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Best cycling computers: Route mapping and data tracking, the best bike computers will do it all

An image of the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus, one of the best cycling computers available, overlaid with a 'recommends' badge
(Image credit: Josh Ross)

The best cycling computers are a far cry from the original ‘Cyclometer’ invented by Curtis H Veeder, an analogue device that counted how many times a wheel rotated, and converted that into distance using a formula.

Nowadays, they are wireless, compact, handlebar-mounted devices that feature a GPS chip, Bluetooth, ANT+ and WiFi, and provide a host of information in addition to the simple speed, distance and time metrics. Many of the best cycling computers have integrated maps that will provide directions and reroute you if you take a wrong turn. They connect to the best power meters to provide real-time readings, training stress score, left-right balance, and more. Many can connect to your smartphone to access Strava segments or Komoot maps, and most will even control the best turbo trainers to allow you to follow a prescribed workout.

It can be challenging to navigate the vast spec sheets that come along with even the most basic units, so in the list below we’ll help you to wade through the tech jargon, to find which of the best cycling computers is right for you.

If you need advice on what to look for in a cycling computer, jump ahead to what to look for in a cycling computer.

The best cycling computers available today

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Garmin Edge 1030 and accessories

The Edge 1030 Plus has one of the largest screens available (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Garmin Edge 1030 and accessories

There are three buttons on the 1030 Plus, two on the bottom and the power button on the top left, but the primary feature of the front is the touch screen (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Garmin Edge 1030 and accessories

Garmin has adopted the black-on-black colourway from the Edge 530 and 830, but with a 3.5-inch screen (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Garmin Edge 1030 and accessories

The Charge Power Pack offers an extra 3,100 mAh of juice (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Garmin Edge 1030 and accessories

Navigation is simple, intuitive, and responsive thanks to an improved processor (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus

Packed full of navigational and training features, the Edge 1030 Plus is supremely easy to use

Price: £519.99 / $599.99 / €599,99 / AU$999.00 | Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth, WiFi | Companion app: Yes | Navigation: Garmin Cycle Maps | Battery life: 24 hours | Colour screen: Yes | Screen size: 3.5in / 89mm

Extra-long battery life
Large clear display
Extensive feature list
Second most expensive on this list

The 1030 Plus represents Garmin's flagship model and the gold standard when it comes to bike computers and navigation. It's the largest in the brand's cycling range with exterior dimensions of 4.5in tall, 2.3in wide, and 0.8in thick. Using the brand's cycle maps, the 1030 guides you via Garmin's Trendline Popularity Routing, drawing from billions of miles of Garmin Connect ride data to guide you towards more bike-friendly routes.

The Garmin 1030 Plus has all the features you'd expect from a top-end cycling computer. Navigation features detailed maps and the touch screen makes it easy to move around the map mid-ride if you need to.

Record your rides with power and heart rate, and Garmin will give a detailed analysis of every ride. The analysis offered is far beyond what anyone else is offering. It will give a window into every ride to tell you when your training is effective, and how, as well as when it's time to take a break.

Being that this computer sits at the top of Garmin’s range, it’s no surprise it sits at the top of our list of the best cycling computers. It’s got every training bell and whistle the brand has to throw into a single unit and supports both ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors including power meters.

Read our review of the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus.

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Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt borrows many features from the Roam, adds a few more of its own, and packs it into a smaller package (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

It's packed with all the features you'd expect from the best cycling computers (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

It also gets USB-C charging, which is more water-resistant and faster charging (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

The rear uses Wahoo's quarter-turn mount and aerodynamic leading edge (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

It foregoes a touch screen, but the Bolt's buttons are tactile and light-action (Image credit: Josh Croxton)

Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

Fully featured, aero shaped head unit with great battery life that doesn’t cost a limb

Price: £249.99 / $279.99 / €279,99 / AU$429.95 | Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth Smart, WiFi | Companion app: Yes | Navigation: OpenStreet Map | Battery life: 15 hours | Colour screen: Yes | Screen size: 2.2in / 56mm diagonal

Small and aerodynamic form
15-hour battery life
Ambient light sensor
USB-C charge port
Screen is too small to browse map whilst moving
Lacks touchscreen

The latest Wahoo Elemnt Bolt takes all the good features from the larger Elemnt Roam and packs it into a smaller, aerodynamic body, before also packing in a clearer display with more colours, a USB-C charging port, more tactile buttons and more. 

Like the Roam, the Bolt relies heavily on the companion app for setup, but it’s a streamlined and intuitive process, and the ease of use is second to none. 

The Elemnt Bolt comes with 16GB of internal memory, which offers space for plenty of preloaded maps, which offers real-time on-device navigation and rerouting in the case of a wrong turn. With its 64-colour display, the Bolt's maps are some of the clearest and most concise, but many will find the 2.2in screen a little on the small side for navigation purposes. 

Like the Roam, the Bolt features tons of training metrics, support for both ANT+ and Bluetooth, as well as Wifi. Wahoo also integrates with Strava, RideWithGPS, Komoot and more to obtain routes, as well as TrainerRoad, Training Peaks and Today's Plan for your workouts. 

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Garmin Edge 830

If you've used a Garmin computer in the past few years, the Edge 830 will feel familiar (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Garmin Edge 830

The 2.6in screen allows for the computer to show plenty of data without the need for a magnifying glass (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Garmin Edge 830

The old, 'I forgot about today's workout' excuse won't fly if you are using an Edge 830, because for some reason workouts sync more reliably than anything else (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Garmin Edge 830

Detailed workout steps are pulled in and displayed clearly (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Garmin Edge 830

The Edge 830 supports the Varia lights and radar (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Garmin Edge 830

A powerful training tool with robust mapping both on- and off-road

Price: £349.99 / $399.99 / €399,99 / AU$649.00 | Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth, WiFi | Companion app: Yes | Navigation: Garmin Cycle Maps | Battery life: 20 hours | Colour screen: Yes | Screen size: 2.6in / 66mm

2.6in touch screen
Fast processor
Trailforks integration
Firstbeat and cycling dynamics
Overly sensitive incident detection
Issues with syncing still present

Heading into Garmin's upper-mid-range, the Edge 830 offers a plethora of training metrics, Training API and mapping. It's marketed towards cyclists of all disciplines, whether on- or off-road, and offers a colour touchscreen measuring 2.6in - smaller than that offered by the Edge 1030 Plus but brighter and more responsive.

The Edge 830 has access to GPS, Glonass and Galileo satellite networks, as well as a massive range of inbuilt metrics, so it can track everything from your speed, time and distance, to much more advanced power metrics like left-right balance and TSS (Training Stress Score). Plus, if it's not tracking a particular metric you're after, the accompanying Connect IQ store and app will likely have it ready for download.

With the Edge 830 comes an entire Garmin eco-system for it to slot into, so you can easily link it with your Garmin smartwatch, Tacx turbo trainer or Varia radar and lights. During our review we also found it connected easily with other branded devices, such as Wahoo's smart trainers, Quarq and Stages power meters, as well as a range of HR straps and electronic drivetrains.

If you're looking for a cycling computer with powerful training features, the Edge 830 will have you covered.

Want to know more? Read our in-depth review of the Garmin Edge 830.

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Hammerhead Karoo 2 cycling computer

The 3.2in display is finished in a responsive, scratch-resistant DragonTrail glass (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Hammerhead Karoo 2 cycling computer

Navigational prompting is superb and audio alerts ensure you'll never miss a turn again (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Hammerhead Karoo 2 cycling computer's unique mounting interface can work with Garmin using an adaptor

The Karoo 2 uses a linear-lock design but an adaptor plate makes it compatible with Garmin-style mounts (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Hammerhead Karoo 2 cycling computer

It sits planted and balanced during operation (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Hammerhead Karoo 2

The best screen and navigational metrics in the game

Price: £359.00 / $399.00 / €399,00 / AU$639.00 | Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth, WiFi, cellular | Companion app: No | Navigation: OpenStreet Map | Battery life: 12-hours | Colour screen: Yes | Screen size: 3.2in / 82mm diagonal

Unrivalled touchscreen
Incredibly clear display
Stellar navigational prompts
Audio notifications
Refined aesthetics
Desktop-based setup
Slightly unintuitive device navigation

With a 4.5-star rating in our review of the original Hammerhead Karoo, it's inevitable that the second generation of this GPS computer made it onto this list. It's smaller, lighter and even more capable than its predecessor, and brings a premium experience to a broader audience. If you're after a more holistic cycling computer experience, look no further.

The Karoo 2 boasts a high-definition 3.2in scratch-resistant screen made from DragonTrail glass, making it super resilient even in wet weather. It's 40 per cent smaller and 33 per cent lighter than the original model, tipping the scales at just 125g.

The Karoo 2 is claimed to have 12 hours of battery life, providing advanced mapping and GPS capabilities, and intuitive functionality for the duration of most rides. The unit is mounted with the brand's own system. The linear-lock design ensures it stays planted and balanced while in use, and is also compatible with time trial and tri cockpits.

Running on a customised Android 8 OS, the Karoo 2 is fully compatible with third-party apps like Strava and Training Peaks, and while you'll need to create an account to use it, you'll gain access to further customising and route-building options.

Find out how the Hammerhead Karoo 2 earned its spot on our list.

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Garmin Edge 530

On the whole, the Garmin Edge 530 is a great addition to your ride, but many will prefer the the touchscreen usability of the Edge 830 (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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Garmin Edge 530

A clear, crisp display with auto backlight brightness makes for easy visibility in all conditions (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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Garmin Edge 530

The newly added performance measurements are vast (Image credit: Josh Croxton)

Garmin Edge 530

The combination of price and performance will make for a popular choice

Price: £259.99 / $299.99 / €299,99 / AU$499.00 | Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth, WiFi | Companion app: Yes | Navigation: Garmin Cycle Maps, Trail Forks | Battery life: 20 hours | Colour screen: Yes | Screen size: 2.6in / 66mm diagonal

Mapping is clear and simple
New, faster processor
New performance metrics
Fiddly to set up
Map browsing is a button-pressing marathon

The follow up to the uber-successful Edge 520, the brand new Garmin Edge 530 expands on the rich training suite and adds a faster processor to massively improve mapping.

Despite many reports of setup headaches - something we also experienced - once out of the way, the long list of features makes for a great device that is fast, clear, and positive addition to your ride. The lack of a touchscreen makes for labour-intensive map browsing, although that's not something you're likely to do often. 

If you're a touchscreen advocate, opt for the Edge 830, but if you prefer the tactile feel of button pushes, the 530 is equally feature-rich and refined. 

With both Garmin Cycle Maps and Trail Forks pre-installed on the Edge 530, whether on the road or trail, it can help you find your way. With a battery life of 20 hours - 40 in battery saver mode - it’s also one of the longest-lasting computers on the market, and that's before you add the Garmin Charge optional battery pack.

The Edge 530 also gets access to the Garmin Connect store, meaning you can add apps like Accuweather and Komoot among others, download data fields, and the computer can also talk to Garmin’s Varia Radar lights.

Read more in our in-depth review of the Garmin Edge 530.

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Wahoo Elemnt Roam

The Wahoo Elemnt Roam is one of the most reliable and intuitive systems on the market (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM

Wahoo didn't go crazy with the colour, only using it to draw attention to specific areas of the screen (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM

The Roam borrows the aero mount design of the Bolt (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM

All of Wahoo's computers use a quarter-turn mount (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM

It can be bolted to the mount, adding another layer of assurance should you be involved in a crash (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Wahoo Elemnt Roam

A full featured computer that puts a premium on user interface, now with a colour screen

Price: £299.99 / $379.99 / €349,99 / AU$599.95 | Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth, WiFi | Companion app: Yes | Navigation: OpenStreet Map | Battery life: 17 hours | Colour screen: Yes | Screen size: 2.7in / 68.58mm diagonal

Incredibly intuitive device navigation
Easy to set up with companion app
Rich feature set and third-party integration options
Buttons lack tactility
No touch screen means map browsing is a chore

The Roam builds on the foundation laid by the original Wahoo Elemnt GPS computer including a wide feature set that covers the basics and does it exceptionally well. While the navigation may not quite match the similarly priced Garmin 830, how often do you actually use that function of your cycling computer?

If the answer is all the time, the Wahoo may leave you wanting more, but for the rest of us, who may use navigation every once in a while at home, or when you might be travelling, the Roam’s breadth of data fields, seamless smartphone integration and overall ease of use are in a league above the rest.

For the price, the on-device navigation could certainly improve. However, that probably means adding a touchscreen which may increase its price point even further.

With all of that said, the improved mapping and use of colour on the maps show a marked improvement over its predecessor. Add to this the intuitive ease of use and functionality and it's an incredibly difficult device not to recommend.

Read our full review of the Wahoo Elemnt Roam.

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Bryton Rider 420

The black and white screen can be customised to display your chosen metrics (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Bryton Rider 420

Breadcrumb mapping can feel like a backwards step, but the directions are spot on (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Bryton Rider 420

Inside the Bryton Active app, you can create workouts or sync pre-made sessions from other training apps (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Bryton Rider 420

A lot for your money but not the most intuitive option out there

Price: £359.00 / $399.00 / €399,00 / AU$639.00 | Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth | Companion app: Yes | Navigation: Breadcrumb | Battery life: 35 hours | Colour screen: No | Screen size: 2.3in / 58mm diagonal

Offers great value for money
Has an extensive list of features
User interface isn’t always intuitive

In our experience, Bryton bike computers come with a bit of a learning curve and aren’t the most user-friendly units on the market, but once you're used to them, what they do offer is serious bang for your buck.

With a companion app, you can create yourself a route and sync it to your unit for breadcrumb style routing. There's support for ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors, 77 functions and a claimed 35-hours of battery life. 

The Rider 420 also allows for workouts to be exported from TrainingPeaks directly through the device, auto-sync to third-party training software, and allows for the screens and data fields to be set up through the companion smartphone app.

If you're someone who follows routes often, the Rider 420 might not be the best for you, but if you're after big function with a small price, look no further. 

Read more in our full review of the Bryton Rider 420.

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Stages Cycling L50 GPS

The large colour screen benefits navigation functionality as well as the display of fitness metrics (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Stages Cycling L50 GPS

The L50 unit can be mounted portrait or landscape depending on the riders preference (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Stages Cycling L50 GPS

Navigation and maps are clear and easy to read while on the move (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Stages Cycling L50 GPS

Stages offers plenty of metrics on screen to track your training ride statistics (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Stages Dash L50

Feature-laden cycling computer for data obsessed

Price: £269.00 / $249.99 / €329,00 / AU$516 | Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth | Companion app: Yes | Navigation: OpenStreet Map | Battery life: 23 hours | Colour screen: Yes | Screen size: 2.75in / 68mm

Bright colour screen
Long battery life
Clunky graphics

Stages Cycling brought affordable, lightweight data harvesting to the people when it launched its range of power meters just a few years back. This was shortly followed by the Stages Dash - a GPS-based cycling computer designed to centralise the data-monitoring experience. 

The Stages Dash L50 benefits from the company's new Everbrite high-resolution colour screen which makes monitoring vitals such as HR, power output and distance a rather simple exercise. While the L50 possesses features such as GPS-based speed and distance, ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, its biggest drawcard is the improved battery life (23 hours) and ability to populate up to 12 data fields.

Furthermore, the L50 is pretty adept when it comes to navigation with cycling-specific Open Street Maps that feature bike paths, dirt tracks and potential hazards. The Stages Dash however, is more about training metrics than GPS navigation and in this regard it has everything polished. Not only is the L50 programmed to follow pre-loaded workouts, but it can also plot metrics such as FTP, IF and TSS to help measure efforts and pacing.

Find out more in our Stages Dash L50 review.

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Lezyne Mega XL

The computer displays how much charge all your equipment has left, something no other computer does quite so well (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Lezyne Mega XL

The 1/8 turn mount is extremely sturdy (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Lezyne Mega XL

The red line follows the the Gold Coast Highway, the blue line follows the quiet side streets most of the way. Both were generated in the Lezyne Ally V2 app (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Lezyne Mega XL

The maps on the computer are essentially an overlay (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Lezyne Mega XL

Lezyne has fixed the menus not showing in the correct orientation (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Lezyne Mega XL

Simply one of the best cycling computers you can buy at a great price

Price: £180.00 / $199.99 / €204,99 / AU$322.99 | Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth | Companion app: Yes | Navigation: Breadcrumb, downloadable offline maps | Battery life: 28 hours | Colour screen: No | Screen size: 2.7in / 69mm

Large high-contrast screen
Supports advanced power metrics
App integration
Long battery life
Chunky overall size
Bluetooth data transfer is painfully slow

Best known for flashy pumps and drool-worthy tools, Lezyne dipped its toe into the GPS cycling computer market in 2016, and its line of Super GPS computers have found a good balance between functionality and price point. Now with the Mega XL, we can't think of another cycling computer that offers this much functionality for the money.

Using a non-touch monochrome screen, the Mega XL boasts a claimed battery life of 28-hours, supports ANT+ sensors including power meters and can store up to 800 hours of ride data. The companion app facilitates quick uploads and automatically pushes ride data to Strava, Training Peaks or Today’s Plan.

The little head unit can also help you chase Strava KOM / QOM’s with Live Segments, let you know if it's your kids or work calling you during your ride with on-screen notifications, and offers electronic drivetrain integration through ANT+.

The Mega XL does offer turn-by-turn breadcrumb navigation and even in-activity re-routing, but it doesn't come with pre-installed base maps, so you'll need to use the Lezyne desktop app or phone to download 'offline maps'.

Read our in-depth review of the Lezyne Mega XL.

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Sigma Rox 12

The mapping is where the Sigma Rox 12 shines (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Sigma Rox 12

Routes can be made directly on the device by tapping a point on the map, entering GPS coordinates, or drawing one with your finger (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Sigma Rox 12

Even a poorly drawn circle can be transformed into a rideable loop (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Sigma Rox 12

Maps from all over the world are downloadable with an active Wifi connection (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Sigma Rox 12

Even with the screen not being as big as it could, there is still plenty of room for data fields (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Sigma Rox 12.0

Sigma has take a different route with the Rox 12.0, but the host of mapping features and endless training metrics make it a worthy inclusion

Price: £279.99 / $349.00 / €399,00 / AU$TBC | Connectivity: WiFi | Companion app: No | Navigation: OpenStreet Map | Battery life: 16 hours | Colour screen: Yes | Screen size: 3in / 76mm

Map drawing speed
Reliable performance
Largely closed software system means integrations are sparse

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a high-end cycling computer out of Sigma, and the Rox 12 is a slightly different approach to the GPS head unit. The full-colour touch screen is the closest in ease of use to a smartphone that we’ve come across to date, probably because under the hood, it’s an Android device.

While it supports both Bluetooth and ANT+ sensors, interestingly, it does not connect to your phone, instead relying on your home WiFi for uploads, downloads and the like. With no phone connectivity, the only apps the Rox 12 can talk to at the time of writing are Strava, Komoot, Training Peaks and GPSies, as Sigma develops each third-party app for integration directly into the computer.

With OpenStreetMap preloaded on the device, you can upload routes from Strava, Komoot and GPSies, and you can even search addresses and points of interest like bike shops and restaurants among other options.

It’s got some pretty nifty power metrics like pedal smoothness and torque effectiveness in addition to all the training data fields you’d expect on a high-end GPS unit. You can also design workouts directly on the head unit too, or sync from Training Peaks.

Want more info? Check out our full review of the Sigma Rox 12.0.

Best cycling computers: SRM PC8

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

SRM PC8

The training cyclist's choice that foregoes navigation

Price: £650.00 / $749.00 / €587,39 / AU$1089 | Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth, WiFi | Companion app: Yes | Navigation: No | Battery life: 10-45 hours (3 weeks in standby mode) | Colour screen: No | Screen size: 2.7in / 68mm diagonal

Bold aesthetics
Display and layout
Brand heritage
Hand-made precision
Battery life
Enormous price for not a lot of features
No navigation

SRM is considered the global authority when it comes to power meters, having forged a reputation in the pro peloton as the go-to data-harvesting tool of choice for the past three decades.

The SRM PC8 may have replaced the PC7 back in 2014 but it's aged impressively well during this time, both from a visual and technological point of view. The most significant hardware step-ups over its forebear comprised GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, ANT+ and an accelerometer - nothing particularly revolutionary no, but the PowerControl has never claimed to compete with Garmin and Wahoo or any other GPS computer on the market for that matter. 

Screen customisation is a relatively easy exercise allowing users to populate performance metrics and data fields via a smartphone app (the PC8 mobile app). The display is pretty basic and comprises a black and white screen which is controlled by a light-sensitive backlight - but it all works very well. The PC8, however, doesn't need the extra garnishing, touchscreen functionality, colour screen and gimmicks of its rivals; it's a prime example of the less-is-more philosophy and we like that very much. 

We particularly love the customisable, anodised aluminium chassis, which is available in ten different colours. Customers have the option of speccing the unit in their desired colour as well as choosing between eight different designs for the sides, including flags and other ornate graphics.

Check out our review of the SRM PC8.

What to look for in a cycling computer

How much should I spend on a cycling computer?

Just like anything else in cycling, trying to figure out which bike computer will fall within your budget constraints while offering the features you prioritise, can be a tall order.

Depending on how much money you have to spend, your GPS computer may have base maps, interval timers, in-depth power metrics, a colour touchscreen and more connectivity than you can shake a stick at, or it might be a simple, compact unit with a black and white display and basic training metrics.

If you have a hard budget, then you may need to compromise on some features. Conversely, if you have a prerequisite list of features, then make a checklist and see which of the best cycling computers meets those requirements, then weigh up the decision with price as one of the deciding factors. 

What makes the best cycling computer for navigation?

Most bike computers feature a GPS chip, as well as access to other satellite networks like GLONASS, BeiDou, and Galileo, and nearly all of the best cycling computers on this list offer some form of navigation. Many also have a base map pre-installed which allows for turn-by-turn directions, on-the-fly redirection and some allow you to create routes and courses directly on the device.

More budget-friendly head units won’t have a base map, but may still offer what’s called ‘breadcrumb’ navigation, where the head unit will display your route as a line that you’re meant to follow.

If you're the type who likes to load up a route in advance and follow it, then look for a device that offers seamless route integration. You might prefer to get your route from Strava, TrailForks, Komoot, RideWithGPS or others. Check in advance to see what third-party integrations your chosen cycling computer offers so that loading routes onto your device will be seamless. 

However, if you're the type who likes to get out there and just explore, then you may want something with a clear, concise map that's large enough to comprehend whilst you're moving. The last thing you want to do whilst exploring is keep stopping to check where you are. 

Alternatively, you might know all your local routes and not care much for exploring. If that's the case, then mapping features probably won't be high on the priority list. 

Do you need a touchscreen cycling computer?

Among the best cycling computers, there's a good balance of touchscreen and non-touchscreen devices, and both have their merits and their pitfalls, which will depend on what, where, and when you ride. 

There's no doubt that a touchscreen device is more easy and intuitive to navigate, as you can easily swipe to browse around a map or pinch to zoom in and out. However, if your riding is often in deep winter and you're wearing thick gloves, your dexterity to swipe through pages in such a way will be hampered and buttons might actually make life easier. Also, if you only ever ride on roads you're familiar with, then will you ever need to browse a map anyway? Look at the type of riding you do and ask yourself what you need most. 

The same goes for colour displays. They're nice to have, but outside of mapping they don't add too much beyond a nicer aesthetic. 

How much battery life do you need?

How long your cycling computer's battery lasts will dictate how long you can enjoy being out on your bike, especially if you're relying on it for navigation or training data. 

Generally the best cycling computers will have a battery life of around 18-20 hours when used conservatively, but this will be reduced if you're recording a ride and following navigation for hours at a time.

Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity

Every cycling head unit on the market will give you data fields like speed, distance, and time. Even many of the best budget cycling computers will support an ANT+ or Bluetooth connection to a heart rate monitor plus speed and cadence sensors. 

More cycling computers are beginning to work with both ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors now. There are still a few hold-outs sticking to one or the other, but the majority will facilitate a Bluetooth connection to your phone for on-screen notifications, firmware updates and the like. Further still, some devices also connect to your home WiFi network to allow for your ride to be on Strava before you’ve taken your helmet and sunglasses off.

Third-party app connection to cycling computers

Finally, there are the extras like Komoot, Strava Live Segments, and on-screen workouts populated by Today’s Plan, Training Peaks and TrainerRoad, uploadable training metrics and data fields, drivetrain and light integration, the companion app and more.

Where these features are available will depend on the bike computer you choose, but they are not reserved for the premium units, and you’ll see features like Strava Live Segments and drivetrain integration trickling into mid and lower range units.