[2020] A Basic Guide To Choosing The Best Smartwatch For Cycling

The evolution of smartwatches is astounding, now making its way into the world of cycling with an impressive host of features.

This post is from Matthew, author of Running101, a content partner here at Rinasclta, and sports student at the University of Durham in the UK.

Choosing a smartwatch has never been easier, with such a wide variety of brands available, styles, colors, and even measurable metrics adding a smartwatch to your training arsenal is a great move.

However, the onboard cycling computer still has its place – the smartwatch hasn’t completely eradicated it, at least not yet. Think of the smartwatch as a further accessory to your training, it’s much more convenient than an onboard computer while also being able to measure off-bike metrics such as sleep.

This post will outline the benefits of a smartwatch for cycling, the rationale behind investing in one, and finally a basic guide to choosing your very own smartwatch.

So, without further ado let’s get into the post.

What are the benefits of using a smartwatch for cycling?

You’ve likely never associated smartwatches with cycling, however, the use of a smartwatch may have its place in your training cache.

The majority of sports smartwatches can track basic cycling metrics – think distance covered, duration of your ride, elevation climbed, etc. but what really comes in handy is the other metrics such as sleep, the ability to track indoor cycling, and at-wrist heart rate monitoring.

These other metrics allow you to take your training to the next level, you’re no longer cruising through the amateur ranks – you’ve made a commitment to becoming the best cyclist in town.

Tracking metrics such as sleep allows you to ensure you’re getting adequate rest – reducing your risk of injury. Likewise, monitoring your heart rate throughout the day, especially in the morning may help in identifying possible overtraining.

Why should you invest in a smartwatch for cycling?

If you’re looking to measure your overall athletic performance and are looking to take this to the next level then a sports smartwatch could just be what you’ve been looking for.

These additional metrics allow you to gain a much greater overall picture of your current fitness, including steps per day – a popular metric for many. This is especially useful for those using cycling as a means of losing or maintaining weight, not to mention comparing steps with friends and co-workers!

Also, if you do other sports such as running or swimming the use of a sports smartwatch allows you to keep your training in one place – you’re no longer faffing between different measurements to keep track of your fitness.

Furthermore, some smartwatches (especially those of the same brand, with the main one being Garmin) allow you to connect your smartwatch to your onboard computer/power metre.

This allows for a much more accurate and enjoyable experience – especially if you’re a number freak.

Smartwatches that connect to your onboard computer allow you to easily view your power output from a literal ‘flick of the wrist’ – a handy feature when climbing a tough hill or descending through rough and unpredictable terrain.

How to choose the best cycling smartwatch for you?

Choosing the best smartwatch is ultimately dependant on what you intend on using it for and how serious you are about your cycling.

More basic watches will not connect to your onboard computer, often with limited metrics such as steps covered, while further requiring an additional chest-based heart rate monitor.

In comparison, more advanced (and expensive) smartwatches allow you to simultaneously connect to your onboard computer/power meter, make use of wrist-based heart rate monitoring, and even track more advanced metrics such as sleep.

One key factor to consider when choosing a watch is whether or not you do any other sports. For example, if you also regularly run you may benefit from purchasing a watch greater tailored to both disciplines.

If you’re looking for smartwatches capable of measuring both running and cycling activity you can check out a post on the top 8 GPS watches on my site by clicking here.

This way you can keep all your training in one place, connected, thus allowing you to get a greater overall picture of your current fitness and training.

However, if you consider yourself an ‘amateur cyclist’ and enjoy getting from point A to point B with little to no interest in other metrics then a basic smartwatch is most likely best for you.

The bottom line

When it comes to choosing a smartwatch for cycling there is no set guide. Instead, this is dependent on what features you would like in a watch and how seriously you take your cycling.

While a smartwatch measuring basic metrics such as steps covered and distance cycled may be great for one person, for another this may be a downgrade from their current setup.

Analyze your needs, whether or not you actually need all of these additional features, and whether or not you’d like your smartwatch to connect to your onboard computer/power meter (if you have one set up).  

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