Taking out a bank loan to buy a bike made of more carbon than seems possible is one way to make yourself faster, sure. But you don’t need to get the best bike on the road and worry about saving precious grams in weight when you could spend less, load up on tech, and actually get better results.
Wearables are coming on leaps and bounds as the tech in them becomes 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 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 - this is the kit that’ll make your ride better.
Best app: Zwift
Join a competitive international cycling community from the warmth of your home
Zwift is the best way to stay at home but still get your ride done in a group or solo. While Zwift is an app (for iOS, Windows and Mac) it also comes with 0% finance options for those that need a bike or turbo trainer for at home.
Hook all that up and you can take a ride in virtual worlds with 100km of varying roads all with beautiful backdrops. But it’s the social side of training that really helps.
Once you enter the virtual world of Zwift you’re surrounded by other cyclists with their names and country flags displayed above them on screen. You can organize group ride-outs, meet new riders or just pick a race with someone that you’ve been slipstreaming for a while.
This is great for pushing your limits without it requiring lots of will power - you don’t even need to pluck up the courage to go outside. There are even workouts built with World Tour coaches that you can take on with virtual climbs, recreations of real-world stretches of race roads, plus virtual volcanoes in the backdrop. Dramatic much.
Best cycle computer: Garmin Edge 1030
Stay connected and see smart data from myriad sensors on the big, clear display
The Garmin Edge 1030 is the best that Garmin has to offer cyclists. You get all the usual data from the likes of speed and distance but also connected sensor info for heart rate, cadence and beyond. But it’s the screen that brings all of this to life.
The 3.5-inch color touchscreen is super clear and takes up most of the device’s face. This is great for lots of data on one screen but also works well for navigation. Garmin’s turn-by-turn navigation is great when using its Trendline tech which shows you the best cycle routes as ridden by other Garmin users.
This also has Garmin’s smarts to alert you if a particularly sharp turn is coming up, ideal for night rides. And there's Strava integration to help keep you competitive and turn even boring roads into challenging sprints.
This beast will keep going with GPS on for 20 hours, but also offers an expansion battery which will double that for a 40 hour ride. Perfect if you’re planning a long tour with no-power camping in between days.
Another great addition for groups is the ability to send pre-written messages to other riders in the group. Of course you also get smartphone notifications to read messages outside of the peloton. That said, the accompanying smartphone app can get a little messy with data, but even that’s something you learn to organize with use.
Best wattmeter: PowerTap P1 Pedals
Ultimate watt data feedback that’s easy to install and connect to
Power meters are usually a tough bit of kit to install, but the P1 Pedals change that with a simple installation that fits any crank. This means that anyone can get them on in no time but crucially they can also be moved between bikes easily too.
The PowerTap P1 Pedals aren’t cheap but then for that money you get the ease of installation while still enjoying watt power data from both pedals. There is also the option to save money by going for just one pedal with the data doubled to virtually feedback overall power - accurate if both legs are identical.
The negative here, aside from price, is weight for those that like to keep their setup super light. The pedals weigh in at 429g for the pair and also reduce ground clearance, so expect some scuffs if you corner fast.
The AAA battery life is impressive though at up to 100 hours, but you’ll need to check the flashing light on the pedal to see if you’re running low.
Read your data on a connected cycle computer, or in some cases smartwatch, for true power so you can enhance technique for the ultimate ride.
Best wearable: Garmin Varia Vision
Strap a display to your face for data at a glance while staying focused on the road
Strap a cycling computer to your face and enjoy data on a heads-up style display. What’s not to love, right?
This does sound like the future, as it places a color screen on your glasses so you can read data like speed, cadence, heart rate and pace (using the right extra sensors) and even mapping directions without looking away from the road ahead.
The Varia Vision can also be paired with the Varia Rearview Radar to detect vehicles approaching from behind. However, the Varia Vision only works with compatible Garmin devices including Edge computers and Fenix smartwatches.
If you’ve already got Garmin kit then this is a great way to put all that information on your face. Of course if you’ve spent money on a cycle computer or smartwatch then this extra cost might be a bit much, but if cycle safety is important it’s money well spent to keep focus on the road.
This should also make navigation easier, with prompts for turns shown on screen. Plus there’s an eight hour battery, water resistance and it only weighs 28g.
Best helmet: Lumos Smart Bike Helmet
A smart helmet that lights you up
There are cycle helmets and then there is the Lumos Helmet, which is like something from the future. This is the ultimate cycle safety device that also enhances your ride. The helmet crams in LED lights to make you super visible and even clarify your movements to other road users.
The Lumos Helmet features 38 bright LEDs in the back and 10 in the front. This is ideal for visibility but also means your lights are on your helmet so in the daytime you don’t need to worry about removing lights when you lock-up your bike, or if you’re going for a super light speed ride.
Indicator lights are also built into the Lumos Helmet. Connect a wireless controller to your handlebars and a simple finger tap will light the helmet so other road users can see you’re going to turn. It’s less effort than a hand signal and far more visible too.
As if all that wasn’t cool enough the Lumos Helmet also detects braking and will light the rear brake lights bright so others can see that you’re slowing.
All that will keep going for up to six hours in flashing mode or three in solid light and takes two hours to charge via micro USB. That battery life can be checked via the smartphone app, which also lets you check how you’re riding and update the helmet for new future features. All that and it’s waterproof and crash tested too.