Bike Computers vs. Smartphones: What Do You Need?

Which Is Best for You

When it comes to tracking your rides, there's no one size fits all. However, there is an option out there that will suit every kind of cyclist.

The Smartphone
If you aren't looking to spend a lot of money, a smartphone is the best option. It can be carried in a jersey pocket or backpack if you don't need instant data feedback, and apps like Strava and MapMyRide will give you plenty to ponder once your ride is over.

Who: If you're a commuter or recreational cyclist who rides for less than an hour a few times per week, a smartphone will suit your needs just fine.

The Low-Budget Cycling Computer
Another option is to buy a cheap cycling computer that displays basic data like speed, distance and heart rate that you can use in conjunction with your phone. This will allow you to use the Strava and MapMyRide apps while your smartphone is tucked safely away.

Who: If you're a recreational rider who cycles three or more times per week and likes to join the occasional weekend group ride, this could be a good option for you.

The High-End Cycling Computer
High-end options like the Garmin Edge 1000 might look a lot like a smartphone, but this piece of equipment will provide far more for the serious cyclist. In addition to linking to cycling apps, most of these options will give you the most accurate data feedback that's easy to use and connects to power, cadence, heart rate and distance metrics. Such high-end models are usually weatherproof, durable and contain map functions to reroute your rides on the fly.

Who: The serious cyclist who isn't worried about budget and wants accurate, real-time feedback on a variety of metrics and plenty of battery life.

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About the Author

Marc Lindsay

Marc writes gear reviews, training, and injury prevention articles for Active.com. He is also a contributor to LAVA Magazine, Competitor Magazine, and Gear Patrol.com. He is a certified Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) and earned his M.A. in Writing from Portland State University. Marc resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Marc writes gear reviews, training, and injury prevention articles for Active.com. He is also a contributor to LAVA Magazine, Competitor Magazine, and Gear Patrol.com. He is a certified Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) and earned his M.A. in Writing from Portland State University. Marc resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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