Best Fitness Trackers for Cycling
The 5 best choices.
When it comes to tracking their activity, cyclists need a device that is accurate, reliable and comfortable. While there are plenty of fitness monitors that will do a great job when you’re walking or doing moderate activity.
The field narrows considerably when it comes to specialized training for serious athletes. In this articles we zero in on the best fitness tracker for cycling.
For those that want to gradually increase fitness, these products give you a very accurate way to keep an eye on your performance.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 8 hrs of research
Pros good range of features
Nice Battery life
- Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband
- Apple Watch
- Nike FuelBand SE
- Garmin VivoFit 2
- TomTom Spark 3 Cardio +Music
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband
Pros good range of features
Nice Battery life
Some prefer a more heavy duty design
The FitBit Charge 2 HR is the most powerful device in the Fitbit stable.
Enjoy our line up of 5 top watches.
It is fitted with GPS capability. It has a large LCD wrist display, and will efficiently cycle through your stats. The screen is backlit, has a touchscreen and is also controlled by three side buttons.
This is a nice user-friendly device and very easy to operate.
The Charge 2 HR features a heart rate monitor and provides real-time workout data.Read more
FitBit have packed eight sensors into this device, allowing it to track more metrics than you get with most other devices. A built-in altimeter will allow you to track the floors climbed.
The GPS technology will allow you to track your cycling route. You will get step-by-step graph readouts covering all main data points.
GPS allows you to have detailed tracking done without having to carry your phone with you on the ride. You get exercise shortcuts, these will include a really broad choice of sports.
When you are ready to cycle, you first select Exercise on the FitBit HR. You then choose ‘Bike’. The Charge will then acquire a GPS signal. While you are cycling, it will show you your time, your average speed and the miles traveled per hour, the running heart rate of speed, the total of calories burned up during exercise and a clock. When your ride is over, simply push the ‘finish line’ button. It will then display a reader-friendly summary of your times, the total distance traveled, overall speeds, and the max-speed, average heart rate beats each minute, all calories burned and the amount of elevation gained or lost.
Once you’ve finished your ride, you can log into the app to see a summary. This will show you the distance, the time it took, and your average speed. You’ll also be able to see a map of where you went, a graph of your speed, your time in the different heart rate zones, peak cardio speed and fat burn. Below that you’ll see a graph to confirm heart rate. Scroll down further to see the calories burned during the ride. The last thing you’ll see will be the impact on your day - the calories burned and the number of minutes that you were busy and active.
The process of monitoring is exactly the same for any other type of exercise. This gives you a pretty good idea, then, of the level of detailed analysis that you can get with the FitBit Charge 2 HR.
2. Apple Watch
Full range of features
Good battery life
There are three versions of the Apple watch:
Apple Watch Sport
Apple Watch Edition
The only difference between the three editions is the materials that they are made of and the bands.
The Apple Sport is the best for cycling. Every watch comes in two sizes, a 38 millimeter and a 42 millimeter, designed as a men’s size and a women’s size.Read more
The Apple watch is an accessory for your iPhone. It is not a stand-alone device or a replacement for your phone. It is a companion. It’s four primary functions are:
A relayer of phone notifications
A remote control for your phone
It acts as a fitness activity and sports tracker
The designed-in heart rate monitor on the underside of the watch is very good. It will take your heart rate every ten minutes and automatically log that information into Apple’s health app. It also tracks your heart rate continuously during exercise if you are using the native Apple workout app.
The workout app allows you to leave your phone behind when you are doing a workout. It will estimate your distance, calories burned and heart rate. If you have a playlist, you can cycle with just your Bluetooth headphones and your watch.
For cardio workouts, such as cycling, the optical heart rate sensor is nicely accurate. This is in contrast to many other brands out there where you find a drop-off inaccuracy as the exercise becomes more intense. However, for activities such as weight lifting, cross training and rowing, the Apple watch is not that accurate. However, the optical heart rate sensor is not the only way to monitor your heart rate data. You have two other options:
Pair a Bluetooth chest heart rate rate monitor to your watch
Pair a Bluetooth sensor to your phone and use a third party app such as ‘Map My Fitness’
The activity app is clean, simple and easy to use. You get a regular daily-calories burned goal plus an exercise goal. You also get idle alerts and a silent alarm. All of your activity and workout data syncs to your Apple iphone. You can then review your data in detail.
The Apple watch features most of the favorite sports apps. You can start and stop workouts on your wrist and then view your workout data. There are a lot of running and cycling apps available. You can also get health apps such as ‘My Fitness Pal’ and ‘Lose It’.
The band on the Apple watch is easily interchangeable and there are a large number of band options to allow you to change up the look of the device. The watch has a touchscreen on the front and two physical buttons on the side of the device. One is a knob called the digital crown, which also presses in as a button with the other being more tactile. On the screen, you have your watch face. When you press the digital crown button, you get access to all of your watch apps.
From the watch face, you swipe downwards to see notifications. Swiping upwards will prompt the ‘quick-glances’ screen. These are little cards with glanceable information, which come from the apps that you have installed on the watch. It also gives you music controls for iTunes or Spotify or whatever music platform you use.
The apps on your Apple watch are not stand alone apps. They are basically the apps from your iPhone with a watch counterpart. You have to activate the app on your iPhone to get it to appear on your watch. All of your organization is done from the Apple watch app on the iPhone.
The Apple watch has a very good built-in haptic engine for vibration alerts. It uses a subtle, but clear, tap vibration not only for notifications but also for activity reminders.
There are no third party watch face provisions with the Apple watch. However, this watch has a very impressive LCD display (290 pixels per inch). It looks extremely bright and sharp in all sorts of light conditions. The watch is very comfortable to wear. Even though it is rather thick, it is one of the best fitting Smartwatches out there. It will not move on your wrist as you are cycling.
The Apple watch battery will last about a day and a half. It also has a very good built in gyroscope, which will put the device to sleep when you are not looking at it.
With the Apple Watch, you have two cycling options. Firstly, you can use the native Apple workout app. Alternatively, you can use a third party service. The distance, calories burned and heart rate is very accurate using the native app. However, the Apple app will not graph your workout data or your pace. You just get a list of the data points.
The Apple watch relies on GPS from your phone to collect your workout data. That means that you need to carry your phone with you when you’re cycling if you are using a third-party service such as Runtastic.
3. Nike FuelBand SE
Good range accessories
Sound battery life
cost is a bit higher
The Wilfull Fitness Tracker provides a sleek, slimlined band that is unobtrusive. The band is hard plastic with an outer layer of silicone. The status button lights up a beautiful LED display. When you detach the central tracker from the straps you will have a unit that can fit into your computer’s USB port for data transfer and charging.
This tracker supports 14 sports modes including walking, running cycling, hiking and badminton. It is Io67 waterproof, allowing you to wash your hands and ride your bike in the rain with no problems for your device.Read more
You also get a sedentary reminder that prompts you to keep active throughout the course of the day. The watch can also act as a remote control for your phone’ camera.
The Wilfull Fitness Tracker provides you with 24/7 heart rate monitoring. It also automatically record and analyses the quality of your sleep. It will connect to your phone’ GPS so you can accurately track your cycling route.
The Wilfull Fitness Activity doesn’t focus heavily on counting calories or carbs. However, for tracking how active you are, and for getting yourself more active, this band will definitely do that for you.
Want to check out a low cost fitness tracker option that gives you all the features you need at half the price? Be sure to read our review of the Itek activity tracker.
4. Garmin VivoFit 2
High accurate performance
Good range of features
Reliable battery life
Design might be too sleek for some
The Garmin VivoFit 2 features slimline interchangeable bands. The device is waterproof up to 5 meters, meaning that you can swim with it on.
The band is super soft, lightweight and it fits on your wrist very securely.The Garmin VivoFit 2 uses a cell battery that lasts up to a year. That gives the VivoFit a huge advantage over other competing products. The screen is very visible both indoors and outdoors. It does have a backlight to help you at night time. On the display you have time, date, steps taken, steps remaining to hit your daily goals, estimated distance, estimated calories burned for the day and activity minutes.Read more
The VivoFit 2 can be paired with an ANT Plus heart rate monitor for more accurate heart rate monitoring. Through the Move IQ function, the VivoFit will auto-detect such functions as walking, running, biking, swimming and using the elliptical trainer.
It will also automatically track sleep, and provide auto-goal, which adjusts your goal up or down according to what you managed to achieve on the previous day.
This device also has a move bar to give you prompts to get active. However, there is no vibrate alarm function.
5. TomTom Spark 3 Cardio +Music
Monitor for heart
24 hour tracking
Designed workouts to use
Catch and record data on your body performance for 24 hours a day, this will give you a fully accurate view of how your body is performing.
This lightweight and well protected as well as safe around water. the watch offers the usual standard range of features as found in most fitness watches and a few nice extras.Read more
Reliable GPS tech in combination with tracking your activity, there is even an option to listen to your choice of music. The Bluetooth tech will let you load up your choice of music, and the headphones give you privacy.
Though it should be noted this will eat into battery time. Heart monitoring is constant so you get on the spot real-time monitoring, this will help you hit those aims for heart rate activity during training.
Heart Rate Monitor
The heart rate monitor is continuous and delivers readings in real-time so you can use it to achieve targeted heart rates for workouts.
The watch has water protection capability, the makers say your safe down to about thirty meters.
Syncing into your phone is easy to get access to use Tom Tom apps, to see your routes and track your ongoing activity. This watch works nicely with most Andriod software devices.
The watch is not a standard price, you will pay a bit higher than other similar makes.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Accuracy means understanding personal performance.
Different sportspeople will follow different sports, these watches give people the chance to collect data to measure their own performance and provide real-time feedback as and when needed.
This data feedback does enable a person to check how well they are doing and where to focus on and fine-tune individual areas of performance.
Our criteria looked at how accurate the collected data is or can be, there are times when the data might be slightly off from 100% accurate and this can be down to a variety of reasons. However, this type of tech is still relatively new and it is improving at a very fast pace, in past times such personally created data simply did not exist and people had one option and that was to judge or guess their performance activities.
For accuracy, these watches act as a personal training consultant in that they observe, monitor and keep records but now all this data is quickly available to a user of the watch.
Our review looked at a lot of products, there are many brand models on the market, most of them offer services which are very useful, our task was to select the best current options, therefore enjoy this selection, we feel one of these watches will be exactly what you are looking for.
Accessories work for you
Accessories must offer a given useful function, during our review we looked at and compared those functions.
Heart Rate Monitoring.
We looked for evidence of accuracy for heart rate monitoring, how the data is given over to the user, how the data can be stored and how this allows a user to fine tune their own individual training to meet their set personal targets.
These products offer very good heart rate monitoring and they are all on a similar level for accuracy, data in real time etc. This feature in the watches is a very good function and very much appreciated by all users.
The differences between products shift when we look for 24-hour monitoring and how the data output can be used to fine-tune training schedules. 24-hour monitoring is great because this can be used to assess your own overall health during active times and less active times.
Durability prolongs performance.
Durability is a way to prolong the performance of a watch.
We checked the battery life span, how it performs and for how long, accessories can drain a battery and hasten the need for regular recharging. The rules were clear with regards to batteries, the higher the battery quality, the longer it performs, the more active features running in a watch, the shorter the energy cycle and the sooner you will need to recharge.
Current batteries are very high performing when compared to batteries around 15 to 20 years ago, the battery tech is constantly improving and we should all watch and wait to see if tech ever produces a battery with exceptional time gaps between recharges.
Batteries can either help or hinder, it's all about durability and quality.
During this comparative review to look at battery power capability, modern batteries are on the up and up, each year they get better but one factor remains constant, they will run out of power, they then must go through a recharge. Some batteries can charge up quickly, another take longer.
It's not just about the capability of a battery, we had to factor in and compare the type of watch, how many accessories are running and how quickly the active accessories will sap the energy out of a battery.
Our conclusion is that it is best to look at what levels and types of features the watch gives, as for batteries, for the moment, invest in a decent battery charger.
Value means a watch which can offer more.
The tried and tested marketing rule has stayed constant, the more you pay the better the product, this rule always applies and it is rare when you get a deal which is cheap but offers better performance than higher costing products.
For this range of fitness watches, the value stands out as how many extra and useful features-accessories you will get for your money.
The materials used in the construction of these types of watches are often very similar, and judging value through this is a tricky challenge. Though there is evidence that the quality of materials combined with design does have better outcomes such as protection and waterproofing.
Our conclusion results in this, if you pay more, you will get a better watch.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
The advice here might seem unfair to some brand watchmakers but buyers need to be aware.
When you choose and buy a watch it is only as good as the battery when the battery is drained, the watch cannot function. With this thought in mind, you are urged to do some good in-depth research because the product you buy will not be cheap.
Do go online and read online reviews which specifically target fitness watches, you will be able to gather a wealth of information about the battery performance for each brand and this will greatly help you choose the best watch for your own needs.
Keep in mind that the more active features the more power the battery must pump out, only choose a watch which offers features you actually need.
Read up on these fitness watches, look closely at durability, read customer reviews, if a lot of online customer reviews say the product has a bad durability record, don't buy it and this drop in sales will promote the makers to up the level of durability.
Durability for watches used during any sport must be very high as the products are subjected to all sort of shocks and weather conditions, research durability so that you get the best product for your choice of sport.
Other Factors to Consider
It's not just about being waterproof, it's also about weather resistance.
many fitness watches state they are waterproof and they even state to what depth in water the watch should stay waterproof. The likelihood of a runner or cyclist testing out a watch waterproof capability at a depth of thirty meters is very unlikely.
For cyclist and runners, this does not mean much at all. The type of weather a watch will be exposed to can include, snow, light rain, driving rain, mist, damp air, freezing conditions, heat, humidity etc
Brand makers are very aware of the many types of weather conditions and they do design watches to be protected from adverse and normal weather conditions.
Designing a watch which works for all weathers is a serious challenge, a watch wearer in Malaysia will experience a lot of humidity and very heavy rainfall, while I watch wearer in Finland will experience colder weather and a lot of freezing.
Modern watches appear to cope with these extreme differences fairly well and our line up of watches should be good in all countries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Generally, makers aim for a few months, but the reality is that the more features which are available and running, the shorter the battery life span. If you need and want a lot of running features you simply have to accept replacing batteries sooner or where possible recharging them.
Exactly what is sates, you can use the watch to monitor your body 24 hours non-stop, at moments of high activity and times of rest. The watch will gather this as data and you can measure your levels of activity, heart rate, for runners-speed and pace and with this data, you can plan your training and monitor how well your body copes with it.
If you can navigate a standard smartphone, you won't have problems with a fitness watch. The watches are designed for ease of use, they even have very readable screens.
The methodology for using these watches is laid out in very easy to follow stages, if you follow these, you can't go wrong.
Yes, one of the key aims, you can use the watch to monitor your performance, the watch will produce DATa and this data should enable you to fine-tune your training to keep you on track towards fitness goals.
This level of water-proof protection will vary from brand to brand.
The watches are water-proof and each watch will come with details explaining how water-proof a watch is in terms of depth of water in which it can be. The watches have to be water-proof because sports people are out and about in wet weather conditions, damp or humid conditions.
Yes, these seem to be a key requirement for fitness watches, brands produce watches which are designed to have a higher level of shock resistance because, during sports, watches will take all types of impacts and knocks.
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