The 10 Best Biking Computers
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2015. If your cycling activities involve more than quick jaunts to the grocery store, then you may be interested in one of these bike computers. In addition to tracking bicycle speed and distance, some can also interface with heart rate monitors, tell the time and temperature, and upload training and GPS data to a smartphone, so you can find new ways to improve your fitness and performance. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
April 06, 2021:
We removed the Polar M460 due to availability issues, and eliminated the Xplova X5 Evo for similar reasons, even though we still love the idea of a computer with an onboard action camera. We also replaced the Bryton Aero 60E with the Bryton Rider 750T, which impressed us with its 16-gigabyte harddrive and voice-search functionality. The latter feature relies on voice-recognition technology from Google, and can recognize more than 100 languages, which allows for some impressive flexibility.
We also added the iGsport iGS618, which can store up to 3,000 hours worth of riding data, and comes equipped with an IPX7 water resistance that leaves it ready to endure 30-minute submersion in a meter of water. Its 2.2-inch screen is a bit on the small side, but still manages to produce an engaging color display, and we liked how it was compatible with ANT+ radars and heart rate monitors.
Our last new addition, the Xinji Bike Light Set, is, as the name suggests, arguably more of a bike light than a bike computer, but we still thought it was well worth including at the bottom of our list. On top of equipping your bike with lights (yes, plural, it comes with a separate tail light), and a practical bike horn, this budget-friendly unit can also track a few relevant facts, like your trip distance and top speed. Compared to advanced models in this category, it’s quite feature bare, but if you’re looking for something simple that won’t break the bank, this might be the ticket. It also might help you present your kids with a cool way to be safer on their bikes.
If you’re already shopping for computers, chances are that you’ve already got the bike to match it. But, in case you’re reverse engineering the situation, you might want to check out some of our related rankings. We’ve got lists of everything from kid’s bikes to fat tire electric bikes.
February 20, 2020:
A number of models have seen upgrades since our last ranking, and those new models, like the Cat Eye Padrone and the Bryton Aero 60E offer wireless connectivity with their speed and cadence sensors to make installation much easier than it used to be. Some models didn't see such upgrades, and were either phased out by their companies or disappeared from the market completely, like the West Biking on our old list. That model, if you look closely at the market's offerings, is actually offered by a large number of different companies, calling its quality into question.
Among the totally new additions to our list are two models from Garmin in the Garmin Edge 1030 GPS and the Garmin Edge 520 Plus, both of which have excellent GPS performance, though only the 1030 offers a touchscreen interface, making its little brother a bit more difficult to use. We also included the Xplova X5 Evo, which doubles as an action cam with a 120-degree lens built into the front of its housing to record the progress of your rides. It can even be set to start recording at a specific speed, so you only use up memory taping the best action.
Hammerhead Karoo 2 This well-built model has a durable color touchscreen that boasts twice the pixels of its closest competitor, and the unit is also equipped with physical buttons, in case you prefer not to get you screen smudged. Looking out for their customers in the long run, the company regularly offers free software updates, and backs this device with a crash-replacement warranty. hammerhead.io
Xplova X5 Evo This machine combines two highly sought after technologies by integrating a reliable tracker with an action cam that's equipped with a 120-degree wide-angle lens. It comes with international maps, and it's a pleasure to interact with software on its color screen. xplova.com
Sigma Rox 12.0 Sport This unit includes convenient Wi-Fi connectivity that makes it easy to upload your intended route in the morning and download your gathered data in the evening, for analysis. It can interface with e-bikes, to keep riders advised of their charge level and remaining range, and it'll even remind you when it's time to have a drink or stop for a snack. sigmasport.com
The Advantages Of A Modern Biking Computer
The biking computer has since advanced to include measurements like cadence.
One of the main uses for a biking computer is to track the distance traveled on rides. This practice goes back to the late 19th century, with the invention of the cyclometer by Albert Rockwell. Rockwell was an inventor who brought the bicycling world coaster brakes, handlebar bells, and the first biking computer. His cyclometer was a device that measured how many times the wheels of a bicycle rotated while in motion. Each rotation moved an analog display unit on the handlebars by a preset number, roughly determining the distance traveled.
The biking computer has since advanced to include measurements like cadence. The cadence of a cyclist is also known as the pedaling rate, and it is the number of revolutions the crankset makes per minute. For competition athletes, cadence is an important factor to consider, as it can help increase endurance, reduce stress on the knees, and spread the amount of work being done throughout the process of shifting.
Newer advancements made in bicycle computing include the storage and transmission of data. With older biking computers, not only was the rider limited to a smaller amount of data, they also had no way of recording that data to keep track of their progress. Modern biking computers provide a wealth of information about every ride; they can also easily store and transfer all of that data to various computer programs. This data allows riders to analyze their performance, keeping track of areas of high progress while bringing attention to areas of their ride that could use improvement.
How Healthy Is Biking?
A functional aerobic exercise is anything that stimulates the heart and breathing rates to increase the delivery of oxygen to working muscles, which provides conditioning to the cardiovascular system.
Aerobic exercises such as biking keep the body in a state of optimal health. The human body is designed for movement. Scientists find that people who do consistent aerobic exercise have a greatly reduced risk of mortality. This can be attributed to the many health benefits associated with an aerobic exercise routine such as biking.
Biking helps to increase how much oxygen is absorbed from each breath in the lungs.
Biking regularly can increase the health of the cardiovascular system, as well as the health of the entire body. Long term aerobic exercise such as biking also increases the efficiency of the heart. A muscle at work requires a lot of oxygen in order to feed the cells and remove toxins from the muscle tissue.
Cardiovascular exercise increases the output of the heart, improving blood volume and oxygen delivery to muscles. As the amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat increases, the lungs need to increase their oxygen absorption efficiency. Biking helps to increase how much oxygen is absorbed from each breath in the lungs. As oxygen helps to eliminate toxins from the body tissues, this also equates to a healthier immune system.
It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population will suffer an episode of major depression at some point in their lives. Scientists are constantly searching for ways to address this epidemic, and exercise may be one of them. In addition to pharmacological therapy, implementing and maintaining an exercise routine like biking may also reduce symptoms of depression in people diagnosed with clinical depression.
Why Biking Is Better Than Running
Bicycling is one of the most beneficial aerobic exercises for the body. The combination of a high-intensity workout with a low-impact modality makes for efficient, highly effective exercise.
Riding a bicycle to pick up a prescription or drop off a library book eliminates the cost of gas and parking meters, and benefits the body at the same time.
Throughout history, humans walked on the surface of the Earth itself. The natural surfaces of the Earth, such as dirt and grass, act to cushion the impact of the body's steps. In modern society, however, most surfaces are paved. Modern surfaces such as concrete provide no shock absorption, which means that the impact of every step in the body is absorbed by the joints. Though the joints of the hip, ankle and knee act to cushion the bones and protect them from impact, they can wear down over time.
Jogging or running on hard surfaces like this can actually make the joints wear down faster. This is unacceptable for people looking to keep their body in shape. Bicycling works out the same muscle group as running or jogging, but removes the impact to the joints which leads to degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Unlike many other forms of exercise, riding a bicycle is also a legitimate form of transportation. Riding a bike is often exponentially faster than running, allowing a bicyclist to cover a great distance in a relatively short amount of time. This means that errands and other daily tasks can be accomplished as part of a workout. Riding a bicycle to pick up a prescription or drop off a library book eliminates the cost of gas and parking meters, and benefits the body at the same time.
Riding a bicycle to work can turn a normal commute into a workout. There is also the added benefit of reducing your carbon footprint by riding a bicycle, but if the focus is just on personal benefit, bicycling is still one of the greatest low-impact workouts in modern society.