Bike GPS Review

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Why Buy a Bike GPS?

If you're a cyclist serious about improving your performance, there are several reasons to buy a bike GPS. A GPS-enabled bike computer will calculate your speed, distance traveled, how long you've been riding and much more. Many bike GPS units also have the ability to pair with sensors that can detect your heart rate, pedal cadence and pedal power. These advanced metrics will help you train at optimum levels. Some high-end bicycle GPS units even have features more native to phones or car GPS units, like navigation, maps or live GPS tracking. After a ride with a bike GPS, you can connect the unit to your computer and use software to show exactly where you rode on a map, and what your performance metrics were for the ride.

Ultimately, a bike GPS will help you improve as a cyclist because you'll be able to closely analyze your ride, track your progress and figure out how to improve. In our research, we've determined that the best three bike GPS units for serious cyclists currently on the market are all made by Garmin: the Edge 510, Edge 1000 and Edge 810. For more information, see our articles about bike GPS units.

Bike GPS Units: What to Look For

There are many Bike GPS units on the market, so for our review we selected 10 popular units that display a wide range of prices and features. We used the following criteria to help identify the best bike GPS units available.

Basic Functionality
Every bike GPS should be able to perform the following basic functions: It should be able to display your speed, the distance you've gone, the altitude you're riding at and the time you've been riding. It should also allow you to upload ride data from the unit to your computer to see where you went on a map. Simply put, a bike GPS should be able to tell you where you went and how fast you went there.

Additionally, you should be able to pair your bike GPS with sensors that detect and display your heart rate, pedal cadence and pedal power – the three common advanced metrics that help you train harder and smarter. This information can be essential to help you train at optimum levels and give you a perspective on your performance unattainable elsewhere.

These sensors connect with compatible bike computers through ANT+ technology, a wireless, close-distance, data-transfer technology used in the fitness industry. ANT+ is similar to Bluetooth, but it is much more power efficient, which means the batteries in the ANT+ sensors will last a long time and the battery in the cycle computer won't be drained too quickly by the connection.

Design
Each of the bike GPS units that were selected as top 10 products in this area provide excellent design specs. Many, though not all, of the GPS units have color screens, a long-lasting battery life, a water-resistant exterior and a bike mount for your handlebars. For more information regarding the design specs of each unit, you can view the side-by-side bike GPS comparison for quick facts and read the reviews for more in-depth information on the pros and cons of each GPS option.

Ease of use is also an important design factor. We've evaluated the bike GPS units on two elements that speak to ease of use. First, the cycle computer itself should have straightforward menu navigation and an intuitive layout. You should also be able to customize the data fields that appear on the screen, so you can monitor the metrics that are the most important to you without having to scroll through menus during your ride.

Second, the software that comes with your GPS unit should make it easy to upload, view and share your ride data. Some bike GPS units can automatically upload ride data to a training website for you, which saves you time and hassle.

Additional Features
Some GPS cycle computers have extra features that add another level of functionality to their design. Map support and turn-by-turn navigation add the kind of navigating features that you'd expect to see from a car GPS. Units with these features, like the Garmin Edge 1000 or Garmin Edge 810, are ideal if you like to go on long rides in unfamiliar places.

Other units have preloaded course navigation, commonly referred to as breadcrumb navigation. This feature allows you to load a route onto the unit from your computer before you ride, and then the unit displays a line that represents your route as you ride. This type of course navigation is a good compromise if you don't want to pay the hefty price associated with turn-by-turn navigation.

Another useful feature to look for in a cycle GPS is live GPS tracking. This is a feature that allows people watching from home to track you on their computer or with an app. GPS tracking means friends can watch you compete, and it can also be used to verify your safety or locate you in an emergency.

Help & Support
A high level of help and support should be a priority because you'll use a bike computer in harsh conditions. Look for a company with a reputation of fair and generous customer service. Video support through a YouTube channel or website is also a bonus, so you can see how to work the device without having to call a customer service department or consult a manual. Look for a company with phone support as well as email support, so you can talk to a real person if an issue arises.

Ultimately, a bike GPS provides you with accountability, so you can set training goals and track your progress. Some cyclists call their bike GPS units their "training partners." While that term is a bit overstated, a bike GPS does give a report of your riding from an unbiased perspective, in the same way a training partner would.

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Electronics » GPS » Bike GPS Review
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Garmin Edge 510 Garmin Edge 1000 Garmin Edge 810 Magellan Cyclo 505 Garmin Edge 500 O-Synce Navi2Coach Sigma Sport Rox 10.0 Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 CatEye Stealth 50 Garmin Edge 200
Garmin Edge 510 Garmin Edge 1000 Garmin Edge 810 Magellan Cyclo 505 Garmin Edge 500 O-Synce Navi2Coach Sigma Sport Rox 10.0 Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 CatEye Stealth 50 Garmin Edge 200
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Ratings
9.63
9.35
9.15
8.90
8.60
8.20
7.75
7.13
5.65
5.28
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
10.00
7.50
10.00
10.00
8.13
10.00
10.00
10.00
8.13
8.75
10.00
10.00
7.50
9.38
8.75
10.00
8.13
5.00
10.00
10.00
7.50
5.00
8.13
10.00
6.25
5.00
8.13
8.75
6.25
5.00
6.88
7.50
4.38
2.50
7.50
3.75
6.88
2.50
10.00
 
Basic Functionality
Speed
Time
Distance
Altitude
 
Temperature
   
Heart Rate Sensor Compatible
 
Pedal Power Sensor Compatible
 
Pedal Cadence Sensor Compatible
 
Design
Color Screen
      
Touchscreen Interface
       
Water Resistant
Battery Life (hours) 20 15 17 12 18 14 13 15 9 14
Weight (ounces) 2 4 3.5 4.5 2 2.6 2.2 2.1 2.1 2.1
Display Size (inches) 1.8 3 2.6 3 1.8 2 1.8 1.9 1.9 1.7
Device Ease of Use 100% 90% 90% 85 90% 85% 80% 85% 90% 95%
Software Ease of Use 90% 90% 90% 85 90% 85% 80% 65% 80% 90%
Additional Features
Preloaded Course Navigation
  
Live GPS Tracking
       
Map Support  
      
Turn-by-Turn Navigation  
      
Help & Support
Help & Support Score 100% 100% 100% 88 100% 81% 81% 69% 75% 100%
Phone
Email
Tutorial Videos