Best GPS Watch for Cycling 2019

Numbers are very important within the fitness world these days; either you have the records to prove your athleticism or it didn’t happen at all. But don’t get us wrong – the numbers aren’t there to bring out the competitive beasts within fitness junkies. They’re important because it reflects one’s progress and it also highlights the areas that need improvement. 

Cyclists, for example, need to track a variety of stats if they want to see how far they’ve come, both figuratively and literally. Distances, speed, and heart rate are key information that constitutes one’s fitness efforts. But as you know, that may not be enough for a sport such as cycling. Nowadays, a GPS tool is considered to be an essential tool for cycling; not just for the sake of knowing your current location, but also for mapping out your cycling plans. 

That said, it’s crucial to find a fitness tracker that measures your physical activities as accurately as possible. And for cyclists, a reliable GPS can also make or break or cycling adventures. Besides, you wouldn’t want to miss the steps and distances that could have added to your street cred. If you are an avid cyclist looking for a reliable GPS watch, then read on below to find out which ones are our favorites. 

7 Best GPS Watch for Cycling 2019

#1 Garmin Forerunner 935

The Garmin Forerunner 935 is a watch that was primarily made for runners but that does not mean that cyclists can’t benefit from its features. First of all, the GPS system on the Forerunner 935 is top-notch and it also comes with a reliable wrist-based heart rate technology – what more can you ask for? 

But our favorite feature on the Garmin Forerunner 935 is its ability to track your training status. This watch can tell whether or not you are overdoing your workout and we know how important it is for cyclists to know when they need to take a break. 

Additionally, the Garmin Forerunner 935 also provides advanced dynamics for running, swimming, and of course, cycling. It can track down the ground time contact balance, stride length, and more. Plus with its built-in altimeter, barometer, and compass, you can easily familiarize yourself with your environment. 

PROS

  • Accommodates different types of sports including running, swimming, and cycling
  • Has the ability to track your training status 
  • Comes with a built-in altimeter, barometer, and compass 

CONS

  • Works a bit slow; some users have reported lags 
  • The material of the band isn’t the best quality 
  • Asian version does not have the same firmware updates 

#2 Garmin Forerunner 235

Just like Forerunner 935, the Garmin Forerunner 235 also comes with a built-in GPS and a wrist-based heart rate monitor, making it another viable option for cyclists. But if there’s one thing different that the Forerunner 235 can offer it would have to be the bigger and brighter display. This watch has a screen that is 44% larger than most Garmin watches and it looks good even under the sunlight, thanks to its transflective memory in pixel (MIP) features. Cycling is an outdoor sport so you’d need a watch that is still visible no matter how bright the sun shines. 

Additionally, the Garmin Forerunner 235 also has the ability to receive audio prompts which is great for cyclists who need to keep their hands on the handle. As long as you keep your phone connected to this watch, you will be able to receive audio prompts for laps and lap times. Moreover, users can also get smart notifications whenever they receive a text or a call, as well as calendar reminders and emails. 

PROS

  • Has a long battery life: 9 days in smartwatch mode and 11 hours with GPS
  • Comes with a 44% larger screen in comparison to other watches 
  • Bright and clear display even under direct sunlight 

CONS

  • Complicated initial set up 
  • Heart rate monitor issues 

#3 Fitbit Ionic Watch

The Fitbit Ionic Watch is another watch that was made to assist its users with their personal fitness goals. It is a popular choice among gym rats and fitness junkies, and we think we know why… The Fitbit Ionic Watch is the perfect watch to get if you intend to connect it with your smartphone. It is the perfect companion for casual users of the gym but it could also be a great watch for those who want to do their workouts outdoors. 

What we love most about the Fitbit Ionic Watch is the fact that it can store and play over 300 songs. As we know, music makes the workout more enjoyable. Cyclists will love the built-in GPS GLONASS system that will help them track distances, pace, and routes. 

And for those looking to keep a record of their fitness progress, the Fitbit Ionic Watch also allows users to utilize personalized workouts. Not to mention users are also free to access their favorite sports apps as well. Overall, it’s a great all-around piece that covers all the basic needs of a cyclist. 

PROS

  • Stores and plays over 300 songs – perfect for keeping a workout playlist
  • Wide range of brightness; easy to control brightness settings
  • Comes with two bands – a larger one and a smaller one for comfort 

CONS

  • The battery life not as long as the others 
  • Cannot accept or reject calls 

#4 Polar M430 GPS Watch

The Polar M430 is another watch that was designed with the needs of the runner in mind. But again, this does not mean that cyclists cannot benefit from this watch as well. Like many other watches in the Polar catalog, the M430 features a wrist-based heart rate monitor. It has an integrated GPS system that promises accurate bearings and it even comes with 24/7 activity tracking. And yes, that means that it also tracks your hours of sleeping time. 

We think that this is a viable watch for cyclists because of its ability to tailor the needs of the user. If you’re keen about keeping an active lifestyle, then you might find the Polar M430 to be a useful companion. As the name suggests, the Polar Running Program is for the dedicated runner but cyclists can also use this system to set goals and review their progress. Overall, we think this is the watch to get if you also participate in other sports apart from cycling. 

PROS

  • Features an accurate wrist-based heart monitor
  • Tracks your activities 24/7; records both physical and sleeping activity
  • Ability to personalize own fitness program

CONS

  • Has connectivity issues
  • Does not have the best apps

#5 Suunto 9 GPS Watch

The Suunto 9 is a multisport GPS watch and in our opinion, it is one of the best watches to get for the outdoors. Our favorite feature on the Suunto 9 is its intelligent battery modes. Unlike most watches, the Suunto 9 does not drain all your batteries away. This watch knows how to save its energy so it could serve you when you needed it the most. 

To complement this feature, the Suunto 9 also has a storm alarm, an accurate weather trend forecast, as well as an indicator for sunrise and sunset times. This watch keeps you updated with your environment so that you can prepare for your cycling routes more efficiently. 

To top it all off, we also like how the Suunto 9 has the capability to receive smart reminders. The watch doesn’t just help you keep track of your fitness goals; it also helps you stay on top of all the other aspects of your life. That said, we think that Suunto 9 is the best option for cyclists who live a busy life outside of the sport. 

PROS

  • Has intelligent battery modes; saves you energy for when you need it 
  • Ability to receive smart reminders and notifications
  • Accurate GPS results for better mapping  

CONS

  • Has charging issues; the charger is not the best 
  • Suunto apps need more improvement 

#6 Apple Watch Series 4

An Apple Watch isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of a fitness watch, especially for hardcore fitness junkies. It’s often perceived as a casual watch with physical tracking capabilities.

No matter how hard it tries to appeal itself to the athletic crowd, many still believe that it’s not robust or durable enough to take on the road… But we believe that perhaps there is a silver lining to the Apple Watch’s inadequacies. 

In our opinion, the Apple Watch Series 4 is a great option for casual cyclists. Perhaps you’ve just started taking your bike out for a spin, or maybe you don’t go cycling as often as other hardcore cyclists. If so, then the Apple Watch is a convenient choice. 

The Apple Watch has a beautiful bright display which is perfect for the outdoors. And because it was said to be the perfect companion for fitness junkies, the watch also comes with high-quality electrical and optical heart sensors. The ECG app is a great addition to track activity and to top it all off, the Apple Watch also has a reliable GPS system. 

PROS

  • Comes with plenty of sports apps 
  • Reliable connectivity to your smartphone 
  • Has high-quality electrical and optical heart rate sensors 

CONS

  • Does not have the longest battery life
  • Does not accommodate a wide variety of apps 

#7 Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire

The Garmin Fenix 5 is built for the outdoors. So if you’re looking for a watch that can handle your wild adventures, then this is the option for you. The Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire is all about its build and quality. It is durable, robust, and it even has long battery life. 

This watch was made with stainless steel so it doesn’t scratch or break so easily. It has the Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate technology for accurate tracking, and it also has a premium GPS system to guide users along the way. The outdoor sensors, the GLONASS satellite reception, and the 3-axis compass make this watch the ultimate option for GPS tracking. 

But what we love most about this watch is its intuitive display. The menu places key stats right where you want to see them and it doesn’t take too long to set up. The performance widget on this watch keeps a detailed record of our workouts as well so you know just how to improve your fitness efforts. 

PROS

  • Features an intuitive display – key stats are displayed on the face of the watch
  • Has outdoor sensors, GLONASS satellite reception, and a 3-axis compass
  • Displays a handy performance widget to review your fitness records 

CONS

  • Getting the right size and fit is tricky for users with smaller hands and wrists
  • Has issues with Bluetooth connectivity

Buyer’s Guide

There’s more to a GPS watch than a mere timepiece that has the ability to indicate your location. Wearing a watch for cycling can either make or break your outdoor adventure.

That said, a good quality GPS watch should help you better prepare for your workout. But let’s face it – apart from identifying whether or not a watch has a built-in GPS, how else can you choose the best GPS watch for cycling? 

There are just so many options out there to choose from and more often than not, it can get pretty confusing. Not all of us speak or understand watch jargon. But there are a few ways that could help you purchase a watch that gives the most value for your money. Keep reading below to find out what they are… 

GPS Quality 

Not all GPS systems are made the same. You’d want to have a watch that gives you updated and accurate results. With that in mind, it pays to take a closer look at a watch’s list of specifications. These days, everyone is raving about the GLONASS satellite reception on smartwatches. According to many, watches with this feature provides more accurate results. 

But of course, this does not mean that you need to get a watch with this additional feature. Watches with access to the GLONASS network doesn’t come cheap and not all of us will have the budget for it. The good news is, there are plenty of good quality watches that may not have the GLONASS satellite reception but are still able to help you get accurate bearings.

Built-in Sensors 

Most fitness watches nowadays come with wrist-based sensors to track down your physical activity. A lot of people complain about inaccurate readings from their watches but don’t let their reviews dishearten you. There are a couple of reasons why inaccuracy happens. To explain the situation better, a basic understanding of how wrist-based monitors work is necessary. 

In a nutshell, wrist-based watches operate similarly to an ECG machine that reads the electrical activity in your heart. Wrist-based watches depend on optical readings through the help of LED lights. This light source passes through your skin and reads your heart rate based on your blood flow. That said, a lot of things can go wrong if you do not choose your watch properly. 

To get the best results, you have to make sure that your watch fits you perfectly. A loose watch will inevitably give you wonky results. It is also important to note that you cannot wear the watch over any type of clothing. Sometimes the best GPS watch for cycling isn’t all about having the latest features and updates – you just need to know how to use your tech properly. 

Battery Life 

When you’re out on the road, the last thing you’d want to happen is losing your watch’s battery – especially if you depend on its GPS readings. In most cases, watches with longer battery life is more favored than those with plenty of fancy features. After all, what’s the point of having all those added widgets and programs if you won’t be able to use it anyway? 

Keep in mind that most brands will tell you the number of hours their watches can last on standby. But if you’re using them with many other features such as the GPS system or music function, then you may be draining your batteries sooner than you think. If you want to get the best watch for cycling, ask how long the watch lasts if you use two or more functions all at once. 

Display 

Lighting is a tricky thing while you’re outdoors. Most watches become unreadable under direct sunlight and as a cyclist, such a watch just won’t do you any good. It’s important to find a watch that is visible no matter what the lighting conditions may be. You need to keep your eye on the road and your hands on the handle so you shouldn’t be bothered with a watch with too much controls or complicated settings just to get the brightness of the display right. 

Controls 

Last but not least, you need to choose the type of controls that makes your life easier. If you are an analog type of person, then you may appreciate the simplicity of having buttons. But if you consider yourself a techie and would like to have a touchscreen watch, then feel free to explore the options you have. 

At the end of the day, what matters is how you will be using your watch. Keep in mind that you need to consider how these controls will affect you while you’re out on the road. If you need to make a quick change in your settings, you’d want a system that can help you navigate quickly with the least amount of trouble.