Stats rule over today’s cycling world and having your cycling metrics at the tip of your fingers is a feature a lot of people are taking advantage of nowadays. Knowing your average speed, distance travelled, and other metrics will not only show you your progress but also allow you to adjust to better your skills with each workout. Choosing from the best bike speedometers, however, isn’t an easy task especially since most of them are complicated and packed full of data.
In this guide, we will go through some of the top models for this year, evaluate their features, compare them, and see which is the best bang for your buck. On top of that, we will dive deeper into speedometers and help you learn how to pick the right model for your bike.
Table of Contents
Bike Speedometers Comparison Chart
CAT EYE – Velo 7 Bike Computer
Cat Eye has taken the market by storm in recent years and is now the leading manufacturer when it comes to bike speedometers. The Velo 7 bike computer has one of the best price-to-value ratios out there and is packed full of useful features for the beginner cyclist.
The large display is easy to read and has a great contrast ratio for those sunny rides. It displays the different modes through which you toggle with the single big button below it. You can choose to view the clock, total distance, trip distance, elapsed time, your average speed, max speed, or current speed. There is also an arrow next to your current speed which indicates whether you are up or down from your average tempo.
The biggest disadvantage is also the biggest disadvantage here, however. The simplicity is great for beginners but simply won’t cut it for intermediate or advanced cyclists.
- Great price
- Easy to read display
- Up to 3 years battery life
- Auto-stop tracking feature
- Fairly accurate wired speed sensor
- Not ideal for intermediate or advanced cyclists
- Doesn’t display anything above the basic stats
Garmin Edge 530 Performance Cycling Computer
From one end to the other we just to the Garmin Edge 530 which is undoubtedly one of the most advanced cycling computers out there. It uses Garmin’s GPS system to pinpoint your location from which it extracts all the necessary data such as all the speed and route metrics. Additionally, it has route mapping to go with it all.
The scope of metrics this computer tracks is a bit mind-boggling when you put it side by side with its competitors. It can calculate your VO2 max, training balances, altitude and heat acclimation, recovery periods, proper nutrition and hydration. It is also highly compatible with third-party sensors (such as Vector) and other third-party apps like Strava. It also pairs with Variant rearview lights and radar.
The display of this computer is vibrant and colourful, as well as touch screen compatible. All that is backed by a battery which can last you up to 20 hours with the GPS turned on. The biggest disadvantage of this computer is its price. For beginners on a tight budget, I would really suggest looking elsewhere, as this is unnecessarily complicated for someone that is only looking for basic ride metrics.
- Packed with features
- Tracks every single metric out there
- Uses Garmin’s GPS network
- Bright touch screen display
- Long single-charge battery life
- Very expensive
- Doesn’t come with a bike sensor nor a stand
Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt GPS Bike Computer
The Wahoo ELEMNT is yet another high-tech gadget for all the advanced cyclists out there. It is just as useful as the Garmin computer but has a few more accessories that come with it, making it a better overall deal. The ELEMNT has automatic free route downloads and also supports route uploads from third-party apps such as Komoot, Strava, and others.
For tracking, it works with a GPS signal, just like the Garmin unit. It can also work with GLONASS, BEIDOU, Galileo, and QZSS systems. That’s just about where the similarities end and the Wahoo computer starts taking the upper hand.
This speedometer has an IPX7 rating to go with its unique aerodynamic design. On that note, it is also the only one here with aero in mind, especially when you take its Out-front aero mount into consideration. It also comes with a stem mount and a charging cable for its battery.
- Comes with special aero mount
- IPX7 rating
- Uses accurate GPS signal
- Easy to read display
- Tactile buttons
- Third-party compatible
- Has notification lights
- Some inaccuracies in the positioning can be expected when mountain biking
CAT EYE – Padrone Wireless Bike Computer
Coming up on 4th place is another Cat Eye product in the face of the Padrone. It is a bit more advanced than the Velo 7 with the main difference that this speedometer has a wireless speedo sensor. Unlike the Velo 7, the padrone also comes in 7 different colors and has a slightly better display.
The base of this computer has a touch-sensitive capacitive button unlike the big physical button of the Velo 7. Some people might like that but I personally prefer the feel of the bigger rubber button on the Velo. The Padrone also comes with an auto-stop function which prevents traffic stops to mess with your metrics.
- Easy-to-read display
- has a wireless speed sensor
- Comes with all the needed accessories
- Auto-stop feature
- 1-year battery life for the computer
- The capacitive button is a step back
- Not waterproof
SY Bicycle Speedometer and Odometer
The SY Bicycle Speedometer is again a great option for the budget-oriented. It comes in three different variations – the 368C-B (this one), the YS-589, and the YS-606C. Being equally priced, the main difference between the three variations is the screen size. They all use the same speed sensor and are all relatively easy to use.
Unlike some other budget models out there, this computer has a backlit display which allows you to easily use it in the dark. Another standout feature here is that the body of the computer is waterproof and quite durable, making it the ideal companion for mountain biking in adverse conditions. It also has an auto wake-up function which turns the speedometer on every time you use the bike.
- Durable waterproof construction
- Excellent price
- Backlit display
- Wireless speed sensor
- Easy install
- Auto wake-up function
- Provides only basic information
- Speed sensor isn’t very accurate
West Biking Wireless Bike Computer
Last but definetely not least is the West Biking Wireless Bike Computer. It is one of the most packed full of features budget speedometers. However, that isn’t always a good thing, and I will show you why in a moment.
While the body is durable and waterproof, the buttons at the bottom here aren’t very tactile and easy to use. Still, the display more than makes up for that. It is easy to read and is nicely backlit for those evening rides. This computer also gives more information than the standard budget competition. Apart from the normal metrics, you also get a calorie counter.
The computer works with a wireless speed sensor which isn’t the most accurate but it is good enough for most cyclists out there.
- Auto on/off function
- Wireless speed sensor
- Backlit display
- Waterproof design
- Great price to value ratio
- Speed sensor isn’t very accurate
- Buttons aren’t tactile enough
Bike Speedometers Buyer’s Guide
Every cyclists wants to have a good inside look at the stats of his cycling session. Even some recreational users often opt for bike speedometers just to have an idea of how fast they are going, for instance. Still, these devices have gone a long way from the analong speedometers from a few decades ago that we all wanted to have on our bikes as kids.
Nowadays, most speedometers are integrated into a complex cycling computer that gives you much more than your average and current speed. That is also the reason why most speedometers are also called “computers”. Let’s take a look now at the different kinds of speedometers and see which one might be the best fit for you.
Types of Bike Speedometers
In terms of the way data is being delivered to you, there are two main types of speedometers – analogue and digital. It goes without saying that digital speedos are far more common and more practical, as they can display a lot of information at a single time. However, analogue speedometers are sometimes more reliable in the long run, especially if they are expensive.
The other classification that is often made divides these devices into basic speedometers and the so-called bike computers. Bike computers have all the features of a standard speedometer but they add a ton of features on top. Some of those are GPS-tracking, detailed speed/time graphs, the option to input heart rate, Bluetooth compatibility, third-party apps, and others.
There is also a different classification based on the price point and features of the speedometer. It divides models into basic, mid-range, and premium with each class building on top of the functionality of the rest.
Benefits of using Bike Computers
Cycling speedometers and computers can quickly grow to be your best friend during a ride on the roads. They give you all the vital information you need and can show you a ton of other metrics. Here are all the major benefits you will get from owning one:
- Convenience – Nothing beats having your speed, timers, clock, and other vital metrics at the tip of your handlebar one look away.
- Accuracy – With the spoke-mounted sensors, you can rest assured that the speed tracking accuracy is within a 0.5 interval of your actual speed.
- Helps you push forward – The speedometer’s main purpose is to give you your speed stats. Average speed is one of the most important metrics when it comes to cycling. Having a speedometer that doubles as a tracker which saves your data (and preferably syncs it with an app) is one of the best tools you can use to keep improving.
It is important to note that a cycling computer can quickly become a major distraction during your ride if you pay too much attention to it. That is why some of the best models have big screens that allow you to take a quick peek and see all the data you need without taking your eyes off the road for too long.
Bike Speedometers Features
There are a ton of features that define a good and accurate cycling computer. In order to pick the best one for your needs, you will need to take most of those features into account. As a rule of thumb, stick to models that are durable, accurate in their readings, and can last a long time without the need for recharging. Opt for premium features like touch screen and GPS only if you are really into cycling or have a bigger budget.
- Tracking & Sensors
- Power Source & Battery
- Ease of Use
- Weather resistance
- Additional Accessories
When all of these features are checked and fully loaded on your cycling computer, you will be able to incorporate the highest level of assistance during your training sessions. Now let’s dive deeper into all of these categories and see what role do they play in the final verdict of any said speedometer.
There are countless of functions that different trackers and speedometers have. If you get too caught up in getting the model with most features you might miss out on other aspects of your computer. my advice is to stick to the essentials and always be mindful of the quality of the said functions. Not all computers are equally accurate and reliable when it comes to functions like GPS tracking, third-party app compatibility, automatic stop-counting, auto wake-up, and others.
Still, for the same of listing some of the main ones, we will divide the functions into two groups – essential and non-essential.
The essential functions for each speedometer are – current speed, average speed, distance, time, lap time, and stopwatch. These are the essentials that every model should have and they are all equally good across basic and premium models. In short, if you only want these, then it won’t be worth it paying the extra bucks for a premium computer. Some people consider GPS tracking and incline percentage in this category as well but I think they are non-essential for most cyclists, especially if they plan their route beforehand.
The non-essential features are – GPS tracking, VO2 max, recovery periods, training balance, heat and temperature swings, altitude acclimation, incline, hydration levels, alarms, auto-stop counting function, route downloads, third-party app compatibility, group messages and tracking, auto wake-up. These are great for any of you stats-nerds out there since they can prove super valuable when providing insight on your rides. One of the most important functions out of all these is the auto-stop counting which stops counting your times and average speed metrics once you stop. This eliminates the risks of your data being inaccurate at the end of the ride.
Tracking & Sensors
Sensors are perhaps the heart of any cycling speedometer, tracker, or computer. They can be either wired or wireless. The main difference between these two will be the battery life with wired sensors lasting much more (up to 10,000 miles or depending on the main unit’s battery status).
Wireless sensors are becoming more and more popular, however, thanks to their convenience. They eliminate the need for wires around your bike’s front fork. They can also be put in the back if you want to. The magnet, which is fixed in the spokes, creates induction with the sensor which then sends its data to the main unit. The main disadvantage of wireless sensors is that they might need a battery change from time to time.
Personally, I think that the accuracy is almost identical on both types of sensors so this shouldn’t really be a deciding factor for your purchase. Just make sure the sensor and magnet come with everything needed to be installed.
The display is another important feature that a lot of people pay special attention to. A large display with large numbers is always a good thing since it will create less distraction during your ride and will be easier to read at a glance.
Something else that I particularly enjoy out of a cycling speedometer is the day and night backlight. There are some trackers out there that have an automatic backlight which turns on when you press any button between the dark hours. Some premium models even have light sensors and adjust their brightness automatically according to the ambient brightness.
If you plan on using your tracker with an app on your smartphone, then Bluetooth and third-party connectivity is something you should definitely look for.
Power Source & Battery
As I already mentioned, wired trackers are generally cheaper. While they are slightly more secure in their readings, they aren’t as tidy as some people would prefer. Wireless sensors, on the other hand, just need a battery to run and some more advanced models have the option for the sensor to sync to your phone directly, bypassing the cycling computer.
Some bike speedometers come with a charging cable and an internal lithium-ion battery that you need to recharge every now and then. Most cheaper models, though, are still powered by removable batteries, most commonly AAA.
Ease Of Use
The convenience of a tracker defines its user experience. While a bright and big display will be easy to read when cycling, the main feature that makes a speedometer easy to use is its buttons. The bigger and more tactile they are, the better. This will eliminate the need for looking down when you are toggling between menus and options.
Always keep elemental resistance in mind if you often cycle in adverse conditions. While dust isn’t always an issue, water is. This is why you need to make sure that your cycling speedometer is at least IPX7 certified, making it resistant to rain and water splashes. A dustproof computer will be even better, especially if the nature of your common routes is dusty.
Always look if the tracker has the additional accessories needed to safely mount it on your bike. Those include a bracket, rubber slices, O-rings, plastic straps, and others.
If you want your tracker to be further ahead of your handlebar, an out-front mount is a way to go. Batteries and charging cables are standard but always make sure they are included in your package.
Some additional language packs are always a welcome feature for any model if you aren’t a native speaker.
It is always important to talk about the price of the model you are going to get. As I said in the beginning, these computers can very quickly go way beyond your budget. This is why it is important to mark the essential features that you will be using and stick to them. Figuring out an initial price range for your budget is also a good idea that will prevent you from spending too much on an unnecessarily complex cycling computer.
If you are struggling to raise your cycling average speed, I have a detailed article covering some of the best tips for improved cycling speeds. Click here to check it out!
Knowing how to choose from the best bike speedometers on today’s market is a skill you will definitely need if you are out to get one. Nowadays, models are packed full of features which aren’t always essential to your ride and can only bulk up the price above your initial price range. Pay attention to the included accessories and make sure the speedometer has all the features you will be using.