A smartwatch is an effective training tool that helps you improve your fitness, plan routes, and warn you if you are overtraining. Today, I find it almost pointless to ride a bike or win a digital trophy in an ambiguous section of a country road without being able to track the fastest ride ever.
It’s hard to keep up with all the new flashy smartwatch models that seem to be released weekly. Currently, there are smartwatches with all sorts of gimmicks built in (this smartwatch has a camera), but as someone who travels on two wheels almost every day, we’ll talk about the best for cycling.
How to choose?
Smartwatch or phone?
The best smartwatches provide a more specific analysis of your workout. Using apps like Komoot and Strava on your mobile phone will map your activity and give you basic stats such as speed and altitude. The smartwatch monitors your heart rate, relative effort, and intensity. As a result, information such as calories burned is much more accurate.
The smartwatch is easy to use on the go. Wearing it means you don’t have to hold a bag or use a clip to attach your phone to the handlebars. Smartwatches are very practical for mountain bikers who risk their cell phones coming off the handlebar clip. Personally, I love to ride my bike with only my house key.
The best smartwatches have many of the same features as a phone, allowing you to answer the phone, stream music, and plan routes on the go. The downside is that it can get in the way of training, so I like to turn off messages and call alerts on my smartwatch.
Which feature do you need to look for?
If you’re crazy about iPhone, Apple Watch is for you. Decide if you need a smartwatch with a touch screen. For cycling, this is convenient, but the small screen of the smartwatch can frustrate the touch screen. Battery life is very importantEspecially if you’re doing long hours of continuous exercise or a few days of bike tours.
Comfortable and do you like the design? Most smartwatches come with a plastic strap, some of which are replaceable. Smartwatches rarely come with a cloth strap, but if you have one, make sure it is wicking. I wear it while exercising, so I don’t want you to sweat..
Smartwatches typically record one activity at a time, but some models allow one activity to record multiple sports. If you’re training a triathlon and want to record your running, swimming and cycling in one activity, this is for you.
Another major factor is cost. It’s possible to spend a lot of money on a smartwatch, but for many there is a perfectly sufficient budget option. Buying a smartwatch played from a site such as Amazon is a great way to get great deals.
Need a smartwatch specifically for cycling?
This is not always the case. Many smartwatches are great for multisports, but if you have one main sport, your priorities are different. Cycling tends to ride a bike much longer than running, so prioritize smartwatches with longer battery life. Smartwatches with GPS routing are very practical for vehicle planning.
If you’re cycling through different terrains (mountains, gravel, roads), you need a smartwatch that can distinguish between terrain and bike type when tracking activity. Another thing I’m looking for is an accurate measurement of VO2max, the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use while exercising. High VO2max helps cyclists maintain their output longer and recover more quickly after boarding. Whether you’re on a track sprint or riding for a few days, good aerobic capacity is important for all types of cyclists.
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Garmin is well known in the smartwatch industry for good reason. The Garmin Fenix 6x Pro has a large screen and a preloaded TOPO map for easy cycling navigation. There are specific mountain bike indicators that measure the difficulty and smoothness of each trail, and score them so that you can mark your progress the next time you follow the route. With GPS turned on, the battery lasts for a whopping 60 hours.
Apple Watch Series 7 can not only measure blood oxygen, but also get an ECG (ECG) that detects the electrical signal generated each time the heart beats, looking for irregularities. Apple Watch can automatically detect when you start pedaling and alert you to emergency services if you fall off your bike. To prevent distraction while cycling, voice feedback features announce milestones such as speed and distance to keep an eye on the road. If you use an electric bike, there is also an algorithm to calculate the calories burned.
Polar Vantage V2 has some cycling-specific tests such as functional threshold power AKA FTP, the highest power a cyclist can sustain at 1 hour watt), cycling cadence and speed sensor, cycling power meter and even more. You are ready for your next big ride. The battery lasts up to 40 hours with GPS turned on, and is well-suited for long-distance cycling. You can also monitor the heart rate of over 130 sports.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 has a always-on display and speakers, so you don’t have to keep looking at your wrist to see how far or fast you’re traveling. Synchronize with some of the most popular apps for tracking bike rides, such as Endomondo, MapMyRide and Strava. You can also measure FTP through a cycling performance test.
The Amazfit T-Rex 2 is a rugged smartwatch built for extreme temperatures and environments and has been certified by 15 military standard tests. There are 150 different sporting features, including four specific cycling settings: outdoor cycling, indoor cycling, mountain biking and BMX. There is also a triathlon setting. Without GPS, the battery lasts up to 24 days. This is great if you are riding in a remote location.
The Garmin Forerunner 745 comes with Garmin’s Climb Pro feature, which allows you to manage your efforts on the route ahead. There is information such as gradient, distance, altitude gain, and a handy color-coded system to help you classify the difficulty. It also connects to a Garmin power meter (sold separately) to help you improve speed and fitness using FTP and advanced training methods.
The Fitbit Charge 4 is lightweight and affordable, but it features over 20 different exercise modes and oxygen saturation (SpO2) monitoring to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood. Cycling is primarily aerobic exercise, so you need as much oxygen as possible. Monitoring this helps prevent overtraining. It has a built-in GPS (the activity of the last 30 days is stored on your device) and a buzzer sounds when you reach your target heart rate so you can see how much effort you’re spending on your ride.
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