Best Strava Watch: Top 5 Smartwatches for Cycling in 2023
For day-to-day life, I’ve never been a fan of smartwatches. The idea of getting even more notifications makes me queasy.
However, there is one area in which I love smartwatches: exercise.
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I’m a bit of a nerd, so a fitness tracker is very appealing to me. I find just by tracking my exercise levels, I become more competitive with myself and want to improve on my scores. The key tools needed to do this are a heartrate monitor and a GPS tracker – ideally encompassed into the Strava app.
As well as fitness tracking, the other major appeal of a smartwatch to me is so that I can go and workout without carrying my phone. And, as I do like my music, that means I want my smartwatch to be capable of providing me with offline Spotify playlists.
3 Things to Look for in a Cycling Smartwatch
So, whether I’m running or cycling – I want a smartwatch that can accurately track my activities via GPS and gives me access to music without my phone. These two things don’t half drain battery life, though. Therefore, I also want a good few hours of battery life when being used intensively (ideally four or more).
- GPS tracker and heart rate monitor
- Offline music support
- Killer battery life (note: “standby” battery life and using GPS/Bluetooth will be radically different).
Best Strava Compatible Watches [Compared]
In the rest of the post, I’m going to look at several of the best smartwatches around. However, I’ll be scoring them on the previously mentioned essential features (i.e. GPS accuracy, heart rate accuracy, offline music support and battery life), while also taking in consideration style and price.
How I’m Comparing Smart Watches for Cycling
- GPS accuracy (out of 5) – how accurate is the GPS?
- Heart rate monitor (out of 5) – how accurate is it and can you download Strava?
- Offline music support (out of 5) – which music streaming services (Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Google Play Music) are available with offline support?
- Battery life (out of 5) – how long is the battery life in “normal” use and, more importantly, how long can the battery life last approximately when Bluetooth and the GPS functions are being used simultaneously?
- Usability (out of 5) – what is the user interface like and is it easy to use?
- Style (out of 5) – pure vanity. Does it look good?
- Value (out of 5) – does it provide value for money considering the functionality?
- OVERALL SCORE (out of 5)
Whether you’re new to cycling or just want to splash out on some state-of-the-art cycling gear, smartwatches are a great way to enhance your experience while out on your bike.
Find the Best GPS Watch for Cycling
A GPS cycling watch offers so many benefits to every cyclist. Of course, they can obviously provide you with maps to navigate and direct you on your way, but can do much more than that, too.
For instance, cycling watches can track your speed, your distance travelled, your calories burned and your heart rate, and control your music without you having to reach for your phone every few minutes.
Anyway, let’s get to it… here are best cycling smartwatches for Strava users.
Best Strava Watch for Cyclists?
What is the Best Garmin Watch for Cycling?
There’s not much doubt about it in the world of fitness smartwatches: Garmin are the kings of the tracking jungle. So if you want the very best and most accurate tracking, Garmin is where you go. But what’s the best Garmin smartwatch for cycling? Well, you can read the full guide to the Best Garmin watches for cycling here, or you can read on for our top pick.
It should be noted that if you want a smartwatch for cycling – or sports in general – then Garmin are typically the best watches out there – although some of the models do boast quite a serious price tag.
The Best Garmin Smartwatch for Cyclists is…
Perfect for serious athletes who want the best, most accurate tech, on their wrist.
- Tracks altitude, heart rate, GPS, and even estimates VO2 max
- Has offline music support (including Spotify and Deezer)
- Up to 46 days of battery life (and at least 10 hours with intensive use, including Bluetooth and GPS)
|Garmin 6X Pro||Rating|
|Heart Rate Monitor||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
It you want the very best Garmin smartwatch with most accurate tracking (including altitude), then the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is actually the best smartwatch for cycling or running that there is.
The rugged Garmin smartwatch is packed with some impressive features, such as an always-on 1.3” inch display that is also readable in direct sunlight.
It obviously costs a lot more than other cycling smartwatches out there, but for that price you’ll get top end GPS and an optical heart rate monitor from Vallencal, while the Fenix 6X Pro will also estimate your VO2 max. In essence, it’s the best GPS smartwatch and best fitness tracker for cycling there is.
And like most Garmin smartwatches, you’ll find plenty of options for offline music storage, including the option to load and store tracks directly to the phone, including with the likes of Spotify and Deezer.
Amazingly, the Fenix 6 Pro can last up to 46 days with one full charge – although this is obviously with minimal use and by applying the battery save mode. But what is even more impressive is that the Fenix 6 Pro will up to 36 hours with the GPS function being used with moderate activity. For the most intensive use (i.e. GPS, plus Bluetooth and music) you’ll still get a remarkable 10 hours of use – which you’ll struggle to beat in the smartwatch world right now.
The only real downside to this Strava smartwatch is that in order to pack in all of this functionality, it is a bit on the bulky side and weighs in at 80 grams. But it’s not a deal breaker.
It’s not only the best fitness watch for cycling, but the best GPS watch, too.
- Fit for performance with rugged, sophisticated design that features a big 1.4” sunlight-readable display (36% larger than previous fēnix models) with stainless steel bezel
- With sensors for enhanced wrist heart rate (the data and information provided by these devices is intended to be a close estimation of your activity and metrics tracked, but may not be precisely...
- Advanced training features include PacePro for grade-adjusted pace guidance throughout your activity plus environmentally adjusted VO2 max and training status estimates
Best Value Garmin Watch for Cycling:
A great value and stylish smartwatch, with excellent tracking and huge selection of features
- Enjoy high-quality Garmin tracking withouth the premium pricetag
- Has offline music support (including Spotify and Deezer)
- Up to 8 days of battery life in “normal” use and at least 6 hours with intensive use
|Garmin Vivoactive 4||Rating|
|Heart Rate Monitor||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
The Garmin Vivoactive range is one of Garmin’s mid-range smartwatches, and costs significantly less than some of the Garmin Forerunner models. But, despite being one of the cheapest smartwatches for cycling, it’s still a good ‘un.
The latest model is the Garmin Vivoactive 4. The Vivoactive series is more of a multi-purpose smartwatch than the Forerunner series too, boasting all of Garmin’s excellent GPS and fitness tracking tech in a beautiful case.
The Vivoactive 4 boasts offline music support and the battery lasts for up to 8 days in normal use, and up to 6 hours when used intensively (i.e. Bluetooth, GPS and music all running). You can even make payments using the watch’s “Garmin Pay” feature, so you can leave your wallet at home.
It’s also very easy to use offering up both a touchscreen interface, as well as two physical buttons on the side.
For all but the most serious of riders, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 could well be the best watch for Strava users. It might also be the best-looking Garming cycling watch.
- FOR YOUR FITNESS: There are over 40 training plans available with various levels of difficulty. Animated exercises for strength training, cardio, yoga and Pilates are shown on the display. Garmin...
- FOR YOUR SPORT: Improve yourself in your sport and be inspired for new things. On your Garmin There are over 20 sports apps installed — running, cycling, yoga, Pilates, hiking, golf, SUP and much...
- FOR YOUR HEALTH: Health & fitness tracking provides information for a healthy life. Oxygen saturation and heart rate measurement provide information about your fitness. Reminders for an ideal water...
Differences Between Garmin Vivoactive 3 and Vivoactive 4
In the battle to create the best Garmin for cycling, the company are regularly updating their models, so if you’re looking to save a bit of cash, the Vivoactive 3 is also very good and available at a discounted price.
The major differences between the Vivoactive 3 and the Vivoactive 4 aren’t monumental, although the Vivoactive 4 has had a bump in specifications, including a slightly better battery life, and is a touch bigger and with a larger screen (although the Vivoactive 4S provides a smaller alternative with similar specs).
Garmin Comparison: Vivoactive 4 v Vivoactive 3
|]Garmin Vivoactive 4||Garmin Vivoactive 3|
|8 days of battery in normal mode||7 days of battery in normal mode|
|6 hours of battery with GPS and music in use||5 hours of battery with GPS and music in use|
|Offline music storage (including Spotify).||Only the Vivoactive 3 Music model has offline storage|
|Touch screen +two physical buttons for navigation||Touch screen + one physical button for navigation|
|Current price on Amazon: £191.65||Current price on Amazon: £249.00|
Most Stylish Smartwatch for Cyclists:
A beautiful smartwatch that offers offline music support and decent fitness tracking
- 4GB of internal storage (enough to save 300+ songs on the likes of Spotify)
- Has built-in GPS tracker and heart rate monitor
- Strava compatible
|Samsung Active 2||Rating|
|Heart Rate Monitor||⭐⭐⭐|
In terms of chic design, Samsung have smashed it with the sleek Galaxy Active Watch 2.
It also has a good range of apps, can be used to make payments, has GPS tracking and offline Spotify (and other music, including Deezer) and is a Strava compatible watch. All good things.
The battery life is also decent for “normal” use with about two days (at a push) of use. But if you’re looking to use GPS and listen to music via Bluetooth headphones, the battery life diminishes to under four hours.
The Samsung Active offers slick touchscreen user interface with a touch spinning bezel to quickly navigate between apps and also has two physical buttons on the side. So in terms of usability, it’s great.
While it’s pretty accurate in terms of tracking, it doesn’t come close to the advanced GPS cycling watch and heart rate tracking available on Garmin smartwatches, which we’ll cover below.
- Intelligent wellness: using multiple sensors and real-time data, the Galaxy Watch Active2 is a lifestyle and health partner on your wrist
- Automatic workout detection: the real-time Running Coach allows you to set a target and prompts you to keep on track
- Timeless design: both thin and light, its elegant round body features an enlarged display and unique digital bezel that offers a modern twist on a classic design
Lightweight GPS Smartwatch for Cyclists:
A lightweight smartwatch with amazing battery life
- Get up to 30 hours of battery life with GPS turned on (up to four days without)
- Very accurate heart tracker, with cardio load, muscle load and perceived load also tracked
- Stylish and extremely lightweight
|Polar Vantage M||Rating|
|Heart Rate Monitor||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
Weighing a mere 44 grams, this is one of the lightest smartwatches you can find and is packed full of useful features to improve your cycling experience.
First of all, it has a superb battery life; with up to 30 hours of training time with GPS active, it can keep trainers going through their toughest stretches. With normal use, the battery lasts around four days.
It also comes with Polar Precision Prime technology to give extremely accurate heart rate readings, and Training Load Pro separates cardio load, muscle load and perceived load, and offers you a much more detailed look than usual at how your training is impacting on your body
That’s not all, though, because the Vantage M comes with Bluetooth Low Energy and can be paired with a variety of cycling accessories.
This isn’t a touchscreen watch though, and is instead navigated by using the five physical buttons. Despite this, it remains easy to use and control.
The Polar Vantage is a sleek, lightweight smartwatch that is a very good fitness tracker. If you don’t want a smartwatch with music, this is a good option.
- ULTRA-LONG BATTERY LIFE: Up to 30 hours of training time with GPS active, the durable and waterproof all-in-one Polar vantage M is for those who love setting records
- POLAR PRECISION PRIME SENSOR FUSION TECHNOLOGY: Accurate optical HR monitoring for 130+ sports includes swimming, cycling
- TRAINING LOAD PRO and RECOVERY PRO:: The vantage m is the fitness and biking activity tracker, separating cardio, muscle and perceived load, get a comprehensive view of how training sessions strain...
Best Budget Smartwatch for Cyclists:
A lightweight Fitbit Strava compatible smartwatch with amazing battery life
- Up to six days of battery life
- Built-in Alexa voice assistant
- Good range of apps available and very easy to use
|Fitbit Versa 3||Rating|
|Heart Rate Monitor||⭐⭐⭐|
A good all-rounder, this is the best Fitbit for cycling, giving on-board GPS rather than connected GPS and letting you download and play music without you needing to hook up your phone.
This watch can be used to control Spotify and other music apps, although not store music from such third party apps. However, you can download music directly onto the device.
The Fitbit Versa 3 is also water resistant to 50 meters, making it suitable for swimming, as well as very rainy days on the bike!
In terms of fitness, this Fitbit cycling watch tracks your steps, your calories burned, your sleep patterns, and your heart rate. Auto-exercise recognition and auto start/stop functions allow you to start cycling without having to change different modes.
It is also a Strava watch, and apps for things like sports, weather and more, a female health tracker, contactless payments, multisport modes, call and text notifications, and reminders to get up and move.
The Fitbit Versa is very easy to use with it a simple touch user inter
- Battery Life: Up to 6 days with fast charge
- Compatibility: Compatible with iOS 12.2 or higher & Android OS 7.0 or higher
- Built-In GPS: With built-in GPS, leave your phone behind and explore the outdoors with pace and distance on your tracker and see a workout intensity map showing your route and effort in the app when...
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