The health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks (pollution, crashes, or injuries), when cycling is compared to a sedentary lifestyle. A recent Dutch study found that, on average, cycling can extend lifespans by up to 14 months, against the risks equated to a reduced lifespan of 40 days or less.
Essential reading: Best smart bike helmets
Now wearable technology and GPS devices are making it easier and safer than ever to enjoy this popular sport. Cycling gadgets provide a variety of different purposes for riders, but for the most part, we can group them either in the fitness or cycling accessories group.
Read on for our overview of devices and connected gear you can use for your next bike adventure.
This is pretty much the best cycling GPS unit around today. Garmin Edge 520 features a high-resolution 2.3 inch colour screen, providing great visibility in a compact and lightweight form factor.
The device is packed with advanced analysis features such as time in zone, cycling-specific VO2 max and recovery time (when used with a power meter and heart rate monitor), indoor trainer support, cycling dynamics (when used with Vector or Vector 2 power meter) and in-ride challenges through Strava and Garmin Connect segments.
Connected features include live tracking, smart notifications and automatic uploads to Garmin Connect. Garmin Edge 520 is compatible with both GPS and GLONASS satellites, so you benefit from more signal options, wherever your ride takes you.
The V650 tracks your ride with integrated GPS and gives you altitude data thanks to a built-in barometric pressure sensor. Polar’s device features a 2.8 inch colour touch screen and is compatible with Bluetooth smart heart rate and cycling sensors to provide you with speed, cadence and heart rate data.
Furthermore, the V650 includes free maps (software version 1.2 and above), enabling you to see your location and route on a map during your rides. When it runs out of juice, use its USB port to recharge.
Alternatively, you could go for its cheaper cousin, the M450 (Amazon). It incorporates all the core features you want on a GPS bike unit.
Tired of looking down at your computer to see your data? The first in-sight cycling display from Garmin could be for you. Unlike other heads-up displays that integrate a display unit into proprietary glasses, Varia Vision is an attachment that mounts to existing sunglasses.
Riding a bike can be dangerous, especially in large cities. This lightweight display attaches to either side of an existing pair of sunglasses and relays information directly in your line of sight, to help keep you safe. The device integrates with a few other Garmin products, like the Edge line for performance monitoring. It also works with Varia Review Radar, alerting the rider when a vehicle is approaching from behind. Now you won’t lose focus while trying to nail your targets for a workout, find the next turn or stay aware of cars approaching from behind.
The device also allows you to view information such as your heart rate, power and speed and still keep your eyes peeled for potential hazards in front of you. The wearable can even help you find your way with detailed navigation prompts, complete with street names, directional arrows and distance to turn.
The LifeBEAM smart helmet is the first helmet that senses your body while you ride. It features a sleek Lazer Genesis design, and is lightweight (weights between 280g and 300g depending on the size) and comfortable (Rollsys Retention System).
Inside the helmet are sensors that monitor your heart rate, count your calories, give you an analysis of your performance, and protect your head – all, according to the company, with aerospace level accuracy. Apparently, the sensors in the helmets first started off as a way to measure the vitals of astronauts and jet pilots.
Riders who use heart rate and are in the market for a new helmet should definitely give this one a closer look. Rather bizarrely, the company also sells a smart hat and even a smart visor! They feature all the sensors of the helmet and are designed for active sports.
Misfit activity trackers have zero cables, elegant designs, and no need to recharge – which makes them one of the best-looking, lowest-maintenance activity trackers. For people who want to be more proactive about their health and are interested in basic information but don’t want to wear on obvious device – Misfit wearables are a great choice.
The Flash Cyclist Edition tracks metrics during your ride, including cadence (RPMs), distance, speed and map information, and delivers it all in real time – giving you the information you need to boost performance. The device also works with most popular cycling applications, including Strava, MapMyRide, Wahoo, and Cyclemeter. For basic activity tracking, pair it with the Misfit flagship app to to view distance traveled, steps taken, calories burned, sleep quality and duration, and activity tagging (yoga, swimming, tennis, and more).
Moov Now is a one of a kind wearable fitness coach that actively monitors your activity and advises you in real time how to get the most from your workout. Similar to many other fitness trackers, Moov tracks your daily activity and sleep — but rather than steps, Moov measures movement within 3D space.
The device pairs with an app to train users on five sports — running, cycling, swimming, cardio boxing, and a seven-minute bodyweight workout. With the help of its mobile app and a pair of headphones, the tracker is able to provide the benefit of real-time coaching.
As a cycling tracker, Moov turns your data into powerful information, showing where you did your best and how you can be a better, more efficient cyclist. View your speed, distance, cadence, and more as you ride and hear occasional updates so you don’t have to look down. Gear coaching focuses on the way you ride and instructs you on when to shift gears to save energy.
All in all, this fitness tracker aims to teach you the concepts of a healthy life. It provides a fun way to work out and will appeal both to the average person trying to become more active, and the hard-core fitness enthusiasts aiming to improve their technique.
These innovative sunglasses display metrics, maps, and more just below your right eye. Featuring a dual-core processor and Android-based operating system, Recon Jet connects to any iOS and Android device for SMS, call display and internet access. Its modular design lets you swap in accessory lenses and spare batteries on the go.
With a built-in sensor suite and support for third-party ANT+ sensors, the device lets you keep an eye on your heart rate, speed, pace, distance, ascent, cadence, and power. And thanks to patented Glance Detection technology, Jet’s display wakes up instantly when you look at it, then switches off when you look away.
You can also view a GPS map of your route. And if you want to snap a photo along the way or shoot a 720p video – simply double-tap the right side of the device. Because the camera sits at eye level, your footage will always show your true point of view.
The Vivoactive HR is a recent addition to Garmin’s line of fitness trackers. Essentially, rather than a smartwatch with fitness capabilities, you get a fitness watch with some smartwatch capabilities.
This is a fairly comprehensive device. It counts steps, intensity minutes, monitors sleep, and now with the addition of a barometric altimeter – counts the number of floors climbed. As the name implies, Vivoactive HR features 24/7 wrist-based heart rate data to calculate calories burned as well as the intensity of fitness activities.
Built-in sports apps include running; cycling; golf and swimming with newly added support for paddle boarding and skiing. You can also add generic strength and cardio categories for other activities If your favourite activity is not on the list, you may be able to find it in the Connect IQ store.
With built-in GPS, there is no need to pair it with your phone in order to use GPS tracking. It will also connect with the speed and cadence sensors on your bike using ANT+, changing the screen display to make it specific for cycling. The tracker can also talk to Garmin’s Varia lights and radar, giving you alerts on your wrist when a car gets too close behind you.
This is a simple but potentially life saving device. The ICEdot Crash Sensor straps on to your helmet to detect life-threatening impacts and send an emergency message through your smartphone to someone who can get you medical help. An alarm will sound on the phone, giving you a chance to stop the distress signal from going out if you’re ok. If you don’t stop the app, it sends an SMS text message to your pre-specified emergency contacts with your GPS coordinates.
To keep you safe on the road, the Garmin tail light uses radar to detect approaching cars from up to 140m away and increases in brightness in both steady and flash modes as motorists approach. You can use the tail light independently, as a smart light; or with certain models from Garmin’s Edge bike computer line light sends information about how many cars are behind you as well as each car’s proximity.
The front light, meanwhile, helps to create safer riding by adjusting the light beam to changing light conditions and illuminating further ahead at greater speeds.
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