This post with videos compares 7 of the best bike computers available in 2020, ranging from budget to premium. There are so many great bike computers that choosing one can be overwhelming. This post will help you figure out what works for your needs. It includes a handy comparison chart of the features of each bike computer. These bike computers made the list for one of two reasons: either because they are really cheap yet can do the essential functions; or because they offer an impressive range of features.
Chart Comparing 7 of the Best Bike Computers
|Best Cheap Option|
|Current, average, and maximum speed, trip distance, elapsed time, and odometer. The CatEye Velo 9 is an upgrade on an old favorite, and now has a larger screen; simplified setup with pre-programmed tire sizes; calorie consumption; carbon offset measurement. Simple 1-button operation. Universal bracket||$32.95|
|Best Premium Bike Computer at a Bargain Price|
|Current, average, & maximum speed, trip distance, total distance, elapsed time, time of day, calories burned, GPS tracking, elevation changes, live tracking, smart alerts, new advanced performance & power analysis. Advanced training features. Turn-by-turn directions to Saved Places, places found on Yelp, and downloaded routes. Preloaded with Garmin Cycle Maps. Twice as fast as previous Edge computers. New features: ClimbPro; Mountain Biking Metrics, and fully integrated Trailforks app; new Performance Metrics; Water & calorie requirements; Better Structured Workouts; Bike Alarm; and more. Longer battery life. Smart Bluetooth & ANT+ connectivity to connect to sensors||Around $300, but please click here for current price on Amazon|
|Best Premium Bike Computer that You Can Control with Your Phone|
|Current, average, and maximum speed, average speed, trip distance, total distance, elapsed time, time of day, calories burned, GPS tracking of routes, elevation changes, climbing data, group tracking, maps. Turn by turn navigation possible with RideWithGPS app. Connect to sensors with ANT+ and ALSO Bluetooth 4.0. Text messages, emails, and phone call notifications on screen.||Around $230, but please click here for current price on Amazon|
|Smallest GPS-enabled Bike Computer in the World|
|Current, average, and maximum speed, average speed, trip distance, total distance, elapsed time, time of day, calories burned, GPS tracking of routes, elevation changes, ANT+ connectivity so you can connect it to other devices, such as a cadence and speed sensor or a heart rate monitor||$179.99|
|Best Premium Bike Computer with Full Navigation|
|Current, average, & maximum speed, trip distance, total distance, elapsed time, time of day, calories burned, GPS tracking, elevation changes, live tracking, smart alerts, new advanced performance & power analysis. Advanced training features. Premium navigation with ability to chart courses and give you turn-by-turn directions. Preloaded with Garmin Cycle Maps. Twice as fast as previous Edge computers. New features: ClimbPro; Mountain Biking Metrics, and fully integrated Trailforks app; new Performance Metrics; Water & calorie requirements; Better Structured Workouts; Bike Alarm; and more. Longer battery life. Smart Bluetooth & ANT+ connectivity to connect to sensors||Around $400, but please click here for current price on Amazon|
|Best Cheap WIRELESS Bike Computer|
|Current, average, and maximum speed, trip distance, second-trip distance, total distance, elapsed time, and time of day. Very durable. Lightweight. Easy to use with buttons at base||$64.95|
|Best Budget Bike Computer with a Large Screen|
|Current, average, and maximum speed, average speed, trip distance, total distance; programmable odometer; new stopwatch feature; super large display||$54.95|
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Note that the 1030 did not make this list because of its high price. However, while this reduced price lasts, this premium bike computer certainly merits consideration.
The CatEye Velo is a long-time favorite with cyclists who simply want to know how far and fast they cycled. And who don’t want to spend a lot of money for this information! The CatEye Velo 9 is an upgrade to an old favorite, and is even better – for less than $35! This upgrade includes a larger screen. Also, the setup has been simplified with pre-programmed tire sizes. Plus, CatEye has added calorie consumption and a carbon offset measurement – two great motivational features. The calorie consumption lets you see how much of a difference you are making to your body. And the carbon offset lets you see how much of a difference you are making to your planet!
For less than thirty dollars you get all of the upgrades above, plus the old standards. These include current, average, and maximum speed, trip distance, elapsed time, and odometer. Add in simple one-button operation and a universal bracket that you can easily install on your stem or your handlebar – and you have the hands-down best bang for your buck bike computer on the market! CatEye has been around since 1954, and is the global leader in bike computers. They know what they’re doing.
The Cateye Velo 9 is wired, but a lot of users find this to be more straight-forward than wireless bike computers. If you prefer wireless, you are going to have to spend a bit more money on one of the other bike computers in our top 7 best bike computers.
Video of the CatEye Velo 9
This short video shows you what the CatEye Velo 9 is like:
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No. 2: The Garmin Edge 530 – Best Premium Bike Computer at a Bargain Price
Update: I previously rated the Garmin Edge 520 Plus as no. 3. But with the release of the Garmin Edge 530, I have replaced the Edge 520 Plus at no. 3 with the Edge 530 at no. 2. The reason? In our opinion, the best value in bike computers for most people right now is definitely the Garmin Edge 530. With impressive upgrades at an attractive price point, it seems to be unbeatable, really. In fact, respected cycling authority DC Rainmaker has said that it “looks like the best bike computer ever.”
This bike computer is GPS and Glonass-enabled for extremely fast satellite acquisition. It offers wireless transfers of your data to Garmin Connect (or Strava, which you can read about here). It also offers advanced performance and power analysis. These include Time in Zone, FTP (Functional Threshold Power) tracking, cycling-specific VO2 and recovery and cycling dynamics. It is a rugged bike computer that will stand up to bad weather, and even a fall into water. It goes way beyond just recording your rides. It also offers live tracking – which basically means your spouse can check where you are at any time. You don’t have to enable this feature if you don’t want to, of course! It also offers ANT+ connectivity so that you can connect it to other devices, such as a cadence and speed sensor or a heart rate monitor.
And on top of all that, the Edge 530 has a new processor that is twice as fast as the Edge 520 Plus.
Upgraded Navigation – But Still Not Perfect
Also, it can actually give you turn-by-turn directions – although not in all circumstances. With the Edge 1030 and 830 you can input addresses while on the bike. They will calculate the new route for you, and give you turn-by-turn directions. The Edge 530 can only give you turn-by-turn directions for certain destinations. These include Saved Places, and places found on the included app, Yelp. It can also give you directions for routes that you download beforehand. However, it does have a full set of Cycling Maps onboard. So, it can help you out if you go off course, and get you back to Start.
You can connect this Garmin via a Shimano wireless transmitter to Garmin Vector 2S Power Meter Pedals, Di2 Dura-Ace 9070, Ultegra 6870 Di2, or Ultegra 6770 electronic gears.
Upgrades to the Garmin Edge 530 (and to the Garmin Edge 830)
There are a huge number of important upgrades to the Edge 530. These upgrades are also on the Edge 830. Below is a list of the most important ones:
- Upgrade no. 1: Speed: The processor is twice as fast.
- Upgrade no. 2: Full Navigation Maps (Garmin Cycling Maps): Re-route on the fly while cycling if you go off course! Use back-to-start routing.
- Upgrade no. 3: ClimbPro: Tells you on the fly about the grades ahead on downloaded routes. Great for serious climbers.
- Upgrade no. 4: Mountain Biking Metrics: Including Grit rating, Flow rating, Hang time, and fully integrated Trailforks app.
- Upgrade no. 5: Brand New Performance Metrics: Including Performance power curve; Heat acclimation; Altitude acclimation; Water and calorie requirements.
- Upgrade no. 6: Better Structured Workouts
- Upgrade no. 7: Bluetooth Smart connectivity, which means you can connect to more things, while using less battery power
- Upgrade no. 8: Longer Battery Life: Plus you can use an added battery charge pack, so you can have more than 40 hours of battery life
- Upgrade no. 9: Bike Alarm
- Upgrade no. 10: Find my Bike Computer
If you are someone that plans ahead, the Edge 530 offers all you could want in premium cycle training metrics and navigation, at a great price. But if you are more spontaneous, its inability to figure out how to get to new addresses might be a deal breaker for you. (If that is you, see our no. 5 pick, the Garmin Edge 830, which is more expensive – but more capable when it comes to navigation).
Button Control on the Garmin Edge 530
Note that the Garmin Edge 530 has button control, not touch screen control. I prefer button control. Sometimes I find screen swiping doesn’t work perfectly, especially in the rain- this is in fact a complaint I have heard about in the Garmin Edge 820. Button control gives you complete control, all the time, even with gloves on. The Garmin Edge 530 also has a beautiful color screen, and a great hand-feel – it feels very smooth, light, and high quality.
For more about the Garmin Edge 530, see our comparison of the Garmin Edge 1030 vs 830 vs 530.
No. 3 on our List of the Best Bike Computers: The Wahoo ELMNT Bolt – Best Bike Computer that You Can Control with Your Phone
The Wahoo ELMNT Bolt is loved by users because it is so easy to use. Many find it to be more user friendly than Garmin Edge bike computers, because it channels the mega power of your smart phone. Unlike the Garmin Edge bike computers, with Wahoo you do most of your programming and settings on your phone. Honestly, this is so super easy and incredibly powerful that it made me question all the hours I have spend navigating bike computer menus (and sometimes swearing a bit as I do it).
Also, although it is black and white, it is easier to see in bright light than the color Garmin screens. Plus, the zoom buttons on the side are much easier to use than the map zooming menu options on the Edge 830. These buttons can also be used to zoom from 11 sets of data to just 1 or 2.
A nice feature that is not seen on any other bike computers are LED lights at the top of the unit, which you can program to do various cool things! Most notably, if you are following a route – even just a breadcrumbs route – these lights will blink red if you go off course, and blink green when you get back on course. This, combined with how easy it is to see streets on the map, makes the breadcrumb routing actually very useful.
Importantly, Wahoo definitely has better battery life – more than double what is found on comparable Garmin units. Note however that if battery life is your primary consideration, you should look at the Edge 1030, which now has a add-on battery pack to extend battery life to 44 hours.
This Wahoo ELMNT has both ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0, for wider connectivity options and lower drain on battery. Like the premium Garmin offerings, Wahoo will do pretty much everything you want a bike computer to do, and then seamlessly upload your data to whichever apps you have selected, such as Strava or RideWithGPS. However, it is usually a bit cheaper than comparative Garmin offerings, so it is a great choice for serious athletes who want a great bike computer at a great price. And if you love setting up customized data screens, you are going to have a blast with your phone and this bike computer!
Navigating with a Wahoo ELMNT Bolt
Turn-by-turn navigation is not possible on the unit alone, as its maps do not have this metadata loaded. However, it IS possible to get turn-by-turn directions on your Wahoo ELMNT Bolt if you export a route that contains the required metadata from an app to your phone. At this time, Strava has that information on created routes, but does not export it. However, if you export a route from RideWithGPS, it will show up on your Wahoo with turn-by-turn directions! The brilliant video below from Shane Miller explains it. I recommend subscribing to Shane’s YouTube channel for lots of great reviews and insights.
Also, it has free pre-loaded maps, and Wahoo’s Take Me To feature for navigation. You can see how that feature works in the video below:
No. 4 on our List of Best Bike Computers: The Garmin Edge 25 – Smallest GPS-enabled Bike Computer in the World
The Garmin Edge 25 is said to be the smallest GPS-enabled bike computer in the world. Despite its tiny size, it is amazing just how much it can do. It will record your rides, of course, and it even offers live tracking – which basically means your spouse can check where you are at any time. (You don’t have to use this feature if you prefer to keep your activities private.) It has a black and white screen. However, it has remarkable satellite acquisition power, accessing both GPS and GLONASS satellites. And of course, it wirelessly and automatically uploads your data to Garmin Connect (and Strava if you have premium Strava), so you can analyze to your heart’s content.
Connectivity Abilities and Limitations
The Garmin Edge 25 also has Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity so that you can connect it to other devices, such as a cadence and speed sensor or a heart rate monitor. It can only connect to two sensors. And it cannot connect to Garmin Vector 2S Power Meter Pedals at all. It also cannot connect via a Shimano wireless transmitter to Di2 Dura-Ace 9070, Ultegra 6870 Di2, or Ultegra 6770 electronic gears. Also, the Garmin Edge 25 can only use Garmin Connect segments, not Strava segments. And the Edge 25 cannot navigate for you.
Apart from that list of things the Edge 25 cannot do, there is so much it can do that it should be sufficient for all but the most serious and advanced athletes who use a variety of sophisticated sensors.
No. 5: The Garmin Edge 830 – Best Premium Bike Computer with Full Navigation
The Garmin Edge 830 received a massive upgrade last year, and now boasts the same twice-as-fast processor as the new Garmin Edge 530. It also shares all the same great new features. The main differences between the 830 and the 530 are that the Edge 830 has full navigation features, and it costs more (usually about $100 more). It offers true turn-by-turn navigation for any address you input.
This bike computer gives you an awesome range of data. This includes current, average, and maximum speed, trip distance, total distance, elapsed time, time of day, calories burned, GPS tracking of routes, elevation changes, route mapping, live tracking, smart alerts, new advanced performance and power analysis, including Time in Zone, FTP (Functional Threshold Power) tracking, cycling-specific VO2 and recovery and cycling dynamics. It also has brand new features never before seen in Garmin Edge bike computers, including Group Track, Incident Alert, Battery Save Mode and Stress Score.
New Features on the Garmin Edge 830
Also, it’s twice as fast as previous Edge computers, and has the following new features: ClimbPro; Mountain Biking Metrics including Grit rating, Flow rating, Hang time, and fully integrated Trailforks app. It also offers Performance Metrics including Performance power curve; Heat acclimation; Altitude acclimation; Water and calorie requirements. Plus, better structured workouts; Bike Alarm; and Find my Bike Computer. Also it has longer battery life than previous Garmin Edge bike computers. Plus, you can use an added battery charge pack, so you can have more than 40 hours of battery life. It has ANT+ and Smart Bluetooth connectivity so you can connect it to other devices, such as a cadence and speed sensor or a heart rate monitor.
You can connect this Garmin via a Shimano wireless transmitter to Garmin Vector 2S Power Meter Pedals, Di2 Dura-Ace 9070, Ultegra 6870 Di2, or Ultegra 6770 electronic gears.
Excellent for Navigation and Training
The Garmin Edge 830 is excellent for both training and navigation. Really, the only way in which it is inferior to the more expensive Edge 1030, is that it has a substantially smaller screen. This could be a problem if you are over 40, or have eyesight that is less than stellar for any reason, and you plan to use it for navigation. Like the Edge 1030, the 830 can calculate a route and then give you turn-by-turn directions. However, the maps are smaller on the 830, as the unit is smaller.
You can read an in-depth comparison of the three top Garmin bike computers here: Garmin Edge 1030 vs 830 vs 530.
No. 6 on our List of 7 Best Bike Computers: The CatEye Strada Wireless Bike Computer – Best Cheap WIRELESS Bike Computer
The CatEye Strada Wireless Bike Computer is small, light and very affordable, and will do all you want as long as you don’t want to track your rides geographically (it does not have a GPS) or upload your data to analyze. Basically it has a wireless sensor that you put on your fork, and it then calculates your speed, time and distance.
While you are cycling, the CatEye Strada will show a whole lot of data, including current, average, and maximum speed, trip distance, second-trip distance, total distance, elapsed time, and the time of day. In testing I found it easy to use, thanks to the handy buttons at the base of the unit. The CatEye Strada bike computer comes with batteries and a universal tool-free FlexTight bracket, and is easy to mount.
I agree with other reviewers that this bike computer is amazingly durable. One reviewer accidentally ran it through a washing cycle, and it is still going strong!
The CatEye Padrone Cycle Computer is a long-time favorite with many cyclists. It is a reliable, straightforward wireless bike computer with a huge display. CatEye claims it is the largest display on the market. Add in super lightweight and a battery that will last for a year, and you have a very attractive bike computer at a very affordable price.
Also, in response to customer requests, the Padrone has been updated with a stopwatch feature. The CatEye Padrone gets rave reviews from users.
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