6 Best GPS Devices for Cyclists: A Guide to Finding Your Perfect Ride Companion

6 Best GPS Devices for Cyclists: A Guide to Finding Your Perfect Ride Companion

In the ever-growing market of cycling GPS devices, packed with impressive features, choosing the right one can be daunting. The best fit for you depends on your cycling goals. For instance, if navigation is a priority, you might need a device with a larger screen and specialized functions for routing.

Conversely, if you’re more interested in tracking basic metrics and syncing your rides with apps like Strava or Komoot, a simpler device will suffice.

Our Picks for the Best Cycling GPS Devices

To aid you in making an informed decision, we’ve curated a list of the best GPS devices catering to different cycling styles.

1. Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM – The Ultimate Adventure Cycling GPS (Editor’s Choice)

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM

The New ELEMNT ROAM, Wahoo’s flagship device, has recently been upgraded with dual-band GPS technology, enhancing its power and precision. This feature ensures exceptional accuracy even in challenging environments where signals might be obstructed, making it a reliable companion for adventure cycling.

A notable difference from other devices on this list is that the ROAM (like the BOLT) lacks a touchscreen. Instead, it’s easily configurable via the ELEMNT App on your phone. It also features three front buttons and two on the right side, allowing easy navigation between screens and zooming in and out on the go.

This device stands out for its robust hardware and firmware, offering reliability in any situation. The ROAM’s ease of use and setup are also significant strengths, making it feel like an integral part of your bike. It assures you won’t be left stranded on your adventures and lets you focus on enjoying the ride.

Device Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 89 x 54.4 x 17.9 mm
  • Weight: 93.5 g
  • Screen: 2.7″ color, non-touch
  • Battery Life: Up to 17 hours
  • Navigation: Yes

GPS Connectivity:

  • ANT+
  • Bluetooth
  • Low Energy Bluetooth
  • WiFi

Compatibility with Sensors and Other Devices:

  • ANT+
  • Low Energy Bluetooth
  • ANT+ FE-C

2. Hammerhead Karoo 2 – Best Screen, Navigation, and Innovative System

Hammerhead Karoo 2

If you’re looking for a GPS with the best touchscreen and resolution on the market, coupled with clear and fluid navigation, the Karoo 2 is your go-to device.

Hammerhead’s approach, based on the Android platform, sets it apart in the cycling GPS world. This not only makes its usage intuitive, resembling a smartphone, but it also opens up a realm of possibilities.

The Karoo 2 excels in navigation with its 480 x 800 pixels and 292 PPI touchscreen. Following a planned route on this device is a visual treat, thanks to its color display and smooth tracking.

However, its display size and features mean that it doesn’t match the battery life of others, like the Wahoo Elemnt Roam. For example, the Karoo 2 offers up to 14 hours compared to the Roam’s 17 hours. Both can be connected to an external power source for longer journeys.

Its other unique feature is total control either via touchscreen or four side buttons (two on each side), adaptable to any condition, even with winter gloves.

Device Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 100.6 x 60.8 x 19.3 mm
  • Weight: 167 g
  • Screen: 3.2″ color touchscreen
  • Battery Life: Up to 14 hours
  • Navigation: Yes

GPS Connectivity:

  • ANT+
  • Bluetooth
  • Low Energy Bluetooth
  • WiFi

Compatibility with Sensors and Other Devices:

  • ANT+
  • Low Energy Bluetooth
  • ANT+ FE-C

3. Garmin Edge Explore 2 – Best for Discovering New Paths

Garmin Edge Explore 2

The Garmin Edge Explore 2 is tailored for cyclists who love to explore new paths. If basic metrics and good navigation are what you need, this device is an excellent choice. Unlike the Karoo 2 and Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM, the Explore 2 focuses solely on exploration, omitting features like programmed workouts and other performance-focused functions.

Garmin devices are renowned for their comprehensive functions and metrics for various cycling types. However, the Edge Explore 2 simplifies these, targeting adventure cyclists. It’s a great option for bikepacking enthusiasts, with detailed maps being a standout feature. However, keep in mind that for international travel, you may need to purchase new maps, unlike Wahoo and Hammerhead, which include global maps.

The device features a large, colorful screen, perfect for following pre-loaded

routes or discovering new trails. Thanks to IQ apps, expanding the Edge Explore’s functionality with apps like Komoot is straightforward.

Different from others on this list, the Edge Explore connects only to the GPS system and offers more limited connectivity. Nevertheless, this isn’t an issue if you’re looking for a simple, adventure-ready cycle computer.

Device Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 58 x 102 x 21 mm
  • Weight: 114 g
  • Screen: 3″ color touchscreen
  • Battery Life: Up to 12 hours
  • Navigation: Yes

GPS Connectivity:

  • ANT+
  • Bluetooth

Compatibility with Sensors and Other Devices:

  • ANT+

Must read: Overview of Bicycle Brake Types.

4. Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 – Most Comprehensive and Reliable at an Affordable Price

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2

The ELEMNT BOLT is a pleasure to use. While it lacks the dual-band GPS of its sibling, the ROAM, it packs all the functionality needed for gravel, road, or mountain biking adventures. The BOLT’s simplicity and efficiency in navigation and performance metric tracking are commendable.

Its latest iteration upholds its compact, aerodynamic, and user-friendly nature. The most noticeable upgrade is its color screen, as Wahoo continues to eschew touchscreens for a reason. The device is fully configurable via the ELEMNT Companion App, with buttons for all other in-ride needs, even in rain and with full gloves.

Another significant improvement is its navigation function, now including favorite places saving, automatic route recalculations, and enhanced step-by-step instructions. As with all Wahoo products, it’s easy to set up and compatible with various brands’ sensors, including Garmin’s.

Device Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 77.5 x 47.2 x 21.3 mm
  • Weight: 68.38 g
  • Screen: 2.6″ color, non-touch
  • Battery Life: Up to 15 hours
  • Navigation: Yes

GPS Connectivity:

  • ANT+
  • Bluetooth
  • Low Energy Bluetooth
  • WiFi

Compatibility with Sensors and Other Devices:

  • ANT+
  • Low Energy Bluetooth
  • ANT+ FE-C

5. Garmin Edge 830 – Best for Planning Routes on the Go

Garmin Edge 830

A formidable contender to the ELEMNT BOLT, the Garmin Edge 830 is geared towards cyclists seeking a versatile device for training or adventure cycling. Its array of functions makes it a favorite for stats enthusiasts and those seeking the best in cycling technology.

The Edge 830 is a class leader, packed with features from comprehensive metric tracking to advanced navigation capabilities.

Its data and screens are incredibly easy to read on the move, and it pairs with any sensor you might need. If improving your performance is the goal, the Edge 830 is your go-to, albeit at a higher price point due to its touchscreen and plethora of functions.

Device Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 50 x 82 x 20 mm
  • Weight: 78 g
  • Screen: 2.6″ color touchscreen
  • Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
  • Navigation: Yes

GPS Connectivity:

  • ANT+
  • Bluetooth
  • Low Energy Bluetooth
  • WiFi

Compatibility with Sensors and Other Devices:

  • ANT+
  • Low Energy Bluetooth

6. Garmin Edge 1040 Solar – The Most Comprehensive and Solar-Powered

Garmin Edge 1040 Solar

The Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is the most comprehensive cycling GPS on this list. If there’s a specific cycling function or metric you need, chances are, the Edge 1040 Solar has it. Its solar charging capability sets it apart, ideal for long rides.

At first glance, it resembles the Edge 1030 Plus, but its Power Glass face is a photovoltaic cell that extends battery life by up to 42 minutes per hour. Note that it still requires regular charging, with the Power Glass merely boosting its longevity.

You’ll never lose GPS signal with the Edge 1040 Solar, thanks to its multiband technology. Like the ELEMNT ROAM, it gives you the confidence of precise location tracking, no matter if you’re in dense forests or near towering mountains. Paired with Garmin’s detailed maps, your adventures know no bounds.

If metrics are your focus, the Edge 1040 Solar has all the cycling functions and metrics Garmin offers, making it the most complete GPS for cycling on the market.

Device Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 59.3 x 117.6 x 20.0 mm
  • Weight: 133 g
  • Screen: 3.5″ color touchscreen
  • Battery Life: Up to 45 hours
  • Navigation: Yes

GPS Connectivity:

  • ANT+
  • Bluetooth
  • Low Energy Bluetooth
  • WiFi

Compatibility with Sensors and Other Devices:

  • ANT+
  • Low Energy Bluetooth

Also read: Top 5 Bike Rollers for Home Training in 2023: A Comprehensive Guide.

Choosing the Right Cycling GPS Computer

As you can see, most devices allow you to record basic metrics and offer similar functions. With Garmin devices, the list of features is extensive, but more functions don’t necessarily mean a better fit for you. Here are key characteristics to consider when choosing a GPS for your bicycle.

Training Data Recording

Any cycle computer will record basic metrics: distance, elapsed time, speed, average speed, gradient, among others. Additionally, pairing with sensors can include metrics like heart rate, power, cadence, and more.

Before deciding, consider which metrics are truly important for your goals. If you’re mainly interested in recording your route, distance, and speed, any device could serve well. Keep in mind that more functions usually mean a higher price, as seen with the Edge 1040 Solar.

For navigation-focused cyclists, the ELEMNT ROAM, Karoo 2, or Edge Explore 2 are excellent choices. These devices offer great navigation features and large, colorful screens.

If performance improvement through training and programmed rides is your goal, both the Edge 830 and the ELEMNT Bolt are suitable. Their relatively compact sizes allow easy metric visualization and offer good navigation if needed.

Modern cycle computers offer various navigation methods. The simplest use breadcrumb tracking, which shows the route without a map.

All devices on our list include advanced navigation, pairing route tracing with a map. Brands like Wahoo and Hammerhead use more minimalist maps compared to Garmin’s more detailed and complex ones.

Beyond route visualization, consider the navigation system’s features, like step-by-step instructions, automatic rerouting, or the ability to plan a route directly on the device.

GPS Cycling Connectivity

In more complete models, a GPS device offers extensive connectivity with your smartphone, regardless of the operating system. This includes Bluetooth links, sharing information that encompasses functions like music control, voice-guided navigation, call and text alerts, and even uploading trip data to the cloud.

GPS for cyclists has become a ubiquitous way to access social networks for cyclists around the world, sharing and updating friends on their fitness and performance improvements.

Compatibility with Sensors and Other Devices

This feature is desirable as it allows your bike computer to link with various accessories.

Many GPS units work with wireless ANT+ and/or Bluetooth and WiFi technologies. This enables the use of additional accessories like heart rate straps, cadence sensors, and power meters.

Currently, many devices are available with a bundle option, including the heart rate strap, cadence, and speed sensor with the same device.

Display Features

Key aspects influencing the readability of information on the screen include the display size, resolution, contrast, glass quality, and color. If navigation is a priority, opting for a device with a larger display is wise. This also applies if your vision is not perfect.

Conversely, if metrics or simply recording your activity are more important, a device with a smaller display will work excellently.

Dimensions of the Cycling Computer with GPS

Your choice should align with the type of cycling you practice and whether you prioritize navigation over metrics or vice versa. A more compact device is convenient when focusing on performance. Here, your main use of the cycle computer is likely to be for viewing and recording metrics.

On the other hand, if you want a good overview of your route, a larger GPS with a bigger screen is more suitable. Keep in mind that a larger device might interfere with other accessories or components of the bike.

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