The 7 Best Mountain Bike Computer in 2021
As mountain biking continues to gain popularity amongst masses, exciting features are continuously being introduced in all-terrain bikes to maximize user’s comfortability and convenience. To achieve this, bike manufacturers have introduced GPS enabled wireless computers in mountain bikes, making your travel time as hassle-free as possible. You no longer need to reach out to your mobile phone to keep a record of your ride – from your heart rate to cycling speed and distance covered, these powerful devices can track it all. Today, we will review the best mountain bike computer in 2020 and take a look at some prominent features that can influence your choice and make your decision easier.
CAT EYE Padrone Wireless Computer unit has everything you need to enjoy an amazing mountain biking experience. Padrone consists of a head unit, a speed sensor and a magnet and can be mounted on either the bike bar or the stem with the help of FlexTight Bracket.
From your current, maximum and average speed to total trip distance and time elapsed, the wireless unit displays everything on the wide screen so that the numbers can easily be read. Moreover, the CAT EYE Padrone unit allows you to easily and effortlessly scroll between multiple screens and toggle through functions by pressing the base of the unit so that you can focus on the trail. Another amazing thing about Padrone is that it automatically pauses time and speed calculations if you make a quick stop at the coffee shop or catch a red light. Hence, you can rely on this amazing wireless computer unit to assist you no matter where you go on your bike or how you ride.
- The head unit weighs only 31 grams
- Easy to use
- Big screen size for better display
- Has a power-saving mode
- No GPS
Contenders For The Best Mountain Bike Computer in 2020
- CAT EYE - Padrone Wireless Bike Computer
- Bryton Rider 10 GPS Cycling Computer
- Garmin Edge 1000 Color Touch screen GPS
- Polar M450 GPS Bike Computer
- Garmin Edge 520 Bike GPS
- CAT EYE - Stealth EVO Plus Wireless Bike Computer
- Magellan 505 GPS Cyclo Computer
If you’re looking for a simplistic yet efficient GPS computer for your mountain bike, Rider 10 by Bryton is a great option. Rider 10 features a high-sensitivity GPS to enable quick positioning and with customizable data pages and 29 real-time functions including time, speed, altitude, and heart rate, you can analyze your riding statistics with ease. Another great thing about Bryton's Rider 10 is that it doesn't require any complex pairing process with the sensors – simply mount the device on the bike, turn it on and you're good to go.
Rider 10 features Bluetooth connectivity which allows you to connect the computer unit to your cell phone and upload the ride data on Strava. You can toggle between 5 pages on the 50.8mm waterproof screen and each page features up to 4 GPS cycling data to provide the best viewing experience. In short, Bryton Ride 10 ensures you have more features at your hand at a low cost and that’s why we simply love it.
- Large display
- Power and Go mechanism
- 29 functions
- High performance
- IPX7 waterproof
- Bluetooth connectivity
- None identified
Another amazing bike computer unit for beginners and mountain biking enthusiasts is the Garmin Edge 1000. This GPS unit comes with a front mount and a few handlebar mounts which can be fixed on multiple bikes, allowing you to transfer the head unit to the different bikes that you might be using. Garmin Edge 1000 has a large 3.0-inch display so that you can clearly view routes and stay focused on the road ahead. However, the unit weight 115 grams and might be a bit too big for some riders.
Garmin edge 1000 is WiFi-enabled so you can transfer data wirelessly from open hotspots as you ride your bike and with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, you can pair your smartphone with the computer unit and manage your incoming calls and texts, all at one place. As far as the functionality is concerned, Edge 1000 is quite impressive. The speed and cadence sensors rely on the accelerometer to determine the rotational speed of the wheels and hence can calculate the distance traveled even if there's no GPS connection.
- 3.0” wide display
- Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi connectivity
- Easy screen customization
- Easy to use
- Impressive functionality and features
- Size is too big
- Battery life is short
Another great entry-level bike computer that won't leave a hole in your pocket is Polar M450. This powerful GPS bike unit allows you to keep track of your riding activity at a quarter of the price of most devices with the same functionality available in the market. Apart from measuring basic metrics including time elapsed, distance and speed, Polar M450 can be paired with external sensors such as heart rate straps, power and cadence meters to yield other functionalities as well.
The 128x128 pixels display of M450 works perfectly well with the backlight to make reading off the screen easier. Also, it has 5 data screens that can be fully customized to display up to 4 metrics per screen. That's not all – Polar M450 features a 385 mAh battery that has a battery life of 16 hours with active GPS and being IPX7 water-resistant, the computer unit can be used under rainy conditions as well. Also, M450 has the ability to record and sync 35 hours' worth of data to your phone. After all, there's a reason bike riders love this particular GPS bike computer unit so much.
- Great functionality
- IPX7 water-resistant
- Easy to read display
- 5 customizable screens
- Long-lasting battery
- Third-party syncing is slow
- Limited power related functions
Garmin Edge 520 is not only durable and affordable but it also offers a wide range of features that you need to look for in a portable bike computer. Sleek and stylish, Edge 520 has an intuitive display but is nonetheless a true powerhouse. Although it doesn’t have a touch screen interface, there are multiple buttons on the sides for easy use. It displays your ride metrics on a 200x265 pixel, colored screen, the brightness of which can be adjusted for easy viewing.
Moreover, the GPS unit is compatible with ANT+, power and cadence sensors for an even better experience. The data from these sensors can be pushed on to your smartphone via Bluetooth after which it can be loaded on the Garmin Connect website. Garmin Edge 520 is IPX7 water-proof certified so you can ride your bike under rainy conditions without worrying about damaging the computer unit. Also, the 15-hour long battery life is another aspect that makes Garmin Edge 520 an incredible bike computer.
- 15 hours of battery life
- Offers a wide range of metrics
- No touchscreen
If you’re looking for a super affordable bike computer with good functionality, you should consider CAT EYE’s Stealth EVO+. This portable bike computer unit uses GPS functionality to keep track of your position and speed as you ride your bike and unlike Stealth Evo, this model syncs seamlessly with ANT+ to measure and manage data from heart, power, speed and cadence sensors.
CAT EYE Stealth EVO+ has an operating time of 10 hours, ensuring that it doesn't run out of power while you're out on the road. Moreover, it has a manual start and stop control with a programmable backlight so that you can have better control over your ride. Also, your ride data can be transferred via a spring-loaded USB shoe, allowing you to enjoy an amazing mountain biking experience every time.
- Standard battery life
- Manual start/stop control
- Compatible with ANT+
- USB rechargeable
- Programmable backlight
- Buttons are small
Magellan Cyclo 505 offers an overwhelming list of features at a stellar price and this is primarily why it has secured a spot on our list of the best computers for mountain bikes. This GPS enabled bike computer has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity for wireless data transfer. A single home button is featured at the bottom of the screen while all other features can be controlled through the colored touchscreen.
A unique feature in Magellan 505 that you won't find on other bike computers is Surprise Me which selects a route for you based on your time and/or distance requirements. Moreover, the GPS can be set to "car mode" to come to your rescue if you're driving your car instead of riding your bike. Cyclo 505 offers smartphone connectivity along with calls and texts alert so that you don't miss out on anything important even when you're riding your bike. Overall, Magellan Cyclo 505 is a pretty neat cycling computer for biking enthusiasts.
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ANT+ connectivity
- Easy to use
- Offers incredible features
- Supports up to 6 user profiles
- Limited battery life
- Menu navigation is chunky
Finding the right mountain bike computer that fits your requirement can indeed be a challenging task. There’s an array of mountain bike computers on the market, but there are a few things you need to consider before you make the final decision. In this buyer’s guide, we will walk you through these important considerations and factors to help you decide the perfect combination of factors and specification you want in your device and buy one of the best mountain bike computers out there. So let's not waste any more time and get started…here’s everything you need to know before buying a mountain bike computer.
How Do Bike Computer Work
The basic principle behind the working of most bike computers is quite straightforward. In magnetic computer systems, a magnet mounted on the wheel transmits a signal to a sensor placed on the front fork of the bike whenever the wheel rotates. This data is then collected and further processed by the computer's processor and the speed, distance, and other relevant values are then calculated. Likewise, GPS enabled wireless sensors make use of a satellite receiver and convert the signals from the GPS into the relevant data.
Key Considerations When Buying Mountain Bike Computers
Following are the most important considerations when buying a mountain bike computer:
Mountain bike computers can drastically vary in terms of price and features. These days, even the most modestly priced bike computers use GPS, Bluetooth and wireless capabilities for enhanced user experience. The ones at the cheaper end of the price range are small and light and should be your go-to choice if you’re only interested in tracking your speed and distance. For navigation purposes, you may want to search for a computer with a sophisticated display, usually towards the higher end of the price spectrum. Adding to that, you need connectivity to peripheral sensors and data collectors in your device to collect data like heart rate and pedaling power. Moreover, smart computers are also available that can be connected to your smartphones and smartwatches.
Wired Vs Wireless
Wired computer systems are those in which the sensors are connected to the handles through wires, and while they have a single inbuilt battery, wired computers make the bike rather unpresentable. Moreover, they require more maintenance as the wires can readily get damaged. Wireless computers, on the other hand, feature a wireless transmitter in the sensors along with separate battery units in the transmitter and receiver. Nonetheless, wireless systems are tidier and are easier to maintain. They are also recommended for mountain bike as there is no risk of the wire being caught in twigs or other pointy objects.
The battery life determines how long you can operate your computer while on the road so if you plan on going for long biking sessions, extensive battery life should be one of your top priorities. Generally, magnetic units are equipped with 1 or 2 watch batteries that can last for several years while GPS based computers feature built-in rechargeable batteries that can last over 20 hours. And if you ever forget to charge your computer, long battery life can come in handy.
The functionality your computer offers can make your life easier and actually make or break your entire biking experience. Features such as Bluetooth, touch screens and navigation buttons improve user convenience and comfort and hence, are desirable in mountain bike computers. Unnecessary features only clog your memory so make sure the functionality of your system is in-line with your requirements.
Versatility is an important aspect of a bike computer you should consider in mountain bike computer units, especially if you have varied interests when it comes to biking. With versatile computer systems such as the wrist mount, you can keep track of your data for other sporting activities you’re interested in as well.
Desirable Features of Mountain Bike Computers
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the key features you need in a bike and look for the one that offers all or at least most of them.
Some mountain bike computers can detect your heart rate using sophisticated sensors and indicate how hard you have been working. Heart rate monitors can also help you keep track of your health and fitness goals by keeping your cardio activity under check.
Automatic On And Off
Instead of manually starting and pausing the stopwatch, some modern bike computers are equipped with an automatic on/off controller for accurate speed and time calculations. So if you tend to make multiple stops during your ride, opt for a computer with this feature to make your life hassle-free.
Electric devices tend to get damaged upon coming in contact with water if they are not water resistant. Thus, you need to ensure that your computer is waterproof so that you won’t have to rush for covers if it starts raining while you’re outdoors.
A mountain bike with a computer will help you keep a record of your riding details to improve your performance and enhance your experience. In order to buy the best mountain computer for yourself, it’s crucial that you truly understand your needs. Factors like your biking style and riding duration should be kept in mind when deciding on the combination of features you want in your new purchase. And by following the guidelines in this article, we are sure that you can buy a quality bike computer worth your money.