Best Fitness Tracker for Cycling – We’ve rounded up the very best run-friendly wearables, and as you can see from our picks, there’s a wide price range so you can find something that meets your needs and budget, matches your style, and helps you get through all those miles. Wearables with running features can easily cost upward of $200 (and above), though not all of them do. We looked for a few devices at the lower end of the price spectrum, around the $100 mark, along with some of the higher-end models that cost a lot more.
We’ve also taken into consideration some of the essential features any runner would want from a tracker, and whether it offers heart rate monitoring, as well as smartwatch features like push notifications, downloadable apps, and more.
If you’re a serious runner, you need a fitness tracker that can do more than count steps, measure sleep, and vibrate when a push notification appears on your phone. The good news is that many fitness trackers these days can now track your cadence, pace, and other stats that were once reserved for special running-focused wearables.
Pros & Cons
- The lightweight multisport smartwatch with full aluminium body (only 52g), equipped with advanced wrist-based HR tracking, GPS, ultra-long battery life, running & cycling performance tests, FuelWise, route guidance, sleep tracking, & more.
- The training load and recovery tracking tools help you optimize your training and avoid overtraining. Test your performance and personalize your heart rate, speed and power zones with the running and cycling performance tests.
- Use Polar Vantage V2 with Polar Flow - a free online tool for planning and following up on your workouts, analyzing activity progress and sleep. Available on desktop and mobile.
- Connect easily with online sports communities for road running, swimming, cycling, cardio, triathlon (MyFitnessPal, Endomondo, Nike+ Run Club, Strava, TrainingPeaks, Adidas Running by Runtastic etc.)
- Polar Vantage V2 comes with the essential smart watch features: music controls, weather and phone notifications.
The Polar Vantage M2 is a reasonably priced multisport smartwatch that’s perfect for the budding fitness enthusiast. Its range of 24/7 health insights might prove a little daunting for beginners, but those looking to get serious with their fitness will find that this rugged wearable is more than up to the challenge.
It has all the core components, like onboard GPS and heart rate monitoring, plus enough special training features to keep runners satisfied. It also comes with some fun extras, like breathing and stretching exercises. The Vantage M can help track and train in other outdoor sports, too, but is best suited for serious runners who sometimes also cycle and swim. Compared with pricier trackers, it lacks some metrics that help you focus on form, although you can add them by connecting a separate run power meter. For the price, it’s a strong choice for a rugged and feature-rich running watch.
Pros & Cons
- Fit for performance with rugged, sophisticated design that features an always-on 1.3” (18% larger than previous Fenix models) sunlight-readable display with bezels in stainless steel, titanium or diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating
- Enhanced estimated wrist heart rate and Pulse Ox to support advanced sleep monitoring and altitude acclimation at high elevations (this is not a medical device and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or monitoring of any medical condition)
- Advanced training features include PacePro for grade-adjusted pace guidance throughout your activity plus environmentally adjusted VO2 max and training status estimates
- Navigate the outdoors with preloaded topo maps, ski maps for over 2,000 worldwide ski resorts, multiple global navigation satellite system (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) support and built-in sensors for 3-axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter
- Support for Garmin Pay contactless payments (not all countries and payment networks are eligible), music storage with premium streaming service (may require subscription with third-party music provider) support, smart notifications and more
- Battery performance: Up to 14 days in smart Watch mode, up to 10 hours in GPS and music mode, up to 28 days in expedition GPS activity mode, and up to 48 days in battery saver Watch mode
- Included components: Fenix 6, Charging/data cable, Documentation
The Garmin Fenix 6 sits right at the top of the extensive tree of Garmin watches, and represents the best of everything the company has to offer right now.
The Fenix series is a family of fitness trackers that pretty much has it all when it comes to outdoor fitness and adventure tracking. Stepping things up a notch, Garmin released the Fenix 6 range in August 2019, offering users a slight update in design and some welcome new features over the Fenix 5 Plus.
Pros & Cons
- GPS model lets you take calls and reply to texts from your wrist
- Measure your blood oxygen with an all-new sensor and app
- Check your heart rhythm with the ECG app
- The Always-On Retina display is 2.5x brighter outdoors when your wrist is down
- S6 SiP is up to 20% faster than Series 5
- 5GHz Wi-Fi and U1 Ultra Wideband chip
- Track your daily activity on Apple Watch and see your trends in the Fitness app on iPhone
- Measure workouts like running, walking, cycling, yoga, swimming, and dance
- Swimproof design
- Sync your favorite music, podcasts, and audiobooks
The entire smartwatch category had a good Q2, as numbers jumped 27% year over year. That, in turn, was up 20% from a year prior, in spite — or perhaps because of — COVID-19 concerns. The popularity of these devices are the proverbial rising tide, with most of the big players benefiting from an overall increase in adoption.
But one name continues to loom large in a way seldom seen in a fairly mature category. Last quarter, the Apple Watch’s active user base crossed 100 million, according to Counterpoint Research. The company took three of the top four smartwatch spots globally with the Series 6, SE and Series 3, with Samsung managing to sneak into the No. 3 slot with its latest Galaxy Watch Active.
Pros & Cons
- Use built-in GPS to see your pace and distance on screen during outdoor runs, rides, hikes and more and see a workout intensity map in the app that shows your heart rate changes along your route
- With Active Zone Minutes, feel a buzz when you reach your target heart rate zones during exercise, and celebrate when you earn extra minutes outside of exercise
- Get a 90-day free trial of the Fitbit Premium to help you stay active, sleep well and manage stress. Unlock it all in the Fitbit app. (Valid payment method required. Cancel before free trial ends to avoid subscription fees. Offer valid for new Premium users only).Operating temperature: -20° to 60° C
- Use 24/7 heart rate to track resting heart rate & better measure calorie burn. Syncing to mobile devices requires Bluetooth LE and internet connection. Syncs with Mac OS X 12.2 and up, iPhone 5S and later, iPad 5 gen. and later, Android 7.0 and later
- See your SpO2 nightly average and range on wrist, and view trends over the past week in the Fitbit app (SpO2 is not available in all markets. The SpO2 feature is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition or for any other medical purpose)
- Track your skin temperature each night to see how it varies from your personal baseline (Not available in all markets. Only available in the Fitbit app and only displays variation. Not intended for medical purposes)
- Track workouts in real-time with 20+ goal-based exercise modes. It’s also swimproof and water resistant to 50 Meters, so you can track swims, wear in the shower and more
- Multi-day battery lasts up to 7 days and up to 5 hours when using built-in GPS (varies with use & other factors). Track sleep stages & review your in-app Sleep Score for an easy way to see how well you slept
The Charge 4 looks sleek, measuring less than half an inch at its thickest point. I especially like the styling of the Special Edition (pictured in this review), which costs more than the standard model, but comes with a reflective granite/black woven band, plus a classic black flexible plastic band you can use for sweaty workouts.
Swapping out the bands couldn’t be easier. There are two small buttons on the back of the tracker—just press them to release one band and snap on a new one.
Pros & Cons
- ★【 Non Bluetooth Pedometer Watch】- If you are looking for a device that can show you the time/date, being waterproof, and give you an exact idea of how much exercise you get everyday, but don't want it needed to be connected to a smartphone, Willful 308 pedometer watch is just the right one for you.
- ★【 Accurate Fitness Tracker】- Accurately track your all-day steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and sleep quality. This tracker can help you stay active and stay healthy.
- ★【 Easy to Set up and Use】- As this watch don't need an app and a phone, you can enter your personal information (age, height, weight, gender) in the watch to get your accurate exercise data.The setting is very easy.
- ★【 Gift for Parents and Kids】- If you want your family members to become active and take some exercise, you can give this tracker as a gift to them, especially the elders and kids who don't use a smartphone. (The specific size of our band: width, 0.63 inches, the length can fit the wrist of 5.9-8.7 inches)
- ★【 Long Battery Life】- This watch has a built-in usb charging plug, you can remove the bands and charge it with any usb port. One full charge (2 hours) can support 7 days working time. Tips: Please charge it in time before it runs out of the battery, so you don't need to set it up each time.
The Willful SW352 fitness tracker is a good option for the price. With an IP68 waterproof rating, long battery life and smartphone notifications it competes functionality wise with more expensive trackers. Given its price point it would be ideal as a first fitness tracker or as a gift for children.
Available in 6 colors and there is a single button to control the functionality. that wouldn’t look out of a place on your wrist at work.
The straps are interchangeable and extend from 5.5 to 8.3 inches by 0.59 inches wide so should suit most shapes and sizes of wrist.
Best Fitness Tracker for Cycling – BUYER’S GUIDE
Runners’ watches usually have a sporty look, which isn’t ideal for something you want to wear 24/7. They often have a chunky face and a silicone wristband that can withstand sweat. That’s not what you want as eye candy on your arm when you’re out networking over cocktails.
However, a few hybrid fitness tracker-running watches actually do have a more sophisticated look than many others. The Apple Watch Series 6, Coros Apex, and Garmin Vivoactive 4 come to mind. They have sleeker bodies and more attention to detail, such as stainless steel clasps, that elevate the look. With most models, you can swap the bands for something classier when the occasion calls for it.
The Essentials for Running
A few essential features runners look for include the ability to accurately track total running time, distance, pace, and lap time. It certainly helps if the watch comes with GPS, as stats for outdoor runs are much more accurate when GPS is used to calculate them. Having GPS also means you can usually see the route of your run after the fact. GPS can drain battery quickly, but some watches, like the Coros Apex and Polar Grit X, offer battery-saving features that can be helpful during long runs.
Some of the trackers included here offer advanced metrics including ground contact time, stride length, and estimated recovery time needed after a workout. Many also estimate your VO2 Max, or the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during intense exercise, a metric used to measure cardiovascular fitness. Later this year, Apple plans to roll out a Low Cardio Fitness feature for the Series 6 that can notify you if your VO2 Max falls into a low range.
When you’re not running, you expect a tracker to keep an eye on your steps and sleep. Most of the devices on this list can track your light and deep shut eye.
Most trackers have an optical heart rate monitor (HRM) built into the device. This reads heart rate through your wrist. There are different ways HRMs are used and implemented
With an optical HRM, you never have to put on a chest strap if you don’t want to, although many trackers with optical HRM usually still support them. A chest strap HRM wirelessly (via Bluetooth or ANT+) connects with a compatible running watch so that you have real-time heart rate data while you’re in motion. Many athletes still prefer chest straps because they are more accurate.
The other major distinction is whether the optical HRM offers continuous heart rate monitoring or only during activity. Continuous monitoring lets you see your heart rate at any moment, making it easy to look up your resting heart rate every day. Continuous HRMs tend to eat up battery life, however.
The point of having heart rate information on a runner’s watch is to use it for training, but this information can also help signal potential health issues. The Apple Watch SE and Series 6 offer irregular heart rate and rhythm notifications, and the latter also has an FDA-approved electrocardiogram (ECG) function that generates a PDF of your heart rhythm you can share with your doctor.
For more, see the best heart rate monitors we’ve tested.
Push Notifications and Apps
Push notification support is surprisingly abundant among hybrid devices. Typically what happens is that the tracker vibrates when a notification appears on your phone, and the first few lines of the message show up on the tracker itself. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a favorite for push notifications because you can read more than just the first few lines if you scroll through the alert.
The Vivoactive 4 also has the benefit of tapping into Garmin’s app store, Connect IQ. Compared with the Apple App Store, Garmin’s store is tiny. But having an app store at all means you can add custom widgets and screens to your device. There is a screen, for example, that shows multiple time zones of your choice around the world.
Battery life is a big deal among fitness trackers. You want a device to last more than a day or two, and if you’re preparing for a long race, you need to feel reassured that your tracking won’t poop out at mile 25.
See How We Test Fitness Trackers
The battery life estimates below are for general step-counting mode. Once GPS is enabled, battery life changes dramatically. All the devices here have a long enough battery life to last a long race…maybe not an ultramarathon, though. The Coros Apex is an exception. It can last up to 24 days with normal use, 24 hours in full GPS mode, and 80 hours in UltraMax GPS mode, in which the GPS switches on for 30 seconds every two minutes (the rest of the time, it uses motion sensors and machine learning algorithms to track you).
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do I need to spend?
If you want a watch with in-built GPS, which means you won’t rely on your phone for location data, then you’re looking at a minimum of around £80 to 100.
You can buy a simpler fitness tracker that connects to the GPS receiver in your phone for under £50 that will also record heart rate data.
Fitness trackers and sports watches have evolved with striking pace, from previously being little more than slave units for a phone to measuring everything from your heart rate to the quality of the sleep you’re getting, and offering standalone GPS tracking.