The Ultimate 2018 Cycling Watch Buyer’s Guide

Best Cycling Watches Main Image

Track your workouts, cycling routes, sleep and more with this list of cycling watches

Maintaining an accurate record while cycling is important in reaching your target exercise goal. In the past, cyclists have relied upon numerous devices to track their progress. In the past few years alone gadgets have evolved to become highly sophisticated.

The range of devices open for use are versatile and cover diverse operations. Most heart rate monitoring watches with large displays also offer stats and training tips. With the help of these fancy new devices, getting to your fitness goals may be getting easier.

Falling short of a strategic workout can limit the goals a cyclist might want to set. In training routines, knowing the heart rate, and understanding the amount of effort you use during peak energy stages, is important. Choosing the best cycling watch for you can provide a plethora of benefits.

What to look for in a cycling watch

When starting your search for a new cycling watch, there are a few key things you want to consider: 

1. Water Resistance: If you are down to ride, rain or shine, you will want to invest in a cycling watch that wont be hurt by rain.

2. GPS capability: While most phones offer this, not having to rely on draining your cellphone battery can help you accurately track your route on long rides.

3. Notifications: You cant always stop to check your phone on a ride so choosing a cycling watch that at the very least allows you to view your messages/calls will keep you from having to juggle with your phone while cycling or having to stop to check a text.

4. Fit: Most of these cycling watches are great for everyday use as well. You should select a watch that fits your personal style and has the ability to blend into your everyday life. From experience, having a watch that tracks your heart rate and can be left on all day goes a long way in helping you assess your physical fitness and make improvements to your health.

5. Value: Notice we didn't say price? All of the watches on this list are an excellent value for their respective price points. You don't want to overpay for a flashy watch with a bunch of features you will never use. Find the features you care about and go with the option that has everything you want at a price you can justify.

How We Made This List

A few of the best cycling watches for 2018 are designed to give users a stylish look with increased workout potential. There’s a plethora of cycling watches currently available, but this list isolates the top watches specifically designed for cyclists. By combining personal experience and in depth research, we were able to put together the most detailed list to help fellow cyclists make an informed decision.

Top Watches Under $250

Just because you are passionate about cycling doesn’t mean you are able to open your wallet too wide. The following list was specifically put together with a modest budget in mind. The following watches may not be the best of the best, but they will meet the needs of most cyclists

Tom Tom Spark 3 Cardio

Tom Tom Spark Cardio 3

For the explorer cyclist, the Tom Tom Spark 3 Cardio gives users the option to set new routes of travel during exercises. The new exploration device inserts route already of interest to the rider or include new paths of trek. This watch can be an invaluable asset if you enjoy exploring on and off the trail.

Efficient & Accurate Tracking

The Tom Tom Spark 3 Cardio allows you to organize your ride and track your basic statistics. It will tell you how many calories you are burning while also tracking your heart rate. It will also keep track of your overall distance. If you enjoy listening to music while you ride and don’t want to stream music from your phone, this watch allows for plenty of room for music storage (a great plus for the price range).

Every cyclists knows that minimizing equipment is extremely important for efficiency. The Tom Tom Spark 3 Cardio has a history of excellence with no heart strap required to keep up with your heart rate. The watches are made in small and large sizes with 145-206mm, 125-172mm fits. The unit has an easy to activate audio statistics that helps cyclists check on progress.


As far as design goes, you get to choose from a neat selection of four watches. This workout watch ranges from budget oriented to high-end styles and watches have on board storage.

This watch is great not only for cycling, but for everyday use as well. If you cycle as part of a weight-loss program, this watch can help you track your calorie burning on and off the bike.

Tom Tom Spark 3 Cardio Review

Pros: The watch serves as a management device for working out in a gym, swimming, or when using a treadmill. Up to 40m, the device will withstand water.

Cons: Some customers are content with the older device and find no need for the updated version of the Tom Tom Spark 3 Cardio.

Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smart Watch

Garmin Vivoactive HR

Garmin has a great reputation for sport watches, and the Vivoactive HR is no different.  The Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smart Watch is an amazing exercise watch for cyclists as well as other athletes. It has an excellent track record with runners, golfers, and hikers. The Vivoactive HR has an easy to manage strap that is adjustable fitting comfortably on the wrist.

It is a one size fits all strap from 5.39” sized wrist to 7.68”. The Vivoactive HR holds its battery life as long as eight days. However, GPS use reduces the battery tremendously. If you are a mountain biker, you may want to make sure you charge your watch before heading out on an unknown trail.

This watch has no trouble braving the water, so add swimming to your repertoire if you like. Get on a paddleboard, or go skiing, and count on the built-in GPS fitted to this device. It is great when hiking, or taking bike trails; even in a different country. The watch is programmable. No matter how much you exercise, it still maintains its integrity.

Ease of Use and Comfort

As with many touch screen devices, you might expect a watch to be difficult to read in direct sunlight, but the screen is visible even in direct light. The device has an excellent backlight and the interface is simple to maneuver.

If you are looking for a watch to wear in your day to day life as well as cycling, this is a great choice. It will monitor all of your basic statistics 24/7.

Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Watch Review

Pros: This watch places no additional weight on your body; simply strap the watch on and go. No chafing from straps connected to other parts of the body.

Cons: Battery life is contingent upon no GPS use, which drains power. With the GPS on continuously operating, battery power lasts around 13 hours. Watch face is easy to scratch.

Top Watches Under $500

If you are in a position to spend a few extra bucks on a cycling watch, bumping your budget up to $500 will give you access to even more features. The following list was created with budget in mind, but not at the forefront. These watches will definitely not be the cheapest ones available, but will provide you with a boatload of features while still sitting at a price most would consider reasonable.

In this price range, you will get GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, as well as some basic cell phone features in most of these watches, but don’t expect top of the line materials or premium features such as complete waterproofing.

Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch

Polar V800 GPS Watch

The Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch is an engineering marvel placed in the body of a watch. It can measure your heart rate whether you are working out on land or in the water as well as many other things. The Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch has the directional GPS device built-in to track your trails and progress. If you are looking to compete in a triathlon, it is resistant to water up to 30 meters (100 ft.) and has the basic tracking features you expect with an athletic watch such as compass functionality. The model has adjustment capabilities for swimming in a pool or in other body of water.

Accurate Data In Various Situations

Whether you are riding a bike, running on a trail, or walking on your treadmill, the Polar V800 will be able to monitor your every move. This particular watch allows you to move on a bike without sensors enhancing your routine as you may experience with basic apps such as Strava. You can easily check on the status of your ride at any point in time without much effort.

Some cyclists may not be blessed with beautiful weather all year around, so it is important to have a watch that can track your indoor activities at the same level as outdoor. Running and distance information is as accurate inside as out. Cycling is one of those sports where consistency yields results. When activities are monitored, it is easier to nurture your progress.

These sensors help to operate internal watch devices that track activity around the clock. It also has Bluetooth Smart sensor access. This device allows users to receive phone calls, play music, and interact with online social media sites. This eliminates your need to keep you phone outside of your cycling bag. This can come in handy if you have a larger screened phone which is hard to attach to your handlebars or to your body. Due to the variety of features and ease of use, this watch is highly rated by professional competitors and novices alike.

Polar V800 GPS Smart Watch Review

Pros: Web applications offered by the Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch are excellent. It is water resistant up to 100 ft making it a good fit for triathlon athletes.

Cons: USB port is not an easy connection. It is there but takes a bit of effort to get it in place. The screen on this model is not clear in poor lighting.

Garmin Forerunner 630

Garmin Forerunner 630

The Garmin Forerunner 630 is a comfortable watch with great design. It is made from shock resistant plastics as is fitted with download apps. The system supports music, distance tracking, social media sharing and has a beautiful touch screen with a very nice display. It is a very comfortable watch which makes it great for exercise and everyday use.

The Heart rate monitor and GPS system are the newest in technology, giving users workout information to help decide the best times for a sprint, and when you can coast. The Garmin Forerunner 630 has practically everything a cyclist needs in a wristwatch. Customize your watch with widgets, sites you enjoy and share with others. Track the number of calories you burn and get a pace alert. This water resistant device lets you move from one activity to the next with minimal effort.

Working out is good but overdoing it is never the goal. If you have a history of heart issues, you may want to strongly consider the Forerunner 630. This watch has stroke recognition and recovery advising. The Garmin Forerunner 630 is recommended highly for those interested in all levels of serious fitness tracking. This is the watch for anyone expecting accuracy and ease of use.

Top Of The Line Training Features

The Forerunner learns your movements. It will track your statistics accurately no matter the situation. This is incredibly important if you are a competitive athlete and need to compare yourself to your competition to get an edge. Your watch alerts you for points of rest and gives a complete workup analysis of your true exercise needs depending on your goals.

Garmin Connect

No matter what sport you prefer, the online training app, Garmin Connect will help you improve. You can compare yourself to other athletes in your area and see how your performance measures up. This little competitive push can help you take your ride to the next level.

Garmin Forerunner 630 Review

Pros: Charts and graphs are prepared and simple to use. These tools prepare users for any sporting activity. the Connect IQ app supplied with purchase makes these charts accessible. The apps set up workouts, especially for the athlete. No person has the same level of stamina.

Cons: The touch screen is sometimes difficult to use.

Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch

Fitbit Blaze

Fitbit has become somewhat of a household name in the wearable technology arena. The Blaze offers the same great fitness features its brand has become synonymous with, while appearing much sleeker and professional.

Sleek Design & Great Functionality

The actual tracker snaps into a stainless steel frame that comes with a removable strap. The idea is that you should be able to keep the same fitness tracker with a variety of different style needs. This watch is the type of watch you can wear on the trail, and also in your next board meeting. The actual assembly is a definite improvement over the surge, which was much bulkier.

You can workout, or walk throughout the day and the watch will monitor your statistics. This small device will register the stats on various iPhone and Android apps.

You can set information on goals you are trying to achieve with your exercise program. Once you have completed a workout, your device lets you measure your progress. This is an excellent way to keep you ahead of your local competition and crush personal records. Join others in on screen workouts with a strong Internet connection. Getting on board with this watch is a brilliant way to stay on top of a great exercise routine.

Superior Fitness Tracking

If you are cycling as part of an overall weight loss program, the Fitbit Blaze can help. The Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch monitors your heart rate and makes you aware of relaxing time. This watch will never let you become a couch potato. It will remind you to get up and move even on your rest days.

This watch will keep track of not only how much you are cycling, but how many steps you take, how many stairs you climb, how many calories you burned and also your sleep quality. It is truly an all in on solution for cycling fanatics and weekend warriors alike.

Multimedia Access

Gain access to your favorite sites while on downtime. This watch provides access to your music, Facebook friends, event calendars, and emails. Battery life is always important and the Fitbit has a battery life of 5 days lasting through heavy activity.

Fitbit Blaze Smart Watch Review

Pros: The watch is most attractive and has the same amenities of other cycling watches at a similar cost. The actual fitness tracker is removable from the watch assembly making it very customizable.

Cons: Accuracy. When connected to an app on your phone, it can measure things pretty accurately, but without being connected to GPS, it will essentially guess your distance based on your body movements.

Top Of The Line Watches

If you have the budget to thrown down for a new fitness/cycling watch, you want to make sure you are getting your moneys worth. The following watches are the best of the best for a variety of reasons ranging from style to functionality and features.

Suunto Spartan Ultra HR

Suunto Spartan Ultra HR

The Suunto Spartan Ultra is one of the best fitness watches out on the market. As of now, it is only compatible with iPhone, so Android users look elsewhere. The Suunto Spartan Ultra has a touchscreen facing with three buttons that control the watch.

The Spartan Ultra comes with GPS and the ability to adjust your GPS usage to optimize battery life. This is one of the key features that sets this watch apart. For most comparable watches, the GPS is either on (and draining your battery) or off.

Versatile and Full-Featured

The color-coded touch screen helps a user see screen operations while in direct sunlight. Wear this watch swimming without fear of destroying it. The submersion rate is 100m. Go skiing and use the GPS, or trek over biking trails around the globe. It has a compass, barometer, and an altimeter for exercising convenience. It also comes with the ability to view workout trends on the fly, this is a great feature for interval training.

Beautifully Designed

This watch is without a doubt a favorite in terms of design. It is sleek and made of high quality materials. It takes the minimalist approach, but sometimes less is more.

Suunto Spartan Ultra Review

Pros: The battery is good but varies with use. It officially operates for 26 hours, in GPS mode. Yet when put on standby, the result is 15 days.

Cons: The Suunto Spartan Ultra can handle Cadence sensors heart rate and speed sensors. However, it does not provide an outlet for ANT+ sensors of any kind. It is still a somewhat new model, and could benefit from bug fixes, increased customization and watch-face options.

Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire Performer Bundle

Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire

The Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire Performer Bundle is a classic in the field of watches. It measures the quality of sleep, heart activity, has GPS capabilities and handles text messages and emails. This is watch has just about everything you could be looking for. It is a tight computer on the wrist, only this little trinket is waterproof.

Made With Cyclists In Mind

The Fenix 5 Sapphire now comes with maps and the ability to integrate with power meters. This is one of only a handful of watches with this capability. The unit supports Bluetooth Smart power meters and Bluetooth Smart speed/Cadence sensors. When connected, you will be able to view the information from your power meter while riding.

If you are a fan of Strava, this unit will allow you to see your starred Strava segments as you cross into them. This will give you a competitive advantage of those who are simply using the iPhone/Android app.

Accurate Usage Statistics

The watch does have a chest strap so users can check cardio strength. Riding a bike takes effort and maintaining momentum in order to reach desired cardiovascular levels is important. A good cyclist watch covers cardio readings and is easy to read. These watches have GPS system capabilities and make phone calls or text messages while you ride. It is no longer necessary to give up one amenity for the other.

The watch slips easily onto the wrist with firm comfortable straps to hold it on. It is programmable and loads easily. The graphics on the screen are easy to read making the watch fun to use.

Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire Review

Pros: The multisport design lets sports enthusiasts choose any activity with confidence. It gives you the ability to measure your power meter output in real time.

Cons: The chest strap is a bit inconvenient, but that is the price you pay for accuracy.

Choosing The Best Cycling Watch For Your Needs

Cycling is the type of sport that really lights a fire of passion within athletes. It is a fun, competitive sport, but can also double as a relaxing solo endeavor. Having the right accessories to measure your fitness goals can help encourage you to keep on track and crush personal records. Although cycling watches are available in a variety of price ranges, there is likely one that is perfect for your needs.

If you are in the market for a cycling watch, you are probably already pretty serious. Depending on your needs, you may care more about accuracy, features, or comfort. Each watch listed in this article has their pros and cons but are ultimately all great choices for the passionate cyclist.

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