6 Best GPS Watches For Mountain Biking that you will adore

Every serious biker knows that a top notch watch for cycling must have the features that will match their strenuous activities. While there are a lot of watches in the market that are made specifically for mountain biking, many of them do not have what it takes for a biker to reach their full potential.

Today, I will share some of the best watches for mountain biking, which also includes garmin, fitbit and more big brands.

While smartphones can now log rides, they aren’t as dedicated to tracking your physical activities as much as a gps wearable dedicated for outdoor adventures.

However, with watch brands all over the world expanding their product line to include trackers that fit every lifestyle, it becomes more confusing to pick the right for you as a biker.

No more confusion, Cityryders, because I've got your backs. I have narrowed your choices to only a handful of smart wearables; stay tuned to get the best smartwatch for mountain biking, one that you will adore for sure.

Best Watch For Mountain Biking 2021

1. Garmin fenix 5

Our Independent Rating

Features

  • Connect IQ™ (downloadable watch faces, data fields, widgets and apps)
  • Calendar, weather, step counter
  • Garmin Fenix Works with iPhone and Android
  • GPS speed and distance
  • Downloadable training plans

Specifications

  • Bezel Material: Stainless Steel
  • Strap material: Silicone or Steel
  • Physical size: 47 x 47 x 15.5 mm
  • Garmin Fenix Battery life ( As follows ):
  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 2 weeks
  • GPS/HR mode: Up to 24 hours
  • UltraTrac™ mode: Up to 60 hours without wrist heart rate
  • Water Rating: 10 ATM

The rugged exterior of Garmin fenix 5 instantly gives you an idea that it can take on some abuse.

The 5 screws that hold the bezel doesn’t get in the way of operating the circular buttons around even when you have sweaty or gloved hands.

Its always-on screen has a transflective surface that functions well with the sunlight to make it look brighter.

You will see your tracked activities better even in direct sunlight.

The tracked activities you can keep data of is not only limited to biking, but of hiking, running, mountain climbing, golfing, SUP paddle-boarding, swimming, and rowing too. It can even track your jump out of a plane.

Always getting lost? Its breadcrumb feature helps you find your way back to where you started. Just like Hansel and Gretel.

It also has a nice feature of incorporate with power meters. I believe it is one of the rare devices to have this capability.

Garmin fenix 5 is fully featured that it makes up for its expensive price tag.

Even the Apple Watch Nike+ doesn’t come close to the number of functions this Garmin fenix 5 has.

Pros

  • Comprehensive
  • Durable design
  • Silicone or metal band options
  • Outdoor-readable and customizable display
  • Excellent app data management
  • Has the ability to incorporate with power meters

Cons

  • Hefty price tag
  • Low-resolution screen
  • Bugs reported with iOS devices
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2. Garmin Forerunner 235

Our Independent Rating

Features

  • Smart notifications, calendar, weather, controls smartphone music
  • Step counter, move bar, and auto goals
  • GPS speed and distance
  • Customizable activity profiles
  • Heart rate features; zones, alerts,calories
  • All around activity tracker.

Specifications

  • Lens Material: Chemically strengthened glass
  • Strap material: Silicone
  • Physical size: 45 x 45 x 11.7 mm
  • Battery life ( As Follows ):
  • Smartwatch Mode: Up to 9 days
  • GPS mode: Up to 11 hours
  • Water Rating: 5 ATM

Since its release in 2015, Garmin Forerunner® 235 is still topping the sales chart of Garmin watches.

It is popular among runners and riders, simply because it is not as flashy as most of Garmin’s line of timepieces.

This fairly priced watch is intended mainly for runners. But, the features it has makes it perfect for other outdoor activities too.

It has the features that most Garmin watches have, without paying too much.

Using this watch is a breeze. The menus and settings are all clearly labeled and you won’t get confused which button to press for the function you need.

Syncing the watch to Garmin Connect app is easy as well.

The battery life is decent enough to last you over 10 hours of straight active use. You will be confident that your data for after completing a short ultramarathon will be there.

Pros

  • Accurate GPS, heart-rate monitor
  • Tracks all activities including sleep, steps, and mileage
  • Affordable cycling watch
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to read under the sun

Cons

  • No built-in storage for music
  • Plastic bezel
  • Connection issues with smartphones
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3. Polar M430 HR

Our Independent Rating

Features

  • Running program and index
  • Continuous heart rate
  • Fitness Test with wrist-based heart rate
  • Training and activity benefit
  • Smart calories
  • Also work as a fitness tracker.

Specifications

  • Size: 12mm
  • Display: 128 x 128 px high resolution display
  • Battery life ( As Follows ):
  • up to 8 hours of training time with GPS and optical heart rate
  • up to 5 days for daily training sessions, continuous heart rate tracking and notifications
  • up to 14 days for normal watch features
  • Connectivity: USB cable for data sync with PC or Mac
  • Sensors: Compatible with Polar BLE heart rate sensors

One of the brands that blow away health buffs is Polar. They are well-known for producing some devices that deliver the most accurate GPS and heart rate monitoring. One of which is Polar M430 HR.

Polar M430 HR showcases characteristics that you wouldn’t expect in a watch that has an affordable price tag.

The same Hansel and Gretel feature that some Garmin watches have is also a curveball for this timepiece. You can always go back to your starting point with this gear.

Navigating through this watch is easy even without the labels on the buttons.

There weren’t a lot of settings available to confuse you in finding out what you need.

This makes it a watch that is headache-free and easy-breezy. 

Pros

  • Affordable smart watch.
  • Easy to use
  • Breathable strap
  • Reliable and accurate
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Not the best-looking timepiece
  • Issues with syncing to smartphones
  • Looks too large
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4. Fitbit Ionic

Our Independent Rating

Features

  • Track steps, distance, floors, active minutes and calories burned
  • Use continuous heart rate tracking and real-time zones
  • Get a snapshot of your cardio fitness level in the Fitbit app
  • Personalise the clock with a variety of unique designs
  • Built-in NFC chip stores credit cards for use on your watch

Specifications

  • Bezel Material: Strong and lightweight 6000 series aerospace-grade aluminum
  • Strap material: Elastomer
  • Battery life:
  • GPS battery life: lasts up to 10 hours (after 1 to 2 hours of charging )
  • Water Rating: 5 ATM

Aside from its functions offered as you ride up the mountains, one interesting feature that makes this GPS watch stand out is the fact that it allows you to make mobile payments. With your watch. Using the NFC chip it has!

Fitbit Ionic is the most improved of all its predecessors & well known as a super awesome fitness tracker out there.

While the first Fitbit smartwatch wasn’t well-received due to lack of features, this one is feature-packed that it makes you feel you have your smartphone on your wrist.

You won’t get the uncomfortable feeling of having a bulky GPS watch as you ride.

Fitbit Ionic, compared to other smartwatches has a comfortable fit and is lightweight. Leaves you un-annoyed even when you do simple workouts.

Pros

  • Decent battery life
  • Fitbit Pay lets you leave your money at home
  • Stores music
  • Water resistant of up to 50 meters
  • Customizable fitness goals

Cons

  • Software and apps can get bugs
  • Slow syncing
  • Touchscreen goes unresponsive randomly
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5. Apple Watch Series 4

Our Independent Rating

Features

  • Always-on retina display
  • Interchangeable straps
  • Heart rhythm tracker with the ECG app
  • GPS + Cellular
  • Accelerometer and gyroscope for fall detection

Specifications

  • Bezel Material: Aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, or ceramic
  • Strap material: Leather, fluoroelastomer, flexible nylon weaves, or metal bands
  • Battery life: Up to 18 hours
  • Water Rating: 5 ATM

Am I the only one who thinks that when it comes to smartwatches and smartphones, a product from Apple is always present? And, no doubt they should as it just might be the best smartwatch in the market.

Since its release in 2015, this expensive timepiece has attracted not just Apple fans but sports enthusiasts too.

It didn’t come as a surprise. Features like an optical heart rate sensor helped give people idea whether they’re ok or if they need to seek medical attention.

This beautiful smartwatch leaves an endurance athlete confident in keeping track of data from daily activities.

Even better when the athlete is an iPhone user, then navigating through this watch will come naturally.

Having Apple Watch Series 4 is like having a medical device on your hand. Before its release, it was cleared by US Food and Drugs for the ECG app feature.

This means this phone is capable of taking your electrocardiograms on the go.

Pros

  • Clear display
  • Almost limitless apps
  • Siri capable
  • Faster processor
  • Sophisticated looking

Cons

  • Expensive than most brands
  • Not ideal for hard core physical activities
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6. Suunto 9

Our Independent Rating

Features

  • Intelligent battery modes
  • GPS Navigation
  • FusedTrack for better distance and track accuracy
  • Powerful training summary
  • Durable and sturdy
  • Ability to record routes.

Specifications

  • Bezel Material: Stainless Steel
  • Strap material: Silicone
  • Physical size: 50 x 50 x 16.5 mm
  • Battery life:
  • In time mode: 14 days
  • 24/7 tracking and mobile notifications: 7 days
  • Training mode with GPS: 25 hours
  • Water Rating: 10 ATM

One of the biggest smartwatches on the market, Suunto 9 runs at dimensions of 50 x 50 x 16.5 mm. Its size is just the same as the number of features it offers.

This is one of the few smartwatches that you use while you run, ride, swim, surf, bike, and a lot more.

Suunto 9 boasts features such as optical heart rate, barometric and GPS altitude to name a few. All these features have been tested to make it through the rigorous drop, freezing, too much humidity, and water immersion.

Sounds like a watch you can use in any battle, right?

Not just battles, this watch is also sophisticated enough to be worn casually.

The color options metallic black and brushed aluminum white can go well with your coat and tie or your best Sunday dress.

Pros

  • Consistent altimeter
  • Rugged and hard-wearing
  • Amazing battery life
  • Touch screen display
  • Clear graphs

Cons

  • Inaccurate step counter
  • Can be hard to read under direct sunlight
  • Confusing menus and settings
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Things you need to consider when buying MTB Watch

Let’s be honest. The market for smart watch is heavily saturated with cut-throat competition.

With so many options, how do you select the most suitable MTB watch that you are looking for?

This section is going to explain everything and I will share my personal favourite steps that will help you to pick the right one.

Just keep in mind – No product is perfect and you won’t be getting all the features in a single device. But the following options are definitely going to cut your confusion.

1. Water Resistance Capability:

No matter what device I pick, the very first thing I look is – Water Resistance Capability. If you’re into outdoor riding, you will need something which won’t disappoint you after a little rain.

I must say, not every MTB watch is going to be water resistance but when you see, I would highly recommend to grab that ASAP.

But again, don’t think too much if you can’t find a water resistance watch because sometimes, popular product goes out of stock for months.

If you find that’s good. If you can’t, move on.

2. GPS Capability:

Nowadays, we all have smart phones and don’t need GPS right? Well, I would like to have a GPS capability option on my device as I don’t want to drain my phone battery.

It’s a good option to have and when you go on mountain biking, sometimes you go for way too miles without realizing that you’re far away from start point. Having a map at that time just a life saver.

3. Value for Money:

I am ready to spend good amount of money on something I really care about. But definitely don’t recommend spending more than you can afford.

Here’s another thing to consider.

You also need to aware that better price does not mean great value. Sometimes, lower end products can perform really good compared to expensive ones.

The listed item I just shared are all categorized with taking consideration of price and value at the same time.

I don’t like to pay for some gimmick features I will probably never use. So do you!!

4. Notifications:

You’re in a zone of super sporty mode and riding your bike so passionately and suddenly your phone beeps up.

Well, I know you can’t stop for checking every notification you get.

So pick something that will allow you to view calls & messages on your watch screen.

5. Fit & Usability:

I know you’re excited to grab your watch for next mountain biking season. But apart from that, how do you plan to use the watch?

See, the majority of the devices out there are really good for daily use.

You need to pick something that would fit in your zone/lifestyle so it can blend easily.

Conclusion

Tracking your bike ride is important especially when you want to improve yourself as a cyclist. This keeps you a tab on the distance you traveled and how fast you did on that ride.

Most importantly, it lets you know whether you’re improving or you’re slacking.

With the smartphones dominating the gadget market, claiming they can keep track of almost anything, they still can’t beat the smartwatch that is intended for such situations.

It may have GPS but, not heart rate monitors, sensors, barometers, etc.,

Which, our top pick, Garmin fēnix® 5 has and more.

Garmin fēnix® 5 is considered as Garmin’s most popular smartwatch from their line of complex timepieces. All the features you need for a smartwatch and activity tracker is packed in a sturdy constructed watch.

Garmin fēnix 5 is perfect for hikers, backpackers, mountaineers and just about anyone who are engaged in more than one sport.

Do not mistake this as just a sporty watch. Its robust frame with different colors to choose from of straps also makes it a watch you can wear while you sit comfortably in your office.


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