Bike computer vs Smartwatch: Which is Best for Cyclists?

As technology becomes more advanced, tracking and monitoring our performance while cycling has become easier thanks to devices like bike computers and smartwatches. But choosing between the two can be a daunting task, especially for those who are new to tracking their rides.

Should you go for the big screen of a bike computer or the all-encompassing capabilities of a smartwatch? In this post, we’ll break down the pros and cons of each option, so you can decide which one is right for you.

Explanation of Bike computer vs Smartwatch

When it comes to tracking our cycling performance, there are two main devices people turn to: bike computers and smartwatches. While bike computers were once the go-to for recording distance and speed, smartphones and smartwatches have become serious contenders. But how do they compare?

When it comes to screen size, accessibility, tracking ability, battery life, and multi-sport recording, bike computers often come out on top. However, smartwatches offer benefits such as 24/7 health monitoring and functionality across a range of activities.

Ultimately, the decision between bike computer vs smartwatch comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of each cyclist.

Importance of choosing the right device

Choosing the right device, whether it be a bike computer or a smartwatch, is crucial for any cyclist. It can affect how you track your performance, monitor your fitness level, and even navigate unfamiliar routes to find new adventures. Before making a decision, consider factors like screen size, tracking ability, battery life, and multi-sport recording.

Each device has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh them against your specific needs. Whether you prefer a constant view of your data or a heads-up display while riding, or if you need a device that tracks your entire life beyond cycling, the right choice ultimately depends on your individual preferences and goals.

Comparison of Features

Screen size and accessibility

When choosing between a bike computer and a smartwatch, screen size and accessibility are important factors to consider. Bike computers tend to have larger screens, making it easier to see mapping and data during a ride. Smartwatches, on the other hand, are always on your arm and are more readily accessible.

However, the smaller screen size may make it more difficult to view data during a ride. It’s a personal preference of whether you want a constant view or an occasional view of your data. Ultimately, it comes down to what you prioritize more – a bigger screen or a device that’s always on your arm.

Tracking ability

Tracking is a crucial factor when deciding between a bike computer and a smartwatch. A bike computer offers features that are specifically designed to track your performance while riding a bike, including pairing with sensors to track your fitness and GPS navigation.

On the other hand, a smartwatch is equipped to track different activities, including cycling, running, and swimming, making it ideal for multi-sport athletes. It has preset profiles tailored for various activities, whereas bike computers are dedicated to cycling and the metrics that matter most to riders.

Additionally, smartwatches can provide access to other data such as step counts and biometrics that a dedicated head unit cannot. Ultimately, your tracking needs should be a guiding factor in choosing the best device for you.

Battery life

When comes to picking the right device for your cycling needs, battery life is a crucial factor to consider. Smartphones may not last long enough to record long rides, unless you carry an external battery pack or charge it with a power bank while on the go.

Meanwhile, most bike computers and smartwatches are designed to withstand long rides and tend to come with a longer claimed battery life than smartphones, with some exceeding 20 hours.

This makes them ideal for cyclists who plan to go out for more than a couple of hours. As a bonus, using a separate device can also help preserve the battery life of your phone in case of an emergency while on the road or trail.

Multi-sport recording

Multiport recording is a feature that smartwatches generally excel at. In addition to cycling, you can also use it for running, swimming, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

This versatility is especially useful if you’re someone who likes to participate in different sports or activities throughout the week. With preset profiles that are tailored to each sport, a smartwatch saves you the trouble of toggling between different apps or devices.

On the other hand, bike computers are mostly geared towards cycling, and while some models come with sport-specific modes, they may not be as versatile as a smartwatch. So if you’re someone who likes to mix things up, a smartwatch may be the better choice for you.

Other features

E Other features that you might want to consider when choosing between a bike computer and a smartwatch include connectivity, app compatibility, and durability.

With a bike computer, you can connect to various sensors such as cadence and heart rate monitors, and even your phone for notifications.

Smartwatches, on the other hand, allow you to download apps for a wider range of functions beyond cycling, such as music streaming or mobile payments.

When it comes to durability, both bike computers and smartwatches come in rugged versions, but it’s essential to choose the one that can handle your riding style and environment.

Don’t underestimate the importance of these other features as they can make a significant difference in the device’s usability and longevity.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Bike computer

If you’re serious about your cycling training, then a bike computer might be the right tool for you. A bike computer is a dedicated device that’s designed to track your performance and help you navigate complex routes.

One of the main advantages of a bike computer is the larger screen size, which is perfect for displaying multiple metrics at once. With a bike computer, you can see your speed, distance, time, and other important data in real-time, without having to squint at a small smartwatch screen. Bike computers also offer longer battery life and are built to withstand harsh weather conditions.

So, if you want a device that’s specifically designed for cycling and can help you train more efficiently, then a bike computer might be the way to go.


Bike computers and smartwatches both offer unique benefits to cyclists, but there are some distinct pros to each device. Bike computers are specialized devices that have larger screens, making them easier to view while riding. They’re also designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and can be used to load up pre-planned routes.

On the other hand, smartwatches are ideal for multi-sport recording, making them an excellent choice for athletes who participate in various activities. They also don’t easily fall off your handlebar and can be worn on your wrist, eliminating the need to constantly move mounts between bikes.

Both devices have their advantages, and it ultimately comes down to what type of riding you do and which features are most important to you.


While both bike computers and smartwatches offer advantages for recording your rides, they also have their drawbacks. One of the cons of using a bike computer is its limited functionality. Some models only measure distance and speed, while others offer more advanced features, but they can be expensive.

Another disadvantage is their size, which can be a drawback for those looking to conserve handlebar space. On the other hand, smartwatches can also have their downsides, including being less durable than dedicated bike computers. Their smaller screens can also make it difficult to read maps or metrics during a ride.

Additionally, they may not offer the same level of accuracy as bike computers when tracking certain metrics, such as cadence or power output. Ultimately, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of both options to choose the device that best suits your needs.


When it comes to choosing a device for tracking your rides, a smartwatch is a great option. It offers more than just cycling features, as it can track your activity throughout the day and even your sleep. It also allows you to seamlessly switch between various sports, making it a versatile choice for athletes who participate in different activities.

Another advantage of a smartwatch is its accessibility, as it’s always on your wrist.

However, its smaller screen may make it harder to view data compared to a bike computer. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preferences and needs. But, if you’re looking for a device that can do more than just track your cycling performance, a smartwatch would be a great choice. 


When it comes to bike computers, there are several pros to consider. Firstly, bike computers are designed with cycling in mind, which means they can track and record a much wider range of metrics than a smartwatch or smartphone can.

For example, many bike computers can track your cadence, heart rate and power output, providing you with an in-depth analysis of your performance.

Additionally, bike computers tend to have a longer battery life than smartphones, making them ideal for long-distance rides. Finally, bike computers are designed to withstand harsh conditions, meaning they won’t be damaged by rain, mud or impacts.

Overall, if you’re a serious cyclist who wants to make the most of their training, a bike computer is definitely worth considering.


When it comes to the cons of using a bike computer or a smartwatch, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Firstly, a bike computer may have limited functionality and connectivity compared to a smartwatch, which can connect to a variety of apps and devices.

This can be a disadvantage for those looking for a more integrated fitness-tracking experience. Secondly, bike computers may be more expensive than a smartwatch, especially if you opt for a higher-end model with advanced features and technology.

Additionally, smartwatches can be worn throughout the day as a general health and fitness tracker, whereas a bike computer is only useful when cycling.

However, the cons of using a bike computer or smartwatch may vary depending on the specific model and your personal needs as a cyclist and fitness enthusiast.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top