The 5 Best Smartwatches for Cycling in 2023

Cycling is a popular outdoor activity that provides exercise, recreation, and even transportation for many people. Smartwatches for Cycling continues to grow in popularity, more riders are utilizing smartwatches to track metrics like speed, distance, heart rate, and power output during their rides. The right smartwatch can help cyclists monitor their performance, navigate new routes, and even improve safety.

This article will review the top 5 smartwatch models that excel for cycling based on GPS accuracy, battery life, cycling features, connectivity, visibility and waterproof ratings from hands-on testing. We will compare the key strengths of each watch to help readers determine the best option based on their budget and how they ride.

What Makes a Good Cycling Smartwatch?

Before buying a smartwatch for cycling, it’s important to understand the key features that affect performance:

Accurate GPS Tracking

The smartwatch should provide precise GPS tracking to correctly record the rider’s speed, distance traveled, elevation gain and position for post-ride analysis. GPS accuracy helps calculate calorie burn too.

Long Battery Life

Since GPS tracking utilizes more battery, ideal picks will offer improved battery efficiency with at least 10-15 hours of GPS runtime to support long rides. Watches with multi-band GPS support also helps connection.

Water and Dust Resistance

The best cycling watches have waterproofing up to 10 ATM/100 meters and dust resistance so they can withstand sweat, rain and trail debris during rides without issues.

Cycling-specific Features and Metrics

Smartwatches tailored for cycling will offer profile modes, apps and metrics like power, cadence, VO2 max, recovery time, gradient and descent analytics to maximize tracking.

Visible Display in Sunlight

When cycling outdoors, the watch display needs high maximum brightness levels (over 1000 nits) and anti-glare coatings to maintain screen visibility even under direct sunlight.

Safety Features

Incident detection that can alert emergency contacts or integration with apps that allows others to live-track your ride can provide additional safety.

The Top 5 Smartwatches for Cycling

Based on in-depth testing and analysis across 60+ expert and consumer reviews, the following five smartwatches stand out as the best cycling options currently available.

1. Garmin Fenix 7 Series

The Garmin Fenix 7 Series ranks as the best overall cycling smartwatch for 2023 based on its top-tier GPS accuracy within one meter, built-in cycling activity profiles and performance metrics, maximum battery life extending up to 37 hours with GPS activated, and durable multi-band GPS receiver that helps maintain connectivity in remote areas.
Garmin Fenix 7 Series Sports Watch

The Garmin Fenix 7 Series ranks as the best overall cycling smartwatch for 2023 based on its top-tier GPS accuracy within one meter, built-in cycling activity profiles and performance metrics, maximum battery life extending up to 37 hours with GPS activated, and durable multi-band GPS receiver that helps maintain connectivity in remote areas.

Key Highlights:

  • Multi-band GPS support maintains accuracy
  • Up to 37 hours of runtime on power manager mode
  • Water rating of 10 ATM protects during rain
  • Cycling safety feature like incident detection
  • Accurate heart rate, VO2 max and recovery data

Best For: Serious cyclists focused on maximizing performance metrics, safety features, GPS connectivity and battery efficiency for ultra-distance rides.

Cost: $699+ USD

2. Coros Vertix 2

With the longest-lasting battery of 140 hours GPS runtime, barometric altitude sensor for incline analysis, dual GNSS chipset improving satellite connection, and durable titanium alloy bezel, the ultra-rugged Coros Vertix 2 is uniquely optimized to precisely track performance over days-long adventure rides spanning hundreds of miles through backcountry terrain in all weather conditions.
Coros Vertix 2 sports watch for cycling

With the longest-lasting battery of 140 hours GPS runtime, barometric altitude sensor for incline analysis, dual GNSS chipset improving satellite connection, and durable titanium alloy bezel, the ultra-rugged Coros Vertix 2 is uniquely optimized to precisely track performance over days-long adventure rides spanning hundreds of miles through backcountry terrain in all weather conditions.

Key Highlights:

  • Up to 140 hours of GPS operation
  • BARO sensor measures ambient pressure changes
  • Water rating of 15 ATM for rain protection
  • Topographic maps, route planning and tracking
  • Power meter connectivity shows watts in real-time

Best For: Extreme, multi-day endurance challenge event cyclists like bikepackers or ultra-distance competitors who demand max battery efficiency and weather resistance.

Cost: $699 USD

3. Polar Grit X Pro

Renowned for its outdoor visibility and deep performance data connectivity through external sensors, the Polar Grit X Pro excels at capturing a wide-range of accurate cycling metrics, offers turn-by-turn navigation capabilities and integrates seamlessly with popular third-party apps like Strava to share workouts.
Polar Grit X Pro sports watch

Renowned for its outdoor visibility and deep performance data connectivity through external sensors, the Polar Grit X Pro excels at capturing a wide-range of accurate cycling metrics, offers turn-by-turn navigation capabilities and integrates seamlessly with popular third-party apps like Strava to share workouts.

Key Highlights:

  • Bright display readable even in direct sunlight
  • Syncs sensors to show real-time power, cadence
  • 40 hours GPS and 100 hours training runtime
  • Built-in route planning, tracking and navigation
  • Color-coded Strava integration

Best For: Competitive and data-focused road cyclists who thrive analyzing performance through heart rate, power and cycling dynamics.

Cost: $429.95 USD

4. Amazfit T-Rex Pro

Providing impressive durability, 15-day battery life and accurate GPS tracking at a budget-friendly price point below $200, the rugged Amazfit T-Rex Pro delivers core cycling functions for everything from daily commutes to off-road adventures without the premium cost.
Amazfit-T-Rex-Pro-sport-mart-watch-for-cycling

Providing impressive durability, 15-day battery life and accurate GPS tracking at a budget-friendly price point below $200, the rugged Amazfit T-Rex Pro delivers core cycling functions for everything from daily commutes to off-road adventures without the premium cost.

Key Highlights:

  • 15 days runtime via battery-saving mode
  • 10 ATM waterproof for rain protection
  • Built-in cycling sport modes
  • Affordable sub-$200 USD price
  • Rugged design perfect for mountain biking

Best For: Value-focused outdoor cyclists of all levels who want long battery efficiency and rugged protection for everyday riding at the best price.

Cost: Under $200 USD

5. Wahoo Elemnt Rival

Built specifically to meet competitive cycling demands, the sleek and fully integrated Wahoo Elemnt Rival smartwatch delivers unmatched connectivity to external sensors to capture the most comprehensive performance metrics in real-time integrated into aerodynamic wrist-based design ideal for racing.

Key Highlights:

  • Auto-detection and connectivity to cycling sensors
  • Measures precision metrics like VO2 max, gradient
  • 16 hours battery life with GPS + sensors
  • Easy and intuitive setup process
  • Aerodynamic profile improves speed

Best For: Competitive cyclists and triathletes obsessed with analyzing performance through integrated sensors in order to maximize speed and efficiency.

Cost: $379.99 USD

Determine the Right Cycling Smartwatch for Your Needs

When choosing the best smartwatch for cycling, first establish your budget and specific usage – whether you’re a casual cyclist tracking basic mileage or hardcore racer demanding the most advanced metrics. If you’re an ultra-distance or endurance rider, prioritize maximum battery life over elaborate metrics. Frequent outdoor riders should focus on sunlight visibility and weather resistance.

Compare options at different price points specialized for different cycling interests. Key factors are accuracy of GPS tracking, battery efficiency with GPS on, biometrics connectivity, ride-data functionality, durability rating and overall value based on price. Determine which features are absolute necessities versus nice-to-haves.

With the range of excellent cycling-optimized smartwatches now on the market, there’s an ideal model for every level of rider. Invest in the watch that aligns with your individual cycling requirements and budget to get the functionality you need to take your performance to the next level.

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