Mountain Bike GPS systems, better known as bike computers, have taken giant strides over the last few years.
No longer do they simply count the rotations of a wheel to calculate distances traveled. They now offer a plethora of benefits the modern cyclist simply cannot do without.
Almost all new-age GPS devices come equipped with a GPS chip, Bluetooth, ANT +, and Wi-Fi connectivity, and offer metrics that range from speed, distance traveled to training stress scores.
The best ones also offer ride logging, heart rate results, and various built-in fitness trackers and tools. More often than not, the mountain bike GPS systems have touch screens.
With the modern GPS unit, you won’t actually have to travel the miles to see what’s over the next ridge. The device will show you exactly what you may miss out on through full-color maps.
Now, those who aren’t yet sold on the idea of owning a dedicated mountain bike GPS may argue that a smartphone can perform similar features.
However, they fail to consider the simple fact that GPS, unlike smartphones, isn’t dependent on a cell tower in and around its vicinity. Plus, when you go on adventure trails, chances are that cell towers will be hard to come by.
Additionally, a smartphone offers inaccurate off-road data, has a weak signal, and doesn’t have long-lasting battery life suitable for rides on the road.
- At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Mountain Bike GPS
- Top 5 Best Mountain Bike GPS – Our Reviews:
- What to Consider to Choose the Best GPS Bike Computers?
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Mountain Bike GPS
If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the mountain bike GPS that most people buy).
- Wahoo Elemnt GPS Bike Computer Top Pick
- Garmin Edge 830 Runner-up
- Garmin Edge 1030 Runner-up
Top 5 Best Mountain Bike GPS – Our Reviews:
Allow me to spoon feed you some of the top GPS for mountain biking that money can buy. You’ll see plenty of Garmin products on this list as the brand is a front-runner in bike GPS systems.
1. Wahoo Elemnt GPS Bike Computer
The Wahoo Elemnt GPS Bike Computer can essay the role of a dedicated bike GPS system with aplomb. It’s extremely durable, has a 2.7″ display screen, benefits from outstanding satellite support, and features Strava integration.
The monochrome LCD screen on the GPS is clear enough to display results even under direct sunlight.
You’ll also find plenty of physical buttons on the device, which is a useful feature for those with clammy hands. The buttons are there for you to power the device, navigate through menus, add laps, and start or pause rides.
Unfortunately, the battery on the Wahoo Elemnt GPS Bike Computer is a bit of a letdown. On a single charge, it operates up to 17 hours, not too great nor too bad.
On the upside, it supports all types of satellite networks imaginable including GLONASS, Galileo, BEIDOU, GPS, and QZSS. Also, since it supports Strava Live Segments too, you’ll be provided real-time results on your development and fitness progress.
It also helps that the device is easy to set up. Simply install the companion app, scan the QR code on the Elemnt’s display screen, and you’re good to go.
You can also go for the compact Wahoo Elemnt Bolt if you’re looking for an aero version.
- High contrast screen that showcases clear results even when under direct sunlight
- The physical buttons are easy to use
- Can connect to multiple satellites
- Features preloaded maps of North America
- The battery life isn’t too ideal
- Priced a bit too steeply for my liking
- Heavily dependent on its companion app
2. Garmin Edge 830
As I mentioned earlier, expect to find a lot of Garmin products on this list. Without further ado, let’s kick things off with the Garmin Edge 830 bike GPS computer.
This GPS computer comes equipped with a 2.6″ sensitive touch screen that displays results in outstanding contrast and clarity.
Additionally, the battery on the 830 is also worth raving over as it has a 20 plus hour battery life. In case you run out of battery, you can also always plug the device onto an external battery pack, thanks to the integrated in-ride power capable.
The CPU on the Edge 830 is also faster than most of the GPS models around. Additionally, the 830 is also compatible with a variety of satellite networks including GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo.
Other features of the 830 include its ability to pair with any ANT + or Bluetooth sensors such as cadence, average speed, and heart rate monitor sensors.
And, guess what? The Edge 830 is preloaded with the Garmin cycle map of the country you order it from.
Truth be told, I’ve barely scratched the surface with the features of the 830. If afforded the time, I would be able to write an e-book on them.
In short, this device is one of the best cycling GPS for the serious rider.
- Outstanding battery life
- Color screen
- Swift and smooth GPS device
- High contrast sensitive touch screen that showcases results clearly even when placed under direct sunlight
- Features numerous Trailforks maps
- Can connect to multiple satellites including Galileo, GLONASS, and GPS
- One of the best MTB GPS around
- Compatible with ANT and can be paired with Shimano di2
- The power button hasn’t been placed strategically
- Priced a bit too steeply for my liking
3. Garmin Edge 1030
The Garmin Edge 1030, like the Garmin product mentioned before, is also worth its weight in gold. Before we start talking about its outstanding features though, let’s talk about its major drawback.
Weighing a whopping 130 grams, this cycling computer is arguably the biggest and bulkiest GPS device around. Therefore, if you mount it on a bike that goes through terrible abuse, it’s likely that the mount will break because of the substantial weight.
Now that we’ve critiqued the Garmin Edge 1030 enough, let’s talk about the areas where it shines.
There’s a benefit to being the biggest GPS device around—you´ll have the biggest screen too.
The Edge 1030 comes equipped with a 3.5″ screen size that displays clear results. With such a big screen, no longer will you have to worry about the menus and map being cluttered together.
Similar to the Edge 830 in terms of layout and 20 plus hour battery life, the Edge 1030 only differs a bit because of the micro USB port placed smack in the middle of the buttons.
My favorite thing about the Edge 1030 is its powerful CPU and massive 16 GB of internal memory. Basically, it has more than enough space to accommodate all your favorite bike trails with extra space to spare.
Plus, in terms of navigation, the Edge 1030 is compatible with both GPS and GLONASS.
- The best mountain bike GPS system in terms of memory storage and user interface
- Long-lasting battery life
- Equipped with a 3.5″ display size screen that displays clear results
- Compatible with Strava and Trailforks
- Provides access to Garmin connect store
- Can connect to GLONASS and GPS
- Color screen
- Bluetooth smart and compatible with ANT
- Owing to its big size, it is prone to brushes with external elements
- The notifications only work when the device is paired with a phone that has cell data connection
- Not the best bike computer for rough terrains
4. Garmin Edge 530
Another Garmin product makes it to the list purely on merit. The Garmin Edge 530 can be best described as the budget-friendly cousin of the Edge 830.
The Edge 530 has almost all the functions one can enjoy on the Edge 830 bar a touchscreen, address-specific routing, and searchable point of interest database. I have to admit that the seven buttons on the 530, instead of a touchscreen feature, can be a hassle to navigate through, especially when you’re in the middle of an intense cycling session.
On the upside, the Garmin 530 is lighter than the 830 and 1030.
What about its 2.6″ display size screen? Well, it’s large and clear enough to read even in direct sunlight.
As for battery life, the Garmin 530 performs as well as the Edge 830 and 1030, giving 20 plus hours of uninterrupted services.
Also, the 530 can connect to both GPS and GLONASS simultaneously.
Though the Edge 530 doesn’t have as many navigation features as the previous Garmin models, it has good sensor support as it’s compatible with any kind of Bluetooth and ANT+ sensor.
For a more compact option, opt for the Edge 130.
- One of the best GPS for mountain biking in terms of pricing
- GPS systems around
- 20 plus hours of battery life
- Supports all types of ANT + and Bluetooth sensors
- Provides access to Garmin connect store
- Easy to read display
- Doesn’t come with a touchscreen
- No address-specific routing
- The buttons can be a hassle to navigate through during rides
5. Lezyne Enhanced Super GPS Cycling Computer
Finally, let’s take a breather from Garmin products and take a look at another brand product that can give any bike computer a run for its money. The device we will now focus on is the Lezyne Enhanced Super GPS Cycling computer.
Despite weighing a little heavy for its size, the Lezyne Enhanced Super cannot be faulted for its weight. The extra weight has been strategically placed to shield the device from external damage, making it ideal for mountain biking.
So, in terms of durability, the Lezyne Enhanced Super GPS Cycling computer easily takes the cake.
However, what impresses me the most about this biking computer is its outstanding battery life. It can operate smoothly for over a day on a single charge!
Another feature that I’m fond of is the device’s Strava Live Segment support. Not only does it enable you to load your preferred trail, but it also allows you to see and select trails from your phone—a feature missing on the Garmin models.
It’s also worth noting that this MTB GPS uses both GLONASS and GPS for accurate results.
On the downside, I’m not a huge admirer of the device’s black and white LCD screen with physical buttons. I also don’t like that it needs to be paired with a smartphone either through ANT + or Bluetooth connection to run.
- One of the best Mountain Bike GPS devices in terms of battery life
- Supports Strava real-time segments for the convenience of mountain bikers
- Durable beyond belief
- Bluetooth smart
- Black and white display
- Physical buttons
- Doesn’t have an incident detection feature
What to Consider to Choose the Best GPS Bike Computers?
Ideally speaking, you should go for a mountain bike GPS that can operate for not less than 13 hours on a single charge. The more battery life a biking computer has, the better it is.
It’s a must for your biking computer to have ANT+ and Bluetooth compatibility. Having ANT + compatibility allows you to pair your system with various sensors that can display heart rate, cadence, speed, and other fitness-related metrics.
Proper Routing and Tools
A GPS system that is compatible with smartphone apps such as Strava can be extremely beneficial.
With Strava Live Segments connected to your head unit, you’ll be provided real-time results on your development and fitness progress. This feature also enables you to load your preferred trail segments on the go.
In short, your GPS must have complex mapping, accurate routing systems both on and off-road, and be compatible with the software you intend to use.
A bigger-sized GPS computer will come with a bigger screen and will thus be, easier to read. However, they’ll be costlier and have less battery life.
So, weigh your options carefully and choose a size that fulfills your requirements.
We’ve reached the end of the article and it’s now time for me to choose my pick from the bunch—something that I’ve dreaded from the beginning. Before you consider my pick, understand that my choice may not be suitable for your cycling needs.
Anyway, if I were pressed to pick one at gunpoint, I would go for the Garmin Edge 830.
This device offers excellent value for money and comes packed with a handful of outstanding features. The Garmin Edge 830 allows you to track your performance, offers trail planning and ride mapping, and has outstanding battery life.
Additionally, it also comes with a phenomenal display. Plus, the fact that it can connect to GLONASS, GPS, or Galileo only adds to its charm.
You can also go for other Garmin products such as the Garmin Edge 520, Edge 820, Edge 520 plus, and Garmin Edge 25.