Customizable. Up to 20 hours battery life for long rides. Color display. Packed with features including Garmin Cycle Map for route suggestions, bike tracking, lights for visibility, bike alarm, and group messaging. Helps improve performance through data collection and training recommendations.
Some found it overly complicated.
Wired speed sensor computer tracks speed and distance. Stops calculating time and speed at rest. Three-year battery. Large, easy-to-read display.
Sensor difficult to mount due to short wire.
Reliable and water-resistant. 35-hour battery life for long tips. GNSS support for accurate GPS tracking. TrainingPeaks program has pre-programmed training plans. Highly customizable and compatible with ANT+ and BLE sensors.
Some users had issues connecting this to smartphone apps.
Waterproof. Goes 25 hours without charge. Three backlight modes for various light conditions. Automatic stop feature. Tracks nine kinds of data to improve cycling performance.
Handlebar mount not compatible with all handlebar types.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Cycling odometers are a great way to keep track of data from your daily commutes, after-work group rides, and weekend adventures. They can provide a wealth of useful information depending on the type of cycling you’re interested in: basic speed and distance for the leisure cyclist, cadence and wattage for the serious competitor, and GPS mapping for the more adventurous.
If you’re simply interested in tracking your mileage or average miles per hour, a basic model will do the trick. If you’re looking to monitor your heart rate or track your revolutions per minute, a more advanced odometer might be a better pick. Manufacturers have come up with a wide selection of options to appeal to various categories of cyclists — which can make selecting the right model for your needs a bit of a challenge.
After looking at the full spectrum of features and functions offered, we’ve made some recommendations that cover a broad range of price and performance options. In the following buyer’s guide, we break down the critical components in more detail.
A cycling odometer can be as simple as a speed and distance tracker or as complicated as a Bluetooth-enabled touchscreen GPS device. Despite the apparent complexity, you can break things down into three main specs: method of data acquisition, range of functions, and other features.
At its most basic level, a cycling odometer functions by determining the speed of a bike and the distance of travel. Cycling odometers that are not GPS-based typically do this through the use of a magnetic sensor attached to the spokes of the front wheel, a receiving unit attached to the fork (often with zip ties), and a handlebar-mounted bike computer. The connection between receiver and computer is either wired or wireless, and they are usually very easy to install. The receiving unit tracks the revolutions of the wheel in order to calculate speed and distance, which are then communicated to the computer’s display screen.
There are several important things to check when setting up your sensor:
The other alternative for data acquisition is a GPS odometer, which you simply attach to your bike’s handlebars — no sensor or receiver necessary. This variety of bicycle odometer is considerably more expensive than the sensor variety, but it can often pair with more gadgets if you want to know cadence, power output, heart rate, and more.
The most basic of the cycling odometers we looked at give you at least four functions: current speed, average speed, total distance covered, and time. Any features beyond that depend to some extent on how much you want to spend.
The following is an extensive list of what might be offered by a given odometer:
Screen: Cheaper cycling odometers have a single screen, but that isn’t practical for advanced models — you couldn’t fit all the data on a single page. So, multiple screens are provided, scrollable at the touch of a button or via touchscreen technology.
Most odometer units are controlled by buttons, but some high-end models have touch screens that make use easier while riding. Screen content is usually fixed, but on top models some customization is possible.
A backlit screen, often available on more complicated models, will allow you to read details in the dark. This can be especially important if you’re relying on GPS to get you where you’re going.
Battery life: On sensor models, battery life can be several years. GPS models run perhaps 10 hours or more before they need recharging. This can be extended by using data logging intervals. Rather than record continuously, data is taken in one-, two-, or five-second gaps.
In order to save battery power, many odometers have a sleep function and will shut themselves off after a given period of inactivity. To wake, simply start pedaling or turn the power back on.
Social media capability: With more advanced cycling odometers data can be saved, downloaded, and/or shared via social media. Smartphone compatibility gives a number of additional options, as do third-party apps. They offer extra training plans, enable downloadable routes, compare your performance with others, etc. Some cycling odometers will sync automatically. It’s important to check compatibility carefully.
Strava compatibility opens up a social network for athletes, providing advanced performance analysis and the ability to compete against other members.
Weather protection: You’ll see the bike computer unit described as “weather-resistant,” “weather-proof,” or “waterproof,” all of which are a bit vague. The only way to be sure is if the manufacturer has had them independently tested and provides an IP or IPX (Ingress Protection) rating. You can then check the numbers against a defined standard. If it’s not IP rated, it may offer the protection claimed, but there’s no guarantee.
Cycling odometers can cost less than $20 or as much as $300.
You can get a budget cycling odometer for under $20. If you’re a casual leisure cyclist and don’t mind the wired connection, these offer information and entertainment. Added functionality can take the price up to about $30, and you’ll find a few wireless models at this price too.
Above $30 you’ll find a wide range of fully-featured wireless bike computers. At about $50, basic GPS models start to appear, though features are quite limited. Expect to pay $80 or more for more complex features.
High-end, multi-function GPS cycling odometers with features like cadence and the ability to add heart monitoring are mostly in the $200-$300 range.
A. It varies. If you have an ANT+ heart rate monitor paired with your odometer, this calorie count can be quite accurate. Without one, the unit is making a ‘“best guess.” The more information required — like weight and fitness levels — the more accurate the result. Relative speed over distance is used in order to calculate energy expended. In general, most cycling odometers overestimate calorie burn by around 20%.
A. Strictly speaking, a speedometer measures how fast while an odometer measures how far. However, as you can see from our buyer’s guide, the majority of bike computers offer much more information than those two simple statistics.
A. Each model has certain setup routines that you need to follow carefully for accurate feedback. It’s not usually difficult (though on cheaper models, instructions can be poor). The main calibration factor is wheel size, which is how the computer calculates distance and therefore speed (based on wheel rotation).