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Best Strava Watch: Top 15 Smartwatches for Cycling in 2023

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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.

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.

Strava-Compatible Watches for Cycling (Top 15)

  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. Apple Watch SE in white background

    Everything you already know, in a watch

    Apple Watch SE

    A standalone Strava app, along with other multiple iOS features, is easy to use on this trusted wearable.

  4. 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.

  5. Fitbit Sense 2 white background

    Easy sync and added heart rate zones

    Fitbit Sense 2

    Boost your Fitbit scores by adding Strava results and vice versa.

  6. Garmin Forerunner 745 white background

    offers encouragement and tech to ride further

    Garmin Forerunner 745

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

  7. Polar Pacer in white background

    has great battery life

    Polar Pacer

    Great GPS accuracy and 150 sports profiles added to impressive battery from a serious and reliable brand.

  8. Suunto 5 Peal white background

    Like a cycle computer for your wrist

    Suunto 5 Peak

    Activity-based wearable packed with health functions plus route guidance via Suunto app.

  9. 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.

  10. wahoo Elemnt rival white background

    Good looking and well-thought out device

    wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL

    A unit which is pleasing on the eye from a cycling-focused brand who have a great track record in cycle computers.

  11. Garmin Instinct 2 white background

    Rugged no-fuss model

    Garmin Instinct 2

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

  12. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 in white background

    Super sleek design

    Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

    GPS, health and heart functions with a standalone Strava app.

  13. Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar white background

    Big leap forward from the 745

    Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

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

  14. 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.

  15. Amazfit Bip 3 pro in white background

    Cheap pick for beginners

    Amazfit Bip 3 Pro

    A wallet-saving device with plenty of tech included in a recognisable package.

Read More:

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: how accurate is the GPS?
  • Heart rate monitor: how accurate is it and can you download Strava?
  • Offline music support: which music streaming services (Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Google Play Music) are available with offline support?
  • Battery life: 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: what is the user interface like and is it easy to use?
  • Style: pure vanity. Does it look good?
  • Value: does it provide value for money considering the functionality?

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.

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Best Strava Watch 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 £350
  • US Flag $424
  • EU Flag €399

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. Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE in blue background
Apple Watch SE in use
Apple Watch SE in use
Apple Watch SE colours
  • UK Flag £259
  • US Flag $315
  • EU Flag €296

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 40mm
  • Weight: 26.4g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 6 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 18 hours

Standalone Apple Watch Strava app

Spotify Premium users can stream without internet connectivity

A cinch for those familiar with iOS architecture

The standalone Apple Watch Strava app puts all you need on a well-made watch with a range of cases and straps to choose from. The GPS accuracy comes from four different sources, authorising the app will be really simple for iOS users. You might not need to take an iPhone out with you. It’s very adaptable to all commuting and athletic pursuits you might log on Strava. If you don’t have Spotify Premium you can synch Apple Music or Podcasts into the 32GB storage space. A cellular version is also available.

Pros

  • Range of iOS software
  • Quality materials
  • Standalone Strava app

Cons

  • Can’t view Strava Routes

4. 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

5. Fitbit Sense 2

Fitbit Sense 2 blue background
Fitbit Sense 2 in use
Fitbit Sense 2 in use
Fitbit Sense 2 colours
  • UK Flag £220
  • US Flag $267
  • EU Flag €251

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 40.1mm
  • Weight: 37.64g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 5 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 6+ days

Fitbit activities show on Strava and Strava activities score on Fitbit

AMOLED screen and Gorilla Glass

Listen to favourite stations and playlists with Pandora and Deezer apps

Fitbit is long established in the wearable market. The synchronisation with Strava makes it easy to record all activities during the day without duplication. The GPS accuracy comes from two different locations including GLONASS. You probably would take a phone with you for your listening pleasure unless your sounds comes from Pandora or Deezer. The synching opens up the key Strava app activities and you can pick up heart rate zones in the Fitbit app too.

Pros

  • Maps of activity in apps
  • Heart rate zones in Fitbit app
  • Indoor activities easy to record

Cons

  • A challenge to record a full day out on the bike

6. 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

7. Polar Pacer

Polar Pacer in blue background
Polar Pacer in use
Polar Pacer
Polar Pacer colours
  • UK Flag £200
  • US Flag $244
  • EU Flag €228

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 30.48mm
  • Weight: 40g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 35 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 144 hours

Should have really strong GPS

Automatic uploads from proprietary Polar Flow app

Strava Live Segments available (with Strava subscription)

Polar has been making wearables since 1977 and blazed a trail for the boom in the current market. Like Garmin, they have a fitness and health app of their own called Polar Flow, which connects to the Strava app. This device should deliver pinpoint accuracy with four GPS locators hunting for its attention. If you want to catch up on tunes or podcasts, you’ll have to take your phone although the Pacer can be a remote control for your music. There are nice touches like a magnetic charger, always on feature and Gorilla Glass. The watch itself has 150 sports profiles to choose from.

Pros

  • Precision Prime minimises HRM difficulties
  • MIP display is sharper with low power loss
  • Optional handlebar mount

Cons

  • No touch screen
  • Plastic case may not appeal to everyone

8. Suunto 5 Peak

Suunto 5 Peak in blue background
Suunto 5 Peak for cyclists
Suunto 5 Peak in use
Suunto 5 Peak colours
  • UK Flag £169
  • US Flag $206
  • EU Flag €193

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 27.94mm
  • Weight: 39g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 10 days

Five GPS measures

Suunto Plus for real time insights

VO2 Max and FTP options

A less well known manufacturer hailing from Finland, Suunto has a reputation for the robustness of its models and pursuit of improvements in performance. There are five GPS locators with this system. Like most wearables it has a built-in HRM plus the facility to work with Suunto chest strap HRMs. Again, it also synchs with Strava and you can get a free trial of Srava’s subscription service with this device. The heart health and recovery facilities on this watch are top-notch. There’s all the key cycling measurement metrics built in to add to Strava via its own app and SuuntoPlus goes further by offering more results and analysis. You’ll need a phone for tunes. The price is attractive too.

Pros

  • Synch routes to the watch
  • Real-time insights via SuuntoPlus
  • Deep range of heart health and recovery data to analyse

Cons

  • Smart lifestyle options take a back seat to great tech and performance functions

9. 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

10. wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL

wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL blue background
wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL in use
wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL for cyclist
wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL colours
  • UK Flag £300
  • US Flag $365
  • EU Flag €340

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 30.4mm
  • Weight: 53g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 24 hours
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 14 days

Ergonomic and aesthetic cycling-focused unit

Zoom in/out function

Really simple set-up and customisation

Wahoo has always had an attractive philosophy geared towards the simplicity of its cycling computers and seem to have translated this to this easy-to-use watch. The company is cycling-centric which helps the ergonomics and aesthetics of the device. There’s a synch to Strava and the company has put together a simple ELEMNT Companion app pairs via a QR code and allows quick customisation of screen. GPS comes via two sources including GLONASS. Live tracking of your locations is available. The layout of screens and well-thought out buttons support a Gorilla Glass screen. Target planning of workout routines helps you keep abreast of your performance.

Pros

  • Simplicity of use
  • Element Companion app is cycling focussed
  • Lots of on-watch workouts, activities, feedback

Cons

  • Music features a little lower down the list of priorities

11. 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

12. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

Samsung Galaxy Watch5 in blue background
Samsung Galaxy Watch5 in use
Samsung Galaxy Watch5
Samsung Galaxy Watch5 colours
  • UK Flag £269
  • US Flag $328
  • EU Flag €305

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 30.4mm
  • Weight: 33.5g
  • Battery Life: Up to 24 hours

Google connectivity

Standalone Strava app

Plenty of health features from market leading smartwatch manufacturer

The standalone Galaxy Watch Strava app will give you what you want on screen via a slim watch with a selection of straps and cases at your disposal. Four GPS locators are onboard. Signing on will be easy for anyone familiar with Google’s landscape. Carrying your phone on exercise might not be needed as you can stream YouTube music but it does play MP3 files on a 7.5GB memory.

Pros

  • Standalone Strava app
  • Synchs with Google’s operating system
  • Good to look at with plenty of options of colours and straps

Cons

  • Slim design might hamper battery life when fully functional

13. 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

14. 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

15. Amazfit Bip 3 Pro

Amazfit Bip 3 Pro in blue background
Amazfit Bip 3 Pro in use
Amazfit Bip 3 Pro waterproof
Amazfit Bip 3 Pro colours
  • UK Flag £69
  • US Flag $84
  • EU Flag €78

Prices are approximate

  • Screen Size: 42.9mm
  • Weight: 33.2g
  • Min. Battery Life: Up to 7 days
  • Max. Battery Life: Up to 14 days

Great price

Large display

Long battery life

A less well known manufacturer offering a budget watch, this might be just the ticket to get started in the world of using Strava on your wrist. You get a fairly straightforward device with no surprises. Four GPS locators compete for your whereabouts. Like most wearables it has a built-in heart rate monitor too. It synchs up to Strava so you get the key cycling measurement metrics. You’ll need a phone for tunes but you can use the device as a remote control. The price is very attractive.

Pros

  • Plenty of bang for your buck
  • Impressive display size
  • 24/7 HRM and blood oxygen monitoring

Cons

  • You may find your heart rate on chest straps is closer to the real thing than from the built-in unit


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