A bike computer is a great way of getting more from your cycling experience.
Triathletes, weekend cyclists, and commuters alike are constantly looking to get more out of their rides. You can track your cycling using a variety of tools, including a multipurpose or tri watch and an app like May my Ride. You can spend $600 on a power meter if you want to be more precise in your workouts.
With all the precision training apps and products today, it is important to track speed, route, mileage, and any other measurable. A high-end fitness watch or multisport watch can do a great job tracking your rides and key stats. However, they will fall apart if you require navigation. A bike computer’s greatest benefit is its ability help you navigate. This can be done by determining your current location or providing turn-by-turn directions, just like a car GPS.
Bike computers are specifically designed for cyclists and can provide valuable information about your ride route and stats. They are waterproof and have a longer battery life than a phone. The safety factor of not having to fiddle with your watch is also significant.
There are many good options for cycling computers, and you can get a decent bike computer at a reasonable price. You can expect to spend anywhere from $350 to $35 for a fully functioning, wireless computer that is compatible apps, smart trainers and for something very basic. We’ve compiled a list of the top products that have many useful functions and are easy to choose from.
These are our top 5 bike computers at the moment
|It’s what we like
|Where to find it
|Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
|Strong GPS and reliable readout. Excellent bluetooth connectivity for your phone.
|People who are looking for a reliable, mid-range computer.
|Small. It is compact and takes up very little space. Basic stats.
|Bikes that are smaller than others
|Garmin Edge 830
|Compatible with Garmin devices. This is becoming a common standard. All data you need. It’s less expensive than the 1030.
|Garmin groupies are people with enough money to buy a high-end computer.
|Beautiful graphics and advanced mapping options.
|People who have a healthy financial budget, bike commuters and bike explorers, and gear addicts.
Karoo 2 Cycling Computer
The Best High-End Bicycle Computer. The best overall bike computer. Hammerhead’s Karoo is changing the landscape in bike computer technology. It’s exciting to see a new product on the market, which had been steadily improving.
We love Hammerhead’s ability to do one thing well. The Karoo 2 is their only product.
The Karoo offers a variety of practical and amazing features. It has a higher resolution screen than bikes computers and vivid colors. You can also use the Karoo offline to get your bearings. This touchscreen navigation technology is something that has been available in other technologies, but was not yet available in bike computers.
We are most impressed by the device’s pure functionality, not just the bells and whistles. It doesn’t just show routes but also shoes items like water stops and toilets, which are useful for long rides. We are most drawn to the map’s ability to show different types of roads. This allows us to compare good routes, like bike lanes, with bad ones such as highways. We are passionate about bicycle safety and that is what makes this a game-changer. It’s a bit like Waze for bikes.
The Karoo isn’t cheap at $399, but it offers enough advanced features and breakthrough functionality to make it worth the investment. Hammerhead’s approach to product development is something we admire. They have one product, the Karoo. We are excited for the future and will be closely following it. The Karoo has been diligently checking off the mental “wishlist” for our bikes computers so far.
The Karoo 2 is Hammerhead’s only computer product. It costs $400, but it might be worth it if your budget allows.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
Wahoo Bolt shown with mounting bracket
This computer is for those who are looking for a reliable, functional computer. This is the Wahoo computer’s current flagship product. It was designed by and for cyclists.
The Elemnt Bolt is a sleek, stylish device that seamlessly integrates with a smartphone app. The product is very easy to use, and screens can be set up via your smartphone. You can sync your phone with the unit’s bluetooth functionality to keep track of your speed, distance, time and elevation. Wahoo is the manufacturer of the smart trainer that we love, making it a fully compatible system for indoor training. This allows them to be very precise when it comes down to smart bike training and helps Wahoo establish their reputation as a trusted manufacturer of advanced bike technology.
A pressure-based altimeter can provide accurate elevation readings, but this functionality can also be used with GPS. We were impressed by the battery life of this unit, which lasts for 15 hours. It is easy to mount and use the unit. It will take you the longest time to customize it so that your in-ride feed looks exactly as you want. You might set up Strava, which integrates well with it, or you could focus on being able very quickly to see your pace, mileage, and other details. It can also be used indoors with a Zwift or another similar app.
The bundle that comes along with the optional Elemnt Bolt Package is impressive. It includes a hub speed sensor, cadence sensor and a heart rate monitor. This bundle is ideal for anyone looking to train precision.
Bluetooth communication is also available for receiving call and text alerts. Turn by turn navigation is also included. This makes it extremely useful, provided you’re careful on the road. It can be found here on Amazon.
Lezyne Mini GPS
This is the best option if you’re trying to save space and don’t want too many features. For some cyclists, advanced functionality and a lot of data can be overwhelming. The Lezyne Mini is a good choice if you are looking for something simple and small. This lovely bicycle computer has a simple, elegant design that is ideal for anyone looking for an easy-to-use device with all the essential functions. The device is lightweight, small and portable. It also features a customizable LCD display. The screen is approximately one inch by one inch
The Lezyne is a simple, but very useful product that can display a variety of metrics such as time of day, temperature, speed and distance. Because the display is so small, it can only be used for one piece of data. This display is not for those who wish to look down at their computer to see multiple variables, such as their VO2 max or segment status. However, it is ideal for those who just need simplicity and reliable GPS.
Battery life has been reported to be shorter-than-expected in some cases (unverified by us). Although the company claims that the battery lasts for over 20 hours, it stops working after 10 hours. It can be charged with a USB cable.
We would also consider the Wahoo Elmnt Mini ( on Amazon). It is another space-saver. Lezyne is a little more appealing to us because it has a more detailed screen and tactile buttons that can be used while you’re on the go.
If you’re on a tight budget and still need smart, wireless features, the Lezyne Mini computer is a great choice. You can find it here on Amazon.
CatEye Velo Padrone Cyclocomputer
A basic computer for people on a budget. With a battery life of up to three years, the CatEye Velo Padrone Cyclocomputer is a great choice for those who want to simplify. It also features a wired speed sensor that displays all stats: current, maximum, average speed, pace, arrow, trip distance, and elapsed times. The device can detect when you stop and will automatically stop counting time and averaging speed whenever you are stopped at a red light.
However, we don’t intend to make you believe that the product will be comparable to Karoo or Elemnt at this price. It’s not the same product.
Spend more on wireless if you can. This is a great way to save money if you have less than $75.
Shop at Amazon.
Garmin Edge 830
Garmin’s loyalists. We don’t include any other Garmin models because both models are touchscreen. Let’s look at the 830, which is slightly less expensive. The Edge 1030+ is a great option for those who want to keep everything in Garmin’s family. It has a slightly larger screen and a longer battery life but costs a few hundred more than the 830.
The Garmin Edge830 can track your ride via GPS, send messages and text to people if there are any problems, and even calculate your recovery time by using Garmin Connect. This is so cool! It is compatible with Strava, which is one of its best features. The computer can be used as a navigation system and can show you Strava segments. You will be notified when you are on different segments. Although Garmin’s evolution is slower than other companies, we still respect Garmin for its ability to constantly improve its products and never stop learning.
We have found that the 830 and 1030 take a bit of time to learn how to navigate the various options. This is especially true when you are riding along on a bike. It will be necessary to practice with the navigation, at least when you are not using it immediately for your next run.
The 830 has a variety of data screen segments and offers rich metrics choices. It can also be synced to your smartphone. We love that it can sync with weather apps to tell you when the rain will start. It is a great all-around computer made by a company we trust for many years. It may also be slightly more affordable depending on where it is located. While we would be happy to purchase one, we recommend that you also look at the Elemnt or Karoo before making your decision.
You can find here on Amazon.
Are Bike Computers Worth the Investment?
We believe so, especially when it comes to navigation.
Let’s get to the point: Precision is important in your training. There are many ways to achieve this. Others will argue that you should just go out and ride and have fun. We get it. But science has proven that you can track your efforts and dial in your workouts with precision.
We believe there are four ways to measure your ride speed and ride time on the bike. A computer is the most efficient and economical.
A multisport watch like one from Garmin and Polar is another option. These watches can be used for both the swim and the run. However, it is safer and more convenient to look at the computer from your wrist than to use it to monitor your progress. A bike computer’s layout is meant to provide all the information you need at a glance without you having to fiddle with it. It’s not necessary to take your hands off the handlebar. The watch’s at-a glance readout is limited and it can be dangerous to look at your wrist while you cruise along at 20 mph. We can appreciate the desire to use a watch as your primary device, even though it cost $450.
You can also use the right application on your phone, but this has its own downsides. The phone’s battery life is shorter than a computer and isn’t as waterproof as a smartphone in the rain. Products that are purpose-built are also preferred. Your phone is your communication device. It can also be used as a music and podcast machine, GPS, or other purposes. Although we like the simplicity of having an independent device that is a bike computer, that’s only us.
You can also use a powermeter. However, a powermeter does not provide the hardware to measure your power. A readout is still required. Combining a computer with a power meter is incredibly powerful. A power meter and a bike computer are not mutually exclusive. You can use them both as complementary devices. If you are looking to improve your riding and get more precise training, you should consider combining the two.
A bike computer’s true value lies in its ability to navigate. What gravel road do you need to take to get to the next one? Or is it the one that you see just a bit further along? It’s great to be able to navigate accurately on unfamiliar roads, even if you’re riding for 60 miles. This is where computers really shine.
How to mount a bicycle computer on your bike
The method of mounting the computer to your bike will vary depending on what product you have. While we will give you some tips to help you understand what to expect, you should always refer to the instructions provided by the manufacturer on how to mount the computer and how to use it.
Many computers come with a mount or can be mounted directly to the bike using a set rugged rubber bands. The mount is preferred by most users. While the bands work well on smooth roads, the computer can move about and even fall off on bumpy trails if it is using the bands.
Mounting wireless bike computers
Today’s majority of bike computers, including all those we mentioned above, are wireless. We will focus on this first.
- After you have removed the packaging from your computer and put the batteries in, you will now have some parts to work with. These include the computer, the handlebar mount and transmitter, as well as the zip (cable), ties and the magnet.
If you don’t plan on riding rough trails, a simple ring mount will work.
- Install the mount to your handlebars if you don’t have one. It is easy and intuitive and can be done using an allen wrench or a bike wrench. Make sure to not damage your handlebars. If you have a torque wrench with the correct torque, use it! After the mount has been placed on the handlebars, it is time to attach your computer to it. Computers can often be used with mounts from other manufacturers if you put in some elbow grease.
- It is highly recommended to train yourself and program the computer before installation. This makes it easier to use and gives you a better understanding of how the computer works before you attach it to your bike. Once you have done this, you can install the computer mount on your handlebar.
- Get it aligned correctly. Turn the bottom clip towards you. Attach the handlebar to the mount by grabbing the ties and putting them through the bottom slots. Attach it loosely. Slide it along the handlebar until you find the exact spot for your computer. After you are satisfied with the position, tighten your ties.
- Next, grab your computer.
These steps are only applicable to computers with wheel transmitters. They are less valuable than computers that use GPS-based computers.
- Place the transmitter on the fork. It should be mounted on the front of the fork, not the back. By doing this, the wheel will not push the transmitter into the spokes but push it away. Attach the transmitter to your fork by putting the ties through the holes. Allow it to loosen a little before you make any final adjustments.
- You can loosen the magnet until it is large enough to fit the spoke in the smallest space. Place the magnet onto the spoke. Line it up with your transmitter and then tighten it down on the spoke.
- Final adjustments to transmitter: make sure it is even with magnet. Spin the wheel to check speed. If everything is fine, tighten the tie.
- You’re good to go!
Mounting wired bike computers
Although wireless bike computers are rapidly disappearing, we do have some information about mountain bikes. We recommend that you get a wireless bicycle computer if you are interested in our recommendation.
- To eliminate excess wires from wired computers wrap the wire around the brake or derailleur cables. Make sure there is no excess cable near the transmitter. You can wrap it tightly enough around the cable to eliminate any slack but not limit your ability turn the handlebars.
- You can test it in several positions to ensure that you have complete range of motion in your steering. You can loosen the cable if it is too tight.
- Once you have everything mounted, spin the wheel to verify that it is reading accurately on your computer. Then tighten everything.
- Every wired bike computer is different so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
The Lezyne’s profile is smaller than a credit card, but not as small.
The cycling computer has become an integral part of the cycling scene. There are so many great products available, so you just need to pick the one that suits your needs. Then, enjoy your ride! While we believe wireless is the best option, we understand that some people prefer wired versions due to budget constraints or other reasons.
Verdict: Which Bike Computer Is Best?
It is difficult to say which bike computer is best. It all depends on what the computer can do. It is possible to have a difficult time answering this question because everyone’s ideal bike computer may be different.
Each of the above-mentioned bicycle computers is one we recommend for different situations. Bike computers we don’t believe have the right capabilities are not included in our list. We know you’re going to want us to be bold, so here is what we would say.
The Best Budget Bike Computer
The Cateye Padrone ( on Amazon) is the best budget option. It is simple, but it doesn’t offer mapping. It will provide the functionality you want, but it is affordable enough to allow you to track your ride’s progress. It is currently available for purchase at less than $75.
Best Bike Computer for Touring
The Karoo is the best choice if you plan to ride long distances through unfamiliar territory. The Karoo’s navigation and mapping technology are top-notch. The Wahoo ( on Amazon), is a highly competent runner-up and is widely available.
Best Garmin Bike Computer
We are aware that there are Garmin loyalists. Maybe you like the integration of data between your Garmin Connect app, Garmin watch and bike computer. We love the Edge 520 ( on Amazon). This is a great all-round bike computer that has the Garmin quality you would expect.