Best GPS For Mountain Biking

When it comes to choosing a GPS bike navigation computer, several factors play a role. Let’s take a look at factors such as price, connectivity, the screen, GPS and Mapping options, and 3rd-party apps.

  • Price: Of course, price matters. Not everyone needs a bike computer with lots of functions and options. Often, a simple computer will meet your needs and requirements when climbing hilltops across America. For many cyclists and MTB riders, a compact, simple unit with just a black-and-white display that provides only basic metrics will do. More expensive units, however, have base maps, in-depth power metrics, interval timers, color touchscreens, and more connectivity options than you’ve ever dreamed of. Every bicycle computer, regardless of price, will provide basic data such as speed, time, and distance, but in general, the more you spend, the more functions and features you’ll get.
  • Connectivity: Then there is the element of connectivity. Even most bottom-end computers support Bluetooth or ANT+ connections to heart-rate monitors and cadence or speed sensors. Cheaper units, however, often don’t support power meters. Today, an increasing number of bike computers, also the cheaper models, start facilitating Bluetooth connections to smartphones for notifications, updates, and the like.

    • Screen: As the price goes up, the more features such as color- and touch screens. The question is whether you really want or need these functions. Touchscreens are indeed great when you’re swiping through papers, but when you’re wearing gloves on your bike, or when it’s raining, your screen may not work as it’s supposed to do, right? This also counts for color-display screens that only are needed when you use maps.

  • GPS and mapping: Practically all MTB computers have a GPS chip and access to more satellite networks such as Galileo, GLONASS, or BeiDou so they can offer some form of navigation. Many, and especially the more price ones, also include a pre-installed base map which will provide turn-by-turn directions and redirection options, while some also allow users to create courses and routes on their devices. In general, cheaper computers won’t include base maps, but they may still provide “breadcrumb” navigation which enables the computer to display the desired route as a line that can be followed.
  • 3rd-party apps: There are also third-party extras available like on-screen workouts, Strava Live Segments, Today’s Plan, Trainer Road and Training Peaks, the companion app, uploadable data fields and training metrics, drivetrain and light integration, and so many more. Whether these features are available depends on the computer of your choice but they are definitely not only available in the premium segment! Today, you can also see features such as drivetrain integration and Strava Live Segments offered on low- and mid-range cycling computers.

Well, MTB GPS computers are developing rapidly. They have definitely come a long way compared to the first “Cyclometer”, an invention by a guy named Curtis H Veeder. His invention was an analog device that basically counted the number of times that your wheel rotated and then uses a formula to convert that number into distance units.

Today, many compact, handlebar-mounted, devices come with GPS chips, WiFi, Bluetooth, ANT+, and numerous metrics that range from speed, power, and distance to training and stress scores, units earned, or Strava Live Segments.

When looking to purchase a new GPS computer for your MTB, it can be a challenge to find your way through the sheer endless number of options and the vast specification sheets that accompany even the most basic bike computers.

So check out this listing below and let it help you to find and purchase the GPS computer for your mountain biking efforts that will fit your requirements and expectations best.

Tip: If you just want a basic MTB navigation computer, not one with a full-color touch screen, or one with features you’ll probably never use, your best and most affordable option might well be the Bryton Rider 15.

This computer will set you back around $99 and offers all the essentials you need during your rides. The Bryton Rider 15 comes with full GPS satellite support and you can customize it through Bryton’s Active App. The functionality is reliable so we think this computer could well be your best option.

Wahoo Elemnt Roam

This a full-featured MTB computer that stands out through a user-friendly interface and includes a color screen. This is Wahoo’s latest and most expensive MTB computer. It is also Wahoo’s first to feature a color screen. The colors appear, however, only in specific navigational and training features or when attention is required for information.

The Roam is about the same size as Wahoo’s original Elemnt bike computer but offers more training data and metrics than most of us will ever use.

The Roam has excellent navigation capabilities that will guide you to a location when you store it on your device and it will provide you with directions from your location to the starting point of a route, or take you straight back to where you started from.

Wahoo’s Roam claims 17 hrs of battery life and phone integration allows for easy setup and customizations. You can also easily download worldwide maps Wahoo’s signature “quick-zoom” function allows you to decrease or increase the shown data fields with simply the push of a button. Wahoo additionally added Singletracks and MTB project integration and the device shows all mapped trails from these databases.

Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, ANT+
Companion App: Yes
Navigation: OpenStreet Map
Battery life: 9 hrs
Screen size diagonal: 68.58mm
Price: From $366.99
Pros: Easy to use; Rich feature set; Detailed maps
Cons: Hefty price tag

Garmin Edge 530

The Edge 530 is possibly the best MTB computer Garmin built to date. It is the follow-up to the oh-so-successful Garmin Edge 520, but it has a much faster processor for massively improved mapping, something that was earlier introduced with the Garmin Edge 520 Plus.

Both Trail Forks Map and Garmin Cycle Maps are pre-installed on the Edge 530 so regardless of whether you’re on the trail or road, the 530 will find the way for you.

Garmin claims 20 hours of battery life or 40 if you put the 530 in battery-life-saver mode. Don’t confuse the Edge 530 with the 830. They look practically the same, but the 830 features an on=device route planner and a touchscreen and will set you back an extra $100.

The 530 offers you also “Flow” and “Grit” metrics that indicate how smoothly your flow through a trail is and this feature awards cycle trails a difficult level score that’s based on data from GPS, elevation,  and your accelerometer. The device also features a hangtime counter.

The 530 also grants you access to Garmin’s Connect store so you can also add apps like Yelp, Accuweather, or Komoot to mention a few. You can also download various data fields and your device can communicate with Garmin’s Varia Radar lights.

Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, ANT+
Companion App: Yes
Navigation: Trail Fork Map, Garmin Cycle Maps
Battery life: 20 hrs (normal use)
Screen size diagonal: 66mm
Price: From $194.99
Pros: Mapping is simple and clear; Fast processor; New performance metrics
Cons: Set-up is fiddly; Button-pressing map browsing is a marathon

Hammerhead Karoo 2

The Hammerhead Karoo 2 MTB computer is lighter, smaller, and more capable than previous models. The earlier Karoo model was already a very good and well-selling cycling computer, but now, Hammerhead has significantly improved with the introduction of the Karoo 2 model. This MTB computer is sleeker and slimmer and sleeker than its predecessor.

Hammerhead’s Karoo 2 includes all functions that you can expect out of an up-to-date GPS bike computer and has a full Android operating system. To secure Karoo 2’s operating system and to guarantee performance speed, the company has installed a powerful smartphone-grade Qualcomm processor.

This means you can easily find your route and map your rides. The computer features a very responsive touchscreen and there are also four buttons mounted on the side to help you with your navigation efforts when operating your touch screen is difficult.

One of  Karoo 2’s major selling points is the computer’s price. The Karoo 2 is considerably cheaper than rival MTB computers that feature similar performance attributes and functions.

Connectivity: Cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, ANT+
Companion app: No
Navigation: OpenStreet Map
Battery life: 12-hrs
Screen size diagonal: 82mm
Price: From $369.99
Pros: Touchscreen; + Navigation; Smaller design than previous models; Cheaper than rivals
Cons: Brand loyalty of rivals

Bryton Rider 15

If you are looking for a GPS bicycle computer that only features the essentials you need during a bike ride? Well, then the Bryton Rider 15 device could well be your best option.

This GPS Cycling Computer has a Cadence Sensor and offers full GPS satellite support. It may be customized via the Bryton Active App, and the computer comes with reliable functionalities.

Bryton’s Rider 15 comes with a 2″ monochrome display that can show up to 4 functions per page and you can use up to five pages overall. These pages can show you all sorts of things, from your heart rate and speed to the percent slope of the terrain you’re in. Everything is customizable vis Bryton’s Active app.

You have the option to track data such as time, distance, speed, orientation, and heart rate so you can always perform optimally during training or workouts. The Rider 15 offers 16 (!) hours of battery life which ensures you’ll be able to ride as long as you wish.

The Bryton Rider 15 can track rides and even upload your activity data post-ride to Strava. This GPS cycling computer features very simple installation and provides reliable riding data and information.

Additionally, the device includes a Bluetooth connection to your phone so you can be notified, even mid-ride, of calls and emails. It is a slick bike computer without fuzz that works reliably and comes at an excellent price. A less affordable alternative is the Bryton Aero 60 (price: $229.00) that has features similar to the Garmin Edge 530, but then with longer battery life and at a more friendly price.

Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+
Companion App: Yes
Navigation: OpenStreet Map
Battery life: 16 hrs
Screen size diagonal: 58mm
Price: From $99.00
Pros: 2″ monochrome display; Price; Reliable functionality
Cons: Limited functionality