and its 180-hour storage capacity is one of the smallest of the models we tested.

Bottom Line: The Garmin Edge 520 is an outstanding bike GPS, especially at its price point. Its functionality and design are nearly unmatched without lacking much from Garmin’s higher-end bike GPSs.

Best for: Those who appreciate Garmin’s advanced features and quality while staying within a budget

Key Attribute: Navigation

Lezyne Super GPS

Lezyne Super GPS

Best Battery Life

The Lezyne Super GPS is one of the most customizable bike GPS options on the market, with adjustable alerts, presets, fields and page counts. It also has the longest battery life of any device we tested, lasting 24 hours compared to the average of 12 to 15 hours in other models, giving it our shoutout for the bike GPS with the Best Battery Life.

Pros: A clear bonus of the Super GPS is its outstanding battery life rated for 24 hours with standard usage, which is great for those who spend hours and hours in the saddle training or riding extreme distances. It has a storage capacity of 400 hours, as well, which is twice that of the Garmin Edge 1000.

Cons: The preloaded maps don’t display street names or other fine map details, and even though it is one of the smaller bike GPS units we tested, it weighs several ounces more than the lightest models.

Bottom Line: The Lezyne Super GPS is a budget-friendly bike GPS with the longest lasting battery of any we tested.

Best for: Distance riders and bike packers who need a long battery life

Key Attribute: Design

Magellan Cyclo 505 HC

Magellan Cyclo 505 HC

The Magellan Cyclo 505 HC offers a solid set of navigation features, including preloaded maps, turn-by-turn navigation, and detailed mapping. The “HC” in this Magellan model includes heart rate and cadence senor built in. It is also the only bike GPS we reviewed that offers automatic route finding. ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible allows you to sync with your smartphone for addition metric tracking, music playback and notifications.

Pros: A unique feature of the Magellan Cyclo 505 is automatic route finding, “Surprise Me”: you determine the distance or time you want to ride, and this bike computer offers a few suggested routes to meet those specifications. Its backtrack function allows you to retrace the path you came from in case you get a little lost. It is also the only bike GPS in our reviews that offers built-in heart rate and cadence tracking—all other are ANT+ sensor compatible, but this Magellan GPS does it all.

Cons: Tied for the most expensive bike GPS we reviewed, some may decide the extra “HC” features aren’t worth the price tag. This cycle computer is also the largest of the GPS models we reviewed, at 4.6oz and with a 3in screen. The 12-hour battery life is also on the low side of the spectrum.

Bottom Line: The Magellan Cyclo 505 HC is powerful enough for professional and amateur cyclists alike and offers built-in biometric tracking, though its relatively weak battery capacity, larger size and price point may turn off some bikers.

Best For: Wandering cyclists who would benefit from auto route finding while riding in unfamiliar areas

Key Attribute: Tracking

Sigma Sport Rox 11.0

Sigma Sport Rox 11.0

While the Sigma Sport Rox 11.0 may look like a basic bike computer with its LCD monochrome screen, it still offers all the basic tracking and GPS features you’d expect and in a package smaller than most other bike GPS devices we reviewed. But it does lack some advanced navigation features the best bike GPS devices include.

Pros: The Rox includes ANT+ sensor compatibility so you can monitor heart rate, pedal power and pedal cadence. The altimeter on this model is more accurate than with many others because rather than using the GPS, its measurements are based on atmospheric pressure. A 1,000-hour storage is much larger than many other GPS units we reviewed.

Cons: The user interface can be complicated to navigate, and it utilizes bread-crumb navigation rather than the turn-by-turn navigation you’ll find in higher-end GPS models. It also does not have detailed mapping or live GPS tracking features. A 13-hour battery life is on the lower end of average, but will be adequate for most rides.

Bottom Line: A clunky user-interface and lower battery capacity may deter some cyclists, but the Sigma Sport Rox’s performance and functionality standout compared to similar models in the same price range.

Best for: A budget GPS for commuters or leisure riders who can deal without some advanced navigation features

Key Attribute: Design

Polar V650

Polar V650

The Polar V650 is a bike GPS with an industry leading storage capacity and incredibly user-friendly interface. It is missing some advanced navigation features, like turn-by-turn navigation, but it tracks all the basics, is ANT+ sensor compatible and comes with preloaded detailed maps.

Pros: With up to 10,000 hours of data storage, this bike computer is second-to-none in memory capacity, which is great for those training and working to beat personal records. Its interface is one of the most intuitive of any cycling GPS we reviewed, and the entire device is overall a user-friendly bike computer.

Cons: This Polar GPS device is missing a few nice features: turn-by-turn navigation, live GPS tracking and smartphone notifications. It’s also on the heavier side at 4.2oz, though it also has a larger screen than many other models. One of the biggest downsides is its 10-hour battery life, which is the lowest capacities of any other model we tested.

Bottom Line: The Polar V650’s storage capacity blows away the competition, but its dismal battery life—and the lack of some navigation features—may make its memory irrelevant to some distance and marathon riders.

Best for: A first-time bike GPS, shorter rides, training and improving on previous rides

Key Attribute: Ease of Use

Wahoo Fitness Elemnt Bolt

Wahoo Fitness Elemnt Bolt Starting at: $240.00

The Wahoo Fitness Elemnt Bolt is one of the smallest and most aerodynamic bike GPS on the market. The brand teamed up with cycling experts to design this bike computer to produce 50 less drag than similar devices while still providing powerful tracking and connectivity compatibilities.

Pros: This compact bike GPS weighs in at 2.1oz and has a small 2.2in. display while still offering a 15-hour battery life and 2,000-hour internal storage, which is impressive and 10x many other cycling GPS models. Another nice feature is Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to download maps and sync ride data without tethering up to a computer.

Cons: While the Bolt is easy to use, initially its buttons weren’t intuitive as they don’t have any labeling, and even have an appearance of a vent or speaker. You cannot manually adjust its screen’s brightness, as well.

Bottom Line: Though the Wahoo Fitness Elemnt Bolt may be missing a few options its competitors offer, its small size and large storage will be perfect for many cyclists.

Best for: Serious cyclists looking for a compact GPS with an artillery of navigation features and ample storage

Key Attribute: Interface


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