Despite being an extraordinarily good tracker for almost all types of physical activity, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is also perfect for cyclists thanks to its accurate sensors and detailed information it gives for your training. It gives you full detailed information about your cardiovascular’s system performance while also doubling as an extension to your smartphone so you don’t get distracted when cycling. While it isn’t the cheapest option out there, it certainly is the all-rounder many people are looking for.
My verdict: Despite its steep price tag, the Forerunner 935 is a great watch to have and it will most likely fulfill all your needs, whether you want to use it for cycling or any other sport. That is exactly where it shines – its multi-purpose nature. It has dead-on accurate sensors, although most of the HR metrics tend to perform better with Garmin’s chest straps, which aren’t included in the price, by the way. As a whole, if you want something reliable that will measure every metric of your workout but also don’t mind the price, this should be on your shortlist.
If you want to see other top cycling trackers and learn more about their features in general, head over to my full Buyer’s Guide which will walk you through the process of picking the correct model for you and showcase some of the advantages of using a tracker when going out cycling.
Overview & Features
The general theme surrounding this smartwatch is that it can do it all. But is that really the case? Let’s find out by first discussing is tracking capabilities…
When it comes to tracking there are several modes you can choose from. Apart from the cycling mode (called “Bike”), there are Run, Triathlon, Pool Swim, Treadmill, and more. The cycling mode itself has both indoor and outdoor options.
In the bike mode, you will get an interface which will show you your pace, cadence, speed, distance travelled, and other information which is fully customizable on your HUD. The Forerunner 935 also tracks vertical oscillations and vertical ratios for runners, although these features are unlocked by having a heart-rate strap which is compatible with the watch. You can also get the Running Dynamics Pod which clips to your clothes, although it will help with running mostly.
The accuracy of the tracking is guaranteed by the GPS/GLONASS system in place which works great even in more obscured areas in the countryside.
This watch is also one of the first from Garmin’s line of models to use the Training status model which is a performance monitoring tool that evaluates your progress taking into account your recent training history. By measuring that, it will show you whether you are overworking your body, peaking, or training productively.
The heart rate on this Garmin is very accurate with little to no oscillations during intense workouts. This is typical for the brand, although I would still suggest getting a compatible chest strap to further improve the accuracy of the data you get. Moreover, the chest strap will also give you the option to use features like lactate threshold measuring and various stress tests such as the heart-rate variability.
The watch by itself can give you information on anaerobic vs aerobic training effects and to which side is your body leaning during your workout.
Design & Build Quality
The construction of this cycling tracker is superb with one exception I will mention later. The weight of the body is just 49 grams which is much lighter than most of its competitors. That is achieved mainly through the fiber-reinforced polymer bezel. The straps are silicone and are really comfortable on the hand.
A weak point, however, is the HR sensors at the back. If you aren’t careful where you place the watch they can scratch or worse – they can break. This will render the sensors useless, so have that in mind.
While the display is a vibrant and bright LCD panel, this watch lacks the power-saving features most modern trackers have, that only serve you the vital information and don’t use any of the colored pixels. I also don’t like that it isn’t too large, especially since there are far cheaper smartwatches out there that already have bigger, more easily visible displays. The newer Forerunner 945 has a slightly larger display but is also far more expensive, so if you want a big display you will have to look elsewhere.
Despite its lightweight nature, the 935 is a bit bulky and will need some getting used to. It does have a comfortable strap, though, which kind of makes up for the big body. Still, once you get used to it being on your hand, you won’t even pay attention to it mainly because of that low weight to body ratio.
The battery life here is impeccable. It can last up to 2 weeks with standard usage. Where most watches and trackers fail is when you turn the GPS signal on. This is where the Forerunner 935 shines, though, as it can last up to 20 hours with the GPS enabled. It even has an UltraTrac mode which lasts up to 50 hours and still gives you fairly accurate GPS readings.
There isn’t much to talk about here since all the additional things here come in the separate packages. This model here is the base black one which comes with no straps. If you select the Yellow version, you will also get two Garmin chest-straps (the tri bundle). One is fully waterproof and is meant for swimming, while the other one is water-resistant and is primarily geared towards runners and cyclists. There is also a performance bundle which only includes the cycling strap and the base version of the watch without the waterproof chest strap.
With the base version, be careful which watch you are getting and ask beforehand, as many watches on the US market are actually the Asian version which is locked in its current software version and cannot be further updated.
Software & Compatibility
Garmin is still adamant on not using Android’s Wear OS. Either way, their proprietary system is more than enough for most people, especially with apps like Garmin Connect and Connect IQ. These will allow you to track every single part of your progress, view live data, analyze your stored metrics, download different watch faces and apps like Uber and Accuweather.
The smartwatch also syncs with any mobile device and can give you contact notifications, calendar appointments, email, and even control your media.
Cycling With The Gramin Forerunner 935
Cycling with the 935 is actually where it shines. Despite some of its drawbacks in the other departments, it is still one of the most accurate trackers out there and will give you precise information on your live status, cadence, pace, distance travelled, speed metrics and HR data. It isn’t too uncomfortable to wear when cycling on longer distances and has a battery life to support most cycling sessions with the GPS signal turned on the whole time. It is actually one of the best options when it comes to battery life, as it has a 20-hour run time with the GPS on and even an UltraTrac mode which turns the GPS off periodically to save battery and can last you up to 50 hours. This feature is especially handy when used by people training for a triathlon.
If you are looking for a slightly cheaper but equally potent cycling tracker, I suggest checking out the Suunto Ambit3 Peak watch which has some unique features of its own and is also extremely durable.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Robust yet lightweight construction
- Accurate wrist HR sensor
- Fully customizable training status interface
- Different sports modes
- Has smartphone notifications
- Very accurate GPS signal detection
- Excellent battery life
- The 935 is really expensive, especially compared to other brands’ models
- The chest straps are sold separately
- Be careful not to get the Asian model which doesn’t allow updates
- Can have some sensor calibration issues
If you are a beginner cyclists one of the first things you need to learn is warming up properly. This is why I’ve dedicated a whole article on that topic where I walk you through the steps needed to get your body into its optimal state for maximum performance on the roads.
Conclusion and Rating
As a whole, the Garmin Forerunner 935 caters to a large group of people training different sports but it truly excels in cycling and running mainly due to its detailed data HUDs and accurate tracking modes. If you are typically cycling for hours, I really recommend this model as it is one of the few with such a large battery life with the GPS-signal enabled. If you are willing to overlook some of the disadvantages and carefully select a US-based version, there really isn’t too much competition for this model. I gave it five out of five stars rating.