Cycling Accessories

Best Garmin Watch for Cycling: Top 8 in 2024

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Garmin watches add to the straightforward technology involved with cycling. Simplicity always been part of riding’s enduring appeal. Turning pedals and wheels project understated ease. It opens up the world and permits escape into it. 

Commuters who cycle trust uncomplicated mechanical parts. They know that essential repairs are relatively inexpensive and can be carried out at home on or the roadside.

They may only see the bicycle as an essential part of their nine to five. They pick it up and lock it up, uniformly and for efficiency.  

To many, riding the bicycle could be their only form of exercise. Doing so is considered one of the most beneficial forms of giving the body a daily workout.



From here, that routine can develop into more strenuous tests of speed, hill-climbing, descending and endurance. It may include doing so with a group of like-minded folk or friends.

The enjoyment and thrills involved in these may stimulate them to join a club, or take up competitive riding. A Garmin watch can be worn to record the progress of these rides.

Best Garmin Cycling Watch

  1. Garmin Fenix 7

    Accurate smartwatch for serious athletes

    Garmin Fenix 7

    Tough with a long battery life and seven days a week health and fitness monitoring.

  2. Garmin Venu 2

    Lifestyle focussed and light touch

    Garmin Venu 2

    Touchscreen model offering essential recording of key exercise metrics with minimum fuss.

  3. Garmin vivoactive 4 white background

    Premium features at a lower price point

    Garmin Vivoactive 4

    Match some of the essential fitness functions of the fēnix and Forerunner models without spending as much.

  4. Garmin Forerunner 745 white background

    Offers encouragement to ride further

    Garmin Forerunner 745

    On-device cycling workout suggestions and links to third-party apps like Strava and Komoot.

  5. Garmin Forerunner 45 white background

    Entry-level device with essentials included

    Garmin Forerunner 45

    Plenty of features for the cycling commuter for tracking rides and times; offline music a nice touch at this price.

  6. Garmin Instinct 2 white background

    Rugged no-fuss model

    Garmin Instinct 2

    Impressive battery life allies smart features with your training and health monitoring.

  7. Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar white background

    Big leap forward from the 745 model

    Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

    Cycling features on this device are on a par with handlebar mounted computers in particular navigation and climbing.

  8. Garmin Epix white background

    If you want everything

    Garmin Epix (Gen 2)

    An aesthetically pleasing timepiece and motivational training hub which will meet all of your needs and more.

SKIP AHEAD:

Once mastered, using a bicycle may become one of many ways to stay fit and challenge an individual. Exploration and mental stimulation can also be formed from running, or paddle-boarding or swimming.

Combining these activities is manageable and provides alternative ways to keep motivated and to keep moving.  A wearable Garmin offers multisport functions which can be stored on the watch or on the Garmin Connect hub back on a computer.

We’ve established cycling is great for the heart and soul. Depending on use, the majority of materials and components used to manufacture a bicycle are made to last a long time. Maintenance can be learned quickly.  

Many will use the same bicycle for one or all of the cycling activities highlighted. Some may have one bicycle to cover all of them, or may have one reserved for each activity.

The joy of cycling for many includes access to a wide range of different bicycles from a reliable hybrid all-rounder, through a commuter, ready made with lights, racks and mudguards to a technology-laden, lightweight electric mountain bike with suspension hydraulics.

Bicycles are designed so that they can give you as much or as little feedback as you desire.

Benefits of a Smartwatch for Cyclists

If it is agreed that a bicycle carries out as little or as many tasks as you want it to, the same is true of watches specifically worn for cycling. They can do most things that a wristwatch can, they can do many of the things that a smartphone does.

They can do almost as many things as a specific handlebar-mounted device does. They can be adaptable and flexible.

However you choose to use a watch for cycling, the information that they collect, hold and provide you with needs to be trustworthy and for some, instantly accessible for digestion and comparison. The best watches can be synchronised with third-party applications back at base.

The necessity for features and monitoring will almost certainly influence the watch you choose.  However, a central theme which runs through most common requirements seen by users of the bicycle will be dependability and reliability.

Trusted brands with a track record of delivering what we want, ride after ride, are key drivers in the choices we make. If your cycling takes you far away from the comfort and familiarity of the urban centre, you want to feel safe that your machine will aid your return you home, time and again. 

You may wish to leave your smartphone or other dependable kit at home knowing that you are wearing a watch that is designed to make you available to people.

A device that gives you turn by turn instructions, monitors your average speed and calories burned, pay for your coffee and stream from your Spotify account. A good brand is trusted to do that. 

We’ll dig a bit deeper into the features of a watch for cycling but we should ensure that it can be called upon to perform over and over. 

Why Garmin is Popular for Cycling

For many, Garmin is a name synonymous with the provision of what is needed from a device used for outdoor activities. They are considered a global icon and leader in automotive, aviation and marine navigation.

Over 20 years old now, they have invested in technologies and acquired companies which support the functionality of their devices in order to streamline and improve performance. 

They have sponsored professional road-racing cycling teams. They offer a global network of support and guidance. They now support synchronisation with some of the other key fitness and lifestyle applications used by cyclists.  Garmin also has a great proprietary storage and store called Garmin Connect for new kit day.

Garmin also produces handlebar-mounted units for cycling. If you use your bicycle for more strenuous exercise regularly and tend to enjoy riding longer distances over new roads or terrain, then there is a case for investing in one of these.

If you travel quickly and need to concentrate on what’s in front of you at all times and keep both hands on the handlebars, then investing in a handlebar-mounted unit needs consideration.  

They have large displays which provide dozens of data points. These markers are updated for you to monitor and area easily read in all conditions. Relying on any watch to give navigation guidance through the reader worn on the wrist is dangerous, not recommended and will hinder every ride you go on.

Garmin devices, including watches for cycling, are often designed to partner with Garmin technical accessories such as heart rate monitor straps or speed and cadence units which attach to the body or the bicycle.

However, as you move through the range, the built-in technology can dispense with the need to acquire more equipment, unless you are fixated by measurement of power output and speed from a meter, a cadence unit and your wheels rather than a Global Positioning System (GPS).

In considering which Garmin watch to buy, perhaps the most important thing you can do is to take a moment to look at what function the bicycle carries out for you. Garmin does not promote cycling as a core activity in the products tab of watches on its website at the time of writing.

The cycling profile features within the multisport category. That may be with an emphasis on the more athletically, directionally and statistically functions found on the handlebar-mounted units. 

Garmin highlights many of the compatible functions of its watches with cycling and all of the watches highlighted here have a built-in cycling mode for you to activate quickly and easily at the start of your ride for essential monitoring.

How I Ranked the Best Garmins For Cyclists

I spoke to a nationwide bike shop and a nationwide outdoor pursuits retailer who each confirmed that Garmin provides them with full training about their range of watches for cycling and the comparisons between them. Both confirmed that most purchases are made after the consumer has carried out research and compared devices online. 

I also spoke to several users of Garmin watches for cycling, ranging from those with no prior knowledge of the brand who received theirs as a gift, to a Type-1 diabetic who relies on the device to keep him informed of the level of glucose in his blood during exercise, to a multi-sports Strava segment junkie who loves to compare all ride times posted on Strava with his mates. 

There was a consistent agreement that, whilst there was an awareness of all the features that Garmin watches have to offer, the take up of these features is limited. That’s understandable because of the shared technologies with other dependable devices such as smartphones or simply that the users wanted a specific experience.

There was very little negative feedback about use of Garmin watches – limited to the aesthetic of older devices and reading of information on its face. Some users would appreciate more bundling of products and accessories into discounted price points.

All purchasers fed back to me on the reputation for quality. Some highlighted the positive reviews received online and in-store and the data-tracking and GPS offered. 

Everybody was happy with battery life. The dependency on energy consumption depends on use. Utilising the GPS to provide speed and distance measurement plus turn by turn instructions and streaming from your paid for Spotify account will use the battery up after perhaps eight hours on the most expensive units.

Use as a daily watch with a simple heart rate monitor and to record your daily commute or local ride without GPS should get you over a week of use between charges.

Does Strava Work with Garmin?

You can connect Garmin and Strava via Bluetooth using the Garmin Connect app which syncs data between the two.

Strava is surely the most popular application for measuring cycling activities. Strava has over 95 million users. Although now used to track more than 30 sports activities, in its infancy all of the activity was driven by cyclists.

A popular saying amongst cycling communities remains, “If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen.” Users appear to be loyal to the brand and would not consider shifting the recording of their activities away to other sites.

Strava is free to download and use at the most essential levels including receiving and giving ‘kudos’ to other verified users. It charges a subscription for some of the most sought after statistics like setting training goals, analysis of data and tracking performance over time.

Probably the most used feature of the premium settings is comparing times for specific segments of a ride with other users. Over 50% of rides by Tour de France competitors feature on Strava if you ever need to ask yourself how close to the pros you are in terms of performance. 

You can upload your rides manually via a USB connection to your PC or laptop. Historical content can be imported to both Strava and to the Garmin hubs. 

One use for Strava creeping into your world is that authorities are giving serious consideration to its data for route planning. Using crowdsourcing can help establish the relationship between cycling data and how the ground around us is used.

Understanding how representative they are of where cycling takes place is a key consideration for debate, however. Do commuters use Strava as much as committed ‘weekend warriors’? 

If you like to look into the details, you will sometimes find differences in some of the data captured by Strava and Garmin. The two companies process the real-time data differently using methods which package up the end result differently. This is influenced more if you add optional speed and cadence devices which are sold separately and whether you stop and start your watch when you stop at lights or for coffee and cake. 

You may see more differences in the elevation measurements between the two devices. For day to day use and measurement of distances this will go unnoticed. Check which watch displays Strava Live segments if you want to ready yourself and safely fight for the KOM on a verified and permitted regular stretch of your popular routes.

Best Garmin for Biking

A selection of the best smartwatches for cycling for Strava from a range of fitness brands are reviewed here. As a leader, Garmin watches do feature and we will revisit these and some more of the range.

There are hundreds of features across the Garmin range so it’s not possible to list all of them. And one model even has 19 different variations from the base unit. The users I spoke to each admitted that they have not investigated, downloaded and utilised everything on offer. 

But that’s to be expected. Not everyone is the same. Some people want to take their phone out with them. Some only want to measure one or two metrics. We’ve identified already that not everyone needs every feature. Competition amongst manufacturers means that certain ranges are limited and targeted at certain users. 

On top of hours, minutes and seconds, timer, stopwatch and alarm clocks standard features include:

  • wrist heart monitor 
  • GPS sensors
  • training, planning and analysis features
  • available cycling profiles 
  • health monitoring

One shift in market patterns is towards multisport users who want one device to cater for everything – walking, running and hiking, or paddleboarding and swimming, for example. 

Another comes with the development of health and performance indicators. There are even some practicalities included like incident detection and activating your bicycle lights. Day to day wearability and practicality are also important and so is all round value for money.

We’ll look at some core functionalities for everyday use across a range of activities and examine what you might need to consider more of before buying. All will add some value to your experience of riding your bicycle. You should also pay attention to which features require you to take your smartphone with you before you buy.

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Best Garmin Watches for Cycling

1. Garmin Fenix 7

Garmin fenix 7 in blue background
Garmin fenix 7 in use
  • UK Flag £600
  • US Flag $722
  • EU Flag €677

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 33mm
  • Weight: 79g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 57 days

Choice of 11 cycling modes including commuting

Suggested courses and points of interest included

Device vibrates at turns on programmed routes

Garmin fēnix 7 is the top pick if you want a watch to do everything. It’s adapted from the previous generation of fēnix and goes well beyond just your cycling needs. Three different GPS positions increases accuracy. Corning Gorilla glass on the face protects against scrapes and outdoor hazards. The large display is visible in sunlight. The battery power save operation becomes more useful as you become more adventurous. Your body’s power and emergency reserves are monitored too when you need an excuse to rest. ClimbPro allows you to see real-time gradients and helps pace you for upcoming climbs on downloaded courses. Lifestyle options allow you to play Spotify Premium playlists or podcasts. You can catch up with emails and texts. 32GB of memory is available.

Pros

  • Multi-band GPS improves accuracy of data in urban settings
  • Packed with everything a multisports user could need
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Will you ever use all the features?
  • Might not synch with work attire

2. Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2 blue background
  • UK Flag £275
  • US Flag $400
  • EU Flag €300

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 33mm
  • Weight: 49g
  • Min. Battery Life: 8 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 12 days

Elevate V4 optical heart rate sensor

Up to three widget glances on screen

Performance goal alerts notified

Garmin Venu 2 is a lightweight touchscreen sports performance device also operating as a smartwatch. You can pair and store your activity with the Garmin Connect IQ hub. The unit pairs with your smartphone for simple synching. On-screen performance is enhanced with in-depth metrics and a strong music experience. More than 25 variations of differing sporting activities are built-in including a cycling mode. Battery life is really flexible depending on GPS and app use.

Pros

  • Hi-res AMOLED screen
  • GPS is hyper-accurate
  • Wellness tools well thought-out

Cons

  • Limited choice of third-party apps

EDITOR NOTE FROM PETE: I own the Garmin Venu 2 and absolutely love it. I’ve not been particularly sold on smartwatches before, but I find the Venu 2 is the ideal blend of functionality and style. It looks amazing, it tracks really, really well and the battery life is far better than anything I have come across as I only charge it about once per week.

3. Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin vivoactive 4 blue background
  • UK Flag £260
  • US Flag $312
  • EU Flag €295

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 33mm
  • Weight: 51g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 6 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 8 days

Music streaming available on-watch

Move IQ performance trackers automatically detect your routine

Animated workouts on screen

Garmin vívoactive 4 is a more approachable entry to fitness wearables than some of the pricier fēnix and Forerunner units. Essential functions like music streaming, HR tracking and GPS are included for a lot less money than those stablemates. You lose a bit of style around the edges and around the wrist but if you want something to monitor your regular exercise but not coach you at each step, this is your device.

Pros

  • Track loads of different exercises regularly
  • Well-priced entry-level unit
  • Reliable tracking of heart rate and location

Cons

  • Health stats not activity stats
  • Battery life of an introductory unit

4. Garmin Forerunner 745

Garmin Forerunner 745 in blue background
  • UK Flag £400
  • US Flag $482
  • EU Flag €455

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 30mm
  • Weight: 47g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 6 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 7 days

Built-in music storage up to 500 songs

Garmin Pay included for certain vendors

Pulse Ox measures oxygen saturation in your blood

Garmin Forerunner 745 provides the kind of encouragement and motivation to ride your bicycle further and for longer. It stores and crunches lots of your data gives on-device cycling workout suggestions and coaching guidance. Goal predictors help visualise the impact of your training. A recovery time tool is built in to support your body’s own messages regarding rest. It has the same ClimbPro feature as the more expensive fēnix. Cycling routes connect directly to apps such as Komoot and Strava. Social media, messaging and texts are all available.

Pros

  • Trustworthy GPS
  • Pairs well with smartphones
  • Works well with third-party apps

Cons

  • Battery life
  • No offline maps if you get lost

Best Budget Garmin Watch for Cycling

5. Garmin Forerunner 45

Garmin Forerunner 45 in blue background
  • UK Flag £130
  • US Flag $157
  • EU Flag €147

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 26mm
  • Weight: 36g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 13 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 7 days

Appealing price

Control the music playing on your phone

Battery life good no matter how you use it

Garmin Forerunner 45 is a feature-packed device aimed at runners with essential features for the cycling commuter. Like all Garmin wearables it tracks miles, times, distance and heart rate. It’s compatible with Android and IOS systems. Its light weight and battery life are appealing for the price. There are some useful personalised training plans for beginners and the controls are very easy to navigate. At this price point there are limited multisport profiles and a lot of plastic included in the build. And you can’t play music on its own. If this is your exit point for pricing and you only need simple features for commuting then investing in this is the smart option.

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Lightweight
  • Ease of navigation and controls

Cons

  • Close in price to a Garmin 130 Plus dedicated cycling computer
  • Can’t play music from the device

6. Garmin Instinct 2

Garmin Instinct 2 in blue background
  • UK Flag £250
  • US Flag $301
  • EU Flag €282

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 23mm
  • Weight: 52g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 30 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 65 days

Persistent battery life

More rugged in appearance than other models

Built to recognised military standards

Garmin Instinct 2 was launched just after the fēnix 7. Like most 2023 Garmin versions you can buy the device in a smaller size or a solar model which promises unlimited battery life under certain sunny conditions. The battery life on the standard model is very impressive. Daily use features are as good as most models with smart notifications and text message response for Android phones. All of the training, planning, timing and analysis features are here. It synchs with Garmin Connect, the proprietary tool and store for tracking and sharing activities and enhancing your on-screen apps.

Pros

  • More health monitoring options than more expensive models
  • 11 cycling profiles
  • Functional Threshold Power recording available

Cons

  • No colour display or touchscreen
  • Garmin Pay not available on this model

7. Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

Garmin Forerunner 955 solar in blue background
  • UK Flag £550
  • US Flag $663
  • EU Flag €621

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 33mm
  • Weight: 53g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 8.5 hours (no solar)
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 20 days (with solar)

Improved range of cycling features compare to similarly priced models

Auto-synch routes with Strava and Komoot

Solar power does wonders for battery life

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar moves the standing of the range forward again. We’ve reviewed the base model in this post and just beneath the 955 is the 745. They all follow the same style but the 955 Solar steps up the features and style. You get a touchscreen with Gorilla glass and the great battery life expected of a solar model. There’s a lovely range of cycling features which are on a par with handlebar mounted systems. Navigating is easy via directional arrows and the vibration before a turn is there too. If you like the punishing climbs the ClimbPro system is great for letting you know how many metres you have left to go upwards! Connectivty, health and performance stats are expectedly good in this price range.

Pros

  • Health data much more manageable with Garmin Connect
  • Recommended daily workout option followed by training status
  • Touchscreen can be active or not depending on your sport

Cons

  • Constant wear required for proper diagnosis
  • Strap must be snug for accurate heart-rate analysis

8. Garmin Epix

Garmin Epix in blue background
  • UK Flag £750
  • US Flag $904
  • EU Flag €848

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 33mm
  • Weight: 76g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 9 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 21 days

Higher quality materials and hi-res display give premium feel

AMOLED – always on – mode

Customisable in-activity battery settings

Garmin epix (Gen 2 but Gen 1 was launched in 2015) is a beautifully crafted sports and smartwatch. The display is AMOLED – more efficient, weighing less and less bulky than LCD versions. The quality and depth of colours is remarkable by comparison to other wearables. Even the most committed multisport athlete won’t get through the list of activities and profiles available to them. This is a serious piece of kit for dedicated athletes. The cycling function offers indoor and outdoor functions. Not everyone agrees with the coaching facility but the recovery and sleep tracking will help you recoup your energy. It shares the great mapping and turn functions of the other Garmin models in the higher price range and of course synchs with the Garmin Connect store.

Pros

  • Display a work of art
  • Tracks your training stats acutely
  • Motivational stats and updates on and off the bike

Cons

  • Still tend to get better heart rate results from a chest-strap device
  • You might expect to make and receive phone calls at this price point

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