Every serious mountain biker knows that a top-notch watch for cycling must have the features that will match their strenuous activities. Unfortunately, while there are a lot of MTB GPS 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.
While smartphones can now log rides, they aren’t as dedicated to tracking your physical activities as a GPS wearable dedicated to outdoor adventures.
However, with watch brands worldwide expanding their product line to include trackers that fit every lifestyle, it becomes more confusing to pick the right one for you as a biker.
No more confusion, my fellow bikers, because I’ve got your backs. I have narrowed your choices to only a handful of intelligent wearables; stay tuned to get the best MTB smartwatch, one that you will adore for sure.
- Best Garmin Watches For Mountain Biking
- 1. Garmin Fenix 7 – the best Garmin for mountain biking
- 2. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro – the cheaper equivalent of Fenix 7
- 3. Garmin fenix 5 Plus
- 4. Garmin Forerunner 45 – inexpensive MTB GPS watch
- 5. Garmin Forerunner 235
- 6. Garmin Forerunner 245 – universal MTB GPS watch and running watch
- 7. Garmin Forerunner 945 – MTB GPS and triathlon watch
- 8. Garmin Instinct (Solar) – a resistant watch for MTB
- 9. Garmin Venu SQ – MTB GPS watch with heart rate monitor, and payments
- 10. Garmin Venu 2 – Mountain bike GPS with an AMOLED screen
- Best Polar Watches For Mountain Biking
- Best Huawei Watches For Mountain Biking
- 16. Apple Watch Series 4
- 17. SUUNTO 9 Peak & Baro
- Things you need to consider when buying MTB Watch
Best Garmin Watches For Mountain Biking
1. Garmin Fenix 7 – the best Garmin for mountain biking
Garmin Fenix comes in three versions in terms of case size: 7s (42mm), 7 (47mm), and 7X (51mm). So everyone will choose the size to suit their wrist. However, for mountain biking, the largest model, i.e., the Fenix 7x with a 1.4 ″ display, will work best. In addition, its large touch screen will allow you to use the map conveniently.
Thanks to the connection with the Garmin Explore and Garmin Connect applications, you can easily plan a route and send it (also from a GPX file) wirelessly to the watch.
The latest GPS chipset, which supports the new second GPS frequency, has been added to Fenix 7 in sapphire versions (Sapphire), resulting in much better signal accuracy. It will significantly improve the accuracy of the track record in rugged terrains such as forests or mountains.
Fenix 7 sapphire has also been equipped with a new version of much more efficient solar cells. Thus, the watch will be recharged on the bicycle’s handlebars, extending the operation time.
Garmin Fenix 7 allows you to choose from several activity profiles, thanks to which we can use different settings for mountain, road, or gravel bikes. Nothing stands in the way of creating a new bicycle profile, e.g., for a race.
Currently, we have prepared as many as ten bicycle profiles! These include eBike, eMTV, Cyclocross, Gravel, Commute, Bike Tour, Road Bike, Mountain Biking, Cycling, and Stationary Bike.
- Excellent battery life.
- Great interface.
- Advanced health metrics.
- Excellent screen resolution.
- Limited Garmin Pay bank support.
Read also: Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2022
2. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro – the cheaper equivalent of Fenix 7
Relative to the newer version, Fenix 6 lacks a touch screen, Real-Time Stamina function, and some other exciting extras. Most of the functions, however, are the same. So the Fenix 6 is a budget-friendlier version of the Fenix 7.
The Fenix 6 is packed with features and capabilities. These include a barometric altimeter, support for power sensors (e.g., Rally pedals), cadence sensors, and interactive trainers.
Remember that the maps function only works on Fenix 6 (s / x) PRO or Sapphire versions. Versions without PRO / Sapphire navigate only on the pre-loaded GPX route and cannot download the maps.
- Good battery life
- Large screen.
- Updated interface with new metrics.
- Slim design.
- Full-color maps are easy to navigate and read.
- Durable watch face.
3. Garmin fenix 5 Plus
The rugged exterior of Garmin Fenix 5 instantly gives you an idea that it can take on some abuse.
The five screws that hold the bezel don’t get in the way of operating the circular buttons around, even when you have sweaty or using mountain bike gloves.
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.
- Durable design
- Silicone or metal band options
- Outdoor-readable and customizable display
- Excellent app data management
- Has the ability to incorporate with power meters.
- Hefty price tag
- Low-resolution screen
- Bugs reported with iOS devices
The activities you can track are biking and hiking, running, mountain climbing, golfing, SUP paddle-boarding, swimming, and rowing. It can even follow your jump out of a plane.
Are you constantly 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 incorporating power meters. I believe it is one of the rare devices to have this capability.
Garmin Fenix 5 is fully featured, making 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.
Read also: What Muscles Does Biking Work?
Read also: Best Mountain Biking Shoes
4. Garmin Forerunner 45 – inexpensive MTB GPS watch
The Forerunner 45 offer is basically the same price range as the Polar Unite. However, Garmin Forerunner 45 has a built-in GPS, so we do not have to pair it with the phone. In addition, 5 ATM water resistance is an excellent feature for the price. We will also find a heart rate sensor here, but we will not measure the calories burned using the watch.
The built-in sports applications and Garmin Coach are excellent; users get free training plans tailored to their fitness needs. Battery life in GPS mode is up to 13 hours.
- Good battery life
- Optical wrist heart rate monitor
- Personalized trainings by Garmin
- Good price quality ratio
- No music
5. Garmin Forerunner 235
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 reasonably priced watch is intended mainly for runners. But, the features it has makes it perfect for other outdoor activities.
It has the features that most Garmin watches have without paying too much.
- Accurate GPS, heart-rate monitor
- Tracks all activities including sleep, steps, and mileage
- Affordable cycling watch
- Easy to read under the sun
- No built-in storage for music
- Plastic bezel
- Connection issues with smartphones
Using the Garmin Forerunner 235 is a breeze. The menus and settings are all clearly labeled, and you won’t get confused about which button to press for the function you need.
Syncing the watch to the Garmin Connect app is easy as well.
The battery life is decent enough to last you over 10 hours of active use. So after completing a short ultramarathon, you will be confident that your data will be there.
6. Garmin Forerunner 245 – universal MTB GPS watch and running watch
Forerunner 245 is one of the underrated models among Garmin watches. It is characterized by long battery life (up to 24 hours in GPS), small dimensions, and lightness, making it a very convenient training companion.
Read also: Best Mountain Biking Helmets for Protection
Forerunner 245 has all training metrics (which are not available in Garmin Instinct and Venu SQ), such as training status measurement, VO2 max, training load, training effects, and recovery time. So if we are looking for a universal watch for MTB and running, the FR 245 will be an excellent choice.
- Highly accurate fitness tracking and heart rate monitoring.
- Long battery life.
- Sleek and smart design.
- Emergency features.
- The price.
- No barometric altimeter.
7. Garmin Forerunner 945 – MTB GPS and triathlon watch
The Forerunner 945 is basically a Fenix 6, but in a lighter and smaller body. Forerunner 945, as the successor to the famous Forerunner 910 and 920xt models, is the most chosen model by triathletes. It has all the possibilities offered by the Fenix 6 but with a lower weight. Furthermore, Forerunner 945 offers advanced sports functions, maps, Garmin Pay, and music. However, the downside is a slightly smaller 1.2 ″ display than Fenix 6. Nevertheless, this is a much-respected cycling watch.
- Thin profile.
- Intuitive and fully featured
- Fine design.
- Blood oxygen sensor’s accuracy is questionable.
8. Garmin Instinct (Solar) – a resistant watch for MTB
Garmin Instinct looks a bit like the Casio G-Shock watches from the 90s and is characterized by a favorable price-performance ratio. The product complies with the US 810G military standard for temperature, shock, and water resistance, which will be perfect for your mountain bike’s handlebars.
You cannot connect a power meter to the watch, but the pedaling cadence sensor or an external heart rate belt works without any problem. The Garmin Explore mobile application is a very interesting solution that can be useful while biking in unknown areas.
An exciting proposition for bicycle trips can be the version with solar charging.
- Long-lasting battery performance.
- Increased performance tracking capabilities.
- Improved GPS, Glonass, and Galileo.
- New and improved training plans.
- Advanced tactical features.
- Sometimes many notifications for all the features can be too much to handle
- Battery charging needs a lot of direct sunlight.
- In some cases, multiple buttons need to be pressed to navigate properly.
9. Garmin Venu SQ – MTB GPS watch with heart rate monitor, and payments
The Garmin Venu SQ and the entire Venu family are the watches of choice for those looking for a watch with an excellent display and sports functions. The Venu series has a touch screen, convenient for everyday use, and two buttons that protect against accidental termination of activity.
The Venu SQ does not have a barometric altimeter, so it will not accurately measure the altitude and will not show the ascents and slopes covered. If we care about these functions, it is worth choosing a higher model, such as Venu or Venu 2. These higher models also have an AMOLED screen with a higher resolution than the Venu SQ’s LCD screen.
The Venu SQ watch is a universal smartwatch for a bicycle, in which we find many additional activities such as running, swimming, yoga, rowing, or strength.
The Venu 2s and Venu SQ mountain biking GPS watches are also perfect for women.
- Good battery life
- Great range of metrics on health and wellness
- Fairly accurate tracking
- Compatible with third party sensors
- Not AMOLED display
- No Altimeter, Gyroscope
- Limited 3rd party app support
10. Garmin Venu 2 – Mountain bike GPS with an AMOLED screen
Garmin Venu 2 is a sports watch with an extensive list of functionalities, but what distinguishes it is the high-resolution AMOLED screen, which, combined with an attractive price, makes it quite an exciting choice. The watch face is legible in all conditions, and the specification does not differ from the top smartwatches available on the market. We control this MTB GPS watch using a touch screen, but we have the option of turning off the touch during training.
5 ATM water resistance allows you to exercise even in the rain. In addition, users can measure their heart rate, blood oxygen level, calories burned, hydration, and even the number of breaths per minute. The watch is light, and its battery life in GPS mode is up to 22 hours.
- High-resolution AMOLED display
- Onboard music storage
- Super accurate GPS
- Great battery life
- Limited choice of third-party apps
- Plastic body
Best Polar Watches For Mountain Biking
11. Polar Unite – cheap MTB watch
We open the Polar Watches For Mountain Biking list with a relatively inexpensive option, equipped with all the essential functions. It does not stand out with anything special, but for many, it is more of an advantage than a disadvantage – it is simply classic. It does not have a built-in GPS, but it can capture speed, distance, and route if we connect it to the phone.
We can measure the heart rate, count the calories burned or use ready-made training plans that will be adjusted to our current condition. Training in the rain will not be a problem because the watch is waterproof. The design is light and comfortable, and thanks to the interchangeable straps, we can easily change the watch’s look.
- Guided workout schedule
- Easy to navigate UI
- Good battery life
- Sluggish UI
- No built-in GPS
12. Polar Ignite
At first glance, Polar Ignite differs from most competitors. The manufacturer took care of a beautiful design, and the device looks great on the wrist during training and everyday use. In addition, it will be a great women’s sports watch with its white or pink color version.
It is a sports watch for cycling, running, swimming (water resistant up to 30 m), or tracking everyday activities. It has a built-in GPS, and thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, the device can be paired with a smartphone and get notifications about incoming calls or text messages. A significant advantage is also a strong battery that provides up to 17 hours in GPS mode, and this is enough even for a full-day cycling trip.
- Clarity of the screen
- Optical wrist heart rate monitor
- Good battery life
- Touchscreen only
- No info on the screen unless you move it or push the button
13. Polar Vantage V2
Polar Vantage V2 is a refreshed version of one of the better and highly appreciated watches that have come out of this brand. According to the manufacturer, this watch collects data about the body and transforms it into clear information, thanks to which each subsequent training will be even more effective. And it is.
The watch allows you to take your workouts to an even higher level but simultaneously tells you when it’s time to rest and regenerate.
Mountain bikers will appreciate the cycling fitness test and route planning. But, of course, there were also basic functionalities such as heart rate measurement, distance traveled, or average speed.
- Great battery life
- Reliable tracking
- Detailed sleep analysis
- Syncing is irregular
- No NFC payments
Best Huawei Watches For Mountain Biking
14. Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro
Huawei Watch GT Pro combines all the functionalities of a smartwatch with a sports watch. In addition, it is highly durable – the waterproof case (5 ATM) is made of titanium, and the screen is protected by sapphire glass.
There are 17 sports modes in the memory of the smartwatch, including cycling. It has a built-in GPS, measures the heart rate and distance traveled, counts calories burned, and records elevations. It can work up to 14 days on a single charge.
- Battery life
- High-end build materials
- Wireless charging
- Decent tracking
- Limited third-party app support
- Pretty expensive
15. Huawei Band 6 – a wristband for cyclists
Sports wristbands are not as advanced and specialized as watches for athletes, but they are an excellent alternative for those with a budget to respect. Still, Huawei Band 6 is characterized by a great design and a large display. Also, it offers a pulse oximeter, a calorie counter, and a step counter. Users can check the body’s health and general condition using this band.
The TruSport function will evaluate the effects of training and suggest the time we should spend on regeneration. Importantly, the predefined activities include cycling, making it a choice for mountain biking. Unfortunately, we cannot count on built-in GPS here.
- Reliable battery life
- Screen is responsive
- 24/7 heart rate monitoring and SpO2 is very convenient
- Notification support is not very useful
- No 3rd-party app integrations
16. Apple Watch Series 4
Am I the only one who thinks that a product from Apple is always present in smartwatches and smartphones’ best lists? 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 Apple fans and sports enthusiasts.
It didn’t come as a surprise. Features like an optical heart rate sensor helped give people an idea of whether they’re ok or need to seek medical attention.
- Clear display
- Almost limitless apps
- Siri capable
- Faster processor
- Sophisticated looking
- Expensive than most brands
- Not ideal for hard core physical activities
This beautiful smartwatch leaves an endurance athlete confident in keeping track of data from daily activities.
Even better, navigating through this watch will come naturally when the athlete is an iPhone user.
Having Apple Watch Series 4 is like having a medical device on your wrist. Before its release, the US Food and Drug Administration cleared it for the ECG app feature.
Thus, this watch is capable of taking your electrocardiograms on the go.
17. SUUNTO 9 Peak & Baro
One of the biggest smartwatches on the market, the 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.
It is one of the few smartwatches you use while running, riding, swimming, surfing, biking, etc.
Suunto 9 boasts features, such as optical heart rate, barometric, and GPS altitude, to name a few. The manufacturer tested these features to make it through the rigorous drop, freezing, too much humidity, and water immersion.
- Consistent altimeter
- Rugged and hard-wearing
- Amazing battery life
- Touch screen display
- Clear graphs
- Inaccurate step counter
- Can be hard to read under direct sunlight
- Confusing menus and settings
It 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 Metallic black and brushed aluminum white color options can go well with your coat and tie or your best Sunday dress.
Things you need to consider when buying MTB Watch
Let’s be honest. The smartwatch market is heavily saturated with cut-throat competition.
With so many options, how do you select the most suitable MTB watch you are looking for?
This section will explain everything, and I will share my favorite steps to help you 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 going to cut your confusion.
1. Water Resistance Capability:
No matter what device I pick, the first thing I look at is – Water Resistance Capability. If you’re into outdoor riding, you will need something which won’t disappoint you after a bit of rain.
Not every MTB watch will be water-resistant. So, when you find one, I recommend grabbing it ASAP.
But again, don’t overthink if you can’t find a water-resistant watch because sometimes, a popular product goes out of stock for months.
If you find one, that’s good. If you can’t, move on; there is always a choice.
2. GPS Capability:
Nowadays, we all have smartphones and don’t need GPS, right? However, I would like to have a GPS capability option on my device as I don’t want to drain my phone battery.
It’s an excellent option to have, and when you go on mountain biking, sometimes you go for many miles without realizing that you’re far away from the start point. So having a map at such times is just a lifesaver.
3. Value for Money:
I am ready to spend a good amount of money on something that provides high value. But I don’t recommend spending more than you can afford.Here’s another thing to consider.
You also need to be aware that a better price does not mean great value. Sometimes, lower-end products can perform better compared to expensive ones.
I considered the price and value simultaneously for all the listed items I just shared above.
I’m not particularly eager to pay for some gimmick features I will probably never use. So do you!!
You’re in a zone of super sporty mode and riding your bike passionately, and suddenly your phone beeps up.
I know you can’t take a break to check every notification you get.
So, pick a device 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 the next mountain biking season. But apart from that, how do you plan to use the watch?
See, most of the devices out there are good for daily use.
You need to pick something that would fit in your zone/lifestyle so it can blend easily.
Tracking your bike ride is essential, especially when you want to improve yourself as a cyclist. It keeps a tab on the traveled miles and how fast you did on that ride.
Most importantly, it lets you know whether you’re improving or slacking off.
With smartphones dominating the gadget market, claiming they can keep track of almost anything, they still can’t beat smartwatches that popular brands made for such situations. They may have GPS but not heart rate monitors, sensors, barometers, etc. Our top pick, The Garmin fēnix models have all these features.
Read also: 15 Best Accessories for Mountain Biking
Garmin fēnix® 6 is Garmin’s most popular smartwatch from their line of complex timepieces. This sturdily constructed watch packs all the features you need for a smartwatch and activity tracker.
Garmin fēnix 6 is perfect for hikers, backpackers, mountaineers, and anyone engaged in more than one sport.
Garmin Fenix 5 is cheaper while still offering pretty much the same experience as Fenix 6. And there is the Fenix 7 for bikers who can afford its price.
For those looking for a very affordable basic MTB smartwatch, check Garmin Forerunner 45 watch.
Read also: 7 Best BMX Bikes of this Year
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