The best cycling tech is all about the gadgets that will help you do your best in the saddle. Whether on the roads or hitting the trails, these are some additions that will make you a faster, smarter, safer cyclist. Attaching the right gadgets onto your bike, or about your person, can level up your performance, provide you insights on your rides, alert emergency services if you fall, plot out your routes, and much more.
Cycling tech and associated gadgets are coming on leaps and bounds as these handy tools become smaller, more affordable and smarter. This tracking gadgetry is what cycling hard is all about.
By capturing metrics like speed, cadence, distance, heart rate and more you can fine-tune your training to get the most out of every leg press and pull. From the best heart rate monitors that help you train in zones to hit specific targets to power meters that help you get the perfect spin for speed without the effort – these are the very best cycling gadgets that’ll make your ride better.
Best cycling tech
The Garmin Instinct 2 is a serious multi-sports watch, with carefully designed tracking modes for a wide range of activities but cyclists are well catered for here. You get all the great route design and functionality of a higher-end Garmin, along with advanced health metrics going beyond calories and heart rate to the most cycling modes of any Garmin to date, including dedicated e-bike options.
You get the advanced training tools you'd expect from a modern Garmin watch, including workout suggestions, recovery time guidance, and load monitoring so you can strike the right balance between effort and rest. Indoor cycling on your trubo trainer can be measured, and cycling-specific training plans for popular race distances are also free to download and use.
The Instinct 2 also allows you to download new apps, data fields, and faces from Garmin Connect IQ, and is available in a choice of more fun colors than the original Instinct. It's overall a more wearable watch whether you're working our or not.
The standard Instinct 2 offers impressive battery life, but the Solar is claimed to be practically infinite if you spend enough time outdoors. We were certainly impressed by its performance in our tests; even with regular workouts, the power meter barely budged when we got enough sun.
Strava (for iOS (opens in new tab) and Android (opens in new tab)) is a great app that takes advantage of your phone or GPS watch sensors or dedicated cycling computer to let you track your ride. That means from the basics like speed and distance to more complex metrics like cadence, power and heart rate.
But what's really special is Strava's use of the community. Since this app is used all over the world, with over 11 million workouts per week, you can theoretically hop on your bike, open the app and find the most popular routes near you. While this is a great way to find new rides it's also perfect for those that need a little competition to help keep their speed up. You can effectively race against others that have ridden the route before.
Strava creates what it calls heat maps, showing the routes cycled by its users the world over. Of course this could be a privacy issue for some riders so there is an option to opt out if you're on a cheeky ride when you should be working from home. Here's a guide on how to stay private when using Strava.
If you want a little more out of the app, the paid Strava option gives you features like training plans which are updated daily, Beacon (allowing family and friends to know you're safe during a race), filtered leaderboards, group challenges and more.
Not only is this series king of the cycle computers, but the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is the best this series has ever been. As used by professionals, this is the ultimate tracking machine with the ability to hook up to heart rate monitors, cadence sensors and even power meters – heck, you can even control your bike lights using this beast.
Garmin offers its own cycling insights from its many riders, with multi-band GLONASS GPS ensuring your routes, measurements, speed and other metrics are as accurate as possible. On top of that, you get smartphone connection to let you see all your usual notifications.
But there's also rider-to-rider messaging for those riders in a group with others who are also using Garmin. This means you can send pre-written messages at the tap of a button and when paired with GroupTrack using your phone even lets others find where you are, ideal should you get split up.
Other features include Incident Detection for crashes, Training Peaks to take planned workouts onto the ride and Best Bike Split to see how changes in weight, power and drag can affect your goal race time. Plus everything is customizable, so it can be laid out just how you like. All that and a 45-hour battery life with Power Glass solar charging, a large and bright 3.5-inch color touchscreen, and tons of downloadable extras.
The Verve InfoCrank isn't cheap at over a grand, but then you really do get what you pay for when it comes to wattmeters, aka power meters, and this is one of the best. British Cycling thinks so, as this is what it uses. That means a super clear way to see power so you can work on getting the most efficient use of your legs on every ride and keep making improvements on your road bike ride times. All while adding a mere 691g to your overall bike weight.
Thanks to ANT+, once installed, this is easy to connect to using a whole host of cycle computer options. The key here is that this offers dual-sided power measurements so you can see what each leg is doing – ideal if you suspect an imbalance which could be fixed to improve power output. You also get metrics like cadence, pedal smoothness, and torque effectiveness. All that and these will keep going for a whopping 500 hours using easily replaceable cheap SR44 silver oxide batteries.
This does pose a real effort for the install job, so swapping between bikes is going to cost you time. Since most people will likely install this system and leave it, this isn't a massive negative, but worth a mention. Overall accuracy for power is an impressive +/- 1% meaning you can really rely on these readouts. Only cadence can be an issue where freewheeling puts it out of whack for your average. But that just motivates you to keep cycling more, right? So it's a win-win.
If it's cold, wet and dark outside, the motivation to get yourself kit on and hop on the bike can be pretty nonexistent. Top help keep your fitness up during these bleak months in anticipation of warmer conditions is where smart turbo trainers come in. Like normal turbo trainers they allow you to hook your bike up to them and do a focused training session in the comfort of your own home (or shed or garage).
However, smart turbo trainers take this one step further thanks to their ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity. This allows them to speak to your smart device or computer, allowing to do anything from remotely setting the resistance or mimic a ride profile (including ascents and descents) via specially designed apps like Zwift.
Why the Wahoo Kickr then? There are more affordable options out there, but the Kickr offers a direct drive connection. That means that rather than the rear wheel meeting resistance, you remove your rear wheel and connect the bike frame directly to the unit, with a 11-speed Shimano 105 cassette to hook your drivetrain up to for a more realistic riding experience.
It's incredibly easy to set-up, and while it's pretty heavy at 22kg, it can be easily folded and stored once the sun comes out. We used it with Zwift and it gives a realistic feeling, with ascending a 10% climb feeling like a 10% climb. It's probably not quite as stable as some for some real hard efforts out of the saddle, but overall this is hard to beat.
How to choose the best cycling tech for you
The best cycling tech and cycling gadgets are going to be predicated on what you need. With a cost of living crisis squeezing people for money, loading your bike with all of the gadgets above, plus more in the shape of expensive helmets, bike lights and so on, is not going to be feasible.
Instead, it's all about priorities. Why do you cycle? If it's to explore and get more out of the great outdoors, consider a cycling computer such as the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar, which will provide you with onboard GPS to get the most out of new terrain, together with metrics which will improve the efficiency of your rides. If you haven't got the budget for the Edge, consider a GPS watch such as the Instinct.
If, however, you mainly cycle for fitness, consider increasing your options with a turbo trainer. When the weather is foul, you can bring your bike indoors and cycle the world's greatest courses with the Wahoo Kickr. Looking at how you ride, and why, will help you decide where best to allocate your funds and pick up only the tech to enhance your life.
How we test
All of our equipment is tested in the field, out on real roads and trails (or at home, in the case of turbo trainers). Although some of the products in this guide don't have full reviews attached, keep checking back, as we're testing new stuff all the time.
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