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9 best GPS cycling computers

Track your training and plot your progress with one of these smart devices

  • Aaron Roe
  • Wednesday 19 September 2018 15:00
Record your speed, distance and heart rate as you cycle

Uploading bike rides to apps such as Strava is now a post-ride ritual for many amateur cyclists. A bike GPS is a great tool for recording your speed, distance and other useful metrics so you can train smarter. But today’s devices offer so much more.

Look out for models with ANT+ and Bluetooth which allow you to connect phones and sensors such as power meters and heart rate monitors.

Some also have Strava live segments compatibility, making solo training sessions less tedious by offering a virtual training partner for you to race on your favourite hills. Others boast amazing mapping capabilities, allowing you to head into the wild to explore.

Garmin Edge 520 Plus: £234, Halfords

This one can pretty much do it all: It has ANT+ compatibility so it’ll talk to your sensors and there’s Bluetooth to link your phone with, allowing you to upload your rides in seconds and receive text and call notifications on the move.

It can even let loved ones know if it detects you have been in a crash. You can pair it to your Strava account to get live segments and the claimed 15 hours battery life should be plenty for most riders.

The buttons are big enough to operate even with gloves on. Navigation is via simple colour maps and this latest version can re-route you on the move if you take a wrong turn.

As well as the standard Garmin quarter-turn mount there’s also a quality out the front bracket in the box so you can position it ahead of your handlebars – pro-style.

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Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt: £199, Evans Cycles

We can forgive Wahoo for misspelling its name as the Elemnt is an amazing little device. It’s got ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity for sensors and your phone, plus great navigation capabilities.

Upload a route from Strava and the line of LEDs across the top of the unit will flash a warning if you stray off the trail marked out by arrows on the 2.2-inch black and white screen.

The same LEDs will let you know whether you are in your chosen heart rate zone when paired with a compatible monitor. We really like the fact you can zoom in or out of the different data fields on screen, meaning you can have as much or as little information on the screen as you want.

Wahoo has worked hard to make the Elemnt aerodynamic and when it’s slotted into the included sculpted handlebar mount they claim it can save you just over 12 seconds in a 40km time trial.

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Lezyne Mega XL: £180, Wiggle

Awesome battery life is the big selling point for the Mega XL – Lezyne claims up to a whopping 48 hours thanks to its use of a 2.7-inch black and white screen rather than a power-sapping colour one. It will pair with your phone and ANT+ sensors and you can customise the array of data fields you see on screen.

Unusually, this solid little unit can be mounted in either portrait or landscape format. It feels solid enough to stand a few bumps and knocks, making it a good choice if you enjoy riding trails.

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Beeline Smart Compass: £99.99, Evans Cycles

This fun gadget is great for finding your way around town. After selecting your destination via the companion app you can put your phone away and follow the arrow which points towards your target while letting you know how far you have got to go.

You’re then free to pick your own way there, safe in the knowledge you’re heading in the right direction. It won’t suit those like to stick to set routes, but if you’re the type who loves seeking out new tracks and lanes you’ll love it.

The rubberised mount slips on and off all sizes of handlebars in seconds and doubles up as a protective case.

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Mio Cyclo 605 HC: £300, Mantel

With its huge four-inch colour touchscreen, this monster is perfect for exploring – the extra on-screen space for its built-in maps really makes a difference.

We loved the “surprise me” mode which is a fun way to find new roads and trails – it can create a random route based on how long, how far or where you want to ride. At £300 it’s a great value given that it comes boxed with heart rate, speed and cadence sensors.

There’s also a code allowing you access to full European maps. 

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Polar V650 HRM: £174.99, Evans Cycles

Polar are best known for their heart rate monitors but they make some great cycling tech too. With a 2.8-inch touch screen and just two buttons, this was a breeze to operate on the move.

While riding you can swipe through five pages of data showing things such as heart rate zones, speed and time, there’s also a detailed map for navigation. Polar have built in a forward facing LED meaning you’ll have a handy emergency light should you get stuck miles from home when night falls.

The Polar Flow app also gives you feedback on your ride and highlights areas where you can make gains.

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Garmin Edge 25: £102.99, Halfords

If you just want to know the basics – like speed, time and distance ridden – then the dinky little Edge 25 is for you. It’s the size of a digital watch yet you can still connect it to ANT+ sensors.

There’s also Bluetooth to link your phone, allowing people to follow your ride in real time using the Live Track feature. The different modes are accessed via four buttons at the sides and battery life is an impressive eight hours – quite a feat from something this small.

The tiny dimensions mean Garmin has used a clip-on “cradle” style charging dock instead of a standard USB cable, so don’t forget to take it with you if you head off on a weekend away.

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Polar M460 HRM: £169.9, Evans Cycles

Polar’s smaller M460 comes bundled with an optical heart rate monitor designed to go around your arm – great for anyone who finds a chest strap restrictive. A more compact model than the V650, it will still record all your usual metrics, pick up notifications from your phone and show Live Segments.

The textured buttons are easy to operate, and battery life is excellent for its size – up to 16 hours from a charge. It’s worth pointing out that while there is Bluetooth there’s no ANT+, so some sensors will not be compatible.

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Sigma ROX 12.0: £388.95, BikeInn

Eagle-eyed bike racing fans will have spotted this sleek device on Dutch star Tom Dumoulin’s steed at the Tour de France this summer. It’s a good looking GPS that’s about the size of a smartphone. If you don’t care for the plain white finish you can buy coloured covers to customise it to your taste.

This Sport Set version is pricey but comes packaged with some great accessories including a high quality out front handlebar mount, cadence/speed sensor and heart monitor.

We liked the highly responsive touchscreen and were impressed with the navigation options, including the option to enter an address and then get turn-by-turn instructions to lead you to it. There’s also a "Draw My Route" function so you can pen your own route through the local hills.

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OS Trail Bike: £439.99, Ordnance Survey

We’ve got the best maps in the world in the UK – and with this device you can take them with you on your adventures. If you paid attention in geography you’ll know the detail in an OS map lets you read terrain in a way other mapping systems can’t match. Being able to see changing contour lines and surfaces is really handy, especially if you are riding off-road. 

The Trail Bike comes loaded with full 1:50 scale GB maps and you can pick six “tiles” of the more detailed 1:25k maps. If you want more tiles you can buy them from the OS website. You navigate around the 3.7 inch touchscreen with a tiny joystick and the device works with all your sensors and hooks up to Wi-Fi so you can download routes. OS say the battery will last up to a whopping 20 hours, making it great for weekends in the wilds.

At more than £400 it’s pricey, but if you’re someone who loves cycling and hill walking, it’s well worth a look.

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The Verdict: Best GPS cycling computers

Your choice of GPS unit will depend on your favourite type of riding – free spirits will adore the quirky Beeline to help them get around, while those who crave data will appreciate the mass of information on offer from the Lezyne.

The mammoth Mio is a good choice for touring cyclists, while our Best Buy, the Garmin Edge 520 Plus is a great all-rounder that’s packed with features. 

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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